The Importance of Knowing Your Insurance

David Bezar, Bret Elam, and Karen Bezar discuss topics such as managing your investments, as well as retirement preparation and knowing which insurance policies will work for certain situations. In partnership with Del-Val Insurance, Jim Muelbronner will also be discussing the topic of insurance.

Listen to the podcast here:

Karen, how are you? And why don’t you get us started on the discussion

I am doing well, thank you so much. So we’re going to touch a little bit on retirement benefits as marital property, and what I mean by that is when we meet with women sometimes they come in and they’ve either recently been divorced, or divorce has happened in their life, and again, widowhood is a big emotional stressful time as well, so this is geared more towards women who are in divorce situations, but some of it can apply to women who have also been recently widowed. It’s definitely a difficult time in your life if you’re going through a divorce, but retirement benefits are marital property. I’m not an attorney, but there’s some good information that we have for you. We’ve recently become aware of an organization that helps women get some information to navigate the divorce process so that they don’t end up a statistic in retirement.

What is that organization?

WISERWomen.org

And we know from previous conversations that we’ve had that women, generally, find themselves at a disadvantage when they get to retirement.

We’ve talked about that many, many times, and we’ve used, and you’ve used some statistics to support that conversation. This is an additional layer, and an additional funnel to that.

Right. And as a child of divorce I’ve learned so much. If I knew now what I knew then, I would have been able to help my mom a lot more. But women actually have the right to the retirement benefit of their spouse that they’re divorcing. If you’re going through this process that you need to be very clear on this point, it’s very critical. You need to have all the information about your husband’s retirement benefits before you divorce. It is nearly impossible to go back to court and ask for a share of your ex-husband’s benefit that you learn about after the fact. And remember, even if you’re not divorced, once you’re married, and if it’s a second marriage, make sure all beneficiaries are corrected on all of your husband’s retirement plans. I’ve actually had a situation where somebody did pass away.

The husband passed away, and the new wife thought she was getting one of his IRAs because he had about five of them out there, and she was out five digits of income that she thought she was getting, and was going to the ex, and I’m sure the ex was not going to share that with her.

Well, I think that falls under our failure to prepare. We’ve talked so many times that it almost seems like there’s a recurrent theme about being prepared, having a plan, following that plan. Part of the roadmap to retirement, part of what you do is organizing all of that, and putting it into a plan.

Well it’s the same thing too, I mean we know statistically that nearly  50% of all marriages in the US today end up in divorce, so one out of two couples are probably going to go through it. Not that we want to think about it, not that we want to anticipate it, but you should be prepared, it should be part of your financial planning roadmap that you could figure this out.

If you are going through the process now, and you know that there’s some money that is due to you, you should also obviously have an attorney helping you with this situation. And I have a list here of 10 ways to avoid losing the pension during your divorce. So, there’s a pension. That’s one of the things that are open to you. And then there’s 401ks and there’s traditional IRAs and things like that.

So, I’m going to try, and go through the list, but if you’re going to have an attorney ask them these questions.

Do you have experience dividing pension plans and drafting pension orders? Number two, do you have the necessary information from all of my husband’s pension plans? Number three, do you know that different types of benefits must be specifically included in the pension order? Number four, will my payments stop if he dies? Should I be getting a survivor’s benefit if I remarry? Will that change or stop any of my benefits? Number five, how will state laws affect what I get, and can we negotiate something better? Number six, what could my former husband do in the future that would reduce or stop my payment? Number seven, have you investigated all possible requirements or legal loopholes? Number eight, have you prepared a pension order to be signed by the court at the time of my divorce? Number nine, has the order been pre-approved by the pension plan? And number ten, will you follow up to make sure that the final pension order is sent to the pension plan and officially accepted?

Again, take a look at MeetThriveFinancial.com if it’s something that you’re going through now, or if recently widowed, or it’s part of what’s happening to you now please come in, take a look. We can help you out with a lot of this information.

I know you covered the list, but it really shows you the scope of how many things we are or you are expected to know.

Absolutely. The WISER organization, which we are in process of becoming a member of, is the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. They’re based out of Washington DC and They have a website called WISERWomen.org. What Karen just went through, we can get a copy of that information out to people if they’ll give us a call at 800-516-5861. Those 10 things are critical if you’re going through or anticipate going through a divorce.

