Category: Insurance Planning

Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Increases Expected for 2020

A recent article in Investment News reported that “roughly 40 to 45 states have approved ‘significant premium increases’” on many long-term care insurance policies. Author Greg Iacurci further reports that Genworth “received approval in Q1 to increase premiums an average of 62%.”1 This is nothing new given the premium hikes many policyholders received in 2017 and 2018, but the next round of hikes could be unprecedented. Some policies could see a 200% to 300% increase!

Premium increases will not be immediate. Most providers notify policyholders of the increase when annual premiums are due. So, policyholders may not see a rate hike notification for many months.

According to Genworth2, one of the largest issuers of long-term care insurance policies, “more people are keeping their policies than originally anticipated.” Increased cost to providers is also due in part to longer lifespans and the length of long-term care stays. This has led to an overall increase in claims, thus more money is being paid out by providers, and they are faced with having to cover these unanticipated claims.

Many policyholders will face a tough decision. When premium hikes are implemented, many insurance providers will provide a couple of options. Policyholders can maintain their coverage as is and pay the higher premium, elect a lower premium while cutting back on benefits, or allow the policy to lapse. The option for cutting back on benefits may allow policyholders to adjust their benefits paid amount, decrease their rate of inflation protection, shorten their benefit period, lengthen their elimination period, cancel riders on the policy, or some combination thereof.

John Hancock, may offer another option: elect a co-pay on your long-term care insurance costs. The co-pay would work very similar to the medical insurance co-pay process by allowing the policyholder to pay for a percentage of the expense while the insurance company pays the rest. It is not yet clear if John Hancock will make it available to existing policyholders or if the new co-pay election will only be available to newly issued policies. Given the nature of this new type of offering, state regulators will likely have to approve the option.

Before making a decision, talk to your financial advisor to see how the option fit your plan.

1 ttps://www.investmentnews.com/article/20190507/FREE/190509943/states-approving-bigger-rate-increases-for-long-term-care-policies

2 https://www.genworth.com/customer-service/ltc-premiums/why-increases-are-needed.html

Credit Card Phishing Scam Avoidance

Several banks in northern Alabama have issued warnings regarding an increasing number of phone calls to their customers from scammers attempting to steal credit card information.

The Scam

Calls to customers may appear to have their bank’s name or phone number as the caller ID, a practice known as caller ID spoofing. The scammer identifies as an employee of your bank or law enforcement, usually stating that your card has been compromised and you need to take action. They will likely know your name and credit card number. They use the known information and ask you to verify the three numbers on the back of you card, called a card verification value (CVV) or card verification code (CVC) number. Tthe card is now fully compromised once they have the CVV/CVC number

What To Do

The following information was shared by Redstone Federal Credit Union:

1. RFCU will never call you to verify your credit/debit card CVV number(s) or any other personal security information. If you receive such a call, please call 800-234-1234 or the number on the back of your card to verify its authenticity.
2. Don’t give out any personal information to anyone online, through social media, or over the phone unless you initiated the contact or can validate that they are actually employed by the company he or she is representing. 
3. Keep a close eye on your accounts. Use Redstone’s online banking to check your accounts daily. Use Credit Card Control or Debit Card Control to track how your card’s usage or turn the card on and off. 
4.  Use strong passwords – Each of your passwords should be unique and include elements such as symbols, numbers & uppercase & lowercase letters.
5.  Click carefully – Don’t open unsolicited emails & only download files and software you can trust.

Source

If you believe your card has been compromised, call the service phone number on the back of your card immediately. They will cancel the card and issue a new card.

Equifax Breach: What Actions to Take

On September 7, 2017, Equifax, one of the three largest U.S. credit bureaus, announced a massive data breach affecting 143 million consumers. As a result, they established a website – www.equifaxsecurity2017.com – to address the issue and keep consumers up to date on the latest news around the breach. Included in the website is a list of actions they have taken, frequently asked questions (FAQs), a link to determine if you may have been affected by the breach, and a link for free credit monitoring for a year from TrustedID.

You can follow these steps to determine if you may be affected:

  1. Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
  2. At the bottom of the page, click “Potential Impact”
  3. Provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number

If you are interested in obtaining one year of free credit monitoring, you’ll be given an enrollment date. At that given time, return to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and follow the steps to enroll. It is important to note that free credit monitoring is open to everyone even if you do not believe you were affected by the breach.

The best way to protect yourself is to stay informed. Here are a few tips we recommend for protecting yourself:

  1. Check your account statements and history at least monthly to verify transactions. 
  • If you have not been proactive about reviewing your credit reports on a regular basis, now is a great time to start. Each US citizen has access to their free credit report from each of the three largest U.S. credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Transunion – once a year through annualcreditreport.com.  You can get all three reports at one time or stagger them throughout the year.
  • Consider a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit.

If you are aware that your personal information has been compromised, you can place a free fraud alert on your account. This will require a business to notify you if someone tries to open an account in your name. A fraud alert lasts for 90 days, but can be renewed, or if you are a victim of identity theft, you can choose to have an extended fraud alert for seven years.

