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Thursday, 25 February 2016
Although it hasn't affected any of us on this side of the country as of yet, the recent GOOGLE movement into selling online auto insurance caught everyone's attention in the insurance industry. Sure, there have been some others that still attempt to sell insurance online with at best, meager success. But to have the giant GOOGLE enter that market space got some attention. Personally, (and please forget that I do this for a living), person to person sales for big ticket items such as insurance still needs a person to handle it. Sure, we ALL get educated in some way online by seeing what is available, price shopping, price comparing etc. That's one of the conveniences of having online availability. But to take that final step to give my money to a computer for something as big as insurance, I along with obviously many others, just can't do it. We never know what the future holds in this arena but this GOOGLE development of pulling out of the online auto insurance sales market is an example of true selling/buying reality.
Take for example - purchasing a car. I bought a car last year and did much shopping over 6 to 8 months prior to purchase. I went to dealerships, shopped online, reviewed Kelly Blue Book online and Consumer Reports. After all of that, I felt like I was educated to make the right deal for the right car that worked for us. But when I wrote the check, I put it in the hands of a person - not a computer. I have people like that who buy insurance from us. They read, compare, get more education and when they come to us, they know better what they want. Then they find that we can truly SHOP for their coverage with a number of companies in our portfolio and find the best coverage for the best pricing here. That's been our goal over these many years. With the continued year over year growth we have enjoyed, we're still a welcomed place to purchase insurance vs. the available alternatives.
So GOOGLE tried and they decided it's not working and excuse me (along with many others) if I/we think it is because of the lack of personal contact and service available from the independent agent. We can walk customers through the complete process and custom make the insurance program that works best for their age, income and insurance history. One stop and you're insured with us. And unlike the ONE COMPANY outlets with the gecko and so many others, we're in the community, live and buy in that community and know the area where your insurance will be used. THAT makes a difference and I promise, we do our best to use all of that to YOUR advantage.
So let me close by saying ... we're here and always ready - not to be GIVEN your insurance business but we want to EARN it! You can reach us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212.
I'm a fan of GOOGLE! I use them almost everyday and am glad they've decided to stick with their core competencies that has made them a leader in the internet space. They don't need to worry about insurance sales! We've got this! :)
Posted on 02/25/2016 2:42 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 23 February 2016
I have these questions posed to me all the time? What type of insurance do I need? How much is not enough or too much in coverage? AND, who will benefit from me getting this insurance. These are all great questions and are rather easily answered. Certainly, there are so many choices that deciding what is best and how much can be confusing. I ran across this article last week by Tara Siegel Bernard in the New York Times that answers some of these questions.
You've probably seen the life insurance commercials in which small children, all wide-eyed and adorable, ask questions like, "Hey, Dad, what's life insurance?"
While these campaigns are supposed to put a small lump in your throat, most people don't think about life insurance until they absolutely have to. That usually happens when their financial well-being becomes increasingly intertwined with someone else's, which can come with getting married, buying a home or, the big one, bringing a child into the world.
Those happy events don't make the task of buying life insurance any more pleasant - just more urgent.
"It is one of those things that people put off," said Emilie R. Goldman, a financial planner in San Mateo, Calif. "Most people I talk to are pretty surprised about the amounts they need and often think because they have coverage at work, it's enough."
That's hardly ever the case. So consider this a back-to-basics guide that will help sort out what you need as quickly and efficiently as possible. Buying insurance has a lot in common with ripping off a Band-Aid: You just need to do it and then get on with the business of living.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions that are likely to arise:
What type do I need? Most people are best served by a plain-vanilla term insurance policy. At least that's what many financial planners - who are paid a fee for their advice - will recommend. As the name suggests, these policies pay a set amount if the policy owner dies within the boundaries of the term, typically somewhere between 10 years and 30 years.
Term insurance is simple, the policy features generally don't vary greatly across providers (other than the cost), and it's cheap compared with other types of insurance.
A healthy 30-year-old woman might pay $38 a month for a $1 million policy with a 20-year term (men pay $10 more) based on current average rates. A 45-year-old woman might pay about $48 a month for a $500,000 policy with a 20-year term ($60 for men). Smokers can expect to pay two to three times as much.
