I have spent most of my married life traveling with my husband . We backpacked around Europe for many years. While we loved every minute of it, we were ready to come back to the US to put down some roots near our family and buy a home. I was ready for a yard to take care of and the ability to pick out beautiful paint colors for our walls. This also meant that I wanted to have the luxury of getting an account again with Comcast cable TV as soon as we found the perfect place to live.
Life Insurance (though it shouldn’t be) is to this day a very controversial issue. There seems to be a lot of different types of life insurance out there, but there are really only two kinds. They are Term Insurance and Whole Life (Cash Value) Insurance. Term Insurance is pure insurance. It protects you over a certain period of time. Whole Life Insurance is insurance plus a side account known as cash value. Generally speaking, consumer reports recommend term insurance as the most economical choice and they have for some time. But still, whole life insurance is the most prevalent in today’s society. Which one should we buy?
Let’s talk about the purpose of life insurance. Once we get the proper purpose of insurance down to a science, then everything else will fall into place. The purpose of life insurance is the same purpose as any other type of insurance. It is to “insure against loss of”. Car insurance is to insure your car or someone else’s car in case of an accident. So in other words, since you probably couldn’t pay for the damage yourself, insurance is in place. Home owners insurance is to insure against loss of your home or items in it. So since you probably couldn’t pay for a new house, you buy an insurance policy to cover it.
Life insurance is the same way. It is to insure against loss of your life. If you had a family, it would be impossible to support them after you died, so you buy life insurance so that if something were to happen to you, your family could replace your income. Life insurance is not to make you or your descendants rich or give them a reason to kill you. Life insurance is not to help you retire (or else it would be called retirement insurance)! Life insurance is to replace your income if you die. But the wicked ones have made us believe otherwise, so that they can overcharge us and sell all kinds of other things to us to get paid.
How Does Life Insurance Work?
Rather than make this complicated, I will give a very simple explanation on how and what goes down in an insurance policy. As a matter of fact, it will be over simplified because we would otherwise be here all day. This is an example. Let’s say that you are 31 years old. A typical term insurance policy for 20 years for $200,000 would be about $20/month. Now… if you wanted to buy a whole life insurance policy for $200,000 you might pay $100/month for it. So instead of charging you $20 (which is the true cost) you will be overcharged by $80, which will then be put into a savings account.
Now, this $80 will continue to accumulate in a separate account for you. Typically speaking, if you want to get some of YOUR money out of the account, you can then BORROW IT from the account and pay it back with interest. Now… let’s say you were to take $80 dollars a month and give it to your bank. If you went to withdraw the money from your bank account and they told you that you had to BORROW your own money from them and pay it back with interest, you would probably go clean upside somebody’s head. But somehow, when it comes to insurance, this is okay
This stems from the fact that most people don’t realize that they are borrowing their own money. The “agent” (of the insurance Matrix) rarely will explain it that way. You see, one of the ways that companies get rich, is by getting people to pay them, and then turn around and borrow their own money back and pay more interest! Home equity loans are another example of this, but that is a whole different sermon.
Deal or No Deal
Let us stick with the previous illustration. Let us say the one thousand 31 year olds ( all in good health) bought the aforementioned term policy (20 years, $200,000 dollars at $20/month). If these people were paying $20/month, that is $240 per year. If you take that and multiply it over the 20 year term then you will have $4800. So each individual will pay $4800 over the life of the term. Since one thousand individuals bought the policy, they will end up paying 4.8 million in premiums to the company. The insurance company has already calculated that around 20 people with good health (between the ages of 31 and 51) will die. So if 20 people pass away, then the company will have to pay out 20 x $200,000 or $4,000,000. So, if the company pays out $4,000,000 and takes in $4,800,000 it will then make a $800,000 profit.
This is of course OVER simplifying because a lot of people will cancel the policy (which will also bring down the number of death claims paid), and some of those premiums can be used to accumulate interest, but you can get a general idea of how things work.
On the other hand, let’s look at whole life insurance. Let us say the one thousand 31 year olds (all in good health) bought the aforementioned whole life policy ($200,000 dollars at $100/month). These people are paying $100/month. That is $1200 per year. If the average person’s lifespan (in good health people) goes to 75, then on average, the people will pay 44 years worth of premiums. If you take that and multiply it by $1200 you will get $52,800. So each individual will pay $52,800 over the life of the policy. Since one thousand individuals bought the policy, they will end up paying 52.8 million in premiums to the company. If you buy a whole life policy, the insurance company has already calculated the probability that you will die. What is that probability? 100%, because it is a whole life (till death do us part) insurance policy! This means that if everyone kept their policies, the insurance company would have to pay out 1000 x $200,000 = $2,000,000,000) That’s right, two billion dollars!
Ladies and gentleman, how can a company afford to pay out two billion dollars knowing that it will only take in 52.8 million? Now just like in the previous example, this is an oversimplification as policies will lapse. As a matter of fact, MOST whole life policies do lapse because people can’t afford them, I hope you see my point. Let’s take the individual. A 31 year old male bought a policy in which he is suppose to pay in $52,800 and get $200,000 back? There no such thing as a free lunch. The company somehow has to weasel $147,200 out of him, JUST TO BREAK EVEN on this policy! Not to mention, pay the agents (who get paid much higher commissions on whole life policies), underwriters, insurance fees, advertising fees, 30 story buildings… etc, etc.
