Honoring Your Parents: Accepting the Death of a Loved One

When someone close to us dies, it turns our world upside down. Whether it’s a friend, a coworker, or a neighborhood acquaintance, death often evokes upsetting emotions. These emotions can go to the extreme when it’s a parent’s death you are facing. As our parents reach the end of their life, it can be excruciatingly difficult for us to deal with the fact that their days are numbered. Why is that?

Facing The Reality Of Death

The death of both of my parents was long and drawn out. I accompanied both of them in the final stage of their journey, and I have other family members who are also getting close to the end. In my community, I have known and loved many people who passed away. You will have to face and deal with death when you are involved in the lives of others.

To go even further, the life insurance business has exposed me to death over and over again. Isn’t that the purpose of life insurance – to make sure your loved ones receive benefits when you die? Once you have been in the field long enough, you can’t help but get involved in processing claims and often end up creating close relationships with some of your clients.

Every death hurts, some more than others. The death of a close relative can be devastating, while others may be less painful, but nonetheless sad. As I continuously work to process both the small and significant traumas, I’m attempting to identify what I have learned so I can handle the next one a bit better. I have had the good fortune of getting my hands on beneficial books, both practical and spiritual, and have a network of friends and advisers who offer valuable guidance. These resources have assisted me in forming a perspective that, as it turns out, helps me deal not only with death but with life as well.

Here are three lessons I have learned that I want to share with you:

1. Life Is Precious

Both my mother and my father fought hard to get something out of their last days. They knew the end was near but still wanted to make their last bit of life worthwhile and meaningful. They wanted to be surrounded by loved ones, even if just for a few minutes, and savored the last sips of their favorite tea or enjoyed the final strains of their preferred music. But they also desired to be left alone to make their final preparations.

Their actions taught me that no matter what stage of life you are in, you can’t give up. Even if you are nearing the end, you should desire to go out with a warm spot in your heart and a smile on your face. Our job is to gift our parents with these humble yet significant things that make all the difference in the world: the moments of pleasure, small joys, or peaceful solitude. They may not seem like much, but they mean everything to those who are dying. When we focus on how precious each moment of life is, it helps us to keep a smile on our face too, even amidst our tears of grief.

2. Fight The Good Fight For Them

When people are incapacitated due to illness or injury, they become dependent on others for their care and welfare. This can be an incredibly humbling and disheartening time for those in this position, so you need to step up and be an advocate for their needs. Many resources are available, including doctors and nurses, home healthcare aides, and facilities such as nursing homes, adult day care centers, and dialysis centers.

Like every other business, the healthcare industry includes the good, the bad, and the ugly,  especially when it comes to dealing with seniors. We have capable doctors and poor doctors, great aides but also inept or even downright abusive caretakers. I became personally involved in making sure my parents received the proper care and I continue to do so today for other family members who are ailing. Doing my part was and is cathartic. While it’s challenging to know what people need when they are dying, don’t just be a bystander. Find tasks to complete that will help them retain their dignity.

3. It’s Not About You

In a time of intense emotions, it’s easy to take things personally or become too invested in issues that shouldn’t be taking up your time and energy. If you are on the front lines of your parents’ care, you are often exposed to more of their pain and suffering, which can stir up your own feelings of remorse, guilt, empathy, or denial.

It’s easy to take out your emotions on the various care providers you come in contact with throughout the ordeal. The slightest mistake or act of neglect can seem like the crime of the century. You may become angry when the medication arrives thirty minutes late or when a nurse acts too rough.

The solution is not an easy one, though. You need to look inside and work on yourself, processing and filtering your own feelings so you can control and channel the whirlpool of emotions inside of you. Good caregivers also deal with some level of grief in this situations, and the best reaction for everyone involved is to step back, let go, and never forget the main purpose: doing what’s best for the patient. If we can be strong enough to let go, then your parent will feel the freedom to let go when it’s time for them to take their last breath.

These are heavy issues, but unfortunately, they are a fact of life. The older we get, the more likely it is that we will face this situation, so it’s wise to prepare yourself now and obtain the right perspective for those difficult days. Have you seen these principles in action? Do you have any other tips or advice that helped you through a similar situation? I’d love to hear your stories. Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

 

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What Qualifications Should Your Life Insurance Broker Have? Part Two: The Role of the Super-Specialist

Life insurance is not something to mess around with. It is an integral piece of your financial puzzle, without which the rest of your finances could be in danger. We recently discussed the reasons why your life insurance broker should be a specialist, both in the product itself as well as the planning and purchasing process. Now that you know how important it is for the person selling your life insurance to be qualified, we’ll turn our attention to the necessity of a “super-specialist,” or “impaired-risk specialist.”

An Expert In Risk

The life insurance super-specialist is an expert in underwriting all varieties of risk. It doesn’t matter if you are perfectly healthy, being treated for a serious illness, love mountain climbing, or are fresh out of bankruptcy. Your super-specialist should be able to give you both competitive and reliable quotes and get your application approved at the rate quoted with no surprises.

What Is Risk?

The life insurance industry gives a rating to all types of risks and determines where you land on the risk scale. If providers don’t use risk factors to determine premiums, they could lose money down the road.

What the industry considers higher-risk or impaired risk includes a wide variety of medical conditions affecting every organ and system in the body, from the neurological to the orthopedic. It also includes multiple lifestyle issues, from smoking to drug use to alcohol use to foreign travel. They also consider your past. People who have a criminal conviction or multiple motor vehicle violations typically represent a higher risk than those who don’t.

Risk And The Super-Specialist

How does the super-specialist handle risk? The key to their mastery is the capability of getting people underwritten who represent higher risks. The logic is simple: if they can obtain policies for people who have heart disease or diabetes, they can easily get policies for those who are lucky enough to be disease-free.

A broker who gets the job done with these harder cases has an easy time getting it done for the simple cases. Remember our homebuilding analogy in part one of this series? The master builder who constructs your dream home will have a straightforward job of building an addition. But what sets the life insurance business apart from the construction industry is that it won’t cost you any extra to do business with a master broker because the premium for the product remains the same regardless of who sold it to you.

An Understanding Of The Personal Side

There is another reason why the impaired-risk specialist is ideally suited to help you purchase life insurance. It has to do with the very personal nature of life insurance underwriting. As we have discussed, virtually your entire life and history are assessed for mortality risk when you apply for a policy. Full disclosure is required to qualify for the best rate and to get your application approved without a hitch.

Everything must be put on the table: your discomfort with your Crohn’s disease, your bouts with depression, your prior and even current marijuana use. You can’t hide your treatment for anxiety and stress during your divorce, your recent job change, or the time you fell off the wagon and went into rehab. All these experiences are extremely personal and highly sensitive and must be handled appropriately. When you work with a life insurance broker, you need to feel that you are being treated with consideration and respect. And it’s not just about getting the details down. Your story must be presented to underwriters in a way that sheds the best possible light on your insurability.

The Highest Level Of Service

Consumers who pose a higher risk realize they need to deal with an impaired-risk specialist. They know that people who pose special risks need special care. Imagine you have a particular medical condition, such as a kidney ailment. To get the best care, you would go to a nephrologist. This is true for the legal field as well. You would go to an estate planning attorney for your will and trust and to a criminal attorney for legal representation.

The difference is that the impaired risk super-specialist isn’t pigeonholed into just the high-risk cases. They’ve mastered the complex so the simple becomes even easier. This is why the impaired-risk specialist is positioned to provide excellent service regardless of the mortality risk posed by any given client.

My Role As A Super-Specialist

In my many years of experience in this industry, I have obtained the expertise needed to specialize in helping people who represent a higher risk in multiple risk areas. Regardless of if you feel you have a unique, challenging situation or if your circumstances are straightforward, I can help you get competitive quotes for your life insurance. I’d love to hear your story. Ask anything at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Transform Small Donors into Major Donors

Your not-for-profit organization is making a profound difference in the lives of those served. You are busy, your staff is busy, your staff is busy, and it’s time to put the pedal to the floor and launch a Major Gifts campaign.

