Automobile Insurance Policy Danger In The Details

automobile insurance policy
Good auto insurance is hard to beat!

Automobile Insurance Policy Details Are Fraught With Danger

I enjoyed a great conversation with a nice gentleman the other day. He’d been referred to me for an automobile insurance policy. He readily admitted his last automobile insurance company dropped him back on July 1, 2020, for having two (2) “incidences” during the past three (3) years.

He tried, without success,  to acquire new coverage for two (2) months prior to his prior company’s non-renewal date. After many tries, he simply couldn’t understand why no one would take him up as his one accident was not-at-fault and the other incident, a moving violation, resulted only in a ticket, no points.

I ran him through one of my preferred companies and discovered why no one wanted to take him.

How Automobile Insurance Policy Owners Put Themselves In Danger

 

Auto and home insurance are analogous to term life insurance. Basically your coverage, unlike whole or permanent life insurance, runs out after a certain number of years. If your policy allows the coverage to continue, the premium skyrockets to an amount that becomes untenable to maintain. So you wind up losing your “cheap” insurance, usually at the same time it is most important for your family’s financial well being.

In New York State, auto and home insurance companies write you policies with a term of three (3) years. So, if you maintain a good auto driving record, for example, renewal is a no-brainer. Too many “incidences” though, and renewal may come at a hefty price, or not at all.

So. several years ago you called one of those over-the-phone, direct-to-a licensed advisor automobile insurance companies and got a terrific rate.

You just weren’t aware it could have even been better.

You didn’t know your new policy contained a ticking time bomb.

So you contacted your independent agent or broker who’d been through hell, high water, and even a couple of claims with you, canceled your current policies, and moved to your new company.

Which Rating Factors Matter Most To Automobile Insurance Companies When You Want To Move Your Policy?

How long you’ve been licensed.

Your gender and age.

Your insurance credit score.

How many current moving violations (with some companies, during a period of as many as five (5) years) are on your record when you apply.

Policy lapses for non-payment of premium.

License suspension or revocation.

The length of time you were without auto insurance. Nowadays, the lack of a personally owned auto insurance policy for more than 30 days even if you didn’t actually own a vehicle, will disqualify you from getting insurance from many companies. 1

And Finally, The One Factor Most Consumers Know Nothing About

Few, if any, of the major preferred companies take new business coming from indemnity or non-standard insurance companies.  

And that is where your company placed your coverage. Its indemnity or non-standard insurance company. The nice person on the phone never suggested you could request quotes for their Preferred or Standard companies. Or, even if you didn’t qualify for those companies now, you weren’t advised to try again in six (6) or twelve (12) months.

For this reason, you’re basically stuck with your automobile insurance company.

Your Policy Is Emblazoned With An Automobile Insurance Scarlet Letter

 

For this reason, and this reason alone, I couldn’t offer this gentleman a quote from any of my preferred companies. So, I took the only choice open to me. I gave him a quote from the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP).  In many cases, the NYAIP is the last resort for those needing automobile insurance. 

The NYAIP quote? Close to $6,295 for one year, about $4,500 more than the quote I would have been able to get him from one of my preferred companies.

I called him back.

Told him the quote.

He said, “Forget it,” and hung up.

Why Do Some Automobile Insurance Companies Engage In These Practices?

Short answer? Got me. 

For many companies, the name of the game is increasing market share, no matter the immediate cost. So, if your profile permits, you will be placed into their Indemnity or Non-Standard company, offering you a competitive, lower premium just to get your business. Then as claims from other drivers in your Indemnity company roll in, your premium begins to increase. This increase will be imperceptible at first. Then one day, you will open your renewal envelope and receive the shock of your life. 

Even if your record is perfectly clean, when you begin calling other insurance companies to secure a lower-cost automobile insurance policy, your current indemnity policy status will prevent you from doing so.

What You Should Do Today

Find your automobile insurance policy and call the insurance company or agent. Ask whether you are in an Indemnity or Non-Standard automobile insurance company. If you are, request they requote your policy for either their preferred or standard company.

Now, when you want to switch companies, it won’t be the type of company preventing you from moving your coverage.


