Life Insurance: Protect What You’ve Got

While insurance isn’t an investment, it’s an important part of sound, savvy personal financial management. Insurance is protection. It protects everything you’ve worked so hard to earn. It protects your spouse in the event of premature death. It sends the kids to college. It holds together a family at a time when money shouldn’t be a concern.

You need insurance but shopping for the right coverage to protect your family and your assets is like learning a new language. Term life, whole life, universal life, actual cash value, dividends, loans against policy – it’s a maze of insurance products out there and finding the right coverage for your needs may take a little research.

Here’s a starter course on getting the most for the least in life insurance and still have the protection you and your family need.

Types of Life Insurance

There are two basic types of life insurance with numerous variations on a theme.

Term life insurance is the simplest to understand. It’s also the most economical protection you can buy.

Term life insurance is paid when the insured (you) pass on within a defined term – a defined length of time your life insurance coverage is in effect. Term life comes with a variety of time frames: five-, ten- even thirty-year terms are available.

The younger you are, the lower the cost of the monthly premium – the dollar amount you pay for protection each month. Premiums are calculated based on two factors – your age (and general health) and the dollar amount of protection you need. It’s simple. A $100,000 term life insurance policy won’t cost as much as a $500,000 policy because you’re buying less protection.

With term life, you keep things simple. The insurance company pays X amount of dollars to the beneficiaries when the insured individual passes on, as long as the policy is in effect, that is, the death occurs during the term of the policy, thus the name term life insurance.

Term life policies don’t accumulate value, you can’t borrow against them and, if you choose a short term and your health changes, you could end up paying more for your term life insurance than you would if you buy a long-term policy – one that covers you for the long term.

To determine how much term life you need, add up funeral costs, outstanding personal debt, mortgage debt, the prospect of paying tuition and other large expenses that would drain family resources. Figure what it would cost your family for a single year.

Then multiply by a factor between 5 and 10. Use the lower factor if you don’t have a lot of debt and the higher factor if you’re carrying a couple of mortgages and you have three kids to put through school. That’s how much term life you need to protect your family and all their expectations.

The other class of insurance is whole life insurance, also called permanent insurance, universal insurance, variable universal insurance and other product names, but all fall into the general class of coverage called whole life insurance.

The first difference between term and whole life is that whole life covers you from the day you buy the policy until you die. Of course, this assumes that you pay your whole life insurance premium each month. There is no term (length of time coverage is in effect) to whole life. Buy it when you’re young and your premiums will be low and you’ll start building cash value.

That’s the other main difference between term and whole life insurance coverage. Whole life pays dividends. Not a lot, but dividends that can be used to lower monthly premiums, or they can be allowed to accumulate earning interest.

Once the whole life policy has accumulated enough cash value you can borrow against that cash value to buy a house or cover some tuition bills. The downside to taking loans against the value of a whole life policy is that it lowers the payout to family in the event of the insured individual’s death.

However, a whole life policy does increase in value while providing protection for your family. The cost of coverage is also higher. Expect to pay more for $500K of whole life versus $500K of term life insurance, simply because the insurer is paying interest on your monthly premiums.

Calculate your coverage needs using the criteria listed above. Don’t think of whole life as a money-maker. It’s not intended to increase your wealth. That’s a side benefit. An important side benefit, but the primary reason for purchasing whole life is to protect your family in the event of your pre-mature death.

Life Insurance Sources

There are hundreds of insurance companies and even more life insurance products so talking to a knowledgeable professional is a good first step.

An insurance broker can advise you but, keep in mind, each insurance broker carries a “line” of products from a limited number of insurance providers so each broker will tell you her products are the best value.

If you do the math yourself, you know going in, how much coverage you want to buy, at which point, it’s just a matter of finding a reputable insurance company offering competitive rates and the benefits you’re looking for.

Another resource is your local bank – often the best place to start researching your life insurance needs. Banks sell a broad range of life insurance products and, because insurance isn’t the primary business of a bank, you’re more likely to get straightforward answers to your questions.

Another reason to visit your bank’s insurance rep is that your bank knows the financial you – how much you have in accounts, how much comes in and goes out on a month to month basis, your tax status and other personal finance information needed to get the right kind of life insurance at the right price.

Talk to your employer. Life insurance may be a benefit along with health care and two weeks vacation, but you may also be able to increase the dollar amount of coverage with money deducted from your paycheck painlessly.

Unions, associations, your local Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are also sources for low-cost term or whole life coverage. Purchasing life insurance coverage through an industry association, for example, gets you group rates that translate into more coverage at a lower monthly premium. On the other hand, when you purchase term or whole life through your union you usually don’t have a choice of insurers and that’s an important point to consider.

Go with an insurance company that’s ranked highly by Standard and Poor or some other rating organization. Your broker or banker will steer you toward quality of coverage so you get more for your money.

Life insurance sounds complicated but, when you break it down into simple terms, it’s something you can do with a trusted advisor to point you down the right path.

Get life insurance. Get term life if you want lower premiums; get whole life if you want your insurance to build cash value against which you can take loans.

It’s your choice. Making the right one saves money and delivers the peace of mind that only quality life insurance protection delivers.

How Some Life Insurance Policies Fail and Leave Grieving Families to Struggle Financially

Many people own life insurance, but let’s face it. It’s probably not a purchase that most people brag about to their friends like they might if they had just purchased a new Corvette, but they made the purchase anyway because they love their families and want their family to carry on living their current lifestyle in the event of the primary breadwinner’s untimely death. While this article doesn’t apply to people who own term insurance, those who bought permanent life insurance, which is life insurance with an additional savings component, will find this information very important.

