How to Organize Your Insurance Policies to Help Your Spouse or Dependents Find Them

older couple organizing and discussing their insurance policy documents on the computer

Acquiring policies like life insurance can put your mind at ease and help you feel secure. But it’s only the start of formulating a game plan that will keep you and your family prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.  Part of your ongoing strategy must involve decisions about organizing and storing your policies so that they can be retrieved by your spouse or dependents as needed.  By following these guidelines, you can live your life without worrying about how your insurance policies will be stored and accessed.  

Choose a Secure Physical and Digital Location

Step one for organizing any insurance plan is to keep it in a safe place that only you — and others you give permission to — can open.  There’s so much personal information in policy documents that is important to protect, so we recommend using either a safe or lockable filing cabinet. Let your spouse or dependents know where the key or password is stored.  In addition to keeping the papers in a physical location in your home, consider sending a copy to a trusted lawyer or loved one who will also keep it safe.  

A digital copy can far outlast paper, which can be lost, stolen, or destroyed.  For this reason, definitely keep electronic records of your insurance policies.  Make a list of passwords for where your policies are stored on your computer, and share the information with your dependents so they can find them.  If you aren’t using software to store your insurance policy, you can scan your hard copy onto your computer.

Communication Is Paramount

While discussing your home or life insurance with your spouse and family can be uncomfortable, clear communication is going to be how you avoid any additional difficulties in case of a crisis.  Your dependents need to know which policies you have, and they should probably know the names of your agent, insurance company, and other important contacts.  Set clear expectations about how and when these should be accessed, and go over how you have stored everything.  By communicating effectively, you can avoid your family being another statistic in the millions of insurance dollars that go unclaimed every year.

Update Outdated Documents

Finally, you should keep everything up to date and know when your policies need updating.  There are many life events that can require you to update paperwork, including a new birth, a divorce, a new marriage, a change of address, business developments, and many more.  Seek advice from a qualified local insurance agent if you are unsure of when an update might be required.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we can help you with these and other questions or concerns regarding your insurance policies.  Our ultimate goal is to assist you in any way we can with top-notch insurance plans and unbeatable customer service.

What Should You Do If Your Term Life Insurance Policy Is About to End?

Do you have a term life insurance policy?  A term life insurance policy is for a specific period of time.  It will only provide coverage for a set period of time, such as 10, 15, or 25 years.  During this time, if your policy is active, and you die, the policy will pay out benefits.  But if you have a 10-year term life insurance and you die in the 11th year, unfortunately, the policy will not pay your beneficiaries. 

older couple discussing what to do about their term life insurance policy

If you have term life insurance and it is coming to the end of the policy, you can do a number of things.  These include:

  1. Convert the policy.
  2. Renew the policy.
  3. Buy a new policy.
  4. Let the policy end.

1. Convert Your Term Life Insurance

If you have a term life insurance policy, you may have the option to convert the policy to universal or whole insurance.  Depending upon the term life insurance that you have, you may have the entire policy period to convert or just a specific time period. 

For example, if you have a 10-year policy, you may have ten years to convert to another type of life insurance policy.   On the other hand, your policy may only allow you to convert in the first five years of the policy.  Check the terms of your policy or reach out to your insurance company.

The key advantage of converting to a whole or universal life insurance policy is that you often do not have to go through another health check for your policy.  The policy will convert and not use your current health condition for underwriting the policy.  This is a great feature if you have developed health conditions since you bought the original policy.

What Is Whole or Universal Life Insurance?

Before we continue, it’s important to know what whole and universal life insurance are.  Whole life insurance has consistent premiums and a guaranteed cased value accumulation.  Universal policies have flexible premiums and death benefits.  You can borrow against the cash value of either policy, and these are considered permanent life insurance.  The coverage doesn’t end when you stop making premium payments — it will extend further into the future.

2. Renew the Policy

Some term policies allow for renewing the policy.   This is known as a renewal option or privilege.  It allows the policy owner the right to renew their term life insurance policy for an additional time period.  However, if you renew the policy by extending your current policy’s coverage, the amount you pay may increase.  You can renew even if your health has changed, but you may only be able to renew the policy until a certain age.

3. Buy a New Policy

If your health hasn’t changed, you can also buy a new policy.  At this point, you can buy a term, whole, or universal life insurance policy.  You will have to go through the health check again, and you may be limited by a two-year suicide clause.

4. Let the Policy End

A fourth option is to just let the policy end.  Though this leaves you with no life insurance, it is an option.

