insurance docs

What insurance documents do you need copies of in an emergency?

We received such a positive response to our previous article detailing the medical related items needed in an emergency that we decided to follow it up with a second part: insurance documents needed in case of an unexpected life event. These events range from auto accidents, floods, storms, theft, and death of a loved one, just to name a few. After one of these situations, most people don’t possess their full mental faculty and may even be grieving. The last thing on their minds is dealing with an insurance company. Being prepared now and storing these documents in a safe and easily accessible location will greatly reduce time, headache, and possibly save you money. So, here are some of the most important insurance documents you will need.

  1. Homeowner’s/property insurance: Do you know where your policy is located right now? Have you ever tried to make a claim after a pipe flooded and ruined your electronics or carpet? Some insurance adjusters are better than others and more helpful. Make sure you know what is covered in your policy and what the insurance company is required to do. They will try to limit their exposure and knowing your rights and coverage limits will be critical.
  2. Photos/receipts of your tangible items: This is closely related to your homeowner’s and/or rental policy. Did you have a $3,000 turntable that was destroyed by a fire? How are you going to prove that it was worth that amount? The burden is on you. Again, an adjuster will have to make this determination. The more proof you have, the more likely you will get full reimbursement. If you don’t have a receipt(like me who usually loses them) make sure you take photos and store them in separate and safe location like your DocuVital account. It doesn’t do any good to have copies of your information in the same place you live-i.e-a flood or fire or storm can destroy it just the same. Redundancy of your information is critical, just like a computer engineer backs up her information in a separate cloud location.
  3. Rental insurance policy: See # 1 above. More and more people today, especially Millenials, do not own their homes but prefer the flexibility of renting. Even the same, you will need a rental policy to protect your personal belongings. Your landlord doesn’t cover your items in the event of damage.
  4. Life insurance policy: We cannot state how important it is to store this information in a safe place. If a loved one dies, you will be suffering extreme grief. However, your life will need to go on and you likely will need the financial support from the life insurance policy immediately. Bills don’t stop. Make sure you know where the policy is located, that it is paid and up to date, and that it has sufficient coverage to protect you. These are the basic items that we all should have stored in a secure location that is easily accessible anytime, from anywhere. Your DocuVital account can handle all of this for you. Taking these simple steps now will protect you and your family down the road.
medical docs

What medical items do you need in an emergency?

I frequently get asked the question by people, “What are the most important things I need to have backed up and stored in case of an emergency or unexpected life event?” It is too late to compile the items once you have gone through a medical emergency, storm, fire, flood, theft, accident, death of a loved one, etc. So what are the things you need stored in advance? While the list is too long to discuss here and is unique to each person depending on their age, stage of life, and financial situation, there are some very basic items that almost everyone shares in common. In this article I will focus first on the most important medical related items every person should have stored in a separate, secure location in case of an emergency.

  1. Health Insurance card and ID’s.-You don’t want to get hit with unexpected hospital bills simply because you did not have proof of insurance. As an attorney I have helped far too many clients with erroneous billing issues. It is a nightmare.
  2. List of medications.-In time of a medical crisis, it is crucial that the physicians diagnose and treat you based on all the medical information possible and knowing what medicines you are taking will determine what other medications you can be prescribed.
  3. Copy of living will.-Should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate, the last thing you want is your family to fight over your end of life care and wishes. Make sure your wishes(advance directives) are explicitly spelled out and that this document can be located easily. For example, would you want to be kept alive on a breathing machine? Families have been destroyed over these difficult decisions and ultimately the fate will rest in the hands of a judge, not you, if you did not plan ahead.
  4. Medical history.-Have you had a recent back surgery? Do you have a herniated disc? Do you have diverticulitis? The quicker a doctor can locate this information, the quicker he or she can treat you effectively.
  5. Family members and contact information.-If you have an accident or medical emergency and you are alone, you want the medical professionals to contact your loved ones asap. I recommend keeping a list of those relatives and/or friends who you want to be notified.

These are the basic items that we all should have stored in a secure location that is easily accessible anytime, from anywhere.  Your DocuVital account can handle of this for you.  Taking these simple steps now will protect you and your family down the road.

Financial institutions embrace FinTechs

As #FinTech #startups continue to make progress, traditional financial institutions have become more open to working with FinTechs as partners, rather than competitors. According to the Capgemini 2017 World FinTech Report, 76.7% of executives agree that FinTechs provide partnership opportunities.

