3 Ways to Lower Your Holiday Stress 
November 8, 2022

Many people experience anxiety, especially during the holidays. While eliminating all seasonal stressors isn’t likely, there may be ways you can minimize and manage them. Here are three ideas to help you get through the holiday season with minimal stress:

1. Set up a holiday budget.

Overspending is always a concern but even more so during the holidays. That’s why budgeting for gifts and holiday extras is a good idea.

It’s okay to put purchases on your credit card if you’ve saved up for them ahead of time. It can even be a great way to earn a sign-up bonus on a new card if you have very good credit. Pay your balance in full by the due date to avoid interest and fees.

Tempted to try the ubiquitous buy now, pay later loans for online purchases? Carefully review their interest rates and fees first.

2. Create a plan.
Have you been easily overwhelmed by the extra activities and responsibilities of the holiday season in the past? This year, think about setting up a more realistic plan for yourself.

You don’t have to create the perfect holiday for others or attend every party you’re invited to. Instead, consider setting boundaries and attending only the events that mean the most to you.

3. Take time for self-care.
Sticking with healthy eating and self-care habits may also help you better deal with anxiety. Get plenty of rest (including naps) and take time to decompress when you need to — it can really help.

And if you feel like you might benefit from professional help, don’t be afraid to seek it out. Many insurance plans offer mental health benefits that can make this care more affordable.

Tips to Help You Plan for Retirement 
October 2, 2022

It’s tempting to delay retirement planning. After all, you may feel anxious about it or wonder how to begin. Check out these tips to start preparing for retirement and regain your peace of mind.

Consider your financial needs for retirement.

Because everyone’s financial needs in retirement are unique, consider your specific goals — plus the remaining number of years you plan to work before retiring. It’s also a good idea to start investing regularly and saving money in an emergency fund if you aren’t already.

You might start with a free online retirement calculator to create a rough target to save and invest toward. Then, do a more detailed analysis based on your personal circumstances. When doing the math, keep this in mind: You may need as much as 90% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably during retirement.

Check your Social Security benefits.

Keeping track of your Social Security benefits is another key retirement planning step. Through the Social Security Administration’s website, you can review the accuracy of your lifetime earnings history and estimate your Social Security retirement benefits.

Review your insurance needs and options.

A major lifestyle change like retirement may necessitate updates to your insurance policies. Since Medicare coverage doesn’t generally begin until you’re 65, you might need a private health insurance plan to prevent a gap in coverage if you retire earlier.

Additionally, if you don’t already have life insurance, you may want to consider purchasing a policy before you retire. It could provide financial security for your loved ones.

Do you have questions about life or health insurance? We’re here anytime you need help.

How Life Insurance Death Benefits Work 
September 6, 2022

Although not everyone has life insurance, all life insurance policies have death benefits. But what exactly is a death benefit, and how do death benefits work?

What is a death benefit?

A death benefit is money paid to a beneficiary when a life insurance policyholder passes away. Death benefits are also paid to the beneficiaries of annuities and pensions when the annuitant dies with a survivor benefit.

Who can be a life insurance beneficiary?

Life insurance beneficiaries are often spouses or children. Although, if the children are minors, the benefits should go into a trust managed by their guardian. A beneficiary could also be a life partner, sibling, parent, business or nearly anyone the policyholder chooses. You can choose multiple beneficiaries to each receive a share of the death benefit, too.

Generally, the beneficiary is someone who would be impacted financially by the policyholder’s death. Moreover, a beneficiary can be revocable or irrevocable, making it easier or harder to remove them from a policy.

When and how is a death benefit paid out?

When someone passes away, death benefits are not paid automatically. That’s partly because the life insurance company may not know about the policyholder’s passing. Usually, the insurer will pay a death benefit after the beneficiary completes a claim form and provides a certified copy of the policyholder’s death certificate.

Death benefits are typically paid to the beneficiary, tax-free, in one lump sum. However, the policyholder can instead set up an annuity, which may be subject to income or capital gains taxes, or arrange for payments to be made in installments. But if the policyholder took an accelerated death benefit, the beneficiary’s payout could be reduced.

