A Smile Has More Power Than You Think

The act of smiling is part of a universal language that everyone understands. When someone cries, they are sad or hurt; when someone laughs, they felt something was funny; and when someone smiles, they are happy or being friendly. No matter where you are in the world, a smile will always be welcomed and understood.

But could smiling have more health benefits we thought?

Health Benefits of Smiling

According to NBC News, “science has shown that the mere act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.”

Smiling triggers the body to produce serotonin and dopamine resulting in an elevated mood. Not only are these chemicals part of the recipe for happiness, they may also play a part in boosting the immune system.

In one study, participants were separated into two groups, and both exposed to a virus. The first group was exposed to happiness-inducing stimuli and the second group was not. The results of the experiment showed that the group not exposed the happiness-inducing stimuli experienced higher infection rates than the other, leading some scientists to suggest that happiness can have an impact on one’s immune system.

This is just one study of many to suggest a link between those who are unhappy and those with weaker immune systems.

In addition to boosting immune systems, smiling has also been scientifically linked to:

  • lowering heart rate
  • lowering blood pressure
  • longevity

3 Tips to Help Avoid a Disability Diagnosis

With rising medical costs and a lack of emergency savings, many Americans are at risk of financial difficulty if they miss work due to illness, injury, or pregnancy. This is why it’s more important than ever to prepare for the unexpected.

The best way to prevent disabilities caused by illness is through early diagnosis and treatment. But there are also some things you can to do help minimize your chances of developing a disability altogether.

Exercise daily. Most experts agree that just 30 minutes of exercise can reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, and stroke.

Eat right. For example, foods such as blueberries and cinnamon may have cancer-preventive properties, while avocados and wild-caught salmon are heart-healthy superfoods.

Get regular check-ups. Sudden changes in weight, sleep patterns, or appetite can sometimes indicate an underlying illness. Checking in with your doctor on a regular basis gives you the best chance of early detection.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help you weather the storm physically, while long-term disability (LTD) insurance can help you get through the financial impact of a disability. LTD insurance pays you a monthly benefit that you can use to help pay your expenses if you become disabled and cannot work to earn a living. Many LTD plans also offer return-to-work features that help you ease back into the workplace when you’re ready.

How to Minimize Your Long-Term Care Risk

Watching a loved one struggle with living independently in their old age is hard — being the one struggling must be even harder.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are used as a way of determining a person’s ability to live independently or see if they need help. That help can range from a family member who checks in and runs errands, to a part-time nurse, or even relocating the individual to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

While there is no way to predict whether a person will develop a condition that limits their ability to live independently, modern science has shown that there are things we can do now to help keep us healthy and more active and independent in the future.

Keep Moving

There is no shortage to the benefits associated with exercising. On top of helping you keep unwanted weight, depression, and mobility issues at bay, studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly tend to be at a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment. The American Heart Association suggests a goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week — but it’s always important to talk to a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Eat Right

Much like exercise, maintaining a balanced diet is always a good idea. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can provide you with a natural source of important vitamins and minerals. The foods we eat can also help boost our immune systems, bone health, and more.

Stay Sharp

Like our bodies, our minds require exercise as well. Learning a new skill, visiting a new place, staying on top of current events, and even playing games, can help keep your mind sharp and slow the rate of mental decline.

Plan Ahead

Just as there is no way to accurately single out individuals who will need long-term care in the future, there is also no foolproof way to prevent it. Accidents, lifestyle, and genetics are just a few of the things that ultimately determine how our minds and bodies age.

What is Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D)?

Would your ability to earn a paycheck be impacted if you were to suddenly lose your speech, hearing, or a limb? Would your family experience financial difficulty if you lost your life in an accident?

If the answer to either question is ‘yes,’ you may benefit from Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance coverage. AD&D insurance is designed to help you and your family meet the financial challenges that come with experiencing a life-altering accident.

Keeping You Covered

A life-changing accident can happen at any time. And according to the CDC, accidents are the third-leading cause of death in the United States – claiming more than 167,000 lives in 2018 alone.

