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What Kind of Life Insurance Should You Buy?

September 7th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

Since it is life insurance awareness month, I figured I’d weigh in on the mother of all insurance debates: term life insurance v. cash value (also know as permanent) life insurance.

Disclaimer 1: Life insurance is complicated and doesn’t make for fun, lively blog posts. So if you’re getting ready to click away to more exciting fare (like Maribeth’s great post on insurance fraud), I’m not offended.

Before you go, though, you can quickly scan the two bullets below to get an idea of my biased and simplistic take on the debate between term life and cash value life insurance:

  • If you’re going to hold on to your insurance forever–or at least longer than 15-20 years–then cash value/permanent might be a good pick.
  • If you’re NOT going to hold on to your life insurance for that long, term life insurance is probably a better option than cash value/permanent life insurance.

…Read the rest of this entry »

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September = Life Insurance Awareness Month

September 1st, 2006 by Penny Hagerman

Life Insurance Policy.jpg
Nearly 68 million Americans have no life insurance coverage–and those who do are often grossly undersured. But the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) is out to change all that.

This non-profit group, founded in 1994, conducts an annual industry-wide education campaign each September to encourage Americans to evaluate their life insurance needs and obtain needed coverage.

A recent press release on Hispanic PRWire cites what LIFE believes to be the most common misperceptions about life insurance, including expense and sufficient employer coverage. It also gives some great recommendations on how to find a good agent in your area. [Find them here: September's Life Insurance Awareness Month Calls Attention to the Need for Financial Protection]

For more information on life insurance and this annual event, visit www.life-line.org.

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Seminary Forbids Life Insurance

August 31st, 2006 by Jeb Foster

People have strong opinions about insurance. Mosque.jpg

When it comes to South Asian Islamic clerics’ feelings about life insurance, that’s a bit of an understatement.

According to an Associated Press story, a prominent Islamic seminary in India has denounced the practice of buying life insurance. Clerics at the seminary say it violates Islamic law.

“Life is given by Allah and to insure it or assure it, is a crime in the eyes of Allah,” clerics at the Dar-ul-Uloom seminary told the AP.

The seminary issued its directive on Aug. 7, saying “insurance is not permissible because it is a sort of gambling. Moreover, it also involves interest money which is illegal under Shariat.” (Shariat = Islamic law).

Read the entire story.

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Saving on Life Insurance: Comparing Quotes and More

July 25th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Life insurance isn’t a fun topic; we all know this. And I’m not going to try and trick you into believing that life insurance is the coolest thing you’ve ever spent money on, because, well, it’s not. Cars, books and in my case, shoes, are much cooler things to spend money on.

But as it happens, life insurance is a necessary purchase for most of us. So today I’m going to share four tips to maximize your coverage while minimizing your premium dollars…you know, so you have spare change in your pocket for the fun stuff. Like shoes.

See my four tips for life insurance savings after the jump.

…Read the rest of this entry »

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West Virginia Offers Insurance Education for Women

July 10th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Well done, West Virginia.

The Register-Herald out of Buckley, W.Va.is reporting the partnership of State Farm and WVU Extension to help education women on insurance issues. thinkingaboutjames.JPG

WVU Extension is a state organization aimed at educating and empowering the community about social, economic, environmental and technical issues. Terrill Smith, a WVU Extension agent, highlights the importance of insurance education for women:

Every woman who has to make insurance decisions for themselves and their families has wondered if the coverage she has on her car or home was enough. They wonder if they have enough life insurance coverage or if they need to invest in disability insurance. Many women have asked me questions about retirement coverage, homeowners’ insurance and a variety of insurance issues.

Studies have also suggested that women seem to be falling through the cracks of America’s healthcare system. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study, over 17 million women over the age of 18 are without health insurance and one in ten working women are currently without health insurance. On average, men are 51 percent more likely to be covered under an employer’s health plan, versus women at 38 percent.

At the risk of sounding preachy, this stuff is a big deal, which is why I commend State Farm and WVU, not only for recognizing the unique insurance needs of women, but for doing something about it. Tonight, the duo will offer a seminar regarding insurance issues. Those attending the seminar won’t be pressured to purchase a policy of any kind, says Smith.