Notes:

1. In my previous post “8 Tips To Save Money On Your Automobile Insurance, (https://brooklyncovered.com/8-tips-to-save-money-on-your-automobile-insurance/)”,  I wrote about the good old days when most auto insurance companies allowed you to go from one to up to three years owning a personal auto insurance policy without extra premiums or flat-out rejection. Some companies didn’t even factor in the lack of automobile insurance, as long as you didn’t own a car in your own name. In either case,  I suggested the purchase of a monthly zip car membership where your membership automatically provided you with liability insurance coverage. This removed the necessity of maintaining a non-owned auto insurance policy. Thus, when you decided to purchase your own vehicle, the money you’d spent on the zip car membership:

Wound up saving you money on your new auto insurance policy as you’d been continuously insured, and,

Enabled you to qualify for a better or preferred company in an insurance company’s member companies. 


Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to his website and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

Let’s Set The Record Straight About – Customizing Your Insurance

Today’s clever insurance commercials are a necessary evil. They provide more information about bundling and saving, and less about the coverages you, your family, and your business really need.

We can change that by simply asking the right questions.

Customizing Your Insurance

There is no insurance company that owns a monopoly on helping you customize your insurance.

None.

Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

Commercials are designed to increase brand awareness using gimmicks including celebrity spokespersons, animals, car crashes and chases, and well, anything they think you will remember when it is time to buy insurance.

Does Every Company Allow You To Customize Your Insurance?

You can customize your home, life, auto, renters, co-op, condo, disability, long term care, personal umbrella, and yes, even your flood insurance with any company licensed to do business in the State of New York as well as every other state in the Union.

Every company gives you the ability to customize your insurance.

Every single one.

Problem is, most consumers aren’t served by most of the television commercials aired today.

They are simply goaded into a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with their current carrier, even when their current carrier is doing a good job for them.

It’s What Consumers Don’t Know About Their Insurance Which Hurts Them

Each year, I make at least 25 insurance-based presentations for HUD-approved housing agencies and organizations such as Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Harlem Churches for Community Improvement, and Impacct. I always ask those in attendance to tell me what their automobile insurance coverages are. Inevitably, 14 out of 15 give the same answer, “Full Coverage.”

Not 25/50/10.

Not 250/500/100.

Full coverage.

And when I ask them how much their policies cover in the event of an accident, they usually reply that they’re not really sure, but they did save money by bundling their home and auto.

Yay,

Buying What You Need Is A Two-Edged Sword

As long as the policy or policies quoted for you meet your state’s required minimum coverages limits, buying the cheapest policy or bundle possible is actually all you need.

What if though, you just struck and killed a pedestrian, or lost control of your vehicle and totaled a house. Will your policy provide you with the actual amount of money you will need when the jury hands down some obscenely massive award against you?

Imagine coming home to find;

  • Your home on fire.
  • Two (2) feet of toxic sewage water sloshing about your finished basement.
  • Burglars paid you an expensive visit while you are at work or the market.
  • Your good dog had a bad day.
  • There are three feet of floodwater in your home and you don’t own a flood insurance policy.

What Questions Should I Ask?

  • What, if any hoops must I jump through in case of a claim?
  • Are policy coverages or exceptions more important to know?
  • Why do I have duties after a loss?
  • In the event of a covered cause of loss, how easily will my claim be settled?
  • Is your claim service fair?


What Should My Insurance Company and/or Independent Agent and Broker teach Me?

  • Why buying home insurance based on your home’s replacement cost is essential.
  • How to determine your condominium and cooperative apartment “walls in” insurance coverage based on what a licensed contractor would charge to completely repair fire or water damaged walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • The importance for renters to complete a personal home inventory, down to the last sweat sock.
  • How owning Life and Disability insurance will prevent financial disaster should death or disability destroy the earning power of a family breadwinner.
  • Reasons why every property policy should include Water and Sewer Backup coverage. And why every cooperative and condominium apartment owner should add the Loss Assessment endorsement to their coverage.
  • Why buying flood insurance, even when their home is not in a high-risk flood zone, is a smart financial move.

And, of course, what coverages do I actually need to protect my family and home from most disasters?

The other day a woman asked me for my honest opinion of who I felt was the best insurance company out there.

My answer?

The one with whom you secured the proper policies, with sufficient coverages, which is in force at the time of your claim.

A company that won’t make you jump through hoops to settle a  claim fairly. An independent insurance agent and broker willing and able to service your policies. With premiums accurately reflecting the coverages your policies provide.