We continue to educate our readers and educate the Thrive Army. We’ll tell you about a great success story later. Jim Muelbronner from Del-Val Insurance, score and save this football season or this time of the year. We’ll bring Jim into the dialogue and have some conversation with him, plus later, Bret Elam will give us some input

Before we bring Jim Muelbronner into the conversation, David, I do want to just reference that letter that you received today.

It was generated by an individual that you were able to sit down with, and talk to them, and meet with them in one of the complimentary reviews. And I think that letter is an incredibly powerful statement representing the conviction that everybody at this table has for helping people in retirement.

Yeah, this was a person that just attended one of our workshops. It happened to be the Upper Dublin Township Workshop that we did. She had come up to us right afterwards, and it turned out that she was one of the chapter presidents for the retiree chapter of one of the largest unions that we have in the city of Philadelphia. And she was just totally blown away about the information. She said, “The information that you spoke on was incredibly informational and eye opening, thank you for bringing this awareness to the senior community.” And due to that, she invited us to come speak to her chapter, the retiree chapter of the union sometime later this month, so we’re just kind of working that out. It’s one of our goals, especially in the city of Philadelphia. You’re so intimate and a huge friend to the unions, and we know that what we do, from a retiree standpoint, really helps to give people education.

Our partner Del-Val Insurance, Jim Muelbronner is here to help educate the people bout insurance and ways that you can utilize or save money to put it into one of your retirement buckets.

I guess it’s important to understand the benefits of a broker, especially an insurance broker like Del-Val Insurance group. Thrive essentially is a broker, they have a lot of different options for you for investments, and all the things that they do. But in the insurance realm, as a broker, the main thing  is that we have choices, that’s important in life. You can’t go into a situation to purchase a product or a service and have only one option. You’re better off having a lot of options, right?

You can't go into a situation to purchase a product or a service and have only one option. You're better off having a lot of options Click To Tweet

The ability to have that many carriers or that many options means what to the end user?

It essentially means to the client that we’re certainly their advocate. We’re not beholden to any one company. We’re going to put you or match you up with a company that’s best for your particular situation. A lot of people don’t realize that insurance rates nowadays are done by demographics. So, if you’re in a certain neighborhood or a certain zip code, one carrier may be a lot better than another, and these are all good companies that we’re talking about here. But, one may be better in one neighborhood than another. If you have kids, there are certainly companies that specialize in that, and even get into things nowadays like credit rating. If you have a terrific credit rating, some company is going to have a better rate than other companies, and a poor credit rating, just the same. So, it really depends on your particular situation. That’s why choices are so important. to the client that we’re certainly their advocate. We’re not beholden to any one company. We’re going to put you or match you up with a company that’s best for your particular situation.

Bret, you stand at the workshop. You’ll talk about buckets of money, and you’ll talk about ways to start to manage and put together a plan. I’ve learned the closer you get to retirement, the more you can save, and the more you can find ways to fill that individual bucket, and the better off you’re going to be.

Yes, that’s it. You can always go on offense and try to figure out how to make more money, or you can go on defense and figure out how to go save money. So, it’s been a great partnership with Jim and d Del-Val, helping clients save money. I received an email that says, “Bret, hope all is well and you enjoyed your Columbus Day holiday. I’m following up on the life quotes that we were talking about. Also, just an FYI, I moved both my home and auto over to Jim at Del-Val, so thanks for the lead, and they’re saving me some dollar signs, money”.

Every time I try to take my kids over to the creamery next door, all they have is vanilla.  That’s okay, but suddenly, when I bring up Baskin-Robbins, they all want to go because someone’s getting chocolate, someone’s getting mint chocolate chip, and that’s why we love the client that I just spoke about, Mark. He was working with one of those vanilla factory companies. They’re good, but they only had one flavor of ice cream, but when we introduced him to Jim and Fran over there at Del-Val, and suddenly, they dug deep, and they’re peeling the layers back of the onion to figure out their particular needs. It’s always exciting when we get those emails sent to us, so I want to thank you guys again for helping out.

I wanted to touch on one other factor with a broker that may be a misperception that people have, is that sometimes people think there’s an additional charge to use our services, and there’s not.