To understand the problem, I will first give you a brief primer on life insurance, and then explain how something that seems like a sure bet can go so wrong. Life insurance can be separated in to two basic types, term and permanent life insurance. With term insurance a person pays a certain amount of money, called a premium, for a period of time, from one year up to 30 years. During the specified period of time, as long as the insured person is paying the premium, the insurance company is obligated to pay a certain amount of money, called a death benefit, to the insured person’s beneficiary in the event the insured person dies during that time period. If the person does not die in that time period the insurance company keeps the money as well as the earnings on that money. While there are different types of term insurance nowadays, including “return of premium” term which returns the insureds premium dollars at the end of the term(but not the earnings on the money), the general jist of term insurance is that a person is covered during a certain period of time. If they want coverage beyond that time period they have to buy another policy. Term insurance is really not the focus of this article so if that’s what you have you can stop reading now if you wish, and rest assured that as long as you pay the premium, and the insurance company remains financially solvent, your family will be paid in the event of your untimely death.

The other type insurance is called permanent insurance. Permanent insurance is insurance that has a death benefit to it, similar to term, but also contains a savings “sidecar”, this gives the policy a value called cash value. The premiums are paid on the policy, a portion is pulled to pay for the insurance and the remainder goes into the savings sidecar. There are three primary types of permanent insurance that vary depending on what is done with the savings component. The first type of permanent insurance is Whole Life Insurance. The savings component of Whole Life Insurance is invested in the general fund of the insurance company where it earns interest. The amount of interest apportioned to a particular individual is depended on how much of the money in the general fund belongs to that individual. Some policies if they are are “participating” policies also earn dividends. Generally speaking whole life policies are not a lapse danger as the amounts that it earns are guaranteed by the insurance company. As long as the insurance company remains solvent it will pay out a death benefit. The only problems a person who owns a Whole Life policy typically runs into is overpaying for insurance, and the death benefit not keeping pace with inflation.

The second type of permanent insurance is called Universal Life Insurance. With Universal Life Insurance the savings sidecar is a separate account, as opposed to Whole Life where the savings sidecar is invested into the general fund of the insurance company. Universal Life Insurance’s main advantage is it’s flexibility. For example, if you are a landscaper in the northeastern part of the country and basically have your winter months off, you could buy a Universal Life policy, fund it heavily during the spring, summer, and fall when you’re raking in the big bucks, and then not pay anything during the winter months. As long as there is a certain amount of money in the savings sidecar (based on insurance company formulas), nothing needs to be done. Also, if you need additional insurance because you just had a child, you don’t need to buy another policy. As long as you are insurable you can increase the death benefit on your current Universal Life Insurance policy and pay the extra premium. The money in the savings sidecar of a Universal Life Insurance policy is typically invested in ten year bonds. The Universal Life policy has a guaranteed interest rate to it, as well as a current rate. The money in the sidecar typically earns the slightly higher current rate, but the policy owner is only guranateed the guaranteed amount. Keep this last thought in your mind because after I describe Variable Insurance in the next paragraph, I’m going to tie these two together in the following paragraph and that final concept is the thing that’s going wrong

The final type of permanent life insurance is Variable Life Insurance. It can be either straight Variable Life Insurance, or Variable Universal Life Insurance, which combines the versatility of Universal with Variable Life Insurance. Variable Insurance came about due to the awesome bull market in stocks that ran basically uninterrupted from 1982 through 2000. People wanted to invest as much as possible in the stock market and the thought of investing money in an insurance policy that invested in lower yielding bonds was quite distasteful to many. So the Variable Insurance Policy was built. With Variable Life the savings sidecar can be invested in insurance “sub-accounts” which are basically mutual funds within a Variable Life, or Variable Annuity. In fact, many sub-accounts exactly mirror a particular mutual fund, some mutual fund managers manage both their respective fund as well as its sub-account “sister.” So with the Variable Life policy buying insurance no longer meant leaving the high flying stock market, you could have the best of both worlds by protecting your family AND investing in the stock market. As long as the savings in the sidecar was at an adequate level things were fine. Again, remember this last line because I’m about to show you how the whole thing goes to pot.

In the heyday of Universal Life Insurance and Variable Life Insurance interest rates were high and so was the stock market, and the insurance industry had two products that were custom designed to take advantage of the times. The problem came about when the agents designing these policies for the public assumed that the high interest rates and high flying stock market would never end. You see, whenever these products are sold, several assumptions have to be made outside of the guaranteed aspect of the policies which is typically about 3-5%, depending on the insurance company. The current values are paid out based on the prevailing rates or returns of the time, and that’s exactly how the policies were designed. I can still remember when I began in the insurance industry back in 1994, when the experienced agents in my office were were writing Universal Life with a hypothetical 10-15% interest rate. Variable Universal would be written anywhere between 10-20%. Happy days were here to stay. Or were they? Unfortunately, those interest rates started heading south about the mid-1990s, and as we all know, except for a couple of years, the stock market didn’t do so swell after the 2000 tech bubble, maybe two or three “up” years out of eight and possibly nine. This is a real problem because many families’ futures were riding on the assumptions that were made in these policies. Many policyowners were told to pay during their working years and then to quit when they retired and the policy would be fine, the returns earned on the savings sidecar would keep the policy in force. There are countless Universal and Variable Life policies in bank and corporate trust accounts, as well as in dresser drawers and fire proof safes that were bought and assumed that as long as the premiums were paid, things were good to go. Many of these policies are sick or dying as we speak. Some people, or trustees will get a notice letting them know that they need to add more money or the policy will lapse, of course by this time “red line” has already been reached. The people who get this notice may even ignore it because hey, the agent said that all would be well, “pay for 20 years and the family will be taken care of when I meet my maker.” So the policy will lapse and nobody will know it till it comes time for the family to collect their money, only to find out that they will meet the same fate as Old Mother Hubbard’s Dog. If anybody reading this can picture the litigation attorneys licking their chops, waiting to let insurance agents and trustees have it with both barrels for negligence, don’t worry that onslaught has already begun. But if you have one of these policies, don’t count on the 50/50 prospect of winning a court case, do something about it!

