19. April 2017 · Comments Off on Personal Finance & Money Management Roles & Responsibilities Defined · Categories: Finance

The business of managing personal finances comes with myriad tasks. You earn, you pay bills, you invest, you write checks, you plan, you, you, you…. I think you get the idea. Handing the finances can be a lot of work for you. These tasks involved can be grouped into into three distinct and different roles that are similar to ones you might find in any professional business. I refer to the roles of my personal finance and money management business as the Money Leader, the Money Manager and the Money Handler.

The Roles.

The Money Leader provides the strategic leadership, vision, purpose and goals for your financial operations. He is your business’ chief executive officer. If we make the analogy that successful money management is like a trip in your favorite automobile, the Money Leader decides: Where are you going? What stops along the way should you make? When will you start your journey?

From a personal finance perspective, Money Leader tasks include:

  1. Establishing vision – What is the end state you are trying to achieve? Where are you going?
  2. Developing financial strategy – How do you link your Financial Ends (outcomes/desires), Ways (plans) and Means (resources)?
  3. Setting Goals that enable the strategy- This will drive many of the plans that are developed.
  4. Provide guidance and direction to the Money Manager (more on him in a moment) has he develops the financial plans necessary to ensure the plans achieve the vision.

The Money Leader decides where you are going, when you need to get there and why you’re on this journey.

Middle management is the responsibility of the Money Manager who helps develop financial plans and ensures the processes of money handling are running smoothly. He has a more narrow view than the Money Leader and focuses on the details of the route our financial vehicle will take when we drive it and monitors the systems within it along the way.

The Money Manger is thinking about which highway or streets can I take to avoid traffic? How fast am I going? Do I have enough fuel to get there? How’s the car running? When is the next scheduled engine maintenance? Is there anything wrong with the car that needs to be fixed right now? What kind of gas mileage are we getting? Does the motor need a tune up?

From a personal finance perspective, Money Manger tasks include:

  1. Developing financial plans to achieve your goals – Choosing investments, selecting insurance policies etc.
  2. Guiding, monitoring and assessing the execution of financial plans – Things like monitoring earnings and expenses so you can create and maintain positive cash flow.

The Money Manager develops financial plans and monitors our performance executing the plan. He seeks to improve the efficiency of the processes use to handle the details of your personal finances.

When it comes to finances, many of us wind up getting mired in the details of handling money and will feel most comfortable with our final role.

The Money Handler is the role that most people will find familiar. This role deals with the nitty gritty bits and pieces necessary to keep your financial vehicle running. The Money Handler changes the oil, adds wiper fluid, puts air in the tires, replaces light bulbs etc. To quote an English friend of mine, he “works at the coalface.”

From a personal finance perspective, Money Handler tasks include:

  1. Paying bills – writing checks, stuffing envelopes and licking stamps.
  2. Making investments – filling out paperwork, writing checks or making e-transfers.
  3. Moving money – between accounts as necessary (e.g. on payday, etc.)
  4. Reconciling accounts – balancing checking, savings, etc.

The Money Handler accomplishes the tasks necessary to implement the financial plans that the Money Manger developed and monitors in order to fulfill the Money Leader’s vision and strategy for financial success.

Each role is necessary in order to properly handle your finances. However, the Management and Leadership roles are most important as they determine what success means and how you plan to achieve it. I’ve often said that a “failure to plan is a sure fire plan for failure.”

Unfortunately many of us get mired in the details of being the Money Handler and miss or fail to accomplish the bigger picture vision and planning tasks of the Money Leader and the Money Manager.

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13. April 2017 · Comments Off on Cheap Car Insurance For Damaged Cars · Categories: Car Insurance

Car insurance varies depending on various factors such as the price of the car, the purpose for which it is being used, capability of the driver, own or rented car, safety features of the car, etc. It is recommended to go for the best insurance quote that would cost less to the car owner, yet gives all the benefits of auto insurance. There are many so called cheap auto insurance agents in the market who promise to offer low premium insurance quotes.

Preliminary requirements for car insurance are:

• The car should fall below a stipulated number of miles

• It should have been manufactured after a particular date and be of a certain level

• Do not be gulled into believing that the car has none but scrap value; be sure to get a second opinion

Several insurance agents offer low auto insurance premium quotes compromising with the benefits the car owner would get in case of an accident or damage to the car. For example, the insurance premium would be high for rented cars and one may not rent a car if the driver is not willing to pay the insurance premium. The premium for rented cars is high because there may be individuals who wouldn’t drive a rented car as carefully as an owned car.

