We all know people who have had cancer, a heart attack or a stroke. In fact, every 19 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with cancer. Every 25 seconds, someone suffers a coronary event. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke.*
I have found that when it “hits home” for people is when it has happened to someone they love. So I’m upfront and direct about the seriousness of not having this protection. I explain to clients who are business owners: Are you prepared for how one of these illnesses might impact not only your future personal plans, but your future business plans? Whatever their answer may be, my main concern is to serve them by helping them get this protection. In doing so, I’ve done my job in bringing it to their attention and offering to help with this type of planning. Of course, the bottom line is that not many of us can afford to say, “It won’t happen to me.”
It is impossible to predict how we might react if diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Some may choose to return to normalcy as soon as possible, while others may make drastic changes to life and work routines. Others, because of their medical circumstances, have no choice. Critical illness insurance, a specified disease policy that provides a lump-sum benefit amount upon diagnosis of certain medical conditions (as defined by the policy), benefits different individuals in different ways. The proceeds from a critical illness policy can provide needed funds for those wanting to change their lifestyles and financial security for those whose medical conditions prevent them from having much choice.
Have you ever thought about how you would pay your mortgage if you couldn’t work because of an illness?
Following are some business applications where critical illness insurance can help.
Critical Illness and Buy-Sell Planning
With buy-sell planning in the life insurance context, business owners enter into a legal agreement requiring the purchase of their ownership interest upon their death. The most common structures for these agreements are the entity purchase (the business buys the interest) and the cross purchase (the co-owners buy the interest). In these scenarios, life insurance proceeds are used to effectuate the agreement.
Firms also can set up an agreement that is triggered and funded upon the diagnosis of a critical illness. Which type of plan – the entity or cross purchase – is better for a critical illness buy-sell agreement? The answer: It depends.
A cross-purchase agreement using critical illness insurance has the same benefits as the cross-purchase agreement that uses life insurance. The remaining owners have the funds to purchase the shares without incurring precarious debt. Also, they receive an increase in basis equal to the amount they pay for the shares. All of the owners have the security of knowing that, should they be the one to incur a critical illness, they won’t have to accept installment payments or worry that the business will collapse before the purchase price is paid.
An entity-purchase agreement may be the solution if flexibility is the primary concern. With this option, the proceeds would be paid directly to the corporation. The shareholders can agree in advance under which circumstances the critically ill shareholder could or must be bought out. Further, they may also wish to include a “waiting period” to allow the critically ill shareholder the time to decide whether he or she wishes to remain in the business postdiagnosis.
The key to using this strategy effectively is to plan in advance who is to decide whether and when the purchase will be carried out.
The rate of disability among working women in the United States has grown almost twice as fast as the rate among working males during the past decade (over 60 percent and 32 percent, respectively), according to Social Security Administration data. Yet half of women (51 percent) are unprepared to cover their living expenses for three months or more should an accident or injury leave them unable to work, according to the 2008 Worker Disability Planning and Preparedness Study, conducted by the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA).
Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck*. This makes the consequences of losing income serious for most workers and their families. The ability of women, in particular, to cope with the financial impact of disability may worsen as household credit card debt is at an all-time high—averaging close to $10,000—and personal savings rates are at an all-time low. To make matters worse, women tend to save less than men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“With disability on the rise for both men and women, it’s clear most Americans need to better prepare for an income-limiting disability. But this is especially appropriate for women who are experiencing even higher rates of disability while, in general, being less prepared than men,” says Barry Lundquist, president of the CDA, a nonprofit organization focused on helping the American workforce become aware of the growing incidence of disability.
Financial risks of disability can be severe and long lasting.
Disability is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures in America. During a disability, your ability to earn an income may stop, while increased medical bills and ongoing living expenses can quickly deplete savings and other resources, such as retirement and college savings.