The organization has a strong fan base, and there are those who would like to really leave a legacy. But not everyone may be in a position to part with legacy-level dollars…

…while they are alive.

The answer: Life insurance.

Here’s how it works: A person can make a small or medium-sized donation to the charity of their choice. That charity uses those funds to purchase a life insurance policy on that donor, with the charity as the beneficiary. (The charity also creates a budget line item for the premiums in case the donations to cover the premium stop coming for whatever reason.) Upon the eventual passing of the donor, the benefit that the charity receives will be many times the sum donated over the years.

If it’s so straightforward, why aren’t I hearing about this all over the place? I hear you ask.

Certain institutions do this all the time, notably charities that promote medical research, United Way, and Jewish Federations. It’s also a common practice in estate planning. The word is spreading.
Life insurance is, plainly put, an underutilized way to help people leave a legacy.

A cautionary note: It is better for the not-for-profit to own the policy so that after years of paying premiums, the beneficiary doesn’t get changed by the policy owner. Make sure to run it past a lawyer because it has to be done in a certain way, to the benefit of everyone.

So help someone to hit the Good Deed button, they can make a difference in the lives of the people who will benefit from your organization!

To learn more, contact us today. Visit our website, read our blog, connect with me on LinkedIn, download our free ebook, The Guide to Buying Life Insurance, or request a policy audit today by calling our office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

We thank Jaime Campbell for her co-authoriship of this blog. Jaime is a CPA, CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant), MBA, and co-owner and CFO of Tier One Services, LLC. Jaime’s passion is to combine her analytical, proud-to-be-a-geek mind with her creative, musical side to deliver accounting information in such a way that clients see their business future in a whole new light. She enjoys creating and nurturing fulfilling relationships with clients that help them achieve their dreams. You can reach Jaime at (704) 837-0185 or jcampbellcpa@tieroneservices.net.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honoring Your Parents: How Long Should You Stay Married?

This may seem like an odd question, but have you ever thought about how long you should stay married? The traditional idea, and what you often hear in wedding vows, is “til death do us part.” My parents certainly came from that school of thought. They fought until the bitter end, and then death did indeed separate them into their respective corners (the boxing analogy says it all).

Is this the path you would choose for your own marriage? Would you recommend it to your children? I wouldn’t. Why would you?

When Relationships Go Wrong

Some people in a relationship are like oil and water; they never quite mix. In some cases, they may even be as explosive as gasoline and fire. Regardless, they have their reasons for staying together.

According to Huffington Post, finances are one of the top ten reasons people stay in an unhealthy marriage. (1) It can be daunting to consider not only paying for a divorce, but also dividing all the shared financial interests. Others stay together due to insecurity and fear of succeeding on their own. Then, there are those who have unhealthy mindsets of guilt, over-dependence or manipulation that lock them into bad relationships.

But despite the reason, is it worth it to stay in such a relationship? In my conversations with my parents, elder relatives, and personal and business contacts through the years, I have heard some heart-wrenching stories about people blowing up their marriages when they arrive at the golden years of their life. You would be shocked to know that I have come across situations of murder, suicide, rampant cheating, and plenty of psychological, emotional, and physical abuse.

Sadly, I have no answers or keen insight as to why people stay married and torture each other in this way. But I can identify several principles for living that can prevent your marriage from going down a tragic road. Since I am passionate about martial arts, consider these my tips for marriage self-defense:

1. Never Accept Second-Rate Treatment

No one person is better than another. We all deserve to be treated with respect and kindness as human beings. While there are hierarchies and power dynamics in every relationship, such as inequalities in income and social position, none of these factors makes somebody a lesser person. If somebody starts treating you in this way, correct the situation immediately. Don’t let it become a habit.

2. Commit To Self-Improvement

You won’t become a master at assertiveness or communication overnight. It takes work, sacrifice, and commitment. And it’s not just a question of protecting yourself from bullying; you need to make sure you don’t become a bully yourself and add fuel to the fire. You must find a way to embrace peaceful coexistence in your heart and try to steer your partner to do the same. Any act of self-defense on your part has to be focused on putting an end to the fighting.

3. Be Self-Sufficient

Hopefully, your relationship will work out. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. If you find yourself in that situation, then you need to be prepared to leave and start over. You can do this by having your own money, opening your own accounts, and coming up with a Plan B.  Even if you are in a season of not working or staying home taking care of family responsibilities, you can take steps to put yourself in a position to succeed. Brainstorm ideas of what you could do if you had to end the relationship and start out on your own. Even if you never make the move, having that kind of leverage and confidence could cause your bad apple spouse to back off.

No one wants to think about their relationship imploding, but it does happen. Before things go too far down an unhealthy path, look at ways you could defend yourself and turn the situation around. Examine your life and your future and be excited, not depressed or anxious. Have you been through this? Do you have questions about ways you can protect yourself or set yourself up for a favorable future? Ask anything at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

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(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/15/why-people-stay-in-unhappy-marriages_n_6330292.html

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What Qualifications Should Your Life Insurance Broker Have? Part One: The Importance of the Life Insurance Specialist

Life insurance is the foundation of your financial portfolio. While you may think that’s an exaggeration, life insurance protects against the most catastrophic loss imaginable, the death of a provider. With so many life insurance companies and products available, how do you know what to choose? You don’t want to gamble with your financial foundation, so how do you know the person selling your life insurance is the most qualified?

Why Do You Need A Life Insurance Specialist?

If you were building your dream house, would you hire your contractors at random? Would you choose an electrician who dabbles in carpentry or a plumber who does construction on the side? Of course not. You want the best of the best, a master builder. Because of the investment involved, you want someone with top qualifications who would get the job done right and deliver the highest value for your dollar.

Your financial portfolio requires the same degree of proficiency and should be handled by someone who is a master of the craft. The legal and financial advice you are given should be rendered by experts in the field. If you take the risk and settle for less than the best, you could end up with inappropriate product choices, or worse, costly mistakes that could impact your financial future.

When it comes to life insurance, a specialist is someone who sells the product exclusively or makes the product their primary focus. A life insurance specialist has the knowledge, experience, and contacts needed to provide the high-end, personal service you require for this significant purchase.

How do you know your life insurance professional is indeed a specialist? Here are the qualifications you should look for:

Underwriting Expertise

Life insurance is probably the most thoroughly underwritten financial product you will buy. Your current health, medical history, family medical history, vocation, hobbies, lifestyle, and financial, legal, and motor vehicle record are all considered. You will need expert guidance to negotiate the prequalification and underwriting processes to experience a successful result. A broker who specializes in life insurance will have this expertise.

Client Advocacy

A very large and diverse team of people will collaborate on your purchase. This team includes the broker’s own office staff, the general agent, and that person’s support staff, as well as the carrier’s underwriters, case managers, and management. Attorneys, financial planners, accountants, and other professionals may also get involved. The activities of all these people need to be coordinated and directed in such a way that your interests as the client are always front and center. A broker who specializes in life insurance will have the skills required for this amount of leadership and coordination.

Product Knowledge

Sure, the benefits and features of the product must be understood, but there is more to it than that. Life insurance is an incredibly unique financial tool in that it is the only form of insurance that guarantees that a claim will be paid. You may have medical insurance, but if you never get sick or hurt, you won’t use it. If you never get into a car accident, you won’t have the opportunity to benefit from your car insurance. But you know for sure you are going to die. If you keep your life insurance in place, your beneficiary will collect the benefit. It’s as simple as that.

As much as we try to avoid thinking about our death, the reality is that that a claim could be filed at any time. We all like to think our death will be some far-off event, but a good diet, regular exercise, positive thinking, and playing it safe are no guarantees against drunk drivers, freak accidents, and many other hazards beyond our control. We are not invincible and must not take our life for granted.

