This week, I had to evacuate because of Hurricane Dorian. If you’ve ever experienced a natural disaster or had to evacuate your home, you know that insurance is a top concern. No matter where you live, there are common threats—such as California earthquakes, Oklahoma tornados, and Texas floods—that affect renters and homeowners.
Let's review five essential insurance tips that every renter and homeowner should know. You’ll learn the variety of protections you get from basic renters and home policies, mistakes to avoid when buying a policy, and ways to save money on premiums.
5 Tips Every Renter or Homeowner Should Know About Insurance
Not every type of damage is covered
Certain belongings have low coverage limits
Know the difference between cash value and replacement cost
There are special types of deductibles
Don’t leave discounts on the table
Here’s more information about each insurance tip.
1. Not every kind of damage is covered
A basic homeowners policy pays for claims when a natural disaster—such as a fire, tornado, hail, or windstorm—damages your property. Personal belongings like your furniture, electronics, and clothing are generally covered up to specific limits for damage and theft.
Home insurance includes liability, which protects you from legal issues that could arise if someone is hurt on your property.
Homeowners coverage also pays "additional living expenses." That might include things like some amount of hotel and meal expenses if you can't stay in your home after a covered disaster.
If you’re a renter, you also need insurance, because your landlord is not required to cover you. Renters insurance gives the same protections as a homeowners policy. You get coverage for your personal belongings, liability, and additional living expenses. But it doesn’t cover damage to rental property because that’s your landlord’s responsibility.
Unfortunately, about half of renters don’t have renters insurance. Many mistakenly believe that their landlord would pay to repair or replace their damaged or stolen personal belongings. Or they mistakenly think a renters policy is too expensive. The good news is that a typical renters policy is quite affordable, costing just $185 per year on average across the U.S.
The good news is that a typical renters policy is quite affordable, costing just $185 per year on average across the US.
But what surprises many people is that a standard home or renters policy doesn't cover some natural disasters. These include earthquakes and flooding from groundwater.
If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you can typically add earthquake coverage to a home or renters policy. But flooding is a different category of insurance that must be purchased separately. Flooding is handled differently than other types of disasters because it’s the nation’s most common and expensive disaster. Floods can happen anywhere, and they don’t even have to be catastrophic to cause significant damage.
If your town or community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can buy a policy for your rental or your home. And if you buy a home in a designated flood zone, mortgage lenders typically require you to have flood insurance.
Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to sign up. You'd be too late.
Even though the federal government backs flood insurance, it’s brokered by regular insurance companies or agents. You can learn more at floodsmart.gov.
Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period, so you can’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to sign up.
Remember that water damage from rain, high winds, or a tree that fell on your roof are covered by a standard home or renters insurance policy. But damages to your home or personal belongings that occur due to rising groundwater are never covered, except when you have flood insurance.
Also note that if you have a home-based business with inventory, specialized equipment, or customers who enter your property, you typically need a commercial policy. Likewise, if you turn your home into a rental, Airbnb, or a vacation property, you generally need additional coverage or a landlord insurance policy.
2. Certain belongings have low coverage limits
Just like not every disaster is covered, not every type of personal belonging is fully covered under a home or renters policy. Some belongings, such as cash, aren’t coved at all. Many others have coverage caps.
For instance, jewelry, watches, furs, silverware, electronics, and firearms are typically limited to one or two thousand dollars of coverage. If you have jewelry that’s worth $10,000 and it’s lost or stolen, you’d come up very short with just $2,000 of coverage.
If you have items worth more than the coverage caps, you can add an insurance rider for more coverage. This addition is known as “scheduling” your personal property. It costs more, but it gives your most expensive items separate coverage so they could be replaced.
Another often-overlooked protection you get with renters and home insurance is that your belongings are covered outside of your home.
Another often-overlooked protection you get with renters and home insurance is that your belongings are covered outside of your home. If your vacation luggage gets stolen, you lose valuable jewelry, or your laptop gets stolen from your car, your homeowners or renters policy covers it.
So, pay close attention to the insurance limits for possessions inside and outside of your home and consider adding a rider or property schedule to beef up coverage when needed for valuable items.
3. Know the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost.
It can be a little confusing to know exactly how much money you’d receive from a renters or home insurance claim. So be sure you understand the different types of policies you can buy.
Actual cash value coverage pays to repair or replace your property or possessions up to the policy limits, minus a deduction for depreciation. The calculation can vary from insurer to insurer. But what you need to know is that a cash value policy only pays a percentage of what it would cost you to go out and buy a new item.
Cash value coverage is the least expensive option. However, it means that if you experience a severe disaster, you probably won't receive enough to rebuild your home or fully replace personal belongings.
Replacement cost coverage pays to repair or replace your property and possessions up to the policy limits, without a deduction for depreciation. That means you would receive enough money to rebuild a home with materials of similar quality. Or buy new items to replace your damaged belongings.
Yes, replacement coverage costs more than cash value. But it would allow you to replace what you lost.
There are also guaranteed or extended replacement cost policies which give you even more protection. They pay to replace your home as it was before a disaster, even if costs more than your policy limit.
Remember that a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home and any outbuildings, not the amount you paid for the property or its appraised value.
Remember that a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home and any outbuildings, not the amount you paid for the property or its appraised value. You never include the value of your land in your home insurance. Depending on the age, location, and style of your home, the insured value could be much higher or lower than its market value.
4. There are special types of deductibles.
A deductible is an amount you’re responsible for paying for an insured loss. The higher your deductible, the more you can save on premiums. So be sure to get quotes for different deductible amounts when shopping for renters and home insurance.
As I previously mentioned, disasters such as windstorms, hailstorms, and hurricanes, are typically covered by standard renters and home insurance. However, in some high-risk areas, you may have separate deductibles for damage caused by these disasters.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, nineteen states and the District of Columbia have hurricane deductibles: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C.
These special deductibles are additional and separate from the regular deductible for all other types of claims, such as fire or theft. A hurricane deductible applies only to damage from hurricanes, and windstorm or wind/hail deductibles would apply to any wind damage.
Hurricane and wind deductibles are typically given as a percentage that may vary from 1% to 5% of a home's insured value but can be even higher in some coastal areas. The amount you must pay depends on your insured value and the "trigger" event.
For instance, if you have a 3% hurricane deductible and your home is insured for $200,000, you’d be responsible for the first $6,000 ($200,000 x 3%) in repair costs. That’s much more expensive than paying a standard $500 or $1,000 home deductible.
In some states, the triggering event for hurricane deductibles to apply is when a Category 1 storm causes damage whether it made landfall or not. Other states allow Category 2 to be the threshold. In others, a hurricane deductible applies from the moment a hurricane watch or warning gets issued until 72 hours after it ends.
A hurricane deductible can only be applied once each hurricane season, from June to November.
5. Don’t leave discounts on the table.
When it comes to the price of renters and home insurance, there are some factors you can control and some you can’t. Here are some ways to save and typical discounts to ask for:
Bundling insurance is when you purchase different types of policies, such as renters or home and auto, from the same insurance company. Buying two or more policies can help reduce your total cost. Just make sure that the combined price from one insurer is less than buying policies separately from different insurers.
Shopping around may seem obvious, but many people don’t do it. Prices can vary considerably from insurer to insurer. Be sure to compare the same coverage and deductibles to get the best deal possible.
Installing safety features in your home or rental, such as smoke detectors, alarm systems, deadbolts, storm shutters, shatterproof windows, or roofing, may allow you to qualify for discounts. Even being a non-smoker or being retired reduces the risk for insurers, so be sure to let them know any factors that could work in your favor.
Raising your deductible is an easy way to cut the cost of premiums. Just make sure that you could afford to pay it in the event of a claim. Also, the savings vary depending on where you live and your insurer, so get quotes with multiple scenarios.
Maintaining good credit is vital for many aspects of your financial life, including the rates you pay for home, renters, and auto insurance. Depending on where you live, having poor credit can cause you to pay double the premium compared to having excellent credit! The only states that currently prohibit home insurers from using credit when setting rates are California, Maryland, and Massachusetts
Being a loyal customer can pay off with a discount. However, don’t let that keep you from periodically shopping around to make sure you’re still getting a good deal.
No one enjoys paying for home or renters policy, but when disaster strikes, you’re the victim of theft, or you get involved in a lawsuit, having insurance can be a financial lifesaver.
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As busy moms, we need to cut the time, trim the cost, and lessen the mental load, and here are the mom life must haves to help you do it!
Ugh! You just crossed off two items on your to-do list (yaaa!), and then you immediately added four more on to it! #momlife Seriously, you feel like you’re bailing out a sinking battleship with a sippy cup, and there’s no end in sight. Or so it seems…
Every good General knows you need the right tools & resources to win the war, so it’s time to fill your arsenal with the best mom life must haves! These are the things that will help you triumph over errands, chores, and mealtime! All while helping you feel calmer and happier, settling your racing mind, giving you the space to do what’s most important!
Yes, snuggling your kiddos, kissing on your honey, or maybe hiding in the bathtub for 2.5 hours reading a good book and eating chocolate. Hey, self-care is in, right? So sit tight, and get ready to rock your to-do list!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info
How to be a better mom (by having the right support)
Whoa, that’s a loaded statement! I mean, “be a better mom” implies that you’re doing a bad job now, right? NO! We are all doing the best job we can in the life we have right now. No one wakes up and says, “I want to be mediocre today”! No, we want to do a great job every day. Yet, sometimes, at least for me, I fall short.
Some days I’m exhausted, have too much on my schedule, or run out of brown sugar, so no cookie baking today (true story, huge tears ensued from my 5-year-old). When these days happen more than I would like, I know that I need to sit down and recalibrate. Take stock of the common themes, look for overlapping reasons why the $hit keeps hitting the fan, and then figure out what I need to do to get back on track.
Usually, either I need a mini-vacation (sigh), or I need to check out my tools and see where I need more support and even some tools that I may have forgotten about. I call these my mom life must haves! I’ve rounded up my best tips, tools, and resources on the items that help me be a better mom!
When I say “better mom,” I mean…
less frazzled, more calm
less scatterbrained, more organized
less tired, more energized
less scroungy, more stylish
less last minute, more prepared
less mediocre, more badass!
Being a better mom can mean anything that you want it to mean! Don’t let my own definition put restrictions on your best version of you! You can use my ideas to be a jumping-off point, and then tailor them to your own personality and goals!
Take advantage of Amazon Prime Day for huge savings!
I know that spending money on ourselves is hard. I will convince myself that I don’t really need something, or that the money would be better spent on a new thingamajig for my little one. I don’t know why I feel guilty spending money on myself, I just do sometimes.
One thing that always helps me feel better about spending money on myself is if I get it at a good deal! I love saving money! (yes, I’d save a whole lot more if I didn’t buy “it” at all but sometimes we need something! Especially when that something makes our life better or easier! So that’s why I am super excited about Amazon Prime Day!
What is Amazon Prime Day?
It’s a two day event where Amazon offers up steep discounts on millions of products across all categories! People use this time to stock up for holiday gifting, or to splurge on normally expensive items. If you’re a Prime Member you get early access to some of their deals so if you have been thinking about getting a membership, then now is the time! Don’t forget to snag your free 30 day trial!
When is Prime Day this year?
It’s October 13th & 14th this year, but if you’re a Prime Member you’ll get early access!
I am so happy to say that Amazon will be supporting small businesses this year too (sounds counterintuitive but hear me out). Small Businesses can be a partner shop on their platform, and if you purchase starting now through October 12th, if you purchase $10 worth of items from a participating small business you will get $10 credit to use on Prime Day! Check out all the small business partners here!
Amazon Prime Day Deals
Now the following items aren’t a part of my own person list of mom life must haves, yet so many people swear by these. Starting today, Prime members can shop early offers and deals everyday leading up to Prime Day on October 13 & 14.
Get two Echo Dot devices for $39.98
Fire TV Recast for $129.99 to store up to 75 hours of HD programming.
Save up to $100 on Toshiba 43-inch Smart HD Fire TV Edition TV for $179.99.
Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD Fire TV Edition TV for $199.99;
Save $40 on Echo Show 5
Amazon Music: For just $0.99, Prime members who haven’t yet tried Amazon Music Unlimited can get four months of the premium streaming tier with unlimited access to more than 60 million songs ad-free, and now a wide selection of popular podcasts.
Audible: Prime members can save $50 on a year of Audible Premium Plus. Audible members will also get access to the Plus catalog, featuring more than 10K Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts, all at no additional cost.
Kindle Unlimited: New customers to Kindle Unlimited save 50% off a 6-month subscription.
The main question with Prime Day Deals, is did you want this item before you heard about it on Prime Day? Or did you simply see it and think “ohhhh, shiny!” Remember, it’s only a deal, if you were going to buy it anyway!
Mom life must haves for the home
1. Family charging station
Hercules Tuff Charging Station
charges up to 80% faster!
charge six devices at once
includes 4 Lightning Cables, 1 Type-C Cable, and 1 Micro-USB cable perfectly sized to keep your space organized
This is honestly one of my favorite things, and I’m not usually a gadget person. If my phone isn’t in my hand, I always know where it is, the family charging station is the natural place to put it down, so it’s an easy habit to start. There’s no worrying about your hubby or kiddo walking off with your charging cables! Plus, it makes mealtimes more family-friendly.
We can sit down to a meal without having our phones on the table or in our pockets, where it’s so easy to start scrolling or get sidetracked by notifications!