We get compensated the way any insurance does, whether it’s a captive agent or a broker like this. We all get paid the same, through the carrier. There’s no additional charge. You call us for quotes, we run quotes for you, call you later that day, give you all the quotes. We don’t charge you $50 for that service.

The beauty of this program, David, is that everything we do starts with why you started Thrive Financial Services. Everything is to become an advocate. When I say complimentary, be able to get educate, to be able to educate the listener or the consumer to help them make a better decision. That’s so, so important.

It’s critical, and it translates perfectly for auto and homeowners. A lot of times, they will watch a commercial on TV and think that it’s that simple. But the truth is that every situation, just like we have in our retirement planning, is different and requires a customization to get the best deal and the best coverage.

we’ve started to zero-in on women, and we’ve started to focus in that area to provide and to help women make decisions, depending on where they are. Women, I think, are more involved in the process of selecting the insurance, can you help women that are looking to do that? I know in our scenario, my wife kind of leaves it up to me, although always threatens to take it over, so perhaps that’s something that rings true.

I’ve been doing this 32 years, and I think that there are more women involved now or more situations where both spouses are involved now than there used to be.

It’s really important that both spouses, whether it’s the woman, or the husband, are both involved. Whether it’s through divorce, like Karen was talking about earlier, or death of a spouse, it’s important that both partners know what’s going on with the insurance. You need to learn the coverages. You need to learn how it works. You need to know how to pay it. We get calls from a lot from women, more often saying, “My husband died, and I’ve never dealt with this, and I don’t know the first thing about it.” So, it’s important they both know about it, and it’s something that we need to think about out there as a public.

It’s great that you could, and I can say from experience, give them a call. They will help you. It’s better than calling an 800 number, a faceless person, or somebody you don’t know. They really care about their clients and prospective clients.

Del-Val Insurance Group is the name. Fran and Jim are the partners. If you go to their website, which is dvigi.com, you’ll see in big, bold letters, “Save up to 40%.” That’s not a hook. That’s not a gimmick. That is real and credible.

Right. The savings are nice, but the more important thing is to get the proper coverage, and that’s something we do. We’ll look at the coverage you currently have. We’ll suggest any changes, and then we would price it out with all of our carriers. 40% is just a number to put up there, but there’s people that save 20%. There are people that save 150%, just because they might not have the right coverages. They might not have the right carrier that’s competitive in their area, like I was touching on earlier.

Well, really, things pop in your head after you’re done. But I was just thinking that David, Bret, and Karen, they create wealth. They help you maintain the wealth that you have, but insurance is closely aligned with that in that we help you maintain the wealth that you have. Right? It’s one bad decision or one uninformed decision when your insurance policies can cost you an awful lot of money.

You don’t realize that you’ve made a bad decision until it’s too late.

You can’t undo it once it’s there. Bret Elam, thank you very much for sharing that email with Jim. Again, just part of the net. It is part of the scope of Thrive Financial Services is trying to do, wanting to do, and attempting to do.

You said it. You don’t know what you don’t know at the end of the day. Again, we meet so many people that are working with the quote-unquote vanilla factories, if you will. With the same client, Mark, we were also going through the life insurance. He said, “I’ve never seen an email that had actually more than one carrier on it where I actually had options to choose from.” He said, “If I’m reading this correctly, instead of me getting 300,000 for 20 years,” he goes, “it looks like I can get 400,000 for 25 years, and I’m actually saving money from where I’m at.

So, again, it’s all about being knowledgeable. It’s all about just hearing the information and trying to be an advocate to the community of figuring out what’s there. So many people think there’s only one choice that’s out there. It’s what we pride ourselves in, is taking our time, slowing down, listening to what people’s concerns are, and then going out there and finding that appropriate solution for them. Again, that’s what we feel a fiduciary is all about. Not trying to have your drink and have a fire hydrant, but truly just taking a step back and figuring, okay, what does this situation entail from a solution standpoint?

There’s so much information coming at all of us throughout the course of the day. I read an article yesterday from Forbes Magazine. Think again if you plan to work longer, and every time I see a reference or every time I see an article, Bret, I try to funnel that article back into the conversation that we have here because you have to know what to do, or you have to know how to use that information. I think that’s where the Roadmap to Retirement comes in. I think the buckets of money and what you do with people’s information really sets a good foundation and a great outline to begin.

