Lost Life Insurance Company Found

Your brother just passed away and you have a life insurance policy in your hands. It is giving you some comfort that he did tell you about it just before he passed away; however, the phone numbers on the policy are wrong, the address is no longer available and the company is no longer in business. You are now lost. Where do you go? Who do you call? What are your options?

According to law an insurance company cannot just close its doors and walk away. It must be taken over by another insurance company or by the government. Once in the hands of the government they determine the situation of the company and reassign it to another life insurance company.

The only problem with that is when company “A” takes over company “B’ they can be very picky. They do not have to take all policies and assets of a company can be distributed to not only one company but several. Also, the companies only take over active policies. For example, if you had a term policy with company ‘B’ and the insured person passed away during that term the beneficiaries would be eligible for the death benefit. However; if it was, for example, a 10 year term policy and it ran its course before company “A” bought out company “B”, company “A” has no obligation to take it over. So it would be lost.

It is so important to first of all, keep all your life insurance information on a central database so it can be claimed quickly. With all the mergers and takeovers these days you will be glad your beneficiaries will have a central database to search.

It is also good to know how to find out what company took over the old company. There are services that do this for you. Now it is very important to know, no one can guarantee the new company has possession of your life insurance policy, but they should guarantee the company name they give you has taken over the old one you are looking for.

Prevent lost life insurance and guarantee your beneficiaries will find it when the time comes. Claim it quickly so you will not be part of the merger/ takeover shuffle.

Good Financial Management

Good financial management is essential to the survival and success of every business. Unfortunately, many small business owners have relatively limited exposure to financial management and are unaware of how strategically important it is to their business’s performance.

In general, financial management deals with the procurement of funds for a business and the effective use of those funds in the operations of the business. It also involves using accounting numbers to measure the financial health of a business, to understand the reasons for the current financial position, and to make strategic decisions that will improve the general performance of the business.

The best way to demonstrate the importance of good financial management is to describe some of the tasks that it involves:

o Taking care not to over-invest in fixed assets

o Ensuring that there is a sufficient level of short-term working capital to sustain and manage accounts receivables and inventory

o Setting sales revenue targets that will deliver growth

o Increasing gross profit by setting the correct pricing for products or services, reducing the costs of raw materials, negotiating supplier prices, and managing other factors that influence the costs of production or service provision

o Controlling the level of general and administrative expenses by finding more cost-efficient ways of running the day-to-day business operations

o Tax planning that will minimise the taxes a business has to pay

o Managing employee benefits

o Performing financial analysis using numbers generated from financial statements.

Good financial management begins with a solid book-keeping system that will allow for the production of accurate financial statements. It requires knowledge of how to use the figures in the financial statements to the business’s advantage. For example, a good financial manager should know that a positive net profit and an increase in sales does not automatically translate into financial success. If the business’s borrowed capital has increased at a rate higher than the increase in profits or sales, it means the company is financially worse-off than it previously was. Are you and your management team aware of this?

There are many other strategic mistakes that managers who are unfamiliar or untrained in financial management make. Over time these mistakes can become detrimental to a business’s success and survival so it is crucial that you learn as much as possible about how to financially manage your small business. If you have trouble with this, you may want to consider soliciting the services of a professional who knows the ins and outs of the process.

For more information on financial management, have a look at my article “Impress your bank manager! How to read your profit and loss account report”.

Beneficiaries Of Lost Life Insurance Policies Can Really Use The Money

It is just a shame that money owed to some beneficiaries of lost insurance policies never get to them during their lifetimes. I spoke with some representatives of insurance companies, to see how many, on a daily basis, get phone calls from the public, asking them to search their database for insurance policies. I had one company say 100’s a day. I had another company tell me 1000’s a day and they even elaborated that it was a total waste of the consumer’s time as well as resources and man power of his company. He said that they will never find it if they do not know which company their loved one bought it from. Well, I took this opportunity to explain the need of a central life insurance database to him; telling him that it is a safe and a much needed service. He listened to me for around 10 minutes while I explained the many benefits a central database could have to his insurance customers. Even with him telling me that it was a waste of time for anyone calling his company, he did not want anything to do with the thought of a database. He flatly told me that he did not feel a database was a benefit to his customers, I was surprised.

