“I’m Brian Fellows!”

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

Insurance Specialties, Inc., Pine Street Insurance
Broker specializing in Disability Insurance, Holistic Agent, Lover of Comedy
melodyherman@insurance-specialties.com
LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook

“Stars: They’re just like us”

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

melodyherman@insurance-specialties.com 

From My Perspective

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):

  • A disability is an illness or injury that keeps you out of work for an extended period of time
  • Some of the most common causes for disability claims that you may be unaware of are cancer, stroke, pregnancy, depression, anxiety, heart attack, diabetes, back pain, arthritis, joint & musculoskelatal disorders, lyme disease, broken bones, and autoimmune disease
  • Disability Insurance replaces part of your salary if you’re unable to work due to the illness or injury
  • Worker’s comp does not cover illnesses or injuries unless they are caused on the job
    • 95% of disabling injuries and illnesses are not work related
  • Social security will only cover you if you are totally disabled and unable to perform any job
    • Before you can even file a claim you must have been totally disabled for at least 5 months
    • 65% of SSDI claims are denied
    • It could take up to 2 years to receive a benefit
    • The average benefit paid is around $1,000 per month (would that cover your expenses?)
  • If you are fortunate enough to have disability coverage from your employer you absolutely must review what you have with a licensed disability insurance specialist!
    • You may not have the coverage you think you have
    • If your employer pays for your coverage, you will be taxed on the benefit you receive (you already will receive only a percentage of your paycheck, usually 60%, if you then subtract taxes you may need additional coverage to cover the gap)
    • Depending on the stage of your career, unless you plan on staying at your company until retirement, you CANNOT take your disability insurance with you if you leave
    • After a financial review, any great agent will be more than pleased if they find you have all the coverage you need
    • If your employer doesn’t offer disability benefits, I would be happy to discuss various options with them
  • If you were smart enough to put an income protection plan in place at the beginning of your career, chances are your income has increased just as your financial responsibilities have. You may need more coverage, but as I mentioned above, any great agent will be excited to review your policy and find you are truly taken care of!
  • If you are at the beginning stages of your career (or have begun a new career), chances are you are not yet earning the income you expect in the future…plans can be customized with options as your income grows and needs change (without having to prove future medical insurability)
  • If you are in a profession where you have invested a great deal of time and money such as law or medicine, wouldn’t want to protect that investment?
  • The younger and healthier you are, the lower the cost of disability insurance (same goes for life insurance)
  • If you own a business you are responsible for more than just yourself!
  • If you have a family you are responsible for more than just yourself!
  • If you live with a significant other and share expenses you are responsible for more than just yourself!
  • If you are single, you ARE responsible for yourself!
  • You might want it, but not everyone can get disability insurance!!
    • Not only do you need the income and income stability, you also have to be in fairly good health (keep in mind if you do have an unfavorable medical history, we have expertise with hard to place cases).
    • Make sure you work with a broker that understands the underwriting requirements with different companies.

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.

 

 

When the Success of Your Business Lies in Someone Else’s Hands: Broker Newsletter

If you work with business clients, you know that many have at least one “key employee.” These individuals provide a vital service, fill an important role, and/or help generate income for the business. In turn, if that employee were to become ill or disabled, it would be difficult for the owner(s) to fill the shoes or find a replacement.

Think of:

  • A manufacturing company that has a key foreman or machinist, whose loss would be detrimental to the company,
  • A key salesperson whose relationships with certain accounts are vital to the survival of the business,
  • A small sales team whose administrator provides all of the operational, client management, and back-end support,
  • A CFO, CIO, or other C-Suite executive of a larger corporation.

The loss or absence of any of these key employees due to a disability or illness, even in the short term, could result in a financial loss to the business!

In order to help protect the business, Key Person Disability Insurance exists to provide the financial resources to keep the business moving and find a replacement if necessary.

  • Key Person Insurance can provide the means to Recruit, Hire, and Train a replacement, and/or offset a portion of the financial loss.
  • The employer is the Applicant, Owner, Payor, and Beneficiary of the policy, provided that the employee agrees to be insured.
  • Premiums are not deductible to the company; however, the benefits are tax free.

At Insurance Specialties Inc., we are here to help you design and implement the most comprehensive and competitive plan based on the carrier strength, occupation, health, and goal of your client.

It is our advanced knowledge and understanding that drives us forward.  Let us share our expertise with you! 

800.358.8844

info@insurance-specialties.com

http://www.insurance-specialties.com

http://www.facebook.com/insurancespecialtiesinc

https://twitter.com/isi_psi

They Work Hard for the Money…So Help Them Protect It: Broker Newsletter

Disability Insurance: It’s as important to the living (and their families) as life insurance is to the beneficiaries; it’s not just for the societal elite.