This doesn’t even take into account these variable life and universal life policies that claim to be so good for your retirement. So you are going to pay $52,800 into a policy and this policy will make you rich, AND pay you the $200,000 death benefit, AND pay the agents, staff and fees? This has to be a rip off.
Well, how could they rip you off? Maybe for the first five years of the policy, no cash value will accumulate (you may want to check your policy). Maybe it’s misrepresenting the value of the return (this is easy if the customer is not knowledgeable on exactly how investments work). Also, if you read my article on the Rule of 72 you can clearly see that giving your money to someone else to invest can lose you millions! You see, you may pay in $52,800 but that doesn’t take into account how much money you LOSE by not investing it yourself! This is regardless of how well your agent may tell you the company will invest your money! Plain and simple, they have to get over on you somehow or they would go out of business!
How long do you need life insurance?
Let me explain what is called The Theory of Decreasing Responsibility, and maybe we can answer this question. Let’s say that you and your spouse just got married and have a child. Like most people, when they are young they are also crazy, so they go out and buy a new car and a new house. Now, here you are with a young child and debt up to the neck! In this particular case, if one of you were to pass away, the loss of income would be devastating to the other spouse and the child. This is the case for life insurance. BUT, this is what happens. You and your spouse begin to pay off that debt. Your child gets older and less dependent on you. You start to build up your assets. Keep in mind that I am talking about REAL assets, not fake or phantom assets like equity in a home (which is just a fixed interest rate credit card)
In the end, the situation is like this. The child is out of the house and no longer dependent on you. You don’t have any debt. You have enough money to live off of, and pay for your funeral (which now costs thousands of dollars because the DEATH INDUSTRY has found new ways to make money by having people spend more honor and money on a person after they die then they did while that person was alive). So… at this point, what do you need insurance for? Exactly… absolutely nothing! So why would you buy Whole Life (a.k.a. DEATH) Insurance? The idea of a 179 year old person with grown children who don’t depend on him/her still paying insurance premiums is asinine to say the least.
As a matter of fact, the need for life insurance could be greatly decreased and quickly eliminated, if one would learn not to accumulate liabilities, and quickly accumulate wealth first. But I realize that this is almost impossible for most people in this materialistic, Middle Classed matrixed society. But anyway, let’s take it a step further.
Confused Insurance Policies
This next statement is very obvious, but very profound. Living and dying are exact opposites of each other. Why do I say this? The purpose of investing is to accumulate enough money in case you live to retire. The purpose of buying insurance is to protect your family and loved ones if you die before you can retire. These are two diametrically opposed actions! So, if an “agent” waltzes into your home selling you a whole life insurance policy and telling you that it can insure your life AND it can help you retire, your Red Pill Question should be this:
“If this plan will help me retire securely, why will I always need insurance? And on the other hand, if I will be broke enough later on in life that I will still need insurance, then how is this a good retirement plan?”
Now if you ask an insurance agent those questions, she/he may become confused. This of course comes from selling confused policies that do two opposites at once.
Norman Dacey said it best in the book “What’s Wrong With Your Life Insurance”
“No one could ever quarrel with the idea of providing protection for one’s family while at the same time accumulating a fund for some such purpose as education or retirement. But if you try to do both of these jobs through the medium of one insurance policy, it is inevitable that both jobs will be done badly.”
So you see, even though there are a lot of new variations of whole life, like variable life and universal life, with various bells and whistles (claiming to be better than the original, typical whole life policies), the Red Pill Question must always be asked! If you are going to buy insurance, then buy insurance! If you are going to invest, then invest. It’s that simple. Don’t let an insurance agent trick you into buying a whole life policy based on the assumption that you are too incompetent and undisciplined to invest your own money.
If you are afraid to invest your money because you don’t know how, then educate yourself! It may take some time, but it is better than giving your money to somebody else so they can invest it for you (and get rich with it). How can a company be profitable when it takes the money from it’s customers, invests it, and turns around and gives it’s customers all of the profits?
And don’t fall for the old “What if the term runs out and you can’t get re-insured trick”. Listen, there are a lot of term policies out there that are guaranteed renewable until an old age (75-100). Yes, the price is a lot higher, but you must realize that if you buy a whole life policy, you will have been duped out of even more money by the time you get to that point (if that even happens). This is also yet another reason to be smart with your money. Don’t buy confused policies.
How much should you buy?
I normally recommend 8-10 times your yearly income as a good face amount for your insurance. Why so high? Here is the reason. Let’s say that you make $50,000 per year. If you were to pass away, your family could take $500,000 (10 times $50,000) and put it into a fund that pays 10 percent (which will give them $40,000 per year) and not touch the principle. So what you have done is replaced your income.
This is another reason why Whole Life insurance is bad. It is impossible to afford the amount of insurance you need trying to buy super high priced policies. Term insurance is much cheaper. To add to this, don’t let high face values scare you. If you have a lot of liabilities and you are worried about your family, it is much better to be underinsured than to have no insurance at all. Buy what you can manage. Don’t get sold what you can’t manage.
Looking to invest in an IRA? What is the Best IRA to invest in?
Welcome to the global business guide. In this context, we will be taking about the insurance industry, the general definition of insurance, adequate and precise explanation of the definition, brief talk about the history, the insurer, the insured, classes of insurance, the role of the underwriter in the industry and how you as an individual can benefit maximally when you get yourself, your car, your house, even that your business insure. We do hope you will enjoy reading this article and the essence of your quest for the topic above will be met.
