Monday, December 8, 2014

Illinois Passes Mandatory Retirement Savings Bill

Recently, both houses in the state of Illinois passed Bill SB2758 which creates the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act. This bill mandates a savings plan requirement for employers with over
25 employees, and the governor is expected to sign it. While most of the agent and adviser groups in Illinois lobbied against this bill, the proponents had a strong push from several groups including the Society of Pension Professionals and AARP.

As a professional working with business owners and individuals, you should be aware of this legislation. Employers must initiate their own plan or be required to submit to the State of Illinois plan which the state will operate. Unless they opt out, private-sector employees will have to give up 3% of their paycheck to this program. 

This bill will drain Illinois of additional costs to administer it and compete with the already established private market for retirement savings alternatives provided by insurance companies, stock brokers, mutual funds, credit unions and banks. 

Get specif details to the Secure Choice Savings Program as it is written from the Illinois General Assembly website

Friday, November 14, 2014

REPEAT: Prevent What Can Go Wrong with Insurance Exams

We originally published this blog post in August 2013, and were recently asked to post it again because of its valuable information...

Most of us take insurance examinations for granted until something goes wrong. Very often we discover with very little effort that we could have avoided the problem in the first place if we had just taken the time to prepare our clients. Here's some information for you to pass on to your clients to help them get the best insurance classification and also have the best experience when preparing for their paramedical exam.

Tell your client to avoid strenuous exercise for 12 hours prior to the exam. Strenuous exercise, such as training for long runs can put stress on the liver and kidneys and negatively affect the lab results for liver function levels.

Remind your weekend warriors to avoid taking pain killers, such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc., as these also can raise the liver function levels.

Fasting is no longer required by our carriers BUT, a good rule of thumb is no food for up to six hours prior to the exam. The food intake, while having no effect on the cholesterol, can elevate the glucose and triglyceride scores. It's also a good idea to limit salt and high-cholesterol foods 24 hours prior to the exam.

Drink a lot water the day before the exam and one glass about an hour before the test. Water is our natural purifier and will help flush impurities from our system. Avoid caffeine and nicotine prior to the exam too, as they can increase our blood pressure.

It's also a good idea to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages at least 12 hours prior to an exam and to get a good night of sleep the night before.

Share this video with your clients: How to Prepare for Your Life Insurance Exam*
or this brochure: Preparing for a Paramedical Exam*

Here's some interesting facts to share with your clients: The Center for Disease Control predicts that half of adult Americans will be obese by the year 2025. A high majority of those people will suffer from diabetes and 25% of those people will be unaware of any health problem. Perhaps we won’t be living as long as we think and life insurance might just be a valuable asset?

*MVP Financial Services, Inc. does not endorse any one or particular paramedical exam service.

Friday, October 31, 2014

An Annuity Might do the Trick

Anyone who reaches age 65 has a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care eventually and yet, despite the statistics, most people don’t expect that they will need long-term care and haven't made a plan to cover it. No one likes to talk about dying, becoming disabled or living too long, but it's your
Trick or Treat
job to find out how your clients will pay for it if it happens to them. If they don't have a plan yet; an annuity might just be the solution they need.

Fixed Annuities can offer an innovative and tax-advantaged way to help manage the impact of long term care expenses for eligible clients. Re-positioning the savings can generate up to three times the premium for long term care benefits that are intended to be income tax free. Like long term care linked life insurance, if long term care benefits are never needed, then the use of the money is still available and if the annuitant dies, the benefit goes to the beneficiary.

The cost of long term care keeps rising and is the biggest unplanned risk in retirement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures Report, retirees spend less in almost every spending category as they move throughout retirement than they did when they began retirement. There are only two exceptions: One is housing, which remains mostly the same throughout retirement and the second, is health care costs (including long term care) which only trends upward throughout retirement.

Make sure your clients have a plan to cover long term care expenses in their retirement. Having a plan provides peace of mind for them and for you. The living benefits options that are available now on many life and annuity products, just make it easier to provide them with a solution.