A broker who specializes in life insurance will encourage you to value your mortality. He will help you realize the importance of buying life insurance now and understand the risk in waiting. He will help you form a strategy for improving your insurability and qualifying for lower pricing in the future.

Does your life insurance broker bring all these qualifications to the table? If not, it’s time to reevaluate your relationship and find someone who can help you construct a life insurance foundation that will give you peace of mind. If you are ready to consult with a specialist, contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Stay tuned for my next article to learn why your broker should be a super-specialist.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honoring Your Parents: Is it Wrong to Want to Die?

What would you do if somebody told you they wanted to die? After the initial shock, your response would greatly depend on the relationship you have with the person who asked the question. For example, if a family member broached this question, you would do whatever you could to help them. If a perfect stranger asked it while perched on a bridge as you passed by, you would be alarmed and call the police. Regardless of the scenario, you would not ignore the question and risk the chance that they would do something to hurt themselves. You would take action.

Let’s look at it a different way. What if the person asking is old and sick? Would you feel as compelled to save them? Would you still be driven to do whatever is necessary to stop them from killing themselves? Without considering suicide, would you try to convince someone who is suffering that life is still worth living?

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill questions, but many children of elderly parents have to face this situation and find a way to deal with the heaviness of it. In my personal and professional experience, I’ve developed the following mindset when confronted by a loved one wanting death to overtake them.

Take Moral Judgment Out Of The Equation

Personally, I believe suicide is wrong. We were given our lives by the Creator, and it’s not up to us to decide when to give them back. Even though I hold fast to my beliefs, it’s not my job to enforce any code of morality. Each one of us needs to uphold our end of the bargain with the Creator on our own.

There are certain situations where we are justified to take measures to protect someone from doing something rash, such as with those who are emotionally or mentally disturbed and aren’t in the right mind to make decisions themselves. But for someone who is stable and just doesn’t want to go on, the best we can do is get them some solid counseling with someone who has the skills to help them deal with their situation properly.

It’s Not About You

When it comes to dealing with emotional family issues, it’s difficult to not take things personally. When family members or friends are in the throes of despair, we often want to save them. We want to take away their pain and set them on the right path. These are noble intentions, but it’s important to examine our motivation behind these desires.

It’s not a bad thing to feel desperate or hopeless. Life can get messy and cause burdens to pile up, and it’s natural for us to feel the pain of those around us and want to help. But we must be careful to determine whose pain it is we want to end. We have to put our loved ones first and not try to make them feel better so that we feel better ourselves. Our pain is our business. Their pain is their business. Our job is to give them the time and space to deal with it.

Accept The Natural Order Of Things

The prospect of losing somebody we love is agonizing. Watching them suffer is torture. And hearing them plead for it all to end almost makes you want to help them do it. But we have to remember that all lives come to an end. There is no stopping the cycle of birth and death that governs our time here on earth. At the end of the day, we have to accept it and work through it as best as we can. So when you are grappling with seeing a loved one suffer, interpret their cries for relief as them sensing that their end is near and struggling to accept their fate.

Old age can be a miserable time. Every day can bring a new form of pain and discomfort. Familiar aches return with a vengeance, and even the strongest and most stubborn of people can fall into despair and depression. Who can blame them for wanting to throw in the towel? Instead of letting your emotions take over, do whatever you can to support them in this sensitive time. While this is an intense issue to handle, know that you are not alone. Many others are also working through similar situations. If you have any questions or would like to share your story, contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. I’d love to hear from you.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Why People Hate Buying Life Insurance

elephant in the room

Did you know that only 3 in 5 people have purchased a life insurance policy? Of those who do have life insurance, nearly half have insufficient coverage. Why is that?

In my experience selling this product for over 25 years, I have come across many people who understand the need for life insurance but haven’t done anything about it. Based on their reasons, here are three obstacles keeping people from purchasing life insurance and practical ways to overcome them.

1. You Don’t Want To Think About Dying Soon

Many consumers believe they are in competition with their life insurance company. Their thought process goes like this: you give these companies your hard-earned money year after year, but you (meaning your family or business) don’t “get” anything unless you die. And the sooner you die, the bigger the return on your payments. Companies “win” if it takes longer for you to die because they get more of your money in the meantime. If you die sooner, you “win” because they get less. Who wants to take such a morbid bet?

In truth, it’s not a zero-sum game. It’s not an either/or proposition between you winning or them winning. A life insurance company is an ally, not an adversary. Once you change your perspective of the relationship, you realize that you have taken them on as a risk-sharing partner. No no can predict when you are going to die, so if you can’t afford to self-insure against your family or business losing you tomorrow, you need to bring in a partner to assume the risk.

2. You Treat Life Insurance As An Investment

I’ve heard many people say, “I think I’ll postpone this purchase until next year. I’ll only be one year older, so the premium shouldn’t be that much higher.” It’s like they’re saying, “I’ll invest in this product next year. I’ll have lost only one year of earnings.” This idea assumes that they will be as insurable next year as they are this year.

My experience has been that this is not a safe assumption at all. Think of all the factors that are considered in life insurance underwriting: current health, medical history, family medical history, vocation, hobbies, lifestyle, financial/legal/motor vehicle record. Something could happen in any one of these areas that could increase the premium price dramatically or even make you ineligible for coverage. Once you realize that you cannot take your insurability for granted, then you know that the time to buy is now.

3. You’ve Had A Bad Experience With A Life Insurance Application

Sadly, buying life insurance can be a miserable experience for many people. They may find the underwriting questions intrusive, and the whole process can be exhausting. All too often, they get approved at a rate higher than quoted or not approved at all. Thus, they give up.

All of this is understandable but unfortunate. Believe it or not, though, the experience of buying life insurance can be satisfying. The key is prequalification. Every consumer has a right to be confident of the rate they will be charged prior to submitting an application. It does take some effort from a broker to get a client pre-underwritten and deliver a premium commitment from a carrier, and most brokers and agents do not set up their business this way. But if you find one that offers this service, and I have been doing this for decades, then you can get approved at the rate quoted. Your purchase of life insurance can be managed with the integrity you expect when buying every other product.

Life insurance is critical and will provide tremendous peace of mind for you and your family. Don’t let obstacles or misconceptions hold you back from purchasing a life insurance policy and taking care of your loved ones. Have you experienced these hindrances or others I have not mentioned? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need to Provide for the Emotional and Psychological Needs of Your Loved Ones?

how much life insurance emotional needs

Most of us know and understand the value of life insurance for providing financially for our loved ones. Life insurance ensures that your family will be able to pay the mortgage, continue education, and maintain their standard of living. But beyond the practical basics, life insurance also provides peace of mind for you family members, lifting a burden and providing space and time for them to grieve and begin the healing process after a tragic event. When to comes to calculating your life insurance face amount, how you do factor in the emotional and psychological needs of your life insurance beneficiary?

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

Life insurance is often used to replace the income of a breadwinner. The key question then, is how much insurance is needed to replace that income? Different financial advisors come from various schools of thought when answering that question. Some use basic rules of thumb, such as seven to ten times your income, (1) while others use a financial calculator to factor in additional resources and calculate the exact amount of life insurance to buy. But do these methods capture the true needs of your family?

Consider Your Family’s Needs

Before you crunch any numbers, you should take the time to think about the psychological and emotional needs of your surviving spouse and children. If your tragic demise were to occur, they would be devastated and need time to grieve, heal, and regroup from the trauma. While you will never stop missing a loved one, you eventually learn how to go one without them, but it takes time to grasp the impact of the loss. (2) The life insurance benefit you provide your family with should be sufficient enough to buy them that time.

No one wants to picture their family in such a state of mourning, but their misfortune is the precise reason you are buying that policy. Your sensitivity to the challenges they will face will help you determine how much money they will need.

