Picture
Most people worry that if you use a Broker or an Agent you are going to pay more.

Not true!!!  

There is no surcharge in using a broker or an agent.  You will pay exactly the same price if you went directly through a company.


So, what is the difference between an Agent and a Broker? 
  • Agent:   An Agent is the representative of one company. A good agent will focus on helping you understand the insurance products of the company that he/she represents. He/she also will build a personal relationship with you. Something a big company cannot do due to the volume of business. He/she will be available to help you within the limits of the company that he/she is representing.
  • Broker:  A Broker represents YOU and not a specific company. Like Agents, Brokers also focus on helping you understand the insurance products available but are not limited to the company they represent.  He/she will build a personal relationship with you and will be available to help you without being limited to any one company.  He/She can best assess your needs and find the products best to fit those needs because he/she is not tied down to one company.

Marc and Ed are Brokers and are ready and willing to help you find what products 
will best help you and your family’s needs. 

Contact us if you want a broker.

 
Picture
I have been married almost 10 years and we have had our ups and downs like all marriages.  Some downs have been due to our communication and finances.  It is hard to take two independent people and get them on the same track with their communication and finances.  In our marriage we have our home responsibilities split up.  He takes care of the retirement goals, such as life insurance, retirement planning, estate planning; and I take care of the day to day tasks, such as our budget, taxes, and home organization.   

                This has worked out well for us, except when we need to explain the intricacies of our specific tasks to the other partner.  Usually something minimal is not communicated and the other gets lost in translation.  We thought that something was wrong with us and that most people communicate well with each other, but found that this was not the case.  Ed, my hubby, is a financial counselor, and while meeting with other families noticed that most people have the same problem that we did.  One or the other spouse takes care of some part or all of the home responsibilities and the other gets left in the dark. 

                The sad part is that he started coming across family after family with sad stories that could have been avoided if the family would have taken action to get their home responsibilities in order.  Here are some of the sad stories he came across:

  • Ed talked to a close friend about health insurance.  This individual decided that they couldn’t afford health insurance at this point in life and believed that nothing bad would happen.  A week later this individual was admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with cancer.  She is now in financial ruin.
  • A good friend of ours parked her car in her garage, locked up her house, and went to bed for the night.  In the morning, she found that a burglar had broken into her garage, then into her locked car and stole her purse.  We talked to her 1 year after the incident and she was still trying to clear up the mess from having all her personal information stolen.   
               Well, we got sick of it!  These stories are not uncommon!  These things happen to friends, family, and even ourselves!

                Marc, Ed, Kelli, and I knew that something needed to change, but did not know where to start.  One day, while surfing facebook, we came across the quote, “How do you eat an elephant?....  One bite at a time.”  It was like a light bulb went off!  

                   We knew we could help people organize their lives if they did it one step at a time.  52 Weeks to Prosperous Living was born!  We took numerous financial organization and life organization programs and we organized and separated everything out over 52 weeks.  Then we researched each topic for each week in order to make sure the most up to date/accurate information would be available to our clients.  52 Weeks to Prosperous Living has not only helped my family’s life organization, but is now helping families all across America.     
 
One of the things you may run into as you gather your personal information is the absence of your social security card.  You may have a photocopy, but it is not uncommon to have lost the original or changed your name and not replaced your old card with an accurate and up to date card .  Well, this is how you get a replacement.

The first step is to obtain and complete a form SS-5.  You can do this one of 3 ways.  Click here for the form from our website, or go to SS-5 on the Social Security office.  If you don’t have a printer and need to obtain a hard copy, go to Social Security Office Locator and enter your zip code.  The website will then bring up the Social Security office closest to your location.  Go to the office and they’ll be able to give you a hard copy.

The next step is to, of course, complete the application.  Remember to complete the entire form.  If you do not, the Social Security Office cannot process your request.

The questions are self-explanatory.  Make sure your name filled out how you want it to appear on your card.  Unless you are changing your name, you should enter it the same way it appears on your birth certificate. 

The final step is to return the completed form to an agent at your local SSA office.  If filled out correctly, your new Social Security card will come in the mail within a week or two. 