One of the first things I do when I get a new client that has an existing permanent life insurance policy is do an “audit” of that policy. Just like the IRS does an audit to find out where the money went, I do an audit to find out where the premiums went. The way this is done is by ordering what is called an “In Force Ledger” on the policy from the insurance company. The In Force Ledger will show the status of the policy now under current conditions, as well as several other scenarios paying more or less money. It will also show if the policy is lapsed or will lapse in the future. By doing this audit the policyholder may get something that they didn’t have before, OPTIONS!

For example, take a 50 year old policyowner, who is also the insured on the policy, and the In Force Ledger showed that the policy, under current condtions is going to lapse when the policyowner is 63 assuming premium payments were going to be kept the same, and stock market conditions were going to stay the same (this was in early 2007 and this policy was a Variable Universal Life, it probably would not have lasted till 63, given what has happened in the stock market.) Since the policyowner is the family breadwinner, they have a 16 year old daughter, and their savings could not sustain the wife and daughter in the event of an early death of the breadwinner, whether or not to keep the life insurance is not even a question, life insurance is absolutely needed in this case. Now the next question is, does he keep on paying on a policy that is going to lapse or write a new one? For that I go to some business associates at an insurance brokerage I work with, and find out how we can get a new policy without a huge increase in premium, in some cases the it is possible to get an increase in death benefit and a decrease in premium. How can this be done since the policyholder is older than when the policy is written? Easy. With the advances in medicine between 1980 and 2000 (the years the mortality tables used were written), people are living longer, conditions that used to cause death such as cancer, people are surviving and even live normal lives after the cancer is eliminated. It used to be you either smoked or you didn’t. Now allowances are made for heavy smokers, social smokers, snuff users, cigar smokers etc. One company will even allow mild cannabis use. So in some cases your policy may not be lapsing, but a person may be overpaying even though they are older. Maybe they smoked socially then, but quit 5 years ago, but their policy still has them listed as a smoker paying the same premium as someone that smoked like a chimney. What happens if the solution that makes the most sense is a new policy? We do what is called a 1035 Exchange into a new policy, that allows the cash value of the current policy to be transferred to the new one without being taxed. What if the insured doesn’t want another life insurance policy but wants to get out of the one they are currently in and not pay taxes? Then we do a 1035 Exchange to an annuity, either variable or fixed. I’m currently using a no-load annuity that works great and the expenses are low. Is a 1035 Exchange right in every situation? Absolutely NOT! Many things must be explored before making the exchange, especially on a policy written before 1988 when the tax law on insurance policies changed for the worse, in the above example it proved to be the correct move, but in the end it’s up to the policyowner and family as to what direction to go.

In conclusion, if you have a permanent life insurance policy that is 5 years old or older, make sure you have it audited. The cost (nothing), versus the benefit (a family that doesn’t have financial worries in their time of grief) makes this decision a no-brainer.

Twelve Secrets and Tricks to Buying Life Insurance

Secret #1: Don’t spend too much time on a life insurance quote.

Do not be fooled by the low price quotes you get online – they don’t apply to you unless you are extremely healthy. Statistically only 10% of people who apply actually get the lowest priced policy. The premium you end up paying has nothing to do with the initial quote you get online or from an agent. It is amazing to me how often I see people getting duped by an agent who quotes company X at a lower price than another agent.

Life insurance policies are the same price no matter who you buy from! One agent or website quoting a lower premium means nothing. Prices for any given policy is based on your age and health. There are a few exceptions to this but that is beyond the breadth of this article.

Most life insurance companies have 10-20 different health/price ratings and no agent or website can assure you the quote they give you is accurate. You have to apply, do a health check, and then go through underwriting (meaning you complete a mini-exam with a nurse in your home and then the company checks you doctor records and reviews and ‘rates’ your health) to get the real price of the policy. Remember that a health rating also factors in your family history, driving record, and the type of occupation you have. Only use quotes to help narrow down your choices to the top companies. You may want to consider a no load or low policy. The more that you save on commissions the more money builds up in your policy. You can even buy term insurance no load, and save a lot on premiums. You will not get the help of an agent, which may be worth something if they are very good.

The most important factor determining price is matching your particular health history with the company best suited for that niche. For instance company X might be best for smokers, company Y for cancer survivors, Company Z for people with high blood pressure, etc.

Secret #2: Ignore the hype on term versus cash value permanent insurance.

You can go crazy reading what everyone has to say on buying term insurance versus a whole or universal life policy. Big name websites give advice that I think borders on fraudulent. Simply put there is NO simple answer on whether you should buy permanent cash value policies or term insurance.

But I do think there is a simple rule of thumb – buy term for your temporary insurance needs and cash value insurance for your permanent needs. I have read in various journals and run mathematical equations myself which basically show that if you have a need for insurance beyond 20 years that you should consider some amount of permanent insurance. This is due to the tax advantage of the growth of the cash value within in a permanent policy. I am divorced and have taken care of my children should I die. I probably no longer need as much insurance as I now have. I have earned a great return on my policies and have paid no taxes. I no longer pay the premiums, because there is so much cash in the policies. I let the policies pay themselves. I would not call most life insurance a good investment. Because I bought my policies correctly, and paid almost no sales commissions my policies are probably my best investments. I no longer own them, so when I die my beneficiaries will get the money both tax free, and estate tax free.

Since most people have short term needs like a mortgage or kids at home they should get some term. Additionally most people want some life insurance in place for their whole life to pay for burial, help with unpaid medical bills and estate taxes and so a permanent policy should be purchased along with the term policy.

Secret #3: Consider applying with two companies at once.

Life insurance companies really don’t like this “trick” because it gives them competition and increases their underwriting costs.

Secret #4: Avoid captive life insurance agents.