Find out how to get started with an annuity

Monday, October 13, 2014

There's More to the Story than a Diagnosis

October is Breast Cancer
Awareness Month
Now more than ever before, your clients who have a history of breast cancer are eligible to qualify for favorable life insurance rates because more carriers consider an applicant's full medical history for the best possible rating.

According to the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2013-2014, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States and second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer deaths. Men are generally at low risk for developing breast cancer; however 2,240 men were diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and more than 400 died from the disease.

For breast cancer, underwriting the mortality risk varies with the stage of the cancer. Non-invasive cancer has a better diagnosis than invasive tumors. Tumor size is an independent foretelling factor and each involved lymph node worsens the prognosis. Lifelong follow-up is required by the patient to detect relapses, which can occur decades after the initial diagnosis. Good and consistent medical follow up by your client will provide the full picture and is extremely important to the underwriting process. 

To get started with the underwriting process, use a Breast Cancer Questionnaire from NAILBA for your clients that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Something is Better than Nothing

Boomer Esiason
Retired NFL quarterback, Boomer Esiason, is back again this year as the celebrityspokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM). Getting the word out about the need for life insurance is important to him because at the age of only 7, his mother died of cancer and did not have any life insurance. “When a parent dies and there’s no life insurance, life becomes very tough, very fast," says Boomer. “My dad, two sisters and I experienced that financial hardship firsthand.” 

It's because of his own experience that Boomer knows how important life insurance is for his own family, and he wants everyone to know that if something happened and they haven't done the planning, the people they leave behind will feel the brunt of that mistake. View an important LIAM message from Boomer for insurance professionals here.

What you do is very important, and despite this industry-wide campaign and your day job, 4 out 10 adults don't have any life insurance, and they think it's three times more expensive than it actually is. Many haven't bought life insurance yet because they are unsure of how much or what type to buy. Helping families plan for something is better than nothing and it's very apparent that we still have a lot of work to do.

If you haven't gotten started yet, it's not too late, and it's momentum can carry you through the end of the year. Get LIAM Campaign Resources here

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Suicide Clause

Most life insurance policies have clauses in them that protect the insurer. The suicide clause is one such clause, we don't often think about, but the recent, tragic death of Robin Williams has everyone talking about mental illness, depression/anxiety and suicide. 

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. 39,518 suicides were reported in 2011 and some of them probably had life insurance.

There are actually two clauses in a life insurance policy that come into play when an insured takes their own life, so let's take a moment to review:

  • The suicide clause usually states that if the insured person commits suicide within the first two policy years, the insurer reserves the right to refuse a payout of the death benefit to the beneficiary. They may, however, reimburse the beneficiary for all premium payments made. 
  • The incontestability clause may also come into play on a claim where the insured takes their own life. If the insured makes a "misstatement" on the policy application that can be linked to the cause of death, and the insured dies within the first two years, the insurer may decline the death claim. 
  • It's also important to know that whenever a life insurance policy is replaced, converted or reinstated, the "clock" on the suicide and incontestability clauses are reset and the two years starts over again.
When Heath Ledger died from an “accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications,” just seven months after taking out a $10 million life insurance policy, it raised two questions: Was his death a suicide and did he have a drug habit that wasn't disclosed on the policy application? Rather than paying the claim immediately, the insurer investigated and the lawyers for Ledger's estate countered with a lawsuit. The case was ultimately settled for a lesser amount. 

In our business, dealing with a death claim is one of the hardest and most emotional parts of the job. The aftershock of a suicide death brings with it even more emotional difficulty. On the bright side, according to the American Council of Life Insurers, 99% of all life insurance claims are paid in full regardless of the cause of death. It can also be satisfying to know that you played a significant part in making sure that the family's loss was protected.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What's in a Policy Date?

Every life insurance policy has a policy date. The policy date is important to the carrier because it starts the clock with regards to the suicide clause and contest ability periods, due dates of renewal premiums, expiration date of grace periods and the duration of any extended term insurance. It's important to the insured/owner of the policy because it indicates to them when renewal premiums
are due and when coverage began.