Time Saved by less distractions and mindless scrolling!
2.A great handheld vacuum
Black & Decker Max Pivot Handheld Vacuum
Lithium battery for strong suction that never fades
4 stars with over 12,000 ratings!
I’m not a Roomba vacuum kind of person, even though the concept sounds great. I don’t trust them I don’t think they’ll do a great job, and I’ve heard the horror stories of them eating cords & carpets. So that means a handheld vacuum, which sounds lame as they don’t usually have a lot of power. Until I found this one, the Black & Decker Pivot! He’s lightweight and super fast to pull out of the pantry for a quick clean up!
Honestly, this vacuum is amazing! I got mine for Christmas 2015. Yes, 5 years ago, and I can still say it’s amazing! It has so much power to it; it vacuums up everything! I’ve only had the battery run out one time; it was when we were moving, and I cleaned the whole house for the entire day. So I don’t blame it
I hate to admit this, but I didn’t know that there was a removable filter that you had to take and shake out for the first two years. Yes, I emptied the chamber, but I didn’t know about the filter. I didn’t notice it, and it still worked great! Shhh… don’t tell anyone how dumb I was!
Besides, you cant lift a Roomba up and vacuum huge spiders off the ceiling like you can with this handheld vacuum! (Just this past week, it was two mornings in a row that I had to climb on the bathroom counter and get ’em!)
Both time & money saved, as it’s very convient for a quick clean and money saved as this is a quality vacuum, and I expect it to last a long time!
3. An Amazon prime membership
This sounds so silly, as everyone must have it by now, right? Nope, they don’t, but it’s such a lifesaver! Every one should find a way to fit this into their budget. It’s $119 a year for an annual subscription or $12.99 a month. But the main question busy mom’s ask is, “Is it worth it?”
“The actual value of Amazon Prime is estimated to be around $784 annually after all of its individual perks and benefits are considered, according to a recent analysis by JPMorgan”, says Business Insider. So the resounding answer is yes! Click here for your 30 day free trial to Prime.
You get free shipping, two-day shipping, movies, free ebooks, music, file storage, and more! Prime members also get extra discounts to Whole Foods and member-only deals.
Plus, there’s Prime Reload, which gives you 2% by linking up your debit card and reloading your “available shopping balance” from there! Saving money without the lure of a credit card is a great option!
Their Subscribe & Save program also offers great perks! You pick out which items you order all the time, like bar soap or diaper pail liners, and you signup to get them regularly delivered to your door; with this you can save up to 15% on these purchases! Amazon Prime Family also offers 20% off diapers and special baby registry benefits!
Don’t forget to look for available Prime Membership discounts:
Prime Discounted Monthly offering is just $5.99/month for qualifying customers with an EBT or Medicaid card
Prime Student has a 6-month trial and then $6.49 a month
Amazon also has their Signature Visa, where you get 3% back at Whole Foods, 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores. 1% back on utilities and all other purchases (see terms & conditions for current details).
Don’t forget you can get a 30-day free trial on all Amazon Prime!
Money saved! You will find great deals on Amazon, but you might need to spend some time digging through reviews and products.
4. Easy & fast dinners
Meal kits certainly aren’t new anymore, so the novelty has worn off. They’re not just for “fun” anymore, but they are a lifesaver! And there are so many different companies you can choose from, meal kits for any diet and lifestyle!
We like EveryPlate, as it’s one of the cheapest out there at $4.99 a serving! Meal kits save me so much time and brain angst (is that even a thing?). But you get me, I mean I would waste so much time trying to figure out what to make for dinners for the week. Then I have to go buy it all, and the prep it. Ugh! My brain hurts just thinking about it!
With EveryPlate, it takes me 12 minutes every month to go into their dashboard and pick my meals. That’s it. The recipes are easy to make, tasty, and I feel good about not serving up a frozen pizza or take out every night.
We have also started trying Dinnerly too. I’m not into blindly following brands, I like to be sure that I am getting the best deal for the best value out there! So of course I am going to try the competition! Dinnerly and Everyplate are similar in cost, program, and quality.
YET, Dinnerly just started offering extra protein portions (in case you want to make a little more). AND, they just started offering desserts too! This next week I signed up to get a caramel apple spice cake and the following week pumpkin pie cheesecake bars! (fall flavored treats are my weakness). Click the here to start making meal time easy (finally!) and treating your family!
Don’t get me wrong, meal kits have their drawbacks, sometimes the cucumber arrives soft, or it’s not enough for my hubs, but overall it’s a great option, and it totally works for us!
We also use our trusty old slow cooker! It’s still great for making a good amount of food that we can use as quick leftover meals throughout the week. Things like chicken fajitas, or three-bean chili, or mac & cheese are great options.
This slow cooker is great as it’s programable for temp & time. Then when it’s done cooking, it switches to warm mode, so you don’t overcook your dinner! It also comes with a temperature probe, so if you’re cooking meats you can be doubly sure it’s fully cooked!
On my wish list is this Instant Pot; I mean, it has 4 1/2 stars with over 100,000 reviews! That’s crazy, right! Besides, any gadget that says it’s perfect for beginners is for me!
Time & money saved! But more so, my sanity as I hated trying to decide what to make for dinner!
Mom life must haves for our kids
So we wouldn’t be busy moms if it wasn’t for our kiddos, right? These things are ones that I love, and have made this crazy journey a lot easier!
5.Honest Company products
So this sounds corny, but I honestly love Honest Products! Actress Jessica Alba started the brand. Honest’s bio page says, “When she couldn’t find one brand to trust for all her everyday needs, she had to create it. And she knew that there had to be others out there looking for safe products, simple solutions, and clear information about their choices, just like her.”
Did I ever tell you that I am a natural skeptic? When someone says their product is safe and uses only the best ingredients, I look to the experts to tell the truth. I use the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep app on my phone all the time for this! I scan the barcode of an item, and it tells me if it’s considered safe by their 3rd party unbiased testing. EWG isa “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” Their app doesn’t have every product in its database, but they have a lot (mostly in the beauty and cleaning area).
When I am standing in Target and looking for something for my kiddo, I scan all the brands to find the one that is the least toxic, and then I go to Amazon to check out the reviews on that item. If people love it, then I buy it!
I just used it this past month, we stayed at my mom’s house for a few days, and my daughter used their bubble bath; she loved all the bubbles. But a few days later, she broke out in a rash, sure enough, I found it was rated an 8 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst). Whoops!
So I went to target and scanned a few and settled on The Honest Company’s lavender bubble bath, and it was rated a 1! I bought it, and it worked great (as much as a bubble bath works), the bubbles lasted forever, smelled great, and she loved every second of it! (oh and no rash!)
The Honest Company Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo & Body Wash
The Honest Company Truly Calming Conditioner
The Honest Company Truly Calming Bubble Bath
I feel great about these products as I know they’re safe (peace of mind is priceless), work great, and don’t cost a fortune!
Mental space & time saved! As I don’t wonder anymore (or feel guilty) about knowing that the products I use on her are safe!
6.The best safety in the industry
Along the same vein of keeping our kiddos safe, I researched a lot of items when I was pregnant, and one of the most researched items is a car seat! I finally chose the Britax B-Safe 35 (funny story here), and then when she got older, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible car seat.
I honestly spent way too much time agonizing over the car seat choices. I wanted the best for her without spending a fortune. Yes, Britax is a teeny tiny bit expensive, but a car seat is so important, as a bad car seat can have horrible repercussions!
Anyway, funny story, so I was agonizing over which to choose for weeks. One day, as I watched TV, a clip about Prince William & Kate came on, as they just had their first baby. The TV shot was of them standing at the top of some stairs, walking down and outside to their car. Prince William was holding the car seat, and I recognized the colors (black & red) of the car seat.
I paused it, screenshot it, and zoomed in; sure enough, it was a Britax B-Safe! Within two minutes, I was on Amazon and ordered it! If this was the brand & model that the Royal Family trusted, then this was the one for me! Problem solved, no more worries!
All of their models’ rates very high for safety, their quality is great, and they are easy to use!
Peace of mind! Knowing that I have done everything I can to protect my daughter, while in the car, is important to me!
7. Car Snacks
A busy mom’s best friend is without a doubt her car snacks! Car snacks for the kiddo and absolutely car snacks for us!
Car snacks keep everyone happy, and they keep you out of the drive-through! Oh, and did I mention that when your kiddos are eating the snacks they’re not asking you 459 questions!
I have two go-to’s for this.
Emerald nut mix, variety pack 100 calories packs. Right now, it’s $9.44 for the box of 18 small individual packs. That’s $.52 a pack.
Nature’s Bakery Whole Grain Fig Bar – these are the best, as they don’t harden into rocks when your car has been sitting out in the freezing cold. They don’t melt in the summer, and they don’t crumble and get a mess everywhere! Plus, they’re tasty and not total garbage nutritionally speaking!
Time & money saved, as you’re not stopping for fast food! More importantly, I can say that the magic of car snacks has saved my own personal sanity!
Mom life must haves for ourselves
8.An organized life
If I had to get married again (and not to my husband), I would marry Trello! Seriously, I feel that strongly about this app! If you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s basically a place where you can put your entire life & brain to help keep you organized!
Picture this; it’s like a giant whiteboard with lists and sticky notes, links, files, and images. It’s sharable so you can work with people on projects too! It gives you the big picture and zero’s in on the tiny details. It’s for desktop and mobile, and it’s free! Yup, FREE!
If you have a daily planner or 489 sticky notes, then you have to check out Trello!
If you absolutely love your pen & paper style organizing, then check out my Brain Dump printables! It’s for when you’ve got way too much swirling around in your brain. You lay it all out in formatted sections, and it helps you plan, prioritize & delegate your to-do list!
Time & sanity saved! I don’t forget things nearly as much (but I’m not perfect).
9.A delicious nutritional home run
Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Clean Whey Protein
vanilla or chocolate flavor
24 grams of protein
no added hormones, sugars, or rbst free, and gluten free
As busy mom’s we’re run ragged sometimes. So much to do, and it’s easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. Or we push it to the back burner, always meaning to get to it later, but never actually doing it.
We know we feel better when we take care of ourselves, yet it’s hard to prioritize yourself over your to-do list (at least I do). So make a promise to yourself to start taking better care of you! For me, that looks like having a healthy smoothie! For you, it could look totally different, and that’s fine!
My favorite protein powder is Garden of Life Whey Protein Powder, I don’t need anything crazy with 78 grams of protein, I just need something to feed my body, without a ton of crazy chemicals. (Yes, I do realize that protein powders are processed, but this is a very well respected brand, and it was recommended to me by super knowledgeable staff at a natural grocery store.)
“We start with what goes IN our products—true, whole food ingredients. But we don’t stop there. We also pay very close attention to what we keep OUT of them. And once again, we look at food—real nutrition food. When is the last time you picked up an apple, turned to read the ingredients, and saw a list of chemicals? If it’s not in your food, then we don’t want it in our supplements. We use third-party (never self-affirmed) certifications to prove we are clean!” (source).
My base recipe…
1 scoop of protein powder
1 frozen banana
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
2 Tbs chia seeds
1/3 can pumpkin puree with 1 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning
a handful of frozen mixed berries with 1 tsp of vanilla
These smoothies are a part of 21 Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide, which I did last year! I felt so good about focusing on my health and I plan to do the program again (as life happens, right).
For those of you a little wary of the can of coconut milk, I want you to try it at least once. It’s delicious, and it fills me up all day long! Yes, it has a lot of fat in it, but so many vitamins and nutrients. I’m not a food or weight loss blogger, so I won’t try and convince you of the scientific health benefits.
It’s delicious (truly, I’m not exaggerating), and it makes me feel great, and it’s healthy! That’s good enough for me. Besides, when I make it in my Vitamix, cleaning up is super easy! I just give it a quick rinse in the sink, pour some dish soap in it, fill it with hot water, put it back on the base, and turn it on for 40 seconds! No taking apart pieces and scrubbing it! (of course, if I use dairy, then I do put it through the dishwasher)
Time saved! Smoothies are quick and easy, plus I feel good knowing that I am taking care of myself so that I can have the energy to take care of my daughter and answer her 45,871 questions!
10.Chug Chug Glug
That’s code for drink more water! We all know this; it’s been drummed into our head with 1000 hammers. Yet, it’s still true; we all need to drink more water!
I love my Hydro Flask! It keeps my water cold for FO-EV-ER! It never sweats, I have dropped it a billion times, and it only has one dent (haha). I love the lid with the loop, as I can hang it from my mommy hook on my little one’s stroller. (Mommy hooks are great too, you can hang anything with it!)
My current one I’ve had for two years, and the only reason I needed a new one is I lost my older one, which was at least three years old (my Amazon order history only goes back so many years, I guess). So that ‘a good sign; they last forever! Well worth the price! Plus, they come in super cute colors!
Oh, and did I mention Hydro Flask makes a wine tumbler too! Ha! This might absolutely help me be a better mom!
Money saved, as this water bottle lasts forever! Probably money saved too, as I eat less snacks and less at meal time as I’m well hydrated.
11.A simple cute & comfy style
This is a hard one, as I’m a little bit ashamed of my path to this product. I got to a point where I was getting a bit scroungy; you know sloppy. My sweatpants were old, and the t-shirts were stained. Sexy huh!?!
It was time for a mini mommy wardrobe makeover! I have been reading a lot about minimalism and especially capsule wardrobes, and am in love with the nice, basic simplicity of it! It appeals to me on all levels! Find pieces that fit & flatter, that all go together and stick to it!