Yes, completely. It’s always what if, what if, what if.  Everyone always has plans in their 70s and 80s.

What if I’m in my 60s, God forbid, and am diagnosed with something? I’m in my 40s, and I think I’m going to work into my 70s. Again, to that Forbes article, everyone’s situation’s different, but you need to have a plan for the what ifs. No one likes to spend money on insurance. I’m going through it myself right now. I’m never going to benefit from writing my own life insurance premium check. My family will, but again, it’s about putting all those necessaries in place so that when what if does happen, everyone’s protected at the end of the day.

This is an important point. I’m actually working with a client right now. It talks about the importance of being independent, being a broker shopping for people. When we sat with them, the clients had just gotten back from a part of the world that some insurance carriers thought was okay, and other ones weren’t okay, and this is what’s important here, Krausey. When we went through underwriting with them, they had gone through the standard test where someone comes out to their house. They draw a little bit of blood, a little bit of urine so that we find out everything there is to know about them before we go out to the insurance company.

We were working with, again, all highly rated insurance companies here, and one company came back and told them that, “You’re going to be standard, just normal health, and actually, your husband, we’re actually not going to be able to rate them at all.”  When you hear that, you’re like, “That doesn’t sound all that great.” “We thought you’d be preferred, but because where you went in the world, you’re going to be rated standard, and your husband’s not going to be insured at all.” So, we were able to get an insurance quote at an A+ rated company. At the same time, the power in us being a broker is that we went ahead after we got all that information about how they were underwritten at Carrier A, we went out to Carrier B, C and D, and you would’ve heard of those companies as well. What we found was those other three carriers still brought the Mr. back as uninsured, but they had brought the Mrs. back as preferred.

 Typically, in our insurance world, when you talk about life insurance, you have standard, and they have something called standard plus. Then there is preferred and preferred plus, with four different levels, including three levels above what was normal health. The big deal is that even after those other three companies brought her back as preferred, the one that labeled her as standard still was cheaper.

It’s from a marketing perspective. These companies out there have their different criteria as it’s related to underwriting. They come back, and they’re going to label you as preferred. In my mind, I’ve got four companies for you. Go get life insurance. One of them is going to rate you as normal health. The other three are going to rate you as standard, healthy. You’re healthier than normal. Which carrier are you going to choose from? The very first one you would think to eliminate would be?

it's all about being knowledgeable. It's all about just hearing the information and trying to be an advocate to the community of figuring out what's there. Click To Tweet

 The normal health one.

Right, but again, that’s why it’s important for us, in being a broker. Meaning we are Baskin-Robbins. Which flavor of ice cream do you like the best? Which one do we feel best fits your needs? It’s understanding when you’re putting all those different puzzle pieces together, preferred doesn’t always mean preferred. In that situation, standard meant something more. Another one as well, comparing apples to apples regarding coverages. We see it related to life insurance all the time. Does your policy lapse at age 85, 90, 95, 100? You have a couple, ages 65. If life expectancy is now at age 65, one of you is going to make it to the age of 95, do you think it’s important to understand if you have life insurance, when are those policies going to lapse? Is it ages 85, 90, 95, 100, age 121?

We had a similar scenario where some of the companies were coming back and quoting us premiums and life expectancy. Meaning, when the policies would lapse at age 100, versus what was age 121. That’s peace of mind.

Again, people are living longer, and longer, and longer, and longer. It’s all about just understanding what you have. It’s like someone says, “I have an investment, I have an annuity, I have life insurance, I have long-term care insurance.” That’s great, but it’s important to understand the details on each and every one of those solutions. Same thing, do I have full tort or limited tort? What are my coverages? We need to make sure that we’re always comparing apples to apples that are out there, no, if, ands, or buts, and those are all things.

It’s why we get passionate at the workshop. Those are all things that David, Karen, Bret, and the rest of our army here at Thrive, talk about, and sit down with people going through that Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review.

