Insurance en-US Not Insuring These 6 Things Could Bankrupt You <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/not-insuring-these-6-things-could-bankrupt-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple budget" title="couple budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting ahead financially isn't easy. It requires hard work and persistence. So why risk years or even decades of hard work and sacrifice only to lose everything in one unfortunate, very costly event? (See also: <a href="">Marketing, Life Insurance, and Behavioral Psychology</a>)</p> <p>&quot;It won't happen to me,&quot; you say? I felt the same way years ago. But life happens. However unfair it may be, over time we all see some of our friends and family members face difficult challenges or even catastrophes. (I'll include a few examples of my own below.) As much as we hope to avoid them, we just can't predict or control all events. But we can at least hedge some of these risks by insuring against them.</p> <h2>What Should I Insure?</h2> <p>Insurance is for the big things. It's to protect you from major events that would cost you more than you can pay for from your short-term financial reserves. In other words, its purpose is to help shield you from serious and potentially devastating financial setbacks.</p> <h2>What Shouldn't I Insure?</h2> <p>As a rule, then, insurance is not for smaller financial risks or expenses you could absorb and pay for in the short term. This is where we often make a mistake &mdash; purchasing insurance or service contracts for goods and services that cost hundreds of dollars or less.</p> <p>Is that to say that you should never consider taking insurance on a cell phone or a computer printer, for example? Maybe not, but be aware of the cumulative opportunity cost of those expenditures. That money could have been used to help you get ahead financially, by paying off an outstanding debt for example. Also, remember that companies that encourage you to buy their service contracts and warranties often make more profit on the warranties than on the actual product or service being insured.</p> <p>So, what are the big things requiring insurance? And what types of insurance can protect you from being wiped out financially? Here are six that cover most if not all of the bases.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance</h2> <p>By far, the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. A <a href="">study done at Harvard University</a> identifies medical expenses as a leading cause of 62% of all personal bankruptcies.</p> <p>Even the shortest of hospital visits now costs thousands of dollars. Just a few months ago one of our sons experienced sudden stomach pains, requiring a trip to the emergency room. After a number of tests (isolating the problem as an intestinal disorder) and some antibiotics he was released four or five hours later. The bill? Over $20,000. Thankfully our insurance covered most of the bill and his subsequent treatments. But it's easy to see how a single serious injury or disease, if not adequately covered by health insurance, could deplete your entire savings.</p> <p>And even if you have health insurance, the ever-rising deductibles (sometimes $5,000 or more) can tip you over a financial cliff if they exhaust your short term funds and force you to delay credit card, vehicle, mortgage, and other payments in an attempt to recover.</p> <h2>2. Life Insurance</h2> <p>This one should be a no-brainer. If you have dependents or any unpaid debts or financial obligations that would need to be paid upon your death (not many people can answer &quot;No&quot; to all of those), then you need life insurance. The question is, how much?</p> <p>There are many ways to estimate how much life insurance you need, but I like the following approach:</p> <ol> <li>Determine your household's current TOTAL annual income needs and SUBTRACT income that's available to your spouse/survivor(s) from other existing sources. This will be their NET annual income need.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Multiply this net annual income need TIMES the estimated number of years your beneficiaries will require it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>ADD your total current outstanding debts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>ADD future unfunded expenses (your funeral expense, children's college, etc)</li> </ol> <p>This total should give you a good initial estimate. For a more complete assessment I suggest Tony Steuer's <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0984508104&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ZNPG3SINGOTXRIYR">Questions and Answers on Life Insurance</a> toolbook .</p> <p>My strong preference is term life insurance, not permanent life policies like whole life or universal that include an investment component. As a rough guide, I purchased a $300,000 supplemental term life policy at age 40 for $300 per year, or $25 per month. That premium amount will not change until my mid-60s.</p> <h2>3. Vehicle Insurance</h2> <p>Auto insurance is required by most states. It's actually a collection of policies that protects you from financial loss in three ways:</p> <ol> <li>Property coverage pays for damage to your car, either from a collision or from vandalism, storm damage, or theft (if you have &quot;comprehensive&quot;).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Liability coverage pays legal expenses to others for injury to them or damage to their property in an accident.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating accident injuries, and sometimes for lost wages and funeral expenses.</li> </ol> <p>According to <a href="">Money Girl podcaster Laura Adams</a>, you ought to have &quot;enough auto insurance to cover the total value of all your assets &mdash; such as your home, vehicles, savings accounts, and non-retirement investments &mdash; [in case you are] involved in a lawsuit.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Homeowners Insurance</h2> <p>Like vehicle insurance, homeowners insurance is required when you have a mortgage. It should cover the replacement value of your home and its contents, and it pays for claims associated with fire and certain natural disasters. A liability portion also covers you if someone gets hurt on your property. (See also: <a href="">8 Surprising Things Covered by Homeowners Insurance</a>)</p> <p>If you rent, and the loss of your personal belongings would cause a financial hardship, then you should consider renter's insurance.</p> <h2>5. Disability Insurance</h2> <p>As a young girl my grandmother excelled in school. She loved to read and looked forward to attending college. Her father was a successful stone mason and the family lived comfortably, so paying for college was within their means. Then a work-related accident left him disabled. He never recovered, and he didn't have disability insurance, so his daughter had to quit high school and get a minimum wage job to help the family make ends meet. Needless to say, my grandmother never attended college, and she never had an opportunity to achieve her dreams.</p> <p>This is why having disability insurance is so important.</p> <ul> <li>Approximately one out of four workers entering the workforce today will become disabled for some period of time before they retire.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>More than 90% of disabling accidents and illnesses are not work related, which means they aren't covered by worker's compensation insurance.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Social Security is only available after you've been out of work for a year and are completely disabled.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Disability is the leading cause of about 50% of all mortgage foreclosures.</li> </ul> <p>Most employers provide short-term disability insurance to non-contract workers, but they are less likely to offer long-term disability coverage, or if they do it's often less than you need. So look into supplemental disability insurance to make sure your family's needs are covered.</p> <h2>6. General Liability Insurance</h2> <p>Sometimes referred to as umbrella insurance, this is a &quot;miscellaneous&quot; policy. It covers amounts in excess of maximums in other policies, and it provides primary insurance for losses that aren't covered by other policies. Take personal injury lawsuits. However frivolous the claim, defending against a lawsuit can cost thousands. For example, my stepfather works for his local township and he spent over $40,000 clearing himself of an unfounded charge against him by a citizen of the town.</p> <p>Also, have you noticed that insurance companies are narrowing the scope of what they cover in their traditional insurance policies? That same stepfather had storm insurance to cover his primary residence but didn't learn until after last year's Hurricane Sandy that the insurance company wouldn't cover $20,000 in damages to the garage on the same property.</p> <p>Our household has a $1 million umbrella policy that costs about $50 per month. It gives us peace of mind.</p> <h2>Protect What You've Worked Hard For</h2> <p>Joni Mitchell wrote: &quot;Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.&quot; I think that sums it up nicely. It's hard for us to appreciate the consequences of a serious accident or unforeseen event until after it occurs.</p> <p>But bad things do happen &mdash; we see it all around us. So do what doesn't come naturally: protect yourself against your big risks before they happen. Take stock now of your insurance needs and make sure you're covered.</p> <p><em>Have you covered your big risks? How many of these insurance policies do you have? Can you think of any others?