Here are three benefits your life insurance will provide for you family’s emotional and psychological needs:

1. Time Together

First of all, your children will be without you, one of the two most important adults in their lives. You don’t want them to “lose” their other adult – your surviving spouse – because he or she has to go back to work right away. Your life insurance policy should provide enough money so your spouse can afford to spend more time with your children and help them work through the bereavement process.

2. Peace of Mind For Your Spouse

Next, you have the needs of your spouse. For many people, losing a life partner is like losing an arm. They feel handicapped and incomplete. Some people can rebound quicker than others, but everybody needs time to absorb their new reality and learn how to live their new normal. They shouldn’t feel compelled to remarry sooner than they are ready, simply because the household needs an additional income.

3. Breathing Room For A Fresh Start

Finally, you have to be open to the potential need for your family to start afresh. The death of a loved one can cause many people to take part in serious soul-searching. Your spouse and children may need specialized therapy or healing and growth activities. Maybe a vacation or a family bonding adventure will help them move forward. They might even need to relocate to a new community for a fresh start.

Now What?

Now that you have the emotional and psychological needs of your family in mind, you can calculate how much life insurance to purchase to meet those needs. These are some of the dramatic but real issues you should think through when you prepare your family for your untimely death. You should certainly discuss them with your spouse and together determine what your family will need. If you feel you need extra guidance to come up with the right amount for your policy, or if you would like to further discuss the emotional and psychological impact your death may have on your family, contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. I am here to help.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

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(1) http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/how-much-life-insurance-should-you-buy.aspx

(2) http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/coping-loss-bereavement-and-grief

 

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Honoring Your Parents: Do You Know How to Die?

honoring parents how to die

Do you know how to die? That’s probably not a question you get asked every day. Most people don’t want to think about it, and I can’t say I blame them. While those in dangerous occupations, such as police officers or soldiers, are forced to deal with the reality of death, the rest of us tend to put it off until a terminal illness or other tragic event occurs.

When people decide to buy life insurance, they are, in some way, acknowledging the fact that they will die. But very few consider how they will die. The clients with whom I have broached this subject with often brush it off with a sarcastic or humorous response, which is one way to avoid the more serious side of the issue.

In my career as a life insurance salesperson, I have expedited many death claims. I also accompanied both my parents in the final stage of their lives, helping them make their final preparations. One critical lesson I have learned from this experience is that how you die is very much a result of how you live. The more peace you have found in this lifetime, the more peace you will have when you leave it

Here are three ways in which a peaceful life can lead to a peaceful death:

Get Your Financial House In Order

Nobody wants to deal with money issues. If you make financial mistakes when you are young, you have the luxury of time to recover from them. But when you are old, your capability of generating new income is limited. When you enter the last stage of your life, you don’t want it to be fraught with financial worries.

What does it mean to plan ahead and prepare? Think through a big-picture blueprint for all of your assets to protect your investments, your legacy, and most importantly, your loved ones, then start taking steps to get all the pieces in place.

Find Peace With Those Around You

When people realize their last day is coming, they understand they are out of second chances. There is no time left to tell people how you feel or to apologize for your misdeeds. You don’t want to die with regrets and remorse on your conscience, so get in the habit of clearing your slate with those in your life. If you owe someone money, make sure you pay off the debt in full. If you owe someone an apology, give it immediately. Delaying may only result in running out of time.

Set The Stage For A Comfortable Transition

It’s crucial for people to feel that they are in a good, safe place with the right relationships, the right job, the right school. Don’t settle for less by sticking it out in an uncaring environment. This will be especially important to you in the final stage of your life.

I have found that people really care about where they die. Both my parents were adamant about not ending their life in a nursing home. They wanted to die at home, in familiar surroundings, amongst caring people. Because it was a priority to them, my family made sure it happened the way they desired. As an example, one of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard was of a gentleman who spent almost his entire life in one home, tending a luscious garden for many years. When he knew that his final day had arrived, he simply walked into that garden, his favorite place, and lay down. That is where his wife found him.

As a life insurance sales person, family member, and friend, I feel it is my duty to help people set the stage for their passing as comfortably as they can. That often means helping them decide how to live comfortably, with peace of mind and confidence in their plans. If you or your loved ones have never considered the question of how you will die and know that you have some missing pieces to take care of, contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. I am happy to help you make the most of your life.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

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Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honoring Your Parents: Feeling for Them, Not with Them

honoring parents feeling

Getting old is a challenge. For many people, it is probably the ultimate test in life as they realize they are not invincible and that their mortality is a reality. As each day goes by, their strength, vitality, and overall physical condition weaken. They may find that everyday activities are harder to get through and that they don’t bounce back as quickly.

Aging is also difficult for family members. Those of us who have walked with our parents through the final stages of their lives have experienced this hardship. There is an unnatural role reversal, where those who took care of you through your life now need you to take care of them. This dependence can be taxing on your time and finances and cause a heavy emotional burden for you to carry. How do you handle this painful process? How do you approach this situation with grace and sensitivity?

The Burden Of Empathy

Empathy is usually seen in a positive light. We consider it a noble venture to feel another’s pain and try to understand their plight. That may be true, but there is a limit to empathy. If we go through life feeling the pain of all the people around us who are hurting, we will quickly become overwhelmed and overloaded. This is especially true when caring for ailing elders, whose typical day can be full of suffering.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 85% of caregivers care for a relative, with 49% of them taking care of a parent or parent-in-law. This refers to any level of care, from a few hours a week to a full-time situation. The report shows that caring for a parent is more emotionally stressful, especially for those who feel they have no choice in taking on the caregiver role.

We want to show respect and repay all the love and care that was invested in us, but how do we do it without burning out?

Compassion, Not Empathy

A recent Wall Street Journal article by psychologist Paul Bloom shows us an alternative perspective. He declares that the emphasis should be on compassion, not empathy. According to a neuroscience study in Current Biology, compassion is distinguished from empathy in that it doesn’t mean sharing in the suffering others. Instead, compassion is centered on concern, care, and a desire to improve the other’s well being. It’s about feeling for someone, not with them.

If you are in a season of walking through some trials with your parents, compassion will make more of a difference than empathy. Your parents don’t need someone to feel their pain, but someone who can support, encourage, and treat them with kindness and respect. It’s a difficult road to walk, but one on which our parents need us. Have you seen this concept of compassion versus empathy play out in your life? Have you, or are you currently, watching your parents age and struggle as they enter the final phase of life? As someone who has been through it, I’d love to chat with you and hear your thoughts. Ask anything at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How Business Owners Use Life Insurance to Take Care of Their Estate

estate

Many successful businesses are family-owned and operated. You can find family-run enterprises in every industry: manufacturing, construction, real estate, insurance, law, financial services, hotel and restaurant management, and the list goes on. Every trade, every profession. The business often becomes a way to create a family legacy, to achieve a reputation as people of quality, of service and of commitment to one another, their employees, their clients and vendors, and the community.

But when it comes to planning for the future of your business, how do you handle the tricky matter of estate preservation?

The Value of Life Insurance

Many of us know the importance of life insurance for providing for our families, covering loans, or making charitable gifts, but it is equally important when it comes to preserving your estate and equalizing estate distributions.

Family businesses can get complicated. Some children choose to join their parents’ profession and eventually take the company over to continue the family legacy. At the same time, however, many children choose their own paths. This type of situation creates a dilemma for the parents when they create an estate plan. They can certainly leave the business to the child who has decided to join it, but what can they bestow to child who has opted out? In addition, they need to think about strategies to shield their assets from estate taxation. The last thing they want is for their heirs to be forced to sell off properties just to pay hefty tax bills.