AD&D insurance is similar to life insurance in that it pays a benefit to your beneficiary(ies) if your death is the result of a covered accident. But unlike life insurance, an AD&D insurance policy can also pay a benefit to you if you experience a serious injury resulting in the loss of a limb, a hand, foot, sight in one eye, speech, or hearing, among others.

Why Young People Need Disability Insurance

When we’re young, we don’t always think about what could happen in the future. The truth is, debilitating accidents, illnesses, and injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, and any age. So no matter how young you are, it’s important to have a long-term disability insurance plan in place that can help protect your savings if something should happen to you.

Plan for the unexpected.

According to a 2017 Disability and Health Journal report, a long-term disability diagnosis can increase cost-of-living expenses by almost $7,000 a year. If you were suddenly no longer able to work, how would you manage to support yourself? Would your family be able to maintain its current way of life? Could your savings survive the average disability length of 31 months?

If a paycheck is your main source of income, you’ll most likely need long-term disability coverage to meet these needs. Even if your employer already has long-term disability coverage in place for you, it may not be enough. Employer-based plans sometimes only cover a fraction of your salary and may not factor in any bonuses that you (or your family) rely on.

What is long-term disability insurance?

Long-term disability insurance coverage is designed to help you and your loved ones withstand the financial changes that a disability can bring. If you become disabled and are no longer able to continue working, your coverage will kick in and help pay everything from medical copays to everyday expenses such as your mortgage or credit card bills.

Hopefully, you will never have to reap the benefits of a long-term disability plan. But if you do, you’ll be glad you have coverage ready when you need it. Your life can change forever in the blink of an eye – and being prepared can make all the difference in the world.

A Response to COVID-19

As world leaders continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we would like to reassure its customers and partners that we expect to continue normal business operations.

While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about how the virus will affect markets, industries and entire economies — we are confident that our business continuity plan and operational infrastructure will enable us to continue providing the same level of service excellence that our customers have come to expect.

In addition to providing uninterrupted service, our other commitments to you include:

  • Taking measures to safeguard our employees and customers.
  • Monitoring the situation in our customers’ local and regional areas.
  • Remaining in close communication with our providers and carriers.
  • Being a responsible partner in our communities.
  • Keeping you informed of any important updates.

We will continue to post updates on this web page when necessary.

If you have any questions about your existing policies or coverage, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

businessman explaining group health needs

Group Health Coverage Basics for Small Businesses

Offering health insurance to your employees may sound like an overwhelming process — but it doesn’t need to be. Once you’ve identified your business’s needs and know the basics of group health insurance, the rest is easy. So, what do you need to know first?

What’s the difference between group and individual health plans?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “A group health plan is an employee welfare benefit plan established or maintained by an employer or by an employee organization (such as a union), or both, that provides medical care for participants or their dependents directly or through insurance, reimbursement, or otherwise.”

In other words, a group health plan is designed to cover a group of employees, but each enrollee has their own plan with benefits – and the plan’s monthly premium is calculated differently than if it were purchased as an individual health plan.

The monthly premium for all health plans is determined by the perceived risk of the carrier in offering coverage. With a group health plan, the group seeking coverage has their risk pooled together as one, which in some cases, may lower the monthly cost.

Unlike individual plans, group health plans are also available in different types designed to help your business save the most money and make the best coverage decisions. To learn more about these different plan types and ways that your business can save money on group health coverage, feel free to check out this group health webinar.

As a business owner, do I have to offer group health insurance to my employees?

Depending on the size of your business, the answer could be no. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) stated that businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are not legally obligated to provide health insurance to their employees — but many choose to regardless.

Looking for a better benefits package is one of the most common reasons people change jobs. And if your business doesn’t offer a health insurance benefit, it may give current and prospective employees reason to look somewhere else for employment.

If you are federally mandated to offer health insurance to your employees, you will need to ensure you are following the rest of the ACA’s rules and regulations for small businesses.

weimaraner puppy

My Pet Ran Away, What Do I Do?

One of the scariest situations anyone can face is a missing pet.

The good news is, when a pet runs away, they seldom go very far – which makes it more likely to reunite with them. According to a 2012 study, 59% of lost cats and 20% of lost dogs return home on their own after being lost. But there are always additional steps you can take to help ensure a happy reunion.