Nothing else matters.

As for the commercials, well, give my regards to Broadway.

At least until we can enjoy live theater again. Until then, stay healthy and safe.

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker, licensed to conduct business in New York State. Contact Eustace at 718-783-2722, 718-489-2218, by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com or by completing the contact form on this page, or  one of the many contact forms on his website, https://greavesinsurance.com.

 

 

Live Life Fully Covered

One of the best things you can do in life is to “Live Life Fully Covered.”

It’s time to just be honest and admit many bad things, gruesome tragedies and heart-rendering losses don’t always happen to “The Other Guy or The Other Woman.”

You Can Be “The Other Guy”

One day you could be “The Other Guy or The Other Woman” who;

  • Loses their husband or wife whose income helped meet mortgage payments, to cancer;
  • Suffers a life-changing heart attack which requires you to stay home to recuperate for six (6) months to a year or more;
  • During their prime working years finds themselves as the primary care-giver for a parent, other elderly relative, or even a sibling who lacks long-term care coverage;
  • Experiences the pain of  burying a child;
  • Watches as their house containing all their treasured belongings accumulated over a lifetime burns to the ground;
  • Comes home after a hard day at work to discover they’ve been burglarized;
  • Needs money to secure a new place to live while your home, co-op or condo is being rebuilt;
  • Gets sued by the cyclist, pedestrian or other driver who can prove you were at fault;
  • Gets sued by the cyclist, pedestrian or other driver who can’t prove you were at fault, but you must engage the services of an attorney to defend you against a baseless suit;
  •  Watches as their home is inundated by two (2) to ten feet of floodwaters even though you bought your home in a non-Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
  • Owns the sweet and gentle nice old dog walking off the leash who rears up and mauls or takes a bite out of your neighbor’s child;
  • Wonders who stole their new car;
  • Never gets their wedding and bridesmaid dresses because the bridal shop went out of business unannounced, and the owners didn’t return your deposit.

It doesn’t always happen to “The Other Guy or The Other Woman.” It’s also amazing how these types of tragedies frequently happen yesterday, last night or while you were thinking about taking action to put the proper coverage in force.

Can Life’s Tragedies Be Stopped?

You can’t stop life’s tragedies. You can, however, take intelligent, adult steps to control their outcomes using;

  • Life Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Long Term Care Insurance
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Renters Insurance
  • Co-op Insurance
  • Condominium Insurance
  • Flood Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Personal Umbrella Liability Insurance
  • Wedding Insurance

In over 37 years of helping my clients reach successful life outcomes using insurance and related financial services and products, I’ve realized for me it all comes down to one simple phrase:

“Live Life Fully Covered.”

I would be honored to help you reach your desired outcomes. Call me at 718-489-2218, or reach me by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com .

Let’s work together to make sure you “Live Life Fully Covered.”

Heightened Awareness | Brooklyn Covered

“Increased inflation during their working years left their hard-earned pensions inadequate for the new financial reality of increased rents, and having to purchase Medicare Supplement coverage to fill the gaps in their health insurance. And, even if they own their own home, increased real estate taxes and utility bills will become an increasing burden at a time in their lives when, for the most part, their income will not increase each year.

“Many of these good folk are facing retirement and still have mortgages. Why? They fell prey to the siren song of refinancing during the years of mortgage madness. They used their hard-earned equity for new cars, vacations, window treatments and college educations for their children. They thought the gravy train would still be rolling down the tracks.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sharing ideas about money, savings, mortgages and the like with Mr. John Dallas, Program Coordinator for the East Flatbush office of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City.

During the conversation, John asked me a question I’d never been asked in all my years of self-employment. “Eustace, as a self-employed person, are you ever afraid?”

Wow. Talk about being leaning into a Joe Frazier left hook.

I told John in all my years, no one had ever asked me such a question. After some thought, the best answer I could give him was, “While I don’t give in to fear, I do enjoy a ‘heightened awareness’ in all aspects of my life.”

“John, several years ago, I sat in my office with some friends, just shooting the breeze, you know, talking about the economy, business, what we were doing to increase the amount of business we had while keeping our current clients happy.  Everyone in the group was an entrepreneur, responsible for their own financial success.

“As I think back on our conversation that day, one thing stands out: Not one of us was boo-hooing about the economy. Instead, we focused on giving each other good business-growing ideas. In some cases, we exchanged leads, and promised to make introductions to other professionals who could be a source of help.”