But don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting across the table from an insurance agent who tries to push a permanent insurance policy, like whole life or universal life insurance. Those policies generate higher commissions, so there's that temptation for the agent. And even if the agent truly believes in the merits of permanent insurance, which can accumulate a cash value, it is far more expensive, often costing several thousand dollars a year.
Permanent life insurance can, however, be the right choice for people who will always have a need for life insurance. They might include the parents of a child with special needs or a wealthy family who will owe estate taxes.
How much to buy? The rule of thumb tossed around most often is to buy coverage worth 10 times the policyholder's salary. But each family's needs will vary depending on what amount of income the family is seeking to replace and what other items family members may want, or need, to pay for.
Would you want to take time off from work if a spouse died? Pay off the mortgage (or just receive enough to continue making payments)? Pay for a portion or all of college? Are there any debts that would need to be repaid?
Matt Becker, a financial planner in Florida whose practice focuses on younger families, said working parents should buy enough insurance to replace their income for five to 20 years, depending on how old their children are and whether a spouse or partner could support the children on one income.
"For a stay-at-home parent, you should consider the cost of hiring someone else to perform all of your daily duties," added Mr. Becker, who created a life insurance guide and a work sheet to calculate how much insurance you'll need. The costs can add up, particularly when considering child care, buying and preparing meals, chauffeuring children around and the overall job of keeping a household running.
One policy or more? Families' needs will probably change over time, so some individuals may consider buying policies with different expiration dates: maybe a $1 million policy with a 20-year term that gets the children through college and another $500,000 policy with a 30-year term that gets you to retirement.
That's a strategy suggested by Mark Maurer, president of Low Load Insurance Services, which provides insurance to other fee-only advisers. "You're layering it for different milestones," he added.
But since it's usually cheaper to buy term insurance in bulk, he said it wasn't always cost-effective to buy policies in increments of less than $500,000.
Buy the policy as soon as the need arises, or even earlier. Pregnant women, particularly late in their pregnancies, may pay more because of their weight and naturally elevated cholesterol levels.
Whom to name as beneficiary? The easiest alternative for a happily married couple is to name one another as the beneficiary.
But if both parents die and a minor child is named as a contingent beneficiary, or if a single parent names a child as a beneficiary, matters can get complicated. Surrogate courts will probably get involved.
The simplest and most inexpensive way to avoid this situation is to have the policyholder's will create a testamentary trust after the holder's death. The trust is named as the beneficiary, providing instructions for a named trustee, said Steven A. Loeb, a lawyer with Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, in Parsippany, N.J.
But that's not the only option. An individual can also create a revocable living trust, which essentially serves as a will but has the added benefit of avoiding probate, the sometimes-lengthy court-directed process to settle a will. Unlike a will, the trust remains private and doesn't become a public record, as long as it's properly funded.
Then there's the bulletproof option. Parents can name an irrevocable life insurance trust as the owner and beneficiary of the policy. Not only does that protect the money from creditors (helpful for doctors subject to malpractice suits), it also removes the proceeds from the estate for tax purposes.
Life insurance proceeds aren't subject to income taxes, but the amount is included in the deceased's estate, said Brett J. Barthelmeh, an estate planning attorney with Squillace & Associates in Boston.
That isn't a problem for most people, now that the federal estate tax exemption is $5.45 million (double that for married couples). And while there are states with far lower exemptions for state estate taxes - New Jersey is a mere $675,000 and Massachusetts is $1 million - many families don't set up trusts to avoid those taxes.
Why? Assets left to a spouse are not subject to estate taxes. And the surviving spouse is likely to spend a big chunk of the insurance money anyway. But state estate taxes could become an issue, at least in certain states, if both parents died with substantial policies.
Where to buy it? There are many choices in the market place as with all insurance. But in our case at Benton White Insurance, we really do offer a ONE STOP SHOP for life insurance. The reason is - we have 15 companies with rates that in almost all cases are the least expensive in the market. The article suggested that one should work with an independent agent who has access to the top term insurance providers. We've known that for years and that is just what we offer. That's important because some insurers may provide better pricing for people who are overweight, while others may be more competitive for policyholders, say, in their 40s and 50s. We have choices here at the agency.