Lure Them Back with Scent

Both cats and dogs have highly developed senses of smell and direction. For dogs, consider putting something with your scent on it outside near where you think it got out. For cats, putting their litter box outside may be your best course of action. Even if the litter box has just been cleaned, your cat may still recognize the scent and come back to it.

Get Their Picture Out

Social media has become a great tool for reuniting lost pets with their owners. Post on community Facebook groups, and share it among your own network of friends to help spread the word organically.

Much like flyers (which you can also print and post in your area), your social post should include at least one photo of your pet, their name, gender, any identifying features, when and where they went missing, and your contact information.

Take a Walk

Most lost pets tend to stay close to home, so walking around your own neighborhood is a great place to begin your search. Try calling their name, and carry their food with you. According to the aforementioned study, searching the neighborhood was the most successful way to locate a lost dog (49%), and the second most successful way to reunite with a lost cat (30%).

Don’t become discouraged if your missing pet doesn’t immediately appear. A scared cat or dog may not move or even make a sound out of fear of predators, so it’s important to have patience and keep trying.

Check Local Shelters

When a stray animal is brought in to an animal shelter or city animal control, they are placed on a “stray hold”. These hold times vary by state so it’s best to know the laws regarding lost and found pets in your area. If your pet is left unclaimed after the stray hold period, it will be put up for adoption as long as it is in good health.

The Importance of Microchipping

The best way to avoid your pet getting lost is to do everything you can to prevent it. Still, accidents can happen.

Fortunately, pet owners now have affordable access to microchip technology. The concept may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is the equivalent of your pet wearing a tag and collar that can never come off.

The procedure only takes a minute and is often done during the pets spay or neuter procedure. During the surgery, a tiny microchip with your contact information is implanted anywhere from the neck to between the shoulder blades of the animal. The microchip is approximately the size of a grain of rice and shouldn’t cause your pet any discomfort.

If your pet ever goes missing and is later scanned for a microchip, your information will be made available to the veterinary office and an attempt will be made to contact you with the information from the chip. (So make sure that you keep your contact information with them up to date.)

A Lifetime Commitment

When adopting any animal, it’s important to understand that you are committing to keeping your new pet happy and healthy until the end of their days.

Pet ownership can be expensive, and an unexpected illness or injury to them can be a financial drain. To help offset these costs, many businesses are teaming up with pet insurance carriers to offer discounts on coverage to members.

female doctor with curly hair talks to man and girl about health options smiling

Debunking the Most Common Long-Term Disability Insurance Myths

When was the last time you thought about what would happen to your family if you suddenly couldn’t work? If you have to think about it, then chances are, it’s been a while.

The simple truth is that one out of every four workers will be diagnosed with a long-term disability before they reach the age of retirement. But despite this startling statistic, many still feel like long-term disability insurance is a coverage they can live without.

Myth #1:  “I have enough protection through Workers’ Comp and Social Security.”

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, only approximately five percent of accidents or illnesses are workplace-related meaning that the other ninety-five percent will not be covered under workers’ comp.

When seeking to collect social security disability benefits, you may be in for a wait of anywhere from three to five months for an initial decision to be made regarding your case. If, like 66 percent of applicants, your application is denied, you have the option to appeal, but in 2017 the backlog of appeals cases hit over one million with an average processing time of over eighteen months, according to research conducted by Allsup.

Can your family really afford to wait for benefits when you need help?

Myth #2:  “I’ll still have to fight for a payout in the event of a long-term disability diagnosis.”

We’ve all heard stories about people struggling to receive payout benefits from their insurance company. However, not all of these cases are related to long-term disability insurance and those that are, are very rare.

Upon enrolling, all of your benefits and circumstances surrounding a potential payout are laid out in front of you. If you aren’t going to receive the amount of coverage you are looking for, then it may be worth looking into other options.

Myth #3:  “I can’t receive long-term disability insurance because I’m a government employee.”

If you are a government employee enrolled in a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) plan, you are still able to apply for long-term disability benefits. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, “While you can buy private supplemental long-term disability insurance in addition to having FERS benefits, you may not get as much coverage as you expected.”

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