“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 

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.

 

 

Protecting Partners and Saving Business Relationships: Broker Newsletter

The Role of Disability in the Buy-Sell Agreement

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?

Valuation

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!

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

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