The insurance industry is undergoing an accelerated rate of change. Embracing the use of data and technological advancements has enabled insurers and their partners to provide products and services that are increasingly customer-centric. At the same time, innovation is challenging traditional business practices with competitive new concerns, and the heightened expectations of insureds, investors and other stakeholders from corporate decisions are making the management of insurance enterprises more complex.
Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization’s capital and earnings. These risks stem from a variety of sources including financial uncertainties, legal liabilities, technology issues, strategic management errors, accidents and natural disasters.
This module will focus on some these areas to better educate as a consumer and business owner
Personal Lines Insurance and Risk Management
Homeowners policies in Michigan can cover various types of structures. Below are the different coverage’s forms available to Michigan residents. Insurance coverage for the personal dwelling. Homeowners policies exclude business and farming activities. There may be some optional endorsements that can added for limited coverage.
Section I Property
Section II Liability
SECTION 1: Property coverage
Coverage A – Dwelling
Property coverage for the dwelling building. This will include everything physically attached to the dwelling including garages and decks. Also built in appliances, plumbing, electrical, heating and central air conditioning. Covers materials and supplies on the resident premises that are used to construct, alter or repair the premises.
Coverage B – Other structures
Provides replacement cost for all detached buildings on the property, including detached garages, pools, gazebos, fencing and sheds. 10% of A
Voided coverage ~ structures rented to non-tenants unless it is a garage. Also, building used for business or farming.
Coverage C – Personal Property
Provides coverage for all personal contents anywhere in the world. If you take the dwelling and dump it upside down like a dollhouse, everything that falls to the ground in considered personal property. Coverage is written on a named perils basis. 50% of A (unscheduled)
Not covered ~
Articles separately described and insured on this or other policies
Animals, birds, and fish
Property of roomers and boarders
Water or steam
Coverage D – Loss of use
This coverage is put in force when the insured cannot occupy their dwelling because of a loss from a covered peril. This will cover expenses incurred.
Section 2: Liability
-Coverage E: Personal liability- applies to third party coverage for those who are injured or whose property is damaged by the insured
-Coverage f: Medical payments to others- covers the necessary medical expenses incurred by others
Section II of the Homeowners policy pertains to liability coverages, which mainly consists of Coverage E personal liability coverage usually with a limit of $100,000 to $300,000; and coverage F medical payments to others with a typical limit of $1000-$5000. If a guest has a minor injury caused by a pet, medical payments to others, may be sufficient to cover the damages. Unfortunately, a dog bite can be much costlier than the $1000-$5000 typical limit on coverage.
There are greater than 4 million dog bites that occur every year in the U.S., and in 2019 that came along with an associated $797 million in liability claims (Turner, 2020). If a dog injures someone on or off the owner’s property, the homeowner’s policy should cover the damages up to the liability limits set in the policy in addition to court fees if needed. In August of 2019 a 9-year-old girl was killed by a neighbor’s dogs while she was riding her bike in a Detroit neighborhood. The owner of the dogs was charged with murder. State prosecutors argued that the dogs’ owner had known the dogs were dangerous but still left them alone in an unsecure fence. There had been previous complaints filed about the dogs with animal control (1)
The home-sharing industry is ever growing with companies like HomeAway, Vrbo, and the biggest, Airbnb. This is a scenario where a homeowner will rent out their structure, such as a cabin, beach house, etc., to a customer on the platform. It is the equivalent of booking a hotel, however the individuals will be staying on the owner’s property. Naturally, this has potential for disaster that might not be covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy.
When it comes to Airbnb, this endorsement could make a world of difference to the homeowners that are participating in home-sharing activities. Airbnb has Host Protection Insurance; however, this only covers lawsuits that may arise out of the home-sharing experience. For example, if a home-sharing participant sued the owner after slipping on the owner’s deck and injuring themselves, the Airbnb insurance policy would cover the costs of the suit. Unfortunately, this insurance policy does not cover any damage that occurs to the residence or the participants. This is where the Broadened Home-sharing Host Activities Amendatory Endorsement becomes crucial. Without this endorsement on a homeowner’s insurance plan they could potentially have to pay all damages out of pocket from guests damaging their property.