If your term life insurance policy is ending or you would like to make changes to it, contact us or give us a call!  The team at Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you figure out what is best for you and your situation.

3 Things to Consider When Choosing Between Whole and Universal Life Insurance

family with a second expected child in their kitchen

Whole life and universal life insurance policies have similarities and important distinctions. Both are types of permanent life insurance, which means they provide coverage for your entire life as long as premium obligations are met (which is different from term insurance). Also, you can build cash value in either type of policy. Here’s what you need to consider to choose the coverage that’s the right fit for you.

1. Your Budget

Would fixed premiums or adjustable ones be a better match for your budget needs? Whole life insurance has fixed premiums. After you pay the initial premium on a universal life policy, you decide how often and how much to pay your premiums as long as you meet the policy’s minimums.

2. Your Risk Tolerance

Your investment in a whole life policy has low risk. The cash value accrues interest at the rate set by your insurer. Some whole life policies are eligible for dividends. You can choose to reinvest your dividends in the cash value or to have them sent to you. Dividends may also be put toward premium payments.

Selecting universal life, on the other hand, requires a higher risk tolerance. The rate of return on the policy’s cash value is not guaranteed. Rather, returns go up or down with market conditions. Some universal life policies are linked to the performance of a specific index like the Nasdaq 100.

3. The Needs of Your Loved Ones 

Since whole life provides a fixed death benefit, it’s easier to plan for the future of loved ones who depend on your support. Fixed benefits may be particularly helpful if your loved ones include an aging relative, a child with special needs, or anyone else who won’t be able to develop their own means of support. 

Universal life allows you to pick between a fixed death benefit and a benefit you can adjust up or down. This feature is beneficial if your personal circumstances change. For example, a married yet childless adult may initially choose a smaller benefit since it’s likely that only one person — the spouse — depends on the insured’s income. Should this couple have a baby, the insured person may want to increase the death benefit because more people rely on the insured person for support. 

Your local independent insurance agent can answer questions and help you choose the right type of policy for you and your loved ones. Contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance today for friendly, helpful service.

Progressive vs. Geico Insurance

younger couple comparing Progressive and Geico insurance coverages

All insurers are not created equal, nor are all insurance policies. We’re not here to sling mud or speak badly about any insurance provider! But we are going to explain how every insurance company has an ideal customer in mind, and show you some specific differences between Progressive and Geico insurance policies as examples. Our duty at Vargas & Vargas Insurance is to connect every customer with the right insurance policy. We work with many major insurance companies, and we can help take the guesswork out of any of your Massachusetts insurance policies. As always, if you have questions beyond the scope of this article, reach out to us today.

About Progressive

Progressive is a well-respected insurer with an excellent reputation. Their ideal client is a multi-line household — in case you hadn’t noticed “Flo’s” focus on insurance “bundling” in their advertising campaigns. Progressive will insure your home and autos, and the company offers life insurance choices, too. They provide great coverages for adults with multiple insurance needs.

  • Progressive provides homeowners insurance in-house; they don’t farm it out. 

About Geico

Geico began as an insurance provider for government employees and gradually broadened their scope. Geico’s focus is providing economical pricing on auto insurance, though they also insure recreational vehicles like motorcycles and RVs. They usually have somewhat better rates for some riskier drivers, like those who have had many at-fault accidents, those with many speeding tickets, and young inexperienced drivers.

  • Geico does not write their homeowners insurance policies. They can provide you a quote, but they “farm out” the policy to a partner.

Our Perspective

At Vargas & Vargas, we work hard to match the right type of insurance policy to our customers. Both Progressive and Geico homeowners policies, for instance, will provide replacement cost coverage. Still, they offer different bells and whistles, as well as different rates. 

Both Progressive and Geico homeowner’s policies provide medical payments to others in case of injury, liability coverage, and coverage for water or sewer damages. However, Geico and Progressive recommend lower limits of liability and deductibles on glass coverage, where most insurance professionals do not. And both companies offer varying discounts (like paid-in-full discounts, paperless billing discounts, multi-line discounts, and so on).

The biggest benefit of working with an independent insurance agent like Vargas & Vargas is that our licensed, independent insurance agency works with many insurance companies. We know their underwriting criteria and know their ideal customer. Our goal is to spend time with each prospective client to get a feel for your insurance needs. Then we can move forward getting quotes from the best companies for your unique situation

Need some Massachusetts insurance quotes? Let’s talk!

Is Life Insurance A Real Necessity?

Where Does Life Insurance Sit on Your List of Priorities?

