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Having insurance is a lot like carrying an umbrella with you at all times: Most of the time it feels burdensome, but boy, are you glad to have it when the rain comes.

The right insurance policies are key to a healthy financial life. Below, we've explained briefly which those are, plus when you should purchase them.

Keep in mind that insurance policies are largely personal. Everyone's situation and needs are different, and as your life changes (say, you get a new job or have a baby) so should your coverage.

One of the best things you can do to get the best coverage for your needs is to educate yourself: Get multiple quotes, read your policy closely before signing on, and don't hesitate to ask questions when you don't understand.

Also note that while the policies below are arranged by age, of course they aren't all set in stone. If you become a homeowner in your 40s instead of your 30s, for example, that's when the need for homeowner's insurance will kick in.

Here's a brief overview of the policies you need and when you need them:

In Your 20s

Health insurance. While the Affordable Care Act has brought health insurance to the headlines, the simple fact remains that for most of us, healthcare in the U.S. is impossible to afford without insurance. (Not to mention that under the ACA, you usually have to pay a fine if you go without coverage.) Under the law, children can stay on their parents' policies until age 26. If that's you, you'll need coverage immediately after that period. If you have a job, you can usually obtain it through your employer.

You'll stop needing it: Never.

Auto insurance (when you get a car). There were over 5.6 million accidents in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration. If you have a car, you need auto insurance. Insurance rates vary according to everything from who is driving the car (like your teenager) to your driving history.

You'll stop needing it: When you no longer own a car.

Disability insurance (when you get a job). Disability insurance is meant to provide income should you be disabled and unable to work. It's estimated by the Social Security Administration that over 25% of today's 20-year-olds will be disabled before retirement.

If you're relying on your income to live, you should have disability insurance. Most people who are traditionally employed should be able to secure a policy through their employer, while people who are self-employed will have to take out an individual policy. Some people may prefer the increased coverage provided by buying private policies to supplement those from their employers. This is even more important if you have dependents relying on your income.

You'll stop needing it: Once you exit the working world around age 65, which is often the end of the longest policy you can buy.

Renter's insurance (when you rent your own place). Renter's insurance, while not a baseline requirement like health or auto insurance, is something any renter will be glad to have in the case of a fire, leak, or storm. While policies differ, they're generally low cost (think $30 a month) and cover costs including the replacement of your personal property as well as a temporary living situation should you be unable to occupy your rented home. Note that, if needed, you can usually add coverage to this policy for an engagement ring.

You'll stop needing it: When you stop renting.

In Your 30s

Life insurance (when you get married and/or have children). Life insurance, like disability insurance, is meant to replace your income for those relying on it should something go terribly wrong. There's one situation in which pretty much everyone agrees some type of life insurance is a good idea: When you have dependents, such as minor children or a spouse who doesn't work.

You can calculate your coverage needs at lifehappens.org. Again, many people will be able to get coverage through their employers, but not always as much as they need. Some experts recommend replacing up to 10 times your annual income.

You'll stop needing it: When your dependents are no longer relying on you for financial support. For that reason, term life insurance (a policy that only covers you for a set amount of years) tends to be a better fit for many parents, whose kids will grow up and become financially independent.

Homeowner's insurance (when you buy your own place). This is one of those non-negotiables: If you own a home, you need homeowner's insurance, which should cover everything from the structure itself to your belongings to liability should someone be injured on your property. Note that if you live in an area of the country that's subject to flooding, earthquakes, or other natural disasters, you may need to purchase additional coverage that isn't included in your primary policy.

You'll stop needing it: If you sell your home and go back to renting, or make other living arrangements.

Pet insurance (if you have a pet). Pet insurance isn't necessarily a must-have, but if you're the type to shell out $8,000 for your dog's surgery, it might be worth considering. Some plans even cover routine vet visits and vaccinations, and most will reimburse 80-90% of your vet bills for a premium that ranges from about $100-$300 per year.

You'll stop needing it: When you no longer own a pet.