Another questions that some often ask: What about just buying coverage through an employer? It's usually not a good idea. "If you're healthy, individually underwritten coverage is better than group," said Byron J. Udell, founder and president of an online quoting service for life insurance. That's because employer-provided group coverage doesn't usually require a medical exam, so workers pay a bit more to account for less healthy people in the mix. Also, employer policies are generally not portable if you switch jobs.
We're here to help you! Contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. We began our career in life insurance and are approaching 38 years experience in this field. We have the answers you need and the competitive products available to make life insurance an easy and affordable purchase.
In closing .... honestly, the biggest mistake people with dependents can make is NOT buying any life insurance at all. Don't let that be you!
Posted on 02/23/2016 2:22 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
Some put it off and in the end - their family LOSES! Some are proactive NOW and everyone WINS!
When I began my insurance career as a life insurance producer, I found out quite early what an important role life insurance plays in the life of a family after a love one passes away. It's truly astounding what life insurance can do to help a family grieving the loss of the loved one. It never replaces that person but surely takes a layer of pain away during that devastating time. This past year, I have represented my companies who paid several of my insured's beneficiaries hundreds of thousands of dollars in life insurance benefits. This is just a small amount of the millions of dollars of life insurance coverage that I have written on customers - of all ages through these many years.
Here is a creative 2 minute presentation that displays LOSING OR WINNING by having life insurance.
Posted on 02/16/2016 12:38 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 09 February 2016
When I first entered this career in the insurance business in 1978, I started it all by being a life & health insurance adviser. I've continued to write a lot of life insurance throughout this 38 year career and really enjoy digging down with customers to decide what is best, how much is enough and finding the perfect plan that fits their budget. The great Ben Feldman - a premier life insurance salesman in the 60's and 70's always promoted this phrase: 'You spend pennies on the dollar and create safety and financial wealth with those dollars for families to survive at death!' After the many death claims I have facilitated over the years for widows and widowers, I see the TRUE VALUE of life insurance and how it truly has saved a lot of additional heartache after a loved one breathes their last breath! Life insurance is needed and it works!
Here's a quick and simple video that breaks down the need for life insurance and what it can do:
We've written millions of dollars of coverage over the years! Our premiums are extremely competitive and most always save you money from either other company or online shopping for coverage. I have 15 companies to choose from and we can find the right match for you. Simply contact our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. It's not a matter of IF you die - but WHEN you die. Let us help you be ready to help your loved ones when you do!
Posted on 02/09/2016 2:12 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 02 February 2016
We've written recently about pipes bursting, dishwasher or ice-maker pipes leaking or a supply line to a toilet or washing machine going bad and drenching your house with water! When ANY of this happens, you have inside flooding that almost certainly will damage your carpets, hardwoods, furniture and I could continue down the list. If you are in that unfortunate place, there are steps you can take that will prevent excessive damage in your home and YOU can do them immediately. It could be the difference between total damage and light or no damage.
Here are quick Emergency Steps that you can take upon discovering in-house flooding in your home, condo or apartment:
There are also some things YOU SHOULD NOT DO:
What duties do you have as an insured to handle?
Maybe some of these items are common sense to you or maybe they are all foreign since you haven't experienced in-home flooding before. But take advice from those that have gone through this. They wish they had this list in their hands when they went through this hardship in their own property. Thinking prevention and having action steps in place TODAY can make a gigantic difference for you if you unfortunately do face this later!
Hopefully, you see with this blog post one of the biggest reasons we produce these weekly. We feel strongly about the education our customers should receive in all aspects of insurance policy ownership. If we can help you, we're here and ready to earn your business! Contact any of our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or dial us up at 615.377.1212. Let's hope you never have to use this list! THANKS for your business or that which you potentially would like to bring or send our way! We're here and ready to earn it!
Posted on 02/02/2016 1:21 PM by Benton White
Friday, 29 January 2016
I caught this article this week that I thought was beneficial - especially during this first quarter of the year when you can make financial/insurance adjustments that you can follow for the remainder of 2016 and beyond. I see the benefit of planning financially everyday in my own life and those customers I serve. Sadly, I also see the problems associated with NOT planning financially and with proper insurance coverage's.
This article from Scott Stump of NBCNews.com/Today has some great points contributed by Jean Chatzky - TODAY financial editor. Take a couple of minutes to review this. It could help you!