We find that life insurance sits very low on most people’s bucket list of things to check into and buy. We find that most of the younger generation feel they are invincible and nothing is ever going to happen to them, like death. Our licensed insurance agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance view life insurance as a necessity in life, making this an urgent subject to deal with before your next birthday. Everyone is going to die at some point, the question is not if, but when? Are you adequately protecting your family in the event you die?

Life insurance is very cheap when you are younger age, meaning, you can buy a higher amount of coverage with lower monthly premiums. Perhaps you can buy enough insurance to pay off a mortgage, a car, college education, and have enough left over for the end of life bills and funeral costs, leaving no financial burdens on the family. 

However, as you age every year your monthly premiums rise and these higher insurance amounts may become too expensive for you after retirement age. We service retired clients at our location in Dorchester, MA area who want life insurance settling for just the cost of their funeral so that it leaves no financial burden on family members. Seldom there is little to nothing left to apply towards the end of life expenses such as medical bills. 

An Urgent Call to Action

Life insurance financially takes care of those you leave behind. Death without life insurance can wipe out a family’s savings and finances for a long time to come. If you have no life insurance our agents in Dorchester, MA would like to talk with you about this vital life decision. 

Give us a call today, at Vargas & Vargas Insurance, or stop by for a visit. Access our website for more information on life insurance, our many other available services, and the locations of our five available locations. Seeking information costs you nothing and is free with a no-obligation quote. 

Making an Informed Choice About Accessing the Cash Value of Your Life Insurance Policy

It’s important that you’re well-informed before you access all or part of the cash value of your life insurance policy. After all, you took out the policy to provide for your survivors. That’s why the agents at Vargas & Vargas Insurance work hard to have the answers our clients are looking for. You need to know what impact accessing these funds could have on their future and your own. 

couple sitting in their house and discussing life insurance policy options

Life Insurance Policies that Accrue Cash Value

Cash value life insurance policies are sometimes referred to as permanent life insurance policies. This category includes whole life, universal life, and variable life. One of the biggest differences between these policies and term life insurance is that the latter policies do not accumulate cash value.

Common Ways to Access Cash Value

Policy Loan

Benefits: The life insurance company may offer you a lower interest rate than you can get with a conventional bank loan or by taking a cash advance on your credit card. A policy loan does not qualify as taxable income. You’re typically not required to repay the money since you’ve basically borrowed your own funds.

Drawbacks: However, policy loan repayment is to your beneficiary’s advantage. After death, the insurer usually deducts the amount you borrowed and the accumulated interest from the death benefit.

Withdrawal

Benefits: When the amount withdrawn is not greater than the total of paid premiums, the withdrawal is not taxed. The rules governing a withdrawal depend on your policy. Some policies allow dollar-for-dollar withdrawals.

Drawbacks: With other policies, a withdrawal reduces the death benefit by an amount greater than what the policyholder withdrew.  Withdrawals that exceed premiums paid are usually taxed.

Policy Surrender

Benefits: You’ll receive the policy’s cash value. 

Drawbacks: Your insurer may charge a surrender fee. If you owe any debt from policy loans, the insurer also subtracts your debt from your cash value. Generally, the income from a policy surrender is taxable. Most importantly, you’re effectively canceling the policy. Your survivors will not receive a benefit from the policy.

We’ve provided this information as a general introduction to accessing the cash value in your life insurance policy. If you have specific questions about life insurance policies, contact our team for assistance.

The Financial Benefits of Getting Life Insurance Early

Young adults can save a significant amount of money by obtaining life insurance before they turn age 35. Yet, most young adults miss this opportunity. If you’re in your twenties or early thirties, it’s important to consider the financial advantages of getting life insurance now. 

Your Total Lifetime Cost Is Lower

Age is the primary factor insurers use to determine the amount of your life insurance premium. Generally, the cost of life insurance increases with each year of age. For term life insurance policies, the premium remains the same for the duration of the policy. Someone who purchases term life insurance as a young adult could potentially pay thousands of dollars less than someone who buys the same coverage at an older age.

To illustrate this, let’s meet Robert and Matthew. Matthew is a healthy 30-year-old man. He purchases a 30-year term life insurance policy for $299 a year with a $250,000 benefit. His 40-year-old brother Robert is in good health, too, and he decides to get a policy with the same term and coverage amount. Robert pays a $442 a year.

Although they bought the same coverage, Matthew saves $4,290 because of his age. Also, since Matthew’s annual premium is lower, his youth would give him the advantage of paying less overall — even if he had a longer coverage period than Robert.