This is where life insurance provides a solution. Let’s suppose a business is worth $10 million. The parents can make arrangements to pass on their shares to the child who will carry it on, but they could also take out a $10 million life insurance policy and make their other child the beneficiary. In this way, each child would be the recipients of a gift of equal amount. Any other assets worth more than the available estate tax credit could be protected with a separate life insurance policy.

If this is something you want to pursue, here are three quick tips for using life insurance for estate preservation and equalizing estate distributions:

1. Use The Opportunity To Reflect

Estate planning is all about making sure your life continues to have meaning after you pass away. What was your life all about? What is your legacy? What did you stand for? For whom did you care? People will understand what is important to you by your document declarations, the assets you transfer, and the gifts you leave. Don’t be afraid to throw yourself into the process and make the most of it.

2. Get The Help Of An Expert

Estate planning is both an art and a science. It is also a specialized area of law due to all of the intricate details. When businesses and other significant assets are involved, you need the counsel of an attorney who specializes in estate and business planning so that your plans are legitimized and you can have peace of mind that everything is in order.

3. Research All Your Options

A sophisticated estate plan could meet multiple needs for life insurance. Various products can apply to your situation, such as single life, joint survivorship, term, guaranteed universal life, and whole life. Think outside the box when investigating what will work for you, and make sure your attorney and insurance broker team up to design the proper mix of policies.

Your estate is of utmost importance. You’ve dedicated your life to building something significant so make sure your life’s work and those you love are protected and provided for through life insurance. Let me help you find the perfect policy for all your business needs. Set up an appointment by contacting me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. I look forward to hearing from you and helping your business succeed.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Pot and Life Insurance: Answers to the 10 Biggest Questions

pot and life inusrnace

Society’s perceptions of marijuana have undergone a drastic change since I was in junior high. Back then, it was normal for schools to assign Tuned Out as part of the curriculum and show “Reefer Madness” in class, with the intended purpose of teaching us that pot would turn you into an acid addict who would eventually go crazy or that getting stoned would result in a horrific car crash.

It’s true that pot could be a gateway drug for some people, and driving while impaired is always dangerous, but society as a whole has developed a much greater comfort level with marijuana. Is this change reflected in the life insurance industry? Through the years, I have helped many pot users purchase a policy, and these are the questions that often come up.

1. How Does Marijuana Affect Your Mortality?

While there is certainly valid information that shows the positive health effects of marijuana use, there is equally compelling data that points to the downsides of the drug on your health. Life insurance underwriters look at the impact on the total body. Here are some of their primary concerns:

  • Impaired driving
  • Acute respiratory illness and infections
  • Addiction, leading to risky behavior
  • Increased heart rate, potentially leading to a heart attack
  • Mental illness, including temporary psychotic reactions, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and personality disturbances
  • With pregnant women, postpartum neurological issues

Clearly, each of these conditions could potentially impact your mortality.

2. Is Smoking Marijuana Treated The Same As Smoking Tobacco?

To a large extent, yes. Carriers tend to view both activities the same way, but they can differ from one another in how they treat these activities. Some will make their best underwriting class available while others will automatically assess an extra premium with a table rating.

A number of factors impact this determination, including frequency and dosage, how the marijuana is used (smoking, ingestion, or vaporization), and the age of the insured.

3. How Is Age A Factor In Underwriting Marijuana Users?

Some carriers perceive an increased mortality risk in younger users. They have good reasons for this, especially when it comes to automobile deaths. Therefore, they will not issue policies to people below a certain age, or, if they do issue a policy, they may automatically assess a table rating extra premium for those below a certain age. On the other hand, some carriers do not set a minimum age limit for this scenario.

4. Should I Stop Using Marijuana For A Few Weeks To Qualify For A Non-Smoker Rate?

Believe it or not, not every carrier tests for marijuana on every insurance exam. Carriers who don’t are relying on your application disclosures to underwrite you. While some people may be tempted to lie under these circumstances, there is a strong discouragement to do so.

First of all, even if your drug test comes back clean, your medical records may indicate your marijuana use since physicians often make a note of this in their charts. If you don’t acknowledge your use of pot on your application, you run the risk of being declined automatically. Underwriters don’t like it when it appears the applicant is trying to get away with something.

Secondly, your application requires you to sign a statement to the effect that, to the best of your knowledge, your answers to the questions are truthful. If you willingly withhold information, you could be accused of committing insurance fraud. The carrier would be within its rights to not pay the benefit, even if the cause of claim has nothing to do with drug use.

Also, cheating can artificially increase prices. Insurance companies need to make an accurate assessment of the risks they assume to ensure sufficient money has been allocated to meet anticipated claims. If they are not entirely aware of all the risks involved, they may underfund their reserves. This could result in an increase in prices to make up the difference, and you and everybody else could end up paying more than you should be.

Lastly, remember that your broker has an ethical and legal responsibility to report everything he knows about the underwriting risks you represent. This includes both medical and lifestyle-related risks, including anything you tell him about your personal habits. No such conversation is “off the record.” He cannot do you a favor or bend the rules to get your business because he could face fines, suspensions, and/or lawsuits.

5. Will How I Use Marijuana Change My Premium Price?

Many people don’t smoke marijuana. Instead, they eat it in home-baked goodies or vaporize it. How you get the drug in your system could result in a price break. There are some carriers who distinguish between smoking, ingesting, or vaporizing. The difference could be as significant as being rated a non-smoker as opposed to a smoker. Again, many other factors can influence what rate class you are assigned.

6. Will An Underwriter Recognize the Difference Between Medicinal and Recreational Use?

The odds are that you’ll be treated as a recreational user. It still boils down to how much you use, how you use it, and how frequently you use it.

It is crucial to recognize that the medical condition for which you have been prescribed marijuana will also be underwritten. All other factors being equal, conditions such as chronic pain, muscle spasms, and even PTSD may not require too much of an extra premium. But cancer, hepatitis C, and multiple sclerosis could result in a higher payment or even a declined application.

7. If I Purchase Insurance Now But Stop Smoking Later, Will My Rate Be Reduced?

It’s a good decision to get the policy now. If you need the coverage, you get it. You don’t want to wait for the optimum time to buy, because tragically, a claim may have to be paid in the meantime. You don’t want to shortchange your beneficiaries on the money they will need upon losing you.

Once you are insured, we can work on reducing the cost. When you have stopped using marijuana for a full year, you could very well be eligible for a lower premium. If things don’t work out for you, and you develop an unforeseen medical condition, then at least you will have life insurance in play! We can always try again the following year.

8. Will I Get In Trouble For Disclosing That I Use Pot If It Is Still Illegal In My State?

That’s a valid concern. Many people are uncomfortable with acknowledging their pot use when it is deemed illegal. However, you are protected by very stringent privacy protection regulations. Here is verbiage that is very typical among carrier contracts:

(Company) does not disclose any non-public personal financial or any non-public personal medical information about our customers or former customers to anyone, except as permitted or required by law. It is (Company’s) current policy not to disclose customer information to, or share customer information with, other businesses for marketing purposes.

9. Is It Possible To Get A Policy That Has A Marijuana Exclusion?

Yes. There are excess-market carriers that would not factor in your pot usage when they underwrite you. Your policy would have a clause that states they are not liable for a claim that is drug-related. Bear in mind that these policies are typically available only under specific business or financial circumstances, and can be more expensive than policies from mainstream carriers.

10. Marijuana Has Great Profit Potential. Will I Be Able To Obtain Life Insurance To Cover The Business?

We are all aware of the importance of life insurance for buy-sell funding, key person coverage, business loan protection, and other business needs, but is life insurance available for those on the business side of marijuana?

This question is perhaps the biggest indication that marijuana use has become an accepted norm in our society. If you can legitimately go into business selling it, then there can’t be a problem with it, right?