Insurance is a financial institution classified as a non bank financial institution. They are important financial inter-mi diaries. It is believed to have originated from the ancient practices of inhabitants of the valleys of rivers Tigris and Euphrates in the present day Iraqi in about 4.000BC. History has it that in 1800BC, the Babylonians code of Hammurabi contained provisions which had elements of insurance in the laws that govern their commerce. But today what we have in the industry, both locally and internationally had moved from just an agreement between two persons into a very big industry across the globe.
Going by definition, we learn that insurance means a situation whereby someone protects his or herself against risk and reduce effects of uncertainties as well as distribute loss. Other explanation to this owe it to the situation whereby a certain amount of money when collected from someone by an insurance company agrees to pay a compensation or render services to that person if and whenever that person suffers the kind of loss specified in the insurance agreement; and from the explanation, this is where an insurance company comes into play since they are the people that will go into agreement with the person taking any insurance policy against any of his belongings. This industry has widely been believed as a means whereby people reduce the risk of unforeseen circumstances. As financial intermediaries, they act as middlemen between the surplus units and deficit units of the economy thereby sustaining the general growth of the economy.
One may ask, how do insurance companies generate the money used in compensating their policy holder when affected by any mishap? The answer to this question, will lead us into talking about the various means via which the insurance companies make their money and how their policy holders are compensated. The truth is that, the money they collect from their policy holder (i.e one that has an agreement with the insurance company) is invested in the form of premiums (an extra sum of money paid in addition to the normal cost of something. by BBC. Eng. dict) and that money is invested in Bonds, in stocks, mortgages (i.e house) and government securities (in our subsequent article, we will explain more of this: Bonds, stocks, mortgages and govt. securities). They generate income for themselves and those who are in their service. They invest their policy holder’s money in better business that has short term maximum returns on investment and from there meet their numerous needs when needed in claims and losses. These funds themselves are invested, that not only do they earn interest to be added to the funds, but they also benefit the government, public authorities, and industries whose securities the investment are spread, because of the investment policy of the insurer (we will explain later), their reserve funds are not left idle butt are used productively.
Another way via which the insurance companies compensate those who are in their service is that the contribution of many is used to compensate the few among them who were affected by the misfortune insured against. So the loss of few people is share by many.
We hope that to this extend, you must have understood the above explanation about insurance company. Now the next thing we will be considering is the functions of the insurance companies.
Amongst other functions, the main function of the insurance company is risk bearing, the financial losses of individuals are judiciously distributed among many people, for example, in the case of fire, the policy holder in fire insurance pays a premium into a common pool, out of which those who suffer loss are compensated.
1. The insurance industry encourages thrift (i.e money conservation) especially via it’s life policies which provide funds for family, welfare and old age provisions. It provides employment opportunity for those that have the interest of working with the industry.
The insurance companies works hand in hand with commerce. It owes it’s existence to commerce (i.e business in general both industrial etc) and commerce in return owes it’s strong stability to insurance, this is because it helped in various ways to enhance the general trend in business.
Before we proceed further to other functions, let’s explain this two terms: the insurer; the insured as it will aid us in our understanding.
The insured: This is the party affecting the insurance in other words, the individual or individuals which is taking the insurance policy. This can be done either directly or indirectly or via an agent or broker.
The insurer: This is the party providing the protection to cover by the policy. The insurer covers every other terms which includes the underwriter who is a senior official of an insurance company whose business lies in undertaking new business for the company.
The insurance company has a contract which promises to pay compensation at a future date for a consideration known as premium (i.e. the money paid by the insured to the insurer for the insurance cover provided in the policy). Like the way we have it in other contracts, i.e having it that contracts is based on the principles of offer and acceptance, consideration and capacity to contract. These contract, especially in insurance involves two parties i.e. the insurer and the insured.
Insurer, by reason of their principal function accumulate large funds which they hold as custodians and out of which claims and losses are met. Like in some countries, their insurers operate in many parts of the world and earn vast sums in overseas market in terms of underwriting profit and investment income. This tells us that insurance forms a considerable part of that country’s invisible exports.
As we continue in our functions, let’s see the role of the insured and the insurer.
ROLES OF THE INSURED:
In insurance, when the proposer becomes insured the party effecting an insurance is known as the proposer throughout the negotiations, and until the contract is in full force. The insurer plays a vital role in making this aforementioned contract to come into force, knowing that in insurance contract, just like we said before is base on the principle of offer and acceptance, consideration and capacity to contract, the contracts are always evidenced in writing which is made up of various forms to be filled and signed. If the insured does not accept the insurance offer and giving meticulous consideration to that, there can hardly be capacity to contract i.e the insurance contract can never be. So, from this, we now learn that this two parties (i.e the insurer and the insured) must be involved before an insurance contract can becomes a policy.
ROLES OF THE INSURER
Here we are considering the roles of the insurer as a subsidiary functions of insurance; this is because in general sense (they have a very wide range of function), the insurer is the one providing the necessary insurance services, benefits to the insured, should any mishap, depending on the insurance policy undertaken. The insurer helps also in loss-prevention in the following ways:
We know that the extend to which loss prevention is seen, is mostly on property. An individual or a population can suffer great loss materially, if it were not for the intervention of loss prevention scheme by insurance companies to their policy holders.