Used cars attract better auto insurance premium as the damage may be higher in an accident to used car. The damaged cars should also be insured properly to avoid lesser payout if met with an accident. For brand new cars, the auto insurance has to be taken considering all the features like the airbags in the car and other safety features apart from the driver’s profile of the car. Check out for more details on auto insurance quotes on the website.

Damaged vehicle insurance can be easily to find as it is easily available from several top insurance providers. You can also get cheap auto insurance for your damaged vehicle, simply because the liability coverage amounts remain about the same. Most difficult part is to get comprehensive coverage. Most of the insurance firms won’t offer comprehensive coverage on damaged cars, in case you find a firm that offers, you will notice a huge jump in premiums.

So, it is better to work with a licensed insurance broker, who is familiar with the ins and outs of the several insurance companies in your locality. Hey can help greatly in finding a company that fits with your needs. Consulting a broker is a great source for various insurance problems.

07. April 2017 · Comments Off on Aetna Health Insurance Leaving California – Recommended Replacement Plans · Categories: Health Insurance

Aetna Health Insurance announced they are leaving the California marketplace for individual and family plans. The end date of all their plans is December 31, 2013. All 49,000 Aetna clients still have six months to figure out what health plan they should move to. In this article we’ll give you a simple mapping that recommends which plans you should move to based upon the Aetna health plan you currently have, a “gotcha” to watch out for, and a couple of silver linings to feel good about.

The simplest way to replace your Aetna Health Insurance is to simply look for an alternative plan with the same (or similar) deductible amount. The recommendations below will make that easy to do. With just a little more effort, you could re-think what you need in yearly medical benefits and pick a plan the is a better fit for your current needs. Either way, you should be able to find a good solution listed below.

Aetna Health Insurance Underwriting Is More Lenient

This will be the gotcha for some people. Aetna has always been more willing to accept people with some health conditions. I know a number of my clients are in Aetna plans because they had specific health conditions that the other carriers either would not accept, or would “rate” much higher than Aetna. So this is something you have to be aware of and be careful about.

If you have existing health conditions, or are “too short” (okay… a little over-weight), or have a rated plan with Aetna, then you should definitely talk to a broker before you apply with another health insurance company. You’ll want to have the broker do Pre-Screen Requests for you to see how the other insurance companies will treat your application.

It’s important to do the pre-screen step first, because if you just pick a health plan, apply for it, and then get declined or rated even higher, it will be very hard to get other insurance companies to consider your application.

Let’s start mapping replacement plans…

Aetna Open Access MC Value Plan Alternatives

The Aetna Open Access Value plans are Aetna’s low-cost option. The Value plans offer a number of different deductibles, $8,000, $5,000, $2,500, and provide 3 office visits for a simple copay, and coverage for Generic prescriptions.

This plan description matches very closely to what is offered in the Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense plans. If you only need two office visits rather than three, then the best choices are the Health Net PPO Advantage plans and the ClearProtection plan from Anthem Blue Cross.

If cost of the plan is one of your major factors, then here is how the alternative plans above should be used.

  1. Health Net PPO Advantage 3500 – offers the best overall value (cost vs benefits)
  2. Health Net PPO Advantage 6500 – is usually the lowest cost option
  3. Anthem Blue Cross ClearProtection 3300 – Anthem’s lowest cost solution
  4. Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense 6000 – closest match to Aetna’s Open Access Value 8000, but lower cost
  5. Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense 3500, 2000, 1000 – if you feel more comfortable with lower deductibles

In the majority of cases, the alternative plans from Anthem and Health Net will be lower cost than the comparable Aetna Value plans. You’ll need to review health insurance quotes to see how the pricing looks for your location in California.

Aetna alternative plans from all major health insurance companies in California. The best plans!

Aetna Open Access MC Plan Alternatives

The Open Access plans are Aetna’s high-end offerings. These plans offered unlimited office visits for just a copay, provided both Generic and Brand name prescription coverage, and offered deductibles of 5,000, 3,500, 2,750, and 1,750.

The best mappings of the Open Access plans are the following:

  1. Cigna Open Access Value plans – Cigna’s entry plans, but very similar to the Aetna plans but without brand name prescription coverage
  2. Anthem Blue Cross Premier plans – these plans are the top of the line from Anthem
  3. Cigna Open Access plans – the high-end Cigna plans
  4. Blue Shield Shield Secure Plus plans – Blue Shield’s top end plans

Health Net does not have any plans that provide unlimited office visits and coverage of brand name prescriptions, so there are no options listed.

Aetna Open Access MC High Deductible Plan (HSA Compatible) Alternatives

These are Aetna’s entry in the Health Savings Account (HSA) compatible market. Like all HSA plans, they provide no benefits except zero-cost preventive care until after you reach the deductible. The plans come with two deductibles, either 5,500 or $3,500.

