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Are you and your family dangerously exposed to the risk of an untimely death? The loss of a breadwinner and even the loss of a stay-at-home spouse can create an immediate and significant hardship for those families affected. According to a recent study from the Life Insurance Research and Marketing Association (LIMRA), the majority of 'middle market' families surveyed reported that they would have to make drastic or significant financial changes if they lost an adult household member.
For the purposes of the survey, LIMRA defined the middle market as consumers ages 25-64 with annual household incomes of $35,000 to $99,999.
Among their key findings: Only 46 percent of those surveyed even owned individual life insurance. And about 25 percent responded that they own no life insurance of their own at all. If they have any dependents, and they are not independently wealthy - to the extent they can support their children to adulthood and their spouse for life off their savings and investments - their dependents are in significant financial peril.
Many of those surveyed report that they own group coverage via their employers. The problem with this is that the amount of life insurance generally available through workplace plans is extremely limited. Often the most you can get through an employer plan is $50,000.
However, for most middle market workers, $50,000 barely replaces a year's worth of income - and less than that after funeral costs and related expenses. Once the year is up, and the limited insurance death benefit is spent, widows and orphans still have to get by.
Meanwhile, employer-sponsored coverage can vanish if you lose your job. If you become disabled, you could lose your job as a result of the illness or injury - and be unable to purchase life insurance on your own as a result of the disability.
7 in 10 consumers in the middle market reported that routine monthly cost-of-living expenses have been preventing them from purchasing their own individual life insurance. Half of those surveyed blame Internet, mobile phone and cable TV costs for preventing them from purchasing insurance.
How Much Coverage Do You Need?
Most financial planners recommend that those relying on income from their jobs, who have families to support, own somewhere between eight and twelve times their annual income in life insurance.
What to do about it?
If you are uninsured or underinsured, and you have people depending on you or a spouse for their financial well-being, call us 314-351-HALO (4256) and talk to one of our life insurance agents. If you are in good health, many times you can purchase an inexpensive term insurance policy for a significant amount of coverage for the cost of a dinner out each month.
In most cases a nurse will come to your home or workplace to examine you. Most individuals are pleasantly surprised at how affordable and easy the process is. The most important thing is to get protection in place immediately.
When springtime rolls around in the Midwest, almost everyone thinks of cleaning. That’s fine (we probably all need to do a little more of that, after all), but there’s something even more important to keep in mind: home maintenance.
So, when it’s time to set your clocks ahead for daylight-saving time (YESTERDAY!) and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, give your home a checkup, too. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
Interior and appliances
• Check the basement and/or crawlspace for any signs of standing water or dripping.
• Pull your dryer out and clean the exhaust hose and vent (lint found here is a common cause of house fires).
• Vacuum refrigerator/freezer coils for efficiency.
• Clean exhaust fan outlets and screens.
• Check all air filters and replace, if necessary.
Roof, siding, windows
• Check for damage to your roof and have a professional inspection, if necessary.
• Go into the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking.
• Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather.
• Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills.
Yard and exterior
• Check for signs of rodents and other pests.
• Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are draining away from the home.
• Trim overhanging tree branches and shrubs.
Remember, winter weather can cause significant damage that is easy to spot, but it often results in wear and tear that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely. It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that wear and tear doesn’t turn into something more serious.
Homeowner's insurance policyholders usually have the option to insure to actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost value (RCV). To make the best decision, the individual first needs to gain a clear understanding of the difference between the two policy options.
In a nutshell, the difference between RCV and ACV is wear and tear; otherwise known as depreciation. ACV considers that the lost property has most likely depreciated over time, and endeavors to insert depreciation into the equation. For instance, suppose the ruined property was a sofa that would cost $700 to replace. Even though the sofa was in good shape for a 10-year-old piece of furniture, it was definitely not brand new. In ten years time, some wear and tear inevitably occurred. With ACV, the insurance company may determine that $30 of depreciation occurred each year since the sofa was purchased. In this case, the sofa would only be valued at $400 at the time of the loss. The company would pay you $400 minus any applicable deductible. In a sense, you would be paying an increased deductible in the form of the $300 of depreciation. To summarize ACV, the insured would pay the difference between the replacement cost, the amount the old sofa depreciated by, and any deductible. In essence, the policyholder is "co-insuring" that amount.