We take our time. We get into the weeds, we get into those details to find out what does your situation look like? Is that how you think it is? Or let us actually see the paperwork that’s going to actually show us, confirming what you think it is. You don’t know how many times that somebody says something and when they bring us their supporting documentation, it’s something completely different.

It’s better to find that out now by going through this exercise. And again, what we do is complimentary. We enjoy it. We love educating. Being advocates to people. Just simply showing you, did you realize it was like this? I know you said this, but it’s actually like that. Again, it’s what we enjoy, it’s what we do.

The beauty of that is you’ve heard me say this before.  Every single plan is customized to the individual based on the details. I’m blown away by that. I think that is an incredible complimentary service to be able to say an offer, and that’s what we do.

Go to meetthrivefinancial.com  and you can meet David, Karen, and Bret. There are also a lot of other cool things on that new website that you’ll find.

I keep thinking about the letter you referenced David. It all starts with the complimentary workshop or perhaps that’s a great place for it to begin. It allows individuals to come, to hear what you have to say, to absorb the information. And then as Jim said, process it, take it all in, and then they can go to work as a broker. They can go to work. Then you can go to work and get people into the scope of working on their plan.

It really is the easiest, most nonthreatening way to meet us. Again, I’m not sure what people think when they hear us on the radio, or they see our billboard on the turnpike, or they’ve read our book, whatever it may be. But we understand, there’s sometimes people are kind of cautious and hesitant to just dive in and get that second opinion review done. But if you come to the workshop, it makes it easier because you just get to sit in the audience. We stand up in front of the room and we go through a nice PowerPoint presentation, as you heard in the letter. It’s incredibly informational, a lot of info. And then one thing we find out about the conversation that we instigate, for most folks it’s kind of the first time. One of the questions I ask at the workshop is, “How many of you heard something tonight related to your retirement that you’ve never had a conversation or even know to ask the right question?” And everyone’s hands go up, unanimously.

 They say, “I’ve never had that. I never thought to have it.” And now it’s something that’s in my mind.

I then go, “Holy smokes. I really have to go through that.” So that to me, is all kind of what retirement readiness is. We kind of adopted this moniker which was given to us by some of the fans that we have, The Thrive Army. I know in the army it’s all about readiness, right? Preparation, preparation, preparation, so that someday it’s going to be the real thing and you have to be ready. Well, the one thing we really encourage people is that readiness needs to be done at the right time, kind of before retirement, not when you get to one go, “Okay, well I’m retiring in three months, what do I do now?” And you know, there’s a lot of moving puzzle pieces to that.

David Bezar: So, I want to read a couple of things just very quickly. There’s lots of good information out there, but there’s also a lot of bad information. We talked about that at our workshop that you must be careful where you get it from. But this is two examples. One is from, an organization called the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council. And more and more and more people, baby boomers, retirees, are becoming familiar that the use of certain types of indexed annuities could be a possible fit for a small portion of retirement assets. It’s been backed by some larger organizations. The education out there, the stigma of annuities is starting to dilute a little bit. People are still hesitant, and we tell people to be hesitant because it’s easy to get sold an annuity. Then the difference between reality and fiction are kind of there.

There was an article that came out with a published report that included a scoring mechanism of how retirement-ready Americans are based on their job status.

What it said was that white-collar workers were rated just below 50% in terms of retirement readiness. Meanwhile, blue and gray-collar workers were somewhat lower at 44.7%. So, it’s still basically representing that half of the population out there. Whether it’s white-collar, blue-collar, or gray-collar, people were not ready for retirement.

And even if you feel as though your part of the 50% or 44% that are ready, you may not be. You may think you are, but you may not be.

The one point that I want to bring up, and I really hope this kind of triggers or resonates with our readers today, and that’s why we have this data. We have these resources, whether it’s our workshop, whether it’s our book Roadmap to Retirement, whether it’s our meetthrivefinancial.com website, which has a litany of resources available to people, or the radio show. For the 30 plus years that I’ve been doing this type of business as a real student of human nature, and I sit back and I’m an observer.

I like to participate, but I’m more about watching, listening, and learning, and it’s really that simple. It goes back to simple physics, right? A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and that inertia is not making changes. What happens to people, is that you just get to this point where they’re tired. They don’t want to think about it anymore, and they think they’re prepared, and that’s where it’s last second jump shot. If you were to practice a thousand times, you may have hit it, but because you didn’t feel like practicing you missed it and lost the game.

