Life Insurance

Don’t Be an Alarming Statistic: Keep Smoke and CO2 Detectors Functioning to Save Lives, Property, and Money

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 in Life Insurance | Comments Off on Don’t Be an Alarming Statistic: Keep Smoke and CO2 Detectors Functioning to Save Lives, Property, and Money

Don’t Be an Alarming Statistic: Keep Smoke and CO2 Detectors Functioning to Save Lives, Property, and Money

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are rarely top of mind in our daily routines. But not having these devices — or having ones that don’t work or are out of batteries — can have life-altering consequences. Consider the following: There was an average of 358,300 U.S. residential fires each year between 2010 and 2014. Three out of every five residential fire casualties from 2009 to 2013 were caused by “fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).” When smoke alarms were installed but failed to go off in the event of these fires, 46% of smoke alarms had batteries disconnected or missing while “dead batteries caused one-quarter (24%) of the smoke-alarm failures.” Each year, more than 10,000 people in the U.S. require medical attention for carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 500 people die from it. The statistics are shocking, especially when considering such catastrophes are often preventable. Having the right types of disaster mitigation devices in your home makes sense on many levels: It can save lives, prevent massive property damage or loss, and even reduce homeowner’s insurance rates. According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners can typically save at least 5% for having operational smoke detectors installed. Savings can go up to 15 or even 20% for those whose homes have more sophisticated sprinkler systems and fire alarms that automatically notify fire departments. These upgraded systems are costlier and not every type qualifies for the insurance cost reduction, so before making the investment, discuss your options with an experienced insurance agent who understands the link between mitigation devices and policy discounts. Even if you don’t upgrade your system, it’s vital to maintain operational detectors. In most cases, it’s even the law. As of January 2017, 38 U.S. states have enacted legislation pertaining to carbon monoxide detectors in homes, according to the NCSL article, and smoke detector laws are also enforced on a state or local level. There are many combination alarms available that detect both smoke and carbon monoxide, so it’s relatively easy to meet all requirements with one unit in each recommended or required living area. What can homeowners do to ensure detectors function optimally? Test the batteries in each detector monthly. Change the batteries in each detector every six months — even if a test says the batteries are still good. Mark a reminder in your calendar or make a point to change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. When changing batteries, also clean each unit. Use a vacuum attachment to remove dust, and follow manufacturers’ cleaning instructions. Replace entire units every 10 years. Mark each unit with the install month and year so you know when the unit’s 10-year lifespan is up. Understand your homeowners insurance policy Such proactive diligence should also be applied to knowing and understanding your homeowners insurance policy and what is covered if you do sustain a house fire. The amount and type of coverage may depend on your situation, which is important to consider as you shop for the right policy. Be sure you understand what is covered, as policies can vary greatly. If you can’t live in the home after the fire, does your policy cover “loss of use” and pay for your hotel and meals while displaced? If your home needs to be completely rebuilt, will your policy cover the full replacement cost? Are all your personal belongings covered or do you need additional coverage to protect costly items like jewelry? If available in your state, fire dwelling insurance may be a better option if...

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Weeding Through the Facts: Life Insurance Options Vary for Marijuana Users

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 in Life Insurance | Comments Off on Weeding Through the Facts: Life Insurance Options Vary for Marijuana Users

Weeding Through the Facts: Life Insurance Options Vary for Marijuana Users

Those in America’s cannabis community may face some tricky terrain when seeking life insurance policies that acknowledge their habit without gouging their wallets. There are no black-and-white answers when it comes to this issue, and different companies have varying viewpoints relating to cannabis-consuming applicants. Frequency of use, type of use — medicinal or recreational — and even honesty regarding marijuana use can affect coverage approval and pricing. Is a drug test mandatory for applicants? Marijuana users hoping to skip the pre-approval exam and related drug screening may find dismal coverage options. “No-exam” policies do exist but typically have much higher premiums and lower death benefits — $50,000 at most for those 40 and older. Standard policies offer the best premiums compared to higher-value policies but require pre-approval exams that consider applicants’ comprehensive health profiles. They can include blood and urine analysis, which often test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Depending on the type of test and one’s frequency of marijuana use, THC can remain detectable for a month after use. Why do insurers care about THC? THC causes the euphoric “high” feeling associated with cannabis. It can cause impairment to short-term memory, reaction time, motor skills, and attention. Some argue that consuming edible marijuana — usually in the form of a candy or food product — has greater short-term risks because the “high” is delayed one to two hours versus a five- to 10-minute delay when smoked. This can trigger overconsumption among those who think “it didn’t work” and continue to consume more in a short period of time, potentially causing anxiety, oversedation, or psychosis. Marijuana’s long-term effects are less understood and highly debated. Opponents link the carcinogens in cannabis to those of cigarettes and claim long-term heavy smoking can cause dependency as well as cancer of the mouth, throat, and lungs. Proponents argue that recreational marijuana is less addictive and safer than alcohol and cigarettes and medicinal — used as a highly effective natural treatment for dozens of common diseases and disorders. So where does marijuana fit on a carrier’s risk-factor spectrum? According to a June 2016 PBS report, 80% of 148 underwriters surveyed said marijuana use indeed affects their decisions on whether to offer life insurance coverage and how to price it. But 29% of those respondents also classified marijuana users as nonsmokers if those users did not also smoke tobacco. This is very important because smokers’ life insurance premiums can be twice as high as those of nonsmokers. Some companies automatically put recreational marijuana use in the same category as smoking cigarettes, meaning they may either charge smokers rates or deny coverage. Others determine coverage and rates based on frequency of cannabis use. What is considered “frequent” to an underwriter is extremely subjective, and some define frequent as more than twice a month while others define it as more than twice a week. But what about medicinal marijuana? Having a valid prescription may help bolster one’s case for better coverage and rates, but the medical condition that warrants the marijuana use may be the real risk factor in insurers’ eyes. For example, insurers can deny someone who smokes cannabis to ward off the ill-effects of cancer treatments coverage or deal high premiums because of the cancer — not the marijuana use. Tips for cannabis-consuming insurance shoppers Life insurance applicants who use marijuana should be transparent about their use and frequency of use. Those who lie or misrepresent their marijuana usage can not only be denied coverage by that insurance company but can also be reported to the Medical Information Bureau, which places a...

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4 Things You Need to Know About Life Insurance

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Life Insurance | Comments Off on 4 Things You Need to Know About Life Insurance

4 Things You Need to Know About Life Insurance

Death is not something most people like to think about — let alone plan for. But if you don’t have a life insurance policy, your family members and loved ones could be left with wage losses, debts, funeral expenses, as well as other financial burdens and costs associated with your death.

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