A couple quick tips to avoid headache… Make sure and sign your application.  You wouldn’t believe how often this is forgotten J  Also double check the list of appropriate forms of identification needed to verify you are really you.  Usually a current and valid driver’s license or passport will work.  If you’re helping take care of this for a minor, you’ll still need to bring proper identification for yourself as well as the minor.  Only original or certified copies of photo ID will be accepted.

 
by: Marc Roethel

When I speak with people regarding their experiences with insurance and financial advisors in the past, I generally hear one of three answers.  Many have advisors that have simply disappeared.  They are either no longer in the business or might as well no longer be in the business because they are nowhere to be found.  Many others are frustrated because of their disappointment in the service they get.  It is like pulling teeth to get a callback!  Or their advisor is not offering any sort of annual consultation to review policies and explore potentially better options.  On more rare occasions, I someone will relate very positive experiences they have had.  Their feedback is much more positive because their advisors show they actually care!  They return calls and emails in a prompt manner.  They offer consultations at least annually and are always directing clients toward the best options out there.  They are also willing to think outside the box for their clients even if it creates a little more work for themselves!

Please always consider the following in choosing an advisor:

1) Your advisor should be in touch with you to offer a consultation and check up with you at least once a year.  If this is not the case, rest assured that you are pretty low on his or her priority list.  Do not assume that you are simply being left alone because your policies and accounts are in great shape and no improvements are available.  A good advisor at the very least should touch base just to give you peace of mind and answer any questions you might have.  So whether your advisor is helping you with insurance policies, financial planning, or both, you DESERVE to be contacted at least once a year.  Things change so fast in the insurance and financial industries that you need to be updated consistently on what is going on.

2) Make sure that your advisor is a true broker and  has  access to the many different options that are available for you.  It is his job to keep up with the product changes and best products on the market.  Most insurance companies are strong with 1 or 2 products and not very competitive with the rest of their portfolio.  And many companies that are great at recruiting agents and  heavily penetrating the marketplace are not competitive with ANY of their products.  If your advisor only works with 1 or 2  outfits it is a safe bet that there are MUCH better options available for you through a true broker.  And beware, many of these agents that are limited to one outfit will POSE as brokers, telling their clientele that they have access to all options!

3) Nothing is more frustrating than needing an answer from an advisor and being unable to get a hold of them.  If you can't get your advisor to call you back or it takes them a week to call you back, GET RID OF THEM!  Either they are not very good at what they do or you are not a priority for them!  In either scenario they do not deserve to be making commission from you and you deserve to be a priority!

 
With all the talk of healthcare reform, what will stick, what won’t, and is it even constitutional, we thought it a great time to review some of the basics of healthcare insurance lingo.  Hopefully this will help us all understand what’s being talked about in the media, as well as what that coverage we have actually means. 

Let’s start with the basics: What’s the difference between a co-pay and a deductible?  A co-pay is a form of cost sharing for a given medical service. We see these most commonly on doctor’ s office visits, emergency room care and prescription drug coverage.  This form of cost sharing is typically a set dollar amount, such as a $35 co-pay for the doctor’s visit. 

This is different from a deductible.  A deductible is a set dollar amount you must pay in services before your insurance kicks in.  So, if you have a broken arm, for example.  Let’s say the total charges are $2,000 and you have a $1,000 deductible.  In this instance you would pay the first $1,000 and then your insurance would pay the rest. 

One other concept or term that we should be familiar with is HSA or health savings account.  An HSA is an account that allows you to save money, pre tax, to be used for healthcare expenses.  They need to be associated with a qualified insurance plan that typically has a higher deductible (there’s that word again).  Often these types of plans don’t have any co-pay benefit, so when you go to the doctor, you pay everything until you meet the deductible.  This may sound scary, but when you realize that you can save hundreds of dollars per month on your insurance premiums, it starts to make sense. 

HSA’s are just one of the many tools out there to save money on insurance, as well as on taxes.  Maybe they’re the right tool for you!

Please contact us for any questions or comments at info@prospersbs.com.

 
I have worked with hundreds of people in assisting them in choosing health insurance benefits.  Here are some of the most common mistakes and misconceptions that I have witnessed:

1-Many simply choose the plan with the highest deductible because of the lower premium because of a tight budget.  Don't get me wrong.  I am a big fan of high deductible plans.  However, in most cases they should be coupled with supplemental benefits such as accident, hospital, and critical illness insurance to curb the costs that would be incurred in any of these situations.  Remember that most medical bankruptcies happen to people WITH major medical health insurance.  Just ask yourself if you could easily handle the costs if something happened and you had to pay out your deductible and coinsurance.  How would it affect your family?  You may be surprised how inexpensive it can be to couple a high deductible plan with supplemental benefits as opposed to purchasing a lower deductible plan.  The other great thing is that most supplemental plans begin covering with DOLLAR ONE with NO deductible!

