Browsing posts in: Insurance

How Midlife Affects Your Insurance Needs…Are You Covered?

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You’ve no doubt heard of a midlife crisis: the time in life where you realize that you aren’t going to live forever. As a chance to take stock of the plans you had in your youth and square them up with where you stand now, midlife can be a time of great strife for some people who haven’t achieved their goals.

The good news is that by definition “midlife” means that you are only halfway through. That means you have just as much time left to change your situation as you had getting into it. That also means that there is still plenty of time to turn your financial ship around. If finances are an area where you have not lived up to your plans, dreams, and goals, now is the time to take the bull by the horns.

One critical way to tackle your midlife financial goals is by doing an insurance audit to make sure that you are not only managing your union bank credit card rates and wealth but also that you are protecting your assets along with growing them. Reviewing your insurance plans to ensure that you are fully protected and safe is a good place to start gaining financial control.

The insurance audit should cover all of those things that you use insurance to protect:

Health Insurance

It is not uncommon to develop chronic conditions in your 50s and 60s, which is why it is so important to choose your healthcare plan well. Make sure that you have the proper out-of-pocket caps and deductibles to fit your overall health needs. Having a small deductible is nice, but you also want to ensure that if things go terribly wrong, you have reasonable out-of-pocket costs.

Your risk for serious health conditions increases as your age does, so taking a good look at the structure of your health plan can help you to cut costs and ensure that you are getting the right coverage for any prescription, rehabilitation, or therapy needs.

Midlife means that you have to take a better overall look at your health needs and anticipate what they might be going forward. It may also be a time when you will have to make decisions about the transition between your health insurance and Medicare. Don’t make the assumption that things will be covered. If you need to purchase supplemental insurance, make sure you know exactly what will and will not be covered before the transition occurs.

Life Insurance

When you have young children, a house, and other dependents, it’s a good idea to have a hefty life insurance policy. But it isn’t inexpensive. As you get older, the price of life insurance will continue to increase unless you have a set policy. If you are paying a lot for health insurance and you aren’t supporting anyone but yourself, it really doesn’t make any sense to overpay. Unless you have someone depending on you, reevaluate your life insurance needs.

Disability Insurance

If something should happen to your income, then having disability insurance is a must. The average policy will cover about 60 percent of the income you are earning. Short-term policies will cover your costs for up to two years post-disability. Long-term policies will typically cover you until you turn 65 and you can start to collect Social Security. You can reduce your premium by shortening your benefit period if you are closer to 65.

Auto Insurance

If it has been a while since you compared rates for your car insurance, it is definitely something to investigate. Most insurance carriers consider older individuals lower-risk and will reduce premiums. Also, things like your credit score can reduce your auto insurance payments. It is worth it to call around and talk to several insurance companies to ensure that you are getting all the discounts you can. Go the extra mile to phone the carriers directly to get the discounts you deserve.

Midlife can be a difficult time emotionally for people, but it doesn’t have to be one, financially. Making sure to initiate sound changes to maximize your insurance coverage by minimizing the costs is the best way to protect your assets while still growing them.


5 States with Affordable Homeowners Insurance

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It’s common to find people relocating from one part of the country to the other these days. Many people do it as they change jobs or as a result of personal or family needs. If you’re planning to relocate, there are various factors you ought to consider first before deciding on your new place of residence.

Top on the list of factors that many people consider when moving is real estate value. What many prospective homeowners don’t stop to think about is the cost of homeowners insurance. The cost of homeowners insurance adds up to the total cost of maintaining your home, so it’s in your best interest to make sure the area you’re moving to doesn’t have any bizarre homeowners association requirements pertaining to homeowners insurance and the like.

There’s always the option of comparing homeowners insurance quotes online to land the best deals in insurance premium rates. The actual cost of your insurance premium will depend on a number of factors including deductibles, the coverage you choose and the cost of the property you wish to insure. The location also plays an important role in the cost of insurance.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners determined the average cost of homeowners insurance across the U.S. to have been $1,086 in 2013. This was a six percent increase from the average rate in 2012. According to Investopedia, the cost of homeowners insurance claims has been rising since 1997. As a result, insurance rates have risen by more than 50 percent in 10 years. If you want to control the cost of your insurance premiums, consider the location you’re relocating to carefully.