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Not Insuring These 6 Things Could Bankrupt You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Keith Whelan</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance bankruptcy health insurance insurance life insurance Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:02 +0000 Keith Whelan 1190088 at 7 Weird Ways to Keep You and Your Stuff Safe <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-weird-ways-to-keep-you-and-your-stuff-safe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="anti-vandal paint" title="anti-vandal paint" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've got home security systems and car alarms and bike locks. Yet our belongings still get stolen from time to time. When the mainstream anti-theft devices just aren't cutting it, it may be time to get creative. (See also: <a href="">Can't Afford a Home Alarm System? You Probably Already Have One</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our roundup of the top seven outside-the-box things you can do to protect your assets.</p> <h2>1. Invest In Kidnap Insurance</h2> <p>So your beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed twenty-something is studying abroad in Colombia. And you're thrilled he's embarking on this eye-opening, cultural experience until you read that Colombia is a hot bed for kidnappings. We kid you not, one person was <a href="">kidnapped in Colombia on five</a> different occasions.</p> <p>What's a parent to do? You could put the kabosh on the trip and accept that you won't be receiving a Father of the Year Award &mdash; or you could purchase <a href="">kidnap insurance</a>. This type of highly unique travel insurance comes at a cost of several thousand dollars a year. Experts say the best plans cover not only a reward paid to informants who can provide tips that lead to an arrest, but also things like lost income, psychiatric expenses, and loss of fingers.</p> <p>Yes, we know, these aren't pleasant thoughts. The price tag isn't pleasant, either. But for journalists, business executives, and other frequent travelers, some form of kidnap and ransom protection may be a smart idea. A less expensive way to go about it is <a href="">The Executrac</a>, an app ($29.95 with a $19.95 monthly subscription) that turns any smartphone into a covert GPS tracker with a panic button.</p> <h2>2. Plan for Death When You Say, &quot;I Do&quot;</h2> <p>If you came to your end this very moment, what would happen to your family, your dog, your home, your internal organs, your online passcodes, and your social media accounts? Even if you're young and healthy, experts say it's all worth thinking about.</p> <p>Perhaps you want to commission <a href="">artwork made with your ashes</a> blended in paint. Or, like Michael Jackson, <a href="">maybe you want to leave $2 million to your pet chimpanzee</a> payable upon your death. Services like <a href="">Everplans</a> can help delineate such requests, starting with a free online personal will developer.</p> <p>The company's founders started creating the will developer as a young married couple concerned about the future. They recommend others start the process as soon as they begin to build their own family. It might seem premature, but the alternative to this kind of planning can be grim.</p> <h2>3. Channel Your Inner Kevin McCallister</h2> <p>When you'll stop at nothing to keep your belongings safe, it's time to implement the booby trap. The term was coined in 1850 and has been wreaking havoc on enemies, thieves, and otherwise unsuspecting victims ever since.</p> <p>In a modern day example, a Missouri homeowner fed up with pranksters driving their cars in his yard <a href="">buried a bed of nails in the ground</a> along the perimeter of his property. Tire tracks on the front lawn? Not on his watch.</p> <p>A word of warning: Some of these rigs can trigger police involvement, leading us to very cautiously recommend the booby trap, which is only sometimes legal. Please: be safe.</p> <h2>4. Paint It Neon</h2> <p>Investigators dealing with a rash of car battery thefts in Richmond County, Georgia two years ago recommended residents invest in a can of brightly colored paint. Car batteries &mdash; and other items whose value isn't tied to its outward appearance such as lawnmowers and construction equipment &mdash; can benefit from a coat of <a href="">high visibility paint that deters theft</a> and makes it easier for police to identify and return your item to you in the event that it does get stolen.</p> <h2>5. Make It Slippery</h2> <p>Got a problem with trespassers jumping the fence around your property? There's a paint for that. Aptly named <a href=";coatings/anti-graffiti-coatings/coo-var-anti-climb-paint&mdash;vandalene-/416">anti-vandal paint</a>, this slippery residue makes climbing near impossible when applied to fences, support beams, gutters, or gates. The paint, which can also be used to stop graffiti artists, is colorless, weather resistant, and <a href="">it never dries</a>.</p> <h2>6. Strap a GPS Tracker On It</h2> <p>If Spot has a tendency to roam, it's not a bad idea to consider investing in a dog collar with GPS tracking capabilities. Embedded with mini GPS units, these collars can <a href="">pinpoint your pet's exact location</a> should he stray from the yard. The <a href="">WhistleGPS</a> (preorder for $129) tracks not only your pet's location, but all of his activities in an easy-to-use app on your smartphone. The <a href=";qid=1406467661&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=garmin+gtu-10">Garmin GTU 10</a> ($200) allows the pet owner to configure up to 10 &quot;geofences.&quot; If your dog crosses the boundary, you get a warning emailed to your account. (See also: <a href="">Find Lost Keys Fast With a Teeny Tiny Tile</a>)</p> <p>Dog collars aren't the only things that come GPS-equipped. The list of things you can track using this advanced location technology is endless &mdash; <a href="">wallet</a>, <a href="">speed boat</a>, <a href="">luggage</a>. Kanye West, who is internationally known for taking things one step too far, allegedly installed a GPS tracker on Kim Kardashian's cell phone so he can <a href="">keep track of his wife</a>.</p> <h2>7. Hide It With Camouflage</h2> <p>If you live in a wooded area, you can quite easily use <a href="">camouflage paneling</a> to conceal your storage sheds, vehicles, and boats. You can also hide your home. Even if you don't live in the forest, you can camouflage your living quarters in other ways to blend in with the natural surroundings. There's a home in Atlantic Beach, Florida, for example, that's <a href="">built inside a sand dune</a>.</p> <p>Casa do Penedo in Portugal's Fafe Mountains is perhaps the ultimate example of covert housing. <a href="">The home is made of four giant boulders</a>, giving it a rugged aesthetic that would probably be pleasing to the likes of Barney and Betty Rubble. There's no electricity, but there is a swimming pool and living room fireplace. Not bad for a house made of nothing but rock, right?</p> <p><em>Ever heard of a crazy, creative way to keep things safe? Let us know in comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Weird Ways to Keep You and Your Stuff Safe" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living General Tips Insurance insurance protection safety security Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1175047 at This Is What That Ticket You Got Will Do to Your Car Insurance Rate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-what-that-ticket-you-got-will-do-to-your-car-insurance-rate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="speeding ticket" title="speeding ticket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are two types of drivers in America: those who've received a ticket; and those who haven't.</p> <p>In the past five years, <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">25% of drivers</a> have received traffic tickets. That's one in four. Of course, tickets can range from the minor (such as driving with a broken headlight), to the very serious (a DUI). Tickets carry penalties, including fines and point violations, and if you hit 12 points your license is taken away. Typically, you'll automatically get 12 points for a DUI. However, the biggest hit your wallet takes will not come from fines and fees, but from the insurance rate hikes that accompany tickets. Here are five of the biggest insurance rate increases you'll get from traffic tickets.</p> <h2>DUI or DWI &mdash; 93% Rate Increase</h2> <p>That's <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">almost double</a>, if you're lucky; many insurance carriers will actually drop you altogether, and some will triple your rate.</p> <p>The insurance industry does not like people driving under the influence. They consider you to be a very high-risk driver, and rightly so. <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">Drunk drivers</a> are a danger not only to themselves and their own property, but also to everyone else on the road. If you can afford to pay the increased rate, it will be that way for three years. That equates to thousands of dollars. If your policy is cancelled, you need to get SR-22 insurance from another carrier before you can legally drive your car. And guess what? You now have a cancellation on your record, so it will be even more expensive. Of course, depending on your blood alcohol level, you may not even be able to get behind the wheel for another nine months.</p> <p>The bottom line is, <strong>never ever drive under the influence of alcohol</strong>. With the insurance hikes, penalties, classes, interlock devices, and everything else, it will cost you $10,000 and stay on your record for a long, long time. How much does it cost to get a cab, or spend the night in a nearby hotel? It's not $10k!</p> <h2>Texting &mdash; 21% Increase</h2> <p>Texting rate hikes have not come in line with DUI rate hikes yet, but they will. Research has shown that texting and driving is the same as driving after four beers &mdash; something that would easily get you a DUI conviction. Worse still, you are <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">SIX TIMES</a> more likely to cause an accident if you're texting, as opposed to driving while intoxicated. Not only that, but 25% of all car accidents are now caused by drivers who text.