Often because it's too stressful to think about or seemingly too expensive to implement, many people fail to put a protection plan in place to safeguard their money.
Here are three areas that can help protect your money from being wiped out in the case of an emergency or disaster. From giving yourself an emergency cushion to the different types of insurance to estate taxes, here are some helpful tips.
1. Have an emergency cushion.
2. Get insurance.
3. Have estate plans.
We can help with everything you read about above. Even though we don't do estate plans any longer, we did them earlier in our career and now recommend some highly trained and experienced folks who specialize in financial/estate planning. However, on the insurance side, we can fill those holes today! Simply contact our office at info@BentonWhite.com or call any staff member at 615.377.1212.
Don't be caught without the proper planning in place to help you and your family survive the unexpected. Everyone involved will be so much better taken care of if you put an action plan together that includes these items.
Posted on 01/29/2016 12:59 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
A scenario from one of our customers who filed a claim: Washing machine piping was old and a leak occurred and they were not at home. The laundry room was upstairs and water ended up flowing in numerous places both upstairs and downstairs. Their insurance claim was sizable and the inconvenience lasted for many days until all was repaired. If they had been home, they could have prevented such serious damage had they turned off their main water valve into the house.
So the question is: If you have a leak or serious flow of water begin in your residence, would YOU know how to stop the water coming into your home? Watch this:
Often times, when you think about water damaging your home, you might conjure up an image of a hurricane, torrential rain or other natural catastrophe. The unfortunate reality is that damage that is caused when ordinary household appliances fail can be just as destructive as an extreme weather event. Also, with these cold temperatures, you have to be ready for the possibility of frozen pipes bursting and causing damage.
According to the Insurance Industry Institute, water damage accounts for billions of dollars in losses to homeowners and renters each year. It is also responsible for about 25 percent of all property insurance claims. Insurance company claim data suggests that water is ten times more likely to damage your home than fire.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to help prevent water damage from appliances, and protect your home. It is helpful to understand some of the common causes of water damage, which include leaky baseboard heating, air conditioning condensation drains, and failed water heaters, washing machine hoses and plumbing.
These household appliances do not always offer warning signs until the damage has already occurred. That is why it is important to check them regularly. The simple steps below can help you protect your home from the most common causes of water damage:
Hopefully, these tips will help us all be more aware and motivated to be on the offense for water drainage/leaks instead of being completely caught off guard and having a major water disaster where you live. If we can help or offer any insurance for you, your family, or friends, we're ready to earn it. Please contact any of our staff at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com ... Let's keep it dry in our homes!
Posted on 01/26/2016 3:29 PM by Benton White
Saturday, 23 January 2016
Meteorologists are calling for extremely cold weather in Middle Tennessee tonight & for the next couple of days. We hope these tips below will help to increase your chances of avoiding frozen pipes during this extreme cold weather!
Tip #1 - Run Water! In extremely cold temperatures, keep a small stream of both hot and cold water flowing at a faucet at each end of your home. Flowing water does not freeze. The stream does not need to be full flow, just about the size of the graphite in a standard #2 pencil.
Tip #2 - Close everything up. Close the vents and doors to your crawlspace. If the pipes beneath your home are exposed to wind, it is far more likely that they will freeze. Also, if you have a water heater or other water piping in your garage be sure that your garage door is closed.
Tip #3 - Keep everything heated. If you have sinks on an exterior wall, open your cabinet doors. If you only keep parts of your home heated in the winter, in extremely cold weather, be sure to turn the heat on to all parts of your home.
Tip #4 - Remove your garden hoses. Do you still have garden hoses attached to your outside hydrants? If so, remove them. Many hydrants are designed to let water, inside the hydrant, drain. If your hoses are still attached, the water has nowhere to drain and can freeze and bust the hydrant.
We see many claims each year from PIPES BURSTING and causing damage to ceilings, walls, floors and anything else the water overflow comes in contact with. You have a better chance of frozen pipes not occuring if you heed the advice above. We have already started doing these procedures in our home to hopefully prevent a large plumbing bill and insurance claim from these subfreezing temperatures this week. Of course, if you are not successful in preventing frozen pipes, we're here and ready to help with your claim! Just call any staff member at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com. You could also refer to our blog post this week "It's Back! Rain, Slush, Ice, Snow!" that gives you complete information on how to you can reach us if you have that unfortunate claim during this harsh winter weather.
