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Took the Pet Sitting Insurance Leap – Coverage and Cost Breakdown!

I mentioned yesterday that I would be investing in pet sitting insurance soon to protect me from general crud that could happen with my new side hustle – Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting.  Making extra money wouldn’t mean much if I ever get sued and lose based on something my pet sitting fur-clients did while under my care.

Insured and Ready to Go!

Insured and Ready to Go!

Coverage

I ended up choosing a policy through Pet Sitters Associates, LLC.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the coverage:

  • $1,000,000 per occurrence, up to $2,000,000 annually for bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, advertising injury, products, and completed operations
  • $100,000 annually for fire damage
  • $15,000 per occurrence, up to $30,000 annually for pets lost, stolen, injured, or killed in your care
  • $1,000 per occurrence, up to $5,000 annually for vet expenses regardless of negligence
  • $2,000 annually for lost keys and re-keying of customers homes
  • $5,000 annually for medical expenses
  • $10,000 per occurrence, up to $25,000 annually, for the theft, breakage, and mysterious disappearance of the personal property of the pet owner while under the care of you, your employees, your independent contractors, or your incidental helpers.

No deductible for claims, EXCEPT $500 per incident if you purposely took an unleashed animal to a dog park or outdoors unless it’s in the pet owner’s or pet sitter’s yard with an above ground fence that will keep pets inside and people/animals outside.

In Short

Does the pet insurance cover your liability if the dog bites someone or runs in the street and causes a car accident or does it cover death and illness of a pet? If the pet has to go to the vet, you might have to pay if the owner refuses to reimburse you. If the pet dies the owner may want compensation from you.

In short – yes, all of that is covered.  :-)

Total Cost

Here was the breakdown of the costs for coverage from April 3, 2014 for one year:

  • Basic Insurance – $185
  • Special Property Coverage (that $10,000 property coverage was extra but I’m clutzy sometimes) – $100
  • Processing Fee – $10
  • Listing Fee to be in their search database of pet sitters – $10
  • Total = $305

Totally worth the peace of mind for me and my clients!  And it looks good to be able to show and state that I’m insured.  :-)

My Experience So Far with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)

Before I get started today, just let me put this out there – THIS IS NOT YAHOO.  DO NOT TURN THIS INTO AN AWFUL, NAME-CALLING COMMENT SECTION.  This is Crystal-ville, where we can whine like adults and not get personal.  Got it?

Oh, and I will keep using the name “Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)” simply since so many people actually don’t know the real name.  It’s not a political statement.  I’m generally an unofficial Libertarian that votes on candidates, not parties.  And just to get this out of the way too, I am not religious.  I am not an atheist either.  I’m like an undecided agnostic.  My children will have to figure some stuff out for themselves is all I’m saying.

Okay, time to get the perspective of a self-employed, 30 year old and her husband (same stats) on this new health insurance stuff.  I just received my letter notifying me about upcoming changes.  It also said that I needed to make a choice between Option A and B for 2014 (see below).

Current Policy

Humana 80/5000

  • $5000 individual deductible / $15,000 annual family deductible
  • $7000 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($17,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • Six $35 doctor’s visits per year and the 20% coinsurance thereafter.
  • Special prescription rates for long-term meds.
  • No vision coverage.

Total cost has been $267 per month.

New Options for 2014

Option A – Humana 80/5000

  • Same everything as the basic plan.
  • A few tiny changes to comply with 2014 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) minimums

Cost of $278 per month starting and running for all of 2014.

Option B – 2014 Affordable Care Act Compliant Policy

  • $3500 individual deductible / $7,000 annual family deductible
  • Unknown additional family annual coinsurance maximum (it didn’t list it in the summary and I didn’t bother asking)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • Six $35 doctor’s visits per year and the 20% coinsurance thereafter.
  • Special prescription rates for long-term meds.
  • No vision coverage.
  • “Essential Health Benefits” – seems to include maternity coverage and I stopped reading because of the info below…

Cost of $627 per month starting in 2014.

Our Choice

Option A.  Done.  Already called, confirmed, and moved onto dinner.