The policy date is important, and you should be following up for a policy review based on this date with your clients. Periodic policy reviews offer you a unique opportunity because life changes but, for the most part, a life insurance policy doesn't. As part of an overall portfolio review, you can see what changes have occurred in their lives and ensure that their existing policies are still accomplishing their desired objectives. For referrals and prospects, it can be an eye-opening review that offers you the chance to talk about whether or not the life insurance policies they purchased are still the right policy type and coverage amount to meet their current needs.

Sometimes that term plan just isn't adequate anymore and should be replaced or converted to a permanent plan. If the insured has become ill or has chronic health issues that might cause them to now be a rated class or even uninsurable; conversion may be the only option available.

A major life insurance carrier, and leader in the life insurance industry, recently announced a huge increase in premium for their conversion UL product. Their only conversion product is being replaced by another product that could be as much as 300% more in premium cost than the current conversion product available. This has prompted a "fire sale" of sorts, especially for policy holders that placed their coverage many years ago and have not had a review.  So policy holders with this carrier are scrambling to make a decision about the future of their life insurance needs as well as possibly taking a chance that they will remain healthy and insurable because the only conversion product available is going to get very expensive. 

Is it possible that regular policy reviews for these policy holders could have averted this "scrambling" scenario? Maybe. Most clients are not going to seek you out for this service. Most are of the mindset that they have crossed one more thing off of their responsible adult list, so they put the policy away in a safe place and forget about it. 

Policy reviews only work if you actively seek out clients and conduct the reviews. You could even argue that it is your due diligence to conduct periodic policy reviews. So which client are you going to call first?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Our time is valuable and no one likes to be disappointed. These words can be said for just about anything. We do our research when we buy a car or a house; we ask our friends and
family for recommendations when searching for a new cellular provider, eye doctor or a new restaurant to try for a special occasion. If we are disappointed with an outcome, we tell anyone who will listen about our bad experience and what a waste of time it was.

When a prospect chooses us to help them with their life insurance needs, they've already done their research and may have come to you because of a recommendation. We ask all the right questions to get a good financial picture that helps our prospect choose the right death benefit amount and product type for their planning situation, but we tend to shy away from the health aspects of placing that prospect's insurance with the proper carrier for the best possible classification. 

We know that health and mortality play a huge role in the underwriting process, and we can't possibly know anything about our prospect's health history just by looking at them. So why do we tread lightly on the subject of our prospect's overall health when it comes to the application process? Why do we insist on wasting valuable time for a disappointing outcome?

Gathering the proper health information at the beginning of the process is just as important as gathering the proper financial information for a complete picture. MVP has the tool you need to help you get the right offer from the right carrier the first time for all of your life insurance prospects.

Use MVP's Underwriting Criteria Questionnaire at the beginning of every meeting with your life insurance prospects – If this questionnaire reveals any health, avocation or family history obstacles – MVP can help you beat those obstacles at the beginning of the case, and you can then give your client a more accurate view of their life insurance options at the start of the sale and before you take the application.

For more information about underwriting tough cases, check out our website. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Unofficially: National Annuity Awareness Month

Just like other products in our industry, annuities could use some better understanding and attention too. Sponsors like the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and the National
Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA), are working to declare June as National Annuity Awareness Month (NAAM). A congressional resolution is needed to make it official in the Federal Register, which they hope to accomplish by June of 2015.

Educating the public and financial professionals of the important role annuities play in helping Americans plan and save for retirement is the primary goal of National Annuity Awareness Month. More and more people are using annuities for security in retirement to protect them from outliving their financial resources. Annuities are unique among the financial products available in the marketplace because they can provide retirees with a guaranteed lifetime income stream.

Throughout this month of June, trade associations will be providing educational materials and social media communications to get the word out about the importance of understanding annuity products in today's challenging economic time. You can take advantage of their efforts by joining in on the cause. Click here for a great place to start.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Opportunity Worth Repeating

Do you currently market your practice to women? Your immediate reaction to this question is probably "Yes, of course I do!" But, more clearly understanding the financial need of women, and specifically
*Hot Topics,"Women and Philanthropy,
Sharing the Wealth."
To the Contrary hosted by Bonnie Erbe,
PBS Online, 8/18/2012. 
marketing to that need is how you gain more clients in this under-served segment of the population.