</p> <p>It's an outrage that the insurance companies, and the laws, are not seeing texting for what it really is; one of the greatest dangers to road safety today. As it stands right now, if you get a ticket for texting and driving you can get as little as one point and a $20 fine, plus a 21% increase in your insurance rate (it's treated the same as a 15 mph speeding violation). It's very possible that if you have a good record, your insurance company will forgive you.</p> <p>But like I said above, expect the penalties for texting and driving to start increasing.</p> <h2>Reckless Driving &mdash; 82% Increase</h2> <p>If you're driving without using your hands, reading a book or map, erratically changing lanes while speeding, tailgating, road raging, or basically your attention is anywhere but the road ahead, you can get a ticket for reckless driving. Also, some DUI cases will plea down to reckless, or &quot;wet reckless&quot; (meaning alcohol was involved), and this results in slightly lesser charges and penalties. But don't go celebrating. Reckless driving is not something your insurance company likes to see on your record, and they will heavily penalize you for it.</p> <h2>Careless Driving &mdash; 27% Increase</h2> <p>On the other hand, careless driving brings much smaller penalties.</p> <p>While reckless driving is seen as intentional, <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;">careless driving</a> is not done on purpose. You may forget to signal while changing lanes, or may fall asleep at the wheel (which brings disastrous consequences, but was never something the driver wanted to do). If you are ticketed for careless driving, you'll get a few points on your license and your insurance rate could rise by as much as 25%. Of course, your previous record will come into play, and your insurance company may let you off easy. There's a world of difference between forgetting to signal, and falling asleep behind the wheel.</p> <h2>Failure to Stop/Running a Red &mdash; 19% Increase</h2> <p>Whether you run through a stop sign or a red light, you can get a ticket.</p> <p>These days, cameras at intersections are grabbing offenders and sending tickets out automatically. You can always try to fight it, especially if you went through a yellow and the camera or police officer has you down as running a red. But, chances are you'll probably be too busy to go through with a court case, and will simply pay the fine and take the reduced points. Expect your insurance to go up about 19%, unless you have an exceptional history.</p> <h2>Speeding &mdash; Up to 30% Increase</h2> <p>The big one. Almost everyone, at some point in his or her driving life, is going to go over the speed limit. Even if it's just a few miles per hour over, it's breaking the law. Of course, most police officers don't usually bother unless you're going 10 mph or more over the limit (unless it's a very slow day). Depending on how much over the limit you were going, your insurance hike can range from 21% up to 30%. If you were doing something crazy, like 160 mph in a 55 mph zone, you may get a reckless driving ticket instead.</p> <h2>Driving Alone in a Carpool Lane &mdash; 18% Increase</h2> <p>It seems so trivial to get a ticket for driving in a HOV or carpool lane without passengers. However, those lanes are put there to ease traffic congestion, and if we all disobey the rules of the road they will become futile. While nothing major is going to happen, you can expect almost the same rate hike as a low-end speeding ticket. It's really not worth the hassle. Or the cost.</p> <p><em>Have you ever gotten a moving violation? What was the hit to your pocketbook?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="This Is What That Ticket You Got Will Do to Your Car Insurance Rate" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance auto insurance Cars driving DUI moving violations tickets Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1173261 at Best Money Tips: The Insurance Edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-insurance-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="insurance" title="insurance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some of the best articles from around the web on insurance.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">7 Insurance Policies You Can Live Without</a> &mdash; Chances are you can live without specialty disease insurance and extended warranties. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">5 Ways to Save Money on Insurance</a> &mdash; To save money on insurance, increase your deductible or boost your credit score. [Christian PF]</p> <p><a href="">11 Tips Every Home Owner Needs to Know About Insurance</a> &mdash; If you are a homeowner, make sure you know what your insurance covers and how to save by bundling. [Fox Business]</p> <p><a href="">Do You Regularly Shop Around for Insurance?</a> &mdash; If your coverage needs have changed, it is essential to shop around for new insurance. [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="">Renters Insurance: Why It's Worth It</a> &mdash; Did you know renters insurance can cover the cost of additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable? [The Simple Dollar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">Are You Taking Care of Your Family? Make Sure You Have Life Insurance!</a> &mdash; When thinking about purchasing life insurance, consider your family's income needs over the next couple of decades. [Bible Money Matters]</p> <p><a href="">Why I Buy Disability Insurance</a> &mdash; Did you know 48% of foreclosures are a result of a disability? [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="">Avoidable Disasters: Don't Go Without Insurance</a> &mdash; Could you afford to replace all the items in your home if you lost them? If not, you need homeowners or renters insurance. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="">How to Lower Your Auto Insurance Bill</a> &mdash; If you want to lower your auto insurance bill, get multiple quotes. [Cash Money Life]</p> <p><a href="">How to Get Low-Cost Medical Care For Your Child</a> &mdash; To get low-cost medical care for your child, take advantage of free or low-cost clinics. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Insurance Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance best money tips insurance Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:00:03 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1146779 at Best Money Tips: Insurance That Saves You Big in the Long Run <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-insurance-that-saves-you-big-in-the-long-run" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hospital" title="hospital" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on insurance that will save you big, people who can save you time, money and stress, and getting started with investing.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Looking Ahead: Five Types of Insurance That Save You Big in the Long Run</a> &mdash; Life insurance and health insurance can save you money in the long run. [Free Money Wisdom]</p> <p><a href="">5 People Who Can Save You Time, Money, and Stress</a> &mdash; A mechanic is the number one person who can save you time, money, and stress. [Sweating the Big Stuff]</p> <p><a href="">How to get started with investing</a> &mdash; To get started with investing, put investing in the foreground of your mind. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="">Six Reasons For Financial Accountability</a> &mdash; Leaving a legacy should motivate you to be financially accountable. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="">How to Pay for the Things You Want While Paying Off Debt</a> &mdash; Pay for the things you want while paying off debt by planning your purchases. [NarrowBridge Finance]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">Three kitchen appliances that will help you slash your food bill</a> &mdash; Hand blenders are a great kitchen tool that can help you slash your food budget. [The Money Principle]</p> <p><a href="">15 Facts That Will Instantly Make You Happier</a> &mdash; Did you know blind people will smile even if they haven't seen a smile before? [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">What you need to know about the impending Obamacare deadline</a> &mdash; The Obamacare deadline is March 31st! Make sure you are aware of the exemptions. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="">Six Steps to Take Before You Start Writing Your Business Mission Statement</a> &mdash; Before you write your business mission statement, research other effective statements. [Reaching Financial Independence]</p> <p><a href="">Celebrate National Nutrition Month Every Day</a> &mdash; Being active and avoiding liquid calories can help you celebrate National Nutrition Month every day. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Insurance That Saves You Big in the Long Run" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance best money tips insurance Fri, 21 Mar 2014 10:00:27 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1132133 at What Do I Need to Know Before I Hire a CFP? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-do-i-need-to-know-before-i-hire-a-cfp" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="business people" title="business people" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Before you go out and hire what could be the most important person you ever hire in your entire life &mdash; your financial planner &mdash; here's a few things you need to know.</p> <p>Hey, this is Jeff Rose, Certified Financial Planner, and I'm here to answer the question: &quot;What do you need to know before you hire a CFP?&quot;</p> <p>You're officially an adult. It's time to make some really important decisions, so you know you need to hire a financial advisor. You've heard of this thing called a CFP. What does it mean? What do you need to know before you hire a CFP? Well, if you missed the introduction, I am a CFP. I'm a Certified Financial Planner.