My Honest Reaction

Here were the thoughts that literally went through my mind in this order:

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  No way in hell.  Option A looks tasty.  Hmmm, if we do decide to have a baby for sure, we should start trying in late 2014 so that we can use that maternity care coverage that is going to cost a buttload in 2015 anyway.  Wow, that’s a weird thing to think about when looking at insurance policies.  Sort of a realist view/ cynic.  Oh no worries, you knew you were weird.  Oh, okay.  So, what was for dinner?

Yep, the takeaways from this are that I am weird.  And if we are going to have a baby anyway, it’ll be in 2015.  Oh, and more than doubling our monthly insurance premiums is the opposite of “affordable”.  Yeah, that should be mentioned here…

So, how are you handling the new healthcare policy changes?  Did something like this happen to you yet?

Private Health Insurance Update – Changed Again

It’s been 6 months since I’ve tackled the private health insurance issue and renewed with Celtic.  I just received a letter letting me know of my new premium choices for August 2013, so it’s time to play the game again. Since they are once again raising the rates on crappy coverage, we are actually switching companies this time.  So I went back to esurance.com and spent an hour looking at our options and getting us signed up for a new policy that will work with our doctor.

Current Policy with Celtic

  • $5000 individual deductible / $10,000 annual family deductible
  • $6000 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($16,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • Two $35 doctor’s visits per year and the 20% coinsurance thereafter.
  • Basic vision coverage provided and saved me about $150 a year.
  • Total was $357.24 a month.   It will rise to $421.71 per month.

New Policy with Humana

Humana 80/5000

  • $5000 individual deductible / $15,000 annual family deductible
  • $7000 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($17,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • Six $35 doctor’s visits per year and the 20% coinsurance thereafter.
  • Better RX rates.
  • No vision coverage.
  • Total cost will be about $267 per month.  I’ll eat that $150 a year of vision coverage loss that I could have saved with the other plan to save $925 over the next 6 months.  :-D

Why I Chose It

Honestly, I have come to the conclusion that most health insurance policies suck and just are there to cover the OMG moments of life.  I’m just trying to keep our costs as low as possible while limiting our maximum out of pocket per year to $20,000 or less.  Having low cost basic coverage like some $35 doctor visits is nice too.  In the end, I am not expecting miracle coverage.  I just like basic coverage and knowing that we won’t go bankrupt because of a major fall or something.

Oh, and on a side note, having my birth control covered 100% now has meant a savings of about $840 a year.  Yeah, the NuvaRing is freaking expensive usually.  So, yay for that at least!

If we ever want to have a kid, it looks like there are just hardly any policies available that would cover the prenatal stuff and delivery.  BUT, they all cover the baby wellness visits and immunizations.  Weird.  So I called around, and if we use cash and have a normal pregnancy, it will cost about $5000-$7000 for all the prenatal visits and stuff and the delivery.  It’s usually like $20,000 or more, but hospitals and doctors really love not having to deal with insurance companies, lol.

I think all of that is moot right now since I am not kid-ready, but all knowledge is worth having.  :-D

What kind of plan do you have?

Life Insurance Q&A with Liran Hirschkorn

Hello everyone, as Crystal already introduced me in the previous post I won’t take up too much room doing the same. Just a quick recap: my name is Liran Hirschkorn and I’ve been an independent life insurance agent for over 12 years now. I specialize in high risk and term life insurance and I’m outreaching to sites such as Budgeting in the Fun Stuff because I’m trying to dispel many of the myths that surround life insurance, and ultimately make it more approachable for Americans who largely go under or uninsured.

Life Insurance Q&A with Liran Hirschkorn

Thank you for your time and great questions which I have addressed below.

From: Lance @ Money Life and More

How much do term life policies go up as you get older? Male and Female at 25 vs 30 vs 35 for a 25 or 30 year term policy. I know there are many variables, but just a percentage estimate would be great. I think it makes more sense to wait until I’m going to have kids to get a policy.

Lance, you’re right. Rates do vary by age. Let me give you an example of a $500,000 policy at the best rates (preferred plus). To keep things simple I’ll quote a 25 year old male – female rates are slighlty less, but this should give you an idea.