Of course, the key word here is legitimate. On the one hand, life insurance carriers don’t take on the responsibility of determining the legality of any applicant’s business. At the same time, I have not come across a domestic company who would offer a policy to somebody in this business, probably because they are still waiting for legalization. Nonetheless, there are foreign insurers that would provide coverage in this situation. While they often insure business people who provide services around the sale of marijuana, they would consider prospects directly involved in selling.

Just like alcohol and tobacco use, a history of using marijuana can affect your access to life insurance, but as times have changed, so has the life insurance industry. Prequalification would determine exactly how your particular use of marijuana would be treated by an underwriter, but you can still qualify for life insurance. If you have questions that were not addressed in this post, or if you are concerned about the premium costs for your unique circumstances, I am here to help. Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com so we can research your options and find a life insurance policy that will fit your needs.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to Investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honoring Your Parents: How Would They Deal With Trump Hysteria?

Trump (1)

Recent political events have caused people to react in sad, ugly, and hurtful ways. We hear of people cutting off their friends and family based on whom they support, and the internet is abounding with negativity. All of this behavior is completely unnecessary and only serves to drag us down and bring out the worst in us.

Agree to Disagree

I grew up in a family where political discussions were a regular family activity. Nobody ever agreed with anyone else, and that was okay. My parents set this pattern in our home. Their relationship could be described as “Jane Fonda married to Archie Bunker” so when they disagreed, they really disagreed!

I am sure they had their share of petty fights, but what I remember most were arguments over serious issues. Many lively discussions took place at our dinner table about everything from the New York City teacher strike to the Vietnam War.

When the teacher strike occurred, there were picket lines and protests in front of my school, with each side alternating days. My pro-union mother walked me to school on the days she could join the picket line, and my anti-union father took me when he could join the protest for his side.

The Vietnam War was also a major source of contention. My mother was vehemently anti-war. She even went so far as to conduct teach-ins to rally support for ending the war. My father was fervently anti-Communist. He wanted the Russian Bear stopped in its tracks. When the evening TV news reported on that day’s “body count,” the debate about the war would start once again.

But despite the opposing opinions my parents held on some very real problems, they always came home to each other, had dinner together, kept up their home, and raised their kids. They taught me how to put politics aside and get on with life. They were an example of how to respect each other’s differences without tearing each other apart.

Here are some things to remember when trying to stay true to your views without jeopardizing your relationships with loved ones:

Beware the Political Cult

Many social commentators today say that politics has become the new religion. For some people, it is has gone even further and become a cult. By definition, cults push recruits to show blind allegiance while demonizing the opposition, especially the natural support group of the recruit, such as family and friends. Anti-Trump hardliners who are taking the stance of “you’re either with us or against us,” are promoting a cult mentality, even though they haven’t told you to shave your head and put on orange robes. Beware of treating your friends as your enemies just because they think differently.

The President is a National Leader, Not a Spiritual Leader

Our president is our country’s chief executive, not its chief clergyman. He must first and foremost follow the Constitution and the duties prescribed for his office. His mission is to leave the country in better shape when he completes his term than when he started.

He has moral and ethical failings like everyone else. If these failings corrupt him on the job, then we have a problem. If they don’t, then we leave him alone. People who focus on his personal flaws set a tone of judgmentalism that won’t change anything. They use social media to feed the frenzy, so be aware of what you are reading and being influenced by.

It’s Just a Vote

A vote is a measure of political support, not necessarily a personal endorsement. It’s a practical way to for us citizens to exercise power in our legal system. We are always faced with limited choices, and they are almost never ideal. And while the election of our president is a significant national event, it is over in a day and then the business of running our country really begins. The world is not ending based on a particular person being elected to a particular position. Don’t let the hysterics of the doomsday prophets convince you that every day is a crisis. This too shall pass.

Divided opinions are part and parcel of democracy. In the era of social media, we are more aware of everyone else’s opinions than ever, and we are inundated with media sensationalism on a daily basis. This adds fuel to the fire and causes strife and fighting. In and of itself, these disagreements aren’t wrong, but let’s learn from my parents’ example. Despite what you believe, we can all work together and go on living our lives.

Did you see your parents live this out as well? How do you and your family handle political differences? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories so we can learn even more from each other. Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com today. #planrisklive

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How Business Owners Use Life Insurance to Cover Business Loans

how business owners use life ins loans

If you are a business owner, you know that businesses need infusions of cash on a regular basis. Whether you are starting a business or growing an established company, you need capital to get going. Capital, in the form of cash, is necessary to open the doors of your business. It’s required to expand into a new marketplace. Cash is needed when setting up a new branch or division.

Sometimes you can access this money from currently-owned business assets or accounts, but more often than not, you need outside resources to make your dreams a reality. You have multiple options when it comes to getting a business loan, such as turning to commercial or private lenders and even investors to obtain the capital you need. But regardless of where the money comes from, one thing is consistent: your lenders will want their money back if you default on the balance or die before the loan is paid back.

Why Life Insurance Matters

This is where life insurance comes in. Lenders typically will not close a deal until a policy is in force. They simply don’t want to have to chase down the surviving family members, or the executor of the estate in order to get their balance due. The life insurance benefit will provide the exact amount needed exactly when it is needed. That’s one major creditor that family and business associates don’t have to worry about.

Here are three quick tips for business owners for using life insurance to indemnify a bank loan or other debt:

1. Purchase Your Policy First


Life insurance underwriting can take several months, especially if a history of serious illness has to be reviewed. Don’t wait until the last minute to get prequalified and submit an application. The last thing you want is to be conditionally approved by a lender, only to have to delay closing because your insurance is not yet final. If there is an overlap of time and your banker starts getting antsy, make sure your broker reaches out to him to reassure him that the process is underway.

2. Forget About Loan Protection Policies


Lending institutions will often offer life insurance to indemnify their loans. These products are sometimes called “Loan Indemnification” policies, or “Mortgage Protection” policies. They are simply term insurance with a face amount that decreases as your loan is paid back. But the vast majority of the time, they are more expensive than a straight term policy you can buy in the open marketplace.

3. Choose Your Beneficiary Wisely

Sometimes business owners think the lender has to be the owner and beneficiary of their life insurance. Not only is that not true, but it’s also not a good idea.

Let’s suppose you have a policy for $2 million, to match the initial amount of the loan. After five years, you have paid off $500,000, leaving a balance of $1.5 million. Tragically, you pass away, leaving the loan unpaid. If the bank is the beneficiary, they will get the full $2 million, $500,000 more than they are owed.

The wise choice is to make a family member or other sensible entity the beneficiary and then use a collateral assignment to ensure the lender receives his benefits. When a claim is paid, the insurance company will then make the lender prove the balance due, pay them, and give the beneficiary the rest. In this way, everybody gets what they deserve. As an added bonus, by making yourself, your business, or a trust the owner of the policy, you prevent the lender from tampering with the policy.

As we’ve seen in previous articles, life insurance is vital to the success of a business owner. It protects you, your family, and your business, and gives you peace of mind if unanticipated events happen. With so many details involved in running a business, it’s easy to overlook something like the need for life insurance to pay back loans. Let me help you find the best policy and answer any questions about how life insurance can make a difference for your business. Ask anything by emailing me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honoring Your Parents: Learning From How They Started Over

honoring-parents-starting-over

As we enter a new year, we often take the time to reevaluate and look ahead with excitement and motivation. Aren’t you thankful that life is full of these second chances? That you always have an opportunity to try again, to grow, to learn, and to improve? This is a valuable life lesson that I learned from my parents, and I am thankful I had their example to follow.

What I Learned From Their Story

My mom and dad both came from immigrant families who moved to America searching for the land of hope and promise. Their families were originally from the Old Country, and they eventually settled in New York City, where I was raised. As my sister and I grew up, my parents moved us to the peace and quiet of the suburbs, and this change marked two significant moves in two generations, both of them to better situations.

But their story does not only include moves to different physical locations; it also involves major career shifts.