A credit freeze actually restricts access to your report completely. Fees for a credit freeze are limited to a maximum of $10 per credit bureau. A credit freeze is a greater protection than a fraud alert; however, it also requires the freeze be removed and reapplied each time you need to have your credit reviewed by someone other than yourself.

  • Change passwords regularly and use strong passwords. At Longview, we use LastPass. LastPass is a free consumer tool for storing and developing passwords. LastPass can automatically generate a password that meets a site’s requirements and offers strong encryption.
  • Consider using two-key authentications where available.  This is a second layer of protection for your accounts. Not only are you required to give a password, but you are also required to provide a code that is either emailed or sent by text to you during log in.

We live in a world reliant on electronic access and delivery of information. It is important to remain proactive and protect your information as best you can. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about protecting your information, we encourage you to reach out to us.

How Longview Protects Your Information

The internet has increased the speed and ease at which we can provide and access information, but it has also created another entry point for thieves. It is a growing struggle for businesses to stay ahead and put protections in place. It is a scary reminder that if large organizations, like Equifax, can be breached, so can the smaller businesses, like Longview. That is why it is so important for us to maintain policies to review and protect our client’s information. Here are a few of the policies and procedures Longview has implemented to protect your data:

  • Identity Theft Program: We have a list of red flags for which all employees are responsible to watch.  Red flags include: changes in addresses, request of funds, wires, notifications of possible breaches, and suspicious activities. Whenever a red flag occurs, there is a process in place to review the action for client protection.
  • Password Policy: Longview uses a corporate license for LastPass, a free consumer product to store and generate passwords. This program offers encryption of passwords, strong password creation and requires a change in the master password every 90 days. Longview also has internal requirements for passwords.
  • Two-Key Authentication: Fidelity and our customer relationship manager software requires two-key authentication for access of client accounts. This is a second layer of security protection for online activity.
  • Information Security Policy: Longview has adopted an information security policy to provide a plan to prepare for and respond to possible breaches. Several safeguards are included in the policy:
    • Review of all third-party security policies on an annual basis.
    • Physical copies of information containing personally identifiable information are stored in locked rooms/filing cabinets and all hardcopies of client information is locked away daily.
    • Electronic copies of client information are encrypted and stored through Box.com, which is backed up through Amazon. No client copies are saved on individual laptop computers.
    • The firm’s firewall and antivirus software is up-to-date.
    • All access to the firm’s network requires a secure password and is separate from a client’s network access.
  • Incident Response Plan: Longview has compiled a process for employees to follow if an incident does occur. The plan includes a list of access persons, policies and procedures, succession and business continuity plans, vendor due diligence reports, periodic computer reviews, daily download deletions, and a process to remediate and recover information.

In addition to Longview’s protections, Fidelity has a customer protection guarantee that covers losses from unauthorized activity in your account.

As always, thank you for your business. We value your partnership and will continue to strive to protect your information.

Preparing for the Catastrophic

A couple weeks ago, I received some devastating news- family friends lost their home and everything they owned to a fire. Luckily, they, along with their two dogs were able to get out of the house unharmed. In the weeks following, I’ve been thinking about my own family and whether we’d be prepared in the case of a fire, tornado or any other catastrophe. Have I done the things I preach to my clients like making a list of all valuables and videotaping my belongings? I did…once, but that was a couple years ago before we had moved into our current home.  That information is really outdated now.  Thanks to my lack of cooking skills, the one thing I know for sure about my new home is that the smoke detectors do work. So, in an attempt to get my own house in order, I’ve compiled a list of important “to-dos” NOW when there seems to be no time to do it and a million more important things on my list. I’m sure you know what I mean, but what doesn’t seem like the most important use of your time now may just be the best thing you ever did for your family! I’d like to share my list with you below.

  1. Know where your smoke detectors are and test them regularly. (Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.)
  2. Know where your fire extinguisher is and how to use it.
  3. Identify at least two escape routes from your home and ensure that each member of the household is familiar with these. If you have children, you may even want to perform drills to make sure they understand safety procedures and the escape route.
  4. Videotape or take pictures of the contents of your home. Don’t just focus on the big items. Open drawers and film all items, especially those of value, like jewelry, antiques, art, etc.
  5. Create a written inventory of your assets to accompany the videotape or pictures.
  6. Create a list of important usernames, passwords, phone numbers, medications or any other data that could be lost or destroyed.
  7. In order for 4-6 above to be useful, you need to keep this information in a safe place. Invest in a fire-proof safe or a safety deposit box. In addition, keep all important documents like wills, Social Security cards, birth certificates, etc. in the safe or safety deposit box.
  8. Look into online backup storage for your computers.  There are many options these days, which include Mozy, Carbonite, Justcloud, and Dropbox to name a few.
  9. Last, but surely not least, periodically review your insurance to ensure it still meets your needs. Don’t just focus on the homeowner’s policy, but also consider your valuables (jewelry, furs, antiques, etc.) and whether any of them should be covered by their own property policy.

I hope you find this list useful as you begin to get your own house in order. It will take time and patience, but it will be invaluable if you do face a catastrophe.


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