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As stock market hovers at all-time high, should you lose that whole life insurance?

The U.S. stock market's benchmark, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), is hovering around 17,000. That's a 143 percent increase since 2008 when the recession caused it to topple to 7,000. There's no doubt our nation's stock market is on a tear, which is why I'm hearing investment guru Suze Orman's siren song ringing in my ear. Suze is telling everyone -- and she talks to a lot of people via the Internet, television and Twitter -- to get rid of that stodgy whole life insurance policy, buy a cheap term life insurance policy instead, and invest the difference in the market. In one such presentation on YouTube, Orman answers a question from a lady whose financial adviser sold her a $650-a-month variable life policy with a death benefit of $750,000. Suze is so sarcastic it looks like she's throwing a tantrum. "First, get a new financial adviser!" she berates the caller. Whole life, universal life and variable life "are at the top 10 of Ms. Orman's hate list!" Suze says that whole life policies "do everything for the financial person who sold it to you and do absolutely nothing for you!" Cancel the old insurance and buy a term… (continue reading......)

Inside the secret policies that employers have on workers

You got the job you wanted with the company you chose. And now you’ve gotten your employee benefits package. Read the paperwork carefully. It could contain an insert asking for your signature that you’ll accept a life insurance policy paid for by the company. Often the employer is offering a group life policy benefitting your family, which usually provides a death benefit of one to two times your annual salary if you die under normal circumstances. It might even include a rider for accidental death or dismemberment (AD&D) if you’re injured or killed while working. But be aware of another type of life insurance policy for which your company might want your signature. Its beneficiary is the employer. So, if you die, your family doesn’t benefit at all because your employer gets the money. This type of policy is called Company-Owned Life Insurance (COLI) or Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) if purchased by a bank. There’s no way of knowing how many COLI/BOLI policies have been written but “it is a very very big market,” says Bruce Elliott, who handles compensation and benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management. “It’s a very lucrative market for life insurers,” says Houston attorney… (continue reading......)

'Clarity Acts' could reveal reasons for high home insurance rates in your state

There's a grassroots movement afoot to deal with rapidly increasing homeowners insurance rates. It started in the Gulf Coast states with senior citizen and middle-class homeowners who are being forced out of their lifelong residences by rapidly rising home insurance premiums. And it could wind its way up the East Coast, following the path of hurricanes, and then gain traction in the Midwest as tornados continue to ravage the heartland. So what is it all about? It's a movement for "clarity": Property insurers such as Allstate and State Farm would have to explain how and why they charge what they do -- and clarify it by ZIP code. Why is this important? Like many homeowners I believe I pay too much for insurance on my small home near the Jersey shore. My premium went up 25 percent after Superstorm Sandy, even though I didn't file a claim. Our area sustained flood damage, but a home insurance policy generally doesn't cover that. Instead, it's covered under the federal flood insurance program. Another Southern rebellion Almost everyone is struggling to adapt to the extreme climate change of hurricanes, tornadoes and baseball-sized hail that we're seeing as lead news and weather stories. So,… (continue reading......)

Advocacy is the best health insurance plan

Ask a doctor, nurse or home health care practitioner to recommend the best health insurance plan and they'll probably look around to see if anyone's listening. Then they'll whisper: "Be your own advocate." With our oldest generation spending much more time in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as with home health care, I've discovered a big secret about our medical system. You must keep track of how your money is spent, who it is spent on and what you get for it. No amount of money or "Cadillac" health plan will help if you lose control of your own health care. If and when you are incapable of making your own medical decisions, be sure that someone who is trustworthy -- and aggressively looking out for you -- is put in that position. 'How are you?' Most doctors I've dealt with are dedicated professionals, but some won't hesitate to run up expenses when they know your insurance will pay. The doctor who billed my insurer for "surgery" after wrapping my foot with an ace bandage. The parade of specialists who walked into my father's hospital room when he was in the last stages of cancer, said "How are you?"… (continue reading......)

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