On the other hand, RCV is simply the cost of replacing the lost property with either an identical or similar piece of property. Using our sofa example, if it costs $700 to replace the sofa, the insurance company will pay you the $700 minus any applicable deductible. Even though the ruined sofa was showing its age, and could never be sold for $700, RCV allows the policyholder to recoup the value of a brand new replacement sofa.
Which option is best? This question cuts to the core of what insurance is all about - making the insured whole again. In some cases, ACV falls short. Conversely, RCV can create an overly beneficial situation for the insured. Not including sentimental value, if the sofa is old and dilapidated, but the insurance covers RCV, it is obvious that the policyholder will benefit greatly by receiving enough funds to purchase a brand new sofa to replace the old one.
An old house that has been severely damaged by a fire may provide a more dramatic example of RCV. At the time of the fire, the house may have only been worth $200,000, because the components of the house (such as roof, flooring, HVAC etc.) were approaching the end of their life span. In this case, the house would increase in value as the old worn-out components were replaced with brand new ones. So the homeowner would be better off in terms of the value of their home, than if the fire had never occurred at all.
Some insurers stipulate that all repairs must be completed, in order to obtain the full replacement cost of the property. They may decide to pay the ACV up front, and have the rest of the payment (the difference between RCV and ACV) contingent upon all repair work being completed. This keeps the insured from pocketing the money and gaining financially from the loss.
There is at least one caveat regarding the benefits of RCV, however. Since the real estate market can fluctuate quite a bit, sometimes replacement cost value turns out to be less than ACV. When the housing market is strong, and home prices are high, the actual cash value can be higher than the cost of replacing a home with one that has similar features and qualities. Therefore, the additional cost of purchasing RCV may be a bad decision. It is always best to consult with an agent to see which option is right for you. Let us help you make that decision 314-351-HALO (4256)
Joel is an attorney living in Manhattan. He relies on public transportation to get around the city and occasionally rents a car, so he does not own one. When he goes back home for a visit, he will sometimes borrow one of his parents' cars to go out or visit friends. He certainly does not plan on having a car accident when he's driving, so the question of who will pay if one happens is far from his mind.
Liz lives in rural Maryland. She does own a small car for commuting to work. She also regularly borrows her father's pickup truck because she owns a horse that she enters in nearby horse shows. She needs the truck to haul the horse trailer. Her father gave her a spare key to the truck in exchange for her paying for fuel and some of the maintenance costs. She also does not worry about accidents.
Joel does not have an auto insurance policy because he does not own a car. Liz has auto insurance on her own car. Does either person have insurance on the vehicles they're borrowing? The answer: Some, but possibly not enough.
If Joel injures someone with his father's car, his father's insurance will cover him up to the amount of insurance purchased. If his father bought only the minimum amount required by state law, a serious accident could use up the insurance quickly. Joel would be liable for any amounts left unpaid after the insurance is used up.
Liz has the same situation - her father's insurance will protect her. Unfortunately, if an accident uses up all of his insurance, her policy will not help her. Most auto insurance policies do not cover someone while that person is using a vehicle that's regularly available to her and is not listed on her policy.
Also, both individuals are out of luck if their fathers forget to pay their insurance bills and their policies cancel. So, what should they do?
Joel should consider buying a named non-owner auto insurance policy. This is a type of auto liability insurance for people who do not own cars but who occasionally rent or borrow them. It covers the person for damages he may be responsible for because of injuries or property damage to someone else. The vehicle owner's insurance pays first; the named non-owner policy will pay once the owner's insurance is used up.
