- Maximum Annual Benefits
- How are the benefits paid?
- What about networks & how they function?
- It’s all in the details!
It’s a pretty incredible time of year if you’re living where seasons change. The grass is still green, the leaves are changing colors and beginning to float to the ground, and there’s a crispness in the air. While we want to bask in the present moment and enjoy all things Fall, we know that the holiday season is soon approaching. And for many, that means travelling!
As insurance industry professionals we are hardwired and/or trained to educate others on ways to plan for the unexpected. So if you, a client, or someone you know is anticipating overseas travel, an International Medical Insurance policy should be taken into consideration.
Why? Anything can happen!
Picture yourself savoring the taste of delicacies from a foreign land then uh oh, food poisoning! Or taking in your exotic surroundings and oh no, twisting your ankle! It can be aggravating enough to have to tend to these small things at home let alone a new place where you may not speak the language or know the lay of the land. This is where an International Medical policy steps in to help, especially if you need to be transported to another area to get the care you need!
Common plans include:
Even if you have a tendency to over pack, do not fret! An International Medical Insurance policy won’t take up any space and you and your clients will be happy to have “brought it” along!
I don’t know about you but I am geeking out a little over the return of Tracy Morgan to Saturday Night Live tomorrow. A super fan of SNL and 30 Rock, Tracy has made me laugh hysterically more times than I could ever count.
My happiness isn’t only about seeing an incredible comedy actor star on a favorite show but more so, alongside many of his fans, we’ve missed him and we’re relieved that he is once again capable of doing what he loves and comes so naturally to him…making us laugh.
If you hadn’t heard about it, Tracy was in a fatal 6 car crash back in June of 2014. After an 8 day coma he awakened to a broken femur, leg, nose, ribs, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Up until his recent appearance at the Emmys and one reported standup performance, Saturday’s SNL hosting gig will be Tracy’s first time back at it after having to put his life and career on hold in order to heal for the last 16 months.
If you missed him on the Emmy’s you can guess it was emotional. He cried, I cried, the audience applauded and gave a standing ovation and in true Tracy form, he made us laugh when he said that after he regained consciousness after the accident, “I was just ecstatic to learn that I wasn’t the one who messed up.”
Now because I’ve grown up in the insurance industry I can’t help but think about how disability insurance plays into this. I know that most people (including myself) believe that “something like this would never happen to me.” But let’s face it, it can happen to anyone. Car accidents happen every day and we could only hope for the full recovery that Tracy is beginning to experience.
So what happens in this situation if we aren’t able to perform our job for 16 months (or more or even less)? How do we pay for our homes, utilities, groceries, and other monthly expenses (while also potentially shelling out money for medical expenses)? If we have a spouse or family, how do also continue to provide for them? How do we keep from depleting our savings? And most importantly (I have said it before and I will say it a million more times), how do we heal when we’re stressed and anxious about money?
Disability insurance policies are there to provide you with a portion of your income if you can’t work due to injury or illness. If income protection is something you’ve never thought to look into, it’s worth the time. We can only control so much in this life and it’s important to have things in place to protect what’s most valuable to us; our families, our future, and our ability to earn an income.
I hope you will join me in celebrating Tracy’s recovery and return to the comedy world; welcome back Brian Fellows!
Melody I. Herman
Hayden Panettiere has never been on my favorite actress list but for the first time I’m a fan. In case you hadn’t heard, she checked herself into a treatment facility for postpartum depression.
As women we are expected to be pillars of strength when it comes to families (and let’s face it, everything), especially after bringing life into the world. But just because someone suffers from a mental illness (and that’s exactly what postpartum is) doesn’t make them any less strong. A woman has just created and birthed a tiny person, this is warrior goddess stuff here and beyond all the hormonal and emotional responses that occur it’s not uncommon to experience deep depression. So why don’t more people talk about it?
Remember when Brooke shields came out and wrote a book about this same topic? Do you also remembered how Tom Cruise publicly criticized her for taking anti-depressants after giving birth to her daughter?
Do we really have to dig deep on the “why” behind so many women keeping quiet about postpartum? Or why so many keep quiet about any mental illness? Shame. And the shame keeps those that need help from getting it. So on top of the illness, add shame, and then sprinkle on judgement from society. What human can harbor all of that?
To go even further what if the treatment you need requires you to take time away from your job? What if you’re not a celebrity with a hit show and hit movies with a celebrity spouse both bringing in millions of dollars of income? How would you continue to earn an income and provide for your family, cover basic expenses, and medical expenses? How does one heal from this or any illness while anxious about money? The answer is Disability Insurance.
Did you know that treatment for postpartum depression is covered under disability insurance? Had I not grown up in this business, I most likely wouldn’t have known. A policy will provide you with a portion of your income for this and all other mental illness for up to 2 years.
