Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the best kind of life insurance?
- Can I get life insurance if my health isn't the best?
- What if my policy runs out?
- How much do I need?
- How often should I review my life insurance?
What is the best kind of life insurance?
There is no "best" type of life insurance. It really depends on your individual needs. Companies or agents that have hard and fast rules about what kind people should buy, probably only sell that kind.
We're different. Cornerstone is an independent agency that works on your behalf. We have access to all the insurance companies and plans.
And we can offer you term, whole or universal life.
It all depends on your situation. Your needs. How much coverage you need, how long you need it, and of course, your budget.
We'll help you get a plan that fits you.
Can I get life insurance if my health isn't the best?
With Cornerstone, you have more options. Since we are an agency and represent many different life insurance companies, we may still be able to find coverage for you.
If you'd like to find out for sure, the best way is to speak to one of our agents. We can answer all your questions and give you some choices. No pressure and no obligation whatsoever.
What if my policy runs out?
Contact an agent to review your policy. Find out what your options are. If you need new coverage or additional coverage, don't wait. The younger and healthier you are, the more money you'll save.
How much do I need?
Just like there is no "best" type of life insurance, we don't have a formula for how much you need either. It all depends on you and your unique situation.
Do you want to leave a legacy for your children or grandchildren? Perhaps pay for their higher education? Are you mainly concerned with replacing your income, or paying off your mortgage? Maybe you just need a simple plan to take care of final arrangements.
Whatever your situation is, we'll listen. One of our qualified life insurance specialists can tailor a plan that fits your needs, and your budget.
How often should I review my life insurance?
We recommend you review your life insurance needs annually. It's a significant part of your overall financial plan. Major life changes, Medicare changes and other situations can affect your life insurance needs.
- I'm about to turn 65. What do I need to do?
- My premium just went up. Can I get something cheaper?
- Do I need a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?
- What is a Medicare Advantage Plan?
I'm about to turn 65. What do I need to do?
First, contact Medicare to get signed up for Medicare A and B. Call them at 1-800-Medicare.
You can choose a plan up to 3 months before you turn 65. If you want to find out what options are available in your area, one of our agents can help.
My premium just went up. Can I get something cheaper?
You do have options when it comes to Medicare plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer zero premium plans. Contact an agent in your area to find out what is available for you.
Do I need a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?
Each individual situation is different, you may not need to. However, if you don't choose a plan when you first qualify, you could be subject to a Medicare penalty for each month you don't have it.
The best way to get all your questions answered and make sense of the whole Medicare maze is to contact one of our agents. We specialize in senior services, and can offer you unbiased information to help you make important decisions.
What is a Medicare Advantage plan?
A Medicare Advantage plan is a health insurance plan offered by private insurance companies. It's an alternative to traditional Medicare, and may be a great option for you.
There are many plans available, and the benefits offered are specific to your area of the country. Call Cornerstone at 1-800-971-3186, and one of our senior specialists can answer all your questions. We'll show you what Medicare Advantage plan options you have, and help you see if it's right for you.
- What exactly is long term care?
- Do I need long term care insurance?
- What types of care are there?
- Where is long term care provided?
- How much does it cost?
- Who pays for long term care?
- Can I qualify for long term care insurance?
What exactly is long term care?
Long term care is the care people need when they can't perform the tasks of ordinary living independently. Bathing, dressing, toileting, continence, eating, and moving around. It can also be care related to cognitive impairment like memory loss or dementia. A person may be able to dress themselves and get around, but they may have trouble remembering to take their medication.
It's not something any of us like to think about, but the reality is that many of us will need this type of care in our lives, and it can be financially devastating.
Do I need long term care insurance?
If you are very wealthy and can easily self-insure, you can get along without long term care insurance. Of course, many wealthy people who could easily afford long term health care costs of $55,000-$70,000 a year choose to purchase a long term care insurance plan to protect their assets.
On the other hand, if you have a low income and the monthly premiums for LTCI would seriously compromise your lifestyle, it may not be appropriate. If you have no assets to protect, it probably doesn't make sense either.
For everyone else--the vast majority of Americans--long term care insurance is vital. If you want to protect what you've worked so hard for, maintain your comfortable lifestyle, and have peace of mind, long term care insurance is the solution. In 2007, $3.5 billion in long term care insurance benefits were paid (source: American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 2008 LTCi Sourcebook.)
What types of care are there?
Acute care is the type usually provided in hospitals and emergency rooms for things like heart attacks and strokes. Health insurance and Medicare will likely cover some or all of these expenses.