Thus, the creation of the Home-sharing Host Activities Amendatory Endorsement. This endorsement changes the definition of the word “business” in the homeowner’s policy to include home-sharing. This was specifically made to illustrate that the homeowner’s forms do not apply to home-sharing arrangements. This brings us to the Broadened Home-sharing Host Activities Amendatory Endorsement. This endorsement provides coverage for damage to the insured residence, damage to personal property, and liability for others.
Personal Automobile Liability Coverages
Coverage for Your Damaged Automobile
Michigan is a no-fault state, which means we don’t have to sue the at-fault party for payment for our damaged vehicle. However, the at-fault party can still be sued for death, disfigurement, disability and loss of wages.
Michigan was the only state in the country to offer unlimited medical coverage in an auto accident up until May 2019. That is no longer mandates unlimited medical coverage in an auto accident. The consumer can choose a lower coverage amount, but as of early 2022, 70% of Michiganders were still opting for the unlimited coverage.
The personal auto policy will exclude business activities. Uber and Lyft drivers can run into concerns without a specific policy covering their business exposure, or a company that may offer a limited endorsement
There are six PIP medical coverage levels available to Michigan drivers. Under these limits, this amount is the most a driver’s auto insurance company will pay per person per accident for an injured person’s expenses under PIP medical coverage.
- Unlimited coverage
- Up to $500,000 in coverage
- Up to $250,000 in coverage
- Up to $250,000 in coverage with PIP medical exclusion(s)
Exclusion is available for a named insured with non-Medicare health coverage that covers auto accident injuries and/or for household members if they have health insurance that will cover auto accident injuries.
- Up to $50,000 in coverage
Available if the named insured is enrolled in Medicaid and their household members have another auto insurance policy, Medicaid or other health insurance that will cover auto accident injuries.
Michigan Court of Appeals judges heard arguments June 2022 regarding on a case involving how the state’s no-fault auto reform law is meant to be applied, specifically in regards to crash survivors who purchased policies and were injured before the new law went into effect in July 2021.
The case before the three appellate judges in Detroit was brought by crash survivors Ellen Andary of East Lansing, Philip Krueger of Ann Arbor, and the Eisenhower Center, a brain injury rehabilitation clinic, against USAA Casualty Insurance.
Under the new law, which took effect on July 2, 2021, any medical service not already covered under our federal Medicare law, which includes in-home caregivers and transportation to medical services, will now only be reimbursed by insurance companies at 55% of what they were back in 2019. The law also caps the number of hours that family members can provide care to just 56 hours a wee “The central point is the fact that long ago, the plaintiffs in this case, purchased auto no-fault insurance policies that would not legally permit the enforcement of the benefit cuts that are contained in this new legislation,” said George Sinas, attorney for the plaintiffs in the case.
PIP medical opt-out
Available if the named insured has Medicare (Parts A and B). Any of their household members must have another auto insurance policy or health insurance that will cover auto accident injuries.
Collision is a named peril coverage in which a vehicle has an impact with another vehicle or an object. This can be when the vehicle is moving or not moving. Examples include but not limited to a rear end accident, head on collision, rolling vehicle on it side or top, hitting a tree.
Broadened collision: Client only pays the deductible when more than 51% at fault
Regular collision: Clients pays the deductible regardless of who is at fault.
Other than Collision or “Comprehensive” is an open peril coverage so a vehicle is covered unless it specifically excluded. Examples include but not limited to hail damage, tree falls on vehicle, theft, vandalism, and a collision with an animal.
A Deducible is the dollar amount you as the insured are responsible for in the event of a loss. For example, if your vehicle is damaged and the cost of the repairs is $3,000 and you have a $500 deductible, the insurer will pay $2500 and you are responsible for $500.
-Underinsured Motorist Coverage is designed to handle claims when the insured is injured by someone who does not have enough insurance.
– Roadside service
-Transportation Expense or “Rental Coverage” is used when your vehicle is being repaired for a covered cause or loss and you need a vehicle to drive. This is typically a set dollar amount per day paid for by the insurer.