So I went through, purged my closet (I got rid of 75% of my clothes), and focused on an inexpensive capsule wardrobe! The base of the collection is these amazing IUGA high waist yoga pants! I got a pair in black, and I love them! With 4 1/2 stars with over 25,000 reviews, they have to be amazing, right? They are! An absolute staple for this mom life must have list!
And they don’t cost a fortune either! Just $25 for this pair! I did buy some nice yoga pants at Target before finding these, but they didn’t come in black). These IUGA pants…
come in 26 colors
inside waistband pocket for keys
hip pocket for phone
aren’t see through (whew!)
30 day money back love it guarantee
Time & sanity saved! As I don’t stare blankly at my closet for 12 minutes every am, wondering what to wear, of if it will look okay! It’s a quick scan the closet, grab the pants and it’s go time!
12.Survival in a can
If I didn’t mention my absolute favorite must have for moms, I would be doing you a disservice. I would also be hiding the real me. I don’t want to do that, as that’s lame. So my favorite mom life must have is canned wine.
Let me explain. I love canned wine. I really do. I like wine, but I don’t like opening a whole bottle of it. If I drank a whole bottle, that’s bad news. Yes, I could put a stopper in a bottle and save it. But my favorite one is The Bubbles, a sparkling white wine (kind of like a Pinot Gris). So if I used a stopper, the bubbles wouldn’t be as amazing a few days later.
A can size is perfect, usually consumed over two nights. And then I don’t have to worry about it going bad, or feeling like I need to drink more than I should, just because I don’t want to “waste” a bottle.
Besides, canned wine is coming up in quality and popularity! It’s not like those jugs you see at discount grocery stores for $4.99. Trust me; it’s delicious!
The Bubbles is my favorite, and you can get it from Whole Foods through Amazon Prime delivery! Plus, add a snack tray and a heavenly chocolate bar from WF, and you’re set! This is my perfect meal for a relaxing evening on my own!
I wish that I could say that this saved me time or money. But this is just something that makes me happy!
At the end of the day
As busy moms, we have our hands full, not to mention our brains! We need all the help we can get, and I am not too proud to accept help from great tools and resources! These mom life must haves help me be a better mom by taking away the unnecessary, automating what can be, and making me feel better in my skin, my mind, and in my heart!
Posts related to mom life must haves:
The Secret Formula for Getting the Best Gift for Mom
Want to be a Stay at Home Mom? Read This First!
Mamas Talk Money Goals!
What’s your mom life must have item? Let me know in the comments below!
The post Game Changing Mom Life Must Haves! appeared first on Money for the Mamas.
If youâre looking for ways to put some extra cash in your pocket, make sure to take advantage of credit card rewards programs.
Credit card companies and banks make some of their money from the merchant interchange fees that are charged when you use your card.
As an incentive for you to use their cards, many credit card issuers pass some of those funds on to the consumer in the form of credit card rewards.
If you have good credit and the ability and discipline to pay off your credit cards in full each month, you should try to maximize your credit card rewards. Otherwise you may be leaving a lot of money on the table.
But it can be challenging to navigate the world of credit card rewards. Hundreds, if not thousands, of different credit cards exist, and the type and amount of rewards vary with each card.
There are three main kinds of rewards card offers available:
Bank and credit card points: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, etc.
Airline miles and hotel points: Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors points, etc.
Cash back: Straight cash that can be redeemed either as statement credits or checks mailed to you.
How to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards
You have three different ways to maximize any credit card rewards program:
The sign-up bonus or welcome offer: Many cards offer a large number of miles or points as a welcome bonus for signing up and using the card to make purchases totaling a specific amount within a specified time period.
Rewards for spending: Most rewards credit cards offer between one and five points for every dollar you spend on the card. Some cards offer the same rewards on every purchase, while others offer a greater reward for buying certain products.
Perks: Simply having certain credit cards can get you perks like free checked bags on certain airlines, hotel elite status or membership with airline lounge clubs and other retail partners.
Usually, the rewards for signing up are much higher than the rewards you get from ongoing spending, so you may want to pursue sign-up bonuses on multiple credit cards as a way of racking up rewards.
Consider a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, where you can get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4,000 in the first three months of having the card. That means that while youâre meeting that minimum spending requirement, youâre earning 15 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Compare that to the one or two points youâll earn with each dollar of spending after meeting the minimum spending. You can see the difference.
Other than getting the welcome bonus offers for signing up for new credit cards, another great way to maximize your rewards is by paying attention to bonus categories on your cards. Some cards offer a flat 1 or 2 points for every dollar you spend.
How Applying for Credit Cards Affects Your Credit Score
Itâs important to be aware of how applying for new credit cards affects your credit score.
Your credit score consists of five factors, and one of the largest factors is your credit utilization.
Credit utilization is the percentage of your total available credit that youâre currently using. If you have one credit card with a $10,000 credit limit and you charge $2,000 to that card, then your utilization percentage is 20%. But if you have 10 different cards, each with $10,000 credit limits, then that your credit utilization percentage is only 2%.
Since a lower credit utilization is better, having multiple credit cards can actually help this part of your credit score.
New credit â how recently youâve applied for new credit cards â accounts for about 10% of your credit score. When you apply for a new credit card, your credit score usually will dip 3-5 points. However, if youâre conscientious with your credit card usage, your score will come back up in a few months.
What to Watch Out for When Using Credit Card Rewards
While itâs true that careful use of credit cards can be a boon, you should watch out for pitfalls.
The first thing is to make sure that you have the financial ability, discipline and organization to manage all of your credit cards. Missing payments and paying credit card interest and fees will quickly sap up any rewards you might earn.
Another thing to be aware of is the psychology of credit card rewards. It can be easy to justify additional spending because youâre getting rewards or cash back, but remember that buying something that you donât need in order to get 2% cash back is a waste of 98% of your money.
Credit card rewards are alluring, but what do they really cost? Hereâs what you should know about the dark side of credit card rewards.
The Best Credit Cards to Get Started
Before signing up for a new credit card, itâs best to pay off your existing cards first â otherwise the fees and interest will quickly outweigh any rewards you earn.
If youâre ready to start shopping rewards offers, here are five credit cards to consider. Note that these introductory offers are subject to change:
Chase Sapphire Preferred â The Sapphire Preferred card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards and currently offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. It comes with a $95 annual fee.
Capital One Venture Rewards â The Capital One Venture Rewards is offering 100,000 Venture miles, which can be used on any airline or at any hotel. It also comes with a $95 annual fee.
Barclays American AAdvantage Aviator Red â With the AAdvantage Aviator Red card, youâll get 50,000 American Airlines miles after paying the $99 annual fee and making only one purchase.
American Express Hilton Honors â If youâre looking for a hotel card, consider the no-fee Hilton Honors card, which comes with a signup bonus of 80,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $1,000 in three months. There is no annual fee.
Bank of America Premium Rewards â The Bank of America Premium Rewards card comes with a bonus of 50,000 Preferred Rewards points (worth $500) after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card has a $95 annual fee.
FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM
Passive Income Strategies 10/17/19 @ 9:00 PM
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Need Help: Prices for Personized Poems 12/29/18 @ 8:07 PM
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The Bottom Line
The best credit card is the one that gets you the rewards that help you do what is most important to you.
If youâre looking to maximize travel credit, then pick an upcoming trip and figure out what airline miles and hotel chain points youâll need. Then pick the credit cards that give those miles and points. If you want to maximize your cash back, look for a card with a good signup bonus that either offers cash back or bank points that can be converted into cash.
Dan Miller is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Being a lifelong learner is one of the best ways to stay engaged in your job, whatever field youâre in.
There are a lot of ways to exemplify curiosity and a penchant for learning new skills: meeting regularly with your boss, attending professional development days and taking classes to hone a professional skill.
It has become more accessible and easier than ever to take courses to elevate your professional expertise. There are endless online resources to peruse, so it helps to be deliberate before diving in.
Julia Quirk, SPHR, a 10-year veteran of the HR industry and senior HR manager for TriSalus, recommends being practical and strategic about honing your professional talents.
âLook at the skills needed for your industry and the jobs youâre interested in,â said Quirk. âI recommend starting by first doing some research about what will actually be impressive to people in your career field, and then seeking out professional education opportunities from there.â
Quirk noted that digital classes and certifications are some of the best ways to boost your resume and grow in your current position. Here are some of her topic picks for online learning platforms.
Coursera works with over 200 leading institutions and companies worldwide to provide courses on topics ranging from data science to personal improvement. Partners like Yale University, IBM and Google provide outlines for more than 3,900 courses.
Coursera is free to join and nearly all of its courses can be accessed at no cost. The catch here is that to take a course for free, youâll be using the âauditâ function, which means no grade and sometimes no official certificate is offered â but all the knowledge and coursework is. Some classes on Coursera are paid-only and will generally set you back about $50 per month.
Coursera also gives you the opportunity to see how a particular course benefited other students, breaking down what percentage of past students either started a new career after taking a course or got a tangible career benefit from it.
2. Google Skillshop
Google Skillshop is one of the classic online learning platforms. The technology behind Google Ads, Google Analytics and more is powerful, and mastering it can benefit nearly any line of work.
Google Skillshop provides learn-at-your-own-pace courses to help you become an expert in Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Marketing Platform, Google My Business, Google Ad Manager, Google AdMob, Authorized Buyers, and Waze. All courses in the skillshop are free.
Most options are videos, slides and quick quizzes that build into a final assessment. A certificate is awarded to passing students and is usually valid for 12 months.
3. LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers a free one-month trial before charging $30 a month as part of a larger LinkedIn Premium subscription.
LinkedIn Learning provides thousands of programs covering topics such as marketing tactics, mobile app development and how to use Photoshop. The courses are generally self-paced, with a LinkedIn Learning certificate awarded on completion that you can display on your LinkedIn profile.
And, with LinkedIn Learning, the classes are taught by top leaders from diverse backgrounds: Guy Kawasaki, Ben Long and David Rivers are just some of the highlights.
4. Online College Courses
One of the good things to come out of 2020 was the abundance of college courses made available for free online. While some universities have always offered a select few classes for no-cost online access, institutions like Yale and MIT expanded their libraries last year.
MIT offers free online programming not just on computer science, but also biology, race and ethics, accounting and more.
Yale also makes numerous introductory classes accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Last year, Yale made one of its most famous courses, the Science of Well-Being, available for free on Coursera. This class dives into the meaning of happiness.
Stanford is another university offering public access to many of its courses for free. The university breaks down its offerings into four main categories: Health and Medicine, Education, Engineering and Arts and Humanities.
Itâs important to note that very few of these courses offer an official completion certificate or degree, but theyâre still impressive to complete and are a strong addition to a resume. Other prestigious institutions like Harvard and Dartmouth also offer free online classes.
FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM
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Help 12/31/20 @ 1:55 PM
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See more in Make Money or ask a money question
Udemy is an online learning platform specifically designed to help you bolster your professional skills. Although Udemy courses can range from $10 to $200, one resourceful way to access these classes is through your public library.
Hundreds of public libraries across the nation offer Udemy courses for no cost with just a library card. And if your public library doesnât have a connection with Udemy, you may be able to get a digital library card elsewhere and still take part in all that Udemy has to offer.
Udemy offers more than 130,000 classes (boasting the worldâs largest selection of courses) on topics like Python coding, piano playing and digital marketing.
When a course is complete, the student receives a digital badge and certificate they can affix to their LinkedIn profile (and that should be included on their hardcopy resume, too).
Shine a Spotlight on Your New Skills
Quirk offered some final advice about positioning these certificates and course completions on your resume: âRecruiters skim really fast,â she said. âMake it as easy as possible for recruiters to see the skills you have so they can line them up with the job description.â
Be sure to use keywords on your resume so screening software doesnât pass you over.
Quirk advised putting the skills you gain from a course in the top part of your resume, but putting the actual course certifications lower down along with any other educational achievements.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Today, I have a great article written by my sister-in-law and editor, Ariel Gardner. She is sharing her travel insurance review story, and goes in-depth on the travel insurance process. I asked her to write about this because I feel like it’s not really discussed, yet there is a lot to learn! You may have seen her here before talking about taking her side hustle full-time, living in a small house, real life frugality, and more.
Earlier this year, I was enjoying myself on a relaxing Caribbean cruise with one of my best friends.
I had breakfast delivered to my room every morning, drank fancy cocktails in the evening, and barely thought about the travel insurance policy I bought just in case.
On the fourth day of our cruise, we docked in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and disembarked to explore the city. Our group ended up at Fortaleza Ozama, a Spanish fort built in 1502.
We walked up four or five flights of stairs to get a view from the top, and on the first step back down, I fell and broke my leg.
It wasn’t a major fall.
But I twisted my leg in just the right way to end up with a spiral fracture that broke several bones in my ankle, my tibia, and fibula.
There was so much chaos as we figured out how to handle everything, from whether or not to have surgery in the Dominican Republic and how to fly my husband down.
On top of everything, this was at the beginning of March 2020, just as the U.S. and many other countries were shutting their borders down because of COVID-19.
The impressive Fortaleza Ozama.
My travel insurance policy went from an afterthought to a necessity as I racked up more than $10,000 of out-of-pocket medical costs and unexpected travel expenses in just a couple of days.
Eight months after this whole ordeal began, I’ve finally got closure. My travel insurance claims are paid, and I had my last visit with the surgeon who fixed my leg with a metal rod and seven screws.