</p> <p>What does that really mean? So for me, to get my CFP designation, I had to take these courses. I had to study a lot of material. And this covered everything from retirement planning to investing, taxes, estate planning, insurance &mdash; a little bit of everything. Anything that encompasses the financial planning process. And after I studied my butt off, I then had to take a really hard exam. And I want to tell you, it's the hardest exam I've ever had to take.</p> <p>After I passed the exam, I was able to call myself a CFP. Now, the only way I could call myself that is because I had three years of work experience already. If somebody took the exam and passed the test, they couldn't call themselves a CFP just yet. So before you hire a CFP, you should know that they went through a very tough course curriculum. They passed the exam and they've had three years of work experience.</p> <p>So what's the difference between a CFP and a Financial Advisor? It can get pretty confusing. For a Financial Advisor, they don't have to take the CFP Exam. I chose to take the CFP Exam because I wanted more knowledge. I wanted more experience. I wanted that know-how of helping people through the entire financial planning process</p> <p>In our industry, it's not required to become a CFP. Most people who work to get the designation do it because they want the knowledge. They wanted greater growth in their career. I often explain to people, choosing between a CFP and a regular Financial Advisor is kind of like hiring an accountant. You can hire an accountant to do your tax return, or you can hire a CPA who&rsquo;s versed in all the different tax codes and can help you do some legitimate tax planning. The CFP is no different. They are versed in all aspects of financial planning and they can help you get from A to Z; they've got the know-how and the research to do so.</p> <p>I might be a bit biased in saying you need to hire a CFP if you're going to hire a Financial Advisor. But you know what? It's true. They've put in the hard work. They've taken the test. They've got the credentials. And if you're trying to find a Financial Advisor, head on over to <a href=""></a>. There's a database full of all the different Financial Advisors that have the CFP designation across the country. If you have any more questions regarding hiring a Financial Advisor, this is Jeff Rose, CFP. I'd be glad to help you out. Take care.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="What Do I Need to Know Before I Hire a CFP?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeff Rose</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance Ask the CFP life insurance Fri, 15 Nov 2013 21:40:35 +0000 Jeff Rose 1098583 at Meet Wise Bread's Financial Planning Expert, Jeff Rose, CFP! <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/meet-wise-breads-financial-planning-expert-jeff-rose-cfp" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="handshake" title="handshake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>What's going on, Wise Bread community? This is Jeff Rose, Certified Financial Planner and founder of <a href=""></a>. The people at Wise Bread wanted me to do a quick introduction video because I am the new financial planning expert here to answer your questions. That's right. Wise Bread has its own resident CFP to help answer any financial planning questions that you have.</p> <p>But before we get into that, let me give you a quick introduction of who I am.</p> <p>I am a Certified Financial Planner. I have been in the financial service industry for over 10 years. That's right &mdash; a decade. (That's why I have a lot of gray hairs. I've got three kids, too, so that kind of helps out.)</p> <p>I started my career with A.G. Edwards &amp; Sons, which is no longer around. They were bought out by a big bank. I spun off from them and founded my own wealth management firm, Alliance Wealth Management, LLC, which is where I'm at today.</p> <p>In case I look familiar, no, I'm not The Rock. My eyebrow does not go up. I do not do the people's elbow, whatever that is, although The Rock's kind of cool. No, I'm the founder of personal financial blog. I've done a few movements: the Roth IRA Movement, the Debt Movement,&nbsp;the Life Insurance Movement&nbsp;where I bust out some dance skills.</p> <p>My mission has been to give people information they need to make smart decisions about their money. When I was growing up, I knew nothing about investing. I knew nothing about savings. And I literally stumbled into a profession of being a financial adviser. And thank goodness, because the learning experiences I've gotten meeting with real people and their real life struggles have really opened my eyes to what I need to do and to show other people how to make smart decisions with their money.</p> <p>This September, I'm proud to announce I had my first book coming out called&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0814433286&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20"><em>Soldier of Finance</em></a>. This book shows people how to invest their money and take charge of their future. I see so many people who are making bad choices or just don't know what to do, and I want this book to inspire them. You have to want more and want your life to be different. So if you have the motivation and the willpower, I want to show you how to get there.</p> <p>Some of my previous work has been featured on MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Market Watch, and even more importantly, Wise Bread. So I'm hoping to give it back to the Wise Bread community by answering any questions you have regarding financial planning.</p> <p>Now, obviously, financial planning is a broad category, but I am here to answer anything related to that. This can include retirement, investing, college savings plans, life insurance &mdash; anything that has to do with money and your life, I'm here to answer it. And if I can't answer the question, I have a network of trusted experts that will be happy to answer the question for you. Basically, I've got your back.</p> <p>So if you have any questions, just hit me up on the Wise Bread blog. We'll be happy to get that question answered in a future video and some potential Google hangouts. But if you need a quicker response, you can always hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, social media. I'm there, that's where I hang out.</p> <p>I look forward to getting to know you all much better in the near future. Until next time, this is Jeff Rose, Certified Financial Planner. Take care.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Meet Wise Bread&#039;s Financial Planning Expert, Jeff Rose, CFP!" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeff Rose</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance Ask the CFP life insurance Fri, 15 Nov 2013 21:26:19 +0000 Jeff Rose 1098582 at 8 Surprising Things Covered by Homeowner's Insurance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-surprising-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman holding house" title="woman holding house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Insurance companies often get grief for what&#39;s <em>not</em> covered in a typical policy. But a standard homeowner&#39;s policy &mdash; often known as an HO-3 &mdash; does have clauses that cover you in ways you may not expect. And even if you aren&#39;t covered under a standard policy, you may learn that there are endorsements tied to your policy that offer extra coverage you didn&#39;t realize you had. (See also: <a href="">Don&#39;t Let Your Bank Pick Your Homeowners Insurance</a>)</p> <p>It&#39;s important to review your homeowner&#39;s insurance policy carefully to see what applies to you. but you may be surprised to know that these seven things are covered under many standard policies or as part of <a href="">low-cost endorsements that are often routinely included</a>.</p> <h2>1. Spoiled Food</h2> <p>A typical policy will cover the loss of up to $500 in food if your freezer or refrigerator stops working due to a power outage.</p> <h2>2. Tombstones</h2> <p>If a grave marker of a loved one is damaged, the insurance company will pay for repairs, usually up to $5,000. It&#39;s important to note that grave markers must be established as your &quot;personal property&quot; for them to be covered. (In essence, you&#39;re covered if you are the one who bought the plot.) So that&#39;s something to keep in mind when burying a loved one.</p> <h2>3. Dog Bites</h2> <p>If your dog bites someone and causes injury, most policies will cover that person&#39;s medical expenses, even if the bite didn&#39;t happen on your property. Most policies also cover medical expenses for other injuries in which an insured person is at fault, and will pay for legal expenses if you are sued. (Check your policy to be sure of limits to this liability coverage.)</p> <h2>4. Kids and Their Stuff at College</h2> <p>Under most policies, the &quot;insured&quot; includes anyone in your household as well as anyone under 24 who is attending college full time. However, policies aren&#39;t crystal clear on whether this applies only to students living in dorm, so it may also be wise to get low-cost renters insurance if they are living off campus. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Get Renters Insurance</a>)</p> <h2>5. Volcanic Eruptions</h2> <p>This may not be relevant to you unless you live in Hawaii, but it&#39;s nice to know that if lava is flowing toward your house, you&#39;re covered. Keep in mind, however, that most standard policies will not cover loss due to earthquakes or tremors. (See also: <a href="">How to Financially Prepare for a Natural Disaster</a>)</p> <h2>6. Identity Theft</h2> <p>It can be distressing to learn that someone has stolen your personal information, and cases of identify theft can cost victims thousands of dollars, not to mention the time and stress of dealing with law enforcement, attorneys, and financial institutions to get your case resolved. Thankfully, many homeowner&#39;s policies will reimburse you for expenses you incur when working to resolve an identity theft case. This could include attorney&#39;s fees, travel costs, and even lost wages if you have to miss work. Some policies will even cover things like babysitting and elder care if you need them while you resolve the identity theft case. (See also: <a href="">How to Deal With Identity Theft</a>)</p> <p>Note: In many cases, identity theft coverage is not part of the standard HO-3, but a special endorsement. But such endorsements are often routinely included without homeowners even knowing it. Check your policy.</p> <h2>7. Some Flood Damage</h2> <p>Typically, if your house floods, you&#39;re out of luck, unless you purchase flood insurance. However, many policies do have endorsements that cover flood damage in some instances. I recently saved thousands of dollars in repairs when I learned that my policy actually did cover repairs resulting from a failed sump pump. Check your policy to see if it includes such a provision.</p> <h2>8. Your Bike, Even 3,000 Miles From Home</h2> <p>Most policies include &quot;<a href="">off premises</a>&quot; coverage for your personal property. (It&#39;s the same clause that covers your child&#39;s property when she&#39;s away at college.)&nbsp;One Wise Bread IT staffer discovered the value of this when his very pricey touring bicycle was stolen midway through his cross-country bike tour &mdash;&nbsp;all the way on the other side of the continent. He called his agent, and soon he had the funds to replace the bike and continue pedaling.</p> <p>In addition to protecting your property from theft or loss, off premises coverage offers liability protection, too. That means if you shank a drive through the picture window of the house edging the fairway, your insurer picks up the tab. Amounts vary based on your total coverage amounts, so check your policy for the details.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Anything surprising in your homeowner&#39;s insurance?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Surprising Things Covered by Homeowner&#039;s Insurance" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tim Lemke</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance homeowner's insurance insurance Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:36:04 +0000 Tim Lemke 994621 at Best Money Tips: Ways to Lower Car Insurance Rates <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-ways-to-lower-car-insurance-rates" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman driving" title="woman driving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on ways to lower car insurance rates, the best mobile apps for personal finance, and traits common of most millionaires.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Proactive Ways to Lower Car Insurance Rates</a> — Installing an anti-theft device or taking a safety course can help you lower your car insurance rates. [Thirty Six Months]</p> <p><a href="">The 5 Best Mobile Apps for Personal Finance</a> — Have you downloaded the Venmo or MoneyKeeperPRO apps onto your phone yet? [BobbyFinance]</p> <p><a href="">7 Traits common of most millionaires</a> — Did you know that most millionaires believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status? [More Money Than Month]</p> <p><a href="">5 Ways to Save on Kids Costumes</a> — Organizing a costume swap can help you save money on your kids' costumes this Halloween. [The Happy Housewife]</p> <p><a href="">100+ Birthday Freebies</a> — If your birthday is coming up, check out this amazing list of freebies you can get on your special day! [The Prudent Patron]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">How to Save Money on Car Tires</a> — To save money on car tires, extend the life of your tires by rotating them. [Bargain Babe]</p> <p><a href="">Free Online Checking Accounts - Why Pay More Fees Than You Have To</a> — If you have a free online checking account, beware of minimum balance fees or transaction fees. [Free From Broke]</p> <p><a href="">Money 101: How to Create a Budget</a> — To create a budget, start by tracking your spending for 30 days. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="">Never Iron Again! 6 Ways to Have Wrinkle-Free Clothes Without Ironing</a> — Shower steam or wrinkle-removing sprays are good ways to get the wrinkles out of your clothes when you don't have an iron handy. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">6 Opportunities for Quantity Time With Your Teenager</a> — Take advantage of the opportunity to talk to your teen when you are in the car with him or her. [Parenting Squad]</p><a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Ways to Lower Car Insurance Rates" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Cars and Transportation Insurance best money tips car insurance insurance rates Wed, 02 Oct 2013 10:00:03 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 994523 at Don't Fall for These Common Obamacare Scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, begins to roll out, health insurance scams linked to the law have been proliferating. Consumer advocates fear the scams may become even more common as health insurance exchanges come online. (See also: <a href="">Understanding the ACA's Health Insurance Exchange</a>)</p> <p>The Obamacare scams are many and varied. Con artists are setting up fake websites, posing as government workers or insurance agents, and contacting consumers by phone, email, text messages, and even in person.</p> <p>They are selling fake insurance plans, requesting personal financial information, and seeking personal information to commit identity theft.</p> <p>Government officials and consumer advocates are warning Americans about these most common Obamacare scams.</p> <h2>Fees for Help</h2> <p>Fraudsters contact potential victims by phone, email, or text message and offer to help them access the new health insurance exchanges &mdash; for a fee. Beware: They're out to collect bogus fees. They also collect bank account numbers or other sensitive financial information. (See also: <a href="">Obamacare Fraud Alert</a>)</p> <p>Official helpers, called navigators, assisters, or counselors, can help you with the health insurance marketplace. But they don't charge fees or push particular plans. To find people who can help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan, visit <a href="">the government's local help site</a>.</p> <h2>Government Imposters</h2> <p>Some scammers claim they're from the government. It's a lie. No one from the government is calling people about their insurance. Government agencies may send you letters but will never ask for money or credit card numbers.</p> <p>Con artists may use high-pressure tactics, saying &quot;It's the law.&quot; They're known to threaten potential victims with penalties or even jail time if they don't sign up or buy a special insurance card.</p> <p>Such penalties are not possible since the law's individual mandate, which levies a financial penalty on those who don't obtain insurance, does not take effect until 2014 and entails no jail penalty.</p> <h2>Bogus Medicare Cards</h2> <p>In this scam, criminals say you need a new Medicare card because you'll lose coverage if you don't buy a new card. They may ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers, too.</p> <p>Actually, no one needs a new Medicare card or any other insurance card, and no one will lose insurance coverage.</p> <h2>Discount Plans</h2> <p>Scammers try to sell medical discount plans, calling them insurance policies. They are not. Most discount plans entail club memberships claiming to offer reduced prices from doctors and other medical costs. Many don't deliver any cost savings. Others are just cons designed to collect personal information and commit identity theft. (See also: <a href="">How to Prevent Identity Theft</a>)</p> <h2>Insurance Agent Scams</h2> <p>Scammers may pose as insurance agents. They typically use high-pressure techniques, such as saying you must &quot;act now&quot; to get a discount or that you'll lose access to your current doctors under Medicare if you don't sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan. That's not true.</p> <p>If you have Medicare, you don't have to do anything different because of Obamacare. Some insurance agents can help you with the Health Insurance Marketplace, but don't provide personal information or pay any money to someone who contacts you.</p> <h2>Fake Websites</h2> <p>Scammers set up fake websites to collect sensitive financial information and spread malware. To trick visitors, the sites are designed to look like an official health care exchange, complete with official seal. For instance, as <a href="">The Washington Post reported</a>, the sites and were reported and taken down.</p> <h2>Steps to Take to Avoid Getting Taken</h2> <p>Consumer confusion about the new law creates opportunities for criminals. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that as recently as April 2013, <a href="">4 in 10 Americans did not know that Obamacare was the law</a>. Many thought it had been repealed by Congress or struck down by the Supreme Court.</p> <p><strong>Learn About the Law</strong></p> <p>Read Wise Bread's ongoing coverage of the <a href="">ACA</a> and <a href="">health insurance</a> in general to stay informed, or visit <a href=""></a>. In addition to learning about the law, you can shop for insurance through that website.</p> <p><strong>Keep Detailed Notes</strong></p> <p>Write down the name of anyone who assists you, who they work for, their telephone number, address, email, and website address.</p> <p><strong>Ignore Solicitors</strong></p> <p>Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information or someone claiming to be from the government. Better yet, report them by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or visiting <a href=""></a>.