In many American households, women are the primary decision makers and 53% of them are also the primary bread winners.* Women are focused on protection. They don't want to outlive their money and they don't want to be a burden on someone else.

When you are working with couples, it is extremely important to use words that reflect a shared need for protection and a joint effort in the decision making process. One million women become widowed every year in the United States and 70% of them change advisors after the death of their spouse.** Making all female prospects feel comfortable with you as a trusted resource will help to reduce that turnover in your business.

MVP will be hosting a Marketing to Women webinar with Prudential. You can learn more about this important market by joining us. 

W E B I N A R  D E T A I L S
Date: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Time: 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. CT

In the meantime, here are some great resources to help you get started:
* Source: Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women, Prudential 2012.
** Source: Spectrum Group Study of Wealthy Women Investors, June 2011 and U.S. Census Bureau, August 2011 (Marital Events of Americans, 2009)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Should State of Illinois Mandate Government Run Retirement Savings?


State Senator Daniel Bliss (Evanston) and State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (Chicago) have introduced SB 2758 and passed it in the Senate. This week it is up for vote in the House.

This bill mandates that any employer with 25 or more employees have an employee retirement savings plan OR the State of Illinois will mandate a state run retirement plan for these employers/employees.

While I believe that everyone should be saving money for their retirement, and that it would be nice for employers to offer a program to help maintain and attract good employees, the fact that government should mandate and run a State plan, considering our current financial troubles is highly questionable. This legislation could impose significant costs, risks and liabilities on taxpayers and the state, as well as threaten a competitive private retirement marketplace. 

This is what you do for a living. Please contact your state representative with your opinion today.  Consider whether you want the State of Illinois doing it for you. 
For contact information
© 2014 MVP Financial Services, Inc..
This publication is for agent/broker use only.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Overlooked and Primed

Many people think that a disability couldn't happen to them. 90% of disabilities are caused by illness, not accidents, and people have a three in 10 chance of suffering a disability that keeps them out of work for three months or longer during their career. So what happens when the paychecks stop? 50% of Americans
can't meet expenses just after one month without a paycheck.

Disability income insurance is overlooked by many and the month of May is your prime opportunity to start talking about it with your current and prospective clients. Every May Life Happens coordinates Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM). Everyone who works should consider #disabilityinsurance and your current client base is the perfect place to start because they have already purchased from you, so it's likely that they will again. You may even be surprised which clients make good candidates. Watch this Brainshark to help you with the identification process.

Go to for resources you can use with clients and help them calculate the need with this DI Calculator

* Statistic Sources: The Real Risk of Disability in the United States, Milliman Inc., on behalf of the LIFE Foundation, May 2007
               The Council for Disability Awareness, Long-Term Disability Claims Review, 2010
               LIFE Disability Survey, conducted by Kelton Research, April 2012

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Don't Ignore This Opportunity

Do you currently market your practice to women? Your immediate reaction to this question is probably "Yes, of course I do!" But, more clearly understanding the financial need of women, and specifically marketing to that need is how you gain more clients in this under-served segment of the population.

In many American households, women are the primary decision makers and 53% of them are also the primary bread winners.* Women are focused on protection. They don't want to outlive their money and they don't want to be a burden on someone else.

When you are working with couples, it is extremely important to use words that reflect a shared need for protection and a joint effort in the decision making process. One million women become widowed every year in the United States and 70% of them change advisors after the death of their spouse.** Making all female prospects feel comfortable with you as a trusted resource will help to reduce that turnover in your business.

March is "Women in History Month", and MVP thinks it's a great time to be thinking about how you can increase your business by marketing better to female clients. Here are some great resources to help you get started:
* Source: Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women, Prudential 2012.
** Source: Spectrum Group Study of Wealthy Women Investors, June 2011 and U.S. Census Bureau, August 2011 (Marital Events of Americans, 2009)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A La Carte or Bundled?