25 year old male 500k 25 year term = $26 per month, 30 year term = $30 per month

30 year old male 500k 25 year term = $28 per month 30 year term = 32 per month

35 year old male 500k 25 year term = $34 per month 30 year term = $37 per month.

If you’re married and your spouse couldn’t pay the bills on her own, I wouldn’t wait to get coverage. If you are going to wait, the one risk you have to weigh in your mind is your health. If your health changes it could affect your rates or the ability to get approved. The benefits of getting a policy earlier, before you have children, is that the cheaper rate will stay with you even if your health should degenerate. You’re basically gambling that you won’t have any maladies or lifestyle changes between age 25 and 35. That being said, if something does go wrong by the time you’re 35 that $37 payment could be far out of reach

From: jenn

This may be an odd one. At one point my nephews were getting 10% of our life insurance policies, for future college funds if we are not around. Their parents were aware of this. We have had a massive falling out to the point of changing wills, removing the nephews as beneficiaries, etc, it was bad. Should something happen to my husband or I, the parents will definitely be expecting something as we haven’t told them they were removed from the policy, do they have any recourse? Do we need to notify them in writing?

No. As long as you have removed them as beneficiaries on the policy they have no recourse. Just make sure that you didn’t make the change only on the will and that the beneficiary designation on the policy is correct because what is on the policy supersedes what is in the will. An insurance policy does not go through the probate process – that means it is outside of your will.

From: Laura S.

How long does it take for someone who has previously had cancer to qualify for term life insurance? My husband had prostate cancer two years ago and I was told by one company five years and a second he may never qualify despite being fairly young (early fifties).

The reason why you received conflicting answers is that both scenarios are possible and the agents may have not asked you the right questions. The key to knowing when you can qualify after cancer depends on several factors. For example, with Prostate cancer we would need to know the stage and grade of the cancer, the pre-cancer PSA, and the Gleason score. If it was very low grade and low Gleason it is possible he could get coverage right after or within 6 months of completed treatment. In other cases it could be a longer waiting period.

From: Adam – HireMeHigherEd

My wife and I have a term life insurance policy. I believe the policy is Term 80. Does this mean that the policy will be in place until we reach 80. or will it be in effect for 80 years after the date we signed for it? Also, can the premiums ever rise, or are they generally fixed for the life of the policy?

It sounds to me like you have a term policy that goes until age 80. What you need to check for is how many years is the term “Level” for – meaning is it a 20 year term that goes to age 80? What that means is that your payments could be locked in for 20 years, and after that period they skyrocket each year to age 80. With term policies, premiums are generally fixed for 10, 15, 20 ,25 or 30 years depending on the term you bought. I suggest you review the policy with an agent and get clarification on what you have to avoid shocks down the road.

From: Brick By Brick Investing – Marvin

1.  Are life insurance payouts taxable?

Life insurance death benefits are income tax free, however they are not estate tax free. That means if your estate is subject to federal or state taxes then the insurance proceeds would be subject to estate taxes.

2.  Do you recommend whole life or term life insurance?

I generally recommend term over whole life. It’s cheaper and you can get a lot more coverage for your money. I see insurance as a protection vehicle not an investment vehicle. If you need permanent life insurance, I suggest looking into a “No Lapse Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance” policy, which is significantly cheaper than Whole Life and still provides lifetime protection.

From: Mom @ Three is Plenty

How do insurers look at diagnoses of depression when applying for life insurance? – I’m especially concerned about “temporary” depression such as post-partum depression, and for folks who have their depression managed.

Depression and anxiety are extremely common. If depression is well managed you may still qualify for the best rates, or if you don’t qualify for Preferred Plus, it may bring you down to Preferred instead. The concern is when the depression isn’t well managed, and you have been hospitalized due to it, or aren’t able to work because of it. Besides these big red flags, depression usually isn’t as big of a factor in determining life insurance rates as most people assume.

From: Mike @ WeOnlyDoThisOnce

How early is too early to get started? Cheers and thanks!