  • For the white collar/executive market, we have companies that are extremely competitive and offer a true own-occupation with a residual/return to work benefit.  Though not inexpensive, there is a great value to these well-defined and constructed policies.
  • Contractors, roofers, trades people, police and fire department personnel, and truck drivers, to name a few, fit this blue-gray collar category.  Whether they own their own businesses or are employees, they all need disability coverage!  We work with multiple carriers and will share numerous approaches to help these clients.
  • Don’t forget about the availability of executive carve-out and salary continuation plans!  Many highly compensated executives are actually discriminated against in their company’s group plan.  (Stay tuned, we will share more on the solutions to this concept in a later issue.)

At Insurance Specialties Inc., we are here to help you design and implement the most comprehensive and competitive plan based on the carrier strength, occupation, health, and goal of your client.

It is our advanced knowledge and understanding that drives us forward.  Let us share our expertise with you! 

800.358.8844

info@insurance-specialties.com

http://www.insurance-specialties.com

http://www.facebook.com/insurancespecialtiesinc

https://twitter.com/isi_psi

Instant Disability Quote

Business Owners and Disability…Keeping the Business Running: Broker Newsletter

Do you have business clients that:

  • Own a business?
  •  Are partners with 1 to 5 others?
  • Are members of a small corporation with less than 10 principals?
Business overhead is there to protect the business in the event the owner, partner, or working shareholder becomes disabled.  As agents and brokers, it is our responsibility to make certain we provide our business clients with Business Overhead Expense Insurance.

BOE will pay the expenses of the business in the event of a disability and is a 100% tax deductible expense to the business!

Here are a few covered expenses:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Employee Salaries
  • Telephone
  • Loan Payments
  • Professional Services (Legal/Accounting)
  • Professional Replacement
  • Advertising

For a few pennies on the dollar, your business client can protect all that he/she has built. In the event he/she is unable to return to work, the business can be sold as a going concern.

At Insurance Specialties Inc., we are here to help you design and implement the most comprehensive and competitive plan based on the carrier strength, occupation, health, and goal of your client.

It is our advanced knowledge and understanding that drives us forward.  Let us share our expertise with you! 

800.358.8844

info@insurance-specialties.com

http://www.insurance-specialties.com

http://www.facebook.com/insurancespecialtiesinc

https://twitter.com/isi_psi

 

What’s Happening in our World of Insurance This Week

Our very own President of Insurance Specialties, David M. Block and Vice President, Andrea M. Block have headed to Washington, DC for the annual National Association of Health Underwriter’s (NAHU) Capitol Conference.  As Federal Law and Legislation Chair of both the Western North Carolina and North Carolina State Chapter, David and other Board Members will be lobbying NC Congressman Mark Meadows and Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr for changes to the Affordable Care Act for what David says, “would make an immediate impact on large employer groups.”

Here is what David had to say in his recent Letter to the Editor piece for The Citizen-Times, Asheville:

Let’s Get the Count Right – Full-Time means Forty Hours

Relief Needed for Employers in their efforts to comply with the Affordable Care Act

Many of you know I am a licensed insurance agent … I make no bones about my chosen profession and take pride in providing protection to individuals, businesses, and families.  I belong to several industry associations that serve the needs of agents and help keep us updated on pending legislation and its ramifications.

As a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters, representing over 100,000 employee benefit and individual health insurance professions, I am writing to address one easily fixed aspect of the Affordable Care Act — knowing who is actually eligible for employer sponsored health insurance.

The law requires employers with fifty or more “full-time equivalents” to allow their “full-time” employees (those working 30 or more hours per week on average) to enroll in the company’s health insurance plan.  The issue is, many business owners are finding it nearly impossible to know who those people are because they don’t have the time to figure that out, or money to buy software or services that would identify those folks.

 The fact is, that every other set of federal laws considers Full-Time to mean 40 hours per week.

Thus, they are left frustrated and confused by the process and the requirements of documenting why an employee was included or excluded from coverage.  In addition, by having this lower number of hours equal full-time, many employees (who already consider themselves part-time) cannot obtain subsidized coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The United States House of Representatives has already passed a bill (HR 30 – Save American Workers Act of 2015) and similar bipartisan legislation is being considered in the Senate (S. 30).  As someone who works with employers of all sizes, I know that if this legislation is passed and signed by the President, it will make the burdens of implementing the Affordable Care Act a little more bearable.

 Please encourage Senators Burr and Tillis to pass this legislation.  In addition, do not forget to write or call the President to ask for his help getting this law passed!

Best of luck to the all of the NAHU representatives from around the country in making an impact; as their motto says, “stand up and be heard.”