The insurer also assists in boasting business venture: Many large -scale enterprise today can make their business in good faith, having transferred all their risk to the insurance company, in other words. The insurance companies help to maintain and to stabilize the atmosphere of the present day large-scale business and organizations.
Many questions had risen by on onlookers, as on how the policy holder can be compesated, should there be any mishap on the policy covered. It is better for us to note that the insurance company, when a loss is incurred to the policy holder can make for his or her loss, but that can only compensate him and make him return to his normal financial position before the occurrence of the incidence and not to profit him from the misfortune. This is generally because, no amount of financial compensation can pay adequately for the life and health of persons, so life and personal accidents are regarded as benefit policies. So let there be no misconception on this fact when mishap occurs, where the public is looking for the victim to be given everything lost, and having a meager compensation given to him or her. So let’s not distrust insurance companies in this area, knowing that it’s only the restoration to the exact position before the loss that is provided.
Now, as we have gone so far in understanding the functions of the insurance companies, the roles of the insured and the insurer, we will be proceeding forward to look at the various ways via which one can benefit from being insured in all spheres of life. For those who against all odds, accept insurance policy adequately, benefits, awaits them in areas like
1. pecuniary insurance
2. personal insurance
3. property insurance
4. liability insurance
We will take our time to give you enough explanation in all the sub-sections of these areas that will be of help to you.
1. PECUNIARY INSURANCE: This has to do with money or relating to something of such nature. This insurance policy benefits mostly company owners, directors, managers e.t.c This insurance policy provides cover to the employer against the loss of money unintentionally, or in a situation where an employee defrauds his or her employer on certain amount of money placed under his or her custody or in things relating to other occurrence/loss. Other policies under pecuniary insurance are; fidelity guarantee (known also as surety ship), legal expenses, credit insurance and business interruption insurance. All of these have their various function which in one way or the other relates to pecuniary. Like earlier stated, pecuniary insurance provides cover for C.E.O., M.D’S etc in case of loss of money either by intent or accident placed under the care of their employee or any officer of higher responsibility. These type of insurance cover, which their employee has will help to compensate them (i.e the employer’s) and also ease the employee the fear and tension which the mishap might generate for him or her. It is therefore advisable you consider this policy very well as an MD, C.E.O. etc, especially with the assistance of your insurance broker so as to adequately know, and be directed properly on how to go about it.
2. PERSONAL INSURANCE
This involves all classes of life assurance and also accident policies. There are other types of person insurance, and the purpose of each is to meet the different need of individuals in their aim to provide for the future either for themselves or for their dependents. Other sub-divisions of personal insurance are:
i. Life assurance
ii. Personal accident and sickness insurance,
iii. Permanent health insurance,
iv. Social security
These sub-divisions has various similarities which come out at the end to meet the same aim, like in life assurance, personal accident and sickness insurance, this policy ensures that the policy holder when befallen by any misfortune, which resulted into permanent disability or death will still be able to fend for his or herself and also for his or her dependants in the case of death.
3. PROPERTY INSURANCE
Property insurance policy involves insurance cover for property should any risk of damage or loss by fire, accident, burglary or other risks that may occur. Under this, there are other sub-divisions which include:
i. Motor Insurance
ii. Marine Insurance
iii. Fire Insurance
iv. Burglary Insurance
v. Special peril Insurance
vi. All risk Insurance
In all these sub-divisions of property insurance, respective insurance cover is given to them all should there be any damage or loss relating to the type of policy the holder has.
4. LIABILITY INSURANCE
This provides cover for the insured against his legal liability to others. This can arise via negligence of the insured in failing to act in a reasonable manner. Such manners like crossing the road without properly looking on both side of the road which might result in accident. This may also arise via the insured’s unlawful disturbance of another person in the enjoyment of his or property (i.e constituting a nuisance to them) or via the insured’s trespass which is an unlawful act committed with force or violent on another person’s property. Liability insurance is also sub-divided into employer’s liability to his employee and public liability by the insured. The two sub-divisions of liability insurance owe their explanation to their respective liabilities, and since liability generally arises from lawsuits, liability policy covers only claims which the insured becomes legally obligated to.
We should also bear in mind that no insurance policy can prevent theft, fire, or other misfortune or the creation of legal liability, but can provide financial assistance in such situations. It does not also protect for example, the material property which is the subject matter of the insurance, but the financial interest of the insurer. This mean that the insurer can only get a financial compensation when any mishap happens to any thing insured against and not having the property restored back in case of fire or collapse (for building).
In all, we do hope that all these explanation will give you a better insight towards getting what you want on the good step to take while taking your insurance policy. But, always make sure that you don’t do anything without first of all consulting your insurance broker ( who will take more time to tell you one-on-one the policy that will be suitable for you) before going to any insurance company knowing already that the cost of insurance is less than what would be the cost of insurance because the cost of insurance to industrialist for e.g is passed on to consumers along with other product cost and the consumers benefits from the existence of insurance via reduced prices. So make sure you get insured today. Till I see you again. Thank you.
In this article we will explore the reasons that motivate employers to get group health insurance for employees and we will look at the advantages and disadvantages from both points of view.