My mom started her working life as a secretary in a college psychology department. She then moved on to teacher training and ended up as the editor of an academic journal. She was always involved with education, but in a different role with each job.

My father began in show business. After that, he stepped into life insurance sales and then branched into motivational speaking. He ended his career in the travel business. He was ever the promoter and entertainer, but on a different stage each time.

What do their experiences with location moves and career changes teach me? What are some lessons I can apply to my life?

1. There’s Always Room to Grow

Yes, transitioning between cities and careers is no easy feat, but the changes that most impressed me were the personal transformations that occurred as they walked through the obvious outwards changes.

Dad started out in the wild world of show business, settled down to become a family man, and went on to build multiple successful businesses. Mom was the bookworm living at home, became the busy mother of two little ones, got involved in the school, and went on to establish herself as a key person in several businesses. Different ages, different stages, different ladders to climb. They saw the value in continual personal growth and accepted new opportunities as life afforded them.

2. How to Prepare for Change

As I think about all the changes my parents went through, I see how well they prepared me to deal with the inevitable changes in my own life. I saw that they did not fear the new things life threw at them, and so I never experienced fear at the prospect of a new job, a new school, or a new set of friends.

Career-wise, I had five different jobs before I ended up in the life insurance business. I spent ten years post-college in various sales-related positions before I landed in a career. In hindsight, I can see how each position brought me a step closer to reaching the end-goal. If I had let fear of change hold me back, I would not be where I am today, and I have my parents to thank for that.

3. How to Appreciate Every Stage of Life

On a personal level, life also moves in steps and stages. I started out single, got married, and became a father. As life moved on, I then got the incredible privilege of becoming a grandfather. I was fortunate to be able to witness both of my parents in the role of grandparents as well. I learned how to move through life’s many phases by watching my parents accept each new season with grace.

The only guarantee in life is change. My parents walked through momentous changes in their lives, and I can honor them by taking the time to examine what made them successful and content through life’s transitions and following their example.

What can you learn by looking back at how your parents lived? Are there any key lessons that stand out to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com to share your stories.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

3 Tips For Buying Life Insurance For People Who Smoke

smoking

It’s a known fact that smoking carries many health effects, such as a higher risk of death, chronic disease, diabetes, and dental issues. But a side effect of smoking that isn’t as obvious is the increased cost of life insurance. Did you know that if you are currently a smoker, you can expect to pay two to three times as much for a policy than a nonsmoker? The good news is that you can get a policy, and if you were a smoker in the past and have quit, your premium cost will decrease.

And, under very special circumstances, you may even be able to pay non-smoker rates.

We have extensive case files that show that people who pose this particular underwriting risk were able to purchase a life insurance policy at a reasonable rate.

Here are three tips to keep in mind to overcome this obstacle and get insured:

Tip# 1: Be Honest. Really.

It is very tempting to think, “I don’t smoke much at all. What if I stop for a few weeks before the physical exam and tell them I have quit for good?” There’s a term for that: insurance fraud. Don’t do it. If you do, you could jeopardize the benefit getting paid. Plus, any broker who encourages you to lie on the application is steering you in the wrong direction.

When you get prequalified for coverage, you will be required to complete a smoking questionnaire, and it will need to be thorough and accurate for an underwriter to make a fair assessment of the risk involved. Give some thought to the answers so that all parties involved can be confident they know the full story.

Tip# 2: Look For Carriers Who Offer the Best Rates

You may not believe this, but you can bank on the fact that some carriers offer outstanding rates to smokers. The life insurance industry has become very sophisticated in underwriting people who smoke. As a matter of fact, non-smoker rates are available for people who smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or e-cigarettes, or to those who chew tobacco or Nicorette. This even extends to people who smoke marijuana.

These exceptional rates aren’t guaranteed. A number of factors have to fall in place for you to qualify for non-smoker rates, but the point is this: odds are you can get an excellent rate, even as a smoker.

Tip# 3: You Can Always Search For A New Policy

If you need coverage immediately, buy a policy. It’s as simple as that. It makes no sense to postpone a necessary purchase on the hope and prayer that you will qualify for a better rate later. Your insurability is critical, and you simply cannot assume that some medical or lifestyle condition won’t emerge down the road to throw another wrench in the plan.

If you’re that confident you will kick the habit, then the smart thing to do is to cover yourself while you do so. Then, when you succeed, you can simply re-shop your coverage and go for a lower price. If you qualify, great. Just replace the policy. But if you don’t, then you will be very glad you bought the policy when you did.

It’s a known fact that smoking carries many health effects, such as a higher risk of death, chronic disease, diabetes, and dental issues. But a side effect of smoking that isn’t as obvious is the increased cost of life insurance. 

I am here to help. Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com so we can research your options and find the best life insurance policy for you.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honoring Your Parents: Dealing With Their Bigotry

bigotry

While bigotry and prejudice still run rampant in many ways, America is a country that works tirelessly to fight discrimination. I can’t think of another nation in the world that takes a stronger stance against persecution based on race, color, religion, political views, gender, economic class, or other personal qualities.

We are far from perfect in this ongoing battle, but significant strides have been made in our nation’s short history to implement change. For example, our first black president is currently getting ready to leave office. One of the two candidates who ran to replace him was a woman. And our president-elect chose the first woman to run his campaign and is considering a gay man for a cabinet post.

If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is! But how do you handle bigotry when it hits close to home? How do you deal with parents who seem to display forms of prejudice?

What is Bigotry?

At the very basic level, bigotry occurs when someone is intolerant or hostile towards those who are different. Bigots are often seen as closed-minded individuals who can’t handle anyone who thinks differently than they do. Calling someone a bigot is a pretty strong statement, so it’s important to look below the surface and see what’s really going on.

Look Beyond the Language

I’ve recognized that people may say things that sound hateful, but when you take the time to get to know them better you realize that their unrefined speech was not intended to hurt anyone. My father and many of his generation are great examples of this.

My father was the son of Russian immigrants who fled the Tsarist revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, amongst many other immigrant families. I grew up listening to his exciting stories of the turf wars that took place between the children of these immigrants as they sought to establish themselves in the New World. All of the different groups, the Jews, Italians, Irish, and so on, worked to stake a claim in their part of the neighborhood. They fought each other to protect their own.

When my father told these stories, he often used what some people would call derogatory terms to describe his ethnic adversaries. If you didn’t know him, you would consider him a bigot. Unfortunately, that would be a rash assessment that would take away from who my father really was.

My father had close friends of every ethnic background. He employed a wide variety of sales people in his insurance agency and he deliberately recruited brokers of different races, religions, and ethnicities to prospect their home communities. This was such a standard practice that the insurance industry actually has a name for it: “natural marketing.” 

What Bigotry Isn’t

So how do you explain his so-called bigotry? First of all, you must recognize that if you grow up in a rough neighborhood, you develop rough language. Name-calling and putting others down is a way to fend them off and keep them in their place. As a result, you develop a thick skin and don’t get offended at the smallest things.

You learn to shrug it off and develop strong friendships and business relationships regardless. The raw language becomes part and parcel of the kibitzing and fellowship. While people should not act this way in polite company, the foul language or derogatory terms do not equate to malicious intent.  If you haven’t experienced life in a neighborhood or culture like this, it’s tough to understand and relate to.

Once I grasped this concept, it helped me identify what bigotry is and isn’t. When guys from the Old Neighborhood trash-talk each other over beers, they aren’t displaying bigotry. You may cringe when they pick up the microphone at you cousin’s wedding, but you know they still have a heart of gold

In a country and culture that work hard to overcome prejudice, it can be very easy to label people as bigots by the words they say. But remember, different generations and geographical areas have different ways of communicating. Make sure you honor your parents by respecting their history and taking the time to understand where they are coming from.

Can you relate to this? Do you have similar stories to tell about your parents or grandparents? I’d love to hear them! Contact me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com to share your experiences.  