“At one point several of us jokingly questioned our lack of intelligence for not having gotten one of those “safe” jobs decades ago, especially those of us who would be near the once-normal retirement age.” As we laughed about that, I stated that for many current and soon-to-be-retirees, the future was actually quite bleak.

Retirement Realities

“Increased inflation during their working years left their hard-earned pensions inadequate for the new financial reality of increased rents, and having to purchase Medicare Supplement coverage to fill the gaps in their health insurance. And, even if they own their own home, increased real estate taxes and utility bills will become an increasing burden at a time in their lives when, for the most part, their income will not increase each year.

“Many of these good folk are facing retirement and still have mortgages. Why? They fell prey to the siren song of refinancing during the years of mortgage madness. They used their hard-earned equity for new cars, vacations, window treatments and college educations for their children. They thought the gravy train would still be rolling down the tracks.

“They never thought it would dry up. And just imagine the financial calamity should the IRS send everyone who refinanced their mortgage a letter asking them to provide, in detail, how they actually used the money they got from refinancing. If they can’t prove they used these funds for the purchase of a property or the improvement of an existing property, and deducted the interest on Schedule A, Schedule E, or a combination of both, they violated income tax law.

“And John, everyone deducted the interest. In many cases, it was the only way the new mortgage was affordable.

“They forgot the story of the three-legged stool we all sit on in retirement. One leg is  income from Social Security, the second is pension income, and the forgotten third leg is personal savings. Just try to balance on a two-legged stool and chances are you’ll fall on your rear end every time.

“You see John, everyone forgot about the third leg. We were too busy cruising, travelling, eating out instead of in, purchasing big-screen tv’s to watch cable and dish programs which added no value to our lives, the newest ‘smartphones’, cellphone packages costing megabucks, and buying clothes which were too expensive and in many cases, never saw the light of day.  And shoes, don’t talk about the shoes.

“John, too many people purchased things to make themselves happy. Instead of cash-value life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, or even a simple bank account, they instead put their money in the street in the form of new cars they really couldn’t afford to insure or maintain, and on their backs for all to see.

“As a result, we don’t own the amount of savings we should. And the stool is real shaky.

John, a really good listener, was taking this all in. ” So what,” John asked, “do people like you do differently than others who work for someone?”

I told John that, while in the meeting, one of my friends used a term so profound, it’s stuck with me to this day. “Heightened awareness”, John, “heightened awareness.”

“My friend deemed those who worked for someone “The Normals.” Most of the time, they don’t even know how much is in their checking accounts because they know in a week or two, more money will magically appear to help them pay the bills. They don’t worry about health or dental care costs because they have benefit plans. Their employer provides them with a pension which may or may not keep up with inflationary pressures.

“What many of them lack is the entrepreneur’s sense of heightened awareness. We know how much a toner or ink cartridge costs. How many miles a gallon our car gets. We turn off lights when we’re not in the room, and are loath to use the air-conditioning until a pool of sweat forms at our feet.

“Most importantly, we spend for fun only after we meet our monthly obligations, not before.”

Now John is one of those folk who while employed by someone else, really has the soul of the entrepreneur. And, as many of my clients deal with the realities of debt, before and after retirement, they too are developing the heightened awareness so necessary to financial success.

So I looked at John and said, “My friend, I’ve yet to give you an answer. While I am never afraid, let’s just say I know when to waste time watching a football game, and when to sit down at the desk and send out an email, or prepare for a presentation. I love coupons in the supermarket, and DSW for the shoes my Little Princess needs.

“I know where just about every dollar goes.

“About a year after my fiancée died, our daughter and I were buying the office supplies I needed for the upcoming income tax preparation season. The total came to just shy of $800.00. When the cashier announced the total, my daughter held up her hand and said “Hold up there Daddy. Are you telling me we just spent almost $800.00 and we didn’t have any fun?”

“I looked at her and said, “No, I’m about to spend almost $800.00. And, should the plan reach fruition, this expenditure will enable me to generate the money necessary for the fun we’ll have in the spring and the fall.”

“That day, my daughter received her first lesson in “heightened awareness”, a lesson I’m proud to say she’s never forgotten.”