The following are five states with the lowest rates for homeowners insurance premiums.

Idaho ($533)

Idaho tops the list as the least expensive state for homeowners insurance with insurance premiums averaging $533 annually. This is slightly over half the national average. The state is popular amongst prospective home buyers and has experienced significant appreciation in home prices over the years. With low burglary rates of 12.7 percent, the state is considered quite safe.

Oregon ($558)

Oregon came in a close second with an average rate of $558. The average burglary rate in the state is also quite low. However, the average price per square foot for houses in the state is higher than that of Idaho, causing insurance companies to charge higher premiums.

Utah ($574)

Utah is one of the most affordable places to purchase a home in the U.S. It is also one of the most affordable states to live in. Low crime rates and high employment rates all contribute to lower insurance premiums offered in this state.

Washington ($639)

It may seem surprising to many people to hear that Washington ranks amongst the cheapest states for homeowners insurance. One would expect the high price per square foot of homes as well as the higher crime rates to increase the insurance premium rates. However, high competition amongst insurance companies also plays a role in the cost of insurance in this state.

Wisconsin ($655)

This state comes in fifth with an average insurance rate of $655. This may be attributed to low burglary rates as well as low-price per square foot for homes in the region.

Take Control of Your Expenses

You can easily control the cost of your homeowner’s insurance premiums by deciding to relocate to an area with a low average rate. However, if you don’t have control over where you relocate to, you may want to consider the following:

  • Increasing security of your home to lower insurance premiums. Invest in burglar and other security systems to keep your home safe.
  • Increase your deductible to lower your premiums. This will, however, result in a greater out-of-pocket expense when you make a claim.
  • Avoid filing claims. The more claims you file, the higher your insurance premiums.

There are various insurance providers in the market. Always compare insurance quotes from different insurance providers to ensure that you get the best deal.


4 Smart Ways to Save Money on Car Insurance

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The cost of auto insurance often causes people to lower their deductibles until they find a premium that they can afford. Unfortunately, that generally leaves people with deductibles that they can’t meet if anything ever happens, making the insurance pointless. Before you start lowering your deductibles, follow these money-saving steps to save money and still have proper coverage.

Re-Evaluate Collision and Comprehensive

If you are in an accident and it’s ruled someone else’s fault, the other driver’s insurance pays for the damage to your vehicle. However, if it’s your fault or you hit something other than a car, the collision insurance comes into play. Comprehensive pays you if there in an event other than a collision, such as theft, vandalism, or a flood. Your insurance company will pay you the value of your vehicle if it is totaled. If you drive an old car that isn’t worth much more than $1,000-$2,000, it doesn’t make much sense to pay for the insurance every month, and pay a deductible after the accident. If your car isn’t worth the cost of the comprehensive and collision insurance, just remove it completely.

Ask About Discounts

One important and effective way to save money on your car insurance is by asking about discounts. There are discounts for more things than you can imagine. However, the exact discounts depend on the insurance provider. Different companies choose the discounts that they offer, so it’s not all the same. Some companies might offer discounts to college students. Some only offer discounts to students who have a B average or higher. Most car insurance companies all carry discounts for active duty military and people with a clean driving record. While military veteran discounts aren’t always specifically advertised, most companies will give the military discount to veterans if they ask. You can also receive discounts if you affiliate with different unions or agencies. The insurance agency should have a list of affiliations that you can choose from.

Monitoring Programs

Some car insurance companies will give you the option to participate in monitoring programs. These programs give you a device to put on your car, and they will record when the car is speeding, when there are sudden stops, and also audio and video footage. If you want to put the monitoring devices on your teen’s car, you can also set up e-mail and text alerts that let you know when your child arrives in the locations that they’re going. The insurance can be reduced significantly; usually between 10 and 15 percent.

Keep Your Credit Score Good

Your credit score affects your insurance premiums more than you realize. When you get an insurance quote, they check your credit score along with your driving record. If you credit isn’t good, your payments are going to be higher. Keep your bills paid and your credit straight. So your premiums don’t go up as your bills go into collections.