Look for a life insurance agent who represents at least fifty life insurance companies and ask them for a multi company quote showing the best prices side by side. Some people try to cut the agent out and just apply online. Just remember that you don’t save any money that way because the commissions normally earned by the agent are just kept by the insurance company or the website insurance company without having your premium lowered.

Plus a good agent can help you maneuver through some of the complexities of filling out the application, setting up your beneficiaries, avoiding mistakes on selecting who should be the owner, the best way to pay your premium, and also will be there to deliver the check and assist your loved ones if the life insurance is ever used.

Secret #5: Consider refinancing old life policies.

Most companies won’t tell you but the price you pay on your old policies has probably come down dramatically if you are in good health. In the last few years life insurance companies have updated their predictions on how long people will live. Since we are living longer they are reducing their rates rather dramatically. Beware the agent may be doing this to obtain a new commission, so make sure it really makes sense.

I really am amazed at how often we find that our client’s old policies are twice as expensive as a new one. If you need new life insurance consider “refinancing” your old policies and using the savings on the old policies to pay for the new policy – that way there is no extra out-of-pocket costs. We like to think of this process as “refinancing your life insurance” – just like you refinance your mortgage.

Secret #6: Realize life insurance companies have target niches that constantly change.

One day company ‘X’ is giving good rates to people who are a little overweight and the next month they are super strict. Company ‘Y’ might be lenient on people with diabetes because they don’t have many diabetics on the books – meaning they will give good rates to diabetics. At the same time company ‘W’ might be very strict on diabetics because they are insuring lots of diabetics and are afraid they have too big of a risk in that area – meaning they will give a bad rate to new diabetics who apply.

Unfortunately when you are applying a life insurance company will not tell you, “Hey, we just raised our rates in diabetics.” They will just happily take your money if you were not smart enough to shop around. This is the number one area a smart agent can come in handy. Since a good multi-company agent is constantly applying with multiple companies he or she will have a good handle on who is currently the most lenient on underwriting for you particular situation. The problem is that this is hard work and many agents are either too busy or not set up to efficiently shop around directly to different underwriters and see who would make you the best offer. This is a lot harder than just running you a quote online.

Secret #7: Don’t forget customer service.

Most people shopping for insurance focus on companies with the lowest price and the best financial rating. Unfortunately I know of some A+ rated companies with low rates who I would not touch with a ten foot pole simply because it’s easier to give birth to a porcupine backwards then it is to get customer service from them.

Before I understood this I used a life insurance company that gave a client a great rate but 2 years later the client called me and said, “I have mailed in all my payments on time but just got a notice saying my policy lapsed.” It turned out the company had been making lots of back office mistakes and had lost the premium payment!

We were able to fix it because we caught the problem so early. But if the client happened to have died during the short period the policy had lapsed, his family might have had a hard time proving that the premium had been paid on time and they might not have received the life insurance money – a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in that case.

Secret #8: Apply 3-6 months ahead of the time you need the insurance if possible.

Don’t be in a hurry to get a policy if you already have some coverage in force. But go ahead and apply right away knowing that you might need months to shop around if the first company does not give you a good rate. Even though the life insurance industry is getting more automated your application will still often be held up for weeks or months while the insurance company waits on your doctor’s office to mail them a copy of you medical records.

If you are in a hurry and buy a quickie ‘no-underwriting’ policy without going through the full health checks and underwriting that a mainstream life insurance company requires, you will end up paying 20%-50% more because the insurance company will automatically charge you higher rates because they don’t know whether you are healthy or about to die the next day.

Secret #9: Avoid buying extra life insurance through work if you are healthy.

I am sure there are exceptions to this “trick” but I have rarely found one. By all means keep the free life insurance your employer provides. But if you are healthy and you are paying for supplemental life insurance through payroll deduction you are almost certainly paying too much. What is happening is that your ‘overpayments’ ends up subsidizing the unhealthy people in your company who are buying life insurance through payroll deduction.

Usually the life insurance company has cut a deal with your employer and will waive the required health exam for all employees – instead they just average the price for all the employees and offer one or two rates for males or females at any given age. Life insurance companies know they will pick up lots of unhealthy clients this way so they jack up the price on everyone so that the healthy people end up overpaying so that the unhealthy employees get a cheaper policy. Also, unlike the guaranteed term policies which we recommend, most life insurance you buy through work will get more expensive as you get older.

Also group life insurance is generally not portable when you retire or change jobs meaning that when you retire or change jobs you might have to apply all over again even though you will be older and probably not as healthy and risk being turned down for a policy. If the group plan does allow portability they generally limit your conversion choices and force you to go into expensive cash value plans.

I remember helping someone evaluate his supplemental life insurance. He was sure it was a better deal than any policy I could find him. Little did he know that the price of his group plan would go up every year? By the time he retired his premium would have risen to over $10,000/year. I found him a policy for around $1000/year that would never go up. Also, unlike his old group life policy, he could take the individual policy with him when he changed jobs or retired.

Secret #10: Do a trial application on a COD payment basis.

Only send money with the application if you need the life insurance coverage right away. Sending a check with the application is a traditional practice agents used to do – I think mostly because it got them their commissions faster. If you send money with an application you usually get temporary coverage immediately but if you already have plenty of coverage and are just trying to get better rates ask your agent to do a trial application on a COD basis so you only pay once the policy is approved. If you do not send money, and you die before paying for the policy there is no coverage.

Secret #11: Wear your shoes when the nurse measures your height.

When the insurance company sends out the nurse to do your health check try to be as tall as possible if you are overweight? In most states you are allowed to wear shoes and if you are a little overweight your taller height/weight ratio will look a little better to the underwriter who is determining your health rating and policy price. Also do your exam early in the morning with no food in you – this will make your cholesterol count and various health ratios look the best.

Secret #12: Be careful with extra perks and riders.