Chronic care is usually for conditions that are treatable but generally not curable: arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer's, etc. Health insurance and Medicare may not cover these expenses when care needs extend over longer periods. Long term care for chronic conditions is usually provided in one's home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.
Skilled care is the type usually delivered in a nursing home, but it can be home care as well. If the skilled care meets strict criteria set forth by Medicare, then the provider is referred to as a skilled nursing facility. Medicare defines skilled care as services and rehabilitation that require the technical or professional services such as that of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and physical or occupational therapists. For example, someone with a recent hip replacement will recover fully, but may need physical therapy and could be admitted to a skilled nursing facility for that.
Non-skilled care is defined as the type provided to people who need help on a regular basis with their activities of daily living because of a physical limitation, chronic problem, or a cognitive problem. Also known as custodial care, this type of care is often provided by a family member. For example, someone with rheumatoid arthritis may have difficulty getting dressed or bathing. A family member comes to the house to help with those two things once a day.
Health insurance or Medicare may cover acute care, but for all other types of care, expenses are usually out-of-pocket and can be huge. Long term care insurance may be appropriate in those situations.
Where is long term care provided?
Skilled nursing facilities, also known as nursing homes, provide both skilled nursing care (which may be covered by Medicare), and non-skilled custodial care (paid for out-of-pocket or with long term care insurance benefits.)
As an example, Ann had a stroke 12 months ago. Immediately after her stroke she was admitted to a skilled nursing facility in the Medicare section and received rehabilitative therapy on a daily basis. After about 45 days, her therapists determined that she was not getting better and would need help with her activities of daily living for the rest of her life. Because she did not have anyone to take care of her at home, Ann was transferred to the non-skilled wing of the skilled nursing facility where she will live the rest of her life.
Assisted Living facilities provide non-skilled care for people who need help with daily living but can also provide much of their own care. Usually, skilled care is not provided in assisted-living facilities. These institutions are an excellent alternative to nursing homes. The residents may live in apartments that they can personalize. Meals are usually provided in a community dining room, and there are lots of activities and social events.
As an example, Barbara was 87 years old and living in her own home. She was not getting out of the house and not socializing with anybody. Her daughter, Cheryl, arranged to have her mother move to an Assisted Living Facility after she realized that she was forgetting to take her medications and was not able to handle her own hygiene issues. She didn’t need skilled nursing care, but she did need help with her activities of daily living. Now Cheryl won't worry as much since there will be caregivers ensuring her mother gets her medications and assistance with her personal hygiene. Her mother will be able to participate in the weekly activities so she will remain active socially.
Home care recipients often live with a family member. About 1.3 million are cared for at home by paid helpers, who provide skilled or unskilled care with basic personal activities. Another 5.5 million Americans receive unpaid help at home from family members. Home care is generally considered appropriate at the custodial and non-skilled care levels. When skilled care is provided in the home, it can be very expensive.
As an example, Shirley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago. Now she is unable to walk without assistance. She can't bathe or dress herself. Her daughter, Marie, is currently helping her with these needs. Her daughter has to go back to work in order to save money for her two children that will be going to college in the next two years. Shirley is now going to have to tap into her life savings and pay for a caregiver to come in and help her, instead of her daughter, so that she can stay at home.
Adult Day Cares help people stay at home rather than moving prematurely into nursing homes. Adult day care facilities offer custodial care during weekdays and sometimes on weekends too. This care is appropriate for people with moderate impairment who need minimal assistance, such as Alzheimer’s or senile dementia patients.
As an example, Bob lives with his daughter, Michele, who works full time. Lately, Michele has noticed that Bob has been forgetting to prepare and eat his meals when she is away at work. One day she is called at work by a neighbor who found Bob wandering down the street. Michele wants to take care of her father after work and on the weekends, but she needs help during the day. An adult day care would provide an ideal solution.
How much does it cost?
The 2006 average daily rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home was $183 ($66,795 annually), a 7.7% increase from the 2004 daily rate of $169 (MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home and Home Care Costs, 2006, www.MetLife.com.) The cost for a semiprivate room in a nursing home is projected to increase to $190,600 per year by 2030 (Long-term Care: Medicaid’s Role and Challenges, (publication 2172) The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, November 1999, cited in "What Does LTC Cost?," The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, December 24, 2002 edition.)
Home health care and assisted living costs aren't quite as expensive (usually about half that of nursing homes), but costs continue to rise, far outpacing inflation.
With those kinds of costs, it makes sense to transfer the risk to an insurance company. The next question is naturally, "how much does long term care insurance cost?"
