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What are the Expenses Associated with Buying and Holding an Annuity?

Annuities are generally the most costly financial product, because the investor has to pay fees/expenses in order to secure the insurance guarantees offered. Investors should take care to examine and understand all of the fees and expenses associated with annuities before purchasing. Many annuities are sold by insurance salesmen or commission-based advisors who will receive a commission around 5% or more. These charges are not always apparent to you up front, as they do not usually come out of your actual principal according to your account balance. Continue reading...

AA+/Aa1 — credit rating

AA+/Aa1 — credit rating

AA+ — S&P / Fitch Aa1 — Moody’s Major independent rating institutions such as Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) can make or break a company or municipality’s ability to issue debt at a competitive yield. They rank companies and debt issues in terms of the risk of default. Ratings in the A range are considered Investment Grade, which is a rating mostly used by institutional investors. The interesting thing is that there are 7 kinds of A ratings, and they are different between the ratings institutions. We will not list them here, but charts that show the system are readily available online. Continue reading...

How Do I Know that Life Insurance Companies are Reliable?

How Do I Know that Life Insurance Companies are Reliable?

Life insurance companies that have not been around more than 20 years may not be reliable. Even the ones that have been around 30 years or so need to have very good credit ratings and business models for you to expect them to be around in 30 years or so to pay a possible death claim. To determine whether an insurance company is reliable, it is necessary to look at their financial strength rating. A financial strength rating is a letter-grade provided by major rating services, such as Moody’s Investor Services, Fitch Ratings, and others. For example, Moody’s Investor Services ratings are as follows: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, etc. Continue reading...

What is Underwriting?

Underwriting is the process through which risks are accepted by an institution. Underwriting is the assessment of risk or the acceptance of risk after such assessment by a company or bank. Underwriters in insurance companies will assess a risk prior to the company accepting the risk; once the risk has been accepted the company bears the burden of covering the potential losses associated with the risk. The company is paid a premium for accepting the risk. Continue reading...

What will Long-Term Care Insurance Cover?

What will Long-Term Care Insurance Cover?

Long-term care insurance is designed to pay benefits for the elderly in need of daily medical services, such as an at-home nurse, room and board in an assisted living facility, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, and/or medical supplies needed for daily living. Depending on the insurance company offering the services and the policy selected, the menu of benefits will vary. The more benefits offered the higher the premium for the policy. Continue reading...

What is an Income Annuity?

What is an Income Annuity?

Income annuities are used by people in retirement to give them a steady, dependable stream of income until they die. It is a financial product sold by a life insurance company, which serves as a kind of longevity insurance, so that people cannot outlive their money. People often roll lump sums from 401(k)s into these plans. Though inflexible, the income payout rate is designed to be appealing when compared to most retirement investments. Continue reading...

What is Bond Insurance?

Bond insurance is a contract that protects the issuer and the holder of bonds from the risk that bond payments will not be made. Bond issues from the corporate or municipal world, or from derivative sources as with asset-backed securities and CDOs, come with the risk of default-- that is, that payments will not be made on time. The major credit ratings agencies (CRAs) assign a risk of default to each bond issue with proprietary analysis methods and ratings. Continue reading...

What is a Debt Settlement Company?

A debt settlement company is a company who specializes in helping people with overwhelming debt settle with their creditors. Debt settlement companies can help individuals with debt issues settle with their creditors for less than they owe. Of course, this will give the individual’s credit score a significant dent that stays on public record for seven years, but at least it gets people out from under their crushing debt. A settlement company will attempt to negotiate a settlement deal on your behalf with one or all of your creditors. Continue reading...

What is Universal Life Insurance?

What is Universal Life Insurance?

Universal Life Insurance is a permanent cash value insurance that has a term-insurance component and a savings component as well. The savings component is invested in a tax-deferred account, designed to create a cash build-up that can increase the death benefit or to be used at the discretion of the policy-owner. The cash grows inside the policy tax-deferred, and if money is taken out as a loan, it avoids taxation as income. Continue reading...

What is Whole Life Insurance?

What is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole Life Insurance provides lifelong death benefit coverage as well as a tax-deferred savings account. A large portion of your premium goes into the general account of the insurance company, and this increases the cash value available to the policy holder at a growth rate dependent on the investment and sales experience of the company. Every dollar and amount of interest which is credited to the policy cash value is vested with the policy-owner and will not decrease. Continue reading...

Is Life Insurance a Good Investment?