As our meeting came to an end, John and I agreed we should all work on heightening our financial awareness.

Otherwise, we may crack a hip falling off a two-legged stool.

Your Last Letter to Your Loved Ones | BrooklynCovered

Pookies tears streamed down my shoulder as we hugged at his father’s graveside. His Mom rose from her chair, came over and hugged me, saying, “Thank you for getting my man to write us that letter. I knew we had paid-up cemetery plots, but I didn’t know where. He never told me he had so much life insurance, and all of those investments.”

The most important letter you’ve never written will cause your family the most grief and confusion when you die.

A powerful and overwhelming sense of loss always accompanies a loved one’s death.

Growing up, one of my best friends, one of my main men (we didn’t refer to each other as ‘son’ or with the ‘n’ word. You see, we knew you gave birth to sons, and if anyone called you the ‘n’ word, well, somebody was going to die), was a great dude named Pookie Jones. What’s his real name? I forget. Back in those days, everyone went by their nickname.

I ran into Pookie a few years back and inquired about his family. His jubilant mood turned sad when he looked at me and said, “Mom is great. But Dad, he’s, well not so good. He’s got the Big P.”

Prostate cancer.

All I could say was, “Damn.”

“Mom is really worried man. You know how it is when people have those over-50-years marriages. Guys like Dad took care of everything, while Mom was taking care of us. She really doesn’t know too much about the mortgage, or the different bills.

“We don’t even know if Dad has a will. You know how those old men are. Either they think you’re asking because you’re waiting for them to die, or they think they’re going to live forever”

Man, don’t I know it.

“Yo, G, Dad always liked you, well except when he caught you and my sister kissing in the basement that time. Could you talk to him? Not for me, dude, for Mom?”

I told Pookie if his Mom would make me one of her special, blessed by the angels sweet potato pies, I’d force the old Marine into submission. For two pies, I’d make him scream uncle. Twice.

When I went to see his folks, the jubilation was soon tempered by Mr. Jones’ question, “So, after all of these years, my son must have brought you here for a good reason. You here for my wifes’ sweet potato pie or are you here to learn all about my business?”

I looked him straight in the eye (just as I did when he caught us kissing in the basement. I’d read in National Geographic that to stop a tiger from charging and eating you, well, you did just that. You look them straight in the eye) and said, “Yes sir. No sir.”

“What?”, he asked.

“Yes sir, I am here to collect my sweet potato pie. Two of them, in fact. And no sir, I don’t want to know all about your business. I’d just like you to write your family one last letter, the most important letter you’ll ever leave for them.”

“I don’t intend to die anytime soon, youngster. I am going to whip this damn cancer. It’s messing with my love life.”

“And sir, if I was your cancer, I’d of already left town. If I was Saint Peter, I’d ask for vacation when I saw you coming toward the pearly gates. And I know your family doesn’t want you to die, sir.

“Thank you for sharing that, sir. I’d just like you to leave them a letter, sir, a true love letter.”

He fixed me with the same steely glare which made so many young men have embarrassing accidents back in the day. (It never worked on me, though. I was too naïve to be scared.)

“All right youngster. What kind of letter would you have me write?”

I reached into my bag and handed him a copy of  “Letter to My Loved Ones.”

“This is the letter, sir.”

“Looks like a lot of work, youngster.”

“Not as much as you family would have to do without you, sir. Just in case you only live another 20 instead of 50, years, sir.”

He flipped through the eight pages. Then, he smiled at me. Which, if you’ve ever been in the woods, staring at a Bengal tiger, is the most frightening thing in the world. No, more frightening. The tiger would’ve run home to its momma.

“I should’ve made you marry my daughter.”

“Sir, we were only kissing.”

“That was enough for me. And don’t get too happy, you’re only leaving with one pie.”

One Year Later…

The cancer won.

Pookies’ tears streamed down my shoulder as we hugged at his father’s graveside. His Mom rose from her chair, came over and hugged me, saying, “Thank you for getting my man to write us that letter. I knew we had paid-up cemetery plots, but I didn’t know where. He never told me he had so much life insurance, and all of those investments.

“We’d have so much confusion now but for that letter.”

And then she really blew me away as she handed me a copy of the letter and said, “He put a special note to you in the letter.”

Shocked, I accepted my copy, and a huge smile appeared as I read the words:

“Just one pie at a time, youngster. Just one pie at a time.”