Now as a insurance agent myself, I took offense to this comment. Isn’t it the responsibility of the agent (regardless of the company they work for) to do what is best for the customer? Don’t you think that registering anyone with life insurance on a central database so their beneficiaries can locate the company name is the best thing for the customer? Well I do. Not only does a database allow an individual to register the company name they have insurance with, it allows the beneficiary with certainty to find the policy you have in place. All an individual would need, to find a life insurance policy, is the company name. Since there are over 2000 life insurance companies in the United States alone, having the company name on a central database will solve a major problem that gets recognized only when it is too late; lost life insurance policies. Hopefully consumers of life insurance will also recognize the need and buy it from agents and agencies that offer to register on a free central database. It is definitely something to think about.

Insurance Companies and Universal Health Care

Insurance companies serve a very important function in our society. The purpose of insurance is to share risk. Risk is the amount of economic loss that someone is willing to assume in an activity. For instance, a bank would not loan money for the purpose of buying a house, unless the house was protected against losses such as fire, wind and other perils. That protection is provided by a Homeowner’s policy.

A loan to purchase an automobile would not be available unless the car was insured for losses by theft or collision. That protection is provided by an auto policy.

Health insurance is a policy that shares the risk of losses caused by injuries or illness. A share of the risk is assumed by the individual through a deductible or co-pay. In-other-words, if someone visits the doctor, that individual may be required to pay the first $15 or $20 of the visit. The health insurance company assumes the risk of the remainder of the cost.

That shared risk comes about through an exchange of ‘consideration’. Consideration is value. The insured pays a premium in exchange for the promise of the insurance company to pay certain costs associated with the insured’s health care. Which brings us to the controversy surrounding the government’s efforts to institute what some call universal health care.

No matter what side of the argument you are on, in favor or against universal health care, one issue has been settled. President Obama stated publicly that it is impossible to insure the ‘uninsured’ without additional costs. So, the idea that this will be a ‘deficit neutral’ policy has been debunked by the administration itself. Either taxes go up to pay for the program, or health care will have to be rationed to keep costs neutral, or bring them down.

In response to the public out-cry about a government health care program, the administration has called the insurance companies villains. After all, insurance companies exclude preexisting conditions for some period of time when an individual enrolls (however that is not always the case with group policies), and insurance companies are making a ‘profit’.

PreExsiting Conditions

Think about the concept of risk and preexisting conditions. An individual has a home that has been damaged by fire. Would a homeowner’s insurance company now write a policy that would cover the repairs to home caused by the preexisting fire? Of course not! That is not shared risk, that is bad business.

An individual has a preexisting health condition, say diabetes. Purchasing a policy that would exclude the treatment for diabetes for a limited period of time (usually two years), now results in a shared risk. The health insurance company will cover the person for other perils, and if that individual pays the premiums over time, that exclusion regarding the preexisting condition is then dropped.

Is it possible for the government to insure everyone in the United States and force insurance companies to provide policies without regard to preexisting conditions? It is possible, but not without driving the cost of health-care way up. After all, the money to pay the doctors and hospitals have to come from somewhere and President Obama stated that ‘We are out of money’. Since the government doesn’t earn money, its only source of revenue is taxes.

Profit

Insurance companies are being cast as the bad guy since companies make a profit. Which do you prefer, companies that are well run that make a profit, or a company like General Motors that required billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail the company out? A profit is what allows companies to expand services and provide jobs. Companies that fail to make a profit, go out-of-business.

The government not only fails to make a profit, as a well run business entity should, it runs at a deficit. The latest example is Cash for Clunkers. Not only was taxpayer money used to subsidize auto sales, now car dealers are complaining that the government is not sending the checks for the Clunkers that were promised. It appears that many buyers will have lost their old cars and now face repossession of the new cars purchased since the money for the program did not actually exist.

This does not bode well for a government run health care system.

Tort Reform

Doctors and hospitals must practice defensive medicine. People will sue for anything. Tort lawyers use a ‘shot-gun’ approach when filing a malpractice lawsuit. All doctors, nurses, technicians and hospitals involved in a case are named as a defendant, whether that party had any actual responsibility for the claimed injury and damage.

We need a loser pay system, which provides that anyone who brings a lawsuit and loses, is required to pay the other side’s attorney fees and expenses. That would do away with most frivolous lawsuits and bring the costs of health care down.

Big Government Solution

Government should be required to live within its means. It does not, and the government, not insurance companies, is the villain in this scenario.

The founding fathers did not foresee a large, powerful centralized government. That is what was the war of independence against England was all about. The US Constitution delegated specific powers to the Federal Government, and it does not specify taking over any private sector industry.

Medicare and Medicaid are government health care programs on the verge of collapse. Even President Obama admits Medicare cannot be sustained. No program can be sustained when it runs at a deficit and all government programs run at a deficit.

Universal Health Care will run at a deficit from day one and that is just bad business.