How can I get Living Benefits from my Life Insurance?

How can I get Living Benefits from my Life Insurance?

One thing I love to share with clients is that life insurance now offers living benefits.  One of the biggest misconceptions today is that life insurance only works once you die.  In the past 5+ years, life insurance has really changed, in that now life insurance policies include certain benefits that can help you during your lifetime, not just after your death.  Fortunately, this important benefit is available both with term and whole life insurance. It can be part of the main policy or it can be added as a rider to the policy!

If you have an insurance policy that is older than 5 years old, please check the policy to see if any type of Living Benefits are listed.

The main idea around living benefits is that you can now use part of your death benefit to pay for specific medical conditions while you are still alive.  This can be for cancer, terminal care or even long-term care situations.  The payouts for living benefits will usually be a set percentage of the face value of the life insurance policy.  So if you have a life insurance policy with a death benefit of $500,000, the living benefit payout could be as low as 50% or as high as 80%!  This means that you could have living benefits from $250,000 to $400,000 for specific conditions.  Please know, there may be limitations, though, on how much money can be used on an annual basis.  Some plans may have a limit of 2% of the death benefit for a monthly withdrawal.  This would be $10,000 a month as a maximum.  Some plans might have a yearly withdrawal maximum.  If this maximum is 20% of the living benefit at 80%, this would be 20% of $400,000 or $80,000 for a year’s worth of medical care.  These funds could be used for experimental medicine for cancer treatment, nursing home care or even one whale of a bucket list if you only have 6 months to live!

I like to explain to customers that Life Insurance with Living benefits is truly part of a retirement plan.  Since you have the ability to access your life insurance proceeds while you are still alive, you protect your financial assets like the equity in your home and your 401K investments!

Many of our clients over 60 realize that Living Benefits need to be part of their retirement plan.  The reality is that as we live longer, the chances of needing long-term care or nursing home care increases.  Our lengthened life-span, while fabulous, also puts us at greater risk for dealing with a critical illness, whether it be cancer, a stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease.   And on the flip side, with the advances in medicine, people diagnosed with these illnesses can live longer and will really utilize the important living benefits that can be included in their life insurance policies. As such, we are finding many people purchasing additional life insurance policies, just to ensure the Living Benefits are included in some way.   

There are three different categories of Living Benefits

 The first category is Critical illness. This would include conditions like stroke, heart attack, major burn, cancer, or it could even be an organ transplant. Unfortunately, these are the medical conditions that ring up huge hospital bills with many days in the ICU, recovery, and/or rehabilitation.  As mentioned before, having living benefits for these types of conditions can be a lifesaver for clients since they can avoid the worry of draining their life savings!   If your family has a medical history for any of the above illnesses, this type of benefit package should definitely be considered!

The second category of Living Benefits applies to chronic illness. A chronic illness is something that requires nursing home care, memory care, or extended hospital stays. The most common example of this would be Alzheimer’s, where the patient cannot function on a regular basis. Now, when we talk about functioning and what is regular, you have to realize that there are six activities of daily living and a lot of people call them ADLs. It is common for hospitalized patients over age 60 to be assessed by an occupational therapist for their ADLs.

Activities of Daily Living include:  

  • Ability to dress
  • Ability to transfer within your living areas
  • Ability to feed yourself
  • Ability to bathe
  • Ability to use the toilet
  • Ability for continence

To qualify for a diagnosis of a chronic illness, you must need help with two or more of the six ADLs, as assessed by a health care professional.  We certainly have seen increases in the diagnosis of illnesses such as, Alzheimer’s, likely because people are living longer. This reinforces the need and importance of having Living Benefits in place, as they can help pay for temporary or permanent care without draining the family’s savings  If your family has a history for the need of outside care due to a chronic disease, this is a benefit to definitely consider!

The final type of Living Benefit is Terminal illness. A terminal illness is defined when a doctor – usually a specialist like an oncologist – determines that your life expectancy is less than 6 months.  In some life insurance plans, this timeline could be 12 months.  Once again, based on the wording of your life insurance policy, this Living Benefits feature would set an amount of money you would have access to for the last months of your life.  This could be for advanced medical care or for a bucket list of travel!   

Fortunately, today’s term and whole life insurance policies typically include different types Living Benefits!   If you have a current life insurance policy, in force, please look at your policy and check the policy for any Living Benefits mention.  We can also review your current policy and let you know exactly what you have for optional benefits.

At the Richard Rose Agency, we are pleased to have Dennis McLynn, as our Life Insurance Specialist.  Dennis can look at your current situation, your financial planning goals and make different recommendations to fit your needs.  Life Insurance is not a cookie-cutter process. We take the time to make sure any new policy fits your needs!  We will be able to show you multiple illustrations that can cover different scenarios for you and your family!

If you have any questions or just want to learn more, please reach out to us at 770-664-0602. That is our office phone number for the Richard Rose Agency. You can also email me at We would love to help you with your insurance needs and we welcome the opportunity to try and earn your business. 

Three easy steps to filing a claim for roof damage due to wind or hail!

Three easy steps to file a claim for roof damage due to wind or hail!

As we all know, thunderstorms are very common in Georgia. We also get a few tropical storms in our area every year.

So it seems only fitting that our topic today is how to file a claim when your roof is damaged!

But before getting into the tips for filing a claim, let’s understand a little more about roof damage. Roofs are commonly damaged from wind and/or hail. In most cases, you will guess that you have a problem when you find a water spot on the ceiling, water dripping around a window or water on your floor! Yes, we have even seen cases where the water problem started on the roof, went down 3 stories to the basement and that’s where it collected. Many homes are just not as water tight as we would expect, especially as the home ages!

