life insurance

Identifying Your Property/Casualty Insurance Gaps

Standard insurance policies cannot adequately address complex needs. Here are 5 key questions that can reveal critical coverage gaps.

Key Takeaways:

  • Standard insurance policies may not adequately address your complex needs.

  • Disconnected polices from multiple companies are potentially dangerous.

  • If you have a custom home, an active lifestyle, luxurious possessions, domestic help, a public profile and young drivers in your family, get your comprehensive personal insurance reviewed on a regular basis.

From a consumer's vantage point, insurance is typically viewed as a necessary evil. Because standard insurance carriers commoditize their offerings through their advertising campaigns, it’s tempting to think that the simple act of buying insurance equates to being adequately protected—a belief that can prove perilous.

Much like seeking out a specialist for a particular medical issue, you should consult an independent insurance agent who focuses exclusively on successful professionals, business owners and other affluent people. If you’re not sure where to find a great agent, or not sure if your longtime agent has all the expertise that you need, ask your wealth advisor for assistance.

A good insurance pro should be asking you "trigger" questions that point to potential vulnerabilities in your insurance coverage. Here are five of the most useful:

1. Do you have enough personal excess liability insurance?
If a lawsuit puts your personal assets at risk, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is running out of insurance. Most standard excess liability (umbrella) policies cap out at $5 million, a figure that might not be sufficient considering your net worth. Don’t worry. It can be surprisingly affordable to obtain higher coverage limits, but this sort of solution can be accessed only through the independent specialist channel. Limits of up to $100 million are available on a single policy to address allegations of property damage or bodily injury.

2. Are your insurance programs complicated and disorganized?
You acquire assets over many years, so it's not uncommon to insure them in different ways. A summer residence, for example, may be insured with a different agent and carrier than a home in the suburbs. Fine art may be insured independently from cars. Whatever the combination, the end result is fragmented. This can create dangerous insurance gaps and makes coverage more difficult and expensive to manage. Don't wait until claim time to find out what is—and is not—protected!

3. Is your home properly insured and protected?
If you had to rebuild your home(s) in today's market, would you have enough homeowners' insurance to cover the expense sufficiently? Many properties are insured based on values that are vastly underestimated, especially those that have undergone extensive home improvements and renovations. For those living in wildfire- or hurricane-prone areas, value-added services also are available to maximize safety and preparedness.

4. Do you employ private staff?
It's not uncommon for nannies, housekeepers, private assistants, gardeners and others to take their employers to court. Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) responds to allegations of sexual harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination. However, this coverage is not included in a standard excess liability policy. In addition to more precise coverage, carriers that specialize in safeguarding HNW people may offer services to proactively manage risk, such as complimentary background checks on prospective or existing private staff.

5. Are you involved with charities or foundations?
Not-for-profit organizations typically operate on tight budgets and carry a minimal amount of liability insurance for their board members. If you or your spouse sits on the boards of not-for-profit organizations, you should look for additional individual protection on top of existing board coverage. Again, this sort of coverage will not be included in a standard excess (umbrella) policy.


A good independent insurance advisor will conduct annual lifestyle reviews to identify circumstances that usually are excluded from standard policies. If you haven't had such a review within the last three years, now would be a very good time to do so.

Conclusion

Property/casualty insurance and personal risk exposure are complex areas for successful people who have more assets than the average American has--and therefore much more to lose. Because so many wealthy people are not receiving counsel about their insurance-buying choices, you can raise questions with your advisor to help them spot potential gaps in your coverage and give you significantly greater peace of mind.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

What Many Don’t Get About Insurance

Need is always predicated on thoroughly understanding your objectives

Key Takeaways

  • The cost of funding estate taxes, without insurance, is substantial.

  • Insurance cash values are similar to owning a long-term bond portfolio with no mark-to-market risk.

  • The “invest the difference” argument holds up only if you are young.



I recently sat down with a very successful professional who finally acknowledged that he needed life insurance to protect the value of his company for his family. He is under 50 and recently bought some term insurance. He was now willing to discuss funding a larger permanent plan that would pay out if he lives to his life expectancy or beyond.

My client had the usual objections I hear from HNW clients and prospective clients. His first objection was typical of someone who is contemplating a large policy:

1. “Do I really need it?

2. “How should I pay for it?

3. “Why shouldn’t I just stick with term, since it is so much less expensive?”

 

These mental hurdles come up frequently, and any top insurance advisor is able to delineate the issues and help you through the maze of confusion that shrouds this decision. What is the best solution? Let’s look at the first big consideration--need. Some of you don’t care that much about what happens after you die. Others of you want every nickel to go to your family. Still others don’t mind paying some tax, but you want to preserve your best assets and heirlooms for your family. If your goal in estate planning is to preserve your estate for the benefit of your heirs, keep in mind that the cost of paying the taxes and fees from cash flow or liquidity is a form of self-insurance. You not only lose the use of your funds, but you also lose the future earnings.

