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Open Enrollment

A little personal myth busting for you…

More than likely, you’re dealing with open enrollment at work. Depending on your company, it can be an easy no brainer process, or it can add to your holiday pressures. Let’s hope, for you, it’s the first one.

I’ve been working with “Felicia” the last few weeks to supplement her life insurance coverage. She was of the impression she had maxed out her group coverage at $100,000. We submitted paperwork for a $1,000,000 10 year policy to cover the needs of her son through college (he’s 14 and she wanted to cushion the few years after graduation too).

When her open enrollment notice for 2013 arrived, she sent over a copy for me to evaluate. She realized she had additional optional coverage available to her and wanted my opinion.

I have always recommended clients max out their group coverage before supplementing with additional life insurance coverage. Reason being the group coverage is almost always the cheapest and you can add on from there. Most people are not adequately covered by group insurance alone.

In this example, the group coverage wasn’t the best option.

For Felicia, the best deal was found in sticking with the policy we were underwriting and foregoing the additional insurance offered by her employer. She was able to add an additional $203,000 of life insurance for $17.54 per month if she enrolled in the optional coverage while the policy we were underwriting through another carrier was $22.06 for $1 million of additional coverage. The employer provided coverage required underwriting and wasn’t portable.

My point? Don’t go on auto pilot during open enrollment. Get online, talk to someone like us, and weigh your options.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!!

term policyI see a lot of things on the internet that peak my curiosity. Particularly when I can’t find the facts to back them up.

Lately, one of these topics has been the joint term policy. Why do I find the subject curious? Because I can’t seem to find a product that doesn’t require some sort of association membership or other qualifying factor beyond basic underwriting, and even these are hard to come by. I’ve come to think of the joint term policy as some sort of urban legend.

What I do know is a joint term policy will only be suitable for a short amount of time in most cases. Here’s why…

What is meant by most when they discuss “joint term life insurance” is a policy that pays the benefit upon the death of the FIRST spouse. Why is this important? Because most joint life insurance policies are what is known as “second to die” and are used for legacy purposes as opposed to protection purposes. The two are often confused and this is dangerous. We’ll get back to this in a bit, but first let’s look at where a joint term policy with first to die provisions is suitable.

In a new marriage.

There are business uses for a joint term policy, but that’s a conversation for another day.

In a new marriage, life insurance is needed to protect each spouse in the event of the loss of the other if they have financial dependencies, which is typically the case. Two individual policies can also accomplish this, but the general thinking I’m seeing is that PERHAPS it is less expensive to purchase one of these joint term policies. Maybe. If this is true for a certain couple, the trouble I see is this policy will not be suitable for very long. At a minimum, it will need to be supplemented with individual term policies once the couple starts a family because coverage is now needed for both parents. And in today’s world  the window between marriage and having a first child is getting shorter and shorter. There is no reason not to be underwritten at the time of marriage and then again a bit later when children enter the picture, it just may be an inconvenience many do not want to endure to POSSIBLY save a couple of pennies.

The other type of joint life policy is known as a “second to die” product and is generally used for legacy purposes and to fund estate tax liabilities. NOT to protect young families. Just like it sounds, the policy only pays the benefit at the death of the second spouse, so for protection purposes the chance of this happening is so statistically small that the family is likely better covered by two individual policies. Again, the story is different for legacy purposes which typically become a concern in later years.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for GOOD joint term policies with first to die provisions for those times when they are suitable. If I find a good product, you’ll be the first to know.

Ciao for now. M

I have this old friend (in tenure, not age) who comes up with some pretty good one liners. This was the last one.

She had just gotten off the phone with her car dealer service guy who was suggesting about $500 in “work” be done on her car that had just crossed 15,000 miles. Many of the line items she read off fell under “diagnostics.” When she asked me what to do, I suggested she go with the oil change and call it a day. Her car happens to have a computerized system that will tell her when things need to be done, therefore constantly running it’s own “diagnostics.” She wondered out loud why they would suggest so many other services as being “necessary” (Yes, I’m having a quotation mark problem today. No, I’m not going to curb it. It’s the first day back from holiday for Christ’s sake.). My answer was simple. To create FEAR.

“That’s a whole lot of money to pay for some fear.”