-Bodily Injury is any physical injury including sickness, disease and death to a person.
-Property Damage is any physical injury, destruction of, or loss of use of tangible property. There is $1 Million per accidents coverage on policy
-Supplemental Payments are various expenses the insurer agrees to pay under a liability insurance policy for items such as premiums on bail bonds, loss of insured’s earnings, and other reasonable expenses.
Medical Payments Coverage is always paid without regard to fault. It is for medical and funeral services only. Nothing is paid for lost wages or pain and suffering under this coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Min of 20,000 per person/40,000 per occurrence on policy.
-Uninsured Motorist Coverage is designed to handle claims when the insured is injured by someone who doesn’t have any insurance. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Min of 20,000 per person/40,000 per occurrence on policy.
-The State of Michigan requires Bodily Injury to be $20,000 Per Person, $40,000 Per Accident minimum on any automobile policy written in the State.
Combines elements of both homeowners and commercial insurance. Farmers’ businesses and homes are often at the same location. Covers both their personal and business exposures to loss.
The Farm Policy now comes in three different sections, Farm Property Residential, Farm Business Property, and Farm Liability.
-Coverage H Farm Liability Coverage, Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability coverage is provided for the sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay (up to the policy limit) as damages because of bodily injury or property damage to which the insurance applies.
Farm property coverage form
Coverage A – Dwellings
Coverage B – Other private structures. Non-farm buildings within 250 feet of dwelling
Coverage C – Household personal property
Coverage D – Loss of use. No farm business interruption coverage
Coverage E – Scheduled farm personal property. Livestock, Poultry, grain, hay, and farm machinery
Coverage F – Unscheduled farm personal property
According to the Michigan 2020 USDA State Agriculture Overview, the average size of a Michigan farm is 211 acres. A majority of these farms are family owned and often seen as hobby farms. All business and farming activities are excluded on the homeowner’s policy, hence the need for a farm policy
Coverage G – Other farm structures. Barns, silos, fences, and radio equipment
Businessowners Policy (BOP)
Characteristics and purpose
A trade or occupation that the insured engages in fulltime or part-time. A BOP will provide liability and property damage coverage
Businessowners Sections I – Property
Business personal property will include property of the names insured inside the building or within 100 feet of the property. Most policies will be on an open-peril’s basis.
Building is covered and will include all permanently attached equipment. Will also include additions or alterations.
There may also be coverage for the property of others in the care, custody and control of the names insured.
Some of the things small business can be sued for breach of contract, slip and fall accidents, premises liability, discrimination against employees and customers, and harassment.
Commercial General Liability
Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability will cover the occurrences that are a result of premises, operations, products, and completed operations. Personal Injury Liability is the injury to the mind or character of another.
Medical Payments include medical and funeral expenses and always shown as a dollar amount per person. Advertising Injury Liability is essentially two parts. Advertising negatively about goods or services provided and infringing on a copyright, title, or slogan.
Products are something that the business sells and you purchase. For example, you purchase hamburger at the grocery store. This is different than completed operations. Completed operations are a service that you have done. For example, a new roof is put on your house.
Starbucks Ordered to Pay $9 Million After Florida Woman Hit in Drive-Thru Lane, July 2022Starbucks Corp. has appealed a nearly $9 million verdict rendered against it after a customer was struck by a vehicle in the drive-through lane at a Fernandina Beach, Florida, coffee shop.
The driver and the property owner settled claims against them for an undisclosed amount, the court record shows. The victim also sued her own insurer, State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance, for uninsured motorists coverage and bad faith, then settled that claim for an undisclosed sum.
But the coffee-brewing giant was hit with what’s being called another “nuclear verdict,” one of several seven- and eight-figure judgments that have been handed down in Florida in recent months over alleged negligence, premises liability, inadequate security or dram shop liquor liability.
In the Starbucks case, a 72-year-old woman, Sherry Gold, was injured in her foot, ankle and knee when she walked across the drive-through lane in 2019 en route to her own car, and was hit by an SUV. Her complaint argued that the site lines were blocked by a pillar and that Starbucks had created an inherently unsafe situation that forces store patrons to walk in front of cars. The company did not provide a marked or protected cross-walk area in the drive-through lane.