While there is definitely a movement surrounding mental illness right now and removing the stigma, there is so much work to be done. Celebrities, someone at work, a neighbor, a family member, it doesn’t matter. Mental illness can effect anyone at any time. Let’s be more open and compassionate so that those that suffer will speak up and get the help and support they need.
Thank you for reading.
Melody I. Herman
Insurance Specialties, Inc. & Pine Street Insurance
Broker specializing in Disability Insurance, Holistic Agent
They’ll be jumping for joy…
As a couple of the most desired benefits you’d think more companies would offer dental and vision insurance to their employees. So why don’t they? Probably because you’re not talking about it!!
There’s no denying that taking care of oral and eye health is essential for overall health; problems in the eyes and mouth can cause or be indicators of problems in the rest of the body.
When you’re jumping into the ring, keep in mind there are more carriers than meet the eye (no pun intended), and we use our same methods of analysis and customization as all other ancillary lines.
One of the many things you can always count on from us is to get the
BEST BENEFITS for the LOWEST COSTS,
to both employer AND employee.
And just like all other group ancillary benefits the employer/business owner has the option to:
Don’t forget, a group can be as small as 2 employees!
I think it’s safe to say that all employers and business owners dream of having healthy and happy employees, and the more benefits they’re offering, the better. Let’s help them make that dream come true; they’ll be jumping for joy!
Have you heard about the integral role Voluntary Benefits will be playing in the future of employee benefits??? If you are a group producer, we are certain you have!
For some companies, many of these benefits will be offered in lieu of the employer paying due to cost of providing health benefits to employees. For others, it is a mechanism to enhance the value of being an employee of that business.
So what is being offered in today’s Voluntary (or Buy-Up) marketplace? It’s not just your group life, short or long-term disability, accident insurance, vision, or dental. Today, the offerings go on to such plans as whole life, universal life, critical illness, legal shield and/or identity theft, concierge services, pet insurance, homeowners, and the like! There appears to be no limit to what is being offered depending on the industry and company location.
Other changes to consider are the manner in which these benefits are offered. We still have the traditional face-to-face group meetings followed by the one-on-one. However, if there is a large group, that process is far too cumbersome and time consuming; that said, some insurers are offering to do this for you with no loss of compensation.
As a rule, if the case is large enough, you will want to offer a specialty web portal for the company that includes training pieces to help the employee (and their family) make the proper voluntary benefit selection. At the very least, you will want online or telephonic enrollment. The latter’s’ benefit is that there is a person that can help the employee to better understand what they have available.
Taking this to the next level are carriers that provide these benefits not on a group chassis but on an individual (and portable) platform. Do not get lost in the analysis and try not to over complicate the process. Even if you have an enrollment company assist you, it is better to let a group of professional enrollers take on the case then to sit and learn on the job. The overall enrollment will increase and your client will be far happier with the results.
From the less expensive group basis to the individual platform, we can help you and your clients make the best-informed decision. Please let us know how we can together, help your clients tailor and enhance their benefit offerings.
Having spent the first half of this year on Disability products in both the personal and business realm, it’s safe to say we are passionate about income and business protection!
For those that are business owners and/or selling to the business community, let’s now talk Group Short and Long Term Disability.
Why Group STD and LTD?
As experts in the field of employee benefits and disability insurance we can support you whether you are a broker or employer. If you are an employee and your company doesn’t offer benefits, we will be happy to start the conversation!
At Insurance Specialties Inc., we are here to help you design and implement the most comprehensive and competitive plan(s) based on the carrier strength, occupation, health, and goal(s) of your client.
It is our advanced knowledge and understanding that drives us forward. Let us share our expertise with you!
Who loves exciting developments in the income protection arena? We do! And this month we’re talking about Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI).
As many of you may already know, a few top tier carriers offer high quality disability insurance. Most have the same requirements to obtain a Guaranteed Standard Offer.
The Purpose of GSI: This form of individual plan is designed to be employer paid (or mandatory contributory) and supplement the group offering. Often group plans are capped and discriminate against the more highly compensated. This offering makes it easy to obtain, WITHOUT UNDERWRITING (I’m sure many of you have seen where the president or a member of the “C” suite is often the uninsurable/unhealthy one), while still providing all of the benefits of an individual plan.
What does this mean?
Are you an ancillary lines group producer? If so, this product is an excellent way to cement your client relationships and help the executives secure their financial plan.
Are you working outside of the insurance field? If you are an employer, business owner, or member of a group, feel free to contact us for more detailed information and to see if your group qualifies.
As we have said in the past, we strive to make this process easy and understandable. If and when you have a potential case we are more than happy to provide you with everything you need. Let us know how we can serve you!
May is considered Disability Insurance Awareness Month, but every month should be.