Group Health Insurance VS Individual Private Health Insurance
Probably the most significant distinguishing characteristic of group insurance is the substitution of group underwriting for individual underwriting. In group cases, no individual evidence of insurability is usually required, and benefit levels can be substantial, with few, if any, important limitations.
Group underwriting normally is not concerned with the health or other insurability aspects of any particular individual. Instead, it aims to obtain a group of individual lives or, what is even more important, an aggregation of such groups of lives that will yield a predictable rate of mortality or morbidity. If a sufficient number of groups of lives is obtained, and if these groups are reasonably homogeneous in nature, then the mortality or morbidity rate will be predictable. The point is that the group becomes the unit of underwriting, and insurance principles may be applied to it just as in the case of the individual. To assure that the groups obtained will be reasonably homogeneous, the underwriting process in group insurance aims to control adverse selection by individuals within a group.
In underwriting group insurance, then, certain important features should be present that either are inherent in the nature of the group itself or may be applied in a positive way to avoid serious adverse selection such as:
Insurance Incidental to the Group: The insurance should be incidental to the group; that is, the members of the group should have come together for some purpose other than to obtain insurance. For example, the group insurance furnished to the employees of a given employer must not be the feature that motivates the formation and existence of the group.
Flow of Persons through the Group: There should be a steady flow of persons through the group; that is, there must be an influx of new young lives into the group and an out flow from the group of the older and impaired lives. With groups of actively working employees, it may be assumed that they are in average health.
Automatic Determination of Benefits: Group insurance underwriting commonly requires an automatic basis for determining the amount of benefits on individual lives, which is beyond the control of the employer or employees. If the amount of benefits taken were completely optional, it would be possible to select against the insurer because those in poor health would tend to insure heavily and the healthy ones might tend to elect minimum coverage.
As the group mechanism has evolved, however, insurers have responded to demands from the marketplace, particularly large employers, for more flexibility in the selection of benefits. This flexibility typically is expressed in optional amounts of life and health insurance in excess of basic coverage provided by the employer and in more health care financing choices. Also, increasingly popular cafeteria plans allow participating employees to select among an array of benefits using a predetermined allowance of employer funds. Individuals select, subject to certain basic coverage’s being required, a combination of benefits that best meet his or her individual needs.
Minimum Participation by the Group: Another underwriting control is the requirement that substantially all eligible persons in a given group be covered by insurance. In plans in which the employee pays a portion of the premium (contributory), generally at least 75 percent of the eligible employees must join the plan if coverage is to be effective. In the case of noncontributory plans, 100 percent participation is required. By covering a large proportion of a given group, the insurance company gains a safeguard against an undue proportion of substandard lives. In cases in which employees refuse the insurance for religious or other reasons that do not involve any elements of selection, this rule is relaxed.
Third Party Sharing of Cost: A portion of the cost of a group plan ideally should be borne by the employer or some third party, such as a labor union or trade association. The noncontributory employer-pay-all plan is simple, and it gives the employer full control over the plan. It provides for insurance of all eligible employees and thus, eliminates any difficulties involved in connection with obtaining the consent of a sufficient number of employees to meet participation requirements. Also, there is no problem of distributing the cost among various employees, as in the contributory plan.
Contributory plans usually are less costly to the employer. Hence, with employee contributions, the employer is likely to arrange for more adequate protection for the employees. It can also be argued that, if the employee contributes toward his or her insurance, he or she will be more impressed with its value and will appreciate it more. On the other hand, the contributory plan has a number of disadvantages. Its operation is more complicated, and this at times, increases administrative cost considerably.
Each employee must consent to contribute toward his or her insurance, and as stated before, a minimum percentage of the eligible group must consent to enter the arrangement. New employees entering the business must be informed of their insurance privilege. If the plan is contributory, employees may not be entitled to the insurance until they have been with the company for a period of time. If they do not agree to be covered by the plan within a period of 31 days, they may be required to provide satisfactory evidence of insurability to become eligible. Some noncontributory plans also have these probationary periods.
Efficient Administrative Organization: A single administrative organization should be able and willing to act on behalf of the insured group. In the usual case, this is the employer. In the case of a contributory plan, there must be a reasonably simple method, such as payroll deduction, by which the master policy owner can collect premiums. An automatic method is desirable for both an administrative and underwriting perspective. A number of miscellaneous controls of underwriting significance are typically used in group insurance plans, but the preceding discussion permits an appreciation of the group underwriting underwriting theory. The discussion applies to groups with a large number of employees.
A majority of the groups, however, are not large. The group size is a significant factor in the underwriting process. In smaller plans, more restrictive underwriting practices relating to adverse section are used. These may include less liberal contract provisions, simple health status questions, and in some cases, detailed individual underwriting of group members.
Group Policy: A second characteristic of group insurance is the use of a group policy (contract) held by the owner as group policyholder and booklet-certificates or other summary evidence of insurance held by plan participants. Certificates provide information on the plan provisions and the steps required to file claims. The use of certificates and a master contract constitutes one of the sources of economy under the group approach. The master contract is a detailed document setting forth the contractual relationship between the group contract owner and the insurance company. The insured persons under the contract, usually employees and their beneficiaries, are not actually parties to the contract, although they may enforce their rights as third party beneficiaries. The four party relationship between the employer, insurer, employee, and dependents in a group insurance plan can create a number of interesting and unusual problems that are common only to group insurance.
