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What does it mean to Accept Risk?

The notion of who bears risk for various sorts of failures, circumstances, or losses is a prevalent one in the financial world, and many institutions make all of their money accepting risks. To accept a risk is to bear the burden of loss or replacement if an event occurs that causes an asset to lose value or disappear. There is a bright side to this, however. There is a real and theoretical “risk premium” due to those who accept a risk. 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 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?

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?

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?

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?

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 a Self-Employed 401(k)?

Self-Employed 401(k)s are one of the best ways for self-employed people to save for retirement. Self-Employed 401(k)s function in exactly the same way traditional 401(k)s do, except for a few tweaks. First of all, Self-Employed 401(k)s can only be opened by a business owner or partnership with no employees, although your spouse may also contribute to the Self-Employed 401(k) if he or she works for the business. Continue reading...

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?

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 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?

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...

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 are the Basics of Life Insurance?

Life insurance guarantees that a death benefit is paid if an insured person dies while the policy is in effect. Various kinds of life insurance exist, and people buy various amounts of coverage for different purposes, most often to provide for the insured’s dependents if the insured dies prematurely. Life insurance represents a contractual obligation by a company to pay a death benefit to an insured person’s designated beneficiaries if the person dies while the policy is in force. Continue reading...

What is Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance?

Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage is normally offered as a rider on health or regular life insurance policies, or as a part of voluntary deduction supplemental insurance offered to an employee group. AD&D policies provide separate coverage and terms for the instance of death by accident and the loss of limbs or specific functionality of body parts. The main attraction to this insurance is that it is very affordable, and many employees check to box to have it deducted from their pay because it is such a negligible amount. Continue reading...

What does FDIC Insured mean?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is a government entity created by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, and its purpose is to protect savers from losing their deposits in banking institutions if the bank becomes insolvent. FDIC insurance only covers certain types of assets, up to certain limits for each person, and only at member banks. FDIC insurance will “make whole” any deposit amount up to $250,000 per person if the banking institution that held the funds declares insolvency. Most banks are members of the FDIC program, which was established by the Federal government in the 1930s. Continue reading...

What Amount of Life Insurance Should I Have?

You may hear different things about the amount of life insurance that you need. An easy way some suggest is to take your annual income and multiply it by 10. But that doesn’t take everything into account, such as debts, specific things you want the money to do, or a safe withdrawal rate to give your beneficiaries an income that you want them to have if something happens to you. The right number could be more like 20 times your annual income, but it all depends on the purpose of the money and your financial situation. Continue reading...

Do I Need Life Insurance?

If you are a provider to a family and your existing assets are not adequate to provide for them after your death, and you would like to make sure they are taken care of, then, yes, you need life insurance. If you have no dependents but you want to make sure a charity you support receives an endowment in your name, then life insurance may again be the tool to use. There may also be benefits to you while alive if you do not have many options for tax-deferred savings. Continue reading...

What if My Life Insurance Doesn’t Pay the Death Benefit to My Survivors?

Generally a life insurance company will have to pay a death benefit once the contestability period of two years has passed. Policies may have certain exclusions, such as suicide or death while committing a felony, but these will appear in the contract language. Even if it turns out that an insured person lied about smoking or their age, the insurance company will have to pay a death benefit that will simply be reduced to account for the premiums paid and what should have been the correct risk rating for the person. Most life insurance will pay out a death claim if death occurs for any reason after the contestability period has passed. Continue reading...

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