Surprisingly, for many of our clients, it turns out to be less expensive than they thought it would be.
In general, the younger you are, and the better health you're in, the less it will cost.
If you'd like to see just how affordable long term care insurance can be, please fill out the form at the end of this section. One of our senior specialists will contact you shortly to help answer your questions and give you some choices. No pressure and no obligation whatsoever. Make your decision based on facts.
Who pays for long term care?
There are four options for paying for long term care services.
Rely on a family member, usually a spouse or child, to provide the help needed. This option is great if you have family close by who could provide the type of care needed, and wouldn't mind taking the time to do it.
Self-insure and pay for long term care with your nest egg and income. If you are very wealthy, this is certainly a good option.
Spend down all assets and then qualify for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in
If you're in reasonably good health and can qualify, consider a long term care insurance policy. You'll have peace of mind, protection of your nest egg, and maximum flexibility and options if you ever need care down the road.
Can I qualify for long term care insurance?
In some ways, this should be the very first question.
The biggest thing people overlook is the fact that not everyone can get long term care insurance. It's not a matter of just buying it. You can't shop around, find the best plan, fill out the application, and get it. You have to qualify.
Not everyone does.
Almost 1 out of 4 people in their 60's don't pass the required physical. 45% of people in their 70's fail.
In general, the younger you are when you apply, the more likely it is that you'll qualify. You may also qualify for a top-rated plan (which will save you money.)
Without knowing your exact health situation, the answer to "Can I qualify?" is..."maybe".
If you'd like to find out for sure if you can even qualify, please fill out the following form. One of our senior specialists will contact you shortly to answer all your questions and give you some choices. No pressure and no obligation whatsoever. Make your decision based on facts.
- What is an annuity?
- Are annuities a good investment?
- Should I change my investment strategy as I get older?
- How can I get a higher return on my investments?
- My investments are losing money! What should I do?
What is an annuity?
An annuity is a life insurance contract used as an investment vehicle. There are many types of annuities, and not all are suited to retirement needs.
Cornerstone offers only Fixed indexed annuities, which guarantee that you will never lose any of your principle. Our most popular annuity offers a guarantee of 8% for up to 18 years.
To see which product best suits your individual needs, please contact us at 1-800-971-3186.
Are annuities a good investment?
Yes, annuities can be a great investment. Our fixed indexed annuities guarantee you will never lose your principle, yet your investment grows when the market goes up. It's the best of both worlds.
It can also provide an income for life. You can ensure that you won't outlive your money.
One size doesn't fit all with annuities. Your retirement goals and overall financial plan should be considered.
Find out if a fixed indexed annuity is your best strategy.
Should I change my investment strategy as I get older?
Absolutely! As you move toward and into retirement, your needs change. There is less time to make up for losses in the market.
We all know what has happened to the market recently, and future market uncertainty is still high. In general, most people move toward more conservative investment strategies as they get older.
A fixed indexed annuity is a great option which protects and grows your nest egg.
How can I get a higher return on my investments?
It all depends on where your money is currently invested. If you have money in CDs at a bank, you can substantially increase your returns. If your money is still in the stock market, you can start protecting what you have.
Remember, investment strategies are just one part of your sound financial picture. For an individual assessment of what may be best for you, and unbiased options, call us at 1-800-971-3186.
My investments are losing money! What should I do?
First, realize that you're not alone. The market has experienced a severe decline unseen since the Great Depression.
Second, if you can, minimize your losses while giving your investments a chance to grow if the market starts improving. There are different strategies for doing this, but without knowing your situation, we can't recommend any one strategy in particular.
Third, don't panic. Don't make rash decisions, like moving all your money into a single investment. And don't throw up your hands in defeat - there are solutions, and we may be able to help.
Finally, for some straightforward answers and unbiased options, call us at 1-800-971-3186.
1. I'm retiring and need help with my benefits.
2. I'm losing coverage. What can I do?
I'm retiring and need help with my benefits.
We'd be glad to help you. Cornerstone Senior Services is an independent agency, and we pride ourselves on giving you clear answers to sometimes complex financial issues.
Our senior specialists can answer your questions, assess your situation, help you sort through your options, and set your mind at ease.
Contact us today at 1-800-971-3186 so we can help.
I'm losing coverage. What can I do?
There is usually a limited amount of time to take action when you're losing coverage. If you need a quick assessment of your situation and some options to choose from, let us help.
Cornerstone can answer all your questions. Give us a call.
Securing your future. It's what we do.