What makes a good work wellness program? 
August 2, 2022

Most employers understand that their workers’ health can impact job performance. This may be why many organizations offer wellness programs to help employees remain healthy and productive. But do these programs really work?

Components of a Workplace Wellness Program

To start a wellness program, employers may hire an outside company that performs health risk assessments to evaluate their workers’ physical and mental health. Using this information, the company often creates programs for weight management, fitness, immunizations, lifestyle coaching, stress relief, nutrition education and more.

Potential Drawbacks of Wellness Programs

While employer-sponsored wellness programs are likely well-intentioned, they can have drawbacks. It’s possible some programs are created merely for show or to lower employer costs.

What’s more, workers may feel wellness plans violate their privacy or view them as a way for employers to make up for overly demanding jobs. Additionally, some programs may not be beneficial and could even make some people feel discriminated against — particularly if they fear employer retaliation for not using the programs offered. Measurements of employee wellness programs’ success may not be accurate.

Organizations should also be conscientious and open about disability accommodations in an effort to include all employees.

Positive Features of Wellness Programs

Still, workplace wellness programs can benefit employees, especially if they’re flexible, voluntary and well developed. For example, including a number of free mental health counseling sessions per year in employee benefits packages can make it easier for workers to get confidential support with both personal and professional problems.

Certainly, workplace wellness programs can provide the opportunity to improve employee health, but they will likely have the greatest impact if the company also offers other meaningful and well-planned benefits such as generous time off, flexible hours and paid parental leave.

How to Decide When to Go to Urgent Care 
July 5, 2022

Urgent care centers provide fast, noncritical health care on a walk-in basis. A visit is generally around the same price or slightly more than a clinic visit but far cheaper than a trip to the emergency room.

But how do you know when you may need urgent care or when to choose another treatment option?

Urgent care fills a health care gap

According to experts, many patients visit emergency rooms for health care issues that could be handled elsewhere. Urgent care centers can usually handle injuries and illnesses that need immediate care but are not life-threatening or debilitating. Examples include minor cuts and burns, back or muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Primary care providers manage routine health care

A primary care provider, or PCP, can manage most of your regular health care needs. PCPs offer cheaper treatment choices, and you’ll often see them before going to a specialist, although they may coordinate your overall care. For general health concerns, consider contacting a primary care provider.

Emergency departments provide critical care

Emergency departments are indispensable if you’re critically ill or injured but will likely be your most expensive option. Of course, in a true emergency, the cost is the last thing on many people’s minds.

While urgent care could save you from an expensive ED visit, it’s better to err on the side of caution if you’re hurt or sick and not sure what to do. If you can’t make it to the hospital or the situation is life-threatening, you can call 911.

Do you have questions about life or health insurance? We’re here anytime you need help.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Prescription Drugs? 
Friday, June 3, 2022

Medicare Advantage plans are geared to cover gaps left by Original Medicare. While these plans combine coverage available by Original Medicare, they also include coverage for different health care needs you may face as you grow older. At their most basic policies, neither Original Medicare nor Medicare Advantage cover prescription drugs.

At their most basic policies, neither Original Medicare nor Medicare Advantage cover prescription drugs. However, you can add coverage for prescription drugs to your Medicare Advantage policy. Prescription drug coverage is called Plan D.

Plan D Medicare specifically covers drugs prescribed by your healthcare provider. Some policies even cover delivery for prescription drugs, which can conveniently cut out the need to go to the pharmacy every time you need a refill. Be sure to speak with your insurance agent about the options available to you. Some medications may not be fully covered or have limits coverage under your insurance.

What Prescription Drugs are Covered Under Medicare Plan D?

There are different categories, also called tiers, which split up certain prescription drugs under this plan. In general, Plan D must cover at least two medications in each category. These are generally name-brand drugs. If you take an off brand of a covered prescription, however, you may still, be covered under Medicare Plan D. If it isn’t, a similar drug that is covered should be offered.

The main tiers of Medicare Plan D are:

  • Tier 1: Tier 1 has the lowest copayment and generic prescription drugs.
  • Tier 2: Tier 2 has a medium copayment and preferred, brand name prescription drugs.
  • Tier 3: Tier 3 had a higher copayment and non-preferred but still brand name prescription drugs.