If you’re tired of premiums you can’t afford or deductibles that are too high to even matter, you need to go over all of the different ways you can save money. Consider the monitoring program, re-evaluate your discounts, and decide if certain coverage is even needed on your vehicle.


Protect Your Financial Wealth

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For many of us saving up for retirement, our financial wealth represents a life of relaxation and easy living after decades of hard work. However, you shouldn’t be complacent thinking that everything you’ve saved will just sit idly by waiting until you retire. There is the very real possibility of you losing your hard earned wealth. Use this article as a roadmap to the various precautions you can take to protect your hard-earned assets.

Eggs & Baskets

You’ve probably heard the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” countless times, and the truth of the matter is it’s said for a reason. For example, investing in the stock market when you know what you’re doing can be a very lucrative long-term endeavor; however, there is no absolute guarantee that your stocks of choice will continue to increase. The 2007-08 Financial Crisis showed investors across the U.S. that investing in just one company can result in your retirement nest egg being completely wiped out. You should always spread your money around. If you’re going to invest, it should be in stocks, mutual funds, real estate, savings and emergency funds. By making sure that you have money spread out in different asset classes, you’ll have less of a chance of losing it all in the event of another economic depression.

Get Renters Insurance

They say that home is where the heart is, but what this statement should also say is that home is where you keep most of your stuff. Whether it’s your flat screen television, furniture, appliances, or clothes, a large percentage of a person’s yearly income goes towards the stuff that they keep in their house. Despite the fact that they are used in your daily life, they are still considered as financial assets due to the cost of replacing them. Unfortunately, unlike land, stocks, and money in the bank (which has various systems in place to prevent it from being harmed or stolen), items that you have at home are subject to a wide assortment of dangers. These include, but are not limited to:

1. Robberies
2. Water Damage
3. Fire Damage
4. Vandalism

These are just a few of the possible cases that can result in you losing thousands of dollars. To prevent this from happening, you should check out various online insurance provider and perform a renters insurance quote comparison. By doing this, you can determine which insurance provider would suit your needs the best, and rest easy that your belongings are protected.

Health Insurance

You can say that you are in the prime of your life and that you feel absolutely fine with no headaches, coughs, aches or pains–but we’re not all Superman. People can get in accidents, they get sick and get hit with a host of other unlucky circumstances. With the cost of medical care today, making sure you have adequate health insurance can make a massive difference in the amount you pay. Hospital stays can cost several thousand dollars a day, and this doesn’t include the cost of doctor’s appointments, surgery, medication and the myriad different procedures that you may go through. You need to make sure that you’re adequately protected against such a possibility, and having health insurance is the best way of doing so.

Liability Insurance

Another precaution that you should take is to get comprehensive liability insurance to cover you and your family when it comes to the shared use of your cars. Accidents happen and in some cases, you could be the motorist at fault in a crash. Since you are liable, there is the potential that the injured party will try and sue you for more than what your liability insurance covers. The less expensive liability insurance policy isn’t always the better policy. By maintaining extensive auto insurance, you’ll be better protected and your finances locked tight in the bank’s vault.

Protecting your financial wealth is all about taking proper precautions. Use common sense and an analytical mind and you’re sure to enjoy your retirement. Just remember, when in doubt go online and do your research!


Saving Money on Car Insurance

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When I first started to blog here a couple years ago I saved a TON of money on car insurance by reducing our coverage to a more reasonable level (we were way over-insured at the time).

Since then I really haven’t given insurance much thought.

But after our trip to Texas over the Christmas vacation, I was left with a  few chips in my windshield. I went to a place to have the chips repaired and discovered that although my insurance covers repairs 100%, they do NOT cover full glass replacement. The person who was doing the repairs put a black light (or some kind of ultraviolet or something) on my car and showed me the truth….I thought I had 3 chips but I had about 15. ALL OVER the windshield. Plus I’ve had previous chips repaired, which are still visible. Basically, the windshield is a whole big mess.

At that time I also discovered that windshields are crazy-expensive! To replace it paying outright would be over a thousand dollar for my car make and model. What in the world!?

But the repair shop guy gave me a good tip. He said I needed to call and increase my insurance to cover full windshield replacement. “It will cost about 3 bucks a month,” he said. Plus, given the amount of driving we do (biannual cross-country trips:  every summer and winter), the odds of having future windshield chips are HIGH. The guy can continue repairing and repairing, but at some point the windshield really needs to be replaced.