“Workers, and in particular women, who haven’t discussed how they would financially manage their financial affairs if a disability arises should begin to realistically think through what would happen if they were unable to work and earn a living,” Lundquist explains. “Creating a disability financial plan should follow—one that helps estimate the impact that disability would have on personal expenses and where income would come from.”
Lundquist encourages all workers to understand their workplace sick pay and disability benefits. He explains that healthy lifestyle habits like seeing a doctor each year and quitting smoking can pay dividends, because leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce the likelihood of becoming disabled in the first place. “Disability planning and preparedness is critical, especially for working women,” he says.
For more information about the survey and for tools and tips on how to financially prepare for disability, visit the Council’s Web site www.disabilitycanhappen.org.
* Parade Magazine, 2008.
The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers make smart insurance decisions to safeguard their families’ financial futures. LIFE was founded in 1994 in response to the public’s growing need for information and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs. To learn more about these topics, please visit www.lifehappens.org.
About Life Insurance Awareness Month
Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM) was created by the LIFE Foundation in response to growing concern about the large number of Americans who lack adequate life insurance protection. According to LIMRA International, 68 million adult Americans have no life insurance, and most with coverage have far less than most experts recommend. Held each September, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an industry-wide effort involving hundreds of leading companies and thousands of insurance advisors.
Chris Noth is the national LIAM spokesperson
Another way LIFE hopes to get Americans to think about their life insurance needs is by engaging the services of a celebrity spokesperson with a firsthand understanding of the benefits of life insurance. Actor Chris Noth, star of Sex and the City and Law & Order, was just nine years old when his father died in a car accident, leaving behind his mother to raise Chris and his two brothers on her own. Fortunately, Chris’ father was an insurance agent and understood the value of life insurance. The proceeds from his insurance helped the Noth family during that difficult time and enabled Chris’ single, working mother to put three sons through college. Throughout September, Chris’ story will be shared publicly in national TV and radio and public service announcements. Chris’ 60-second TV PSA can be seen at www.lifehappens.org/chrisnoth.
LIFE’s website is the leading source of objective information about life insurance. Spend a few minutes learning more and trying our interactive tools like the Life Insurance Needs Calculator.
If you have any doubts as to how your family would manage without you, it’s time to take charge of your situation by getting a life insurance check-up today. Don’t gamble with your family’s financial future for one more minute. Take charge of your life insurance situation today and rest easier knowing your loved ones would be taken care of if something were to happen to you. If you find that you have a need for coverage, we strongly urge you to act by contacting us and we can help you safeguard your family’s financial future.
Without hesitation, many people believe that their greatest asset is their home, or their retirement savings. Neither is correct. To be clear, your greatest asset is your ability to earn an income, that is, to make money and bring home a paycheck.
In a nutshell, my job is to help my clients protect their paycheck. My role is to solve a problem, and in this case, risk is their problem. We facilitate the transfer of risk. As I tell my valued clients, “let’s face it, your greatest asset desperately needs to be protected…” It is the foundation on which all of their hopes, dreams and aspirations are built. Without this type of “paycheck protection” coverage, it leaves them vulnerable financially. Continue reading
While most people don’t think twice about insuring their cars and homes, they often leave one of their most important assets unprotected—their paychecks. Working Americans rely heavily on their paychecks to support their families and to fund their everyday living expenses, but few consider how their lives would be affected if they were unable to work due to an illness or injury and couldn’t bring home a paycheck. Ask yourself: Could you afford to live without your income?
“Your paycheck is clearly one of your most valuable assets. Just as you insure other valuables in your life, such as your home or car, it is crucial to insure your income,” says Garrett Wheeler, a disability insurance (DI) expert with Guardian in Honolulu, Hawaii. “Think of disability insurance as insurance for your paycheck. It provides an income if you’re unable to work due to an illness or injury.” According to the LIFE Foundation survey, nearly 50 percent of working Americans say they would not be able to make it a month before financial difficulties would set if a disability were to keep them out of work. More than one in four say they would face financial problems immediately. Continue reading