The cost of funding estate taxes, without insurance, is substantial. Who is going to finance the tax if you don’t have the liquidity? What is it going to cost your family to get liquid? The cost of insurance is a mere percentage of the true cost of the tax. But if you are self-insured, you not only pay the full cost of the tax, but you also pay “taxes on the tax” as well as an interest cost. Self-insurance is not cheap. This is something you have to understand and believe. Do the math. The “invest the difference” argument holds up only if you die young.

 

You set the rules


Buying term and investing the difference is like trying to compare incomparable asset class returns. This is like saying, “My stock portfolio will beat your bond portfolio.” If we go by historic returns, then this is a true statement most of the time. But there have been a few times when bond returns did beat stocks, even with mark to market risks.

Just think this through carefully. When you invest this difference, where will you invest that sum of money? Will you invest it in fixed return assets, with little or no downside risk, or will you invest it in risky assets that are illiquid and have the potential for total loss? Are you going to buy growth stocks and hope the long-term bull market never pulls another 2008 nosedive?” To make this discussion academic, we need to compare similar asset classes with similar risks. Insurance cash values are similar to owning a long-term bond portfolio with no mark to market risk.

Conclusion

Ask yourself, “Are all your assets deployed in high-risk, low-liquidity investments, or do you own any liquid, low-return assets?” If it’s the latter, then ask yourself if you would rather own the bonds in a tax-free wrapper that provides long-term discounted dollars, or in a taxable world where you can lose 10 to 20 percent of the value if interest rates rise?

If you or someone close to you has concerns about their life insurance coverage, please contact us any time. We’d be happy to help.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Three Questions to Answer Before You Purchase Life Insurance

Life insurance can be an extremely important, even essential, part of your financial plan. One of its most attractive aspects for many individuals and families is the death benefit of the policy—the money that the insurance company pays out in the event of the insured’s death.

 

But navigating the life insurance landscape can be tricky—and people often make costly mistakes. Three of the biggest we see regularly:

 

  • Buying too much—or too little—insurance due to a lack of understanding of their true financial needs

  • Paying for life insurance using a less-than-ideal method or executing that payment method poorly

  • Misunderstanding life insurance’s purpose and the reasons for having it

 

In order to make smart life insurance decisions, there are three questions you need to ask yourself and answer.

Click here to read more:

Three Questions to Answer Before You Purchase Life Insurance

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Buying Life Insurance: What Kind and How Much?

You are likely to need life insurance if others depend on you for financial support, if you provide your family with such services as child care, if you need to consider protecting a surviving spouse or if you have accumulated substantial assets. There are several types of life insurance that you may want to consider.

Types of Insurance

•  Term insurance is the most basic, and generally least expensive, form of life insurance for people under age 50. A term policy is written for a specific period of time, typically between one and 10 years, and may be renewable at the end of each term. Premiums increase at the end of each term and can become prohibitively expensive for older individuals. A level term policy locks in the annual premium for periods up to 30 years.

•  Whole life combines payment protection with a savings component. As long as you continue to pay the premiums, you are able to lock in coverage at a level premium rate. Part of that premium accrues as cash value. As the policy gains value, you may be able to borrow up to 90% of your policy's cash value tax-free.

•  Universal life is similar to whole life with the added benefit of potentially higher earnings on the savings component. Universal life policies are also highly flexible in regard to premiums and face value. Premiums can be increased, decreased or deferred, and cash values can be withdrawn. You may also have the option to change face values. Universal life policies typically offer a guaranteed return on cash value, usually at least 4%. You'll receive an annual statement that details cash value, total protection, earnings, and fees. Drawbacks include higher fees and interest rate sensitivity -- your premiums may increase when interest rates rise.

•  Variable life generally offers fixed premiums and c ontrol over your policy's cash value, which is invested in your choice of stocks, bond, or mutual fund options. Cash values and death benefits can rise and fall based on the performance of your investment choices. Although death benefits usually have a floor, there is no guarantee on cash values. Fees for these policies may be higher than for universal life, and investment options can be volatile. On the plus side, capital gains and other investment earnings accrue tax deferred as long as the funds remain invested in the insurance contract.

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

A popular approach to buying insurance is based on income replacement. In this approach, a formula of between five and 10 times your annual salary is often used to calculate how much coverage you need. Another approach is to purchase insurance based on your individual needs and preferences. In this instance, the first step is to determine how much income you need to replace.
 
Start by determining your net earnings after taxes (insurance benefits are generally income tax free). Then add up your personal expenses (food, clothing, transportation, etc.) This will provide an idea of the annual income that your insurance will need to replace. You'll want a death benefit which, when invested, will provide income annually to cover this amount. Remember to add amounts needed to fund one-time expenses such as college tuition or paying down your mortgage.
 
Purchasing the right type of insurance in an amount that is suitable for your family's needs is an important element in financial planning. You may want to consult an advisor who can help you implement the details.

 
Source:

© 2008 Standard & Poor's Financial Communications. All rights reserved.

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Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary lic ensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc . cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.