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4 things to look for to get the best life insurance

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 10:55 AM

One key factor in buying a life insurance policy is to shop around because companies can vary widely.
One key factor in buying a life insurance policy is to shop around because companies can vary widely.

If no one at all depends on you financially, you are free to forget all about life insurance. But everyone else should set aside the cultural distaste for talking about death and work toward finding an individual life insurance policy plan to provide for dependents after you're gone.

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According to Forbes contributor and wealth advisor Tim Maurer, those depending on a replacement for your income might include a spouse and kids, sure, but also an ex-spouse, life partner, sibling, employee, employer or business partner.

"You don't have to become an expert before you buy life insurance, but it's important to be an informed consumer and know your options," noted the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

Within those options, which all fall loosely into the categories of either term or whole life insurance, here are four things to look for before settling on the best life insurance.

A policy that offers enough coverage: A few numbers to consider are the amount it will take to cover such expenses as your mortgage, personal or car loans, property taxes and so forth, recommended DFR. You may also want to include enough life insurance payout to cover your final expenses, and, if you're a parent, some of your children's future college tuition and other expenses. 

But don't assume that life insurance will have to cover those expenses in their entirety, DFR added. It recommended also listing all the income sources and assets your family would have if you were gone starting tomorrow and using that to offset the total insurance benefit they would require. Also add the face value of any group life insurance you already qualify for. "Do not forget to include the ability of other members of your family to earn a living," DFR noted. 

A policy you can afford: While you want enough life insurance, buying a policy you cannot afford is counterproductive since you're likely to lose it when you can't pay the premiums, noted DFR.

If you're straining to purchase enough insurance to give your dependents the financial support they would need if you died, term life insurance is for you, according to Kiplinger, which added, "Dollar for dollar, term gives you the most protection for your money. Period."

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A company that will be around a long time: You want to be sure the company you purchase from will be around long enough to protect your loved ones after you die, DFR noted. Obtain information about a company's financial strength from your insurance agent or a commercial rating service that evaluates insurance companies' financial strength and ability to pay claims, like Moody's Investor Service.

A carrier who charges the least for your health issues and habits: Before you shop for individual life insurance, recognize that rates are based on life expectancy. There are some factors you can't do much about: young people get better rates, for example, and so do women, because they statistically have longer life expectancies. But with other individual risk profiles, different companies are more lenient with certain factors, according to Kiplinger. It advised consumers to shop around for the companies with the best requirements in these areas:
  • Weight: Since obesity can cause or be related to other severe health conditions, insurers will consider your weight, Kiplinger noted. But the designated weight ranges for the best life insurance rates vary by company, so use an online quote site like AccuQuote or Insure.com to see who is most lenient if you have weight issues. Women should seek companies that use unisex weight tables, which ordinarily allow more weight for top rates.
  • Family history: All life insurance providers will determine whether your close relatives have died or been diagnosed with life threatening and chronic illnesses. But according to Kiplinger, an online quote site should divulge insurers with more lenient standards in this area.
  • Travel plans. People planning travel to risky parts of the world ordinarily have to pay a higher premium for life insurance. But comparison shopping pays off here, too, since rules on overseas travel vary from company to company. 
  • Credit history: Some life insurance providers will put your credit history into play. If you have concerns, like a bankruptcy in the past five years, find a broker or online quote service to tell you which insurers don't use this factor in setting rates.

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Local students learn how to combat scams, fraud

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 1:08 PM

Students in the Miami Valley are learning to recognize fraud and scams, and finding out how they can protect themselves from these potential money pitfalls.

Several schools in our area teach a free consumer life skills and financial literacy curriculum called FoolProof. 

The goal of the web-based, interactive coursework is to teach a healthy dose of skepticism in a scam-filled world.

Related: "Shimming” is the latest threat to shoppers

Kettering, Xenia, Franklin, Stebbins, Greenville and Lebanon high schools offer FoolProof classes.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will find out more about what the students learn and what they can teach us about avoiding scams and fraud. 

Watch tonight on WHIO-TV at 5pm.

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Audit-proofing your taxes 

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Audit-proofing your taxes

First, the good news.  The IRS is auditing fewer taxpayers.  

In fact, audits are at an all-time low. You can’t completely audit-proof your tax returns, but there are ways to make your chance of an IRS investigation less likely. 
Failing to report taxable income and cryptocurrency income, are among Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s list of audit red flags.

Math errors, sizeable donations, home office deductions and deductions of unreimbursed business expenses, for example, commuting costs and clothing, are also going to raise eyebrows at the IRS.

RELATED: IRS ID theft prevention steps appear to be working

One of the biggest red flags is income.

The more money you make the more likely you’ll be scrutinized by the IRS, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.  

If you make $200,00 or more, there is a one in 80 chance of an audit, and if you make more than $1 million your odds are one in 25, according to Clark Howard’s website, Clark.com.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will have insight from a local tax preparer about ways to audit-proof your tax return tonight on WHIO-TV at 5.

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‘Shimming’ has emerged as the latest threat to shoppers

Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 @ 1:58 PM

Shimming has emerged as the latest threat to shoppers

There’s a growing threat to your credit and debit card information, and you might not be aware of it.

It’s called “shimming.” 

New Recalls: power banks, PAW PATROL hats and more

 Scammers insert paper-thin devices into credit card chip readers that can copy your data. 

The information can’t be used to make a chip card clone, but it can be used to create a traditional mag-stripe card, which could be used to fraudulently make purchases or withdraw cash, according to Creditcards.com.

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New Recalls: power banks, PAW PATROL hats and more

Published: Friday, April 06, 2018 @ 2:35 PM

Power bank chargers, children’s play hats, and personal space heaters are among the latest products being recalled, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Portable power bank charging stations by Re-fuel by Digipower are under recall after five reports of the products overheating and melting.

The Grab and go Family Packs are three lithium-ion battery chargers in black, grey and green on a recharging docking station. 

They have the item number RF-TRIP on the bottom and were sold at the Container Store from October of 2017 through February 2018. 

Stop using the recalled chargers and contact the Container Store at 888-266-8246 to receive a full refund. 

 

Some Paw Patrol fireman hats with a flashlight attachment are under recall because they could burn your child.

There are four reports of overheating flashlights on the Nickelodeon PAW PATROL Deluxe Marshall Hat sold at Spirit Halloween stores. 

Only flashlights with SKU 01292093 and date codes 1703RY01, 1603RY01, and 1503RY01 are part of the recall.

Remove the batteries from the recalled flashlight and dispose of it. Contact Spirit Halloween at 866-586-0155 for a full refund. 

Personal electric space heaters by Vornado are under recall due to fifteen reports of them catching on fire.

The VH101 Personal Vortex heaters were sold in black, coral orange, greyed jade, fig, ice white, red, and cinnamon. 

Stop using the heaters and contact Vornado at 855-215-5131 for a full refund. 

Recreational off-highway vehicles by Polaris are under recall because cracked exhaust silencers have sparked three fires.

There are multiple model years and model numbers included in this recall. Click here for the full list.

Stop riding the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 for a free repair. 

 

Some Scotch thermal laminators by 3M are being recalled because the plastic enclosure can overheat and burn you.

There are 10 reports of laminators overheating but no injuries. 

Stop using the white and teal recalled laminators and contact 3M at 800-772-4337 for a full refund. 

 

These recalls and past recalls can be found at www.cpsc.gov.

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