And From: Edwin

I am only 20 years old and healthy as far as I know. At what age should I begin to shop around for and concern myself with life insurance? My concern is that I will be funneling money out of my income to pay for something I won’t need for years to come.

Thank you for taking the time out to answer my question.

I’ll answer both these questions together. The time to get life insurance is when someone that you care about would be financially hurt due to your loss. So if you’re 20 and single, there is no reason for you to have life insurance. On the other hand if you’re 20 and married, and want to make sure your spouse could remain in the same home and keep the same lifestyle, then it isn’t too early to buy a policy.

—–

Thanks again to Crystal for hosting this Question and Answer session. It’s been my pleasure and I love the diversity of questions brought forward. Some were common, and some were pretty unique. I hope I was able to cover everyone’s questions sufficiently – if you have any follow up questions please feel free to contact me via my website, ChooseTerm.com. I’m fortunate enough to work as an independent broker which means I get to work with the best life insurance companies, rather than being limited to one.

Need Your Life Insurance Questions!

Hi everybody!  I need you to ask every life insurance question that you have.  :-)

Mr. Liran Hirschkorn, whose stats I’m listing below, has offered to write a straight-up Q&A post for BFS about life insurance.  He’s not going to try to sell anything, his post will not be sponsored, and even the link back to his site will be no followed (no link juice), so this is all about info exchange.  He’s just trying to get his name out here in the blog world and I would love to get any life insurance questions that you have answered by a professional.  You know I sort of suck when it comes to research posts.  ;-)

Here are his qualifications:

  • Independent life insurance agent for 12 years now
  • Licensed to sell life insurance in all 50 states
  • Studied business in college and worked as a financial planner before founding ChooseTerm.com
  • He works with all of the providers rather than being tied to a specific one
  • Also specializes in high risk life insurance and getting people coverage who have been previously declined

So, please comment below with any life insurance questions that pop to mind and we’ll try to get them all answered and posted for you by sometime next week!

Ask for Discounts or Get Screwed…

I don’t know how else to say this, so…I took 15 minutes and saved 15% or more on my car insurance.  :-D  Seriously.

Quick Car Insurance Breakdown

Okay, to give a little back story, my husband and I have two cars, both paid off.  Here is the coverage we have on each.

2007 Toyota Prius – Full Coverage

  • $300,000 Bodily Injury
  • $100,000 Property Damage Liability
  • $2500 Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • $50,000 / $100,000 / $25,000 Uninsured Motorist Coverages
  • $1000 Comp and Collision Deductible
  • $25 per day Rental Vehicle Coverage

2005 Chevy Aveo – Liability Only (No coverage for comprehensive or collision damage)

  • $300,000 Bodily Injury
  • $100,000 Property Damage Liability
  • $2500 Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • $50,000 / $100,000 / $25,000 Uninsured Motorist Coverages

For the past few years, we’ve been insured by Geico and the coverages above have come to about $110 per month ($70 for the Prius and $40 for my car).

Car Insurance

Our Car Insurance was Raised…Again

This happened in early February.  I received the notice from Geico that our policy was up in April and they included the new rates.  They went up by $6 a month…again.  Every 6 months, they try to raise our premiums despite the fact that we don’t get into accidents or receive tickets.  So every 6 months, I call in, threaten to leave, and we get the rate lowered back to normal and move on with life.

Well, I was in a bad mood already and just hit the roof this time.  So I wasn’t just playing the game when I called.  I wanted either no fight at all or the biggest fight ever…one way or another, this crap was going to be resolved quick.

So I wasn’t surprised at all that the rep I first reached offered to increase our deductible or decrease our coverage.  I declined.  Then they asked me to take defensive driving again since our last class certificate from 2009 expired early last year.  I said I would get to it, but I wanted the rates lowered to the same amount we were paying before without the certificate so that if I took defensive driving, it would be an actual discount.  Well, that rep couldn’t do anything like that for me, so I was transferred to a “specialist”.

Someone Not Full of Crap

I was honestly surprised by the next rep.  She was polite, knowledgeable, and didn’t act like I was too stupid to live.  She also performed a miracle…she actually reads company memos.