· Specialty Tier: A specialty tier includes those with the highest copayment and most expensive prescription drugs.

Be sure to speak with whoever prescribes you medication to understand what tier your prescription drugs fall into, as well as if there are ways to save money by switching tiers.

Generic drugs may be cheaper than brand name drugs, but there aren’t always generic drugs available depending on your health needs. In order to be a true generic drug, they typically must copy brand-name drugs in:

  • Safety
  • Strength
  • Type of administration
  • Quality
  • Performance
  • Intended use
  • Dosage

The more expensive your prescription drugs, the more you may pay out of pocket. Also keep in mind that, while this insurance does provide a significant amount of coverage, it cannot cover everything. Certain drugs may be excluded, so speak with your insurance agent if you have any questions.

Important Terms to Remember in Medicare Part D 
Thursday, May 5, 2022

Americans who enroll in Original Medicare will have to enroll in a separate, private benefit called Medicare Part D. These private plans, which are Medicare-approved, offer benefits that will help policyholders afford the costs of everyday medications that are essential to their wellbeing.

Like all insurance policies, Part D coverage will have its terms, conditions and cost obligations attached. Before getting coverage, take a closer look at some of these:

Premiums: Your premium is the cost that you pay for your prescription drug plan itself. You will have to make this payment regularly, and will pay it in addition to your Original Medicare premium.

Co-payments: Most prescription drugs on Part D plans come with copayments attached. Copayments are nominal costs that you pay for the cost of your prescriptions after your plan pays its share of your costs. Co-payments will vary from plan to plan and prescription to prescription.

Formularies: Your insurance plan’s formulary is the list of drugs covered by the policy. You must take a prescription within your formulary in order to receive full coverage. Formularies usually offer numerous drugs to treat the same condition.

Drug Tiers: Within your formulary, you will often find that drugs are separated into tiers. Those in the lowest tiers are usually generic drugs and come at the lowest costs to the consumer. Those in higher tiers might be brand-name or specialty medications, and they usually come at a higher out-of-pocket cost. Keep in mind, just because a drug is in a lower tier, it is not weaker or less effective.

Prior Authorization: In order to have Part D cover certain prescriptions, your physician must submit a prior authorization to your insurer. This prior authorization explains to Medicare that it is medically necessary for you to take that drug in particular. However, don’t forget that though one drug might not be covered, an alternative might still be available on your plan.

Deductibles: A deductible is a dollar value that you must pay out-of-pocket for your drugs before your plan begins to pay any share of costs. Deductible rules vary from plan to plan. Some drugs are not subject to deductibles, and some plans have no deductible at all. Under Medicare rules, no drug plan deductible can cost more than $445 in 2021.

Donut Hole: Your Part D donut hole is a gap in coverage that will kick in after you and your plan have paid a combined $4,130 for drugs in 2021. At this time, the pricing structure for drugs will be different than they were when you were not in the coverage gap. However, you will still only pay a percentage of the full cost of the drug in question.

We’re happy to help you choose the plan that will offer you the best cost structure for the drugs that you must take.

Comparing Life Insurance Policies
Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Are you ready to buy life insurance? It is not hard to become overwhelmed with all the options you have. Most policies offer a great deal of features that could help you to find the right protection for your family. How can you navigate it all? Start with the basics.

What Is the Term?

Most life insurance policies have a term limit. This is the amount of time that the policy remains in place. If a covered person dies during that term, the policy makes a death payment. That’s the term used to describe the payment from the insurance company to your loved one. The payment goes to your beneficiary, the person you name to receive it. With term life insurance policies, you can pick how long you want the policy to remain in place. This may offer fewer changes in costs.

Many people choose a term based on their family’s needs. For example, you may want to have life insurance in place long enough to cover your family while your kids are still young. You may want to choose a policy that covers your family as long as you have a mortgage. The length of the term can impact cost. Longer terms typically cost a bit more, but provide longer protection.

What Is the Coverage Amount?

How much do you want to leave behind for your family? As noted, some people may choose to leave enough to accomplish a specific goal, such as paying off their mortgage. Others may want to choose a policy that provides enough financial support for their family for two to five years. You can also choose a larger amount.

What Is the Premium?