This lead into a debate of premium vs. regular fuel, but I’m not going to take you down that foxhole. Once was enough.

When you take a look around our world you see examples of fear based communication. I mean, seriously, if we need to have disclosures on our clothes dryers that say,”don’t place children inside the dryer, close the door, and turn it on” we’re living in a world with a huge dose of irrational fear. And irrational law suits, but that’s a post for a different day.

Unfortunately, we make a lot of decisions based on fear. And then there are those we DON’T make, based on fear.

Like life insurance.

“I’m afraid I can’t afford it.”

“I’m afraid I can’t be underwritten.”

“I’m afraid something might actually happen if I do take care of it.”

Are any of these rational? No. The first two are simply excuses or myths that are most likely untrue and the last, nothing short of superstition.

The reality? The damage that can be caused by not having life insurance when it’s needed is “a whole lot of money to pay for some fear.”

That same old friend with the car just bought a $1 million dollar policy for $22.06 a month. At that rate, everyone should have one.

Even your dog.


**Very, very serious and important disclosure: you can’t really buy life insurance for dogs. Or cats. And definitely not pet tarantulas. 


A little Thanksgiving love from all of us at The Insurist. Enjoy, be well and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Click here to see what’s on our table this week :)

Biscuits Be Gone

This week was spent in Atlanta for the Operation Hope Global Financial Dignity Summit. I’ll spend more time on that subject over the weekend when I’m not playing mad catch up. An absolutely GREAT event with great people, great content, and an in person performance by Ben Bernanke. Ok, so performance is a strong word, but he did talk about the housing market.

Food in the South is generally in the to die for category, but it’s not exactly light. And not so green either. In my plight yesterday morning to vegetize, I asked to substitute my breakfast potatoes with a side of spinach and was sorely disappointed when my dream of a mountain of little green leaves was crushed by a ramekin of frozen nonsense. Not that it was Georgia’s fault. It happens in California too. I did find some delicious fried green beans. At least they were green on the inside.

So I woke up this morning dedicated to filling up with as many raw nutrients as possible. This made lunch a juicing adventure and one I had to share. It delivered a sweet flavor made up of the following:

3 carrots

2 gala apples

2 stalks of celery

1 slice of lemon

1 crown of broccoli, stem included

3 slices of ginger

I’m calling it “Biscuits Be Gone.”  You might think it’s a strange combo, but it’s really good. Light and sweet and the color of pumpkin.

On that note…another fun one is Pumpkin juice. Get crazy.


8 q

“John Fenton left us much too early at the age of 56 on November 6, 2012. John leaves a loving family of four adult children; his wife JoAnne and countless number of friends and acquaintances to grieve his sad passing as a result of complications of medical issues. John, a hard-working dedicated father and husband, lived with great pain over the past couple of years. He never complained! His most recent surgery of approximately one month ago required John to rest. This was not John. He loved his work and was dedicated to his family and could not just sit by and recuperate as was necessary. It took great effort, despite his pain, for John to rise every morning at 3:30 am to travel from Acton to his job in Hermosa Beach while being limited with his mobility that required use of crutches to assist his walking. John knew that his most recent surgery carried great risks to correct his prior surgery of ankle reconstruction. Unfortunately, John was afflicted with serious blood-clotting issues that eventually led to his untimely death. John was a major provider for his family which the loss of his income is devastating to the family. There are on-going medical expenses; family expenses and funeral expenses that, unfortunately, are not covered by insurance as John was not able to qualify for life insurance due to his age and medical condition. There have been many loving messages and condolences expressed in a very short period of time since his passing with the request of “what can we do to help?” Contributing whatever you can afford will provide the family with great assistance at this time. Of course, the family would prefer that this request would never have been necessary. They offer their loving and God-felt wishes for your love and support.”

If you would like to support the Fenton Family, you can do so at

We are.

This all started as a hunt for what to do with the persimmons in last week’s CSA box.

The answer? A little pumpernickel persimmon salsa appetizer, courtesy of Kristine Kidd over at Bon Appetit. BTW, head over to their site. The Halloween logo is great. And so is this recipe: Best with the Smoked Salmon and Pumpernickel and you can use the rest with the Balsamic Glazed Turkey you make for your main.