Another recent report that came out of retirement readiness was published by Fidelity. And according to that report, the typical saver received a score of 80, meaning he is on target to have 80 % of the income that Fidelity estimates will be needed to cover retirement costs. Now, this is a significant rise above what the report was 13 years ago, when the study was first conducted. At that time, the score was actually 62. So, we have seen a dramatic improvement. Now remarkably, the biggest improvement in scores has been achieved by Millennials, who are now 78% of the readiness report, topping the 77% score of Generation X.

Baby boomers are our people.  They are the ones we mostly try to serve. They have moved up one notch from last year to 86 % readiness.

When we try to score how much retirement income that you’re going to need to be able to navigate retirement, the highest score we hear is 86% of the actual number. So again, there’s room for improvement because the worst thing that can happen is that your money runs out before you do in retirement.

Well, and I think just to add on to that, the story of living longer now factors into that variable and that changes the potential percentage or changes the equation, for sure.

Absolutely. I mean that’s the biggest piece, right? And what I tell people is that sometimes we get so caught up in our daily work, our family obligations, and just paying the bills, that we forget to look at the big picture. I mean that financially speaking. In other words, perhaps you have some investments, and you automatically contribute to your retirement savings plans, but when was the last time that you actually monitored those assets and calculated how much income that they are on track to be able to provide you in retirement? That’s what we see happen. People lose sight in the big picture of taking care of the minor things that are going to have the greatest impact. Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up somewhere else,” and that’s kind of what we’re trying to stress with people.

 So, the lesson here is that you have to take the appropriate financial path to help you get there. And that’s why we offer the Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. If people would like help, get that second opinion, remember you can’t get a second opinion from the advisor who gave you the first one.

They can give us a call at 800-516-5861 to do that review for them. If they want to come to the workshop, they can go to thrivefinancialservices.com, register. You could even go to Meet Thrive. We have plenty of resources out there so that people can get in touch with us.

What I have in front of me is a statement of one of our clients, and he works for a large automotive manufacturer. We helped him with his retirement planning, and recently he said, “I still have this 401k plan at work can you review it, give me some insight to what your think?” So, I have a copy of his report sitting right here in front of me. And the allocation, how he has his money invested, it’s all with Fidelity, all with Vanguard.

So, 18 % of his money is in what’s called principal protected investments. So those are money market accounts and savings accounts within the 401k, 18%. He has 11% in bonds, he’s has 0% in balanced funds, 42% in U.S. large cap stock, 0% in brokerage, 18% in US small midcap stock, 11% in foreign stock. So, when you look at that on the surface there’s about $400,000 in that, outside all of his other investments. When you look at that, you may think, well that sounds like a pretty prototypical portfolio. Sounds like it’s doing well as a matter of fact, over the quarter he improved the account by around $11,000.

You would think, “Okay, well I don’t really have to pay a whole lot of attention to that,” but the problem is when you come to a professional, we tend to see things that you may not see, and also see things in advance where.

You need to take action today to be more preventative than reactive. So right now, what we know is that the U.S. market, although it’s having some challenges, is really the primary market out there. Foreign related investments have not been performing very well. The particular bond fund that he has, at Vanguard is the total bond market return fund.

Which hasn’t been performing well, I’m guessing.

Exactly. Which we see, has really been getting hammered. And you would think, “Okay, bonds are good,” but the problem with this particular bond fund, and at least in our opinion, is that a lot of the durations are way too long and with interest rates rising up, it could be a challenge. So again, this is a little bit illustrative, because certain parts of his allocation actually grew. It put his whole portfolio out of his original balance. This is someone very typical who’s not managing. And because we’re going to give him guidance, he is going to be able to pull this all in with less risk, more performance. that’s a result of the Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. 

We thank you everyone who tuned in this week for our discussion about the Thrive Roadmap to Retirement from David Bezar, Bret Elam, and Karen Bezar. Thank you to Del-Val and Jim Muelbronner for educating the audience about insurance and policies. If you are uncertain about your retirement or planning for future investments, do not hesitate to contact Thrive Financial Services!

 

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