Stay safe and warm and we're ready if you need us ... and good luck with those pipes!
Posted on 01/23/2016 2:25 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Here we go again! I guess we can't complain since the fall and early winter was above average warm. However, we have two weather events facing us this week. One is overnight tonight and another on Thursday/Friday of this week. So it's time to do the right stuff now so you won't have that unfortunate insurance claim and deductible money spent because of possible bad weather.
Here's the info: (from the National Weather Service):
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW... SLEET... OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES... AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.
WINTRY MIX OF SNOW AND ICE EXPECTED LATE TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY....WITH AN ARCTIC AIRMASS ALREADY IN PLACE A STORM SYSTEM WILL MOVE ACROSS THE REGION LATE TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY... LIKELY BRINGING A MIX OF SNOW... SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN TO THE MID-STATE. MIDDLE TENNESSEE COULD SEE UP TO AN INCH OF SNOW AND A TENTH OF AN INCH OF ICE. MAJOR TRAVEL IMPACTS ARE POSSIBLE SO AN UPGRADE TO A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR PORTIONS OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE MAY BECOME NECESSARY.
We've put together an extensive weather checklist that you can use in order to be sure you are READY for these and other upcoming winter weather systems! CLICK HERE for a printable PDF that we hope will be of help!
If you happen to have a claim need during this event or at anytime, we're here to help. Call us at 615.377.1212 or EMail us at info@BentonWhite.com. Or, for your 24/7 convenience, you can use our claim information from our website available HERE: Our 24/7 claim numbers are HERE:
Insurance isn't any good if we're not here for you when you need us! We are here and are ready to help! THANKS for your business!
Posted on 01/19/2016 11:33 AM by Benton White
Friday, 15 January 2016
Unfortunately, we've seen a lot of rear-end vehicle crashes lately. Draw your own conclusions as to why that might be but certainly, at the top of the list, you have to ask: "Are drivers paying close attention to what they are doing when on the highways!"
More often than you would think. we get calls from customers asking: "I just got hit from behind by someone! What should I do?" That's not surprising because insurance is first of all, complicated for most of us but especially questions do arise when you are not at fault and you expect the other party to be completely responsible for damages and any possible injuries you might face. Even one of our staff had a rear-end collision over the holidays from someone who accelerated by anticipation instead of actually seeing the car in front (our staffer) move forward. Hopefully, this will help if you are in one of these situations in the future.
We're here to help! Letting us know you've had this incident as soon as you can assures for you that we have documented your information if you do need to file a claim with one of our companies. As an example, in the 4th quarter last year, one of our great long-tenured insureds called to say their son was in an accident but he was hit from behind in a multi-car collision. They were thinking he wasn't at fault but wanted to tell us just the same. At this point of the claim that is almost settled, our company has paid nearly $30,000 in expenses for this one accident and our insured shared fault. So one never knows what can happen in one of these rear-end type accidents.
If you have additional questions or we can assist you further regarding anything insurance, EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com or call any of our staff at 615.377.1212. We're here to earn your business and help you navigate through claims!
Posted on 01/15/2016 9:23 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Sadly, it's that season of fires! So many fires are caused during colder weather where space heaters or heat lamps are used in the wrong place or in inappropriate ways! That's the case for two fires in the Williamson County area Monday morning .. Here are details!
A Williamson County home where a couple resided for multiple decades, according to family, was destroyed in a fire Monday morning. The house fire on the 5000 block of Carters Creek Pike was reported by multiple motorists passing by just before 8 a.m., said Bill Jorgensen, director of public safety in Williamson County. Tony and Connie Jones were not at home at the time. The house is one of several homes on a family property, son-in-law Jason Eubanks said. Eubanks estimated Tony and Connie Jones have resided at the home 35-40 years. Flames were coming from the back of the home, where the most extensive damage occurred, when firefighters arrived, Jorgensen said. Trees in the back were also scorched.
No injuries were reported.
Investigators are looking at whether the fire started in the area near a space heater, Jorgensen said. But the cause is still undetermined.
Fire also destroyed a Brentwood family's home earlier on Monday. The preliminary investigation indicates the fire may have been caused by a heat lamp in a dog house on an outside deck.