Most policies come with options like accidental death benefit, child riders, disability riders, return of premium etc. If you do the math on most of these “extras” they usually don’t make smart financial sense. Life insurance companies are out to make money and these riders are usually profitable because they either cover something that rarely happens or they are so stringent that the benefit never gets paid out. Keep things simple and focus mainly on getting a life policy to cover your life without many strings attached. Again a good agent can help you weigh the benefits of the extra riders. But be wary of an agent who tries to tack on every possible extra rider.

Life Insurance Basics

Buying Life insurance often seems like a daunting and unnecessary task, but neither statement needs to be true. Buying Life Insurance can be simple, if given the right tools and the need for life insurance is a matter of financial responsibility.

Before diving into the process of purchasing, it’s important to understand which type of insurance you may need. There are two types of life insurance, Term Life insurance (temporary) and Permanent life insurance (such as whole or universal). Both types of policies offer financial benefits for the policy holder or their beneficiary to protect against death or life-altering accidents. Which type of insurance to purchase is dependent upon the needs of the insured and the purpose for which you are seeking life insurance.

To better understand which type is best for you, let’s take a look at the two types of insurance and what they offer:

TERM LIFE INSURANCE

Term life insurance is often the easiest and cheapest type of insurance to purchase. Term Life is an excellent source of added insurance, especially during the work years of life. The benefits of purchasing term life insurance are it’s initial affordability and renewability.

Term Insurance can be purchased relatively cheap and is carried for a specified period of time (referred to as relevant term). This type of insurance is paid, dollar for dollar, there is no equity and no cash value to the holder. Upon death, the insurance would pay out to the beneficiary (person designated by insurance holder) the cash benefits. The cash is often used to cover debts incurred such as mortgage, loans, funerals and college tuition for dependents.

The fixed term of the insurance is set dependent upon your needs. You can set it for one year, with a renewable term. The downside is that each year you have to prove insurability and in general the cost of purchasing the insurance will increase. Once the policy has reached it’s date of expiration, you can opt to renew the insurance, at an increased cost.

WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE or PERMANENT LIFE INSURANCE

Whole life insurance policies or permanent insurance carries less initial investment as compared to the cost of Term Life insurance rates. The policies are held over a longer period of time and often are paid out with death as long as the payments are made and current.

The downside to purchasing whole life insurance is the overall cost of the insurance vs. the benefits. In other words, will the amount you pay in premiums be worth the pay-out benefits when you need them? It’s important to get an accurate idea of what the cost vs payout will be from an authorized insurance provider.

On the upside, whole life insurance increases in value and can often, if needed, be borrowed from by the insured prior to cashing in the policy. This benefit can often assist a family during tough financial times.

When deciding which type of life insurance policy suits you best, consider the purpose of the policy, the cost and the payout. An authorized insurance agent can often help you decide which policy will best meet the needs of you and your family.

The internet can be a wonderful tool to assist you in comparing rates on various types of insurance against various companies. This is a great first step to purchasing life insurance, but should not be the only step.

It’s important to do your homework when shopping for life insurance. Like any other financial investment, knowing the pros and cons of each company can be beneficial in the long run to prevent surprises when trying to cash in the policy. You can check up on the rating of insurance companies through a variety of national life insurance rating policies and can be found on the web.

Purchasing life insurance can be beneficial and offer financial security once you understand the basics.

has your business run out of space consider purchasing a larger commercial property

Choosing a commercial fridge can be difficult sometimes but it can be made really easy by following these simple steps:

How much space do you need? – This really depends on the kind of restaurant that you run. If you are a huge restaurant that serves a great number of people in a single day, you will probably have a great quantity of food items to store. When that happens, you will need a huge commercial fridge, or perhaps even a small refrigerated room. However, if you run a small business, with not that many customers in a day, you will not need that big a fridge and a smaller one would be a good option for you. Thus, always be very clear on the amount of space that you will be needing for refrigerating purposes.

Operation cost versus the cost price – This is another point to ponder that you will come across. Fridges with low cost price may have a greater operation cost since they consume more electricity and fridges with high cost price may have a lower operation cost since they consume less electricity. In this case you should try to strike a balance based on the amount of benefits that you will get on each side. For example, you should calculate the amount of money you will save over a period of 5 years by using a low operation cost fridge and compare it to the high operation cost fridge. You can then determine which one is a better option.

Warranty – This is another extremely important factor when it comes to picking a commercial fridge. With a high purchasing cost, if your commercial fridge stops functioning properly, it will be a loss to you. A warranty protects you against such situations. Take warranty into consideration when you are going to buy a product. Spend a little more money on extended warranty if necessary. Messing up with the warranty can be a huge mistake. Some warranties even promise to replace the product if defects are found. There are some really good offers and one cannot afford to overlook them.

Cleaning the fridge – Since you will be dealing with food items and want to guarantee no compromise on hygiene, it is important to regularly clean the refrigerator. Therefore, you should keep in mind while buying the fridge that cleaning it should be easy. While it does not look like a big deal now, if not considered, you many have problems in the future.More properties mean specialisation and greater skill from the right people in the property management department. Employing new people with the right skills is critical. Specific jobs are then allocated to specialist staff. A team of people then manage the building or buildings.

Skills needed in a large property management portfolio include:

Financial accounting control of both income and expenditure
Lease administration of all leases and occupancy situations
Tenant management and communication
Legal interpretation and control
Arrears management
Engineering and planning
Tenancy mix and planning
Maintenance management
Reporting to owners
Contractor management

The more complex the property the deeper these issues become. To achieve this skill mix and diversity you find that larger property management departments in real estate agencies employ these people:

Head of Department
Property Manager
Lease Negotiator or Manager
Maintenance Manager or Building Engineer
Tenant Contact Manager
Lease Administrator
Accountant
Secretary or PA

This team would typically manage a large property or a group of them. Shopping Centres would have a staff structure like this, with everyone firstly reporting to the property manager and then ultimately the Head of Department.