I learned so much about the travel insurance process over these past few months, and I was excited when Michelle asked me to share my experience.
My biggest takeaway from it all? I will always buy travel insurance when traveling out of the country, and I’m about to explain why.
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My True Travel Insurance Review Story & Why You Should Consider Travel Insurance
The cost and details of my travel insurance plan
You can expect travel insurance to cost 5%-10% of your total trip cost. The cost largely depends on what kind of coverage you want, where you’re traveling, length and cost of trip, and your age.
I decided to purchase a travel insurance plan through Generali Global Assistance because they had high ratings and offered the kind of plan I wanted.
For $142.68 my trip would be covered under Generali’s Preferred Plan, which offered the following coverage limits:
Trip cancellation: 100% of trip cost
Trip interruption: 150% of trip cost
Travel delay: $1,000 per person
Baggage loss: $1,500 per person
Sporting equipment: $1,500 per person
Sporting equipment delay: $300 per person
Missed connection: $750 per person
Medical & dental: $150,000 per person
Emergency assistance & transportation: $500,000 per person
Accidental death & dismemberment (air flight accident): $75,000 per person/$150,000 per plan
Accidental death & dismemberment (travel accident): $25,000 per person/$50,000 per plan
There were a few aspects of this plan that I was really concerned about, including trip cancellation and interruption. I was leaving for a cruise as the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting the U.S., and there was a real possibility something might happen to my travel plans.
Cruising at the start of a global pandemic wasn’t an awesome idea, but luckily no one on our ship showed signs or tested positive for COVID-19 after getting back to the states.
My plan offered “cancel for any reason” coverage for trip cancellation and interruption. This is the most comprehensive kind of coverage – you’re reimbursed for a portion of your costs no matter what your reasons are – but it’s a little more expensive.
Medical coverage wasn’t a huge priority to me because I assumed the chances of getting hurt were pretty slim. This is laughable now.
Despite feeling like medical coverage wasn’t necessary, the reason I got travel insurance (with higher medical coverage) was because of a story an acquaintance told me a few years earlier.
This woman had gone on a 10-day cruise in the Mediterranean, and her esophagus spontaneously ruptured a few days into the cruise. This is an incredibly serious condition that will result in death if it’s not immediately treated.
When the cruise ship doctor realized what was happening, they ordered a helicopter to medivac her to the closest hospital. I can’t remember which country she ended up in, but between surgery, complications, and recovery, she ended up in the hospital for two months.
She paid $450 for a premium travel insurance plan, and it covered all of the $1,000,000+ expenses she incurred. From health care, medivac, trip interruption costs, and flights back and forth for her husband.
With that story stuck in my head, my worst-case-scenario mindset kicked in and told me to buy travel insurance for my cruise.
What my travel insurance actually covered
I’ve broken my ankle before and the treatment is pretty straightforward and easy. Slap a boot on your leg and be on your way. This break was worse, and being in a foreign country complicated things.
First of all, I sustained an open fracture. That means my tibia bone broke through my skin, which puts you at risk of infection. Had it been a closed break, maybe I could have gotten back on the cruise ship, had the onboard doctor set my leg, and cruise back on painkillers until I got home.
Open fractures need to be treated with surgery as soon as possible so the wound can be cleaned out. Surgery meant that I would not be getting back on the cruise ship.
There was a lot of debate about where to take me – the Dominican Republic has a very different health system. It was decided that the best care would come from a private clinic.
The clinic required a deposit of 80,000 Dominican Pesos (DOP) before I could be treated. The exchange rate varies day-to-day, but this equals $1,369 at the time of writing.
I was put on an IV drip for antibiotics, given IV painkillers, was x-rayed, had an electrocardiogram, and was prepped for surgery. The surgery to clean out the wound was quick, but it still required anesthesia.
The surgeon said I also needed an ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) to fix my leg. This is where they fix your break with a rod and screws. It’s not a complicated surgery, but after talking with some people back home, and with a doctor friend who was traveling in our group, we decided it was best to wait until I was back in the U.S. for the ORIF surgery.
After the surgery to clean out the wound, the surgeon ordered me to stay in the clinic for two days before it was safe for me to fly home. I spent that visit on more IV antibiotics and painkillers. After the deposit was applied to the total, my stay was another 357,000 DOP or $6,110.
Between just having surgery and the fact that my broken leg wasn’t fully fixed, I couldn’t just fly home by myself.The surgeon in the Dominican Republic said I needed a travel companion to help me fly home, so my husband booked a flight and came out the day after my surgery. His flight was $400.
The surgeon ordered two things to fly home safely: an ambulance to transfer me to the hospital and first-class flights home to give me enough room for my bandaged leg. Side note: this was the first time I’ve ever flown first class, and I’d love to do it again when I can appreciate it. At least my husband got to enjoy the complimentary Bloody Marys.
Those tickets weren’t cheap. Not only was it first class, it was a last minute, one-way flight at the start of a global pandemic. We paid $1,275 for each ticket.
The ambulance ride to the airport was 7,600 DOP or $130. We paid the drivers in cash plus a tip. They were amazing, by the way. Neither of them spoke English and we don’t speak Spanish, so we spent the 30 minute drive communicating via Google Translate.
Because I was wheelchair-bound at this point, we would need more time in the airport, and our ambulance ride was going slower than expected. The driver knew we were pressed for time and drove over the grassy median into oncoming traffic to get us to the airport in time. Probably not the safest move, but it worked.
They were so sweet and even wanted to take a picture with us because, as they said, “You’ll want to remember this day!”
Omg, the compression sock and three-day old outfit is a look. What you can’t see is that I was also traveling with a catheter in because I was completely immobilized. Definitely won’t forget that day!
Between my husband’s flight to the Dominican Republic, our first-class tickets home, and the ambulance ride, that was an additional $3,080.
Here’s what travel insurance covered from those costs:
$1,369 deposit for the clinic
$6,110 for surgery and hospital stay
$2,550 for two flights home to the U.S.
=$10,029 total costs reimbursed
Travel insurance didn’t cover my husband’s $400 flight to the Dominican Republic – they said it wasn’t part of emergency assistance and transportation. Their reasoning was that someone already in the Dominican Republic could have flown home with me.
We also claimed $200 for the flight I would have taken home from Florida after the cruise, and this was denied too because I paid for it with credit card points. Some travel insurance offers reimbursements for points, but Generali’s plan didn’t. We tried to claim it knowing they might deny it.
The other cost travel insurance denied was the $130 ambulance ride from the clinic to the airport. The problem was that the receipt wasn’t dated.
That’s $730 that I wasn’t reimbursed for.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the cost of the cruise and getting reimbursed for the part of the trip I wasn’t able to take. Long story short, my friend was part of the cruise’s entertainment and the organizers covered my ticket because I was going as her guest.
The cruise organizers have their own insurance to deal with that claim. Had I paid for the cruise, then I would have submitted that loss to my travel insurance company. Make sense?
All in all, my $142.68 travel insurance policy saved me more than $10,000 in out-of-pocket costs.
Will my health insurance cover medical costs when I travel?
It’s unlikely that your domestic health insurance plan will cover medical care outside of the U.S. If your plan does cover anything, it will only be for very, very emergent situations.
For example, my broken leg was a serious enough injury that I needed emergency surgery in a foreign country. I had to leave my friends and my belongings on the cruise ship and stay in a hospital for two days.
My health insurance company (Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield) did not consider this an emergency situation – it was only deemed urgent.
This is how my insurance company describes emergency care: if the injury is severe enough that it places “the Member’s physical and or mental health in serious jeopardy; serious impairment to bodily functions; or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.”
I recommend calling your health insurance company and asking about their policy on international travel, but realize that it probably won’t offer the kind of coverage you’re looking for.
What about the travel protections offered by my credit card?
Not all credit cards come with travel protections, but some of the more popular travel cards (like the Chase Sapphire cards and American Express Platinum card) do offer it. Important point: you will have to book your trip using that card to qualify for coverage.
The other thing about the coverage that comes with your credit card is that it’s fairly limited when you compare it to third-party travel insurance.
The most common kind of coverage through your credit card is for baggage delays, trip delays, trip interruption, emergency trip cancellation, accidental death and dismemberment, and auto rental collision damage cover.
But you probably won’t get the kind of coverage you need if you, say, break your leg in the Dominican Republic.
I have three credit cards that are considered travel cards, and none of them would have covered what my travel insurance did.
The Points Guy has a really good article that explains more: When to Buy Travel Insurance vs. When to Rely on Credit Card Protections.
What about flight insurance?
Most airlines offer a limited form of travel insurance, and limited is key.
I’m sure you’ve seen the pop up when you enter your payment information for your flights. Something like, “Do you want to spend $25 on coverage to protect your flight from cancellation or delays?”
Seems like a good deal, and I’ve bought it before when I didn’t understand what it covers. The coverage airlines offer does not include medical care, lost luggage, and it’s not “cancel for any reason” coverage.
When should you buy travel insurance?
You now know that you can’t rely on your health insurance in a foreign country, your credit card doesn’t offer comprehensive coverage, and flight insurance is meh.
That’s why I highly recommend travel insurance if you’re traveling out of the United States. Experts will offer the same advice for these reasons:
1.You’re concerned about medical expenses
Travel medical insurance is similar to your domestic health insurance, and it’s honestly the main reason experts recommend travel insurance. Without it, a medical emergency in a foreign country could devastate your finances. Most policies have limitations for pre-existing conditions, but you can shop around and find coverage for pre-existing conditions.
2. You want coverage for your baggage and personal belongings
It’s not uncommon to travel with some pretty expensive stuff. It adds up quickly when you think about the combined value of your laptop, tablet, cell phone, camera, jewelry, etc.
Travel insurance may cover these things if they’re lost or damaged. I say “may” because most policies expect that you’re not being reckless with your belongings. For example, you’re not leaving your laptop unattended in the hotel lobby.
You should ask about high-value things like your wedding rings because there will be some limitations to the coverage. Better yet, leave your expensive jewelry at home.
Some policies have additional coverage for things like golf clubs, ski equipment, and hunting or fishing gear. They might even offer coverage if you miss days for skiing or golfing, or even pay for rental gear if yours is lost or delayed in transit.
3. You’re an adventurous traveler
There are risks with all kinds of travel – my husband cut off the tip of his finger during a relaxing beach vacation in the Bahamas, and he was only chopping green onions. But there are some kinds of vacations where you’ll encounter more risks.
Hiking through the jungle, ziplining, parasailing, surfing, caving, etc., those are all things that can increase your chances of getting hurt. World Nomads is one of a few travel insurance companies that covers extreme sports.
4. You want to be able to cancel your trip for any reason
Things come up. Maybe you didn’t apply for your passport soon enough, your pet gets sick, you have a financial emergency, you’re traveling during a global pandemic, etc. If you want the option to cancel your trip for any reason, travel insurance can help.
I’ve said this already, but not all policies are considered “cancel for any reason” or CFAR. Most CFAR policies don’t cover 100% of your prepaid and nonrefundable travel expenses – it’s more like 50% to 75%.
These policies are more expensive and cover less than people expect, so do your research. Most companies offer CFAR as an add-on, but they’re expensive and cover less than people expect.
5. You might need to come home early
A friend of mine had to leave his honeymoon early because his new father-in-law landed in the hospital with a life threatening illness. It’s a good thing they came home because the father-in-law passed away a few days after they got back. Travel insurance reimbursed him for the rest of his honeymoon and their last-minute plane tickets.
All in all, travel insurance is peace of mind. You can’t control what happens, but you can reduce a lot of the financial stress associated with emergency scenarios.
Traveling with travel insurance
Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have your travel insurance policy printed and stored somewhere you can easily access. It should stay on you when you’re away from your hotel, cruise ship, etc.
Because I didn’t have my policy on me, someone had to go back to the cruise ship, find it, and bring it back.
It’s also not a bad idea to send a copy of your policy plus your itinerary to someone back home. They can quickly hop on the claims process without needing to get login information or policy numbers from you.
What to expect when you file a travel insurance claim
I won’t lie, dealing with the claims process was extremely frustrating. My husband was super stressed waiting for us to be reimbursed for our out-of-pocket expenses. He called and emailed every couple of weeks to make sure things were still moving forward.
We had to re-submit paperwork twice, our entire claim was denied the first time (I will explain why in a minute), and it took a full seven months before our claim was paid.
What I didn’t realize is that what we went through is more common than you would expect. Travel insurance companies are very specific with how they accept paperwork and the process for filing claims.
Here’s what you need to know about the claims process:
File your claim ASAP. This gets the ball rolling, you’ll be fresh on the details, and most companies require you to submit claims within a 90-day window.
Everything needs to be submitted electronically. You’ll have to take pictures of your receipts or scan them. Pictures need to be crystal clear (this is why I had to resubmit paperwork).
Medical claims need to go to your health insurance company first. Because your health insurance might cover the expenses, you’ll need to submit it to them first. My travel insurance claim was denied at first because we didn’t have an official denial from my health insurance company.
Keep any document related to your travel costs or emergency expenses. Even if it seems redundant or useless, keep it. A handwritten note in broken English is why insurance covered our expensive flights home, and we almost didn’t submit it.
Your claim will take longer than you expect to process. It can take a minimum of three months for your claim to be processed, and this feels like forever if you’re waiting to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs.