This is the cost of the policy. It is how much you need to pay to maintain coverage. When comparing policies, be sure to consider whether the premium changes over the term. If so, by how much? What can you expect if you purchase a second term life insurance policy? Will the premium be lower or higher? These are key questions to ask when comparing various insurance products.

Life insurance can be very flexible. Policies can differ significantly to meet just about any goal you have. Keep in mind that life insurance should fit your goals. That means choosing coverage that is affordable to you but offers enough protection for your family’s unique needs.

Does Term Life Insurance Have a Savings Component
Friday, March 11, 2022

If you're looking for life insurance, then you may have come across two rhyming policies known as term and perm. When it comes to distinguishing between the two of them, there are a few key details that you should know. Here's how they differ, so you can get a better sense of the right option for you.

The Deadlines of Term Policies

Term policies are life insurance policies that, theoretically, the beneficiaries might never be able to claim. So, if you wanted to provide for dependent children only up until a certain age. Then, you might take out a term policy that expires when your youngest child turns 18. If your dependents need to claim the policy, they can do so only if a qualifying event happens when the policy is active. If not, the policy expires at the end of the term and is never paid out.

Term Insurance, Also Called Pure Insurance

The term pure references the fact that there is no cash value accumulation for term policies. This is a great benefit if you have a certain set of expenses you want to meet.

However, one of the added benefits of permanent as opposed to a term policies is that you often have the option of letting the policy accumulate cash value over time. Over time, you can often choose to cash in the cash value part of the policy, essentially using it as a savings account or source of income.

How to Decide

Plenty of people use life insurance to expand their portfolios and give them extra income should unexpected events occur. For example, maybe you didn't foresee yourself having to pay for a grandchild's education, but circumstances change. Or maybe you need to pay for major home renovations so you can continue to stay there. Some people may just decide to take a major vacation down the line. Whatever happens, permanent insurance can be a good way to keep some pennies store up for a rainy day.

There is no right and wrong type of insurance to get, only those that are right for you. If you choose term life insurance, you're getting an affordable policy that's designed to your specifications. A permanent life insurance plan may just give you more options and assets to draw from should you need to. It all comes down to how you want to manage your funds while protecting the people you love.

Is Burial Insurance Enough? What It Doesn’t Cover
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The costs of funerals are very expensive and growing. Some estimates say that it costs, on average, $8,000 for a simple burial. For those who want more advanced treatment, you can expect to pay much more. Who will pay funeral expenses if you die unexpectedly?

Who will pay funeral expenses if you die unexpectedly? Some forms of life insurance like burial insurance can help to pay for these costs. It can also alleviate many of the financial risks your family faces. But, is burial insurance enough?

What Does Burial Insurance Cover?

Burial insurance is a term used to describe a basic, low-value life insurance policy. It provides a minimal amount of coverage to your loved ones. Because they offer a lower level of coverage, burial plans are much less expensive.

As with all types of life insurance, your beneficiary, has the right to decide how to use those funds. They don't necessarily have to use it for burial. It is possible to leave burial insurance as a part of a trust. When using a trust, you can define the terms of the trust yourself. That gives you control over how to use the funds when you are gone.

Why It Isn’t Enough?

Burial insurance is minimal protection. Though a good start, it usually does not provide much to those who need financial help right away. That is generally your family. Here are some things to consider when choosing life insurance plans.

  • How long do you want the policy to provide financial support for your loved ones? For example, you may want a policy that offers at least enough to cover your salary for a year.
  • Do you have a mortgage or other debts? If so, a larger life insurance policy can help to cover those costs outright.
  • How much do you anticipate the costs of your funeral expenses to be? Pre-planning for such events can offer some guidance.

Once you gather this information, talk to your insurance provider about coverage. Life insurance becomes available to loved ones nearly immediately upon death. It usually does not go to creditors or to others to whom you owe money to even after your death.

Therefore, life insurance can support your loved one during this very difficult time. Though burial insurance is a good basic policy, it often is not enough to provide long-term care to your loved ones.

Regardless of what plan is right for you, Garden State Insurance is here to help. Explore our website to learn more about life insurance options. Also call us today at 856-446-3120 to learn more about these options.