May is National Disability Insurance Awareness Month. Having a national focus on disability is important because in the United States, a disabling injury occurs every second; whereas, a fatal injury occurs every four minutes.
We often overlook the importance of insuring one of our most valuable assets – our ability to earn an income. Did you know that during the course of your career, you are three and a half times more likely to be injured and need disability coverage than you are to die and need life insurance? If this isn’t reason enough to schedule an appointment to review your disability insurance, here are some others:
Did you know…….
1 in 4 of today’s 20 year olds will become disabled before they retire
The average long term disability absence lasts 2.6 years
A Harvard University Report reveals that 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the United States were due to an inability to pay medical expenses due to a disability
36 million Americans are classified as disabled, representing 12% of the population. More than 50% of those are still in their working years between the ages of 18-64.
Less than 10% of disabling accidents and illnesses are work related and therefore would not be covered uner a workers' compensation policy.
Of course, having a discussion on disability insurance doesn’t have to limited to the month of May. This discussion should be had all year round. Do you know people in your life who have a family to take care of? Bills to pay? A home to maintain? We all have financial obligations. Could you support those obligations on $1,132 a month? That is the amount of the average monthly Social Security Disability Insurance payment as of 2013.
Take this opportunity to review your own disability income protection plan with one of our advisors. Contact Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is National Baby Day – what does that bring to mind? Maybe family excitement, car seats, clothes, and cribs. Maybe future uncertainly like high school, college planning, or employment opportunities for your child. One of the last things we think about when a baby is born is life insurance. Let’s rethink that.
According to the website www.lifehappens.org, the official non-profit organization on life insurance, only 19% of children have life insurance in place. So if you haven’t considered this option for your kids, you aren’t alone.
Think about this:
A person is generally at their healthiest when they are a baby
Life insurance is very affordable and easy to put in place at this age
What about your child’s future protection? If they suffer from an ailment in their life, they may be unable to purchase life insurance later on when they have families that depend on them.
Cash value – help your child get a “leg up” in life – consider purchasing permanent insurance or whole life insurance that will grow with your child, giving them the ability to incorporate that into their long range financial planning.
Some childrens life insurance plans will double their value when the child turns 18 or 25 without additional cost to them or to you.
It is common for grandparents to buy savings bonds, or start savings accounts for newborns. Whether you are a parent or grandparent, consider a life insurance option. Show your kids you love them in one more way!
To learn more about the affordability and benefits of providing life insurance for your child, contact Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | email@example.com.
We may have just gotten a foot of snow, but believe it or not, spring is on its way and along with it comes the spring cleaning list. While thinking about all the chores inside the house, it is important to think about the outside as well. There are a few simple things you can do to prevent big problems before they occur. With the snow melting and the temperature rising, it’s time to think about making a weekend to-do list.
Everyone knows that winter can be rough on your roof, but just because you made it through with no leaks, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in the clear. It is a good idea to check your roof for any signs of damage once all the snow is gone. Preventative maintenance always beats waking up to a rainstorm in your bedroom. When inspecting your roof there are 2 main things to check.
Check your attic for any signs of damage. Dark spots, water trails, and mold are indicators that there may be a leak. If you find any of these be sure to contact a professional to thoroughly inspect the problem areas.
The best way to inspect your shingles is to get at eye level and look for any curling or splitting shingles. After you have identified any problem areas, it is important to look for any missing shingles and replace them as soon as possible. Also, be sure to check the flashing around vents and chimneys. Again, if you have major concerns, it is important to contact a professional.
Gutters and Grading
Water from melting snow can create havoc for a home owner if it’s not dealt with properly. Proper gutter and downspout maintenance combined with grading can help prevent any major issues from arising.
Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are only part of the equation for effective water removal. The ground surrounding the home should slope away from the foundation. If the ground is slanted towards your home, this means that all that water is heading right towards you! By filling in any low lying area, you can prevent water damage to your home.
Harsh winters and drastic temperature changes create a lot stress on your homes foundation. The ground freezes and thaws, contracts and expands, and your foundation is right there for it all. Taking the time to visually inspect your foundation at the end of every winter can help to prevent any long term damage. Here’s what to look for:
Walking around the outside of your foundation is an easy way to spot possible problems. Look along the edge of the ground for signs of shifting or cracking. Also, if you notice bubbling or chipping on the foundation wall, it could mean there is problem and further inspection is recommended.