Good Health Has a Financial Benefit

Your health also has an impact on how much you’ll pay for life insurance premiums. Adults under age 36 are more likely to be in good health. It’s the period in your life when you’re least likely to have chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, or hypertension. Chronic illnesses raise the cost of life insurance.

In summary, as a young adult, you have a window to reap an incredible financial benefit by not waiting to get life insurance. Contact us today to learn more about our term life, whole life, and universal life insurance services.

Back to School: Finance 101 – Your Children Money

It’s never too early to talk to your children about money and finances.

Specifically, when was the last time you reviewed your life insurance? 
Life insurance is the safest and most secure way to protect your family and dependents against financial ruin should the family breadwinners die.

Helping Your Children Reach Their Dreams

When was the last time you spoke to your children about money?
About financial planning?

Many families believe that talking about money is taboo. However, if children are raised to fear certain discussions, they may not have the confidence to think and focus clearly on fundamentals to achieve their dreams when the time comes for them to make responsible financial decisions.

Whole life insurance can help give your children a financial head start.
It provides a guaranteed amount of life insurance that also accumulates cash value.

Securing life insurance on your children is a sound strategy to kick start the financial planning your children will appreciate as they enter adulthood. Entering adulthood means having to make tough financial decisions. It’s a right of passage in its own right.

As adults, your children could have the benefit of accessing their policy’s cash value for any reason, including but not limited to:

  • College tuition and expenses
  • Funding a wedding
  • A down payment on a house
  • Starting a business

Never Too Young to Start

Life insurance premiums are based on a number of factors, including a person’s age and health. Premiums are generally lower for children because they are young and healthy. This is one of the basic reasons why this makes sense to help your children structure their own life insurance portfolio.

A Gift They Can’t Outgrow

Children outgrow clothes, toys and other gifts. A whole life policy is different. You can give your children a fully-funded life insurance policy that will provide:

  • Permanent life insurance to one day protect their families.
  • Cash value that can be used to help fund life’s big events.
  • The option to increase their protection as their families grow.

Remember, if you are afraid to discuss money, that will transcend to your children’s belief system too. Give them the gift of financial freedom by way of planning and knowledge.

If you would like to discuss a comprehensive insurance review and any advice that pertains to your kids financial future, please call Jack Carrigg at 617-298-0655 ext 104 or email Jack at jcarrigg@vargasinsurance.com.

Life insurance when starting out in life

Most people think of life insurance as something you get when you’re older. However, as Vargas & Vargas Insurance, serving Dorchester, MA explains, you should really purchase a policy when you are in your 20s, just starting out in life.

The fact that you are young and not as likely to die as an older person is to your advantage since that means your premiums will be far less expensive. You should carry life insurance just in case an unexpected fatal illness or an accident should take you away from your loved ones.

A life insurance policy is generally used to replace lost income for a spouse and children who have grown to depend on it. Even if you are currently single, carrying life insurance is still a good idea. You may start a family later and can then add a spouse and children as beneficiaries as your circumstances change.

The other purpose of life insurance is to pay your outstanding debts. These might include funeral expenses and health care costs if you were taken by a lengthy illness, such as cancer.

A young person is also likely to have a substantial college loan balance. While federal loans are as a rule canceled and discharged upon the insured’s death, the same cannot be said for any private loans you may have taken out, perhaps with your parents as cosigners. Lenders expect the cosigners to pay off the debt even if the person carrying it has died. A life insurance policy will allow your parents to pay off the private loan at your passing.

For questions on life insurance, feel free to contact Vargas & Vargas Insurance, serving Dorchester, MA.

Can You Take out a Life Insurance Policy on a Child Before it is Born?

Life insurance is something that everyone can benefit from and that many new parents take into consideration. That being said, those looking for insurance might be wondering if you can take out a life insurance policy on a child prior to their birth. Put simply, you cannot. For those that live in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you determine what type of insurance you can have.

If you or your spouse is expecting and you want to take out a policy on your unborn child, you will have to wait until the child is born and until it has been assigned a social security number. If you are expecting and want more coverage, you may want to look into taking out more coverage on the pregnant woman that is carrying the child until such a time when the child is born. You can take out extra coverage on the pregnant woman and that may help cover any issues that could potentially take place. It is necessary for the child to be born and for a social security number so that the child can be accounted for and so that the policy can be tracked as well.

If you are a parent of a child that is not yet born, you may want to talk with an agent to see if there is another type of insurance you can take out to protect your unborn child prior to its birth. For those that live in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you find a policy that works for you and makes you feel fully protected and secure no matter what.