You’ll notice the persimmon page talks about “The Cure for the Common Turkey,” which lead me to the Balsamic Glazed Turkey recipe on Epicurious. An old favorite I’ve made a million times (ok, maybe not quite a million) and it’s always a hit. You literally throw it in the oven and have a perfect turkey breast 45 minutes later. I’m going to forego the onion bell pepper saute tonight and turn to the Barefoot Contessa for a little roasting. Broccoli and sweet potatoes that is.

Ina Garten does a great roasted broccoli that can get even those anti green thing people to eat it (seriously). I first ran across it at the Amateur Gourmet, calling it “The Best Broccoli of Your Life.” They weren’t kidding.

And fade to Ina again, some roasted sweet potatoes to top things off.

So there you have  it. What started as a persimmon hunt ended with a cleaning out of all produce on hand, just in time for my departure tomorrow. Call me a master of efficiency. I am ;)

Cheers! ~M

Our friends over at CoverHound put together this infographic and we love it. ‘Tis the season after all.

Car insurance politics

Provided by

Aw, the power of social media and the internet. I ran into Sarah Froney-Dugo this morning. First on LinkedIn, then Facebook, and now here. I loved the article I’m reposting below about her father’s thoughtful preparation for those left behind when he was gone. She leaves us with his checklist of documents and such, but even more she leaves us with the dignity he gave her and her mother when he prepared for the inevitable. While we often don’t want to think about this stuff, it is one of the most considerate things we can do for those that love us.

Thank you Sarah for sharing one of life’s most precious and precarious times.

Sarah can be found at College Savings Dolls where she talks about preparing for the financial aspects of college.

1st in Life Lesson Series

My Dad passed away suddenly, was a teacher in life and remained one moving forward. This series of life lessons will periodically appear on our blog. I am a big believer the positive items of the past need to be revisited and one of the many lessons he taught me was organization of your financial life.

After a tear-filled session putting into action his last wishes, which by the way were already determined and paid for. My mom and I set about putting together a continuation of her life without my Dad. What an overwhelming task was ahead of us! While I messed with putting the day to day living in place, she worked through the file box and notified the organizations. The first item on the agenda was social security and pensions.

Then under his desk we found a black-lidded plastic portable file holder. As we opened it we found all aspects of his financial life were accounted for. So the overwhelming task became less so, since not only were all the account numbers, contact phone numbers accounted for, the files were easy to read in block printing.

If my Dad’s legacy of teaching can move forward a new generation, he will be continuing his life work. As a fellow teacher blogger has taught me, life is a series of transitions.

Files listed:

1.) Will/Estate/Trust copies & where to locate the originals
2.) Social Security info.
3.) Pension info.
4.) Bank info.
5.) Investment info.
6.) Life insurance
7.) Car info.
8.) Home info.
9.) Death instructions/info.
10.) Health insurance

I came home and did the same for my husband. I do most things on-line so, I included passwords, login information, and account numbers. Sometimes, there was nothing in the folder but, the info I had written. Maybe one piece of paper with all the access codes would have been less cumbersome but, I was paying homage to my Dad-so I did it his way!

What if something happened to me, as the keeper of our financial life, where would he look? It is not something you think about at a young age but even if you don’t have the item, create a folder as a holder for it later. This life lesson re-taught me that life is fragile and preparation will help those left. By having everything in order, it gave us time to grieve, re-organize our lives, and be able to move on concentrating on happy memories.

College Highlight:

Illinois State University (my father’s undergrad teaching degree was from here)

Words with friends, football, and a fridge full of fresh produce.

What’s a girl to do other than cook a big brunch to make it the perfect Sunday? Well, perfect other than the 93 degree weather in the middle of October. I’m ready for sweaters, stews, impending holidays and a little rain. NO MORE HEAT PLEASE.

If you’ve been reading with me over the last couple of months you know I’ve been on a juice kick and have been consuming a lot of beets, juiced and solid. When a friend pointed out this beet hash recipe from Whole Living magazine, I couldn’t resist (plus eating my first egg in over a month felt like sneaking out of the house at 16). A few things to note:

1) I used purple sweet potatoes and they were delish.
2) Take their suggestion to poach the eggs as opposed to making the little wells in the recipe.
3) Go heavy on the parsley and onion.

I’m like so Martha Stewart today. Happy Brunching!!

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