Do You Have Enough Life Insurance?

If something happened to you, would your loved ones be in a tough spot without your income? It may be difficult to consider that scenario, but life insurance is a way to help ensure your family will stay financially afloat after you’re gone.

If you purchased life insurance years ago (perhaps before you had a house and children) it may be time to bump up your coverage. Your employer may offer a plan, but everyone’s needs are different. Below are a few questions to help put you on the right track.

How old are your kids?

The younger your children, the more coverage you’ll want. If you have toddlers, your life insurance needs will probably differ from someone with teenagers. If you die and leave your spouse with a 1-year-old and 3-year-old, he or she has nearly two decades to get through without your income — not to mention the cost of college. Life insurance can help make that time easier financially.

Has your income changed?

The general rule of thumb is that you should invest in 7 to 10 times your income in life insurance.1 If you first bought life insurance 10 years ago, you probably weren’t earning the salary you are today, therefore, you have more you need to protect for your family if something were to happen to you.

What do you still owe?

List the expenses in your life that are ongoing — mortgage, car payments and any big credit card balances or private student loans. Debt doesn’t disappear when you die, and your spouse will have less income to make payments with.

Some debt, such as credit card debt, may be forgiven if the estate doesn’t have enough in assets to pay the balance — but if a spouse was a joint account holder, they’ll be liable. Having enough life insurance to pay off any major debts, or at least to make it easier for your spouse to continue making payments is something to consider when reassessing your life insurance needs.

Do you plan to cover college expenses?

If your children are likely to attend college, that’s a massive future expense. In addition to buying coverage at a multiple of your income, you may want to add extra for anticipated college costs. Consider bumping up your life insurance by $100,000 for each child’s college fund.

What about funeral expenses?

The typical funeral costs between $7,000 to $10,000, which is a big bill to cover if an income-earner has just died. If you factored this into your original total, that’s fine. If you didn’t, you may want to consider increasing your coverage amount as needed.

Knowing the Difference Between the ER and Urgent Care Could Save You Thousands

Not knowing where to go when you or your child gets sick can be terrifying. Your family doctor may not always be available when you need them, but your circumstances may not be severe enough to warrant a trip to the ER.

But how do you know if a visit to an urgent care center will work just as well and save you money?

Seeking Urgent Care

Thousands of urgent care centers and walk-in clinics have sprung up around the country to help families receive quick medical attention for a variety of issues. According to a December 2019 Forbes article, the number of urgent care centers in the U.S. (9,272) increased by 6% from the previous year. This is just the latest in a series of positive annual growth statistics specific to the urgent care industry.

Many of these locations can test, diagnose, and treat common viral infections, administer stitches to minor lacerations, and much more. But not all urgent care centers or walk-in clinics provide the same services. Before making an appointment or visiting a physical location, be sure to find out which services they offer first (most will have their range of services listed online).

Another increasingly popular service, telehealth, is helping to bring the doctor’s office to the convenience of your couch. Telehealth (also known as telemedicine) has provided relief for overwhelmed doctors offices and urgent care centers alike throughout the COVID-19 crisis and has allowed families to get the care they need while staying safe.

Regardless of how you seek treatment, you may be referred to an ER, specialist, or follow-up appointment if your condition warrants further medical attention.

When to Visit an Emergency Room

Going to an ER may seem scary (not to mention, expensive) but in some cases, it may be necessary.

According to Scripps, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you should be evaluated in an emergency room, where medical professionals have access to a full range of resources to treat you:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting
  • Changes in mental state
  • Serious burns
  • Head or eye injury
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Fever accompanied by a rash
  • Seizures
  • Severe cuts
  • Facial lacerations
  • Severe cold or flu symptoms
  • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy

Covering the Cost of Care

Major medical health insurance can help cover the cost of these types of healthcare. The annual open enrollment period for ACA-compliant health plans runs from November 1 to December 15. If you’ve experienced a qualifying life event (QLE) outside of that period, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period.

Two Reasons to Check Your LTD Plan

It’s easy to think that a long-term disability diagnosis will never happen to you. But having a safe profession and low-risk lifestyle does not negate the need to protect your income if you are no longer able to perform the duties of your occupation.

Here are two big reasons to consider this coverage:

Reason #1: The risk is real, even if you don’t think anything will happen to you.

What are the chances of being diagnosed with a long-term disability if you work a desk job? The answer may surprise you: it’s the same as everyone else.

More than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year due to a disabling condition before they reach the normal retirement age.1 Even if you work a desk job (and have no intention of skydiving or swimming with great white sharks) you still face more risk than you may think.

A long-term disability can range from something as common as arthritis to something as serious as cancer. Contrary to popular belief, the leading causes of disability claims (and loss of income) for workers are musculoskeletal disorders and disease—not catastrophic accidents.2

Reason #2: Employer-provided disability plans often cover only a fraction of your income.

If you have long-term disability coverage provided through your employer, you may want to review your current coverage amount and make changes if needed. Employer-provided plans will often only cover a limited portion of your salary and may not factor in any bonuses that you and your family rely on to pay your bills or maintain your lifestyle.

Hopefully, you will never have to file a claim and collect the benefits of a long-term disability policy, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have one.

 

 

1 Social Security Administration, July 2019, https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf
2 The State of Disability Coverage in America – Key Facts in 2019, https://disabilitycanhappen.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/DIAM2019_Facts.pdf

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 than 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.

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