How Do I Get Paid?

I recently had a  prospective client ask how much my services cost. She had checked out my website, yet that question was not clear. It is not a secret, and I want all my clients to feel comfortable using me and my knowledge. I am an independent insurance agent/broker. I do not work for just one insurance company. I do not get a paycheck or any benefits. I do however, contract to represent many reputable insurance companies. If and when I place a policy with them, they reward me with a commission. In all honesty, these commissions can vary significantly. However, it is my practice to place my clients in the best policy for them; not the one that will pay me the most. There is also a misconception that using an agent will cost more than dealing with a company directly. That is not true. The Virginia Department of Insurance approves all the insurance rates. They are published in black and white, no matter what course you take to obtain your policy, the rates are the same. Why not use your local, experienced agent instead of trying to talk to someone on the phone, or figure it all out on the internet? I am not a high pressure sales person. Also, not only do insurance companies pay me for explaining the policy and doing the paperwork, many continue to pay me a trail of commissions for a certain time. That means every year that you renew, I get a small payment again. This is a good deal for you and for me. The insurance company wants you to be happy with their product. They know an approachable agent is of value to them and their clients. I tell my clients that they may contact me at any time for any reason. They are not “bothering” me, I get paid to help them and it is an important part of my work. Even if you choose not to buy a policy for from me, that is okay. I trust that I will have done a good enough job for you that you might refer me to someone else who will buy. I trust God that if I do the right things for my clients, God will make sure that my needs are provided for. It has worked well.

“I Sell Money.”

Yes, that is what I do.  Pretty plain and simple.  Twice this past week, I have been challenged to come up with a new elevator speech.  You know the one, where someone asks you “What do you do?”   So, I woke up at 4:30 A.M this morning to this realization.  I used to say, I am an insurance agent. But in reality, my end product is money.  Money from insurance companies when you or your family need it most.  When you get sick or hurt, it is your medical insurance that pays those big bills.  If you become sick or disabled, there is money to pay those pesky bills.  When you die, (notice I did not say if), your family will have money to take care of your final expenses.  And if your family depends on you financially, there is money so that they can go on with their lives.  And, if you are lucky enough to retire, I sell money so that you can never outlive your money.  Pretty good idea, right?

To get a bit more technical, I use insurance products to leverage money.  Not nearly as compelling is it?  How about, “I sell dollars for pennies?” That is an old one, but true.  Insurance is a great product.  But how do you know if you are getting a good deal?  That is where I come in.  I sell for a lot of reputable and financially loaded insurance companies.  But some have better products to meet your needs than others.  Some of them give you a better deal for your money. I can help you understand what it is that they are offering to do and help you shop for the one that is best for you and your family.

Unhappy Suprise

Just recently, I was speaking with a client who had purchased his Medicare insurance from me.  I asked about his wife and he responded that she had passed away earlier this spring from pneumonia while in the hospital.  I expressed my condolences.  He then went on to say that she had three life insurance policies.  Turns out all three were “accidental” policies, which of course, were worthless in this situation.  He thought he had coverage to help pay for her final expenses.

Here is why I encourage you to get an insurance review:

1.)    Insurance policies are detailed legal documents that, generally, the public is not trained to read and digest.  You deserve an expert on your side to explain in plain language what you have.

2.)    You may not remember exactly what you bought.  Sometimes clients think they have permanent cash value policies and they are only term policies.  Or, you may have an old “universal life” policy that may not be there when you need it most.

3.)    Your circumstances change.  What you thought you needed then may not be right for you now.  Twice, I have found that now disabled clients had coverage build into their policy that will now pay their premiums.  Sometimes, you are still paying for a children’s rider when the children are grown and no longer covered.

4.)    The insurance agent who sold you the policy may not have known what was best for you or you have lost touch with them over the years.  Often times, beneficiary information needs to be updated.

5.)    The insurance field have evolved, like every other business, there may better options for you now.  Term rates are lower now than previous years.  You can buy policies with “living benefits.”  This is insurance you don’t have to die to use.  The face value can be accessed if you have a critical medical situation such as cancer or stroke.  It also can be used to pay for long term care expenses.

 

Frankly, I have offered free insurance reviews for years.  Very few people take me up on my offer.  I’m sure some people are concerned that it is my “foot in the door” tactic, and it is.  But my way of conducting business is finding the best product for you.  If you already have it, I’ll tell you so and not try to twist your arm to buy another or different policy.  My current clients know this, and I hope you’ll take the chance and discover that this is a true statement. There is nothing more reassuring to you and your family’s future than knowing you have the right policies for your needs.