While doing your visual inspection, give the foundation a good kick ever 15 ft or so. A strong foundation should withstand the impact with no sign of damage. Any visible damage from the kick test is a good sign that there is some deterioration and will most likely require a professional inspection.
With the spring season right around the corner, we are all itching to get outside and enjoy the weather. Why not make part of your outdoors time more productive by preforming an exterior inspection on your home. It could save you major headaches in the future. To learn more contact Cole Horton, 906.315.7209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was reading an interesting article in USA Today called GenY is Finally in the Mood to Buy. The article highlights that coming of age GenY’ers (90 million strong) are finally making the commitment to purchase their first homes. This comes off the tail end of one of the country’s greatest recessions – where 20 something’s have struggled to find jobs, have moved home to live with mom and dad in record numbers, and are now as a group, almost 4 years delayed in the home buying process.
The article continues to describe what Millennials are looking for in their first home:
Open layouts for simplicity and entertaining purposes
Ample storage space
Outdoor area that can be utilized as an extension of indoor living
Rooms that can reflect their personal style and interests (technology, gaming, etc)
Home office space due to a new generation of telecommuters
My husband and I are prime examples because he works from home. When we bought our house, we automatically looked for something with four bedrooms so that one could be solely designated as an in-home office.
It could be that this generation has grown up with the influences of HGTV and MTV’s “Cribs” that they are looking to designate rooms to fit their lifestyle. For instance, their living room is better utilized as an “in-home theatre” or the extra bedroom is set up to mimic a life-sized Pinterest board – otherwise known as a craft room.
Are you a Millenial? Are you in the market for your first home? If so, this article should speak to you.
As an insurance advisor – and a Millennial – I take care of many of my peers who are first time home buyers. It often surprises me how many people put so much time and energy into finding just the right home for them – with a laundry list of expectations and features, and desires – simply to ignore the other side. I’m talking about your simple homeowner’s insurance plan! In fairness, it’s not that simple. When buying your first home, finding a home insurance plan to fit your specific needs might seem confusing or overwhelming.
What questions should you ask?
How much is too much?
What about cost?
Does the carrier have a good reputation?
Are your expensive hobbies covered?
At VAST, we take you through a specific process designed to answer these questions for you. If you are seeking your first home contact your fellow Millennial Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | email@example.com to set up a plan that is right for you.
Recently a team of six employees from VAST participated in an event called the Bell Bike Race. This event hosted by Bell Hospita lin Ishpeming, Michigan is an annual fundraiser for healthy lifestyle awareness. The event put teams of six people together with a stationary bike. Each team member had the responsibility of pedaling as “far” as they could in a 25 minute time frame. At the end, all six distances were added together for one grand total “miles pedaled.” During the event, teams showed their support for each other by dressing in costumes, making banners, yelling and encouraging others to pedal faster and harder. The sense of community was pretty cool to see.
Now, I do my fair share of working out, but traditionally biking is not within my normal regiment. I was sweating and gasping for air by the time my 25 minutes was complete. Having my team members there to cheer me on was exciting and also empowering. When the person came around to check my distance I had pedaled 9.3 miles in that short time frame! I was proud of this number and felt like I had accomplished something.
Did you know that you can be on your way to an active and healthy lifestyle with just 30 minutes a day, a few times per week? Living a healthy lifestyle is important in many aspects of our life – how we feel, how we relate to others, the activities we are involved in, our attitude, etc. Living an active lifestyle is also showing up on the radar of health insurance companies who have health plans available which focus on wellness rewards and incentives to those who meet certain criteria. It can be in the form of fitness related gift certificates or decreases in your deductible expense. A big part of health care reform was the transition to making preventive medical visits a covered expense on all health insurance plans.
Workplaces are also offering fitness programs and wellness points to employees who participate in company wide challenges. What a great way to get American’s moving again! In our organization, we currently have a wellness competition called VASTland.