Unfortunately, chaos often ensues after the death of a loved one. Why?

They failed to leave instructions about their estate. Leaving their loved ones, at such a critical time to try to learn the answer to questions like;

  • What did they own?
  • Where are their last three income tax returns?
  • What military service benefits are they entitled to?
  • Where are the life, home, and auto policies?
  • Who are their accountant, financial representative, insurance agent, funeral director, and attorney?
  • Were there any safe deposit boxes? If there are, where are they?
  • What hymns should be sung, what verses of scripture read at their funeral?
  • Do they own a cemetery plot?

The wrong time to answer these and many other questions is when someone dies.

To help you start your personal “Final Roadmap”, click here to access a copy of  My Letter to My Loved Ones.” This eight-page document assists you in generating the answers to the types of questions many families can’t answer when a loved one dies.

And please, feel free to share this My Letter to My Loved Ones” with your family and friends.

The less confusion, the better.

Your Last Letter to Your Loved Ones | BrooklynCovered

Pookies tears streamed down my shoulder as we hugged at his father’s graveside. His Mom rose from her chair, came over and hugged me, saying, “Thank you for getting my man to write us that letter. I knew we had paid-up cemetery plots, but I didn’t know where. He never told me he had so much life insurance, and all of those investments.”

The most important letter you’ve never written will cause your family the most grief and confusion when you die.

A powerful and overwhelming sense of loss always accompanies a loved one’s death.

Growing up, one of my best friends, one of my main men (we didn’t refer to each other as ‘son’ or with the ‘n’ word. You see, we knew you gave birth to sons, and if anyone called you the ‘n’ word, well, somebody was going to die), was a great dude named Pookie Jones. What’s his real name? I forget. Back in those days, everyone went by their nickname.

I ran into Pookie a few years back and inquired about his family. His jubilant mood turned sad when he looked at me and said, “Mom is great. But Dad, he’s, well not so good. He’s got the Big P.”

Prostate cancer.

All I could say was, “Damn.”

“Mom is really worried man. You know how it is when people have those over-50-years marriages. Guys like Dad took care of everything, while Mom was taking care of us. She really doesn’t know too much about the mortgage, or the different bills.

“We don’t even know if Dad has a will. You know how those old men are. Either they think you’re asking because you’re waiting for them to die, or they think they’re going to live forever”

Man, don’t I know it.

“Yo, G, Dad always liked you, well except when he caught you and my sister kissing in the basement that time. Could you talk to him? Not for me, dude, for Mom?”

I told Pookie if his Mom would make me one of her special, blessed by the angels sweet potato pies, I’d force the old Marine into submission. For two pies, I’d make him scream uncle. Twice.

When I went to see his folks, the jubilation was soon tempered by Mr. Jones’ question, “So, after all of these years, my son must have brought you here for a good reason. You here for my wifes’ sweet potato pie or are you here to learn all about my business?”

I looked him straight in the eye (just as I did when he caught us kissing in the basement. I’d read in National Geographic that to stop a tiger from charging and eating you, well, you did just that. You look them straight in the eye) and said, “Yes sir. No sir.”

“What?”, he asked.

“Yes sir, I am here to collect my sweet potato pie. Two of them, in fact. And no sir, I don’t want to know all about your business. I’d just like you to write your family one last letter, the most important letter you’ll ever leave for them.”

“I don’t intend to die anytime soon, youngster. I am going to whip this damn cancer. It’s messing with my love life.”

“And sir, if I was your cancer, I’d of already left town. If I was Saint Peter, I’d ask for vacation when I saw you coming toward the pearly gates. And I know your family doesn’t want you to die, sir.

“Thank you for sharing that, sir. I’d just like you to leave them a letter, sir, a true love letter.”

He fixed me with the same steely glare which made so many young men have embarrassing accidents back in the day. (It never worked on me, though. I was too naïve to be scared.)

“All right youngster. What kind of letter would you have me write?”

I reached into my bag and handed him a copy of  “Letter to My Loved Ones.”

“This is the letter, sir.”

“Looks like a lot of work, youngster.”

“Not as much as you family would have to do without you, sir. Just in case you only live another 20 instead of 50, years, sir.”