Is Life Insurance a Good Investment?

As a rule of thumb, life insurance should not be considered an investment at all, since it’s primary purpose is to provide insurance coverage. That said, some cash value policies have attractive features that can be appealing in certain circumstances. We will say that a smart investor who has done research and gotten good advice will generally not end up with a permanent cash value life insurance policy. Continue reading...

What is Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance covers a variety of risks to a homeowner, including damage to the property and the belongings within it, as well as liability coverage in the event that someone else is injured on the property. It does not include coverage for flood or earthquake damage, so people living in areas where that might be a problem will need to find a separate policy for those coverages. Homeowners insurance is highly advisable for any homeowner, and most mortgage lenders will require it. Continue reading...

What is Second-To-Die Life Insurance?

What is Second-To-Die Life Insurance?

Second-to-die policies are also known as survivorship policies, and are primarily used by married couples to provide a guaranteed legacy to their children after they have both passed away. These come in handy for estate planning, when an estate tax bill might be looming for the heirs. To be clear, this insurance covers the lives of two individuals and provides a death benefit to a listed beneficiary only after the last surviving insured individual dies. Continue reading...

What is the foreign credit insurance association?

What is the foreign credit insurance association?

The Foreign Credit Insurance Association protects American businesses from non-payment in international trade deals where goods were sold on credit. The Foreign Credit Insurance Association (FCIA) is a group of insurance companies which underwrite the foreign credit insurance sold by the Export-Import Bank of Washington DC. The Export – Import Bank, also known as the Ex/Im Bank, is an independent government entity that facilitates and encourages some international trade activity of American companies. Continue reading...

What is Variable Universal Life Insurance?

What is Variable Universal Life Insurance?

Variable Life Insurance is a permanent universal life policy that has a death benefit as long as the cash value and premiums are sufficient to pay the increasing cost per-thousand, while the premiums and cash value have the option of being invested in separate accounts which behave much like mutual funds. Often the policy-owner has a choice of many investment options, and can construct an entire portfolio within the policy. Continue reading...

What is Life Insurance?

What is Life Insurance?

Life insurance is one of the oldest financial products in existence, with roots going back beyond the ancient Roman Empire. Today, there are many different kinds of life insurance available, most representing variations on the main categories of term life, whole life, and universal life. It can be written in a private contract, but most often it is offered as packaged products to the public. Life Insurance’s main purpose is to ensure that dependents of a deceased provider or caretaker will have some financial resources to fall back on, but it can also be used as a means to create a guaranteed legacy or a tax-advantaged pool of money. Continue reading...

What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

A limited liability company (LLC) establishes a separate entity from the sole proprietor or partners in a business which shields them from some of the liability associated with the business. An LLC is a business entity that creates a distinction between the business’s assets and liabilities and the assets and liabilities of the owner or partners. Sole proprietors and partnerships who do not file for this distinction leave themselves and all of their personal assets at risk, in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. Continue reading...

What is the Investment Company Act of 1940?

The ‘40 Act, as it’s sometimes called, defined and delineated rules for investment companies, which today are known as mutual funds, investment trusts, ETFs, and so on. The ‘40 Act, along with the Securities Act of 1933, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, have formed the foundation for regulation in the investment industry in the US. The ‘40 Act defines investment companies and stipulates how they are to represent themselves and disclose information about the funds they sell to the public. Continue reading...

What is Accelerated Life Insurance?

What is Accelerated Life Insurance?

Life insurance contracts sometimes contain provisions by which the death benefits can be paid out to an insured person while they are still alive. This is called “accelerating” the benefits. Certain terms must be met for the benefits to be accelerated, and different policies have different contract language and exclusions. Sometimes these provisions are attached to a regular contract as a Rider, which might require an additional premium, or might be included by default. Continue reading...

Do I Need Life Insurance if I have an Annuity?

Do I Need Life Insurance if I have an Annuity?

If an annuity or pension will pay your spouse a survivor’s benefit that is adequate to support his or her lifestyle, then you may not need to a life insurance policy to cover this need. Annuities are seen as longevity insurance which protect against outliving money, while life insurance protects beneficiaries if the insured person dies younger than expected. If something happens to you and you have an annuity, your surviving spouse would either continue to receive periodic benefits or take a lump-sum distribution, depending on what kind of payout option you chose when you signed the contract. In the case of the lump sum it may only be for the amount of principal that had not been paid out yet in annuity payments. Continue reading...