I know it’s hard, but be patient. You can always email your claims agent if you have questions or want to be reassured that they’re working on your claim.
Should you buy travel insurance?
Moving forward, I will always be buying travel insurance when I leave the country. It’s an extra expense we’ll have to budget for and build into the total cost of our vacations.
What I went through is pretty small, but the majority of our cash savings would have been wiped out without travel insurance.
It was really scary being injured in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language. You can’t put a price on this, but believing that the majority of my expenses would be covered helped me get through those couple of days until I got home. Okay, painkillers really helped too.
But the point is, travel insurance is peace of mind. Buying it is a choice, but I hope you realize what a beneficial choice it can be in the long run.
Do you usually buy travel insurance? Do you have anything that you’d like me to add to this travel insurance review?
The post My True Travel Insurance Story â A Broken Leg & Surgery in the Dominican Republic appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
Two years ago, I was unsatisfied with my options for health insurance. The premiums were rising even as the quality dropped in the form of an ever-increasing deductible. I am guessing that you might feel the same way these days – most of us Americans are in the same boat.
I felt like I was being squeezed from both ends and it was starting to piss me off. So I decided to take some action, by doing the math for myself using a spreadsheet. I needed to answer the question, âIs this insurance really as bad a deal as I think it is?â
Sure enough, the risks and rewards of the coverage did not justify the premiums, so I decided to try an experiment and simply drop out of the market and insure myself. In other words, just rolling the dice and going through life with no form of health insurance at all.
Doubling down on the bikes, barbells and salads, I did my best to eliminate any risk factors that are in my control, while accepting that there are still much less likely but more random factors that are not.
Almost two years and $10,000 in premium savings later, I have found the experiment to be a success: I have slept well and not worried about the fact that I could be on the hook for a big bill if I did ever need major care. And as luck would have it, I also enjoyed the same good health as always over this time period – probably the best in my life so far because the extra healthy living has been working its magic.
This situation has not been quite ideal, because my life is not a very useful model for everyone to follow. Most people donât have the luck of perfect health, many have a larger family than I do, and very few people are in a financial position to self-insure for all possible medical bills.
Also, I found myself wishing I had a doctor that actually knew me, who I could call or visit on short notice if I ever did need help.
Finally, I wanted to switch back to having some form of insurance so that I could learn about it and write about it as time goes on. But was I really willing to be part of that unsatisfying and broken insurance model?
Then something magical happened: I learned about the new and vastly improved world of Direct Primary Care physicians.
What is DPC?
DPC is a fairly new trend in the US, but it is also a return to a very old tradition: a direct relationship between you and your doctor, with no insurance company in the way.
As a customer, you pay for a monthly subscription (somewhere around $100), and in exchange you get unlimited access to super elite, personalized medicine for the vast majority of your medical needs. Diagnoses, prescriptions, skin conditions, stitches, even fixing a broken bone if you donât need surgery. All covered, with no co-pay and in an environment that feels to me like Presidential-level health care, in striking contrast to some of my past experiences where I felt like an anonymous numbered ticket in a sloshing sea of bureaucratic institutional medicine.
Oh, and direct email, phone and text message contact with your doctor, prescriptions over phone or video call, and in some cases even house calls depending on the practice and the situation.
Through some sort of magic, the Direct Primary Care model offers much better medical care and much lower prices, at the same time.
How could it be? Itâs because of the incentives.
In our famously broken US healthcare model, an insurance company is wedged in between you and your doctors, and it has different objectives than you do.
You just want the best overall health for yourself, and when the shit does hit the fan and you need medical care, you want it to be quick, effective, and at minimum cost. And you donât want to be hounded with years of stressful stray bills after an expensive medical procedure.
Your Doctor wants to help as many people as possible and make a good living, without having to wade through a sea of paperwork or stress or lawsuits.
Your Insurance company wants to make as much profit as possible, which means maximizing the amount they collect from you, and minimizing the amount they pay to your doctor. In theory, they benefit from helping you to stay healthy. But they have also developed elaborate contracts (putting in as many loopholes as possible to allow them to drop your coverage or deny claims), become masters of delaying payments, limiting which procedures and tests they will authorize doctors to do, and just generally throwing the biggest monkey wrench into the system that they can.
Over the decades, there has been a complex battle of lawmaking, lobbying, compromise and complexity to try to regulate away some of these problems. Sometimes the new laws help, sometimes they donât, but the end result will never be optimal simply because there are a lot of people involved, and big crowds of humans make for slow and shitty decision making.
The Direct Primary Care Model
With DPC, itâs just you and your doctor. You both have the same incentives, but now the model works much better because there is no chaotic and expensive force in the middle to mess things up.
And because you operate on a subscription, the doctor gets paid whether you come into the office or not. At the same time, you are free to come in whenever you do need something, at no additional cost. So she has an incentive to keep you healthy, so that you have no need to come into the office in the first place.
On top of this, you get to decide together what is the best course of healthy prevention and treatment, without the overhead and complexity of constantly fighting with insurance companies. This drastically cuts the costs by eliminating the large staff of paper-pushers and attorneys that you normally need to operate a medical office, and frees up the doctor to spend more time with each patient during each visit.
How could the doctor possibly make a living with such low fees?
As it turns out, a small practice with one or two doctors and a few credentialed medical assistants can handle over 1000 subscribers while still giving each person much more time than they get under the old model. At $100 per month, this is $1.2 million in annual gross subscriber income, which is enough to pay everybody well, and rent a suitable clinic space. And as you scale up the operation, some economies of scale on things like space and equipment make it even better.
Just as importantly, running a practice like this tends to make a dramatic improvement in a doctorâs quality of life. Itâs better medicine, with more flexibility and less hassle and stress. No wonder this model is growing rapidly and has become a favorite of physicians who happen to be MMM readers, as I hear from more of them every month.
Direct Primary Care is now a nationwide movement, with many hundreds of practices spanning the country and many more opening each year. Todayâs screenshot of https://mapper.dpcfrontier.com/ shows the current state of the market.
In fact, it turns out this whole trend might even be a Mustachian-originated phenomenon, as I joined my own local practice called Cloud Medical, met the founder Dr. David Tusek, and he revealed halfway through our introductory visit that he was both a founder of DPC pioneer Nextera Healthcare in 2009, and a lurking reader of this blog for several years before I discovered him right here in my own town.
A note for locals: if you are considering joining Cloud, mention that you would like the MMM discount to save a further $12/month! (we have no affiliation, they are just looking to expand the practice and I’ll remove this notice if they fill up)
My experience (so far) with Cloud Medical
I signed up with Cloud this past summer, about five months ago. Although I have been feeling great, I figured it was time to put myself through an extensive battery of âmiddle-aged manâ tests just to make sure I am not missing any hidden problems.
With the doctor’s guidance, I did a very thorough blood test, plus an electrocardiogram scan of my heart performance and ultrasound Carotid artery scan which involves a practitioner lubing up your neck and sliding a Star-Trek-style probe around on it while recording images of your bodyâs most critical plumbing to check for signs of clogging. Plus the usual checks of an annual physical exam. All clear.
I also finally got around to a long-awaited diagnosis and prescription for my Adult Attention Deficit Disorder condition, something which took me seven years to get organized enough to achieve, paradoxically one of the crippling effects of ADD. Although this is a very personal health detail, I mention it here because there are many friends and readers who also suffer from this condition, and I encourage you to learn more about it and seek help if appropriate. It can be life-changing. I found this process was much easier in a DPC environment, because of the more personal nature of the doctor-patient connection.
This DPC model addresses perhaps 90% of typical medical needs in-house, and a “menu” of optional specialists knocks out another 5%.
But there is still a chance you will need the more rare (and expensive) services of a hospital or specialist. In this case, your DPC physician can provide referrals and guidance to allow you to get the right help at a discounted, direct-pay price, or even handle your needs with a conventional insurance company.
Part Two: But What About Bigger Expenses?
At this point, you can add another layer of protection: High deductible conventional insurance, or a health share membership which offers a similar end-result while being careful not to be classified as insurance.
A Disclaimer before we begin:
I think of health shares as a form of “emergency medical bill reimbursement”, rather than full fledged insurance. They are suitable for mostly-healthy people who want financial protection in the event of a major medical event. But they are not insurance, and often not too useful for someone with an existing, expensive condition.
Update 11/12: This blog post has triggered lots of fine-print-reading and discussion among readers, which led us to follow up with various insurance and health share companies.
The final word on one issue of debate: most conventional insurance and health shares do not cover voluntary abortions, while they docover medically necessary ones, just under the different name of “Maternal Complications”.
Health shares in particular also don’t offer much ongoing drug reimbursement, which includes a lack of coverage for birth control. While I disagree with this policy, from a practical perspective it just means you need to budget for this expense separately.
For situations where a health share membership falls short, the subsidized and regulated insurance available through employer-based plans or the state exchanges via the Affordable Care Act, are probably a better bet.
But with all that in mind, I still chose one for myself, so let’s get into it!
Health sharing groups started out catering only to members of certain religions. Then a provider called Liberty Health Share opened up the market slightly while still requiring some fairly specific spiritual affirmations.
The latest incarnation is a company called Sedera* , which has addressed some of the shortcomings of earlier companies, has far less religious basis, and now seems to be the place that most of my more analytical friends and their families are ending up. Even my DPC physician Dr. Tusek is now recommending Sedera.
Sedera is worth a whole separate article in itself, and in fact I am starting a dedicated page for questions and answers and discussion on the experience. But for now, weâll take a shortcut and just say that I was convinced and willing to give it a try, so I signed myself up as a Sedera customer.
A quick comparison of the closest standard insurance plan I could find on the standard Colorado health insurance exchange, versus what I got from Sedera (click for larger version):
Another thing I like about all this is that there is no concept of âin networkâ and âout of networkâ doctors or hospitals. You can even use hospitals in other countries while traveling, and get reimbursed in US dollars after you return home. Itâs simpler, cheaper and more flexible.
So in the end, by combining DPC with a health share membership, I am hopefully ending up with the best of all worlds:
The best personalized, advanced medicine and quick response time, possibly anywhere in the world through my DPC subscription, with unlimited âfreeâ (zero co-pay) doctor visits.
Flexible coverage for any additional needs and support for decision-making and billing, even when traveling internationally
A financial backstop just in case things get really expensive
At a total monthly cost that is still lower than the most basic ho-hum plan on standard insurance
A further bonus – Sedera incentivizes you to be a member of a DPC, with a solid discount if you are, because they know their costs to cover you will be lower if you are healthier and have hassle-free access to a doctor.
This all sounds good to me, but it is important to state that this is an experiment. I still donât have much experience with the US healthcare system – it helped deliver my son in 2006, and then repair that same boyâs broken arm in 2016. Conventional insurance offered some halfhearted support for both of those expenses, but aside from that I donât have many stories to tell.
By collecting more information from readers and from my new helpers at Cloud Medical and Sedera, we should be able to make more sense of all this. And hopefully continue to expand and improve this new, better form of health care so it is accessible to more US residents.
If it gets big enough, we might end up solving this whole problem together – better, cheaper health care for everyone.
But What About the Affordable Care Act?
I think that DPC and ACA could work together perfectly – we keep the idea of the personal relationships, the subscription-based model, and the open and competitive pricing from hospitals for all procedures. But we just don’t need conventional insurance companies. If our society wants to help less-wealthy people to afford the best health care (which I think is a great idea), we could just subsidize their DPC memberships and offer a public insurance option at low or zero cost which covers hospitalizations. The reason this is better than the ACA: direct care and no insurance companies.
My past articles and experiences have shown that for many of us, a big hurdle when considering early retirement or self-employment is âwhat about health insuranceâ? Hopefully the is DPC + Healthshare method will put that question to rest for many of us. After all, shouldnât our career and life choices be separate from our healthcare?
Interested in Learning More?
A long-time friend of mine (and fellow early-retiree, and co-owner of the HQ coworking space) Bill and his family have been Sedera customers and enthusiasts for about two years. So much that he even took it upon himself to meet the company’s management, sign himself up as a representative to streamline some of the inefficiencies he perceived when joining, and then teach me about the whole thing.
Because of that, I am sharing Bill’s Sedera signup link in this article. His is unique among the Sedera affiliates in that he charges zero administrative fee, typical brokers charge $25 per month and up.
*note: Sedera does pay its affiliates a small referral fee for new customers, which does not affect your monthly bill – in fact, this link offers a lower price than subscribing directly through the company’s website. Thus, we believe this is the lowest cost way on the Internet to get this coverage.
As mentioned above, I’m giving Bill his own page to maintain on this site, where he can share his ongoing research and updates and answer questions: mrmoneymustache.com/sedera
I was quite moved by this piece that Cloud Medical’s Dr. David Tusek wrote about “the ten heartbreaks” that led him to work since 2009 towards accelerating this better way to do healthcare.
An interesting story from Bill’s hometown, from a doctor who took this path way back in 2013:
South Portland Doctor Stops Accepting Insurance, Posts Prices Online (from the Bangor Daily News)
The death of aÂ loved oneÂ is hard to take and while aÂ life insuranceÂ payoutÂ can ease the burden and allow you to continue leaving comfortably, it won’t take the grief or the heartbreak away. What’s more, if thatÂ life insurance policyÂ refuses toÂ payout, it can make the situation even worse, adding more stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration to an already emotional period.
