Insurance Feed

Tropical Storm Storm Cindy is now officially churning in the Gulf of Mexico, with a predicted landfall in a few days along the Texas-Louisiana border. That track could, of course change. And as meteorologists on the Weather Channel note, "it's not the name, but the rain." Tropical system precipitation typically reaches beyond the actual low pressure system, often well inland of coastal properties, and produces dangerous flooding. Such reports have come in from as far north as Atlanta today, with Cindy's expanded rain bands causing highway flooding in that city. Federal and state tax help for recovery efforts: As noted... Read more →


Most high-income investors last were likely a little bummed last week when the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act failed. It didn't have anything to do with their personal opinions on Obamacare or health care in general. It meant that the Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT, remains on the books. This 3.8 percent surtax is assessed on capital gains, dividends, interest, and other passive income earned by single investors making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 if married filing jointly. It was one of the many ACA-related taxes that would have been repealed if the GOP... Read more →


One way to survive working on your tax return with a deadline looming -- April 18 this year -- is to make sure you don't make any easily avoidable filing mistakes. Similarly, you don't want to overlook any tax breaks. I guess that technically omitting a tax claim could be considered a mistake, but for the sake of keeping things clear -- and for providing an added blog post topic! -- I've separated them. Searching for tax breaks? Below are 18. (James Corden GIF via CBS.com/Corden) And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →


We got a $147.26 check today from a neighborhood medical clinic. It was a refund for treatment the hubby got when he had a kidney stone. I'm always happy to cash any check. But this one is a perfect example of what's wrong with the medical industry. The hubby's ailment was back in December 2013. Yep. It took more than 20 months for the bill to be completely settled. When we got the check and statement detailing the payment and refund process, my initial expectation was that it was the insurance company's fault. It wasn't. Here our billing timeline. Dec.... Read more →


December brings a special kind of crazy. There's shopping, travel, more shopping, tax moves to make, family and friend get-togethers, extra cooking, even more shopping and illness. Yeah, folks tend to get sick over the holidays. Maybe it's because of that guy coughing in the aisle behind you on your flight home. Maybe it's one of your loved ones with whom you're sharing way too close holiday quarters. Maybe it's playing in the snow a bit too long. Maybe it's that you wear yourself out and down with all the shopping, travel, more shopping, tax moves, family and friend get-togethers,... Read more →


On the heels of the conflicting Obamacare tax subsidy rulings by two federal appeals courts, we today had Affordable Care Act (ACA) part 2: A look into "the integrity of the administration" of the health care program's premium tax credit. At issue is whether the health care law's tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance bought through exchanges are issued properly. Specifically, members of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, wanted to know are the amounts correct and are they going to eligible individuals? An early review of a key component of the... Read more →


I live in Texas, a state that does not offer a health insurance exchange. Instead, we Lone Star Staters must use the federal exchange to buy their medical coverage. It has not been an easy time for my neighbors in need of health care, given HealthCare.gov's shaky roll-out. But being hardy Texans, they forged on and ended up getting policies to their liking. And now, a federal judge has determined that they will be able to claim, if eligible, the Premium Tax Credit on their 2014 federal return. Tax help in buying medical coverage: The Premium Tax Credit was created... Read more →


Attention medical flexible spending account (FSA) shoppers. The good news is that Uncle Sam is making it easier for you hang onto to the pretax money you put into this workplace benefit. The bad news is that if you are now perusing your company's benefits during open enrollment season, the FSA change probably won't affect your spending account in 2014. Yesterday, Oct. 31, the Treasury Department announced that employers now can offer FSA holders the option of rolling over up to $500 left in their spending accounts at the end of the benefit year. That's right. If you have $500... Read more →


As you get older, you end up at the doctor's office a lot more. Most of the time it's for routine things, such as a cold you just can't shake like you did when you were younger. Other times, though, it's for more complex and costly treatments. I've been discovering this inevitable truth over the last few years. Today, in fact, I spent the morning at an out-patient surgery center where my ophthalmologist removed a cataract. My doctor says I'm supposed to be resting my eyes this afternoon, both the just operated on right one as well as the now... Read more →


Just like Sen. Ted Cruz, I'm on my spouse's company health care policy. That and a Texas address are the only thing the Tea Party darling and I share. Because Ted and Heidi Nelson Cruz and the hubby and I have workplace-provided medical insurance, we get a chance in the coming weeks to decide exactly what type of coverage and other related workplace benefits we want for the coming year. Yep, it's annual workplace open enrollment season. Like many employer-provided plans, our options are part of a cafeteria plan, so named because they allow employees to select benefits from a... Read more →