The mappings for these HSA plans is the following:

  1. Health Net CFB HSA 4500 plan – this is the best value HSA plan in the market
  2. Health Net CFB HSA 6000 plan – this is the overall lowest cost HSA plan
  3. Blue Shield Saver HSA plans – these are lower cost than the other non-Health Net HSA plans
  4. Cigna Health Savings 4900 plan – good general purpose plan
  5. Anthem Blue Cross Lumenos 5950 plan – Anthem’s last remaining HSA plan

Are You Looking For Lower Out Of Pocket Risk?

Some shoppers may be looking to lower premiums AND lower the OOPM’s they have had in the past. If this is your wish, then here are a couple of options you should explore:

  1. Health Net CFB PPO Standard plans – the OOPM in these plans is equal to the deductible, and 2 office visits for a copay
  2. Cigna Open Access Value 5000/100% – the OOPM is the same as the deductible, and the plan offers unlimited office visits

These alternative plans will cost a little more than the direct replacement options listed in the sections above. However, the attractiveness of having lower risk if an accident or a medical condition starts is very compelling.

Silver Linings In The California Aetna Health Insurance Decision

I believe that Aetna is just the first in a line of large and small health insurance companies that will leave the California individual and family health insurance marketplace over the next 3-5 years. Aetna had a very small market share, and would have a hard time competing with the insurance companies that dominate the California market. So having Aetna leave now will reduce the turbulence we see during the Health Care Reform roll-out later this fall.

The first silver lining in all of this is that Aetna plans tend to have very high Out-Of-Pocket Maximums (OOPM). As an example, for a family, the Open Access Value 8000 plan has an OOPM of $25,000, while the Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense 6000 plan and the ealth Net PPO Advantage 6500 have a $19,000 OOPM.

This is one of the reasons people have stayed away from new Aetna plans unless no other health insurance company would accept them. There are plenty of plans from Health Net, Anthem Blue Cross, Cigna, and Blue Shield that will have lower OOPM’s than the Aetna plans.

The last silver lining of this change at Aetna, is that Aetna plans have not been very competitive the last couple of years. So changing to comparable plans will give you a reduction in premiums. With the information we’ve given you above, you should be able to find a good Aetna replacement plan, now go forth and prosper.

Aetna alternative plans from all major health insurance companies in California. The best plans!

30. March 2017 · Comments Off on A Few Things You Must Know Before Buying a Health Insurance Policy in India · Categories: Health Insurance

‘Health is Wealth’ is an old saying, which depicts that good health is as important as having lots of wealth. A person with good health can work efficiently to earn wealth and lead a quality life. On the other hand, a person who does not have good health spends a lot of his wealth to regain the health. According to an Arabic proverb, “He, who has health, has hope; and he, who has hope, has everything”. All of these sayings imply that good health is of great importance, and it cannot be compromised.

So, don’t we need to take necessary steps to protect it? Since, despite all precautions, the possibility of an accident or illness cannot be ruled out; we need to be prepared for any eventuality. In such tragic circumstances, we fall prey to the dual economic crisis – first, we have to abandon work because of poor health, and second, pay huge healthcare expenses. Our hard-earned money is spent on illnesses. At times, we are forced to borrow from within or outside the family.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) study on the impact of rising health expenditure in India, states that about 40 per cent of low-income families have to borrow money from outside the families to meet their healthcare expenses resulting in over 16% of them getting pushed below the poverty line.

Therefore, to safeguard any health related eventuality, we must have a health insurance policy of appropriate cover. Today, there are many health insurance products of various insurers available in the market. Through research and comparison, one can identify the best product which suits one’s needs. With hundreds of products to choose from, this research can be quite confusing and time consuming. Thankfully, with the advent of insurance web-aggregators, simple comparisons of all products are available. Web-aggregators allow customised comparisons of products based on their features, coverage and premium besides other things. The fact that web-aggregators provide unbiased comparisons that has helped consumers in their search for the ideal insurance product.

There are few points which need to be kept in mind before buying insurance products:

1. Premium and Coverage: Expensive insurance policies are not necessarily always good. If premiums are identical, benefits such as OPD, Hospitalisation Cash Benefit, Coverage of Critical Illness etc. should be reviewed. Assess and identify the benefits you need. Choose the appropriate cover. Identify 3-4 products and compare them to find your ideal policy.

2. Basic Hospitalisation Cover: If your pocket doesn’t allow you to buy a comprehensive health insurance policy, you must buy a basic health insurance plan, which pays expenses incurred out of an accident or illness.