But why would aÂ life insurance claimÂ be refused; what are theÂ causes of deathÂ that may cause yourÂ lifeÂ insurance coverageÂ to become null and void? If you or aÂ loved oneÂ has aÂ life policy, this article could provide some essential information as we look at the reasons aÂ death claimÂ may be refused.
WhatÂ Causes of DeathÂ are Not Covered?
The extent of yourÂ lifeÂ insurance coverageÂ will depend on your specific policy and this is something you should check when filing yourÂ life insurance application. Speak with yourÂ insurance agent, ask questions, and always do your due diligence so that you know what you’re buying into and what sort of deaths it will provide cover for.
Life insurance policiesÂ have something known as aÂ contestability period, which typically lasts for 1 to 2 years and begins as soon as the policy starts. If theÂ policyholderÂ dies during this time, they will investigate and contest the death.Â
This is generally true whether her you die of aÂ heart attack, cancer or suicide. However, if this period has passed, they may only contest the death if it results from one of the following.
Suicide is a contentious issue where life insurance is concerned. On the one hand, it’s a very serious issue and one that’s often the result of mental health problems, so there are those who believe it is deserving of the same respect as any other illness.Â
On the other hand, theÂ lifeÂ insurance companiesÂ are concerned that allowing such coverage will encourage desperate people to kill themselves so theirÂ loved onesÂ will be financially secure.
It’s a touchy subject, and that’s why many companies refuse to go anywhere near it. Some will outright refuse to pay outÂ for suicide, but the majority have aÂ suicide clause, whereby they onlyÂ payoutÂ if the death occurs after a specificÂ period of time.
If it occurs before this time, they may return the premiums or pay nothing at all. And if they have reason to believe that theÂ policyholderÂ took their own life just for financial gain, they will almost certainly investigate and may refuse to pay.
Dangerous Hobbies and Driving
If you die in aÂ car accidentÂ and it is deemed that you were driving drunk, your policy may notÂ payout.Â Car accidentÂ deaths are common, and this is aÂ cause of deathÂ that policies do generally cover, but only when you weren’t doing something illegal or driving recklessly.
Deaths from extreme activities like bungee jumping orÂ skydivingÂ may be questioned, especially if these hobbies were not reported during the application.Â
Your claim can be denied if you are committing an illegal act at the time of your death. This can include everything from being chased by the police to trespassing. A benefit may also be refused if you die for an intentional drug overdose using non-prescription drugs.Â
Smoking or Pre-existingÂ Health Issue
Honesty is key, and if you lie during the application or “forget” to tell them about your smoking status or pre-existingÂ medical conditions, they may refuse toÂ payout. It doesn’t matter if they performed aÂ medical examÂ or not; the onus is not on them to spot your lie, it’s on you not to tell it in the first place.
This is one of the most common reasons for anÂ insurance contractÂ to be declared void, as applicants go in search of the cheapest premiums they can get and do everything they can to bring those costs down. They may also believe they will get away with their lies, either because they will give up smoking in a few months or years or because they will die from something other than their preexisting condition.
But lying in this manner is risky. You have to ask yourself whether it’s worth paying $100 a month for a valid policy that willÂ payoutÂ without issue or $50 for a policy that will likely be refused and will cause endless stress for your beneficiaries.
Life insurance benefits generally don’t extend to the battlefield. If you’re a solider on the front line, your risk of death increases significantly, and many insurance policies won’t cover you for this. This is true even if you’re not in active duty at the time you take out the policy. More importantly, it also applies to correspondents and journalists.
You don’t invalidate your policy by going to a war-torn country and reporting, but if you die resulting from that trip, your policy will notÂ payout.
Your life insurance policy likely won’t pay forÂ dismembermentÂ orÂ critical illness, but there are additional policies and add-ons that will provide cover. You can get these alongsideÂ permanent life insuranceÂ andÂ term life insuranceÂ to provide you with more cover and peace of mind.Â
They will come at a significant extra cost, but unlike traditional life insurance, they willÂ payoutÂ when you are still alive and may make life easier after experiencing a tragic accident or serious illness.
We recommend focusing on getting life insurance first, securing theÂ amount of coverageÂ you need from a permanent orÂ termÂ life policy, and only then seeing if there is room in your budget for these additional options.
How Often DoÂ Life Insurance PoliciesÂ Payout?
We have recommended life insurance many times at PocketYourDollars and will continue to do so. We often state that it is essential if you have dependents and want to ensure they’re cared for when you die. But as much as we recommend it and as simple as the process of applying often is, there is one simple fact that we often overlook:
LifeÂ insurance companiesÂ rarelyÂ payout.
It’s a stat you may have seen elsewhere and it’s 100% true. However, contrary to what you might have heard or assumed; this is not the result of a refusal to pay theÂ death benefitÂ when theÂ policyholderÂ passes away. Sure, this accounts for some of those non-payments, but for the most part, it’s down to one of the following:
TheÂ PolicyholderÂ Survives the Term
The majority ofÂ life insurance policiesÂ are set to fixed terms, such as 10, 20 or 30 years. If anything happens during thisÂ period of time, yourÂ loved onesÂ collect yourÂ death benefit, but if you survive, the policy ends, no money is paid out, and if you want another policy you will need to pay a larger sum.
TheÂ PolicyholderÂ Accepts theÂ Cash Value
WholeÂ lifeÂ insuranceÂ policiesÂ are like investments crossed with life insurance. YourÂ loved onesÂ get aÂ death benefitÂ if you die, but it also accrues interest and can be cashed out. When this happens, the insurer collects, you get a sum of money, and it feels like a win-win, but in reality, the insurer has just dodged a bullet.
TheÂ PolicyholderÂ Stops Making Payments
As soon as you stop making yourÂ premium payments, you lose cover and you run the risk of your policy being canceled. This is true for pretty much anyÂ type of policyÂ and it happens regardless of theÂ policy term.Â
Unlike aÂ credit cardÂ company, which may chase you for payments, aÂ lifeÂ insurance companyÂ will place the burden of responsibility on you. After all, a creditor loses money when you don’t pay, whereas aÂ lifeÂ insurance companyÂ comes out on top.
This often happens when individuals take out substantialÂ life insurance policiesÂ at a young age, only to suffer drastically changing circumstances. Imagine, for instance, that you’re 20-years-old and you buy a house with your spouse-to-be, with a view to settling down and starting a family. You assume that you’ll need it for a long time, so you take out a 30-year-term.
But 10 years down the line, your spouse leaves you, the family you wanted didn’t happen, and you’re all alone with no dependents, and with growing debts, bills, and obligations. At that point, life insurance becomes a burden, so you may stop making payments, thus allowing theÂ insurance companyÂ to profit from 10 years of insurance premiums.
Summary: It’s Not That Cut-Throat
You don’t have to look far to find consumers who feel they have been wronged byÂ lifeÂ insurance companies, consumers who will expend a great deal of time and effort into calling out these companies for their perceived wrongdoings. But they often exaggerate the situation due to their extreme anger and this creates unrealistic anxieties and expectations.
The truth is, while there are people who have been genuinely wronged, they are in the extreme minority. The vast majority ofÂ family membersÂ who were refused aÂ death benefitÂ were let down by theÂ policyholderÂ and by the lies they told on their policy.
PolicyholdersÂ lie about their weight, smoking status, andÂ medicalÂ conditions, and when caught up in this lie, they often claim they made an honest mistake. But the truth is, most life insurance companies will overlook simple mistakes and only really care when it’s obvious that theÂ policyholderÂ lied.Â
And let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how forgetful you are, you’re not going to forget that you’re a chain smoker, alcoholic, drug user, extreme sports fan or that you recently had a medical crisis!
If the policy was filed honestly, you shouldnât have an issue when you collect, even if it’s still in theÂ contestability period. As discussed above,Â lifeÂ insurance companiesÂ stack the dice in their favor. They use statistics and probability to carefully set the premiums and benefits, and they rely onÂ policyholdersÂ forgetting to pay and outliving the term. They don’t need to “rob” you in order to make a profit. So, be honest when applying and you won’t have anything to fear.
What Causes of Death are not Covered by Life Insurance? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
I love making things automatic. Whether it is bill-paying, direct deposit, prescription renewals, or investing, making things automatic makes life easier, and that is where our Betterment investing review comes in.
When it comes to retirement planning, an overwhelming number of online tools and websites promise to help you create a dynamic and profitable portfolio while minimizing fees.
This growing list of services includes robo-advisors, a class of financial websites that offer to manage your portfolio with minimal in-person interaction and a heavy reliance on the latest investing tools and software.
One of the most popular robo-advisors by far is Betterment. Conceptualized by its founders in 2008, Betterment has since grown to help its customers invest billions of dollars of their hard-earned dollars. This is an investment platform that puts your investing on cruise control, and even allows you to make money watching TV! You can open an account with no money at all, and get the benefit of professional, low-cost investment management that enables you to invest in thousands of securities with as little as a few hundred dollars.
It hasnât been easy. With other competitors like Wealthfront and Personal Capital always a few steps behind them, Betterment has struggled to find a way to stand out. Even with the competition, Betterment has emerged as one of the top online brokerage accounts and continues to grow its market share.
Open an account
0.25% to 0.40% annual management fee, depending on the plan
No trade, transfer or rebalancing fees
No minimum balance
Hands-off investing tailored to your goals and risk preference
Betterment is an online, automated investment manager that uses advanced algorithms and software to find the perfect investment strategy for your portfolio and individual needs.
The main difference between investing your money with a traditional financial advisor and Betterment is that there is minimal human interaction. Unless you email or call in, your communication with an individual advisor will be very minimal.
But, there is some good news to counteract the lack of individual service. Because of lower operating costs, Betterment is able to charge lower fees than traditional financial advisors. This can be huge for individuals who want to take a hands-off approach to their retirement accounts, yet donât want to pay top dollar for access to a top-tier financial advisor in their area.
Using complex investment software, Betterment allocates your investment portfolio based on your individual circumstances, investment time horizon, and thirst for risk.
In the meantime, they keep fees at a minimum by using ETFs (exchange-traded fund) that let you have a diversified portfolio, like mutual funds, but are tradeable much like stocks.
Since ETFs come with very low expense ratios, Betterment is able to pass those savings along to the consumer. Although the program already manages over $16 billion for their clients, they are still growing at a rapid pace.
Because the service is able and willing to deal with investors at all stages of wealth accumulation, it has become a go-to for both experienced and novice investors with various investing goals.
Further, Bettermentâs portfolio strategy isnât geared just for retirement savings; the service can also improve your returns on dollars you invest for short-term and medium-term goals like saving for college, taking an annual vacation, or building up a cash reserve.
How Betterment Works
Like post other robo-advisors, Betterment provides complete, automated investment management of your portfolio. When you sign up for the service, youâll complete a questionnaire that will determine your risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon. From that information, Betterment determines your portfolio will be designed as conservatives, aggressive, or some level in between.
Over time however, Betterment may adjust your portfolio to become gradually more conservative. For example, as you move closer to retirement, your asset allocation will be gradually shifted more heavily in favor of safe investments, like bonds.
Your portfolio will be constructed of exchange traded funds (ETFs), which are low-cost investment funds designed to track the performance of an underlying index. In this way, Betterment attempts to match the performance of the underlying indexes, rather than to outperform them. For this reason, investing with Betterment â and most other robo-advisors â is considered to be passive investing. (Active investing involves frequent trading of stocks and other securities in an attempt to outperform the market.)
Betterment also uses allocations based on broad investment categories. There are three in total:
Safety Net â These are funds allocated for near-term needs, such as an emergency fund.
Retirement â This will naturally be your long-term investment account and held in tax-sheltered IRAs.
General Investing â This allocation is dedicated to intermediate goals, maybe saving for the down payment on a house or even for your childrenâs education.
Given that each of the three broad goals has a different time horizon, the specific portfolio allocation in each will be a little bit different. For example, the Safety Net will be invested in cash type accounts for safety and liquidity.
Betterment Advantages And Disadvantages
Thereâs no minimum investment required.
The low annual fee of 0.25% on the Digital plan can allow you to have a $20,000 account managed for just $50 per year, or a $100,000 account for just $250.
Tax-loss harvesting is available at all taxable accounts.
Betterment Premium provides unlimited access to certified financial planners, providing a service similar to traditional investment advisors, but at a fraction of the cost.
The No-fee Checking and Cash Reserve give you cash management options to go with your investing activities.
Betterment offers several portfolio options, including Smart Beta, Socially Responsible Investing, and the BlackRock Targeted Income Portfolio.
The use of value funds also adds the potential for your investment accounts to outperform the general market, since value stocks tend to be underpriced relative to their competitors.
Flexible Portfolio will give you some control over your investment allocations, which is a feature absent from most robo-advisors.
Bettermentâs annual advisory fee is on the low end of the robo-advisor range. But there are some robo-advisors charging no fees at all.
Betterment doesnât offer alternative investments. These include natural resources and real estate, which are offered by some of their competitors.
External account syncing is available only with Betterment Premium.
The Betterment Investment Methodology
Like most other robo-advisors, Betterment manages your investment account using Modern Portfolio Theory, or MPT. The theory emphasizes proper allocations into various asset classes over individual security selection.
Your portfolio is divided between six stock asset allocations and eight bond asset allocations. Each allocation is represented by a single ETF thatâs tied to an index specific to that asset class. The single ETF will provide exposure to scores or even hundreds of securities in each asset class. That means collectively your investment will be spread across thousands of securities in the US and internationally.