So after hearing me out, she asked me to hold for a few minutes while she looked into a new program in Texas that she heard of – Geico Advantage.  So I held for maybe 4 minutes before she popped back on the line and started laying out the new program.  It was actually pretty easy.  Geico Advantage is identical to what I had except it has a new name and uses new criteria to set rates.  Since credit history (Excellent) and accident records (none in about 10 years) were two of the biggest criteria, we got the lowest rates they offered.

The Miracle

We literally qualified to pay half of what we were paying FOR THE EXACT SAME COVERAGE!  No joke!  The exact same everything EXCEPT $30 allowed per day for a rental instead of $25 (so BETTER) for HALF.  Not only that, but she started me on the new plan immediately, so what I had already paid covered the next two months.  Overall, I will start paying for car insurance again in May 2013 and it will be $55 a month.

I actually waited to write this post because it sounded like a scam.  But my March payment was skipped as stated, and I received all of my coverage info in the mail along with our new insurance cards.  It truly is identical coverage and will cost us about $330 every 6 months instead of $660.  I love it when stuff works!!!

Ask for All of Your Options!

If I hadn’t called in that day to ask how to keep our rates lowered long-term, I wouldn’t have been transferred to the specialist that reads company memos.  So I would not know about Geico Advantage and I’d still be forking out $110 a month for car insurance when I could have been paying $55 a month instead.  So, remember to ASK for all of your available options or you could be getting screwed and not even know it!  I got lucky in that Geico Advantage was only apparently released recently, so I only overpaid for a month or two…what if I had waited until next year to get pissed and call?  Just ask.  It’s worth it.

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by asking for discounts?

Private Health Insurance Update – Need to Choose by February

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I’ve tackled the private health insurance issue, but I just received a letter letting me know of my new premium choices for February 2013, so it’s time to play the game again.  We will probably be paying more.  The question is how much more and what are we willing to sacrifice.

Current Policy with Celtic

  • $5000 annual family deductible
  • $4500 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($9500 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • Two $35 doctor’s visits per year and the 20% coinsurance thereafter.  I asked my doctor’s assistant about regular costs of visits – they would range from $80 for a sore throat to $200 if some tests needed to be ran for an infection.
  • Our total cost is now $310 per month.  It will rise to $461.64 per month.

New Policy Option from Celtic

  • $10,000 annual family deductible
  • $6000 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($16,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • Two $35 doctor’s visits per year and the 20% coinsurance thereafter.
  • Total would be $357.24 a month.

New Policy Options from Others

Cigna TX Open Access 5000/80%

  • $10,000 annual family deductible
  • $10,000 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($20,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 20% coinsurance
  • All doctor’s visits $30, no max.
  • Better RX rates.
  • Total cost would be about $300 per month.

Cigna TX Open Access Value 2500/70%

  • $5000 annual family deductible
  • $10,000 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($15,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 30% coinsurance
  • All doctor’s visits $40, no max.
  • Better RX rates.
  • Total cost would be about $320 per month.

Cigna TX Health Savings 5000 (aka Emergency Plan Only)

  • $10,000 annual family deductible
  • $0 additional family annual coinsurance maximum ($10,000 a year maximum out of pocket)
  • 0% coinsurance AFTER deductible
  • $0 copay AFTER deductible.
  • Total cost would be about $245 per month.

Which Way I Am Leaning

Honestly, I am leaning towards the Emergency Plan (Cigna TX Health Savings 5000).  Seriously, every insurance company and plan seems to suck.  If I just pay cash for everything, I can probably keep our costs to $2000 a year or less for doctor’s office visits and prescriptions.  Plus we each would get a full physical/wellness check once a year for free with any of these plans anyway.  So paying about $3000 a year for a policy that generally just covers us after $10,000 is annoying but at least we’d be protected if we broke a bone or had a big accident or whatnot.

But I have not come close at all to making up my mind.  I’m also wondering about new policy from Celtic or the Cigna TX Open Access Value 2500/70%…

Which plan would you choose?  Any suggestions?