"The biggest concern we have in cold weather is people using alternative heating methods," said Brentwood Fire Department Chief Brian Goss.
Here are some fire and cold weather tips from the Brentwood and Nashville fire departments and Williamson County Emergency Management Agency. They include:
If we can help you with insuring your property or can be of service another way, please let us know. Contact our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212. We're always ready to earn your good business!
Posted on 01/12/2016 3:00 PM by Benton White
Friday, 08 January 2016
We've been very busy during the last 6 weeks writing Affordable Health Care (ACA) policies. Several of our customers had to wait until national enrollment to secure their new coverage and since they were customers of ours already, we were able to help. The premiums shocked most everyone I talked to and for those that couldn't afford the increased costs, we were able to lower benefits to help them meet their premium needs for their budget.
The New York Times published an eye-opening article this past Tuesday that explains what we have been seeing. Securing new coverage is the beginning of even more expenses for each insured based on what their needs for coverage claims are. As you will see in this report, hardships arise even if the coverage is there.
Here is the surest way to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having health insurance: Don't get sick.
The number of uninsured Americans has fallen by an estimated 15 million since 2013, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act. But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails as a safety net. Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments - sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.
Carrie Cota learned the hard way that health insurance does not guarantee financial security. Ms. Cota, a 56-year-old travel agent from Rosamond, Calif., learned she had the autoimmune disease lupus in 2007. She ran up thousands of dollars in medical and dental bills and ended up losing her job, and eventually her house.
"I had to move in temporarily with my ex-husband," she said in a recent interview. "I'm staying with him until I can figure out what to do."
In the new poll, conducted by The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 20 percent of people under age 65 with health insurance nonetheless reported having problems paying their medical bills over the last year. By comparison, 53 percent of people without insurance said the same.
These financial vulnerabilities reflect the high costs of health care in the United States, the most expensive place in the world to get sick. They also highlight a substantial shift in the nature of health insurance. Since the late 1990s, insurance plans have begun asking their customers to pay an increasingly greater share of their bills out of pocket though rising deductibles and co-payments. The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, protected many Americans from very high health costs by requiring insurance plans to be more comprehensive, but at the same time it allowed or even encouraged increases in deductibles.
"We're at a point where there's been slow growth in health care costs and huge improvements in the numbers of people who have health insurance," said Sara Collins, a vice president at the Commonwealth Fund, a health research group. "But there is this underlying trend towards higher cost sharing that could put increasing numbers of people at risk for being underinsured."
Among those who reported having problems paying their bills despite having insurance, 63 percent said they used up all or most of their savings; 42 percent took on an extra job or more work hours; 14 percent moved or took in roommates; and 11 percent turned to charity.
Randy Farris, 58, a factory worker from Conger, Minn., needed a knee replacement three years ago. His insurance covered 80 percent of the bill, but he needed to cash in an I.R.A. to pay his $4,000 share. "I haven't been to the doctor since because I don't want any more doctor bills," he said. His wife's retirement savings had been wiped out years before, he said, when he used them to pay her hospital bills after she died of cancer.
The health law has led to a decline in the number of Americans suffering financial stress from health problems, thanks to the new options for receiving coverage, especially for the poor. But the problem is still widespread, touching roughly a quarter of Americans under 65, when the insured and uninsured are looked at together. Americans older than 65 are covered by Medicare, which more frequently protects people from major financial trouble.
Unlike other polls, which have focused on the ways that insurance affects health care, the new Times-Kaiser survey explored the effects of medical bills on people's daily lives well beyond the medical system. We found that medical bills don't just keep people from filling prescriptions and scheduling doctors' visits. They can also prompt deep financial and personal sacrifices, affecting their housing, employment, credit and daily lives. Kaiser has released a report today, detailing the survey's main findings about this population.
"The major impact is actually a pocketbook or economic impact: their ability to pay the rent or the mortgage or buy food," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
People without health insurance, of course, are more vulnerable to medical bills than those with health coverage. The study found that the people most likely to report bill problems were uninsured, poor or disabled. But the majority of people struggling with bills are insured. Of the people in the survey reporting difficulty with their medical bills, 34 percent lacked health insurance, 39 percent had insurance through work, 14 percent were covered through public programs and 7 percent had purchased their own health plans.