Majority of world is using a FinTech solution

50.2% of people worldwide have already started using a FinTech provider aside from their traditional financial institution for banking, insurance, payments, or investment management. -Capgemini 2017 World Fintech Report

fintech

Financial industry, baby boomers, and fintech, the next step.

No issue looms larger for the financial advice industry than demographics and the aging of the baby boomers.

Over the next several decades, the biggest and wealthiest generation in U.S. history will transfer roughly $30 trillion in assets to their Gen X and millennial children, and if studies are accurate, most of those children will promptly fire their parents’ advisors.  At the peak, between 2031 and 2045, 10 percent of total wealth in the United States will be changing hands every five years. Capitalizing on these intergenerational shifts in wealth will be critical for the long-term success of wealth management firms.

“Studies regularly show that when wealth passes to another generation, in the majority of cases, the heirs change financial advisors,” said Gauthier Vincent, head of Deloitte’s U.S. Wealth Management practice. “The relationship between assets, asset owners and financial advisors is unraveling before our eyes.”

This tidal wave is approaching like a tsunami sitting hundreds of miles offshore. You know it’s out there but many in the financial industry have not taken sufficient steps yet to weather this storm. Understandably, most are focused on generating revenue now and servicing higher net worth clients like the baby boomers. The financial advisory sector has already seen significant disruption from the fintech startups dominating the “robo advisory” space. Companies like Betterment, Wise Banyan, and LearnVest have been targeting the GenX and Millenials who were traditionally avoided by the more established advisory companies.

“Indeed, firms in all corners of the industry — from banks and wire-house brokerages to asset managers and even insurance companies — have seen the light. They are either building out digital-advice platforms, as Charles Schwab and Vanguard have done, buying them like BlackRock and Northwest Mutual Insurance did, or partnering with online advisors, as UBS recently did with SigFig. The RIAs, most of whom can’t make the investments, are accessing the fintech tools through custodians such as Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade.”

Those companies that don’t embrace fintech technology to attract the next generation of clients will likely fall behind and not survive as the last of the baby boomer clients pass away. Finding innovative ways to stay ahead of this generation wealth transfer will be paramount to succeeding. Creating engagement and value for the adult heirs of the baby boomers is critical to keeping them as clients. I do think the best way for large and often slow moving financial service firms to accomplish this is to actively work with fintech companies who are far more effective adapting to the consumer needs and putting products in the marketplace.

Tools that allow the parent and adult children to interact via an online or mobile application where the heirs see the value of what the advisor is providing to the family.  For example, DocuVital stores critical documents and information that the children will need when wrapping up the affairs of their parents. White labeled or co-branded solutions will insure the advisors stay in the mind of the consumer when they are using the products.

Inaction and indecisiveness by the financial advisory sector will surely cause significant damage and some companies will not survive if they fail to proactively mitigate the wealth transfer issue.

employee benefits

What’s ahead for 2017 and employee benefits?

Predicting or forecasting about uncertain events isn’t based on extrasensory perception or an informed guess. And it’s usually not a scientific explanation. Most of the time, predicting trends is based on experience or knowledge. In the case of employee benefits, it’s more about understanding the industry and what the players in the industry — including the workforce, employers, brokers and providers — are saying and doing.

Today’s diverse workforce, coupled with employees’ desire to choose benefits that are important to them, means that companies are recognizing the role that nontraditional benefits can play in distinguishing their employee benefits package. There’s no doubt that traditional voluntary benefits that supplement core benefits are important. However, with a workforce dominated by millennials — who clearly want it ‘their way’ — the availability of nontraditional benefits provide a way for employers to engage employees in all generations.  In broaden the horizons of wellness, employers need to focus plans not only on the physical and nutritional aspects, but also to expand into mental soundness and financial stability.

Craig Schmidt, senior wellness consultant at EPIC, has seen a strong focus around three main areas: mindfulness, stress and financial wellness.

“This is a different trend than what has been done in the past with regard to traditional wellness programs where the industry would identify a chronic disease risk and focus their efforts solely on nutrition, activity and … avoiding a chronic condition, instead of living a healthy lifestyle and improving healthy behaviors,” Schmidt says.

This year, wellness consultants maintained a growing focus on financial wellbeing. Some approached these programs by offering debt assistance programs, many directed toward assisting with student loan debt. This approach not only helps the employee with paying off a loan that could very well last decades, but it also increases retention of millennial employees who have been known not to stay with a single company for long periods of time.