The salaries and on-costs associated with this large group of people are significant and therefore have to be supported by full cost recovery through the leases of the property. Shopping Centres do this frequently and the leases in the property are designed to allow that to occur. On top of these costs you would have a management fee which is charged separately.

At the end of a financial year in a large property portfolio or large property, the auditing of outgoings will normally occur to check and pick up these staff costs correctly and in accordance with the leases of the property. It is not unusual for the details of the audit to be made available in summary form to the property tenants given that most of the tenants are likely to contribute to the building outgoings as part of their rental and lease structure.

Criminal Informants

Criminal informants, usually called “confidential informants” which is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one are glorified criminals. How can the criminal justice system justify a means to an end by giving criminals the opportunity to commit more crimes and the credibility to accuse other people of crimes? It would appear that a criminal will subject himself and others to danger, deceit and even death in order to commit a crime. When an informant is put on the street to carry out a job for the Justice system, does he suddenly become less dangerous and less deceitful?

Deceit is a major characteristic of criminals and is detestable in the eyes of the law, however; the system allows informants to deceive people in order to obtain information that will lead to an arrest. This can be compared to teaching your children not to hit people, however, you as the authoritative figure slap your child because the child hit his sister. This teaches the child nothing, actually; this confuses the child. This calls for a little “practice what you preach.” The informant is punished for “doing a thing” that you are now praising him for. Where is the consistency?

Confidential informants are supposed to be protected by the law. They are protected because if a defendant learns who the informant is; he may want revenge. By the same token, a detective will burn a confidential informant when he is not needed any longer. There is absolutely no consistency using the informant tactic to obtain information that may lead to an arrest. This is a selfish and lazy police tactic.

We entrust law enforcement with our safety, with our lives, however; it is a huge mistake in thinking that we are safe when criminals who have not been reformed are allowed to walk the streets as menaces to society. There may be a handful of descent informants walking the streets but; a handful is not a high enough number to prove a police tactic to be effective. There is nothing effective about a criminal entrusted, credited and glorified to do a detective’s job when he is deceitful and a possible danger.

Does a means to an end include informants committing more crimes and hurting innocent people when they should be in rehabilitation? I do not think that this informant tactic has been taken into consideration thoroughly. It is not fair to society at large to let recidivists run rampant. As a citizen I have a right to say this. As a witness to an informant gone wrong; I have even more of a right to say this because I was able to see first hand, a crooked, maniacal informant at work.

This informant has committed more crimes in more crime categories than anyone I know. He has bragged about being an informant for years stating that the police department is on his payroll and that he has a detective in his pocket. He set up a family friend in front of my family member and the detectives dropped him off at my house while the person who was set up was arrested, booked and thrown in jail. This is a dangerous game.

The informant has been a family friend for approximately eleven years so I can safely say that I have seen him in action. Many people can attest to the facts that this informant is a drug addict; drug dealer who drives on a suspended license while drinking and drugging, robs people and has been arrested for violent crimes. Why is this menace allowed to walk the streets without rehabilitation?

This is not fair to the citizens of this country. In fact, this is a crime against society and if something is not done about this; we can look forward to many innocent people doing time for an informants crime. This already is a reality, however, this reality will get worse. You have to realize that this deception does not stop with the informant and detective. This is a game of deception within the system.

The game of deception within the system extends to attorneys and in fact other representatives have become questionable. I must inform you that an attorney asked me not to share this information. The attorney told me that if this type of information gets out and people know that there is foul play within the system people will panic and he said, “the public does not want to know that they are not safe.”

I am witness to three crooked cases and I have been extremely quite about them because I do not want to alarm the public. Today, you can search the web for anything you are curious about and I was curious about confidential informants so I did a search. I learned that the informant tactic is failing because too many informants are crooked and choose to lie about innocent people to law enforcement. According to some sources; this is becoming an epidemic and needs to be addressed. You should be informed that this is not just a problem with informants but with detectives as well.

According to one source in an article I read; police officers said that a man sold them drugs, however; this man that supposedly sold them drugs was in flight to Chicago at the time. This source also contends that in another case, a man approximately seventy pounds lighter and one foot shorter than the actual offender was blamed for a cocaine buy. In yet another case, a woman was picked out by using a sixth grade picture that was ten years old for selling drugs to a DEA agent (Kroll, 2008).

This same source states that Federal prosecutors did not see the signs. This is pathetic. I want to know that I trust with my life, and the lives of others, that authority figures KNOW the truth or close to it before they file charges against people (Kroll, 2008).

There are several websites available on the web for you to learn alarming information. I am not going to list them in this article. It will take an article of many pages to quote what I have found. There is a website called whosarat.com that you may be interested in reading. I have only pulled up the page and have not read the content yet and I am not suggesting you read it to find the rats. I recommend you read the content and conduct your own research in order for you to also realize that the crooked informant epidemic is a real epidemic.

We are the people and we have a right to protect ourselves and a right to say who we trust to protect us. We are all human and humans run the Criminal Justice System. As humans err, the administrators of justice do as well. Informants are criminals which makes them less than honest and always looking for a way out. It is our duty to investigate this crooked informant epidemic before it spreads world-wide and more innocent people do time for informant crimes.

Free Glycemic Index Information – Learn How the Glycemic Index Can Help Improve Your Health

When it comes for free, grab it and make the most out of it. Just like your free glycemic index – a free everyday guide to healthy eating and fabulous body.

How does it do this? Well, the GI is defined as the numerical computation of how much reaction the blood sugar level produce when a certain food is ingested by the body. Guarding the insulin level is very important to people with diseases such as diabetes and certain heart problems. So, having knowledge of what a food may cause them will be very essential.

Low GI foods contribute less in the rise of the blood sugar level as compared to the high GI foods. Therefore, it is safe to assume that foods having low GI are healthy foods. Furthermore, eating low GI foods can keep you stay in shape. The slow rate of digestion of low GI foods makes that possible because for as long as the foods are still being digested by the body, you wouldn’t be craving for anything yet. Thus, minimizing food intake and reducing risks of acquiring unnecessary fats.