If you told me a year ago I’d fall in love with Disability Insurance I most likely would have laughed and rolled my eyes. Weirder things have happened but I’ve been struck by cupid’s arrow! Why am I so passionate about Income Protection? Thankfully I have never suffered from an injury or illness that kept me out of work; however, I have lived for a lengthy period of time without an income stream. I can attest to the stress and anxiety that can accompany the inability to pay your bills and basic life expenses. In addition, I have watched friends and families close to me struggle both emotionally and financially when either they, a parent, or spouse had breast cancer, a stroke, a heart attack, became paralyzed from spinal nerve damage, tore a rotator cuff, or endured a knee replacement to name a few. These disabilities and illnesses, all of them out of the blue, either temporarily or permanently took away the ability to earn an income. Some suffered a tremendous financial loss without an income protection plan in place and some were able to focus solely on healing as they had a disability insurance policy.
Who is to say if I ever would have landed in the insurance business had it not been for growing up in it and joining forces in my family’s business, but here I am, destined to share knowledge and help others. As we all know, insurance is all about protecting the “what-ifs.” We insure our cars, homes, and phones, but why not our life, income, and health? The disconnect is evident and I am here to say, even as an industry professional and someone who believes in insurance, I totally get where the “non-believers” are coming from .
Personally, I embody the attitude of looking on the bright side and like most other Millennials and Gen-Xers, no matter what I have seen or heard about, I live with an attitude of, “that will never happen to me.” I take very good care of my mind, body, soul, and spirit; I eat nutritious and unprocessed foods, I do yoga, meditate, steer clear of drama, focus on what’s real, and regularly “check in” with myself. I rarely get sick and to take it a step further I usually go for the homeopathic and spiritual remedy before taking medications or consulting a medical professional. At the same time I cannot disregard the fact that really random and unexpected things happen in this world! The more stories I hear from friends, strangers, clients, other industry professionals, and my parents (aka my business partners who have been both specializing in disability insurance for over 30 years), and the more in depth I get in on this topic, the more I have wondered, “if given the opportunity to protect your income in the event something happens to you, why wouldn’t you??”
There are so many facts, figures, numbers, and statistics that ultimately make the argument for income protection a no brainer, and while I feel it is important to share them all with you, I would rather throw out the what I consider to be the essentials (throw with love, of course):
If we think we have control over our lives we are fooling ourselves! While there are actions we can take to minimize the risk of needing any insurance, doesn’t it make sense to protect that which we cannot predict?
We are here to help and answer questions. We have the knowledge and ability to tailor plans to your needs, desires, and financial capabilities. We work with many of the strongest insurance companies in the industry, and as a brokerage agency we only recommend carriers with the best plans for your occupation, health, and goals. We are licensed in numerous states and can assist you no matter where you live.
While I will not negate the fact that I know my stuff, it is comforting to know that I have access to individuals with a deep understanding that can only come with decades of practice.
In today’s article, we want to spend a few minutes discussing an often overlooked plan for your business clients … a Disability Buy-Out Policy. We will not apologize for the plethora of information, its dry nature, and the newsletter’s length; we know of no other way to discuss an involved product such as this!
Similar in nature to life insurance sold for buy-sell agreements, this plan exists to cover a need. Instead of death, the trigger is a disability. These plans have long elimination periods, 365 days, 540 days, or 730 days depending on the carrier. Unlike triggering a life insurance benefit, clients may be able to return to work so you don’t want the benefit started too soon. Besides, what partner or shareholder would not want to return to their business?
We won’t get into valuation methodologies (which are important to help determine the partner/shareholder value) as they are too intricate. However, the amount of coverage allowed for each partner/shareholder is predicated on his or her ownership percentage.
Who and how many to cover?
As a rule, you do not have insurers willing to cover more than 4 or 5 partners as it would prove too costly. In addition, the principals can more easily fill in if another partner/shareholder becomes disabled. According to Principal Financial, “A buy-sell agreement is not required in order to purchase DBO insurance, but one must be in place at the time of a disability claim. In the state of New York, the buy-sell agreement must be in place before purchasing DBO insurance”.
How is it purchased?
There are two methods of paying for the coverage: entity purchase and cross purchase. Once again, just like life insurance, you select the one that best fits the needs of the client. Too many policies are cumbersome (and expensive), so often with 3 or more partners/shareholders, the entity purchase will make the most sense.
How does the policy pay out?
The payout on these policies will rely on the total amount at risk. With multi-million dollar agreements, the benefit is normally paid as a partial lump-sum followed by monthly installments. They can also pay out in monthly installments only with no lump sum. Lastly, smaller amounts ($1 Million and less) can be paid in a lump-sum, which is the cleanest and easiest. No matter, a buy-sell agreement will be required at time of claim to determine the valuation method used, the benefit amount (percent of business), and the validity of the claim.
How can we help?
If you need assistance in forming a plan for your business clients, we are here to help. We have built a successful track record in developing buy-sell agreements, that when combined with new individual disability policies, have generated substantial premium discounts for the client.
Please reach out to us so we can make your process easier!