Lower Cost: A third feature of group insurance is that it is usually lower-cost protection than that which is available in individual insurance. The nature of the group approach permits the use of mass distribution and mass administration methods that afford economies of operation not available in individual insurance. Also, because group insurance is not usually underwritten on an individual basis, the premiums are based upon an actuarial assessment of the group as a whole, so a given healthy individual can perhaps buy insurance at a lower cost. Employer subsidization of the cost is a critical factor in group insurance plan design. Probably the most significant savings in the cost of marketing group insurance lies in the fact that group commissions absorb a much smaller proportion of total premiums than commission for individual contracts.
The marketing system relieves the agent or broker of many duties, responsibilities, and expenses normally associated with selling or servicing of individual insurance. Because of the large premiums involved in many group insurance cases, the commission rates are considerably lower than for individual contracts and are usually graded downward as the premium increases. Some large group insurance buyer’s deal directly with insurance companies and commissions are eliminated. In these cases, however, fees frequently are paid to the consultants involved. The nature of the administrative procedures permits simplified accounting techniques. The mechanics of premium collection are less involved, and experience refund procedures much simplified because there id only one party with whom to deal with such as the group policy owner.
Of course, the issuance of a large number of individual contracts is avoided and, because of the nature of group selection, the cost of medical examinations and inspection reports is minimized. Also, regulatory filings and other requirements are minimized. In the early days of group insurance, administration was simple. That is no longer true. Even with group term life insurance, for which there is no cash value, the push for accelerated death benefits, assignment to viatical companies, and estate or business planning record keeping means that the administration of coverage may be as complex as with an individual policy.
Flexibility: in contrast to individual contracts that must be taken as written, the larger employer usually has options in the design and preparation of the group insurance contract. Although the contracts follow a pattern and include certain standard provisions, there is considerably more flexibility here than in the case of individual contracts. The degree of flexibility permitted is, of course, a function of the size of the group involved. The group insurance program usually is an integral part of an employee benefit program and, in most cases, the contract can be molded to meet the objectives of the contract owner, as long as the request do not entail complicated administrative procedures, open the way to possibly serious adverse selection, or violate legal requirements.
Experience Rating: Another special feature of group insurance is that premiums often are subject to experience rating. The experience of the individual group may have an important bearing on dividends or premium-rate adjustments. The larger and, hence, the more reliable the experience of the particular group, the greater is the weight attached to its own experience in any single year. The knowledge that premiums net of dividends or premium rate adjustments will be based on the employers own experience gives the employer a vested interest in maintaining a favorable loss and expense record. For the largest employers, insurers may agree to complicated procedures to satisfy the employer’s objectives because most such cases are experience rated and reflect the increased cost.
Some insurers experience rate based on the class or type of industry, or even based on the type of contract. For small groups, most insurance companies’ use pooled rates under which a uniform rate is applied to all such groups, although it is becoming more common to apply separate pooled rates for groups with significantly better or worse experience than that of the total class. The point at which a group is large enough to be eligible for experience rating varies from company to company, based on that insurer’s book of business and experience. The size and frequency of medical claims vary considerably across countries and among geographic regions within a country and must be considered in determining a group insurance rate. The composition (age, sex, and income level) of a group will also affect the experience of the group and, similarly, will be an important underwriting consideration.
Advantages and Limitations of the Group Mechanism.
Advantages: The group insurance mechanism has proved to be a remarkably effective solution to the need for employee benefits for a number of reasons. The utilization of mass-distribution techniques has extended protection to large numbers of person s with little or no life or health insurance. The increasing complexity of industrial service economies has brought large numbers of persons together, and the group mechanism has enabled insurance companies to reach vast numbers of individuals within a relatively short period and at low cost. Group insurance also has extended protection to a large number of uninsurable persons. Equally important has been the fact that the employer usually pays a large share of the cost. Moreover, in most countries, including the United States, the deductibility of employer contributions and the favorable tax treatment of the benefits to employees make it a tax effective vehicle with which to provide benefits.
Another significant factor, and one of the more cogent motivations for the rapid development of group insurance, has been the continuing governmental role in the security benefits area. Within the United States, Old-Age. Survivors, Disability, and Health Insurance programs has expanded rapidly, but many observers believe that, had not group insurance provided substantial sums of life insurance, health insurance, and retirement protection, social insurance would have developed even more rapidly. As economies worldwide continue to reduce the size and scope of social insurance programs, we can expect the demand for group based security to grow even more.
Disadvantages: From the viewpoint of the employee, group insurance has one great limitation- the temporary nature of the coverage. Unless an employee converts his or her coverage to an individual policy which is usually ore expensive and provides less liberal coverage, the employee loses his or her insurance protection if the group plan is terminated and often also at retirement because employment is terminated. Group life and health protection is continued after retirement in a significant proportion of cases today in the United States, but often at reduced levels. Recently, with the introduction of a new U.S. accounting standard (FAS 106) requiring that the cost of such benefits be accrued and reflected in financial statements, an increasing number of employers have discontinued post retirement life and health benefits entirely. When such continued protection is not available, the temporary nature of the coverage is a serious limitation.