He flipped through the eight pages. Then, he smiled at me. Which, if you’ve ever been in the woods, staring at a Bengal tiger, is the most frightening thing in the world. No, more frightening. The tiger would’ve run home to its momma.

“I should’ve made you marry my daughter.”

“Sir, we were only kissing.”

“That was enough for me. And don’t get too happy, you’re only leaving with one pie.”

One Year Later…

The cancer won.

Pookies’ tears streamed down my shoulder as we hugged at his father’s graveside. His Mom rose from her chair, came over and hugged me, saying, “Thank you for getting my man to write us that letter. I knew we had paid-up cemetery plots, but I didn’t know where. He never told me he had so much life insurance, and all of those investments.

“We’d have so much confusion now but for that letter.”

And then she really blew me away as she handed me a copy of the letter and said, “He put a special note to you in the letter.”

Shocked, I accepted my copy, and a huge smile appeared as I read the words:

“Just one pie at a time, youngster. Just one pie at a time.”

Unfortunately, chaos often ensues after the death of a loved one. Why?

They failed to leave instructions about their estate. Leaving their loved ones, at such a critical time to try to learn the answer to questions like;

  • What did they own?
  • Where are their last three income tax returns?
  • What military service benefits are they entitled to?
  • Where are the life, home, and auto policies?
  • Who are their accountant, financial representative, insurance agent, funeral director, and attorney?
  • Were there any safe deposit boxes? If there are, where are they?
  • What hymns should be sung, what verses of scripture read at their funeral?
  • Do they own a cemetery plot?

The wrong time to answer these and many other questions is when someone dies.

To help you start your personal “Final Roadmap”, click here to access a copy of  My Letter to My Loved Ones.” This eight-page document assists you in generating the answers to the types of questions many families can’t answer when a loved one dies.

And please, feel free to share this My Letter to My Loved Ones” with your family and friends.

The less confusion, the better.

Cruise Control |Brooklyn Covered

It Happened One Day

I happened to meet one of my clients on the street the other day. When she saw me she had the “Oh no” look so common with people who really don’t want to run into their financial representatives. Why? Because we seem to never forget what most people tend to – the disposition of  their financial affairs.

“Have you and your brother given any thought to talking with your mom about her insurance and planning needs should she require skilled nursing care either at home or in a nursing home?”

Before she could come up with an answer the old Greaves memory kicked in. “And what about the Renters, Life and Disability Insurance program we discussed at your last review? When would you like to get together to put your plans in place?”

She looked at me and said, “Listen, I really can’t worry about that stuff now. I’m getting ready to go on a cruise and I need a complete new wardrobe and I have to finish paying for my ticket…I’ll just take my chances. I’m sure nothing is going to happen and everything will be okay until I get around to it.”

Don’t ask me where my reply came from. “Be careful with the chances you take. You just might run out of luck.”

The Ships’ Company is Prepared

“You mentioned you’re going on a cruise, right? Well, think about this: The captain and each member of the crew of your cruise ship knows exactly how much food, fuel, fresh water and other supplies they need on board before the ship departs. They know to the minute when they’ll reach their first, second and last port of call. They know exactly how many meals will be served, who will sit at the captain’s table and when, how many songs the different bands need in their repertoires, the number of towels for the deck chairs and how many mints for the pillows. They’re ready for any shipboard emergencies because they constantly run simulated drills so they know how and what to do and when. They even know your name, date of birth, food allergies and maybe even your favorite color. All before you set foot on board that ship. And I’ll bet they have a pool on how many shipboard romances will end in broken hearts.”

Confused, she looked at me and asked “So what does that have to do with me? I’m just taking a vacation.”

I looked at her, took a deep breath and said, “They have a plan. You don’t. ”

I didn’t if she was going to laugh, cry or slap me upside the head. After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, she quietly said, ” Well, if my luck holds out, I’ll see you when I return from the cruise.”

“Give me a date and time,” I said. “And before you can tell me you don’t know when we’ll meet to get your financial house in order, try telling me you don’t know the exact date, pier and time of departure for your cruise.”

I am looking forward to our upcoming appointment.

How Prepared Are You?

Take a moment and just think about your own financial house. A “Little Bit of Luck,” is cute in the New York State Lottery commercials, but how long will your luck hold out? I think you’ll sleep better if you just put yourself on “Cruise Control” so you can really enjoy all your life has to offer.

Just ‘a little’ food for thought.