Throughout the office there are postings with different locations from around the United States. Your goal is to make it “across the USA” visiting each “town” on your way. Every 30 minutes of exercise is enough fuel to move you to the next stop along the path. Eventually everyone who participates will have traveled from our hometown of Marquette,MI to sunny Miami, FL! There are prizes and such along the way, but ultimately it’s a great way for people to stay motivated and healthy.
Consider that sedentary jobs have increased by 83% in the USA since 1950 and the average work week has increased by 164 hours per year compared to 20 years ago. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the cases of obesity in the US are rapidly increasing.
Making a small change in your week can have a tremendous impact on the rest of your life. Consider a healthy lifestyle starting now!
For more information on workplace wellness programs, call Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even though it might not seem like it, spring will soon be upon us. In order to get there, we have the last leg of winter to muscle through. It is during this time of year that we start to see questions about claims in two distinct categories: water seepage in basements and collapse of roofing systems. There are some important steps that you as a homeowner SHOULD be taking to minimize your risk of these nasty and time consuming problems.
Shoveling your roof periodically through the heaviest snow fall months will ensure that your roof stays clear of snow and ice. Taking this preventative action will seriously cut down on the chances of roof collapse. Remember, when your roofing system gives out, there is usually severe interior damage to contend with as well. Choose carefully which tool you use to do this job. We recommend a push broom or plastic shovel due to the fact that metal shovels can significantly damage shingles. Besides the obvious downside of loosened shingles, this can also lead to other costly problems including ice dams and interior water leakage. Additionally, we recommend NEVER picking or chopping at ice buildup which can also have a severe damaging effect on the roof in general.
Important: When shoveling your roof, remember to push snow out and away from the foundation. When snow piles up around a home’s foundation, it contributes directly to problem area #2 - basement water seepage and leakage.
Unbeknown to most people, exterior water coming in through your basement or foundation is excluded by homeowners insurance. This is something to think about when storing items in a basement which shows visible signs of water damage. During the spring thaw, check your basement periodically to see is water is leaking through. If so, pull items away from the walls, elevate your personal contents or store items in waterproof plastic boxes instead of cardboard. If your basement is finished, it is even more important to have the proper drainage systems in place. We recommend spending the money on the front end to have this done vs. finding out about a water problem after it’s too late. Once water sets in to the foundation, there is a heightened chance of mold, wet rot, and fungus developing over time. This can also result in costly out-of-pocket repairs. As a home owner, get educated and learn to take proper preventative measures. Check with your insurance advisor to see exactly how your insurance policy would respond. To learn more, contact Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | email@example.com.
Spring is almost here. It’s the time of year when people are done recovering from the holidays, looking for ways to spend time outside and more importantly getting their taxes done. What happens to that tax return money - do you spend it on a vacation? Buy a new dishwasher? How about investing it for your future?
That last option is where we can help. When taking the time to decide where best to place your tax return dollars, consider an annuity. Many people plunk that money into a CD where it’s bound to sit on a shelf earning a little interest and a lot of dust.
Here are seven reasons why you should reconsider that CD – and fund an annuity instead.
Safety – in an annuity your funds are fully guaranteed and free from risk. This protection from loss is important in terms of diversifying your portfolio. Consider an annuity in this circumstance.
Probate – annuities give you the benefit of assining a beneficiary. This is helpful because the funds would pass directly to the beneficiary and stay out of probate in the event of the owners death. This is a huge advantage for many people.
Liquidity - unlike CD’s in which your money is on lock down for the duration of the term, annuities give you much needed flexibility. More specifically, you can withdraw a certain percentage of your funds without penalty. Additionally, there is no cap to the amount of money put into an annuity in any given year (unlike many other retirement and savings vehicles.)
Interest - Typical annuities are earning significantly higher interest rates than their CD counterparts. All companies vary so check with your insurance or financial advisor to see what is available to you.
No Fees – annuities have no fee structure attached to them.
Tax Deferral – there are certain tax advantages to an annuity. The interest earned is tax deferred. So you only pay taxes on the interest when the money is withdrawn. This means more money gaining more interest.
Save on other insurance products – much like a home or auto multi-policy discount, many insurance companies will give a discount for having an annuity product in place! Again, your insurance advisor will be able to direct you to the appropriate and reputable companies that offer this.
