Category Archives: Life Insurance

Confused About Life Insurance? Let Us Explain

When consumers were asked why they never made the decision to purchase life insurance, they used words like unclear, puzzling, mystifying, complicated and frustrating. 

People are confused by the terms and may be too embarrassed to constantly stop their agent and ask for an explanation of their meaning.  For example, terms such as:

  • whole life vs. term life
  • cash value
  • dividends
  • universal life
  • accidental death benefit
  • accelerated death benefit
  • contingent beneficiary
  • waiver of premium
  • preferred risk, sub-standard risk
  • conversion privilege

So if you appreciate the value of life insurance, we urge you to find yourself an agent who is willing to explain, in detail, the types of coverage available given your situation, budget, health, age, family and expenses.  Life insurance helps provide you and your family with peace of mind when it matters the most. 

How Can We Communicate More Effectively With People Who Want To Purchase Life Insurance?

secrets-to-life-insuranceRecently, I read an insurance periodical that stated that over 15 million people in the United States are really interested in purchasing life insurance. They understand the value of having it and what it could mean to their families if they were to become disabled or die.

However, believe it or not, they can’t make it all the way through the purchasing process.


People are confused by the terms and may be too embarrassed to constantly stop their agent and ask for an explanation of what a specific term means. Apparently, this is not only in the case of life insurance, but other financial products as well as, for example, long term disability. I, personally, can certainly understand not buying something I don’t understand!

When consumers were polled as to why they never made the decision to buy the product(s) under discussion , they used words like unclear, puzzling, mystifying, complicated and frustrating—-in other words, not a positive experience! Furthermore, the subject matter itself deals with subjects most people shy away from discussing to begin with. Death and illness, under the best of circumstances, can be tough subjects to explore. However, using conversation that is easy to understand, explaining the who, what, where, when and the how of the coverage, might help to put a more positive spin on it.

Using terms like “whole life vs. term life, cash value, dividends, universal life, accidental death benefit, accelerated death benefit, contingent beneficiary, waiver of premium, preferred risk, sub-standard risk, and conversion privilege” only serve to complicate matters. Many people would rather just forget about the whole thing and move on to a more pleasant subject. That won’t help them when the time comes to face the eventualities of life.

My husband sold life insurance for some fifty years before he became too old and too sick to continue his career. I distinctly remember accompanying him to the homes of potential clients who had invited us over for a social evening during which the conversation segued into a discussion of the need for life insurance. One of the great gifts my husband possessed was the ability to tell stories. He didn’t hesitate to use this when illustrating what could happen to a family with no life insurance. By the time he was finished even I wanted to purchase the product!

So if you appreciate the value of life insurance, find yourself an agent who is willing to explain, in detail, the types of coverage available given your budget, health, age, family expenses and make sure that you find out everything you need to know on the subject. Heaven forbid that the worst case scenario occurs and you need the coverage, you will have prepared yourself with something to help you over the rough time that is bound to ensue.

By Karen Skoler, CPCU

The Difference Between Life Insurance And Long Term Care

inflation_chart_500x357In order to understand the need for Long Term Care (LTC)Insurance, it is helpful to understand what Long term care involves and how differently men and women might think about this subject.

Long Term Care is necessary when an individual needs assistance with two or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL). These activities include, but are not limited to, bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting. Nursing/Rehabilitation Centers do offer this type of care, but some individuals would prefer to remain at home. Some LTC policies allows a person the benefit of being helped with such activities in the comfort of their own home or in a skilled nursing setting . There is, however, some debate on the necessity for Long Term Care insurance as we have learned that men and women view the need for this coverage very differently. Below is a typical excerpt from a conversation between an aging couple.

EMILY: We need to think about the purchase of LTC Insurance; I’m almost 65 years old and will most likely need daily assistance in the future. I see that some of my friends already need such assistance.

JOHN: Long Term Care Insurance!!! What is this insurance ? I’ve never heard of that one! I have Life Insurance. Why do we need yet another type of insurance?