</p> <p><em>Have you been contacted by a health insurance scam artist?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Don&#039;t Fall for These Common Obamacare Scams" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Michael Kling</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Insurance ACA fraud health care health insurance insurance obamacare scams Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:26 +0000 Michael Kling 991234 at How to Take Advantage of Obamacare for Less Financial Risk and More Freedom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-take-advantage-of-obamacare-for-less-financial-risk-and-more-freedom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="doctor holding heart" title="doctor holding heart" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the US, buying health insurance has been a gamble: If you got sick, you were locked into whatever policy you bought when you were healthy. Once Obamacare goes into effect, that will no longer be true. This reduces your risk and increases your freedom. (See also: <a href="">Freedom From the Day Job</a>)</p> <p>This post isn't on the specifics of the reforms. (See Wise Bread's post on how the <a href="">Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Exchanges</a> work for that.)</p> <p>This post is on tactics and strategies for taking advantage of the new circumstances: Using them to reduce your risk and increase your freedom.</p> <h2>Less Risk</h2> <p>In the United States, choosing a life-path that didn't include employment with a large firm has been a huge gamble, and the biggest piece of the gamble was health insurance.</p> <p>In particular, choosing a life-path where you needed to buy an individual policy put your whole family's finances &mdash; and your life &mdash; in danger. If you became seriously ill, your policy would cover your expenses this year, but then you'd never be able to get a new policy, because insurers only wrote health insurance policies for people without preexisting conditions. Your premiums for your current plan would go up each year to cover the costs of your care (and others on the plan who had also gotten sick that year), and healthy people would drop the plan for new, cheaper, policies. Your insurance costs would spiral out of control, until they became unaffordable for anyone who wasn't wealthy.</p> <p>Basically, buying an individual policy before 2014 was a gamble that you'd only ever get seriously ill <em>once</em>.</p> <p>Starting next year, that's no longer true. Your rates won't go up. Thanks to <a href="">community rating</a>, you'll pay the same rate as everyone else in your age group, even if you get sick: Less risk.</p> <p>A related issue for the non-wealthy was that health insurance &mdash; good health insurance, that actually protected your finances from serious illness or injury &mdash; was expensive. That prompted people to go with minimalist policies that didn't actually provide much coverage. Worse, it prompted insurance companies to create crappy &quot;insurance&quot; policies that might look like they provided pretty good coverage (if you didn't know how to read an insurance policy), but actually covered even less than a legit minimalist policy.</p> <p>Under the new law you <em>can</em> get stripped-down coverage &mdash; <a href="">a Bronze policy</a> &mdash; that has lower premiums (and higher copays and deductibles). But even a Bronze plan has to cover all the same care that the better policies have to cover. You have real insurance: Less risk.</p> <p>One other aspect to this is that you're guaranteed to be able to change your policy every year, if you want to.</p> <p>That was true before &mdash; but only if you weren't sick. If you got sick, you were stuck with whatever policy you had. If you were worried that you might get sick, you had a strong incentive to pay up for pretty good insurance, so the policy that you were stuck with would be a pretty good policy.</p> <p>The new situation enables an option that wasn't safe before. While you're young and healthy you can choose a Bronze-level policy. If you get sick, you'll have to pay the higher deductibles and copays <em>this year</em>, but you won't be stuck with the policy for the rest of your life. You can choose to stick with a cheap policy as long as you're healthy, without losing the chance to upgrade if you start needing more expensive care: Less risk.</p> <h2>Strategies and Tactics</h2> <p>With all that in mind, here's a few tactics and strategies for using your new individual health insurance options to help you live large on a small budget.</p> <p><strong>1. Get Insurance</strong></p> <p>There's no good reason not to. If you're living near poverty, you can get substantial subsidies to help with the cost. (If you're very poor, you can get Medicaid for free in most states. Some states are turning down free money from the federal government to support the expanded Medicaid. If you live in one of those states, you might want to move.) (See also: <a href="">How to Leave Town Fast</a>)</p> <p><strong>2. Get Your Preventative Care</strong></p> <p>It'll be free &mdash; and if you're young and healthy it won't cost you much in time or discomfort either. But if it catches some serious problem early, it could save your life. (You can't live large if you're dead.)</p> <p><strong>3. Figure Out If You Can Get a Subsidy</strong></p> <p>Everybody is pointing at the <a href="">Kaiser Family Foundation's calculator</a>. It'll take your income and your family size and figure out what subsidy you'll get, if any.</p> <p>The subsidy is sized to make a Silver-level plan affordable, but you don't have to spend it on a Silver plan if you don't want to. It can make a Bronze-level plan quite cheap, or bring a Gold-level plan more within reach.</p> <p>If you qualify for a subsidy, be sure to buy your policy on the public exchange &mdash; it's the only way to get the subsidy.</p> <p><strong>4. Choose a Metal Level</strong></p> <p>If you're young and healthy, consider getting a Bronze plan. If you get sick or injured, you'll have to pay a big chunk of the cost of your care, but you'll still be protected by the out-of-pocket maximum, which caps your health care expense at $6,350 for the year.</p> <p>In addition to people who are young and healthy, this may be appealing to people who are middle-aged and healthy. In fact, it's particularly attractive for someone who has accumulated a chunk of capital. For example, someone who's saving hard with an eye toward early retirement might well be able to take a risk that they'd get hit with $6,350 in medical expenses, if the payoff was hundreds of dollars a year that they could add to their savings.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you're in the bottom half of the low-income group getting a subsidy, consider getting a Silver plan. People with incomes between 133% and 250% of the poverty level who have a Silver plan get a further subsidy in the form of reduced deductibles and copays.</p> <p>On yet another hand, if you have some chronic medical condition with a high level of ongoing expenses for health care, consider a Gold or Platinum plan. (See also: <a href="">What to Do If You Have a Huge Medical Bill</a>)</p> <p><strong>5. Reevaluate Annually</strong></p> <p>Many people will be able to stick with roughly the same plan year after year. But as circumstances change, it may make sense to make some changes.</p> <p>As your income changes, your subsidy will change. (Even if your income doesn't change, the thresholds for the subsidy will change as the poverty line changes.)</p> <p>As your health status changes, it may make sense to change your metal level.</p> <p>You're locked in for a year at a time &mdash; but that's nothing compared to being locked in for a lifetime, the way people who get sick have been.</p> <h2>More Freedom</h2> <p>As I said when the Affordable Care Act passed, Obamacare is going to be <a href="">good for people like me</a>. It's likely to save me money &mdash; although I'm very healthy, I'm getting older, and the cost of my individual policy has started to climb, simply because of age. That will stop. But that's not the big win.</p> <p>The big win is that I'm no longer risking my family's finances on the gamble that I'll only ever get sick <em>once</em> in my whole life. And that doesn't apply only to me.</p> <p>A lot of people are drawn to some lifestyle where an individual policy is the way to go. Maybe, like me, they want to be writers &mdash; or pursue some other creative career, like musician, composer, actor, dancer, painter, sculptor, or a dozen others. Maybe they want to be entrepreneurs and start small businesses. Maybe they want to be subsistence farmers on a small plot of land. There are a lot of people like that, who are willing &mdash; even eager &mdash; to accept the lower standard of living and the risk of failure that comes with taking the leap away from working for a big company, but who have hesitated to take the additional gamble that injury or illness will bankrupt them.</p> <p>This less risky version of the health insurance market is going to enable them to choose to take those other risks &mdash; the risk that their book won't sell, that their play is a flop, that they never make more than $50 a week as a musician, that their business will go bust, that their crops will fail &mdash; without adding on the risk that illness will bankrupt them. (See also: <a href="">Make Your Dream Career a Reality for Under $100</a>)</p> <p>This is going to enable a whole lot of freedom &mdash; and unleash a whole lot of productivity and creativity that has been sitting idle in cubicles, on factory floors, in back offices, and behind service counters.</p> <p>All that because individual health insurance policies are going to be less risky.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for the opening of the ACA medical insurance exchanges? Will you be purchasing insurance via the exchange?