One reason, many experts said, is a gradual shift in the norms about the generosity of health insurance. In recent years, health plans have come with growing deductibles and narrowing networks of providers, provisions devised to lower the cost of premiums. Those features have made health insurance accessible to a larger share of the population, but may also be leaving more insured Americans vulnerable.
Ten years ago, David Dranove, a professor of health management at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, conducted research on people experiencing medical bankruptcies. The study he co-authored found that bankruptcy was largely a problem of the uninsured. "But with more people buying less generous health insurance, I think the old evidence might no longer be relevant," he said.
Insured people with financial problems often have plans with higher deductibles. But many said that the smaller co-payments piled up to make their care unaffordable. Many also received big bills that were not covered by their insurance. Among the 32 percent of insured patients stuck with an out-of-network bill, more than than two-thirds of patients said they didn't know the provider wasn't covered. More than 25 percent of the insured respondents said a medical claim had been denied.
Medical bill problems rarely occur in a vacuum, the survey found. Most of the people surveyed said their finances were tight even before there was an illness in their family. This pattern held true even for families higher on the income scale. The rates at which people with medical bill problems sought charity or borrowed money from friends was similar among people earning less than $25,000 and those earning more than $100,000.
Research on medical bankruptcies has been controversial because it can be hard to untangle how medical bills fit into a family's overall pattern of financial troubles. Twenty-nine percent of the people with medical bill problems said a family member had been forced to stop working or cut back on hours. (On the other side, about 41 percent of people said they'd taken on extra work to help pay bills.)
"Is that a job problem or a medical bill problem?" said David Himmelstein, a professor of public health at the City University of New York's Hunter College School of Public Health who has studied medical bankruptcies. "It's both of those things."
The survey included a random sample of 1,204 adults under 65 who reported problems paying household medical bills in the past 12 months. Interviews were conducted online and by telephone between Aug. 28 and Sept. 28, and some respondents gave follow-up interviews in December. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. Information about the poll methodology is available here.
The survey asked people to describe the ways that bills had changed their lives. The chart above shows some of the most common answers.
If we can help you with any insurance needs you may have, please let us know. Our staff is readily available at 615.377.1212 or you can EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com. Visit our website too - there is loads of great information there at BentonWhite.com. We're always ready to earn your business!
[Portions of this blog is taken from "Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt, Study Finds" by David Leonhardt, The New York Times / January 5th, 2016]
Posted on 01/08/2016 2:56 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 05 January 2016
Happy New Year and we hope you are ready for another opportunity we all get to start fresh with new activities, new ideas and no doubt another great adventure! I saw a great quote last week from country music singer - Brad Paisley that was posted on New Year's Eve: It read: "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book! Write a good one!" I'm all for that so let's get to it!
We're seeing a lot about what different car insurance policies offer with saturated advertising all over the place! We see in these advertisements that Company A offers accident forgiveness or Company B offers total loss coverage to a new vehicle or pet coverage and more. The companies releasing these ads make it seem like they are the ONLY ones offering this type of coverage. But as usual in advertising, it's not as it seems. The companies we represent have the same - similar coverage's and in many cases, BETTER options than the advertised companies. Some just like to shout about it more than others!
My companies offer all or many of these same extra coverage's. Some are included in the policy - some for a small additional fee. So let me shout what's out here for your viewing pleasure and hopefully, this won't be as obnoxious as some of these commercials we all see:
So YES, we offer all of this and more! Feel free to contact our staff at info@BentonWhite.com or call us at 615.377.1212.. We're ready to help you save premium dollars on your auto, home, apartment coverage, motorcycles or any other insurance you may need. It's there for asking and we're ready to be asked!
As always, thanks for reading! We'll continue to give you information that hopefully you can use as you work your way through 2016!
Posted on 01/05/2016 2:57 PM by Benton White
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
Today - our #1 Christmas video this holiday season. Grab some tissues and enjoy what we think is an important part of Christmas.
Tomorrow, a personal family greeting on Christmas Eve. We hope you'll check back here on the blog for that! In the meantime, we wish for you and your family, a very Merry Christmas and the best to you in 2016. Thanks for letting us serve you with insurance. As we always say, "we appreciate your business!"
