It’s National Safety Month, which is a great time double down on safety both at work and at home. But where to start? One way to think about safety practices and injury prevention is to focus on the types of injuries that are most common and most likely. With the summer approaching, expect that any day now we will start seeing alarming stories about shark danger. While no one wants to get attacked by a shark and it’s certainly good to take precautions, in reality, there’s a greater chance you will die by choking on your lobster roll than by being eaten by a shark. Media attention to sensational stories about crime, disasters and unusual tragedies tend to distort our sense of what the real risks we face actually are.
The National Safety Council puts things in perspective in this short video:
The purpose of insurance is to offer you financial protection from accidental risks and calamities that may befall you. But even when you are properly insured, it’s still in your best interests to try to manage those risks as best you can because insurance may not make you whole – particularly when the risk involves life and limb. We often don’t do a good job of managing our risks. Sometimes, what we fear the most is actually less risky than other common every day occurrences. Human nature being what it is, people often worry more about rare events and can be too casual about dangers that are more pervasive.
Plus, check out one of our most popular past posts: What are the odds? Mortality calculators, where we various tools and calculators that let you assess your mortality. Don’t miss one of the web’s longtime favorite sites, the Internet Death Clock, where you can calculate optimistic or pessimistic estimates of how much time you are likely to live.
Despite the odds, one sad fact remains: None of us get out of here alive, so as the late Warren Zevon advised, “Enjoy every sandwich.” And as long as you are thinking about odds, it might also be a good time to think about taking care of your survivors:
There’s a lot of frozen money out there that no one is claiming .. it’s in the billions. Some put the figure as high as $40 billion! Is any of it yours? Some of it could be if you’ve ever moved to another state or to another residence; if you’ve changed your name; if you’ve forgotten about a small bank account or a few shares of stock; or if a distant relative left you something in a life insurance policy or will.
Here are some of the most common forms of unclaimed money:
Inactive bank accounts, both checking and savings
Unfound life insurance or other account beneficiaries
Tax refunds that were misdirected
Unreturned utility deposits and escrow accounts
Refunds and credits
Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
Uncashed checks and wages
Insurance policies, CDs, trust funds
Unredeemed money orders or travelers checks
Unclaimed safe deposit boxes
If you’d like to check to see if there is any unclaimed money due you, here’s a tip: The best place to start is MissingMoney.com.
This site is the only only free, state endorsed national database of missing money. The site is officially endorsed by NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) and participating states and provinces. The site will assist you in thoroughly searching all participating states to find your family’s missing, lost, and unclaimed property, money and assets. It has the most updated information for the state and provincial offices. Searches and claiming are always FREE.
We tried it out and found a $65 insurance policy refund from a neighboring state we lived in more than 10 years ago. We filed a claim and the money will be sent to us. You can search the entire database or confine to a specific state. Don’t forget to search by any variations in your name. Here are some search tips and frequently asked questions.
Other resources for unclaimed money
While MissingMoney.com is the best site, you can also check these sources, too:
Search the federal government. While the federal government does not have one specific site to search, you can find a list of places to check at Unclaimed Money from the Government. It will point you to resources for finding things like veteran life insurance policies, federal tax rebates, savings bonds, FHA refunds, and more.
Beware of scams related to unclaimed money. While we’d all like to think that we won some money that we didn’t know about or have a distant wealthy deceased aunt who left us her fortune, it’s not likely to be true. Scammers thrive on our hopes, fantasies and greed – don’t give them the opportunity.
Beware of emails and phone calls that alert you to winnings or other unclaimed money. State and federal authorities do not use email or phone to notify you of unclaimed money. The IRS will never threaten you to “pay now or else.”
Beware of people who ask for bank or credit card information or personal details to process your winnings/inheritance.
Be careful of unauthorized search sites that charge a fee to use. Stick to the sites we’ve mentioned or call your state’s unclaimed money office or insurance bureau if you have questions.
Beware of people who try to charge you. While there are some legitimate finder businesses that search for lost property owners and offer to inform them of how to obtain their property for a fee, most “out of the blue” alerts should be treated with a high degree of suspicion. NAUPA recommends that “Before signing any contract from a firm of this type, we recommend that you be cautious and contact the unclaimed property office in your state for more information.” Plus, you are better running your own searches periodically and avoiding any fees!
Do you have life insurance? If so, you are among the 57% of Americans who do, according to a recent survey on life insurance by Bankrate Money Pulse. But even if you have it, do you have enough coverage to meet your financial goals? The survey found that of those who do have coverage, most people have under $100,000 – which would not be sufficient to sustain a young family or a surviving spouse.
“Especially vulnerable are families with children under 18. More than 1 in 3 of those parents (37%) have no life insurance at all, while a third of those who do have no more than $100,000 in coverage (32%).”
“The $25,000 to $100,000 policies that you usually see in employer group plans may cover your funeral expenses, but they’re not going to pay off a mortgage or put a kid through college,” Bridgeland says. “It’s worrisome to me to see that half of those insured have those levels of coverage.”
See the graph below for a more detailed breakdown of coverage amounts held by survey respondents.
Insurance Information Institute just released a good overview of the basics of life insurance in a short video – check it out!
June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council. It’s a time to think about reducing leading causes of injury and death at the workplace, in our homes and in our communities. They’ve issued an interesting infographic on the Odds of Dying, noting that Americans often worry about the wrong things – check out the events we think will kill us vs. the ones that actually do, according to the numbers. (You can click for a bigger version).
Happy Halloween! We couldn’t think of a more appropriate and ghoulish topic for the day than finding out what your body is worth. The excellent infographic below gives you a good body-part-by-body-part snapshot of your market value. (Click for larger). Or fill out a brief questionnaire for a more personalized version of your body’s worth in dollars and cents.
If you are feeling really macabre, you may want to visit the The Death Clock, which bills itself as “the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away… second by second.” Enter your date of birth, sex, BMI and smoking status. You can choose to your results on a scale ranging from “sadistic” to “optimistic” – or just plain “normal.” If things look really dire, think about your life insurance coverage and update your beneficiaries. Oh — and we really can’t think of a better way to celebrate the day and ensure your longevity than to sign up as an organ donor.