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Take Advantage of Obamacare for Less Financial Risk and More Freedom" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance ACA healthcare insurance obamacare Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:24:09 +0000 Philip Brewer 990470 at Obamacare Fraud Alert: Con Artists Prey on Worried Health Insurance Consumers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/obamacare-fraud-alert-con-artists-prey-on-worried-health-insurance-consumers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="doctor in monitor" title="doctor in monitor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="176" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Obamacare health insurance exchanges will open for business soon (October 1, 2013), with big changes for health insurance providers and consumers alike. Many Americans have questions about the law's mandates and available plans and who has to buy what from whom. Add to that recent news stories about <a href="">employers such as Trader Joes</a> and <a href="">Walgreen's dropping employer provided coverage</a> (both will provide money to employees to purchase their own insurance, instead), and confusion reigns.</p> <p>(See also: <a href="">Guide to the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Exchange</a>)</p> <p>Naturally, unscrupulous scamsters have stepped into the chaos to con people out of their money and their sensitive personal identity information, such as credit cards and Social Security numbers.</p> <p>As reported today in the New York Times, <a href="">the White House is warning consumers to be wary</a> of high pressure sales pitches promising to enroll consumers in a health insurance plan offered on the exchange:</p> <blockquote><p>White House officials said that consumers should be suspicious if anyone asked them for money to enroll in a health plan offered through an insurance exchange. Legitimate insurance counselors and &quot;enrollment assisters&quot; will not ask for money, they said.</p> <p>In addition, White House officials said that Medicare beneficiaries did not need to sign up through an insurance exchange. Advocates for older Americans said that many were confused and wrongly believed that they needed to apply for coverage through the exchanges, scheduled to open Oct. 1.</p> </blockquote> <p>Today's White House announcement is part of a larger effort by the federal government to warn consumers of potential fraud. (See also: <a href="">How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud</a>)</p> <h2>How to Protect Yourself</h2> <p>The government is encouraging Americans to take several steps to protect themselves from fraud.</p> <ul> <li>DO NOT give out personally identifying information such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>DO NOT agree to pay for help enrolling in an exchange-offered plan.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Current Medicare enrollees DO NOT need to purchase additional coverage via an exchange.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>DO become informed of your rights, responsibilities, and protections under Obamacare at <a href=""></a> and the Kaiser Family Foundation's <a href="">extensive coverage of health reform</a>.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you been contacted by a con artist offering to help you sign up for insurance on an exchange? Is the new law confusing?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Obamacare Fraud Alert: Con Artists Prey on Worried Health Insurance Consumers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Lars Peterson</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Insurance con artists fraud identity thieves obamacare scams Thu, 19 Sep 2013 18:48:52 +0000 Lars Peterson 988401 at Understanding the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Exchange <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/understanding-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-exchange" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple with doctor" title="couple with doctor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you are currently without health insurance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, often referred to as Obamacare) offers both good news and bad news. (See also: <a href="">Health Care Reform: Good for People Like Me</a>)</p> <p>First, the good news: as of October 1, 2013, you will be able to purchase affordable health insurance through the ACA's Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) &mdash; and you will be covered as of January 1, 2014.</p> <p>Unfortunately, as with any government program of this size, the various rules, regulations, policies, and requirements are both complex and potentially confusing.</p> <p>It's important to know just what to expect from the ACA's Health Insurance Exchange, because even those who currently have insurance may someday find themselves needing individual coverage. Here is what you need to know about navigating the maze of HIX, before you need to use it:</p> <h2>Basic Coverage</h2> <p>One of the intentions of the Affordable Care Act is to put the kibosh to some of the shadier practices of the health insurance industry. The practices that the law will deal with include refusal of coverage based on pre-existing conditions; rescission, or the practice of refusing to cover treatment for a current insurance beneficiary based upon supposed pre-existing conditions; yearly and lifetime spending limits; and insurance that lacks a bare minimum of coverage. (See also: <a href="">Health Care Price Lists: A Short Guide</a>)</p> <p>While not all of these issues will necessarily be addressed in the insurance industry as a whole, all insurance plans offered through the ACA's Insurance Exchange must meet these standards. So anyone purchasing insurance through HIX will be guaranteed coverage; even if they have a pre-existing condition their claims cannot be denied; and they cannot reach an arbitrary spending cap after which point they are on the hook for additional medical costs.</p> <p>Finally, all insurance offered through the exchange must provide the following services, according to&nbsp;<a href="">the ACA's website</a> (which is chock full of info and details):</p> <ul> <li>Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Emergency services<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Hospitalization (such as surgery)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prescription drugs<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Laboratory services<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pediatric services</li> </ul> <p>Insurance without this base level of coverage will not be considered a &quot;qualifying&quot; policy and cannot be sold through the exchange.</p> <h2>How Much Will It Cost?</h2> <p>Leaving aside the political arguments about the global cost of this program, the intention of the ACA in general (and the exchanges in particular) is to make insurance premiums affordable for all Americans.</p> <p>One of the pricing rules put in place to ensure this is a limitation on price variations (also known as ratings) on insurance. Price variations can make the exact same policy a great deal more expensive for older beneficiaries, sick beneficiaries, <a href="">women</a> (especially those of childbearing age), smokers, etc.</p> <p><strong>No More Price &quot;Ratings&quot;</strong></p> <p>As of 2014, insurers may no longer use most of the criteria the industry uses to vary prices among beneficiaries. The only criteria that may still be used &mdash; for older beneficiaries and smokers &mdash; are limited to a specific price ratio. Insurers may charge older beneficiaries no more than three times what they charge young beneficiaries &mdash; so a 64-year old can expect to pay no more than three times what his 21-year-old grandson is paying for insurance.</p> <p>As for smokers, the ratio is 1.5:1. At worst, an older beneficiary who smokes will pay 4.5 more than a young non-smoker. (See also: <a href="">7 Inexpensive Lifestyle Changes That Can Add Years to Your Life</a>)</p> <p>This limitation on price variations should theoretically help all insurance beneficiaries, even if they are still receiving their insurance through more traditional means. In addition, there will also be subsidies in place to help those who will be buying insurance through HIX.</p> <h2>The Subsidy Program</h2> <p>The health care law has determined that no lower- to middle-income individual or family should have to pay more than 9.5% of their income toward a base-level of individual health insurance premiums. And the 9.5% is the upper limit &mdash; most people earning modest livings should expect to pay between 3% and 9.5% of their income toward insurance. Those whose income falls below a certain point (133% of the federal poverty level &mdash; more on that below) should be eligible for Medicaid, and therefore will not be expected to pay <em>anything</em> for their insurance premiums.</p> <p>In order to ensure that families and individuals do not have to spend more than the specific, mandated percentage of their income, the government is offering subsidies to any individual or family making between 133% and 400% of the federal poverty level. (That corresponds to incomes between $31,322 and $94,200 for a family of four.) The Kaiser Family Foundation offers a <a href="">subsidy calculator</a> that can help you determine if you'll qualify for a subsidy and how much you can expect from such a subsidy.</p> <p>In order to receive the subsidy, eligible individuals will have to apply for them when enrolling in insurance through the exchange, using their recent tax returns as proof of income.</p> <p>The subsidy will be paid directly to the insurer, so you will not have to worry about having to pay in full and then waiting for reimbursement.</p> <p>In addition to the subsidies for premiums, any HIX shopper who earns less than 250% of the federal poverty level ($58,875 for a family of four) will also be eligible for cost-sharing assistance. In order to explain how the cost-sharing program will work, let's first look at the different levels of insurance that will be available through HIX.