The six stock asset allocations are as follows:
US Total Stock Market
US Value Stocks â Large Cap
US Value Stocks â Mid Cap
US Value Stocks â Small Cap
International Developed Market Stocks
International Emerging Markets Stocks
The eight bond asset allocations are as follows:
US High Quality Bonds
US Municipal Bonds (will be held in taxable investment accounts only)
US Inflation-Protected Bonds
US High-Yield Corporate Bonds
US Short-Term Treasury Bonds
US Short-Term Investment Grade Bonds
International Developed Market Bonds
International Emerging Markets Bonds
Since Betterment offers tax-loss harvesting with taxable investment accounts, most asset classes will have two or three very similar ETFs. This will enable Betterment to sell a losing position in one ETF to reduce capital gains in winning asset classes. Alternative ETFs are then purchased to replace the sold funds to maintain the target asset allocations in your account.
Tax-loss harvesting is becoming an increasingly popular investment strategy because it effectively defers capital gains taxes into future years. Itâs available only for taxable accounts, since tax-sheltered accounts have no immediate tax consequences.
How Betterment Compares
Here’s how Betterment compares to the previously mentioned companies, Wealthfront and Personal Capital.
Minimum Initial Investment
0.25% on Digital; 0.40% on Premium (account balance over $100k)
0.25% on all account balances
0.89% on most account balances; reduced fee on balances > $1 million
On Premium Plan only
Yes, on all taxable accounts
Yes, on all taxable accounts
Yes, on all taxable accounts
Yes, on Premium Plan only
Betterment Accounts and Options
For the first few years of Bettermentâs existence they offered a single investment account serving as a one-size-fits-all plan. But thatâs all changed. They still offer basic investment accounts, but they now give you a choice of multiple investment options.
This is Bettermentâs basic investment plan. There is no minimum initial investment required, nor is there a minimum ongoing balance requirement. Betterment charges a single fee of 0.25% on all account balances.
You can also add any other portfolio variations, except the Goldman Sachs Smart Beta portfolio, which has a $100,000 minimum account balance requirement.
Betterment Premium works similar to the Digital plan, but it delivers a higher level of service. The plan provides external account synching, giving Betterment a high altitude view of you your entire financial situation. External investment accounts can help in enabling Betterment to better coordinate your portfolio allocations with assets held in outside accounts. They can also make recommendations out to better manage those external accounts.
And perhaps the biggest advantage of the Premium plan is that it comes with unlimited access to Bettermentâs certified financial planners. In this way, Betterment is competing more directly with traditional investment advisors, but doing it with a robo-advisor component.
Youâll need a minimum of $100,000 to invest in the Premium plan, and the annual advisory fee is 0.40%. Thatâs just a fraction of the usual 1% to 2% typically charged by traditional investment advisory services.
Betterment Cash Reserve
The account pays a variable interest rate, currently set at 0.40% APY. Betterment doesnât actually hold these funds directly, but rather invest them through participating program banks.
Thereâs no fee for this account, and you can move money as often as you want. And for those with very high cash balances, the account is FDIC insured for up to $1 million through the program banks.
Betterment Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)
SRI portfolios are becoming increasingly popular in the robo-advisor space. It involves investing in companies that meet certain standards for social, environmental, and governance guidelines. Betterment indicates that the ETFs they use in their SRI portfolio have produced a 42% increase in their social responsibility scores.
SRI portfolios work with both the Digital and Premium plans, using a similar investment methodology. But they make certain modifications, holding ETFs based on SRI in place of the ETFs used in non-SRI portfolios.
SRI portfolios do not require a minimum balance and charge no additional fees. And like their Digital and Premium plans, taxable SRI investment accounts take advantage of tax-loss harvesting.
Betterment Flexible Portfolios
The key word in the name is âflexibleâ because the main feature is adding personal options to your portfolio allocations.
This is done by adjusting the individual asset class weights in your portfolio. For example, if you have a 7% allocation in emerging markets, you may choose to increase it to 10% if you believe that sector is likely to outperform others. But you can also decrease the allocation if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Betterment Tax-Coordinated Portfolio
This is less of a formal portfolio and more of an investment strategy. It must be used in combination with a taxable investment account and a tax-sheltered retirement account. Betterment will then allocate investments based on their tax impact.
For example, income generating assets â that produce high dividend and interest income â are held in a tax-sheltered account. Investments likely to generate long-term capital gains are held in a taxable investment account, since you will be able to take advantage of lower long-term capital gains tax rates.
Goldman Sachs Smart Beta
This option is for more sophisticated investors, and requires a minimum account balance of $100,000. And since it is a high risk/high reward type of investing, it also requires a higher risk tolerance.
Betterment uses the same basic investment strategy as they do in other portfolios. But itâs an actively managed portfolio that will be adjusted in an attempt to outperform the general market. Securities will be bought and sold within the portfolio and can include either individual securities or Smart Beta ETFs.
The portfolio has many variations, including a wide range of allocations. Stocks are chosen based on four qualities: good value, strong momentum, high quality, and low volatility.
And like other portfolio variations Betterment offers, there is no additional fee for this option.
BlackRock Target Income Portfolio
Betterment recognizes that some investors are more interested in income than growth. This will particularly apply to retirees. The BlackRock Target Income Portfolio invests in portfolios based on your risk tolerance. This can mean low, moderate, high, or even aggressive.
Those categories may seem unusual for an income generating portfolio. But while the portfolio attempts to minimize risk of principal, it also recognizes that some investors are willing to add risk to their portfolio in exchange for higher returns.
A low-risk portfolio may have a higher allocation in US Treasury securities. An aggressive portfolio may center primarily on high-yield corporate bonds or even emerging-market bonds that have higher interest rates due to greater risk.
Betterment No-fee Checking
Provided by Betterment Financial LLC in partnership with NBKC Bank, this is a true no-fee checking account. Not only are there no monthly maintenance fees, but there are also no overdraft or other fees. Theyâll even reimburse all ATM fees and foreign transaction fees you incur. And thereâs not even a minimum balance requirement.
Youâll be provided with a Betterment Visa Debit Card with tap-to-pay technology, that you can use anywhere Visa is accepted. All account balances are FDIC insured for up to $250,000. And as you might expect from a company on the technological cutting edge, you can deposit checks into the account using your smartphone.
Check out our full Betterment checking review.
Betterment Key Features
Minimum initial investment: Betterment requires no funds to open an account. But you can begin funding your account with monthly deposits, like $100 per month. This method will make it easier to use dollar-cost averaging to gradually move into your portfolio positions.
Available account types: Joint and individual taxable investment accounts, as well as traditional, Roth, rollover and SEP IRAs. Betterment can also accommodate trusts and nonprofit accounts.
Portfolio rebalancing: Comes with all account types. Your portfolio will be rebalanced when your asset allocations significantly depart from their targets.
Automatic dividend reinvestment: Betterment will reinvest dividends received in your portfolio according to your target asset allocations.
Betterment Mobile App: You can access your Betterment account on your smartphone. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Customer contact: Available by phone and email, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Eastern time.
Account protection: All Betterment accounts are protected by SIPC insurance for up to $500,000 in cash and securities, including up to $250,000 in cash. SIPC covers losses due to broker failure, not those caused by market value declines.
Financial Advice packages: Betterment offers one-hour phone conferences with live financial advisors on various personal financial topics. Five topics are covered:
Getting Started package: This package gives new users the professional vote of confidence they need as a professional will assess their account setup. $199
Financial Checkup package: This package takes it a step further, providing the customer with a professional opinion on their portfolio and financial circumstances. $299
College Planning package: As its name implies, this package helps parents who are investing with the goal of paying for their childrenâs college education in the next 5-18 years. $299
Marriage Planning package: Merging finances can be tricky, so Betterment created this plan to help engaged couples and newlyweds to succeed as they unite their lives and assets. $299
Retirement Planning package: Your investment goals and strategies change as you near retirement. This particular package helps keep you on target to meet them. $299
Retirement Savings Calculator: Robo-advisors are popular choices for retirement accounts. For this reason, Betterment offers the Calculator to help you project your retirement needs. By entering basic information in the calculator (it will sync external accounts if you have a Premium account â including employer-sponsored retirement plans) it will let you know if you are on track to meet your goals or if you need to make adjustments.
How To Sign Up For A Betterment Account
The Betterment sign up process is one of the most user-friendly out there for any brokerage. It comes with easy-to-follow instructions and as streamlined registration process which users can navigate through in a matter of minutes.
First get the process started by clicking the button below.
Sign up for a Betterment Account
After the initial sign up process, users can expect a simple transaction as they transfer funds into the account, much like moving money from a checking to savings account.
When you begin the sign-up process, youâll be given a choice of four different investment goals:
I chose âInvest for retirementâ. It will ask your current age, your annual income, then give you a choice of accounts to use. That includes a traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA, or even an individual taxable account. I selected a traditional IRA.
Based on a 30-year-old with a $100,000 income, Betterment return the following recommendation:
You even have the option to have the specific asset allocations listed. After clicking âContinueâ, youâll be asked to provide your email address and create a password. Youâll then be taken to the application, which will ask for general information, including your name, address, phone number, and how you heard about Betterment.
Once your account has been set up, you can fund it immediately, by connecting your bank account, or by setting up recurring deposits.
You can also set up other accounts, such as âManage spending with Checkingâ or âInvest for a long-term goalâ.
Why You Should Open An Account With Betterment
While nearly anyone who invests could benefit from the online portfolio management and advising, this service is definitely geared to certain types of investors. In most cases, Betterment will work best for:
Hands-off investors who have some investing knowledge â Since it takes care of the heavy lifting for you, it works best for investors who want to take a hands-off approach to their investment portfolio. Passive investors can let Betterment handle the logistics while using online account management to keep a close eye on their accounts.
Novice investors who need help â Beginning investors who are just learning the ropes can turn to Betterment for online portfolio management with low fees. The many online tools and user-friendly interface make it easy for beginners to get a grasp on basic financial concepts and investing strategies.
Robo-advisors are growing in popularity and could easily replace in-person advisors in the near future. With lower fees and advanced software that can maximize results, online investing is certainly gaining an edge.
Whether Betterment is right for you depends on your individual needs and investing goals. If youâre a hands-off investor who wants to grow your retirement funds without paying a lot of fees, then Betterment might be ideal. Additionally, beginning investors can benefit handsomely from the online tools and investing education offered through the Betterment website.
If you think Betterment investing might be exactly what your portfolio needs, sign up for a new account today.
However, if you determine that you would be better served by a more hands-on approach, check out the other online brokerage account options. Being a certified financial planner, I have had a chance to work with several of these platforms and have done the following reviews:
Motif Investing Review
Lending Club Review
Ally Invest Review
The post Betterment Investing Review: Make Investing Automatic appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Coronavirus hasnât entirely ended life as we knew it, but itâs certainly caused changes, some of which are likely to be with us for a very long time.
For some the coronavirus is literally a matter of life and death, and it raises an important question: how does coronavirus affect life insurance?
No one likes to think about the possibility of losing their life, or that of a loved one to this virus, but for over 150,000 families here in the US, it has turned out to be a reality.
Letâs examine the impact it may have on your existing policies, and perhaps more importantly, how it may affect applications for new life insurance coverage.
How Does Coronavirus Affect Life Insurance You Already Have?
Thereâs good news if you already have a life insurance policy in place. Generally speaking, the insurance company will pay a death benefit even if you die from the coronavirus. With few exceptions, life insurance policies will pay for any cause of death once the policy is in force. There are very few exceptions to this rule, such as acts of war or terrorism. Pandemics are not a known exception.
If youâre feeling at all uncomfortable about how the coronavirus might impact your existing life insurance policies, contact the company for clarification. Alternatively, review your life insurance policy paying particular attention to the exclusions. If thereâs nothing that looks like death due to a pandemic, you should be good to go.
But once the policy is in place, there are only a few reasons why the insurance company can deny a claim:
Non-payment of premiums â if you exceed the grace period for the payment, which is generally 30 or 31 days, your policy will lapse. But even if it does, you may still be able to apply for reinstatement. However, after a lapse, you wonât be covered until payment is made.
Providing false information on an application â if you fail to disclose certain health conditions that result in your death, the company can deny payment for insurance fraud. For example, if youâre a smoker, but check non-smoker on the application, payment of the death benefit can be denied if smoking is determined to be a contributing cause of death.
Death within the first two years the policy is in force â often referred to as the period of contestability, the insurance company can investigate the specific causes of death for any reason within the first two years. If itâs determined that death was caused by a pre-existing condition, the claim can be denied.
None of these are a serious factor when it comes to the coronavirus, unless you tested positive for the virus prior to application, and didnât disclose it. But since the coronavirus can strike suddenly, it shouldnât interfere with your death benefits if it occurs once your policy is already in force.
How Does Coronavirus Affect Life Insurance Youâre Applying For?
This is just a guess on my part, but I think people may be giving more thought to buying life insurance now they may have at any time in the past. The coronavirus has turned out to be a real threat to both life and health, which makes it natural to consider the worst.
But whatever you do, donât let your fear of the unknown keep you from applying for coverage. Though you may be wishing you bought a policy, or taken additional coverage, before the virus hit, now is still the very best time to apply. And thatâs not a sales pitch!
No matter whatâs going on in the world, the best time to apply for life insurance is always now. Thatâs because youâre younger and likely healthier right now than youâll ever be again. Both conditions are major advantages when it comes to buying life insurance. If you delay applying, youâll pay a higher premium by applying later when youâre a little bit older. But if you develop a serious health condition between now and then, not only will your premium be higher, but you may even be denied for coverage completely.