This was back in early January and I just now got around to calling my insurance company to increase my insurance so it includes windshield replacement.

The repair guy was a little bit off (it’s more like $10/month, not $3/month), but the call actually ended up SAVING me money rather than costing me money!

The representative on the phone said we haven’t updated our personal information in several years. She asked where we worked and what we did and, lo and behold, entering in that information actually ended up saving us about $15/month. So now we were actually paying LESS even though I’d increased our coverage.

But wait, there’s more…

Initially I’d tried to add the windshield coverage online and couldn’t figure it out (which is why I ended up calling in and speaking to a representative). However, when I was online there was a little box that popped up saying I could save $160 if I paid in full rather than through monthly installments. I asked the representative what I was paying for an installment fee because I’d thought it was super low. She responded with “The installment fee is $1 per month.” So I was like, “Uhhhh, that’s $12 per year. So pre-paying saves 12 bucks. Why does it say online that I could save $160?!”

Turns out, not only do you save the installment fee, but they also give you one monthly payment FOR FREE (which is where the $160 came from – because that’s about one month worth of car insurance).

WHAT? Shut the front door! How have I not known about this all along?!?

They only pre-pay for 6 months at a time (not a full year), but I sure did throw down payment as quickly as I could grab my wallet! So this month we’ll have a pretty high insurance payment coming out of our budget, but this will end up saving us money in the long-run (and we’ll just have to increase our “semi-annual fees” monthly budget to account for this expense).

So as a lesson to all of you:  1) if you haven’t updated personal information in awhile, you might want to call and see if it can save you some money! and 2) find out if you can save serious money by pre-paying your insurance!  All along I’d just assumed the only savings was that measly $1/month installment fee. Who cares about that? But saving an entire month of car insurance is a bigger deal! I feel like it should be more heavily advertised! I’m not sure if all carriers have similar deals, but we’ve got Progressive so if they’re your insurance carrier, give them a call! (side note: they don’t know about the blog, this is not sponsored or anything, just giving a heads up to save some money!)

What’s the last big ticket item on which you were able to cash in some big savings?


Canceling My (Vision) Insurance

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Hi friends! Sorry I didn’t get a post up yesterday. Life, you know?

Today I want to tell you about a horrible experience I’ve had with my vision insurance company. I’m about 2 minutes away from canceling it all together but before I officially make the call I wanted to put it to YOU to see if I’m overlooking something or if there’s some good reason to keep it.

Here’s what I’ve been dealing with yesterday and this morning….

I got vision insurance last July through my employer. It’s through a company called Avesis and I pay $15/month for the insurance.

From July through December I received several vision-related services. I had an eye exam, a contact lens fitting, I purchased new lenses (for my existing frames), and new contacts. I did both because I wear both. Contacts about 30% of the time, glasses about 70% of the time.

All combined, I paid a total of $408.97 for vision-related expenses last year (this was spread across the second half of the year, when I was insured). I paid everything completely out-of-pocket and was told I could submit all my receipts for reimbursement so I did that in early January 2016.

Yesterday I received 3 separate letters from Avesis. Two of them denied my claims. The codes were listed as “conflicting service filed in benefit period”, “benefit maximum for this time period has been reached”, and “receive date prior to service date.”

The only one I agree with is the conflicting service. I submitted the receipts from EVERYTHING and I knew they would only cover EITHER contacts OR frame lenses. Not both. But I submitted everything in the hopes that I could receive maximum reimbursement (because the reimbursement rate varies between lenses and contacts, so my hope was that I could be reimbursed for whichever was higher).

Instead I received a check for a measly $15.

I called to find out what the deal was. First, I have to say I received HORRIBLE and ATROCIOUS customer service!

Regarding the “receive date is prior to service date” error, I was told that the person who received my paperwork mistakenly entered it into the system as January 2015 (instead of January 2016). Simple clerical error, right? Only I was told that I would have to re-do everything because of THEIR error. I asked to speak to a supervisor, as this didn’t seem fair.