The free glycemic index will guide you in your everyday meal plan. You don’t have to be doing a lot of exercise or do fasting anymore, just get a copy of free glycemic index lists or charts and depend on these for your shopping needs to know which food you should maximize. If you would like low GI meals, there are also online low GI recipes that you may follow. With the popularity of the this index diet nowadays, just a click on the mouse and you are off to a healthy and sexy body.

So go on and grab your free glycemic index. Nothing as good as this has ever come at no cost before, so better make use of it as much as you can.

Using Glycemic Index Charts

Do you find it hard to take off that extra weight? Do you find yourself in constant confusion on which foods you should or should not eat? Does it feel like no matter what you do you just keep getting bigger? Or are there times when you do lose weight but gain it again as it were never gone? Don’t worry, you and millions out there suffer the same fate when it come to getting that gorgeous body and staying healthy and fit. But keep in mind that whatever you are doing maybe counter productive to your goals – that’s why it’s not working for you.

Eating is a past time for many. But having a great body does not mean letting go of this fabulous hobby. It’s a matter of eating the right kinds of food! So which ones to eat you might ask? Low glycemic food.

Glycemic index weight loss programs are suitable for almost any person wanting to get a better body. Through glycemic index research, scientists and fitness professionals have narrowed down the best foods to consume. You can get a free glycemic index chart and simply choose the foods that you want to eat. This helps you plan your meals properly and stay healthier in an easy and a hassle-free manner.

To use this free index chart, you simply refer to the list food and their glycemic value (it ranges from 0 to 100). The higher the number means it gets absorbed by the body faster. Furthermore, when glucose is rapidly absorbed by the body it raises the blood sugar level and that is what you want to avoid. The glycemic index research showed that foods with values lower than 55 is best for you. Those between 55 and 70 are relatively good while those that are 70 and above are somewhat risky choices.

Here a food trivia: a Snickers bar has lower index than a bagel! The peanuts (actually the proteins in it) in the bar lower the index number making it better to eat. So it’s not all suffering when you go on a glycemic index weight loss program. The trick is to lower the index of food by combining it with high protein ingredients. This way, it will be slowly absorbed by the body.

Going on a diet fad or some other health quick fixes will not do the trick for you – and it may even be dangerous to your health. Choose a simple and effective way of getting your desired body – use glycemic index as a guide.

Glycemic Index Rice

Low glycemic index rice refers to product that has low amounts of simple carbohydrates. The white variety contains the highest amount of carbohydrate compare to other types. Therefore, diabetic people cannot eat white rice. White rice can increase the sugar level of the blood system at a rapid rate. When the sugar level is increased at a rapid rate, the person will feel that their appetite is not satisfied and will hunger for more food. A low glycemic index rice such, as the brown variety, is the perfect alternative to white. Besides brown, there are also other types such as short, medium and long grain. Each type of rice has a different effect on the body. Long grain rice has the lowest index ranking.

In order to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, you also need to add a variety of vegetables to your meals. There are low and high GI vegetables. Examples of vegetables with a low index value include bean sprouts, onion, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower and etc. On the internet, you can find some great websites that offer low glycemic rice recipes. You can use the recipes to cook delicious and heart healthy food for you and your family, although it is not necessary to follow recipes to cook a low glycemic meal. You can add any food such as brown rice, vegetables and fruits into your meal. To find a list of food with low carbohydrate, you can visit several helpful websites on the internet. Many websites offer free information on serving GI items and recommended serving size of the foods.

Rice, in general, has an index score of 64 – 93. Amylose rice has a lower index value compared to waxy rice. Basmati rice has low index rating and does not have a high carbohydrate content. There are two types of Basmati rice including white and brown rice. White Basmati rice has an index value of 60 while brown glycemic rice has a GI of 45. It is best to eat brown Basmati rice because it is a low glycemic index rice. The types of rice that are rich in carbohydrate and have high GI include risotto rice and other types of short grain rice. Sticky rice is high in cholesterol and carbohydrate. If you suffer from diabetes, make sure you stay away from high index rated rice. High ranked glycemic index rice can raise the sugar level in the blood and increase your appetite. You can become fat in a short time.

Breaking the Barriers of Information Dissemination

Communication which is a process of sending and receiving messages has a starting point. This point is not the actual sending, but deals with something which occurs in the sender before he initiates the acts of sending the message. There is the stimulation which comes first – that thing which propels or moves one to take an action. It is the reason for a communication encounter, and it takes place in the sensory nerve of an individual known as the Source.

The Source is that individual or group, which initiates a message. The source is the encoder or sender of the message – the one who receives the stimuli from inside of him and then decides on the means of transmitting the conceived message to the receiver. Because processes are involved in communication, the Source faces so many problems in achieving communication. Before information or opinion is passed to the receiver, the Source makes a move that shows that he wants to pass a message across. This move or initiative could be through speaking, gesturing, writing, or whatever means he feels is appropriate to transmit the message. In communication process, this move is known as an ACTION.

After taking an action, what follows is a REACTION, which is the result of the action taken by the sender or the communicator. It is the response to an action, which may come in form of a reply, answer, rejoinder, retort, acknowledgment or defense. The one chosen determines the next line of action by both parties, and to complete the process, the parties INTERACT. Interaction could be between two or more people showing that the message was duly communicated.

There are so many information messages going around the globe today, as well as counter behaviors of people. These show that not all messages that are sent across got to those they were meant for. So many factors are responsible for this. Skills used in communicating to people are more or less not considered by the communicator. It is his duty to however, ensure that he has a good grasp of the means he chooses to communicate. This will enable him reach his target audience effectively.