Donât let fears of the coronavirus get in your way. If you believe you need life insurance, or more of it, apply now.
That said, the impact of the coronavirus on new applications for life insurance is more significant than it is for existing policies.
The deaths of more than 100,000 people in the US is naturally having an effect on claims being paid by life insurance companies. While thereâs been no significant across-the-board change in how most life insurance companies evaluate new applications, the situation is evolving rapidly. Exactly how that will play out going forward is anyoneâs guess at the moment.
What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance in the Age of the Coronavirus
If youâre under 60 and in good or excellent health, and not currently showing signs of the virus, the likelihood of being approved for life insurance is as good as itâs ever been. You can make an application, and not concern yourself with the virus.
That said, it may be more difficult to get life insurance if you have any conditions determined to put you at risk for the coronavirus, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Ages 65 and older.
Obesity, defined as a body mass index of 40 or greater.
Certain health conditions, including asthma, chronic kidney disease and being treated by dialysis, lung disease, diabetes, hemoglobin disorders, immunocompromised, liver disease, and serious heart conditions.
People in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
Now to be fair, each of the above conditions would require special consideration even apart from the coronavirus. But since theyâre known coronavirus risk factors, the impact of each has become more important in the life insurance application process.
If any of these conditions apply to you, the best strategy is to work with insurance companies that already specialize in those categories.
There are insurance companies that take a more favorable view of people with any of the following conditions:
Certain lung diseases, including Asthma
Certain heart conditions
More Specific Application Factors
But even with insurance companies that specialize in providing coverage for people with certain health conditions, some have introduced new restrictions in light of the coronavirus.
For example, if you have a significant health condition and youâre over 65, you may find fewer companies willing to provide coverage.
The insurance company may also check your records for previous coronavirus episodes or exposures. Expect additional testing to determine if youâre currently infected. Most likely, the application process will be delayed until the condition clears, unless it has resulted in long-term complications.
Travel is another factor being closely examined. The CDC maintains an updated list of travel recommendations by country. If youâve recently traveled to a high-risk country, or you plan to do so in the near future, you may be considered at higher risk for the coronavirus. How each insurance company handles this situation will vary. But your application may be delayed until youâve completed a recommended quarantine period.
Other Financial Areas to Consider that May be Affected
Since the coronavirus is still very much active in the US and around the world, financial considerations are in a constant state of flux. If youâre concerned at all about the impact of the virus on other insurance types, you should contact your providers for more information.
Other insurance policies that my warrant special consideration are:
Employer-sponsored life insurance. Thereâs not much to worry about here, since these are group plans. Your acceptance is guaranteed upon employment. The policy will almost certainly pay the death benefit, even if your cause of death is related to the virus.
Health insurance. Thereâs been no media coverage of health insurance companies refusing to pay medical claims resulting from the coronavirus. But if youâre concerned, contact your health insurance company for clarification.
Action Steps to Take in the Age of the Coronavirus
Many have been gripped by fear in the face of the coronavirus, which is mostly a fear of the unknown. But the best way to overcome fear is through positive action.
I recommend the following:
1. Be proactive about your health.
Since there is a connection between poor health and the virus, commit to improving your health. Maintain a proper diet, get regular exercise, and follow the CDC coronavirus guidelines on how to protect yourself.
2. If you need life insurance, buy it now.
Donât wait for a bout with the virus to take this step. It’s important for a number of reasons and the consequences of not having it can be severe. Compare the best life insurance companies to get started.
3. Consider no medical exam life insurance.
If you donât have the virus, and you want to do a policy as quickly as possible, no medical exam life insurance will be a way to get coverage almost immediately.
4. Look for the lowest cost life insurance providers.
Low cost means you can buy a larger policy. With the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, having enough life insurance is almost as important as having a policy at all. Look into cheap term life insurance to learn more about what you can afford.
5. Keep a healthy credit score.
Did you know that your credit score is a factor in setting the premium on your life insurance policy? If so, you have one more reason to maintain a healthy credit score. One of the best ways to do it is by regularly monitoring your credit and credit score. There are plenty of services available to help you monitor your credit.
6. Make paying your life insurance premiums a priority
This action step rates a special discussion. When times get tough, and money is in short supply, people often cancel or reduce their insurance coverage. That includes life insurance. But that can be a major mistake in the middle of a pandemic. The coronavirus means that maintaining your current life insurance policies must be a high priority.
The virus and the uncertainty itâs generating in the economy and the job market are making finances less stable than theyâve been in years. Youâll need to be intentional about maintaining financial buffers.
7. Start an emergency fund.
If you donât already have one place, start building one today. If you already have one up and running, make a plan to increase it regularly.
You should also do what you can to maximize the interest youâre earning on your emergency fund. You should park your fund in a high-interest savings account, some of which are paying interest thatâs more than 20 times the national bank average.
8. Get Better Control of Your Debts
In another direction, be purposeful about paying down your debt. Lower debt levels translate into lower monthly payments, and that improves your cash flow.
If you donât have the funds to pay down your debts, there are ways you can make them more manageable.
For example, if you have high-interest credit card debt, there are balance transfer credit cards that provide a 0% introductory APR for up to 21 months. By eliminating the interest for that length of time, youâll be able to dedicate more of each payment toward principal reduction.
Still another strategy for lowering your debts is to do a debt consolidation using a low interest personal loan. Personal loans are unsecured loans that have a fixed interest rate and monthly payment, as well as a specific loan term. You can consolidate several loans and credit cards into a single personal loan for up to $40,000, with interest rates starting as low as 5.99%.
Related: The Best Life Insurance Companies
Weâve covered a lot of ground in this article. But thatâs because the coronavirus comes close to being an all-encompassing crisis. Itâs been said the coronavirus is both a health crisis and an economic crisis at the same time. It requires strategies on multiple fronts, including protecting your health, your finances, and your familyâs finances when youâre no longer around to provide for them.
Thatâs where life insurance comes into the picture. The basic process hasnât changed much from the coronavirus, at least not up to this point. But thatâs why itâs so important to apply for coverage now, before major changes are put into effect.
The post How Does Coronavirus Affect Life Insurance? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Whether you’re giving your sweetheart a gorgeous diamond ring for Valentine’s Day or you’re the one who gets to wear the bling, don’t forget about protecting it with insurance. I know looping in your insurance agent may not seem romantic, but it can prevent a lot of heartaches if that expensive piece of jewelry gets damaged, lost, or stolen.
How to insure your valuables
Today, you’ll learn how to keep your Valentine’s Day gift or any valuables safe.
1. Get insured before you buy it
Anytime you’re thinking about making a big purchase, such as expensive jewelry, watches, or electronics, make sure you have a plan to insure it. Think about how devastated you’d be if you bought diamond earrings for your sweetie, and they got stolen or lost. I’m sweating just thinking about it!
Anytime you’re thinking about making a big purchase, make sure you have a plan to insure it.
Before you buy something valuable, communicate with your existing home or renters insurance representative or company. Find out if you need additional coverage—it’s likely that you do! In just a moment, I’ll give you some recommendations if you don’t already have a home or renters policy.
Let your insurer know what you’re planning to buy and how much it costs. If you’re still negotiating on price or you’re buying a second-hand item with an unknown value, start with your best estimate.
2. Get a certified appraisal
If the value of your Valentine’s Day jewelry is over a certain amount, your insurer will ask you to submit an appraisal. It must come from a gemologist who uses a variety of tools and their expertise to identify and value gems. It includes photos of your item and an estimated value.
Your insurer needs an appraisal to know precisely what they’re insuring. The document also protects you in case you need to make a claim.
The retailer who sells you a new piece of jewelry should provide you with an appraisal. However, an insurer may want an independent appraisal to verify the value. If you purchase heirloom or estate jewelry, it may not come with an appraisal.
You can find an appraiser by getting recommendations or doing some research online. The cost varies depending on how intricate the item is and how long the work may take.
For instance, an antique ring with many stones and old-fashioned gem cuts will take longer to analyze than a brand-new diamond solitaire. For a relatively simple piece, the appraisal may cost in the range of $150 to $250. But I’ve had heirloom pieces that cost nearly $500 to appraise.
While your great-grandmother’s wedding ring or a necklace from your valentine might be priceless to you, insurers will only pay you its appraised or actual value.
It could take a gemologist several weeks to complete your appraisal, and they need to have the item in their possession the entire time. So, don’t wait until the last minute to find out what’s required to get a Valentine’s Day gift insured.
Also, note that you can’t insure the sentimental value of any item. While your great-grandmother’s wedding ring or a necklace from your valentine might be priceless to you, insurers will only pay you its appraised or actual value.
3. Don’t assume you already have coverage
If you assume you have coverage for a lavish Valentine’s Day gift simply because you have homeowners insurance, that could be a big mistake. The amount of insurance on your home is different than the amount of coverage for your personal belongings.
Most standard home and renters policies include coverage for personal items like jewelry. However, specific categories of belongings come with coverage limits or caps. Jewelry, watches, and furs typically have a low insurance cap, such as $1,000 or $2,000. If you’re a big spender, that could be a fraction of the cost of your gift.
For example, if you buy an engagement ring worth $4,000, and your homeowners or renters policy only covers $1,000, you’d come up $3,000 short of replacing it. Plus, the cap applies to an entire claim, not individual items. If you had multiple pieces of jewelry stolen, you’d only receive up to the policy limit.
Jewelry, watches, and furs typically have a low insurance cap, such as $1,000 or $2,000. If you’re a big spender, that could be a fraction of the cost of your gift.
Other types of personal belongings that have insurance caps include silverware, computers, firearms, musical instruments, collectibles, and antiques. Keep reading to learn how to make sure your expensive items are adequately insured.
4. Get an insurance rider
If your existing homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t have a jewelry limit high enough to cover your posh purchase, one solution is to “schedule it.” You’ll also hear this called a rider, floater, or an endorsement to your policy. Scheduling an item means that you add more detail about it to your existing insurance policy.
One benefit of scheduling an item, such as jewelry, is that you’re covered for all types of losses. For instance, if you accidentally lose a wedding ring swimming in the Caribbean ocean on your honeymoon, you’re covered up to your limit. When your valuables are covered by a standard home or renters policy, without being scheduled, you typically only have coverage for specific events, such as loss from a fire or theft.
One benefit of scheduling an item, such as jewelry, is that you’re covered for all types of losses.
Also, don’t forget that you must pay a deductible when you make a claim. So, if you have a $500 deductible and a jewelry limit of $1,000, the most you’d receive from a claim is $500.
But a scheduled item doesn’t require a deductible. That means you wouldn’t have to pay any amount out-of-pocket to replace a Valentine’s Day gift that gets lost or disappears mysteriously.
Having a rider increases your premium, but it’s usually worth it. The cost might be $5 to $15 per $1,000 of insured value. So, an engagement ring that’s worth $6,000 could mean paying an additional $30 to $90 per year on your homeowners or renters insurance premium.
5. Get a stand-alone policy
Another option for insuring a precious gift is to get a stand-alone policy. This policy is separate insurance just for the item, not an add-on to an existing home or renters policy. Most insurers offer a valuable articles policy for specific items like jewelry, watches, furs, collectibles, and antiques.
Whether you own or rent your home, you’ll pay less for an insurance rider than for valuable articles insurance. The only exception would be if you have many expensive items to insure—so, shop and compare both options if you have a collection of valuables.
Most homeowners have insurance, but many renters avoid getting a renters policy because they mistakenly overestimate the cost. It’s surprisingly inexpensive; the average price is $185 per year. So, if you rent, get renters insurance first and then schedule an expensive item.
All the coverages I’ve mentioned protect your valuables at home or when they’re away from your home. Off-premise coverage kicks in when an item is stolen from your car or damaged while you’re traveling.
Additionally, home and renters insurance gives you liability coverage worldwide. It also pays living expenses, such as a hotel and meals, if you can't live in your home while repairs are made after a covered event, such as a natural disaster.
The bottom line is that if you rent and don’t have insurance, you’re putting your finances at risk. Take a few minutes to shop and compare quotes at sites such as Bankrate.com or Policygenius.com. But no matter your situation, you can always opt to insure a Valentine’s Day gift with a stand-alone policy.
6. Gift recipients are responsible for insurance
Many people are confused about who needs to buy insurance for a gift, the giver or the recipient? Well, it depends on who has the item. If you buy a gift to give, you need to have it insured while it’s in your possession.
If you have a receipt and appraisal, pass them along so the new owner has what they need to get proper insurance.
Once you give a gift away, the lucky recipient owns it and must insure it. If you have a receipt and appraisal, pass them along so the new owner has what they need to get proper insurance.
If you’re married or live together and have the same home or renters insurance policy, you don’t have to take any extra steps. But if you and your valentine have different households, the person who wears and enjoys the gift must make sure that it’s insured.
7. Keep an up-to-date home inventory
If you have home or renters insurance, but don't have a list of your personal belongings, it could be challenging to claim a loss. Imagine that your home or apartment got destroyed in a fire. Would you remember every item?
If you don’t have a home inventory, create one and add your Valentine’s Day gift to the list. At the least, have pictures or video of your belongings that you store in the cloud. While losing precious items can be devastating, the more documentation you have, the easier it will be to provide proof that you owned them and make an insurance claim.
If you got a cherished gift for Valentine’s Day or got engaged, congrats! Now make it a priority to protect it.