In Your 40s

Long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance is exactly what it sounds like: It covers care for people who are aging or disabled and need help with daily living, whether that means a nursing home or an attendant. This is the sort of thing people don't think about until they get older and realize this might be a reality for them, but of course, as you get older you get more expensive to insure. That's why it's a good idea to start looking at long-term care insurance well before you need it. Bankrate.com has a great explanation of how shopping sooner rather than later can save you money.

You'll stop needing it: Never.

Read More: Source


903 pet owners were surveyed and 44 percent say they have made formal or informal plans for their pets’ future care.

For one-fifth of those owners, according to the survey, “Pet heirs: Financial planning with pets in mind,” those plans are financial.

Pricing a pet’s life
The pet industry has more than tripled in 20 years from $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $59 billion in 2014, according to the American Pet Products Association. The pet owners who took Securian’s survey in May 2014 provide evidence of that growth. When asked how much they would spend to save a pet’s life:
· 16 percent say they would spend $10,000 or more.
· 29 percent would spend $2,000 to $5,000.

Cost of care
When asked about ongoing maintenance and veterinary costs, respondents in the Securian survey indicated their expenses can be substantial:
· Nearly 60 percent spend up to $1,000 a year on food, grooming, toys, etc.
· Three-fourths spend up to $1,000 a year on veterinary bills.
· 18 percent say their largest single pet related expense was $2,000 or more.

These costs add up to many thousands of dollars over the years, especially for long-lived pets.

“If the owner suddenly dies or becomes disabled, the person who inherits the pet may not be financially prepared for the added expense of ongoing care or life-saving procedures,” said Michelle Hall, manager, Market Research, Securian Financial Group. “Our survey shows a significant percentage of pet owners make financial plans to ensure their pets will always be well cared for.”

Life insurance, annuities and cash
Nearly one-fifth of all respondents in Securian’s survey say they have financially planned ahead for their pets’ future care. When those respondents were asked to select all that apply:
· 38 percent said they added the pet’s future caregiver as a beneficiary to a life insurance policy.
· 35 percent added more coverage to their life policies.
· 13 percent purchased annuities naming the pet’s caregiver as the beneficiary.

Read More: Source

Posted 12:41 PM  View Comments


Life insurance is supposed to provide peace of mind. But for many, the approval process gives them nothing but nightmares. 

The cost of life insurance varies depending on an applicant’s health history. According to a recent survey, smokers, on average, pay more than three times for the same policy than non-smokers.A non-smoking 45-year-old woman pays around $45 a month for $500,000 of 20-year level term coverage, while a female smoke of the same age will pay $167 month.

Age, your overall health, and your hobbies and occupation are also taken into consideration and can drive premiums higher. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying a higher cost or skip insurance all together.

“There are many ways to save,” on life insurance, says Tony Steuer, an author and insurance literacy advocate. “Each insurance company has their own pricing strategy and can be more [or less] competitive in specific tiers. Companies also have different perspectives on medical/health issues, such as some companies are more lenient on build or on other more complex medical issues”

Here are four tips experts to employ to get life insurance without breaking the bank:

Tip No.1 Shop Around

Take the time to compare plans. “Some carriers weigh the fact that you are a smoker more heavily than other carriers,” says Laura Adams, senior analyst.

There are online aggregators that will compare plans and rates, or you can use an agent to shop around for you. If you use an agent, experts recommend making sure the professional has access to multiple policies and insurers since each company has different underwriting and rating polices.

“Every company has their own secret sauce on what they quote a customer,” says Adams. As a result, she says consumers should get at least three quotes and include one from a top carrier or a company that provides coverage nationwide.

Tip No.2: Get in Shape Now

In general, healthy people pay less than for coverage.

While it’s going to vary from one insurer to the other in terms of how long you’ll have to be smoke free to qualify as a non-smoker, kicking the habit is going to be your best shot at getting a lower rate.

“An individual who might be declined or facing life insurance premiums that are higher than they anticipated might use their quest for coverage as a wakeup call to improve their health,” says Jack Dolan, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers. “When they do that, they can then come back to the life insurer and show how they have improved.”