One of the most contentious portions of the Affordable Care Act, also known by its acronym ACA or Obamacare, is the penalty that's to be assessed large employers who don't provide health-insurance coverage to workers. The penalty, which could be a fine of up to $3,000 per employee if a company with 50 or more workers doesn't offer affordable insurance to workers, was to go into effect in 2014. But in a surprise announcement last week, the Obama Administration said it would postpone the penalty provision until 2015. That one-year delay is this week's By the Numbers figure. Heeding business... Read more →


Most companies that offer worker benefits have open season in the fall. During this time, employees can choose from various types of workplace perks, such as health care coverage, that they want or need. Among the most popular benefits are flexible spending accounts, usually referred to as FSAs. These workplace accounts can help you pay for medical expenses that aren't covered by insurance, as well as for some child care costs. They also can save you a few tax dollars And they are this week's Weekly Tax Tip. Pre-tax contributions: Whether you have a child care or medical FSA, the... Read more →


Are you worried about Uncle Sam's involvement in your health care? That concern, which was probably the first argument against health care reform, still worries some folks. And the extent of Internal Revenue Service participation in implementing some provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, has some folks on guard. Not to worry, says the IRS. Yes, the tax agency will get confirmation from insurers about the health care coverage that individuals have. But that's it, swears the IRS. Photo by 123light via iStock "It is important to note that the information that... Read more →


It was a high old time last week at my other tax blog. A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that states with high tax rates generally do better than no-tax states by most economic measurements. Go ahead readers in the nine no-income-tax states of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming and those living in California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Vermont, the nine states deemed high-tax, sound off. I'm ready to hear why ITEP is right or wrong! Then there are the highly... Read more →


This post updated June 19, 2017. Part of your hurricane season preparation should be an accurate inventory of your property. This information is critical regardless of which destructive possibility -- hurricane, tornado, blizzard, flood, earthquake, wildfire -- might be prevalent in your area. It's also good to have even for more run-of-the-mill casualty losses. Both your insurance company and Uncle Sam will appreciate the attention to detail when you file a claim. Today's By the Numbers figure can help. It's 2194. Internal Revenue Service Publication 2194 is the agency's Disaster Resource Guide for Individuals and Businesses. The 20-page document contains... Read more →


The good news is that Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named tropical system of 2012, is a fish. That's weather watcher slang for a storm that heads out to sea to dissipate instead of making landfall. The better news is that everyone who might be affected by future tropical storms and hurricanes this year now has time to get a plan in place. When Alberto popped up on Saturday, I posted some tips on physical and financial planning for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Disaster knows no boundaries: But even if you live smack dab in the center of the... Read more →


Wow! That was quick. The first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season popped up this afternoon along the South Carolina coast. Residents of America's Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coastlines officially go on alert each June 1. But this afternoon the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued its first advisory of the year, announcing the early arrival of Alberto as the first tropical storm of 2012. Yes, it sounds like a baby announcement, which seems fitting since tropical storms and hurricanes have been given human names since 1953. What does it take to get a name? Sustained surface wind speed... Read more →


Uncle Sam estimates that 70 percent of older Americans will need long-term care services at some point. This isn't for medical care. Rather, long-term care includes services and support to help meet basic personal tasks of everyday life, such as doing housework, shopping for groceries or clothes, preparing and cleaning up after meals, obtaining and taking medications, completing personal hygiene tasks and managing money. To hire someone to help out with these daily duties is expensive and will only get more so. That's why many people buy long-term care insurance. These policies also can take a bite out of a... Read more →


It's the season of good will, peace, joy and happiness. Then the creeps show up. Burglars broke into a friend's house yesterday. The good news is that neither she nor her husband were home and the crooks didn't get much of value. Photo of daytime break-in courtesy XpressProtection.com But having been a victim of a break-in myself many years ago, I can tell you it's a horrible experience that changes you forever. Crime prevention tips: The scumbags apparently got in through my friend's garage door. The police said they've had reports of criminals crusing neighborhoods this holiday season looking for... Read more →


When our water heater let go a couple of years ago, our homeowners' insurance paid for almost all of our home's very extensive repairs. I was sure that when our policy came up for renewal, we'd face a huge premium increase. We didn't. Now, however, after hundreds of homes across Texas have been destroyed or damaged by wildfires, I'm again thinking that insurance companies might bump up their prices. If our renewal is more next summer, so be it. Even if our mortgage company didn't demand it, we'd still get a homeowners' hazard insurance policy. We have to have it.... Read more →