The message to be transmitted must be known to the communicator. If he does not have a good knowledge of the message, chances are that he will not be able to win the attention of his audience, appear important with the message or deliver it confidently. Effective communication can also depend on to a large extent on the knowledge of the environment in which the communication is to take place. The diversities that exist in different communities or areas help in forcing the Source approach on location and target audience. In Nigeria, for instance, consideration is given to age, status, social class, seniority, etc, quite different from what is obtainable elsewhere in the world. However, apart from this socio-cultural context, there is another important factor that bothers on attitude. The attitude of the Source of communication towards himself by way of displaying confidence in the message is very important to the successful transmission of his message. It should be noted that time after time people continuously are sending out messages to their various receivers, yet the level of ignorance exhibited by those to which these messages are meant for are alarming. Research has shown that the current method of information dissemination is not ideal hence the introduction of information repackaging.

This implies translation of the information in the language of the people; adopting the right medium familiar to the people and providing the right environment that would generate the required interest from the targeted group. Though this involves training and re-training, yet adopting the techniques of information repackaging would assist in redesigning the information meant to address the needs of the people, especially the rural dwellers. This may involve the transformation of printed information into oral form, using community information centers, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), radio jingles, television programmes, and focal group discussions, among others.

Transforming printed information into oral form: – The level of illiteracy in rural areas of does not support reading and writing. Therefore, oral information delivery is the most suitable means of reaching out to the people. Much of the existing information that people receive today appear mainly in print formats and often through medium that is not easily accessible to the rural dwellers. This is why people who are trained in the skills of information storage, retrieval and dissemination should be used in sourcing the required information and disseminating them to the rural dwellers.

Use of focal group discussions – Another good method of repackaging information is the use of focal group discussion. Information can be repackaged in form of stories, songs and drama, and presented to a particular target group.
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Translation of existing information to local languages – Another approach in information repackaging is the translation of existing information which appears in foreign languages into local languages. The intention here is to ensure that such useful information is disseminated to the target audience with ease. The information professionals and other related organizations and agencies should be involved in this translation project.

Use of posters/handbills – The technique here is to transform information on which is not accessible to the rural dwellers into posters and handbills to meet the information needs of the rural people. Such posters and handbills should be designed in such a way that it will attract the attention of the people. They should also be posted in strategic locations such as village squares, churches, hospitals and other public places. Most often information professionals may take some time to explain some of the posters and handbills for them to understand the message clearly.

Radio programmes and jingles – The radio remains a medium which permeates every location. A major advantage of repackaging information through the radio is the depth of its penetration and affordability of radios by so many families. Besides this, it is very easy and cheap to power the radios. Therefore, much of the needed information in print and online resources would be repackaged in local languages and disseminated through the radios. Programme designers in the radio stations should equally use these repackaged information in radio jingles to create more awareness. The dominance of certain strange languages like the English language in programme presentations should be de-emphasized in local radio stations so as to improve on the listening audience in the rural areas. There are many programmes in both the radio and television that are meant to educative and inform which should be repackaged and presented in local languages for wider reach. Presenters of programmes should equally consider the time of their presentation. Since rural areas are dominated by farmers, the timing should be seriously considered. Evening period is the most adequate, for many families would have come back from their farm works.

Television/home videos – The use of motion pictures creates a near real life situation and therefore, deepens the penetration of the message. The popularity of home videos and other television programmes on the people’s viewing culture is no longer in doubt. The availability of electricity in many rural areas, even though it is still very epileptic, has created opportunities for many families to enjoy films in their houses.

The use of community information centers – There are community information centers already existing in most rural communities. These centers are hospitals, churches, schools, village squares, civic centers, markets, etc, which are heavily depended on for effective information dissemination in rural areas. This makes it easier for information to be translated in local languages and disseminated through staff of these centers. For instance the teachers should be involved in enlightenment campaigns through the pupils and students. The Church, as another powerful institution in information dissemination, should be involved in the public enlightenment campaigns, using the repackaged information. In the same vane, enlightenment campaigns should be organized in markets and village square, where it is very obvious that the rural dwellers would have time to listen.

Community Based Organisations (CBOs) – Community Based Organizations (CBOs) have been recognized as very useful in reaching out to the rural dwellers with useful information. They are vital in promoting healthy living and socio-economic development of rural areas. Among these organizations are the age-grades, social clubs, women groups, town unions, co-operative societies, youth movements, etc. Since these organizations are closer to the people, information professionals armed with the repackaged information should reach out to these groups. However, the language of the people should be used and rendered orally.

Women groups – Women form one of the most formidable groups anywhere in the world. Their opinions on important issues of public interest are respected; therefore, it is imperative that focusing enlightenment campaigns on them would generate positive results. Existing information on major, but important matters should be repackaged to suit them. In most parts of the world, women groups exist. In Nigeria, for instance, women in the South Eastern areas are noted for their ability to organize themselves in groups and unions. The idea is to advice the communities on crucial matters that may bother on security, social life, family and education. The annual gathering of these women together with the mass return of those in urban areas to their various communities for this very important meeting, popularly referred to as “August Meeting” is now an integral part of Nigeria’s social life. Information professionals could as well avail themselves of such opportunities in using such meetings as a means of informing and educating these rural women on issues of public interest. In most cases, this can be done through talk shows, film-shows, seminars, etc, in their native languages.

Community leaders – Rural development activities have been usually propelled through the community leaders. This group of people include political leaders, religious leaders, village heads, school heads and other people in the community that command high degree of respect and follower-ship. Community leaders form the bedrock of information in the rural areas. Being the light of the society, they are strategically placed in obtaining the right and timely information. They often serve as intermediary between the sources of information and the people. As enlightened members of the society they are often involved in repackaging the information obtained for the general public. Information professionals should therefore, exploit the roles of these leaders to get their subjects informed on various matters of public interest. The approach here is to organize meetings with this group and then use the forum to train them on how to use the repackaged information to pass important messages across.