Retiree group health insurance often is provided as a supplement to Medicare. Another problem of potential significance involves individuals who may be lulled into complacency by having large amounts of group insurance during their working years. Many of these persons fail to recognize the need for, or are unwilling to face the cost of, individual insurance. Perhaps of even greater significance is the fact that the flexibility of the group approach is limited to the design of the master policy and does not extend to the individual covered employees. Furthermore, group plans typically fail to provide the mechanism for any analysis of the financial needs of the individual which is a service that is normally furnished by the agent or other advisor. Many agents, however, discuss group insurance coverage with individuals as a foundation for discussing the need for additional amounts of individual life and health insurance.
If you would like some more details, perhaps you are a small business owner and are considering group health insurance for your employees, please feel free to [http://www.health-insurance-buyer.com]contact me for a one on one no hassle free consultation.
Carlos Diez is a senior benefits consultant for health-insurance-buyer.com, click here for a free [http://www.health-insurance-buyer.com]no obligation quote we are a referral service that refers consumers to the insurance carriers that can best fit their wants and needs. He holds life, health, and annuity licenses in 48 states and is appointed with over 88 carriers.
Many people own life insurance, but let’s face it. It’s probably not a purchase that most people brag about to their friends like they might if they had just purchased a new Corvette, but they made the purchase anyway because they love their families and want their family to carry on living their current lifestyle in the event of the primary breadwinner’s untimely death. While this article doesn’t apply to people who own term insurance, those who bought permanent life insurance, which is life insurance with an additional savings component, will find this information very important.
To understand the problem, I will first give you a brief primer on life insurance, and then explain how something that seems like a sure bet can go so wrong. Life insurance can be separated in to two basic types, term and permanent life insurance. With term insurance a person pays a certain amount of money, called a premium, for a period of time, from one year up to 30 years. During the specified period of time, as long as the insured person is paying the premium, the insurance company is obligated to pay a certain amount of money, called a death benefit, to the insured person’s beneficiary in the event the insured person dies during that time period. If the person does not die in that time period the insurance company keeps the money as well as the earnings on that money. While there are different types of term insurance nowadays, including “return of premium” term which returns the insureds premium dollars at the end of the term(but not the earnings on the money), the general jist of term insurance is that a person is covered during a certain period of time. If they want coverage beyond that time period they have to buy another policy. Term insurance is really not the focus of this article so if that’s what you have you can stop reading now if you wish, and rest assured that as long as you pay the premium, and the insurance company remains financially solvent, your family will be paid in the event of your untimely death.
The other type insurance is called permanent insurance. Permanent insurance is insurance that has a death benefit to it, similar to term, but also contains a savings “sidecar”, this gives the policy a value called cash value. The premiums are paid on the policy, a portion is pulled to pay for the insurance and the remainder goes into the savings sidecar. There are three primary types of permanent insurance that vary depending on what is done with the savings component. The first type of permanent insurance is Whole Life Insurance. The savings component of Whole Life Insurance is invested in the general fund of the insurance company where it earns interest. The amount of interest apportioned to a particular individual is depended on how much of the money in the general fund belongs to that individual. Some policies if they are are “participating” policies also earn dividends. Generally speaking whole life policies are not a lapse danger as the amounts that it earns are guaranteed by the insurance company. As long as the insurance company remains solvent it will pay out a death benefit. The only problems a person who owns a Whole Life policy typically runs into is overpaying for insurance, and the death benefit not keeping pace with inflation.
The second type of permanent insurance is called Universal Life Insurance. With Universal Life Insurance the savings sidecar is a separate account, as opposed to Whole Life where the savings sidecar is invested into the general fund of the insurance company. Universal Life Insurance’s main advantage is it’s flexibility. For example, if you are a landscaper in the northeastern part of the country and basically have your winter months off, you could buy a Universal Life policy, fund it heavily during the spring, summer, and fall when you’re raking in the big bucks, and then not pay anything during the winter months. As long as there is a certain amount of money in the savings sidecar (based on insurance company formulas), nothing needs to be done. Also, if you need additional insurance because you just had a child, you don’t need to buy another policy. As long as you are insurable you can increase the death benefit on your current Universal Life Insurance policy and pay the extra premium. The money in the savings sidecar of a Universal Life Insurance policy is typically invested in ten year bonds. The Universal Life policy has a guaranteed interest rate to it, as well as a current rate. The money in the sidecar typically earns the slightly higher current rate, but the policy owner is only guranateed the guaranteed amount. Keep this last thought in your mind because after I describe Variable Insurance in the next paragraph, I’m going to tie these two together in the following paragraph and that final concept is the thing that’s going wrong
The final type of permanent life insurance is Variable Life Insurance. It can be either straight Variable Life Insurance, or Variable Universal Life Insurance, which combines the versatility of Universal with Variable Life Insurance. Variable Insurance came about due to the awesome bull market in stocks that ran basically uninterrupted from 1982 through 2000. People wanted to invest as much as possible in the stock market and the thought of investing money in an insurance policy that invested in lower yielding bonds was quite distasteful to many. So the Variable Insurance Policy was built. With Variable Life the savings sidecar can be invested in insurance “sub-accounts” which are basically mutual funds within a Variable Life, or Variable Annuity. In fact, many sub-accounts exactly mirror a particular mutual fund, some mutual fund managers manage both their respective fund as well as its sub-account “sister.” So with the Variable Life policy buying insurance no longer meant leaving the high flying stock market, you could have the best of both worlds by protecting your family AND investing in the stock market. As long as the savings in the sidecar was at an adequate level things were fine. Again, remember this last line because I’m about to show you how the whole thing goes to pot.