EMILY: It’s been around for a lot of years. It’s just like you to tune out to facts you don’t want to know about! Your Life insurance will help me with expenses after you die! LTC insurance will help pay for our continuing care while you and I are alive.

JOHN: Do you mean I will have to pay you to care for me? I Thought it was a given that you would care for me if and when I’m unable to do things for myself.

EMILY: No Silly, but what if I die before you… what if I’m not physically able to care for you…what about my care after you die…?

JOHN: What about our kids…? They will care for us.

EMILY: I would never dream of that! That would only make them despise us. Time spent caring for us means time away from their jobs, their homes and their own families. Also, it would mean a loss of income if they had to take off time from their jobs. Before you know it we’ll have real family problems!

JOHN: Okay, we know that you will outlive me, so my life insurance will take care of you after I’m gone.

EMILY: So $50,000.00 will be enough to cover all my expenses for the rest of my life? What will I use to pay for the expenses if I need long term care?

JOHN: And why not? That’s more -than- enough for you.

EMILY: In my family the women live well into their eighties. For how long can $50,000.00keep me going? Don’t forget that we still have a bit remaining on the mortgage, monthly utility bills will still be due, and by that time, who knows what they would cost? What do you imagine Long Term Care will cost at that time, whether it is in our house or in a facility?

VOICE OF REASON IN JOHN’S HEAD: Aren’t women supposed to make decisions based on emotions rather that reasoning? She sure put a lot of reasoning into this!

EMILY: You know this is something we need to look into. How can we get more information on LTC? Maybe our Life Insurance Agent has more information. Who knows, perhaps there’s some sort of rider that can be added to our existing policies.

JOHN: EM, I have to give you credit, you do put forth a strong argument, and you seem to have given this quite a lot of thought. Maybe Long Term Care Insurance is worth taking a look at.

– Narima Prashad

Life Insurance: As A Way To Keep You In Your Home If You Need To Be Taken Care Of

life isurance blank bar chart and glasesNobody I have ever met wants to discuss life insurance; however, it is a fact of life (nobody gets out of here alive). As a responsible adult, the topic does bear pondering. Besides which, every year that I put this off, the more expensive it gets, the more my health can change, the greater the chance that I might even pick up some bad habit that precludes me from coverage (ie. gaining weight, smoking, etc).

Recently, I had a discussion with my daughter who told me that her husband had increased the limits on their life insurance policies after their second child was born. Wow, now that was a thoughtful husband! A wonderful event such as a birth of a child is definitely a trigger for the need to purchase life insurance or increasing the coverage that you already have. Other triggers to be mindful of are engagements, weddings or purchasing a home.

My husband used to sell life insurance so I know some very practical aspects of this subject. When the head of a household, as known as “the breadwinner”, used to say that he or she was young, in good health and didn’t need to think about life insurance, my husband used to tell him to call the night prior to their anticipated demise so as to insure the security of the family they would leave behind. OK, maybe not so funny, but, seriously, what about the families we leave behind? Without life insurance will they be able to remain in their homes? Who will provide for them in terms of clothing, food and shelter when we are gone? What about other disruptions? Can they continue to go to the same schools, daycare, and houses of worship? Will they be deprived of the support systems developed over years just at the time they will need them the most?

What about if we were to become disabled or very ill ? The possibility of our death still exists; however, the eroding of assets to pay for ongoing care is now primary. Most people do not even think about this situation let alone plan in advance for a financial solution. Some Life insurance policies have cash values and, in a pinch, we might be able to take a loan or partial surrender on an existing policy to see us through a rough financial patch. Of course, this option would reduce any applicable death benefit; however, it is still a source of cash should the need arise. In addition, there are life insurance policies that can ensure that we are able to remain in our homes for this long term care that many do not even know exists. For more detailed information, read about these options in our blogs on Assest Based Life Insurance or Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

If you are thinking about this subject, we strongly suggest that you contact your insurance agent to find out the type of policy that best fits your needs and your budget. Life insurance can do so much more than what we traditionally think of it doing.