Starbucks’ attorneys said that the store area, like that of other drive-through restaurants, could not be configured in a way to prevent all automobile-pedestrian encounters, and that Gold and the driver should have been paying better attention.
Lawsuits against employers and include Human Resource concerns
Whitmire V Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Ariz, 2019)
Walmart fired an employee after they tested positive during a drug test triggered by an on the job injury. Despite the screening taking place two days after the injury and the employee being a medical marijuana user. Walmart argues that the employee was intoxicated when she was injured. The employee sued arguing her termination violated the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and won. The court granted summary judgement in her favor on the question of whether she was discriminated against.
Commercial Automobile Insurance
Commercial Automobile Coverage Form
Any company operating a business needs to carry commercial auto policy as business use is not covered on a personal auto policy. For liability reasons, it is important to separate personal exposure from the work exposure Otherwise, individuals can be sued personally for business exposures.
The business auto coverage form is an insurance form that insurers provide to business owners when creating a contract to provide insurance coverage for the company’s cars, trucks, trailers, vans or other vehicles.
Truckers, this allows a trucker that owns the cab but not always the trailer. This provides coverage for the trailer, owned or not owned, while being used and even while left in different locations. Motor Carrier is any person or organization providing transportation by auto in a commercial enterprise. This coverage is for organizations that carry people or property. Examples would be motor coach bus and rental car companies.
-Covered Automobiles are Any Auto, Any Owned Auto, Any Owned Private Passenger Auto, Any Owned Other Than Private Passenger Auto, Any Auto Subject to No-Fault, Any Owned Auto Subject to a Compulsory Uninsured Motorist Law, Any Auto Listed on the Scheduled, Any Hired
For example, say one of your employees drives to the bank to make a deposit for your business. If the employee gets into an accident, your policy would pay for your business’s defense (since the employee was going to make a deposit on behalf of your business) but it would not pay for the damages to the employee’s car.
The insurance policy covers business owners and employees who use personal vehicles for deliveries, work trips, transporting clients, or other business purposes. It doesn’t cover accidents that occur while you’re commuting or running personal errands.
Auto, and Any Non-Owned Auto. This will provide liability coverage for employees working while in their own vehicle.
Garage Keepers Liability covers the damage to automobiles while there are in for repair at a repair shop. It also covers automobile dealers because the vehicles still belong to the auto manufacturer, not the dealership.
Physical Damage Coverage is very similar to physical damage coverage on the personal auto policy with the exception of specified perils. Specified perils is a named peril including, fire, lightning, explosion, theft, windstorm, hail, earthquake, flood, mischief or vandalism, sinking, burning, collision or derailment of any conveyance carrying the covered auto.
Exclusions for the commercial auto policy are the same as the personal auto policy with the exception of excess speed, wear and tear, freezing, road damage to tires, and war.
Workers Compensation and Employer’s Liability
All employers are required to carry workers comp insurance if they employ one employee who is not an immediate relative.
-Part 1 has everything to do with the State and Federal Laws. If the law says the company has to act in a certain manner, then they must follow the law. It also states that if the employer has to pay past those which is paid under the law, they must continue to pay or reimburse the insurance company for the payments made.
-Part 2 In the state of Michigan, if an employer purchased worker’s compensation insurance through the state’s fund, the policy may not include employer’s liability insurance. If this is the case, the employer can purchase a Stop-Gap Insurance
-Part 3 will have a list of every other state the company has operations in. The company is responsible to inform the insurance company in any changes regarding states they work in.
-Part 4 Your Duties if Injury Occurs and what the employer must do. They must provide immediate medical and other services, give the insurance company a list of their agents and information on the injured person and any witnesses, provide all legal documentation related to the injury, cooperate with all parties, and do not make any payments to the injured party.
Part 5 The premium calculated for a work comp policy is based on payroll, experience mod, and the job classification. However, this premium can change based on loss experience and the amount of the overall premium for the policy.
-Part 6 There is only one condition for a work comp policy and that is an inspection. The company can inspect the premises at any time they choose. The inspection is for the job classification and working conditions regarding underwriting.