Step 1
When you see the first signs of any type of water coming into your house, do not wait to call your insurance agent. The first thing to do is to call a roofing contractor to see if they can get on your roof, locate the source of the leak, and, if so, stop it and prevent any further damage! At a minimum, they can at least lay a tarp or utilize other protective measures to make sure the damage to the inside of your home is minimized going forward. The roofing contractor will also be able to give you an idea of the extent of the damage. This could be shingle damage, boots/gaskets around vents, and flashing between the roof and siding/fireplace. Please ask the contractor for an estimate of total repairs needed.

Step 2
If there is widespread water damage, the next step is critical. You should contact a home restoration company to deal with wet carpets, wet drywall, wood floors, cabinetry and any other potential areas damaged by the water. In many cases, the water damage restoration companies have commercial quality vacuums, dehumidifiers, and other ways to protect all of the surfaces in your home! The reason it is so important to get the wetness out of your home is one word – mold! Within a few days, that wetness in your drywall and flooring can easily turn different colors depending on the mold type! It is expensive and difficult to eradicate, once mold starts. And honestly, this is one thing that most of us would like to avoid for another reason: as this type of damage needs to be listed on your seller disclosure form, if you ever decide to sell your home in the future!

Step 3
Once you get everything inside and outside of your house stabilized and the damage has been stopped, it is time to call your home/property insurance company. Your first call should be to your agent. Discuss what happened, explain what repairs or remediation you have started, and then discuss your policy coverage, and deductibles.

It’s important to know your policy deductibles before filing the claim with the insurance company. The deductible will be your out of pocket expense for the claim. Equally important, is obtaining estimates for the repairs prior to filing the claim. If the deductible on your policy is actually the same or greater than repair expense then there is no need to file the claim as your insurance company will not be paying for any portion of your bill, as your deductible would kick in first.

Deductibles can vary significantly. In Georgia, wind & hail deductibles can range from $1000 to $10,000. Some can even be listed as 1%, 2% or even 5% of your entire dwelling’s coverage. As an example, let’s say your home is insured for a $500,000 replacement cost, and you carry a 5% wind/hail deductible. This would equal a $25,000 deductible for your out of pocket expense!

Not to confuse things too much, but some insurance companies have a deductible for any damage due to tropical storms/hurricanes that is separate from wind/hail damage. Many times, this deductible starts at $2500 and goes up to $10,000 or even higher if a % or replacement cost is used. This is one reason why we like to do insurance reviews just so that our clients understand their deductibles and their coverages.

If you are unable to speak to your agent or if you have an online insurance company, before filing the claim try to research your deductibles and understand this piece of the puzzle so you don’t file a frivolous claim.

Once your are ready to file a claim, you should ask your agent to connect you to claims or if you call a 1-800 # then you should request claims, directly.

In most cases the claims department will ask a few questions:

  • When did the damage first start?
  • What parts of the house are effected – give a room by room account.
  • What has been done to stop further damage?
  • What companies have been called to do this? The contact info for each should be given to claims.
  • Have any of these companies given you an estimate of damage or cost? If there is an estimate, the claims group will need to see this.

Once this information is given to the claims group of your insurance company, you will be assigned a claims representative and an adjustor to coordinate the onsite repairs. These two people will be your primary resources to contact with any questions or issues with the claim. Outside of just coordinating the claim, these contacts should be able to assist with arranging contractors to review your damage and costs for repairs. In most cases, you will be asked to get 2-3 estimates for all roof repairs or water damage restoration. The claims group will review the estimates and compare it to what is typical for the area.

Now that all of the basics have been covered and your contractors are completing the repairs, there is one more thing to be prepared for…… In many situations, once the drywall is being replaced or the windows are being repaired, additional damage is found. This could be wood rot, improperly hung shingles, mold from previous leaks and many other possibilities. The good news is that in most cases, these additional found problems are added to the original claim as a supplement. A new claim on the same issue does not have to be opened.

One thing we do with all of our clients is check in on the status of the work, as the claim is being completed. Not all insurance agents do this. There are times where messages are missed or paperwork is not completed or emailed to the proper people. We have also seen where there are disagreements between claims and the contractors on the needed repair. This is where we get involved with the claims group. We advocate for our clients and talk with the claims management teams (going up multiple levels) and explain the situation and get resolution. We do this all the time and this why we have a great retention rate for our agency! If you run into any issues – be it disagreements, slow response times or just a slow repair process, do not hesitate to call your local insurance agent and ask for help!

Finally, there is one preventative tip that every property owner can do yearly to save themselves a lot of time and aggravation with future claims: have your caulking checked every year on your house. This means having a contractor look at every window, every joint and also the gaskets/boots on the roof for any potential leaks. Yes, this may cost $100/$200 every year, but it is money well spent in the long run to stop wood rot, mold and other damage to windows and roofs. Having this preventative maintenance will make sure that when it is time to sell the house, expensive surprises in the inspection process can avoided!

I hope this helps explain the claims process for any water damage associated with damage to your roof. While filing a claim is often needed, the first step is stopping further damage to the roof or the inside of your house! It is also important to know your deductible, as cost estimates for the repairs start to be generated.

If you have any additional question on this topic or any other insurance issue, please reach out to us at 770-664-0602. That is our office number for the Richard Rose Agency. You can also email me at We welcome hearing from you with your questions or concerns about homeowners insurance or any other insurance product that we can help you with!

An Intro To Richard Rose Agency – Alpharetta GA

At Richard Rose Agency, we believe you deserve top quality service… Period. That’s why we’re committed to giving you the best of us. We’ll always make sure you have the right coverage, the right discounts, and can take comfort in knowing the things that matter most to you are protected. We also believe in giving back! As Agents of Change in our community, we’re dedicated to helping others live well and thrive!

Call Richard Rose Agency in Alpharetta GA at (770) 664-0602