Here’s where the customer service really went downhill (and, looking back, I totally believe the person was NOT a supervisor, but was probably a friend or buddy of the original representative).

I was talked down to, given serious attitude, and outright told that I was at fault for the date error (which HAD to be on their end. It doesn’t even make sense that the customer would enter a “received” date. I have no idea when they’d receive it. Depends how long the mail takes!).

I was getting nowhere so I hung up and called back, hoping for a new representative.

This time, I was told that the code “benefit maximum has been reached” is because when I ordered my lenses and contacts through Costco, I was given a 20% discount which is the maximum they allow. They would not reimburse anything because that already “counted” as coverage. This didn’t make sense, though, because I never even showed my insurance card at Costco. I paid in full out-of-pocket.

I had to go to work so I hung up and tried again later.

This time (call #3), I’m told that the doctor who did my eye exam had billed them for his services and already received reimbursement for my eye exam. Again, this makes no sense because I paid fully out-of-pocket. I’m told there’s nothing they can do and that I’d have to handle it privately through the optometrist’s office. I asked how much they had mailed the eye doctor. I’m told he received $40, the maximum amount of reimbursement they provide for vision exams.

So after 3 different calls I’m given 3 different excuses of why I haven’t (and will not) be paid. And if I want to pursue the eye exam reimbursement it will be a huge hassle and take another chunk of time (who knows how long), and may or may not even be viable. All for a pesky forty dollars. My time is more valuable than that.

Then I got to thinking.

I’ve been paying them $15/month for the last 6 months (January excluded, I’m only talking about 2015), so that’s a total of $90.

They only gave me a check for $15 and the vague possibility of an additional $40 if I were to fight. This is a total reimbursement of $55 in exchange for the $90 I’ve given them through 2015.

Makes no sense. Why the heck am I paying this?

After calming down a bit (because I was definitely fired up after the third call, feeling like I’m getting the total run-around and that the customer service is seriously the worst I’ve ever dealt with), I decide that I just simply don’t want to do business with this company. I don’t want to give them another penny. And given their reimbursement structure (or lack thereof), it seems to not even make financial sense to keep my plan.

Luckily, hubs and the kids both have great vision, so none of them even need any coverage for glasses/contacts/etc. I would rather pay out-of-pocket for eye exams (which, apparently, I’ve been forced to do even with my insurance coverage) and not have to deal with the headache and hassle of this company.

Thoughts? Any reason to keep them around?

My only other consideration was that the company does help reimburse some of the expenses related to Lasik eye surgery. I haven’t made definitive plans but was hoping that I might have some money saved up to be able to do Lasik toward the end of this current year (2016). But when I called to find out about it, I discovered that, again, coverage is really limited. They only reimburse a couple hundred dollars and only cover one single surgeon in the entire Tucson area (who, by the way, doesn’t have great reviews online). There are other options up in Phoenix, but that’s definitely not convenient and, given the run-around I’ve received on the reimbursement for simple expenses, I don’t even want to count on actual reimbursement for surgery. I think I’d rather pick whatever surgeon I actually want (rather than being limited to a very restrictive list), save up the cash, and just pay for it myself. And, again, we’re talking about something that may not even occur this year (might be 2017 before I get around to Lasik).

That’s all I got. Very frustrated with this company and with my (lack of) coverage.

Has anyone else experienced similar issues with this or another company? Why are insurance places such a pain to deal with? Ugh!


Drivers License : It Could Change Our Lives

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One adult, Four children, Three Two dogs, One cat – three working, two days a week of homeschool co op, four in activities, all social.  The amount of time I have spent in the car every week…well, it makes me dizzy just thinking back on it.  But now, I’m getting some relief!  Please join me in congratulating History Buff on receiving his drivers license this week!

2016-01-11 15.57.50

For now, he’s only driving himself places until I and he are comfortable with the idea of him truly driving (ok, mostly me.)  But that has already taken a load off since he works almost every day.  Woot, woot!

Financially this is actually helping me…he is paying his own car insurance at $72 per month (he already pays part of his phone bill) and I am going to fill up his car one time per month approx $20 for times he helps me by running errands or taking others to an activity.  He will otherwise be responsible for all gas and car maintenance for his car.

So even during the challenges we are facing, some exciting things are happening over here!