Choosing an insurance provider can be difficult. The great number of companies, and the variety of insurance policies that they offer, can make the options bewildering. This article will try to assist the insurance purchaser by giving an overview of two insurance companies and the plans they offer: Aflac and LifeWise Assurance Company.
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Aflac, known mostly for its commercials featuring the Aflac Duck and celebrities like Yogi Berra, is the number one supplemental health care provider in the United States. Started in 1955 in Columbus, Georgia, the official name of Aflac is American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In contrast to LifeWay, Aflac is a huge company. In 2009 Aflac employed 72,500 agents around the world, and insured 60 million people. It is the largest provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States. Aflac is also active in charitable activities, having contributed $60 million to childhood cancer research and treatment in addition to other noble causes.
Known mostly for its payroll deduction insurance coverage, Aflac underwrites a wide variety of insurance policies, including the following:
Offers cash benefits for unexpected medical and everyday expenses after an accident.
Cancer and Other Specified Diseases
Covers expenses not covered by the major medical insurance policy, such as deductibles, out-of-network specialists, experimental cancer treatment, and even normal living expenses, such as car and house payments and utility bills.
Critical Care and Recovery
Provides cash benefits in the event of a stroke, paralysis, coronary bypass surgery, a major organ transplant, or other serious health condition.
Aflac allows you to choose any dentist you like, and you may not have to pay any deductibles starting with your very first visit.
Hospital Confinement Indemnity
Helps you to pay for medical and out-of-pocket expenses associated with a stay in the hospital.
Hospital Confinement Sickness Indemnity
Provides cash benefits to help with expenses incurred due to ambulance transportation, surgery, major diagnostic exams, and confinement in a hospital.
Hospital Intensive Care
This policy offers cash benefits paid directly to the beneficiary, with no deductibles, when a stay in the hospital intensive care unit is necessary.
For children, a whole life policy is available and a term life policy which can be converted to whole life at age 25.
Term life insurance is offered, which expires at the end of the coverage period, usually 20 to 30 years. Whole life coverage includes an investment component which can be collected, borrowed, or used to pay premiums.
Lump Sum Cancer
Provides a pre-established cash benefit when cancer is diagnosed.
Lump Sum Critical Illness
Provides a cash amount in the event of heart attack, stroke, or paralysis.
Short Term Disability
Provides monthly benefits if the beneficiary becomes disabled and cannot work. The benefits vary widely according to the type of coverage chosen.
Provides benefits to help pay for eye exams, vision correction, and some specific eye diseases. Again, the amount of coverage varies widely according to the individual plan.
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LifeWise Assurance Company
LifeWise Assurance Comany is a regional health insurance provider that has been providing life and disability insurance since 1981. It currently serves 460,000 people in several Western states, including the following:
LifeWise Assurance Company Ratings
LifeWise has received strong grades from ratings agencies. A.M. Best, a global full-service credit rating agency, gives LifeWise an A- (Excellent). TheStreet.com rates LifeWise an A (Excellent). Standard Analytical Service, Inc., shows strong growth in LifeWise assets (123.2%) and total income (188.8%) over a ten-year period, 1998-2008.
Products Offered to Employers by LifeWise Assurance Company
LifeWise currently offers the following products to employers and employees, with the specifics of each varying slightly according to the size of the group purchasing the plan:
Group Life Insurance
In the event of an employee’s death from any cause, the beneficiary’s benefits are based on either a flat amount ($10,000 to $100,000 per employee), a percentage of the employee’s salary, or on the employee’s rank or status in the organization (owner/manager vs. other employees). Employers must choose one of the three options. Beneficiaries in large groups (10 or more) can receive up to 7 times the employee’s annual earnings.
Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)
This option is combined with the Group Life Insurance for small groups (2 to 9 people), with the benefits to the beneficiary as discussed above provided in the event of an accidental death or dismemberment of the employee.
Beneficiaries receive $5000 for the death of a spouse, and $2000 for the death of a child (from 14 days to 25 years old).
Short-Term (STD) and Long-Term Disability (LTD) Income Insurance
In the event an employee is unable to work because of illness or injury, beneficaries can receive up to 60% or 70% of their weekly earnings, depending on the specific plan chosen by the employer. Long-Term Disability is capped at $6000 dollars a month, minus other benefits, and terminates at age 65. Large groups (10 or more) can have monthly benefits of up to $30,000 in some cases.
These products are optional for employees who to pay a little extra to receive increased coverage in any of the four categories above.
Medical Stop Loss
This can be purchased by employers to limit their losses under self-insured medical plans once claims reach a threshold amount.
Oregon and Washington State Services
In Oregon and Washington, LifeWise Assurance Company also offers health care coverage to small groups (2 – 50), large groups (50 or more), and to individuals and families.
In these two states, LifeWise also offers a Medicare Supplement, Dental Plans, and Life, Disability, and Stop Loss Plans. Residents of Oregon and Washington should go to the LifeWise Assurance Company homepage, then click on either LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon or LifeWise Health Plan of Washington for more details.
Aflac vs. LifeWise Assurance
The choice between Aflac and LifeWise depends upon many factors, most importantly where you live and what kind of insurance you are looking for. Both are solid, growing companies with excellent reputations, and both offer an array of options.
Employers in Western states who are looking for life insurance or disability insurance should take a careful look at LifeWise’s policies. Those looking for health care coverage in Oregon or Washington might also find LifeWise appealing.
However, if you are primarily interested in supplementing your medical coverage with a policy that will help with deductibles and unexpected expenses, Aflac merits consideration.
Either way, be sure to investigate the companies and their policies carefully before making a decision.
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