We've all heard the statistics:*
  • At least 70% of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point in their lives.
  • Almost half of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic illness, and many of these people have one or more daily activity limitations.
  • 3 in 10 workers will become disabled for 3 months or more during their career.
...and we know that our clients need to be fully covered to be fully protected. But what are you doing to make sure that you provide all of your clients with a solution to all of these needs?

As a part of well-rounded financial planning, long term care (LTC) insurance, disability income (DI) insurance and critical illness (CI) insurance are all products you should be talking to your clients about. However, purchasing these extra plans in addition to a life insurance policy can seem daunting and expensive from your clients' point of view.

Rather than going a la carte to cover each of these needs separately, why not consider bundling? Many of MVP's carriers are providing riders on universal life and term plans that allow policyholders to tap into their death benefit while they are alive and in need of LTC, DI or CI benefits.

Not only does bundling these riders with a life insurance policy make it more flexible, it also makes it more cost effective for your client. Some carriers are even adding these types of riders to annuities to make them more flexible and attractive too.

*Statistic Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information,, September 2008; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion;; The Real Risk of Disability in the United State, Milliman Inc. on behalf of the LIFE Foundation, May 2007.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Hole in Your Clients' Financial Protection?

Heart attack, stroke and cancer patients now survive, but at a cost. Advances in medical procedures save countless lives, but those same lives can be devastated by the financial impact of a critical illness. Many are
unable to return to their previous professions or incomes. Others are forced to return to work before they have a chance to fully recover. The sad truth is that the miracle of today’s medical procedures may save lives, but it creates long-term financial challenges.

Critical Illness insurance pays a lump-sum benefit (that may be tax-free) upon the first confirmed diagnosis of a covered illness or medical procedure. Most importantly, the cash benefit is paid directly to your client – to use any way they choose!

If your clients don't have Critical Illness insurance, they are missing a vital piece to their financial plan. Make sure your clients are adequately covered in all aspects of their financial plan; offer them Critical Illness protection.

Assurity's Director of Health Products, Ken Smith, has a Critical Illness Discussion Blog. View Ken's blog now!

P.S. - We would love to get your thoughts on this topic.  Please share them as comments to the blog.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Help is Here for this Changing, New World

Now that 2014 is well on its way, you really should take a moment to reflect on the direction of your insurance or investment practice. Why? Because our industry has been working hard to determine how to work with your new world. Insurance carriers decisions are resulting in different customer contact, policy delivery, and product focus.

Most of MVP's carriers are stock owned, which means that on any given day the executives of those carriers come to work with stockholders as their number one priority... not policyholders. They have been charged with managing for cost effectiveness, a robust return on investment, and capital maximization.

One of the major opportunities for carriers to free up capital is to reduce guarantees in their products. Many carriers have shortened long term guarantees on universal life products or eliminated term products with longer level premiums. Some carriers have limited or weakened term conversion guarantees. Carriers are designing application e-submission and policy e-delivery tools to take advantage of today’s technology, but also to eliminate the expense of human involvement.

We have and will continue to see an influx of indexed products in an effort to save reserve money and eliminate carrier's guaranteed premium responsibility. We are under greater pressures from independent carriers for more business from appointed producers. Lack of production results in faster termination of appointments. There is also a constant shadow of compensation adjustments.

So, where is the positive news? We all know our society is experiencing financial stress caused by health care costs and a lack of retirement savings. Middle America is desperately asking for help from trusted advisers. Help to protect them from dying too soon, or living too long. Help to pay their bills if they get injured or sick. Help to replace their income if they are disabled and can't work. Help to keep their standard of living during a longer life expectancy. Help to leave a legacy to their children after they are gone. Help to create and implement a plan that lets them sleep well at night?

MVP is positioned to be your best and easiest resource to provide these solutions! We would like to improve our service to you in 2014 and will be asking you these questions:
  • How can MVP help you protect your customers and grow your business? 
  • What client problems can MVP help you solve? 
  • What is on your priority list for your brokerage agency partner? More sales strategies? Technology solutions? More customers? Training/education? Administrative support? Underwriting expertise? Marketing assistance?
MVP Financial Services is committed to helping you grow and flourish in this new world. We're convinced that 2014 is going to be a spectacular year to be working in this great profession!