“People will not be asked to buy any insurance from State Farm or anyone else. This is just a wonderful opportunity for women to empower themselves by ask questions and getting information about insurance issues.”

Sessions will be held from 1PM until 4PM and from 5PM until 8PM at the WVU Extension office and childcare will be provided.

Good stuff, West Virginia.

So…what’s your community doing for you?

[Related article]:
Women and Health Insurance: Falling Through the Cracks? [InsureMe Insurance Resource Center]

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Shady Scheme Puts Seniors at Risk

June 26th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

The Street’s Terry Savage has written a creepy column about speculator-initiated life insurance, a scheme in which insurance “investors” convince seniors to take out additional life insurance policies.

In the plot, which is shady but legal, granny doesn’t pay for the first two years of policy premiums, and for her trouble she gets a yearly percentage of the overall policy value–often several thousand dollars.

After two years, the premiums–which are incredibly expensive–become the senior’s responsibility, prompting grandma or grandpa to sell the policy to the speculator, who becomes the beneficiary.

The speculator then waits for the insured to croak and collects on the million-dollar policy, recouping the expenses incurred from paying for the premiums (and grandpa’s spending money.)

“[The scheme] could put you in the position of being a target,” says Savage. “At the very least, it gives someone a tremendous incentive to see you dead sooner rather than later!”

She advises seniors tempted by the plan to consider how creepy it would be to have someone out there, who may be a complete stranger, betting against your life.

Savage: “It sounds like a script from “The Sopranos.’”

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The Latest on Foreign Travel and Life Insurance

May 23rd, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Could your foreign travel plans affect your life insurance premiums?

According to the Insurance News Network, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently met to evaluate current legislature to come up with a “universal model” for life insurers over whether or not to incorporate foreign travel into life insurance underwriting.

Today, many life insurers–including big names like Allstate, MetLife and New York Life Insurance Company–use an applicant’s future travel plans to determine their life insurance premiums. In some cases, insurers will even deny life insurance coverage if the applicant travels to high-risk areas, which are usually determined by the U.S. State Department travel warning list.

The issue of foreign travel and life insurance was put in the spotlight last year after U.S. Representative, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, was denied life insurance after she discussed possible future travel to Israel.

“As an American you can lawfully travel pretty much anywhere in the world,” Wasserman Schultz has been quoted. “You are asking Americans to choose between insuring their lives and legal travel.”

Insurance companies, on the other hand, argue that they should be allowed to increase premiums or deny coverage based on the fact that a person has a higher risk of death in certain areas of the world–treating world travelers much as they would a person with a history of cancer or other pre-existing medical condition.

My opinion falls somewhere in the middle. If my profession required me to spend a great length of time traveling and working in high-risk areas like Somalia, Liberia and Nepal, then I would expect to be turned down by one or two life insurance companies and, ultimately, to pay higher-than-average life insurance premiums.

However, if there’s a possibility that I might travel to Israel or Central Africa during the length of my 30-year term policy, I wouldn’t expect to pay more for life insurance than Helen Hermit, who leaves her house once a month. Call me crazy, but that just seems a little fanatical.

It will be interesting to see what state regulators and legislators come up with on the issue of travel and life insurance. I’ll be sure to post updates here.

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To Catch a Thief…Ahem, Killer

May 11th, 2006 by Penny Hagerman

A sad story out of Dallas yesterday makes me grateful anew for my husband, home and family.

Nearly a year after her husband was shot to death by a gang of car thieves outside their home, a Dallas woman is making an unusual offer to anyone who can help police catch his killers.

She’s offering all she has–his $10,000 life insurance policy.

After almost a year trailing the cold case, Dallas police were surprised when Mrs. Marquez walked into the police station this week with the idea of offering the $10,000 life insurance policy reward to anyone willing to help authorities catch whoever killed her beloved husband.

According to the story reported by CBS 11, Graciela Marquez and her children just want to know who did this to their family…and they’re not going to let their financial struggles stop them from finding out.

Read the entire story here…then go home and hug your family!

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