Financial wellness and college debt “is a growing concern and employers want to assist and help employees be better fiscally, but at this time its uncharted territory that we don’t know what the results of the programs are or what employees are looking for on an individual basis,” Schmidt says.

Expanding mental wellness

In an attempt to break the stereotypes and stigmas around mental health, many wellness consultants are making a push to encourage the use of mental and social assistance programs like EAPs, in the workplace. Emily Noll, national director of wellness solutions at CBIZ, says more employers are seeking mindfulness and resiliency programs on a regular basis to reduce stress and improve employee engagement.

“CEOs and CFOs are paying attention to the data on the benefits of meditation practice, yoga and other techniques that yield better focus, more creativity and make their employees better equipped to solve problems and avoid workplace conflict,” Noll says. “One HR director told me that when she boarded the train to head home in the evenings she would doze off, but after participating in a weekly at-work mindfulness program, she felt more energized during her work day and was alert even on her commute home.”

Looking ahead to 2017

When Schmidt looks ahead to the coming year, he predicts there will be more focus on mental, emotional and mindfulness in the workplace. “I see there being a focus on engaging employees in their work, and mindfulness will play a large role,” Schmidt says.

On top of an increased awareness of mental and emotional need, Schmidt says there will be more attention on corporate culture, with companies focusing on creating an environment where employees want to be at work.

“Millennials are known to be the job hoppers and millennials now make up a large portion of the workforce. Retention of these employees is going to be an important focus in the battle for talent,” he says. “Wellness will be a difference-maker to this group, as worth, value and well-being is an important focus for millennials.”

Noll agrees with Schmidt’s prediction of an emphasis on corporate culture, saying companies will need to provide more training for leaders and managers on how to improve culture, well-being and engagement. “Managers have a significant influence on their employees and developing high performing teams — team members need to be well to perform at their best,” Noll says.

Are you ready for 2017??

thanksgiving-dessert

Ready for Thanksgiving?

Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition has nothing to do with food or football, but has everything to do with our personal beliefs, values and expectations.

It’s an annual family discussion of issues related to Advance Care Planning, and it’s a tradition I encourage all families to adopt.

Advance Care Planning involves completing the necessary legal forms to document your health care preferences at end-of-life, and legally designating someone to represent you during a medical crisis if you can’t speak for yourself. The basic legal forms are a Health Care Proxy and New York Living Will.

Years ago, my family started this tradition on Thanksgiving, because it’s an American holiday that just about everyone celebrates, and it brings together family members from far and wide. At first, you might think it’s morbid to discuss such topics at a fun holiday gathering, but we’ve found that it brings us closer together. We each gain peace of mind from knowing that our own wishes have been expressed and will be honored, and from hearing how our loved ones want to be treated if ever they need someone to make health care decisions on their behalf. It’s yet another reason to give thanks.

After our Thanksgiving meal, and after the dishes are cleared, the adults in our family remain at the table and review our individual Advance Care Planning documents to make sure they reflect our current feelings. We have blank forms on hand in case new documents need to be completed and witnessed.

As a medical doctor and health plan administrator with a specialty in pain management and end-of-life issues, I am passionate about Advance Care Planning. I recommend that everyone 18 years and older completes the legally recognized Advance Care Planning forms and keeps copies on file with their physicians, lawyer and loved ones.

In addition to the Health Care Proxy and New York Living Will, there’s a document called Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST), and an electronic version called eMOLST. MOLST is recommended for people with serious or advancing chronic illness, and for those who want to further define their wishes for medical interventions, including resuscitation. The MOLST form is legally approved for use in hospitals and nursing homes across New York state.

I encourage your family to adopt our Thanksgiving tradition. Discussing and documenting each family member’s thoughts and views on this subject will save heartache and family turmoil in the future. Download a free step-by-step booklet and discussion guide on Advance Care Planning, as well as blank forms for the New York Living Will, Health Care Proxy and MOLST at compassionandsupport.org.

Patricia Bomba, M.D., is vice president and medical director/geriatrics for Univera Healthcare. She served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Care

cta_bg

3 tips for end of life planning

Most people can’t or don’t want to think about the day they might be incapable of making even basic decisions, says Jessica Lillesand, senior advisory specialist at Wells Fargo Private Bank. Incapacity planning—laying out the manner you want to be cared for should you lose your cognitive ability—is difficult to face but an absolute must for someone with estate plans.

“Most people don’t give much thought to the issue” until it is too late to handle carefully, Lillesand says, and that can accidentally throw parts of an estate or financial plan out of the window—the exact opposite of what they want.