3. Sum Assured: Sum Assured can be determined on the basis of the city you live in and your family size. Keep in mind that healthcare cost more in big cities as compared to smaller cities, so determine sum assured accordingly. Typically, sum assured of Rs 2 to 3 lac, and Rs 5 to 6 lac for a family of 3 to 4 members in small and big cities respectively, are considered appropriate.

4. Family Floater Policy: It is always recommended to buy a family floater health insurance policy instead of individual policy. Under family floater policy, each member in the policy can utilise the sum assured either individually or collectively. Thus, you can save on premium.

5. Separate Policy for Parents: In family floater policies, premium amount is calculated on the basis of the age of the eldest member. Therefore, it is always advisable to have separate policy for parents, and save on premium.

6. Day Care Procedures: Before buying insurance, have a look at the list of diseases covered under Day Care Procedures.

7. Exclusions: Before signing on the policy document, policy buyers should go through it very carefully. And, also ask for detailed terms and conditions of the policy. In any policy, exclusion part is very important because it mentions the diseases and scenarios which are not covered under the policy.

8. Top-Up: If your employer has provided you a health insurance policy, and you want a policy of higher sum assured or coverage of critical illness, you don’t need to buy separate policy. For this, you can top-up your existing policy with required sum assured and benefits. Doing this, you can save on premium.

9. Claim Settlement Ratio: Check the claim settlement ratio of the insurer before buying insurance as this directly relates to how many claims does the insurer pay on average. The higher the ratio the better it is.

10. Network-Hospitals: In the case of an illness, you are most likely to choose hospitals which are near your place of residence. You must try and choose insurers which have these hospitals on their network.

11. Seek expert advice: In case of any confusion, do not hesitate to seek expert advice. You can choose from your agent, insurer, health advisor or a licensed web-aggregator. Pick up the phone and make an informed decision.

23. March 2017 · Comments Off on How Are Car Insurance Costs Calculated? · Categories: Car Insurance

What will effect the cost of your car insurance?

Put simply, the price you pay is determined by the type of cover you need (e.g. fully comprehensive cover versus third party) and how often and how much car insurers expect you to claim on your policy.

To work out the likelihood of you making a claim insurers will look at details about you and your car, and these details can greatly affect the amount you will need to pay for car insurance. Below are the key factors that car insurers use to determine the cost of your insurance premium:

About your car:

Car Value – The more expensive your car is the more expensive it will be to replace (and typically, the more expensive it will be to fix too). So, the higher the cost of the car, the more you can expect to pay for your insurance.

Car Power – The faster and more powerful the car, the more likely it is you will be involved in accident. This will increase the likelihood of you both making a claim and also the size of that claim, so higher power cars typically have higher cost premiums.

Car Desirability – The more desirable your car the more likely it is to get stolen. Replacing a stolen car is a huge cost for the insurer and so this risk will be reflected in a higher premium. Some classic cars for example can incur larger than normal premiums.

About you:

Your Age – Younger drivers statistically have a higher risk of having an car accident and so will pay the most for insurance (the 17 – 25 age group typically has the highest premiums)

Your Job – Some professions are statistically seen as including higher risk individuals (e.g. students, journalists, actors etc.) and so will be used as a factor in deciding the cost of your insurance.

Where You Live – As a rule of thumb, built up urban areas are likely to have more traffic on the road (increasing the likelihood of an accident) and more car theft and so living in such areas will increase the amount you will need to pay for insurance.

Car usage and storage:

Your Claim History – Insurers believe that if you have claimed in the past you are more likely to claim again. Most insurers will offer a no claims bonus which can significantly reduce the cost of your insurance.

Previous Penalty Points – Insurers take this as a sure sign that you are a high risk driver and will reflect this in charging you more for insurance than those with a clean license.

Car Storage – Keeping your car in a garage as opposed to on the street can reduce the chance of theft and therefore reduce the amount you will be expected to pay for insurance. This can be particularly important if you live in urban areas where insurers will charge more due to the perceived increase in the risk of car theft.

Mileage – The more you drive the more you are likely to be involved in an accident so higher mileage policies will typically cost more.

Type of cover:
Third Party Vs Third Party Fire and Theft Vs Fully Comprehensive – The level of cover you require is one of the more obvious factors determining how much your insurance is going to cost you.

Voluntary Excess – If you are willing to accept some initial costs of your future claims upfront this will both reduce the amount of claims you are likely to make and also the cost of those claims to the insurer. Insurers will therefore offer you lower cost premiums.

Unfortunately, some of these things you can’t change (like your age), but other things like how you store your car, how carefully you drive and the type of car you buy can all have a significant positive impact on reducing the cost of your insurance.

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