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Financial Incentive Guidelines for Wellness Programs

/// Posted by Tom Connors

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Happy New Year to all, and get those Super Bowl plans ready!

Unless you are currently offering a well-organized & exciting wellness program that encourages your employees to get out and take walks at lunch, count their steps, eat healthy, and even consider throwing that pack of cigarettes (or vapes for you youngsters) in the trash,  all those wellness programs that took a ton of our time to plan and got approved by management, that seemed progressive and many times “fun”, just got a kick in the pants!  Where do we go from here?

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Tom Connors, Managing Director of Group Benefits for the Hilb Group – part of the Sapers & Wallack organization – answers 3 questions about our January blog, “Financial Incentive Guidelines for Wellness Programs”

Listen to our podcast here:

 

Universal Life Insurance: A Rebuttal

/// Posted by Wayne Slattery

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‘Universal Life Insurance, a 1980s Sensation, Has Backfired’

“A long decline in interest rates caused premiums to soar when they were supposed to stay level.” – Wall Street Journal

As soon as I read this headline in the Wall Street Journal I was surprised by how misleading it was, and decided to write a response.  A little bit about me, I started my career in financial services with MetLife in 2004 at the age of 24.  I spent 13 years with them until they sold their whole financial division in July of 2017.  MetLife was a giant in the life insurance industry and a main player in providing the Universal life insurance product, specifically the type mentioned in the attached article.  Many evenings I would make phone calls, receive calls from policy holders, or meet with policy owners to give them the bad news:  Your policy is “blowing up”. This was a term we used when someone had a policy where there was no more cash and the premium was skyrocketing.  Many, as you can imagine, were not thrilled to see or hear from me in this instance.    We will discuss later how I was able to help most people continue their coverage, but first I’d like to discuss some basics of the policy itself.

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November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month

/// Posted by Aviva Sapers

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Long-term illnesses are very challenging emotionally, physically, and especially financially.  I should know, as I have lived through 3 grandparents, 2 in-laws, and one mother who all needed or still need care.  It is difficult to watch those you love lose the ability to do for themselves, and to experience the toll it takes on family and friends who are thrust into the role of caregiver. 

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Is There a Better Option for College Savings than Using a 529?

/// Posted by Aviva Sapers

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Many people feel that the most cost effective way to fund college for their kids is by contributing to a 529 plan.  The benefits are:

  • All earnings grow tax free and are distributed tax free if used for qualified education expenses
  • 30 states offer full or partial deduction – Not MA
  • Owner can change beneficiaries and maintain control past college
  • Funding can vary as needs dictate
  • No age or income limits or annual contribution limits (up to $500,000 per beneficiary)

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Retirement in the Age of Rising Health Care Costs

/// Posted by Scott Tuxbury

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Most people make a concerted effort to plan and save for retirement, but many fail to account for the projected toll that health care costs will take on their mandatory expenses throughout their retirement. There is a common misconception that savings will be enough to cover living expenses while Medicare can cover health care related costs, but reality doesn’t always match the numbers, and Medicare only covers approximately 60%.  

Earlier this year, the Fidelity Retirement Health Care Cost Estimate found that an average retired couple, age 65 in 2018, would need around $280,000 saved (after taxes) just to cover health care expenses. That is a big ask for most couples, and both health care inflation and expected lifespan are continuing to increase at expedited rates to compound the problem.

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Have you Protected your Property, Employees, and Reputation?

/// Posted by Aviva Sapers

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Whether you’re the owner of a small business or involved in risk management for a national organization, the right Property and Casualty coverage can have a huge impact on protecting your business against unforeseen events. P&C Insurance exists to safeguard the buildings, vehicles, and people that make up your business structure, but P&C coverage can be as varied as the types of businesses out there. 

Once a year, we like to remind our current and prospective clients to work with their insurance broker to review the specifics of their P&C coverage. Property liability and bodily injury in the workplace can deal a devastating financial blow to  a business of any size. Staying on top of the unique components that make up your coverage will not only provide peace-of-mind for you and your employees, but also mitigate chances of reputational damage or other catastrophic setbacks to your business goals caused by injury, mishap, property damage, or negligence.

For smaller businesses, a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) combines property coverage and general liability insurance into one blanket policy. BOPs have limited eligibility requirements based on number of employees, amount of revenue, low risk industry status, and smaller office/workspace.   

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Five Ideal Summer Action Items

/// Posted by S&W

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Have you ever come home from a trip with a renewed perspective?  Sometimes the very activities designed to help us relax can also work to free the mind so we can more easily prioritize what needs to get done.  Here are five goals that can be great to achieve during the rest of the summer.  Click on each to learn more.

#1 Summer offers an ideal window during which to hire a tax preparer. If this is a task that has been gnawing at you, bite the bullet and do it! You’ll be thankful come next tax season that this necessary chore has been taken care of.  

#2 Summer is a time for re-evaluating whether you need long term care insurance, or at least learning more about it. Check out our long term care insurance page with a long term care shopper’s guide, tools, calculators and a webinar that walks you through all aspects of long term care insurance.  

#3 Summer is a time to take stock of whether you are fully engaged with your financial picture – or whether you have been letting your spouse or partner take the lead too often, for too long. Over the years, many women fall farther and farther behind in knowledge and familiarity with all things financial. 

#4 Summer is a good time to make sure your high school graduate has the right estate planning documents before heading off to college. To ensure students and their families are as prepared as possible for college life, it is necessary to set up an incapacity plan that includes a health care proxy, durable power of attorney and a HIPAA release.  

#5 Summer is a good time to evaluate your life insurance coverage. If you happen to have a lot of coverage through your group plan at work, take a look at how much you’re being taxed on that coverage.

Have a great summer and of course feel free to reach out if you need help with any of these initiatives.

For additional information or help:

 

Unclaimed Retirement Benefits

/// Posted by Scott Tuxbury

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Unclaimed Retirement Benefits: Do you have money lost in old 401(k)s and pensions? 

There has been a wave of reporting over the last few years around the vast sums of money in unclaimed accounts in the US. Millions of Americans have forgotten or are completely unaware of money in their name from government payouts, bank accounts, and stock sales. But, by far, the largest numbers are held in unclaimed 401(k) and pension plans from previous employers.

 

The nonprofit National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators estimates that state and government treasuries are sitting on an excess of $33 billion in unclaimed assets. It seems like a good time for a reminder on how and where you might track down long-lost funded pensions or 401(k)s in your name.

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Termination Death Benefit for Large Corporations

/// Posted by Bill Sapers

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Termination Death Benefit for Large Corporations: How Not to Lose Benefits to Taxes, While Insuring Recovery of Accrued Liabilities

It is a hard, somewhat morbid, topic to face, but the death of business executives at large companies is a financially fraught time for both the company and family of the executive alike. The financial payout of termination benefits  at the death of an executive is taxed heavily, usually leaving between 30-35% of benefits after estate and income taxes to their heirs.

Having spent a lifetime analyzing such situations and dealing with them first hand, I can definitively say that I’ve found a better way for all parties to plan for such difficult moments. To first test my theory, I spent a number of months searching through the proxy statements of large corporations who have had executives die while employed. I calculated how much the company paid out in “death benefits” (salary, incentive bonuses, stock options, etc.) that were promised to the employee and now passed on to their estate. In most every case, the company paid large amounts, which were then taxed through the roof leaving only a small portion of what was promised. 

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