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com. Steven is a contributor to investopedia, view his profile here.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Honor Your Parents and Choose a Long Life

honor-your-parents

Our parents are often the most important influencers in our lives. As such, our relationships with them can significantly impact the quality and even quantity of our years.

I recently laid my mother to rest. She fought a long battle with illness and at every step along the way she attempted to fend off death and embrace whatever ray of light the new day brought her way. Prior to her passing, I also laid my father to rest. He too had a great determination to live and tried to dedicate his last days to a most worthy cause.  

The Reward of Honoring Your Parents

I am sure that many of you have also had a similar experience with your parents or know of others who have. You understand the tremendous stress, strain, and fear of facing the demise of a loved one. It can wear you down and make life feel like a burden you are anxious to cast off. Yet the Bible tells us that caring for a parent can have the opposite effect. In the Fifth Commandment, it says:

“Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20.11; Deuteronomy 5:15)

Can caring for an ailing parent actually increase the length of your own life? I think it can. Here’s how:

An Opportunity to Honor

It’s no secret that mental anguish and emotional disturbance can negatively affect your health. Unresolved conflict, resentments, and anger, among other destructive emotions, have the power to cause illness.  If ignored or not treated properly, they can even lead to death. Such is the poison of unfinished business.

It seems that a common and primary source of our unfinished business is our relationship with our parents. Father issues, mother issues, problems with each of them and with both of them, stretching over decades. What a burden to carry!

But then they reach their final stage of life and they become the dependent one. You now step into a caregiver role and have the responsibility to be there for them and take care of them. As a result, all the unfinished business often comes rushing to the forefront. This unique time is a prime opportunity to unload past issues and work through them as you attempt to give your parents the honor they deserve.

When you take these steps, you become clean of the poisons that can harm your life. You free yourself of the mental and emotional hazards that can cut your life short and you restore your potential for a naturally long life.

Have you experienced something similar? Are you currently going through this kind of situation? I’d love to hear your story. Ask anything by emailing me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What I Do and How I Can Help

what-i-do-pdf-kobrin

Do you want to know what sets me apart from other businesses? I am dedicated to putting my clients’ best interests first and making the life insurance process streamlined and clear. My passion is to ensure that my clients have the best coverage possible and find a plan that works for each and every unique situation that comes across my path. My firm goes above and beyond the norm to find policies for even the most difficult of cases.

How Important is Life Insurance?

Because of my experience, commitment, and specialization, I have been fortunate to work with a wide range of clients who refer their friends and family to me. I have a strong desire to help others and see them succeed. Many people do not realize the significant value of having life insurance or they do not believe life insurance is available for or applicable to their situation.

Life insurance is one of the key pieces for your financial future. Without it, your business may suffer or your family may not be taken care of. Let me help you find the best insurance for you and give you confidence and peace of mind for your family and investments. If you have a friend or family member who has questions or needs unbiased advice and guidance along their life insurance quest, please take the time to share the below information. If you’re a client and you’ve enjoyed working with me, I hope you’ll refer a friend, colleague, or family member who may benefit from my expertise and high-quality service. Learn more here.

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Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

What the NY Times DIDN’T Tell You About Universal Life Insurance

NewYorkTImes

A recent article in the business section of the New York Times levels some pretty severe criticism of insurance companies. In particular, it reports on alarming increases in the premiums of some universal life products. It not only details how these high costs are placing many families in financial jeopardy but also highlights the lawsuits that are currently being launched in protest against certain companies. From my point of view, the reporting is, unfortunately, accurate, and the criticism merited.

But it is only half the story. And the other half makes all the difference. First, a little background.

A Product With Two Ledgers

Universal life insurance is a permanent product. It can last as long as you do. Most importantly to know, it is designed with two sets of values: guaranteed and non-guaranteed. Guaranteed values are exactly that: a death benefit, premium, and cash accumulation that are contractually guaranteed. Regardless of the investment performance, cost of doing business, and amount of claims paid, the policy will provide these numbers as long as the insured sticks to the payment schedule.

Non-guaranteed values are also exactly as their name implies: a death benefit, premium, and cash accumulation that are projections based on certain assumptions. Variations in investment performance, cost of doing business, and the amount of claims paid can affect the numbers provided by the policy, even if the insured sticks to the payment schedule.

A Sales Process With Full Disclosure

For decades, life insurance company have taken great pains to make sure that consumers understand the difference between these two ledgers. They are painfully aware of how people can get confused, or simply forget what they bought. They also know that life insurance sales representatives are not always the best at explaining the intricacies of these complicated products. So, they have implemented a number of full-disclosure requirements to ensure that clients know what they are buying. Chief among these is an illustration that portrays the premium-payment schedule to which the client has committed and the values that can be expected to accrue going forward, both guaranteed and non-guaranteed. The client signs off on this illustration when they accept the policy.

What Happens When Company Expectations Are Not Met

Insurance companies, like all businesses, make assumptions about costs and profits going forward. And, like all businesses, they have to adjust to changing circumstances. When a life insurance company experiences unexpected losses or increases in costs, they are compelled to make up the difference somehow. One area they typically target is the non-guaranteed ledger in universal life policies. They can legally, and legitimately, raise the price to restore profitability.

This is exactly what is being reported in the New York Times article. And so we have the shock and dismay of policyholders who forgot this could happen, who never realized it could happen, or who knew it was coming but still don’t like it. But what the paper doesn’t tell you is that those policyholders who have employed a payment strategy based on guarantees are completely unaffected by poor business performance. Companies are required to meet the contractual guarantees, so they do.

Now let’s look at some of the points raised by the article, but also include the other side of the story.

Guaranteed Premiums Remain Unchanged

People who bought universal life policies in the 1980s and 1990s, some of which guaranteed annual returns of 4 percent or more, are seeing their premiums soar.

This is true, but only non-guaranteed premiums are increasing. Guaranteed premiums are staying the same. Due to the increased cost, the policy might not last as long on a guaranteed basis, but, this would only be true if the consumer did not buy a policy with a lifetime guarantee. If the lifetime guarantee is there, then the policy will last a lifetime at the guaranteed premium, regardless of the company’s annual return.

Existing Policyholders are Secure

In the United States, in the hopes of staving off a reckoning, some insurers have stopped selling particular products and have raised the price policyholders must pay for some existing policies.

True. Some companies have stopped selling universal life with guarantees. But those consumers with current policies can keep them, and the contractually-guaranteed premiums are not being raised.

Guaranteed Cash Values are Reliable

Universal policies typically cost more, but the coverage never expires, and the buyer gets both a fixed death benefit and a “cash value” account, designed to earn tax-exempt interest. Money in the account can be used to help pay the policy’s premiums. But there is a risk. If the account gets used up paying those costs, the policy can lapse, and coverage ends.

Universal policies typically cost more than what, term insurance? Sure they do. If you want the company to guarantee the premium for a longer period of time, they’re going to charge you more. But we are not comparing permanent life insurance to term insurance here. The fact of the matter is that universal life typically costs less than whole life insurance, which is one reason why people buy it.

Despite the lower premium, some people will still depend on cash accumulation to offset the cost of coverage. If their non-guaranteed interest assumptions fall short, then they may run out of cash and lapse the policy. However, if they were banking on guaranteed cash accumulation, they will not have the risk of the contract under-performing. Their coverage will not lapse.

What You Can Do

Here is the bottom line: if you bought a universal life policy based on guarantees, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. All the alarms being raised by this New York Times article do not apply to you. If you have a policy designed with interest assumptions that are falling short, then you may have a problem. But you know what? You very well may be eligible for a product from another company that could give you the guarantees you need at a reasonable price. Thankfully, it’s a big marketplace out there, and good values are still available for a great many people. I’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have. Ask anything by emailing me at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

About Steve

Steven Kobrin is a life insurance expert with 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at skobrin@stevenkobrin.com.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.