</p> <h2>Four Tiers of Coverage</h2> <p>In order to make it easier to comparison shop among different health insurance plans, every plan must fit into one of four available tiers: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.</p> <p>Each of those tiers offers a different actuarial value. This term refers to the percentage of costs that the insurance company will pick up, and the lower the actuarial value, the cheaper the premiums.</p> <p>The lowest tier, bronze, offers a 60% actuarial value, meaning beneficiaries have to pay for 40% of their care.</p> <p>From there, silver offers a 70% actuarial value, gold offers 80%, and platinum offers 90%. You will pay more for premiums for a higher tier, but your out-of-pocket costs will be lower.</p> <p>For all subsidies and cost sharing options, the ACA uses the silver tier as the base level of insurance. Your subsidy does not change if you decide to buy insurance from a different tier. So your subsidy can go farther if you opt for bronze-level insurance, but not as far if you get gold or platinum coverage.</p> <h2>Cost-Sharing Assistance</h2> <p>For those who make less than 250% of the federal poverty level, there is further help in making the out-of-pocket costs for HIX insurance plans more affordable. Basically, if your income is at or below the 250% level, the actuarial value of your silver plan will be increased so that it will be like you are enrolled in a plan with a higher actuarial value.</p> <p>Here is what you can expect to pay for out-of-pocket expenses through the <a href=";id=3190">cost-sharing assistance</a>:</p> <p><img width="564" height="269" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>Using the Health Insurance Exchange</h2> <p>Whether you are for or against the new health care law, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the logistics of the health insurance exchange. You never know when you may need to purchase individual health insurance because of a gap in employment or other circumstance. Knowing the rules and regulations of the ACA will help you to get the best insurance for your money.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for the introduction of the ACA-mandated health insurance exchanges?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Understanding the Affordable Care Act&#039;s Health Insurance Exchange" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Emily Guy Birken</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance ACA health insurance health insurance exchange obamacare Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:06:36 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 981836 at What Does It Take to Become a CFP? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-does-it-take-to-become-a-cfp" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="meeting" title="meeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="605" height="454" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>Do you ever get confused when you hear the terms: Financial Adviser, Financial Planner, Financial Consultant, Investment Adviser, Certified Financial Planner? If you do, don't worry, you're not alone.</p> <p>Hey. This is Jeff Rose, Certified Financial Planner and personal finance expert, here at Wise Bread. Let's look at what the difference is between financial planner and CFP.</p> <h2>What Is a Financial Adviser?</h2> <p>If you've ever done any research on hiring a financial adviser or looking at the differences between the titles, you know it gets really confusing. Here's the thing. If you want to be a financial adviser, all you have to do is get a job with an investment firm or an insurance company, and you could pretty much hold yourself out to be a financial adviser. Pretty scary. To become a certified financial planner, you need to take on a whole new set of requirements and education. Let me explain.</p> <h2>What Is a Certified Financial Planner?</h2> <p>When I first got in the business, I was fresh out of college as a finance major; I passed my Series 7 exam, and became a financial consultant. That was the title that was on my business card, but you could have called me a financial adviser or a financial planner &mdash; any of those would've worked. As I advanced in my career, I really wanted something that made me stand out. Upon further research, I learned that CFP, certified financial planner, was the designation to have. The CFP designation embodies financial planning. With that, you cover the principals of general financial planning, investments, retirement, insurance, estate planning, income tax planning. Basically anything that has to do with money and your life is covered in the certified financial planner program. When you figure that everybody is at a different point in their life and has different goals, different objectives, to me, it made sense to get the designation so I could better help my clients. Now that you better understand what the CFP designation means, let's take a look at what it takes to get the designation.</p> <h2>How to Become a CFP</h2> <p>First things first, you must have a bachelor's degree to even start the program. This was a rule that was adopted about 5 years ago, so there are some CFPs that don't have a bachelor's degree. If you want a CFP nowadays, you must have your bachelor's degree. You must also enroll in a course or a program that is sponsored by the College of Financial Planning. There are several ways to do this. You can go to a real-life class setting, you can do an online setting, or you can do self-study. For me, I did the classroom setting in a crash course-like style. Let me explain.</p> <p>Each month, I would go up to my home office up in Saint Louis, and I would spend 3&frac12; days going through everything financial planning. It was seriously force-fed. I was drinking so much Diet Coke and so much coffee just trying to absorb all the information. I did that for 11 months. Afterwards, you must pass the CFP exam.</p> <p>The CFP exam is a 2-day comprehensive exam consisting of multiple choice and case studies. They give you pages and pages of sample client data, and you have to determine what is the best option for them. Let me tell you, the CFP exam was by far the hardest exam I've ever taken in my life. I've never studied for anything more than I did that exam, and I'm so thankful I passed.</p> <p>When you pass the exam, you get to call yourself a CFP, right? Not quite. The final part to becoming a CFP and actually using the designation on your business card, or to even call yourself a certified financial planner, is meeting the experience requirement. The experience requirement is 3 years or 6,000 hours of working in the financial planning industry. You have to be working with clients, analyzing data, presenting client data. Basically, you have to be doing financial planning in order to be able to use that experience requirement. For me, I actually didn't take the exam until I had been in the business for over 4 years, so I more than satisfied that 3-year requirement.</p> <p>On top of the education and experience requirement, you're also held to a higher ethical standard. If you go onto and you want to find info on a potential CFP that you're might be hiring, you can see if anything has been filed against them. For example, have they filed bankruptcy? Has anyone filed a complaint against them? Is there anything that shouldn't be on their record for being a certified financial planner? If that's the case, you'll find that on</p> <p>Everything I've explained to you just shows what being a CFP is different than a normal financial adviser that doesn't have to go through the scrutiny and the education and experience requirements. If you're looking to hire a financial adviser, I would strongly encourage you to find a CFP. As I mentioned, head on over to to find a good financial adviser for you.</p> <p>If you have any more questions like this, feel free to hit me up. This is Jeff Rose, your resident personal finance expert here at Wise Bread. We'll see you next time. Take care.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="What Does It Take to Become a CFP?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeff Rose</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance certified financial planner CFP financial adviser life insurance Fri, 30 Aug 2013 18:01:02 +0000 Jeff Rose 981649 at Beginning the Free Life Insurance Quote Process <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beginning-the-free-life-insurance-quote-process" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man on phone" title="man on phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="605" height="454" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>Thank you for beginning the process to get your free life insurance quote. Before you proceed, a few quick reminders:</p> <ol> <li>If you have a high-risk condition, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or any type of cancer, please give us a call. What most people don't realize when buying life insurance is that insurance carriers will rate you depending on what type of condition you have. We know which ones to approach depending on what your condition is.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you're looking for a quote on a no-medical exam or no-physical type of life insurance, please give us a call as well. Our quoter is just for term life insurance, but we'll be happy to assist you in getting some no-exam life insurance.</li> </ol> <p>As always, feel free to call our office if you have any questions. We look forward to helping you. Take care.</p> <p><em>Call us! 855-326-7598</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Beginning the Free Life Insurance Quote Process" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jeff Rose</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Insurance life insurance Fri, 30 Aug 2013 17:26:53 +0000 Jeff Rose 981648 at