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passportAre you tired of having to turn down vacation invitations from friends and family because you don’t have a passport? It’s time to get a valid passport so that you can live your life to the fullest. The world is a big place, and not being able to leave your home country because you don’t have proper documentation should no longer be keeping you from seeing and visiting every location you have dreamed of. Having a passport is becoming a necessity more and more. For one, you used to be able to go on a cruise without a passport as long as you had valid identification, but that is no longer enough in today’s world. So follow these steps to help get you on your way to getting a valid United States passport, and get you one step closer to seeing the world!


1. Gather the proper documentation 

In order to apply for a U.S. passport, you will need to have the proper documentation: proof of citizenship and proof of identity. There are many forms you can use to prove both of these. To prove citizenship, you can use expired passports, a birth certificate for those born in the United States, or a Certificate of Citizenship for those born outside the U.S. To prove your identity, you can use expired passports, driver’s license, military ID, or other identification items that include your photo and signature.

2. Take a passport photo

A passport photo is different than a normal photograph. To make things easy, many drug stores or places that process photos can take them for you for a small fee. And I know what you are thinking, no “selfies” allowed.

3. Fill out appropriate forms

There are forms that you will have to fill out, and for most people that form is a DS-11 form. You can find this form online, print it out, and fill it in. Or you can fill it out in person when you go to the local passport authority.

4. Submit documentation and forms in person

For those that are applying for their first passport, you will have to apply in-person. You can apply at your local passport authority including most city halls, public libraries, and post offices. For those that are renewing their passport, in most cases it can be done through mail.

5. Pay the fee

A first time passport for a U.S. adult is $135. It is less money if you are renewing a passport, $110. A first time passport for a minor (under age 16) is $115. 

Tips

It is important to note that you should apply for a passport well in advance of your travel arrangements. The process can take a couple of months, so plan accordingly. Also, it is a good idea to keep track of your application status online by visiting the official website. The reason being is that you only have 90 days from the application date in order to report that your passport has not arrived. Otherwise you will need to go through the entire application process again. 

Now that you have your passport, it is time to book your next trip! For more help when traveling overseas, read our previous blog, “Tips for Traveling Abroad.” We wish you safe travels along your journey. If you are interested in purchasing travel insurance, or have any questions or concerns, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0)1624 678668 or visit us at mhginsurance.com. Our insurance brokers have the experience to assist you in selecting the right plan for you and/or your family for the best value.  

How to Apply for a U.S. Passport?

leaving shoreCaptain: “Is everyone ready to set sail?” If you are a member of a yacht crew, hopefully you will never have to think twice about whether or not you are ready to leave shore. Don’t find yourself in a situation where you forget something, or aren’t fully prepared to be at sea for an extended period of time. Follow our list to assist you when preparing for the next time you leave shore.


1. Passport

It is important to confirm that your passport is valid before leaving shore. Not only does it have to be valid on the dates for which you are expected to visit another country, but in some cases there are countries that require your passport to be valid long after you are expected to be there. This may be because they want you to be prepared for the unexpected. For example, if you are stranded and must stay longer than originally expected, there will be no worries about whether your passport has expired. 

2. Immunizations & Local Health Hazards 

Make sure all of your immunizations and vaccines are up to date. While you may know where you are headed, it is common for yachts to make unexpected stops. So it is a good idea to be updated with the vaccines of the entire area you are going to. Also, research and prepare for any medical conditions, viruses, etc. that are prevalent in the area. For example, the Chikungunya Virus which is spread by mosquitoes is spreading throughout the Caribbean. If you will be in that area, be sure to heave plenty of mosquito repellent, and wear the necessary protective clothing. 

3. Locations

There is a chance that you will be heading to a place that you have never been to before. Do your research, and try to become familiar with the location. Learn any major roads or landmarks that can help you navigate the area. Know where medical facilities are located. Also, your guests may ask you for some assistance with directions, or advice on any activities and excursions that the location has to offer. 

4. Emergencies 

Familiarizing yourself with the emergency procedures of certain situations is always a good idea before leaving shore. Even more so if this is your first trip, or have recently switched vessels. Different yachts can have different procedures and rules, so prepare yourself for any unexpected issues that may arise. 

5. Insurance 

Even though this is the last thing on our list, it is the most important! Having the right health insurance coverage is critical when abroad. Anything can happen no matter where you are in the world, so having the proper coverage can be the difference between financial peace of mind, and financial disaster. There are many yacht owners who have the entire crew under one plan, however if you are required to find your own insurance, don’t hesitate to give us a call! 

Having proper insurance is important whether you are at sea, or docked at a shipyard. For more information on some of the dangers you can experience while docked, read our previous blog, “The Dangers of Being Docked at a Shipyard.” MHG is your specialized broker when it comes to crew insurance. Our insurance specialists have the knowledge and experience to find the policy that works best for you. If you are interested in purchasing, or have any questions about yacht crew insurance or travel insurance, or would like some advice, please contact us at +1 954 828 1819 or +44 (0) 1624 678668 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com.  

5 Things for Yacht Crew to Complete Before Leaving Shore

life insurance claimLosing a loved one is a reality that we all dread. No one wants to get that phone call that forces them to begin the grieving process. With so many things crossing your mind, the last thing you may want to be thinking about is what the next step is in order to receive a death benefit from the deceased’s life insurance. Yet, there is a process you must go through to attain the payout which may help you when it comes to funeral costs, paying the bills, or putting money away for the kids. 

 

Where Do I Start?

Locate the policy for specific information about who to contact. It’s a good idea to keep the policies in a place that is easy to find. Once located, contact the insurance company and they should assign an agent to assist you through the steps you need to take in order to submit the claim. If life insurance was provided as a benefit from his or her employer, then contact the employer for the information. The policy will also tell you how much you can expect to be paid.

What Information Will I Need?

You will need to obtain the death certificate as well as any other necessary documents. All documents must be originals or notarized copies. Once all the paperwork is filled out and the documents are sent in, the insurance company will begin to process your claim. 

How Long Can it Take to Process? 

Generally, the processing time is quick. Companies want to help those in need as quickly as they can. However, if any of the forms are not filled out correctly or the documentation is wrong, the claims process can turn into a lengthy one. 

Are There Different Collection Options? 

There are different ways to collect the benefit. You can receive it in a lump sum, receive it in installments, or leave it to collect interest. Keep in mind that all payouts will be tax free. So if you are trying to avoid paying higher taxes by not selecting to receive the payout in a lump sum, it’s not necessary because you will receive the entire amount. 

Can My Claim Be Denied? 

If the insurance company discovers that you were withholding information about a medical condition, there is a good chance your claim will be denied. That’s why it is crucial for you to disclose all information when buying the policy. Also, the insurance company can deny your claim based on the manner of death by the insured. Policies have a list of scenarios that will explain what can get your claim denied, so read the policy and follow directions! If you suspect that the deceased had a life insurance policy, but are unsure, contact the American Council of Life Insurance (ACLI). For a fee, they will investigate and try to locate the policy.

Did you know there is a type of life insurance that allows to borrow money from the policy? For more information, be sure to read our previous blog, “Can I Borrow against My Life Insurance Policy?” If you are interested in purchasing life insurance, or have any questions about your policy, or which policy would be best for you and your family, contact us at 954-828-1819 or visit us online at mhginsurance.com. We have the insurance specialists to assist and advise you on the best coverage for you and your loved ones at every stage of life.

How to File a Life Insurance Claim