The Voluntary Compensation Endorsement will cover individuals that do not need coverage by law but choose to have coverage placed on them. This is typically the owners and/or their families.
The Premium Calculations for work comp includes job classification, payroll, experience mods, and premium discount. Every job classification will be assigned a code that is 4 digits long. The insurance company will determine the classifications based on the information the company provides. Payroll is Payroll and this will be supplied by the company to the insurance company. The payroll will be broken down for each job classification and the appropriate amount will be determined. The experience mod is determined by the company’s loss history. After reviewing the loss history, the insurance company will decide if the risk is poor, standard, or an above average risk. This mod will either increase or decrease the overall premium. Premium discounts will come into play when the overall premium is high and the company builds in these discounts into the rate.
Oregon Heat Wave Puts State Workplace Safety Rules to Test, August 2022New state rules require access to water, shade and breaks on hot days, but workers say they’re still laboring in unsafe conditions.
Skyler Fischer is forklift driver at a Fred Meyer distribution center in the town of Clackamas. He’s been working there for 12 years and works at least four days a week, 10 to 12 hours each day. Fischer said he gets two 15-minute breaks each shift.
In May, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division adopted permanent rules to protect workers laboring in excessive heat or wildfire smoke. They are some of the nation’s strongest protections for employees working outdoors or in workplaces without air conditioning.
But this week, with daily highs consistently hitting triple-digits, is putting Oregon OSHA’s recently implemented heat rules to the test. Some Oregonians have said they’re still laboring in unsafe conditions despite the new heat rules.
The rules went into effect last month and apply when temperatures in a work environment reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They require employers to provide access to shaded areas, cool drinking water, and additional rest breaks to cool down and acclimate to the heat. The rule also requires employers to provide heat illness prevention training.
Aaron Corvin, Oregon OSHA’s public information officer, said the agency has opened an inspection related to the Fred Meyer facility.
A statement from Fred Meyer said the company has installed a mechanical cooling station at its 1-million-square-foot warehouse in Clackamas. On days with high temperatures, the company provides employees with access to water bottles on ice, water fountains, frozen treats and cooling towels. A distribution team also takes daily temperatures throughout the facility and said this week temperatures have not exceeded 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the statement said.
Last summer, the Pacific Northwest experienced a heat dome event in which nearly 100 people died from heat-related illness in Oregon alone. At least four of those happened on the job and were reported by Oregon OSHA.
That included a farmworker who collapsed and died on a farm north of Salem and a construction worker who became ill while inspecting a roof in Hillsboro, went to a hospital and died nine days later.
Shortly after the first workplace death was reported, several labor rights groups and environmental organizations called on Gov. Kate Brown to take action and direct Oregon OSHA to issue temporary heat rules to protect workers. The agency has since adopted those rules permanently after more than a year and a half of rulemaking.
He said that since the rules took effect on June 15, there have been at least 137 open inspections that relate to work hazards and heat complaints. Oregon OSHA has thus far issued nine citations for not following heat rules.
“I would certainly expect that we will have more,” Corvin said.
Most of the inspections currently underway involve the restaurant industry, warehouse workplaces and construction sites. A citation or violation can lead to a fine.
How has it changed?
- Late 1990’s-Early 2000’s Dot-com bubble, covering online media and errors in data processing
- Mid-Late 2000’s Companies bring online presence, addition of first party coverage (large privacy concerns)
- Early-Mid 2010’s Privacy regulation forms and online retail becomes prevalent. Added third party coverage and rise of ransomware
- Late 2010’s-current Strict privacy regulation and technology/app boom. Ransomware crisis evolves
According to PaloAltoNetowrks, the average ransomware payment climbed 82% to $570,000 in 2021, from $312,000 in 2020. It was just $12,000 in 2017. According to Security Magazine, ransomware attacks rose roughly 93% between 2020 and 2021.
IOT-Analytics reported there are currently 12.3 billion IOT (internet of Things) devices globally, which is forecasted to increase to 30.9 billion by 2025.
Within the insurance industry, Globenewswire predicts that the Cyber insurance market will increase from 7.6bilion in 2021 to $37 billion by 2028.
