Stripping Down Group Dental

Group Dental: a complex topic that may seem simple on the surface, but if you truly want to make an employer and employees happy, there’s more to it than rates.
Did you know that next to medical benefits, dental is the next sought after benefit?
It’s our opinion that it is better to offer it on a voluntary basis than not at all.  This is one of the many benefits that can be deducted before taxes and still help the employer save money.
So why is dental not as simple as we may think? Let’s delve a bit into the inner workings:
  • Maximum Annual Benefits
More often than not, the standard maximum annual benefit is usually $1,000, but are you aware there are options for $1,500, $2,000, and depending on the group size, even higher?
Tip: Some companies won’t count the preventative dollars used towards that maximum, which can help increase the actual benefit by several hundred dollars.
  • Deductibles
Ranging anywhere from $0 to $250 per person and up to three times per family,  a carrier may often increase the family cap from 2 times to 3 times to be a bit more competitive in the marketplace.
Tip: Lifetime deductibles are an option to encourage a group to stay with a carrier.  Once the lifetime deductible has been met per person and family member, no further deductibles are required.
  • How are the benefits paid?
It’s important to analyze where Endodontics and Periodontics are paid. Together with surgery and anesthesia, these are means to get the pricing down (and lowering or raising benefits to the employees).
Tip: This is where a rate is not simply a rate and you are really doing your client a disservice if that’s all you are reviewing. 
  • What about networks & how they function?
Closed network HMO’s only allow a member (unless an emergency) to receive benefits from a listed provider, and referrals are required for specialist services to be covered. The same is true with some carriers when they quote a MAC (maximum allowable charge) plan or a DHMO (Dental HMO).
Tip: Comparing a carrier that quoted a MAC plan versus a UCR (usual, customary, and reasonable) would be a mistake.  Let’s not forget that many individuals aren’t so lax to change dentists and if forced to do so may resent the employer and insurance carrier in the end.
  • It’s all in the details!
Before you quote your next dental plan, make certain to take these variables into account.  If this is a daunting task (which it can be if you are truly quoting the dozen or so carriers that are out there), please feel free to allow us to do the work for you.  We will make the process painless and the sale will be easier than ever before.
We look forward to working with you on your ancillary group cases this year!  Thank you for your loyalty and let us know what more we can do to help you in your group and disability solutions.

“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 

Give Them What They Want

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.

Fun facts:

  • About eighty percent of the U.S. population has some form of periodontal gum disease (yikes)
  • Many systemic diseases (including hypertension and prediabetes) are visible simply by looking into the eye, even before symptoms arise (who knew!?)

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:

  • Pay the premiums in full
  • Share the cost with the employee
  • Offer the benefit as voluntary to either supplement employer paid benefits or just as a means to offer something to the employees and their families.

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!

The Talk of The Town

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.

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

Be Their Hero!

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?

  • Providing these benefits helps employers protect a portion of their employees’ income (and their own income) should they become too sick or injured to work.
  • Offering benefits sets a business apart from other employers; it makes the company more attractive to quality talent, aids in employee retention rates, and are a way of saying thank you … we value you!
  • The plans are Guaranteed Issue regardless of employees’ health and group size!
  • Employers can include themselves in the plan to supplement their own individual protection.
  • Plans can be customized to be 100% Employer paid, 100% Employee paid (Voluntary), or a combination of both.
  • The portion a business pays for this insurance is considered a business expense and is tax-deductible.

Our Process

  • All we need is a census that includes gender, salary, occupation, and home zip code of each employee.
  • If the group has a plan in place, we need the current benefit summary in order to match benefits at a lower cost, or provide a better plan at the same cost.
  • We send a request for proposal (RFP) to as many of the top carriers in the country as possible.
  • We analyze all quotes based on cost, volume, and definitions (the latter being the keystone of our agency).
  • We create an easy to follow spreadsheet (including notes for the broker or employer allowing us to make the best and most knowledgeable recommendations).
  • When necessary we will go back to the carriers and negotiate better plans and/or rates to best fit the client’s needs.

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 doesn’t love a guarantee?: May Broker Newsletter

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?

  •  An own-occupation definition of disability (this plan is for executives or those earning at least $75,000 or $100,000 depending on the carrier).
  • A true residual is part of the plan.
  • COLA (Cost of Living Increase) options are available.
  • The policy is usually non-cancellable (some offer this as a rider).

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!

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.