Posted on 12/23/2015 3:40 PM by Benton White
Tuesday, 22 December 2015
We continue our video countdown for Christmas. We hope you enjoy these selections and trust that each make your Christmas a little more enjoyable and more meaningful.
We wish for you and your family, a very Merry Christmas and the best to you in 2016. Thanks for letting us serve you with insurance. As we always say, "we appreciate your business!"
Posted on 12/22/2015 12:10 PM by Benton White
Monday, 21 December 2015
We continue our video countdown for Christmas. We hope you enjoy these selections and trust that each make your Christmas a little more enjoyable and more meaningful.
We wish for you and your family, a very Merry Christmas and the best to you in 2016. Thanks for letting us serve you with insurance. As we always say, "we appreciate your business!
Posted on 12/21/2015 1:51 PM by Benton White
Friday, 18 December 2015
We continue our video countdown for Christmas with #4 in our Top 5 Christmas Videos of 2015. We hope you enjoy these selections and trust that each make your Christmas a little more enjoyable and more meaningful.
We wish for you and your family, a very Merry Christmas and the best to you in 2016. Thanks for letting us serve you with insurance. As we always say, "we appreciate your business!
Posted on 12/18/2015 10:55 AM by Benton White
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Today, we begin our video countdown for Christmas. We hope you enjoy these selections and trust that each of these for the next 5 days will make your Christmas a little more enjoyable and meaningful!We wish for you and your family, a very Merry Christmas and the best to you in 2016. Thanks for letting us serve you with insurance. As we always say, "we appreciate your business!"
Posted on 12/17/2015 10:31 AM by Benton White
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
During this great year of 2015, we have tried to educate and hopefully entertain a little on this Benton White Insurance blog! The response has been awesome and so glad you are enjoying our efforts to educate as well as inform about all things insurance. THANK YOU for your readership! What good is a blog without eyes on it to digest our material. Also, thanks to my blog technician, Mark McGowan who takes what we produce and makes it come alive on this page as well as across social media outlets on the web. His work is such a big part of what we want to create. He honestly makes us look good!
Beginning this Thursday, we'll post what we consider the TOP 5 Christmas videos of this 2015 Christmas season. I am amazed at the quality and the meaning of some of these advertisements or public relations videos we are seeing. I have reviewed many and have narrowed down to the top 5 for your viewing pleasure. They surely have helped me get into this wonderful Christmas spirit as well as reminded me about the TRUE meaning of Christmas ....
Then, on December 24 - Christmas Eve .... I'll post a personal Christmas Greeting from me and my family. Basically, it's time for you see my crew - all 18 of them - kids and grandkids ... Can't help it! Got to do it! Hope you'll enjoy seeing these folks I so care about and really, what makes my earthly world go 'round and 'round...
So be ready - video #5 - this Thursday ....
Thanks again for joining us on the blog. We truly treasure your interest!
Posted on 12/15/2015 2:47 PM by Benton White
Friday, 11 December 2015
The holidays often find us at our busiest, most stressed, least careful, and most distracted time. They also bring a sudden, seasonal spike in the flow of goods, money and digital information through our homes and businesses.
Criminals know, and prey, on this - waiting to catch you off guard, while they make off with personal property or, worse, your identity.
Here are five types of theft to watch for, and a few things you can do to help protect your purchases, personal information, or business, this holiday season.
If you really want to dampen your Christmas spirit this year, having a theft of your personal belongings or Christmas gifts could do it. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! The above precautions can go a long way in helping you prevent sadness and loss this holiday season by taking these few precautionary steps. At Benton White Insurance, insurance is our world but prevention is also. Hopefully this will help you to be more aware during this wonderful season of Christmas.
Coming next week - a special Christmas Holiday treat for all of our blog readers! Stay tuned!
[Thanks to Christine Lamb - Sales Executive with Travelers Insurance for furnishing this good data for us to use!]
Posted on 12/11/2015 1:20 PM by Benton White
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09/13/2017Mobile Apps for your Convenience!
Having convenience in the palm of your hand - 24/7 - is one of the big advantages of today's computer / mobile phone technology. Our companies understand this and are offering some excellent mobile apps to help you navigate your insurance portfolio you have with us. Advantages of having the mobile app readily available: Pay your bills Set up and manage automatic payments Check the Status of a claim and/or view your claim history View your insurance ID Cards View your actual policy...