Notable Industry Impacting Incidents
WannaCry Ransomware Attack: In 2017, over 200,000 computers across 150 countries running the Microsoft operating system received ransomware demands that totaled more than $4billion in losses.
Colonial Pipeline: IN May 2021, America’s largest “refined products” pipeline went offline after a hacking group called Darkside demanded $4.4 million in ransomware. This pipeline covered over 5,550 miles and produced more than 100 million gallons of fuel daily. This pushed the price of gas over $3 a gallon for the first time in over seven years.
Kaseya: In July 2021, IT solution provider Kaseya was infiltrated effecting 1,500 companies (their clients) to which the bad actors demanded more than $70 million in bitcoin. This along with the SolarWinds incidents started the realization of systemic cyber risk present in the world.
What will cyber liability cover?
First party loss
- Incident response which includes breach coach, legal fees, notification costs and forensics
- Business interruption and loss of income during and post breach
- Contingent and dependent business interruption which will cover the insureds losses and extra expenses resulting from the interruption of another’s network.
- Digital data recovery will cover costs to restore or replace lost or damaged data or software
- Extortion and Ransomware payments to prevent systems from being compromised or extorted..
Protecting against cyber risk will include several steps. Insurance companies will also like to require these measures be in place before insuring business. Have a robust backup solution with at least weekly backups for critical data on premises and on the cloud, with full monthly backups. They will also look for critical patches on implemented in 72 hours or under, weekly patches for non-critical data.
Other Coverages and Options
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
This program was created in 1968 by congress to reduce the costs of the disaster within communities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers NFIP. The definition of flooding is a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or from mudflow.
Most flood policies are written by private insurers. The Write Your Own Program was formed in 1983. If the community agrees to adopt and enforce flood control and land use measures, most building and their contents can be insured. There is a 30-day waiting period for new applications and endorsements. One exception will be new home purchases.
Building coverage regular limits is $250,000 for residential and $500,000 for non-residential. For the emergency program the limits are $35,000 for single and two family dwellings, $100,000 for other residential and non-residential.
Contents coverage regular limits are $100,000 for residential and $500,000 for non-residential and small business. Emergency program contents coverages is $10,000 for residential and $100,000 for non-residential.
Are you in a flood zone??
These apply separately to both the building and the contents. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
Umbrella/Excess Liability Policies
-Personal Umbrella insurance is a type of insurance designed to add extra liability coverage over and above another insurance policy, such as auto or homeowner’s insurance. Accidents happen in life – and sometimes, they can have financial consequences if you’re held liable.
-Commercial Umbrella increases your liability coverage to provide extra payouts that help you cover substantial claims. This type of insurance can feasibly protect your company from any liability claim, including libel, reputational damage, vehicular accidents, product liability, or customer injury.
Specialty Liability Insurance
– Errors and omissions insurance, also known as E&O insurance and professional liability insurance, helps protect you from lawsuits claiming you made a mistake in your professional services. This insurance can help cover your court costs or settlements, which can be very costly for your business to pay on its own.
– Directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance protects the personal assets of corporate directors and officers, and their spouses, in the event they are personally sued by employees, vendors, competitors, investors, customers, or other parties, for actual or alleged wrongful acts in managing a company.
– Fiduciary liability insurance is intended to protect businesses and employers against claims resulting from a breach in fiduciary duty. Essentially, the policy protects parties against liability for managing or administering employee benefits plans.
– Liquor liability insurance protects businesses that manufacture, serve, or sell alcohol. The policy provides coverage for legal fees, settlements, and medical costs associated with bodily injury or property damage caused by an intoxicated person, who was served or sold liquor by the policyholder.
– Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) — a type of liability insurance covering wrongful acts arising from the employment process. The most frequent types of claims covered under such policies include: wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.
Americans participate in a variety of healthcare plans. Some employers offer self-insured plans, in which they pay for part or all of their employees’ health insurance benefits (including medical expenses). However, healthcare is more commonly provided through traditional health insurance plans, managed-care plans, and consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs). These plans vary in terms of premiums, fees, benefits, out-of-pocket requirements, healthcare delivery, eligibility, and regulatory authority.