By Karen Skoler, CPCU

November is Long Term Care Awareness Month

longtermMany of us don’t insure anything that doesn’t have a dollar value. We insure cars, houses, diamond rings etc., so why is it that we don’t insure ourselves?
We are our most valuable asset.
Most of us do not think about death or long term care. Questions and thoughts such as these we tend to “sweep under the rug”:
• What happens when a loved one needs care in a nursing facility or passes away pre-maturely?
• What impact will either of those events have on our families?
• Will the kids take care of a parent?
• Will the parent move in with the kids?
• Do we want our parents or grandparents in a state run institution?
As an insurance agent, I know the answers to these questions….. My goal is to help you see an affordable solution to the answers.
I understand Long Term Care insurance isn’t something we want to spend money on. Often what I hear from my clients is: “What if I don’t ever use the benefit – I will be throwing the money away?”. When I am asked my personal opinion about Long Term Care Insurance, I passionately say this: “I don’t want to be a burden to my kids, and I really don’t want to spend my older years being dependent on the State. If I don’t need my Long Term Care Policy and I die peacefully in my sleep than I did right by my family”.
Doing nothing is not an answer. It will have a higher cost then any premium you may pay.
Let’s examine the Cost of Care:
Depending on where you live and the type of care that you require, long-term care expenses can exceed $75,000 per year. (1) In some states, that cost of care can be much higher. At these rates, the choice to self-insure can be very challenging. A common misconception among people without Long Term Care Insurance is that government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will cover these costs. While Medicare provides limited coverage for nursing home and home care services, it is designed to pay for the treatment of acute, short-term illness — not ongoing care associated with Activities of Daily Living, (2) such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Simply put, Medicare affords very limited nursing home and home care services.. Medicaid, a different program entirely, may cover ongoing costs associated with long-term care. However, it requires that recipients meet strict asset and income eligibility criteria, and care is restricted to Medicaid-approved services and facilities.

So by now you might be thinking to yourself: “What if I don’t use the insurance? All that money will go to waste.” ……. Not so!

In last month’s blog, I covered the need for Life Insurance. If we all can agree that our lives should be insured, then I can show you there is a way to insure our lives and pay for Long Term Care as well.

Did you add an Accelerated Death Benefit Rider to your permanent life policy when you purchased it? What this offers you is in the event that you are diagnosed as terminally ill, you will be allowed to take an advanced payment of a portion of your death benefit to pay for medical expenses or long-term care. If you keep your policy in-force, but you do not use your long-term care protection, although you have paid the rider charge for the option to accelerate the death benefit, you haven’t spent decades paying premiums for a policy that never pays any benefit at all. Additionally, if you begin collecting monthly benefits under the Accelerated Death Benefit Rider, but do not receive the full death benefit of your policy, the remaining death benefit will be paid to your beneficiaries at your death.
There you have it -the best of worlds: Life insurance and LTC rolled into one!

Richard Montenegro, Jr.
Managing Partner
FIS Marketing, LLC
3900 Veterans Memorial Highway
Suite 251 (Field Office)
Bohemia, NY 11716
Cell: 631-312-6344
Fax: 585-625-0318

1. Gross, Jane. “How Medicare Fails the Elderly.” The New York Times, October 15, 2011.
2. As defined in the Internal Revenue Code Section 7702B.

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Q: How much life insurance do I need?

A: To answer this question, you need to examine the 4 main expenses involved in calculating this amount:
• Funeral Costs
• Mortgage Amount
• Education
• Income Replacement
Typically you will need 15-20 times your pre-tax income to cover all 4 expenses like you were still alive.
From here, your agent can help you decide whether to purchase term or universal life insurance to protect your loved ones.

What is the difference between Term Life Insurance and Universal Life Insurance?

Q: What is the difference between Term Life Insurance and Universal Life Insurance?

A: Term Life Insurance is life insurance which provides a level death benefit at a fixed annual premium for a limited period of time. This period of time can be 5 years, 10 years, 15 years or even 30 years. Universal Life Insurance combines the low-cost protection of term insurance with a savings component that is invested in a tax-deferred account. This cash value may be available for a loan to the policyholder in the future.

