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COVID-19 showing Ohioans how important life insurance can be for sudden tragedies

Why free life insurance at work might not be enough
Posted at 12:32 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 19:25:50-04

CLEVELAND — More than 100,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, making many people think harder about their own mortality.

“It was a waking moment,” said Jaqueline Hardges, who recovered from coronavirus.

When she tested positive in April, Hardges had basic life insurance. It was enough to pay for final expenses, but not much else.

Coronavirus testing
Hardges tested positive for COVID but recovered at home.

“[Recovering from the coronavirus] just really made me say, ‘If something really happens to me, I want [my family] to be able to more than just put me away and have a couple dollars,” said Hardges.

Once she recovered from the virus at home, she started searching for more health insurance.

The problem is that’s a market that Valmark Financial Group Chairman and CEO Larry Rybka says it getting tougher for some Americans.

“We can still get policies, it may cost much more than it did back in January, February,” said Rybka.

medical careers
Ohioans might struggle getting the proper exams needed for life insurance policies because of the coronavirus

The cost of the policies is going up at least partially because the economy went down.

When customers pay life insurance premiums, the insurance company invests that money in bonds or mortgages and brings in money off the interest rates. As the coronavirus devastated the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve drastically cut interests rates trying to help the recovery. Lower interest rates make it harder for insurance companies to invest your life insurance premiums.

The result: “Higher costs, not only now but into the future, because those bond rates are likely to stay down,” said Rybka.

But just like everything else, the process to get life insurance is also more complicated.

“Many customers are being delayed because insurance companies need to get medical information to decide if they should issue a policy,” said Rybka.

Right now, many doctor’s offices and hospitals are overwhelmed, opening the door for innovation.

Rybka says some insurance companies are finding new ways to evaluate someone’s health either through a list of medications they take or by viewing medical information online.

“We have been able to issue some [policies] in as little as seven days from the time a person starts,” said Rybka. He added that process normally can take 30-40 days.

It’s an important conversation to have, even if it’s a little morbid.

“I’m guilty of it,” said Hardges. “Oh, I don’t need it, I’ll buy it when I need it.”

Hardges knows she was lucky to have a relatively mild case of the coronavirus. But with so many people dying, she doesn’t need to look far to find people grieving loved ones only to also be in financial straits.

“If people are being diagnosed with coronavirus and then weeks later passing away, their families are not prepared,” said Hardges.

Experts say if you’re looking for life insurance:

  • Know why you’re buying it and what you want to cover. That will help you figure out how much to buy and what kind of plan to get.
  • Research the company you buy from. You need to know the company won’t go under before the end of your policy.
  • Reach out to a financial professional to walk you through the complex insurance jargon.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.