Individuals must determine their desired standard of living during retirement before they are able to set their retirement goals. For example, if someone wants to buy a vacation home after retiring, then accumulating enough funds to purchase and maintain the home becomes a goal.
These examples illustrate the types of retirement goals that require financial planning:
- Remain in the home in which the individual has lived for the last two decades
- Travel the world
- Regularly visit grandchildren who live four states away
- Pursue new or expensive hobbies
Retirement goals should be stated clearly and objectively in writing.
Life insurance, a system under which a person may transfer the economic risk associated with death, is a crucial component of a holistic personal financial planning strategy.
The ideal retirement income is often referred to as a three-legged stool, employee sponsored retirement plans, personal savings, and social security. Remove any leg and the stool is at risk of falling or in retirement income terms, a person can be at risk of poverty during the golden years. Social Security reform has been talked about for years with fears of the program running out of money eventually. While Social Security is only one leg of the stool, it is relied on solely by many Americans.
According to the National Institute on Retirement Security about 40 percent of older Americans rely entirely on Social Security income and only about 6.8 percent receive income from Social Security, a defined pension, and a defined contribution plan (Porell & Bond, 2021). The Social Security program kept nearly 45 percent of households from needing public assistance in 2013 (New Report, 2020). With Americans so dependent on Social Security will the program hold up and for how long?
According to the Social Security Administration the benefits are expected to continue until 2037. Once the funds are exhausted the continued payment of payroll taxes will still cover about 76% of benefits. To cover the remaining amount there would have to be either a 13% reduction in benefits or an increase in payroll taxes of 12.4 to 14.4% to allow the program to pay benefits for an additional 75 years (Goss, 2010). The House has recently passed the Secure Act 2.0 which would require most employers to automatically enroll employees in employer-sponsored retirement plans (3). Additionally, the Secure Act 2.0 raises catch-up contribution limits, delays required minimum distributions, and makes it easier to buy annuities among other things. There are still many gaps in the Secure Act 2.0 such as workers employed by small companies that don’t offer retirement savings plans and the issue of people switching jobs and then cashing in some or all their retirement account. “Research shows that many of those under the age of 40 will cash out some portion of whatever retirement savings they do have when they switch jobs” (3).
401 (k) Plans
A Section 401(k) plan is a qualified retirement plan that meets the rules set forth in Section
401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code. Participants contribute to the plan with before-tax dollars.
Distributions must start by age 70 ½ or penalties will be applied
There are many types of retirement plans out there each with their own set of rules. To be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA and individual must have earned income and contributions are based on a person’s MAGI (modified adjusted gross income). Depending on an individual’s MAGI they may not be able to contribute the maximum amount for the year or possibly not be able to contribute at all.
Roth IRAs can be especially appealing to the younger working population. One of the main reasons for this is that the contributions are made with already taxed dollars so even though there is no tax benefit now, there can be a substantial benefit years from now. Younger individuals tend to be in a lower income tax bracket, so they are taxed less on their contributions and the earning that grow from the compounding interest on the contributions are withdrawn tax free. “Over 30 years, if you invest the annual maximum of $6000 into a Roth IRA, it could grow to $1.4 million…your contributions would only total $180,000, and the rest -$1.2 million-would be tax-free growth” (4).
Another enticing feature of the Roth IRA is the flexibility in making withdrawals from the fund. Those under the age of 59 and 1/2 and who have had their Roth IRA for at least 5 years can withdrawal the contributions made at any time tax-free and penalty-free. This does not include the earning on contributions that will still be subject to taxes and penalties on the earnings. However, there are some exceptions to this as well. First-time home buyers, use of the funds for qualified educational expense, or for a qualified birth or adoption, just to name a few, you could withdrawal earnings with no penalty. You would still be subject to taxes on the earnings however (5).
As of 2022, those filing taxes as a single individual cannot contribute to a Roth IRA if they make more than $144,000 and $214,000 if married filed jointly (4). Also, contributions can be made up to the amount of earned income in a year or $6000 whichever is greater. Those over 50 can contribute an additional $1000 per year.