Be Aware, of Long Term Care


When I was in my early 50’s, my mother became extremely disoriented and could no longer live alone in her house. The woman who I had never thought of as “old” suddenly needed more care than my sister and I could give her. After much angst, the decision was made to introduce her to residence in an assisted living facility and, for my mother, it was truly the ‘way back’ to civilization. In her own house, my mother had become very non-verbal, didn’t get dressed and rarely even got out of bed most days. After only one week in an assisted living facility she was participating in everything they had to offer and thoroughly engaged socially with the other residents. My mother didn’t have long term care, but she had enough money to keep her in that facility for eight years until she died in 2009 at the age of 94. She was fortunate and I got the message loud and clear. I ran right out and applied for long term care for both my husband and myself

Fast forward to 2011, when my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and, after 9 years of caring for him as his health continued to deteriorate, I was forced to look at my options for the coming year. Yes, he and I had applied for long term care, but his health precluded him from being accepted by any company selling the product. As for me, I was issued a policy and obtained a 20% discount because we had applied together.

Because my husband didn’t qualify for this coverage I am now paying $3,350 per month to keep him safe and warm in an assisted living facility. This is what it costs if you are forced to pay privately. Yes, there is always Medicaid,
however, few facilities even entertain residents whose sole means of payment is via Medicaid. In addition, for Medicaid eligibility there is a 5 year look back and extensive rules governing what assets you are allowed to keep. Truly a nightmare for someone in the midst of a family crisis.

At a time when the family is in an emergency situation due to the rapidly declining health of a loved one, the last thing they want to contend with is extensive paperwork, numerous rules and regulations and worrying about how they will be able to pay for the care their loved one so desperately needs.

Why not speak to a knowledgeable insurance agent today regarding how to go about obtaining this valuable coverage? It certainly pays to be prepared prior to a calamity than be to find oneself ineligible in the midst of disaster. It is said that “if you have your health you have everything.” Yes, including the ability to qualify for long term care insurance! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by applying for this invaluable coverage today.


September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

wpid-1332151853_life-insurance-policyWhen my daughter was young and money was tight, my husband took out a Term Life policy which is much less expensive than a Whole Life policy. As she got older and I went back to work, I took out Whole Life insurance. Subsequently, my husband’s health deteriorated to the point where he was no longer eligible for affordable life insurance. Today if my husband was to die, there would be no life insurance. I would be left to pay the medical bills, funeral costs, and my mortgage. I am very lucky because at my age I am still in relatively good health. However, that can change in a hot minute making me ineligible to purchase additional life insurance in conjunction with retirement planning.

As the wife of an insurance salesperson, I listened to my husband educate his clients about the value and purposes of life insurance for many years. Lucky for me, he was good at what he did and, therefore, was able to earn a modest living and take care of his family. As a matter of fact, any time I heard him explain what life insurance could accomplish, I was so moved I wanted to buy a policy myself!

He would start by telling his client that life insurance could be used to replace the income of the primary wage earner(s) if one or both of them was to pass. It could also be used to provide the monies to hire people to care for the home and the children, pay up a mortgage, cover funeral costs, build up cash value for retirement, pay inheritance taxes on a large estate, fund a buy-sell agreement, or protect a business from major disruption in the event of a “key person’s” demise.

One salesperson in my husband’s organization requested that a client return their policy if they could no longer pay for it. He claimed that he didn’t want to get a call from the surviving spouse and have to be the one to tell them that the policy was cancelled. He claimed that once, when a client had to deal with this exact situation, it actually caused the survivor to have a heart attack on the spot. Once was enough for him!

The bottom line is that insurance is as important as a will, health insurance, and a health proxy. Nevertheless, you would be shocked at the resistance people have to discussing the subject much less purchasing the product. I have a favorite line which is, “nobody gets out of here alive.” To me, this is a given. I realize that you can’t take it with you and I suspect that you would probably have no use for it if you could. Therefore, why not provide for the unexpected by funding a life insurance policy tailored to the time of life and circumstances in which you find yourself right now?

-Karen Skoler