2-Another common misconception, and this goes right along with the first one, is that it is easier and better to buy all of your coverage from one company.  For example, some companies I work with offer health insurance with supplemental riders such as accident, dental, disability, and life insurance.  However, my clients can get much better coverage by purchasing those policies from other companies that SPECIALIZE in that type of coverage!  They get much better value for their dollar by having a few separate policies for each type of coverage and the total premium is usually about the same.  In many cases I have been able to lower client's premiums and cut their out-of-pocket risk in half at the same time!

For a free consultation on how to customize a policy specifically for you and your family's needs, please contact us at info@prospersbs.com.

 
A common misconception that I have seen in the field is that if women are not the
breadwinners or are stay-at-home moms, they need very little or no life insurance.
Statistics indicate that this attitude seems to be prevalent nationwide.

According to a national poll on a wholesaleinsurance.net study, 43 percent of adult
women have no life insurance. Amongst those that are insured, many are severely
underinsured, carrying roughly 1/4 of the amount that would likely be needed by their
families left behind. Even those that are primary breadwinners carry 31% less life
insurance than their male counterparts.

The economic value of a stay-at-home mom is clearly misunderstood and
underestimated. Consider that the estimate of the cost of full-time childcare can reach
$31,000 annually! The financial impact on the surviving spouse must be fully accounted
for. Also consider that sufficient life insurance can be surprisingly affordable for
women. Depending on term length, age, and health status, women can pay as low as
$25 per month for a $500,000 policy! Even for women that are a little older or not in
optimum health, policy costs are generally very reasonable!

To obtain quotes or a "Life Insurance Calculation" worksheet to determine how much
coverage is appropriate for you, please email us at info@prospersbs.com or call 1-855-
876-5252.

Regards,

Marc Roethel
 
So we’ve been enjoying tax season about as much as anyone else in this country does.  We’re trying not to procrastinate it to the very end, but it’s so tempting.  In talking with our CPA, we asked her point of view on investing in life insurance.  We were surprised by her response.  She actually prefers Indexed Universal Life to mutual funds.  Who knew! 

I’ve taken the notes from our conversation and simplified it down to 3 reasons that your accountant, and ours, chooses indexed universal life.

Reason 1: Taxation at retirement…or not.

Mutual funds can cause retirees to exceed the allowable limits on total income, causing the taxation of up to 85% of their social security income.  Growth within IUL’s are tax-deferred and also have the ability to be taken out as tax-free income through policy loans.  The policy holder gets to control his or her income that is reportable to the IRS.  Not the case for mutual fund owners.

Reason 2: The KISS method

We’ve all heard of the Keep It Simple, Stupid analogy of how to make it through life.  It applies to retirement income planning too!  Mutual fund management requires the fund manager to reallocate the fund regularly, keeping most of us average Joe’s in the dark as to how they really function.  Little tricks like selling long-held stocks to reduce a fund’s loss at the end of the year skews numbers and makes it hard keep track of how you’re actually doing; not to mention the tax consequences of such sales.  Mix that in with the required record keeping of owners of mutual funds, and things aren’t so simple anymore.  Redemptions, values, commissions, etc., need to be kept copiously to combat IRS audits.

An IUL has an annual statement with all of the information needed for the IRS.  This information is maintained for you by the insurance company and available for you at any time. 

Reason 3:  Accessibility

Sorry, no funny title for the third reason, but this is perhaps the best reason of all.  Most of us experience times in our lives when finances are a bit, shall we say, snug. Yeah; snug like sumo wrestler trying to fit on a roller-coaster ride.  When these times occur, accessing funds in an IUL can be penalty free and tax free.  Funds held within a mutual fund can be reduced by as much as 30%(20% withholding and 10% early withdrawal, if in a qualified account).  Funds within an IUL can be accessed, via policy loans, without taxes and without penalties.  These loans don’t even need to be repaid. 

Maybe it’s time you talked to someone about the benefits of IUL’s.  I mean, if we can’t trust our accountant, who can we trust? 


By: Ed Kinsey