Lillesand had a female client, for example, with an intricate and long-planned tax strategy requiring residence in Florida. When she began to deteriorate and started needing assistance, her family kept trying to move her out of Florida, nearer to where they lived. She never shared with them her tax strategy and her family was left to guess her exact wishes.

So, here’s lesson number one: make your location wishes clear from the get-go, says Lillesand, and let your surrogate decision-makers understand your thought process. That way, they have all the information on hand to carry out your wishes when the need arises.

The common mistake is that “there is a fall or illness that puts a person into a rehab and everyone is in crisis mode,” she says. The family ends up making a decision based off of the information they have on-hand, which is usually not complete.

Which gets us to lesson number two: pick strong surrogates. The advocates you grant “durable power of attorney,” reminds Lillesand, “will be running your show”—from handling your finances, such as conducting complicated bank transactions; to legal battles, such as standing in your place in the case that a medical lawsuit is filed. This means, you not only have to trust your surrogate, but they also have to be capable of managing your sophisticated finances.

That’s a lot more responsibility than most people really sign up for, Lillesand says, which is why you need to talk beforehand and in considerable detail to the person you want to nominate for the position. To make the conversation more robust, be sure to bring up the day-to-day administrative and financial tasks that may need overseeing, she says.

To split the burden, so no one person is overwhelmed by the responsibility, you may also separately pick a healthcare surrogate, to become your voice on medical decisions, freeing up the competent administrator to focus solely on your complicated financial affairs. That can become a problem in itself. Many people, when it comes to their medical surrogate, pick someone close to them, who may not always be the one best-suited emotionally for tough medical decisions. You may, for example, pick your child to be your medical surrogate, but ask yourself whether they have the heart to advocate for your wish to withdraw from life-prolonging procedures or the intake of food, if the situation arises. Lillesand says, “the emotional challenge is tremendous,” and when you’re not fully there, this person needs to be able to communicate your wishes, even if they are brutally painful to execute.

Which brings us to lesson number three: don’t leave a child who is easily heartbroken the responsibility of cutting off your life.

It’s the little things…

I have been an attorney for over 21 years and I have seen my share of families grieving after they lose a loved one.  Death is never expected, even for those who are terminally ill.  What compounds the problem is that the family left behind now is tasked with wrapping up the affairs of their loved one, all during a time they are grieving.

Did you know that on average over 100 tasks need to be completed after someone passes such as finding and closing bank accounts, credit cards, claiming life insurance benefits, pensions, social security and much more?  The look of complete exhaustion and the overwhelmed faces of the family at trying to do this all while living their lives is unforgettable.  This then crosses over to work.  A person does not check their grief at the door of their job at 9 in the morning and then pick it back up when they leave at 5.  And in today’s society, most families live in different states and cities which means frequent travel will be required to tend to the affairs.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that because you have a will that all is good. That is just the start.  It typically addresses only the high line items and assets in a person’s life.  What we have seen over and over are families ripped apart by the “little things”.  Epic arguments and ruined relationships occur over over pots and pans, shoes, clothes, mementos, pictures, etc.  But this can all be handled and prepared for with a minimal amount of time and thought by using solutions like DocuVital.

Helping your employees prepare for both the “big things” and the “little things” are key to making a smooth transition when they lose a loved one.   Assisting them during the ultimate time of loss and grief will be one of the greatest benefits you could ever provide them.

Prince

Life Happens Fast. Be Prepared.

By now many of you have heard and read about Prince’s tragic death.  To many of us he defined our youth and his albums were the soundtrack to our lives. What has compounded his passing was the fact that he was not prepared.  Like many Americans(over 50%), he died without a will and without making plans for his family.

Prince was famously known for guarding his privacy.  This was very important to him but now that he is gone, his life is being needlessly dragged out in the public eye and the courts.  “Prince’s relatives, employees and friends, even his ex-wives, apparently knew less about the 57-year-old star’s habits than they thought. And because Prince failed to leave a will, the probate proceeding is even more complicated — and non-transparent — than usual.”  There is much talk about the worth of his musical legacy which has surged in value since his death.  But who are his heirs?  Where are the “secret tapes” located?

In my experience as an attorney for over 20 years I have seen families ripped apart by the smallest things that a will does not usually address.  For example; baseball card collections, clothes, pots and pans! Fortunately, these issues can be easily addressed now.  Being prepared now will greatly reduce the stress and headache for your family later.

We all wanted to be Prince at one time, but don’t be like him now.  Life Happens Fast.  Be Prepared.