Did you know that life insurance proceeds are not taxed? Life insurance is a GREAT product with many uses and benefits.  Contact me soon to get a review so you will be happy with your choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Plan F is a Plan F, is a Plan F

A Plan F is a Plan F is a Plan F.  I say this often to my potential clients. It is true, but not the whole truth.  Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have standardized all Medicare Supplement Plans (also known as Medigap Plans), it is true that the level of benefits are the same. All Plan F plans must cover Medicare deductibles and co-insurance, no matter which company you purchase from.

However, a Plan F from one company to another company can and does vary significantly.  I am an independent insurance agent who specializes in this. The following are ways that they can vary and you need to consider when choosing a Medicare Supplement Plan:

  1.    Rates can vary significantly.  In Virginia, as of this writing,( September 17, 2012) a Plan F rate for a 65 year old female can range from a low of $92.13 per month to over $300 per month.  (We are talking identical coverage!) These rates vary due to many factors such as the area in which you live.  For example, a person who lives in one zip code can pay $20/per month less than their neighbor who lives down the road but in a slightly different zip code.  A smoker may pay more with some companies.  Males may have a higher rate with some companies.  Some plans have rates which are guaranteed to increase every year as you get older.  Some plans level off their rates after age 75.  (Unfortunately, all of them can – and do- raise their rates on an across the board basis.)
  2. There are extra “Perks” and extra Costs.  For example, you must be a member of AARP to buy their Plan F from United Health Care.  Currently, this is an additional cost of $16 per year.  But on the Perk side, the AARP/UHC plan includes a Silver Sneakers benefit.  That alone, could save you over $50 per month if you are already paying for a fitness center membership.  Mutual of Omaha has a 7% couples’ discount.  And companies are adding more perks (benefits that are not required by law) every day trying to get your business.
  3. Ratings and Customer Service.  Have you ever had a question and had to talk to someone in India, or be put on hold for what seems like a lifetime?  This is a consideration when purchasing a plan you will probably keep for many years.  Though in my experience, this is usually not a big consideration because these plans (as long as they are from a reputable company) work like a dream.  It is rare to be dissatisfied with a Plan F as long as you can afford to pay the premiums.

So the bottom line is – Shop plans with a knowledgeable agent who can enroll  you into best plan for you.

 

 

Money 101 and Wine, Women and Wealth

I am recently affiliated with Five Rings Financial. Together, our hope is to educate potential clients about the principles of money. We go to school for 12-16 years and most of us do not know the basics of protecting our family’s finances and growing money for college funding, retirement, or times when life throws us a curveball.
Many people are intimidated by money. It is our hope that meeting in a non-threatening, non sales orientated setting will allow us all to learn a little bit more about money. So, if you are a woman, plese join us for a girl’s night out. We network, taste wine and food and learn just a little bit about wealth. Everyone is invited to have some tasty food at the Money 101 classes. Bring a notepad, and listen to the fundamental principles of money.
Both of these events are complimentary and you are welcome to bring a guest/friend. We only ask that you RSVP so that we can plan for you.

Death insurance versus Life Insurance with Living Benefits

My father did not believe in life insurance. He called it death insurance. As much as I hate to admit it, he had a point. Someone had to die in order to utilize its benefits; but not any longer. We now have Life Insurance for Life. It is the newest thing protecting your family from financial ruin. We hear of the term “multitasking” all the time. Life insurance for Life, also known as “Living Benefits,” is a wonderful insurance product that provides multiple benefits depending on what life throws at you. There are three major things that can play havoc with your family’s financial well being. One is dying too soon – income stops. Two is living too long- you can run out of money. Three- becoming ill – medical care can suck up all your money.
People say that to protect themselves, they might become “insurance poor”, buying life insurance, disability income insurance, critical care insurance, cancer insurance, and long term care insurance. Add to that, saving for retirement by putting good money away that is subject to taxes when you need it.
I am happy to tell you that there is now a solution. You can buy one insurance product that will give you blanket protection, multitask, if you will. And the great news is that it is affordable. It is Indexed Universal Life Insurance with Living Benefits. Most insurance agents can not offer it. I can help you protect your family’s financial security today.