If you already have a life insurance policy and quite smoking, Adams suggests alerting the insurer and inquiring about getting reclassified for a lower premium. The one thing you don’t want to do is lie or stretch the truth on your application--even if it’s something they can’t prove such as your weekend bungee jumping escapades. “If you die before you quit smoking and they investigate your death, they can deny a payoff if they found nicotine in your blood at the time of death,” says Adams.

Tip No.3: Get in on a Group Policy

Many corporate benefit programs offer life insurance that doesn’t require a physical exam or undergo any medical tests. While the amount you can take out is often capped, it is a way to get some coverage if you are unhealthy and fear you can’t afford the premium.

Becoming a member of an association or organization can often get access to a group life insurance policy in many cases.

Read More: Source

Posted 1:22 PM  View Comments


Your dog isn't just a good dog -- he's your best friend who wouldn't hurt a flea.

But you might have to prove it to get your home insurance company to cover him, especially if he belongs to a breed with a reputation as aggressive.

Home insurers are increasingly cautious about providing liability coverage for dogs because pooches are taking a bigger bite out of their bottom lines.

More than one-third of the dollars home insurance companies pay out for liability claims is for injuries caused by dogs. Last year, dog liability insurance claims cost home insurers more than $483 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm, the largest U.S. home insurance provider.

The average cost of a dog liability claim nationwide, which was $27,862 in 2013, has grown more than 45 percent in the last decade, thanks to rising medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, says Loretta Worters, III vice president.

Traditionally, renters and homeowners insurance has covered dog bite liability legal expenses up to the policy's liability limits. But some insurers now require dog owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, and some exclude certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls, Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds, from liability coverage, or they charge more to cover certain breeds. Some home insurers won't cover dogs, period.

Showing your dog is a good citizen

How can you prove your dog is not a risk?

In some cases, especially if your dog has already bitten someone, you might have to resort to purchasing a separate dog liability insurance policy to cover him.

But in other cases, you might be able to persuade your home insurer to cover your dog if you can document that you are a responsible owner.

Read More: Source

Posted 3:42 PM  View Comments


A new study shows Americans have even less insurance since the recession, leaving their families vulnerable.

Life insurance is usually last on the list of important-but-necessary items people want to spend money on, because, let’s face it, no one wants to dwell on the circumstances in which it could come in handy. Now, in the wake of the Great Recession, people have even less insurance than before, which leaves families unprepared to cope with potential tragedy.

The gap between the amount of life insurance Americans actually have and the amount they think they need has now widened to about $320,000, according to a recent survey of 1,004 respondents by New York Life Insurance. Respondents on average said they needed about $540,000 worth of insurance, but they only had $220,000 last year.

Similarly, between 2004 and 2010, the number of people with life insurance dropped from 78 percent to 70 percent, says Bob Kerzner, CEO and president of LIMRA, a financial services industry group. “So three in 10 households in the United States have absolutely no life insurance whatsoever,” he says. He attributes the large drop partly to the recession and the fact people don’t – or at least think they don’t – have the money to afford a life insurance policy.

Kerzner says people tend to think that life insurance is about three times more expensive than it actually is. “There’s the perception that it costs more than it does, so they think it won’t fit into their budget, even when it might,” he adds. LIMRA surveys have also found that about half of households say they believe they don’t currently have enough life insurance.

Millennials, who are now in their 20s and early 30s, are particularly likely to be underinsured. A LIMRA survey released last month found that if the primary breadwinner were to die, six in 10 Gen X and Gen Y Americans​ said their households would suffer financially, versus just over one-third of baby boomers. The survey, based on 6,000 respondents, found that Gen Y is also less likely to have life insurance compared to older generations. Just one-third have individual life insurance policies, compared to about half of baby boomers.

“Young people in general tend to assume they’re absolutely invulnerable,” says Steven Weisbart​, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute. But young adulthood is also an ideal time to lock in low rates on policies, he adds. “When you’re young, it’s really cheap … This is a good time to buy,” he says.

Read More: Source

Posted 3:42 PM  View Comments


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