In the heyday of Universal Life Insurance and Variable Life Insurance interest rates were high and so was the stock market, and the insurance industry had two products that were custom designed to take advantage of the times. The problem came about when the agents designing these policies for the public assumed that the high interest rates and high flying stock market would never end. You see, whenever these products are sold, several assumptions have to be made outside of the guaranteed aspect of the policies which is typically about 3-5%, depending on the insurance company. The current values are paid out based on the prevailing rates or returns of the time, and that’s exactly how the policies were designed. I can still remember when I began in the insurance industry back in 1994, when the experienced agents in my office were were writing Universal Life with a hypothetical 10-15% interest rate. Variable Universal would be written anywhere between 10-20%. Happy days were here to stay. Or were they? Unfortunately, those interest rates started heading south about the mid-1990s, and as we all know, except for a couple of years, the stock market didn’t do so swell after the 2000 tech bubble, maybe two or three “up” years out of eight and possibly nine. This is a real problem because many families’ futures were riding on the assumptions that were made in these policies. Many policyowners were told to pay during their working years and then to quit when they retired and the policy would be fine, the returns earned on the savings sidecar would keep the policy in force. There are countless Universal and Variable Life policies in bank and corporate trust accounts, as well as in dresser drawers and fire proof safes that were bought and assumed that as long as the premiums were paid, things were good to go. Many of these policies are sick or dying as we speak. Some people, or trustees will get a notice letting them know that they need to add more money or the policy will lapse, of course by this time “red line” has already been reached. The people who get this notice may even ignore it because hey, the agent said that all would be well, “pay for 20 years and the family will be taken care of when I meet my maker.” So the policy will lapse and nobody will know it till it comes time for the family to collect their money, only to find out that they will meet the same fate as Old Mother Hubbard’s Dog. If anybody reading this can picture the litigation attorneys licking their chops, waiting to let insurance agents and trustees have it with both barrels for negligence, don’t worry that onslaught has already begun. But if you have one of these policies, don’t count on the 50/50 prospect of winning a court case, do something about it!
One of the first things I do when I get a new client that has an existing permanent life insurance policy is do an “audit” of that policy. Just like the IRS does an audit to find out where the money went, I do an audit to find out where the premiums went. The way this is done is by ordering what is called an “In Force Ledger” on the policy from the insurance company. The In Force Ledger will show the status of the policy now under current conditions, as well as several other scenarios paying more or less money. It will also show if the policy is lapsed or will lapse in the future. By doing this audit the policyholder may get something that they didn’t have before, OPTIONS!
For example, take a 50 year old policyowner, who is also the insured on the policy, and the In Force Ledger showed that the policy, under current condtions is going to lapse when the policyowner is 63 assuming premium payments were going to be kept the same, and stock market conditions were going to stay the same (this was in early 2007 and this policy was a Variable Universal Life, it probably would not have lasted till 63, given what has happened in the stock market.) Since the policyowner is the family breadwinner, they have a 16 year old daughter, and their savings could not sustain the wife and daughter in the event of an early death of the breadwinner, whether or not to keep the life insurance is not even a question, life insurance is absolutely needed in this case. Now the next question is, does he keep on paying on a policy that is going to lapse or write a new one? For that I go to some business associates at an insurance brokerage I work with, and find out how we can get a new policy without a huge increase in premium, in some cases the it is possible to get an increase in death benefit and a decrease in premium. How can this be done since the policyholder is older than when the policy is written? Easy. With the advances in medicine between 1980 and 2000 (the years the mortality tables used were written), people are living longer, conditions that used to cause death such as cancer, people are surviving and even live normal lives after the cancer is eliminated. It used to be you either smoked or you didn’t. Now allowances are made for heavy smokers, social smokers, snuff users, cigar smokers etc. One company will even allow mild cannabis use. So in some cases your policy may not be lapsing, but a person may be overpaying even though they are older. Maybe they smoked socially then, but quit 5 years ago, but their policy still has them listed as a smoker paying the same premium as someone that smoked like a chimney. What happens if the solution that makes the most sense is a new policy? We do what is called a 1035 Exchange into a new policy, that allows the cash value of the current policy to be transferred to the new one without being taxed. What if the insured doesn’t want another life insurance policy but wants to get out of the one they are currently in and not pay taxes? Then we do a 1035 Exchange to an annuity, either variable or fixed. I’m currently using a no-load annuity that works great and the expenses are low. Is a 1035 Exchange right in every situation? Absolutely NOT! Many things must be explored before making the exchange, especially on a policy written before 1988 when the tax law on insurance policies changed for the worse, in the above example it proved to be the correct move, but in the end it’s up to the policyowner and family as to what direction to go.
In conclusion, if you have a permanent life insurance policy that is 5 years old or older, make sure you have it audited. The cost (nothing), versus the benefit (a family that doesn’t have financial worries in their time of grief) makes this decision a no-brainer.
As usual, if you have any questions about the matters discussed in this paper, feel free to write me at [mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian Halas is owner and wealth manager with Halas Consulting located in Pittsburgh, PA. Halas Consulting prides itself in providing unique and objective solutions to various insurance, investment, banking, tax, and estate issues faced by individuals and small businesses. Investment services provided in conjuction with Venn Wealth and Benefit Services, a PA Registered Investment Advisor. Christian can be reached via email at [mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments on this article