This year, when deciding where to place your tax return dollars, consider the benefits of an annuity. If you would like more information as to what we can offer, contact Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s be honest, no one wants to think about losing their home, and even though you might not live in tornado alley or next to hurricane central, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You might think, “I know what I have”, but do you really? If you were to make a list, how many things would you forget?
The fact is that taking an inventory of your stuff is essential to being properly prepared for a loss. Being able to list all of your items that were stolen, damaged, or destroyed will make everything much easier when it comes time to file a claim.
Creating a list of your items will help you and your insurance agent determine the best level of coverage for you. This list will also help your agent determine whether or not you have “big ticket” items that should be scheduled on the policy.
Conducting your own home inventory can sound like a daunting task but if you prepare ahead of time, it can really help. There are a few different ways of going about it.
Video Inventory - walking through your house with a video camera can be a great way to compile a list of your stuff. Be sure to open all drawers and closets.
Photo Inventory - detailed pictures of every part of your home. Again, be sure to open drawers and closets.
Worksheet Inventory - Creating a detailed list of each bedroom, living space, kitchen, and even the garage can be a great way to itemize your property. List every item, top to bottom in each room and move on. This list should include quantity, quality, manufacturer, purchase date, serial number, and cost. Keeping receipts attached is a great idea.
I always suggest keeping these inventory sheets in an off-site location like a safety deposit box. If this is not an option or you would prefer us to house this information, that’s an option too!
The best time to create an inventory is now. There is no telling when a loss may occur but it is always better to be safe than sorry. I always suggest speaking with your insurance agent about any questions or concerns you may have.
For more information on home insurance or creating your own inventory list contact Cole Horton | 906.315.7209 | email@example.com or Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
By now, we know that national health care is here to stay. It will change and adapt as the
year progresses, but it will stay. There are two components of the new national health care law, the individual and the group. Due to an increase in client questions regarding the individual marketplace, we will focus on that segment here.
What is an Exchange anyway? In its most basic form it is a set of government-regulated and standardized health care plans from which individuals may purchase health insurance.
Each invidual state has the option of 1.) joining with the Federal Exchange program or 2.) taking on the responsibility of forming their own private exchange programs administered individually.
As it stands right now, Michigan will be forming a partnership with the Federal Exchange program.
The Time Frame
Currently the start date for enrolling members on an individual plan through the exchange is October 1st, 2013 through February 28th, 2014 (also called the Open Enrollment Period). There will also be something called an Initial Enrollment Period whereby individuals who become newly eligible outside of the date listed above will still have access to enrolling in coverage.
There is some discussion that this date could change, based on the fact that little information has been released regarding the actual implementation of this new system with such a short time frame remaining.
The exchange will be structured in the form of a medal tiered system:
Bronze (plans pays 60% of costs, enrollee pays 40%)
There will be essential health benefits in each plan – mandated by the federal government. These could change but currently include: doctors, hospitals, prescription drugs, mental health, and preventive screenings.
The premiums that a person pays will be limited to four distinct factors: age, tobacco use, family status, and geography. No additional charges or credits can be applied for pre-existing conditions that a person has.
Minimum network availability must exist for members of the exchange.
There is little concrete information regarding cost structure around each plan. Here are some things we do know:
Individuals must carry some form of coverage or pay a penalty of $95 (or 1% of their income, whichever is larger.)
Those income eligible will be able to use tax cuts to help pay for their health plan. The lowest-income families will have access to free public insurance. Those who earn less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level will be eligible for some kind of subsidy. This means a family of four whose total income is about $92,000 per year will still qualify.
States have the ability to expand the Medicaid Program so that familes at 138% of the Federal Poverty Level would still be eligible. Compare that to today’s number which is 64%.
Overall, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. It is important to stay informed as a consumer in this changing marketplace. Decisions you make today, could have an impact on you and your family far into the future. For additional information regarding National Healthcare and how it impacts you, visit our website or contact Heather Mosher | 906.315.7235 | email@example.com.
Every year, thousands of sets of skis or snowboards are stolen from resorts and hills across the country. With ski sets and snowboards ranging from $500 to $1,500 in value it's worth contacting your agent to add them to your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Still, many people don't insure their winter sports equipment and are stuck with the bill for purchasing new equipment. With policies costing pennies on the dollar, it is a cost effective investment to protect your property.