Liz needs something similar added to her own policy. Many insurance companies offer "extended non-owned coverage." This coverage applies to vehicles the insured person does not own but to which she has regular access. With this coverage, if she injures someone with her father's truck or damages their property, her insurance will apply once her father's insurance is exhausted.
Both types of insurance can also cover medical expenses for occupants of the vehicles. The named non-owner policy can also cover Joel's expenses if he is injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
If you may be in these situations call us 314-351-HALO (4256) to speak with our professional insurance agents to explore your options. The cost may not be that great, and you will be protected from financial disaster.
Motorcyclists know that riding gives them a freedom that driving a car just can’t match. But the best riders also know that motorcycles require more focus to operate and don’t provide the same protections cars do in the event of a crash. The best riders also take great care in all situations, whether they’re in heavy traffic on highway 40, stuck in the rain or just taking a quick ride on a perfect day.
If your habits aren’t as safe as they could be, or if you’re new to motorcycling, don’t worry! Instead, take time to improve. The quick safety tips below are a great place to start.
Want more? Check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (http://www.msf-usa.org) or the American Motorcyclist Association (www.americanmotorcyclist.com). And remember to give us at HALO a call at 314-351-HALO (4256) when you need to get coverage for your bike (or your home or auto, boat or more)!
First things first
• Wear proper safety gear and, most importantly, a helmet – no matter how short your trip may be.
• Make sure you can be seen by other motorists. Make it easier for them by wearing reflective clothing, always using turn signals (and perhaps hand signals as well) and keeping your headlight on.
• Even when taking the above precautions, stay alert and assume that other drivers don’t see you — especially at intersections and when making lane changes or passing.
• Be patient. Don’t tailgate, and if someone is tailgating you, get out of their way.
• Don’t ride after drinking or taking any medications that could impair your abilities.
Riding at night
• Again, make sure you’re visible — particularly at dusk. Consider upgrading your headlight or adding other lights to your ride. Is your bike black? What about your clothing? Both will make you more difficult to see at night.
• Your vision needs to be clear, so keep your visor or goggles clean and free from scratches. If you don’t use face or eye protection, consider it.
• Carry a flashlight or other emergency gear with you so a mechanical problem doesn’t leave you stranded — and invisible — on the side of a dark road.
• Keep rain and cold-weather gear handy. Riding isn’t just more enjoyable when you’re warm and dry — it’s safer, too.
• Use extreme caution when it first begins to rain, as the roads are most slick at that point. Pull over and wait if necessary. It’s better to be late than ride in unsafe conditions.
We wish that all of your rides could be on sunny days with wide-open roads, but we know that’s not going to happen. So think about safety every time you start up your bike!
If you love the water, few things are better than boating season. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without spending those long, hot days on Meramec River, cooling off with a lazy dip in the water, dropping a line in hopes of catching a “big one,” or having an action-packed day of water-skiing and tubing.
Boating is not without its share of pre-summer preparation. If you’re not on the ball early, it’s easy to find yourself midway through July still on dry land.
At Halo, we want to ensure you’re first in line at the boat launch at the first sign of the season change, so here are a few tips for being ahead of the game.
• Tune it up. It’s always a good idea to have your boat winterized at the end of each season, but whether you did or didn’t get it done last year, make sure to get a full tune-up before you hit the lake this summer.
• Charge it. Make sure your battery is fully charged.
• Clear it out. If there’s a chance any bit of gas from last season is still in your tank, fill it up with fresh gas as well as a stabilizer; this will prevent buildup in the gas lines and injection system.
• Give it a test. Before you get the boat all the way into the water and off the trailer, lower your motor into the water and make sure it will turn over.
• Plug it up. Ensure your drain plug is in and the bilge pump is functioning properly.
• Double- and triple-check. The last thing you want is to be turned away at the ramp for not having an updated registration or missing your ski flag or life vests. Double check that your documents are updated and that your boat is fully stocked with everything you need.
We at Halo Group wish you a fun-filled and safe boating season!