Insurance Column

Insurance is never a fun topic, as you’re essentially preparing yourself for some future calamity, but it’s something every responsible adult needs to tackle every once and a while. Whether it’s auto insurance, health insurance, or something more morbid like life insurance, if the article relates to the topic it’ll appear in this column.


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 Insurance 
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Steps to Take After a Natural Disaster to Make Sure Your Claim Is Paid

Natural DisasterWhile making it through a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy seems difficult enough, often the aftermath and restoring your home to the way it used to be can take months and be an exercise in frustration and delays. If you live on the East Coast and have damage to your home thanks to Hurricane Sandy, here are some steps you can take to make sure your claim gets paid in a timely manner (which in itself is difficult considering the level of destruction).

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 Health Care, Insurance 
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Did You Get a Health Insurance Rebate?

The StethoscopeWhile there has been a lot of attention of attention on the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, there are other provisions involved. And, one of the changes required by the Affordable Care Act is that health insurance companies have to provide rebates when they don’t spend a certain amount of premium money on health care services.

The first rebate was due August 1, 2012, and each year insurance companies will be responsible for accounting for how premium dollars are spent. When a certain ratio isn’t met, insurance companies are required to provide rebates to their customers.

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 Insurance 
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Health Care Insurance Rebate Checks: 80-20 Rule

Starting August 1st, you might see a check from your health insurance provider in your mail box. Not everyone will be getting one but if you do see one, you can thank the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has a provision in which it mandates that health insurers must spend at least 80% of collected premiums on you. The 80-20 rule, as it’s called, means that a maximum of 20% of premiums collected can go towards administrative costs, bonuses, ads, and other non-healthcare related items.

It’s estimated that 12.8 million Americans will receive a check or rebate this month as a result of this rule taking effect (technically, it went into effect in 2011 with the first payouts now). It’s believed that insurance companies have to return $1.1 billion to consumers with the average family getting $150. Some rebates will be higher, depending on how little insurers paid out.

If you have individual insurance, then the insurer will mail you a check. If you have group insurance through your employer, then the employer will get the check. In the case where the employer gets the check, the employer can pay all the participants/employees or use the proceeds to pay future premiums. The employer can’t keep it.

What this also probably means is that you might start seeing illegitimate checks in the mail too, as I’m sure scammers will try to do something nefarious. So if the letter isn’t from your insurance provider, or your employer, be wary of it.

 Health Care, Insurance 
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How to Get Self-Employed Health Insurance

Health CareOne of the difficulties that many face when self-employed is finding health insurance that works for them. The rising cost of health care and health insurance means that many would-be entrepreneurs end up staying in their jobs, just for the benefits. When I began my freelancing business, my husband was still in school, and we were shocked at how much family health coverage cost through the school.

So, we began looking around for individual health insurance. We were able to find an affordable group plan, which lumps us into a “group” with other individuals and families who need separate coverage. Being part of the “group” acts in much the way that buying insurance as part of a company works. This helps keep the cost down; in fact, I pay less for my family’s insurance premiums than some people I know with health benefits at work.

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 Insurance 
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Do You Need Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella insuranceChances are that you know how important it is to protect your assets. Whether you are protecting yourself from damage to your car with auto insurance, or using a homeowner’s policy to protect you from litigation, you need to make sure that your assets are covered.

However, in some cases, you might not have enough coverage to protect your assets from really big lawsuits. Many insurance policies have payout limits, and once liability limits are reached, you could find your assets under attack. If you are worried about lawsuits, and people who might come after your assets, it might be worth it to consider umbrella insurance.

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 Family, Insurance 
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Kids & Money: Should You Get Life Insurance for Your Child?

child life insuranceOne of the big questions that you have to ask yourself as a parent is whether or not you should get life insurance for your child. Programs like the Gerber Grow-Up Plan let you buy life insurance for your children for a small price. Then, when your child is older, he or she can keep the life insurance policy, ensuring that he or she is insured, or the policy can be cashed in to help pay for college.

Another consideration is that it is possible to purchase “regular” life insurance for your child. Some people choose to purchase whole life policies for their children. And, of course, many parents have riders attached to their own policies. These small insurance amounts are meant to help cover burial costs. Here are some things to consider as you determine whether or not to buy life insurance for your children:

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 Insurance 
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Way to Spend Your FSA

stethoscopeA Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can be a great way for you to save up money to pay health care costs, while at the same time receiving a tax benefit. When a FSA is offered, you usually put in up to $5,000 a year, pre-tax. This lowers your taxable income, while providing you with an account to draw on when paying for prescriptions, medical care, or making co-pays.

However, a FSA doesn’t roll over; you use the money in the account, or you lose it. Some FSA plans require you to use all the money up by December 31 (if that’s your plan, you better hurry), while others give you until March 15 to use up the money. This “grace period” can make it easier to use your money more effectively, and to get in for appointments. You don’t want to lose your money, so it’s time to make a concerted effort to spend the money in your FSA:

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 Insurance 
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5 Things Insurance Companies Aren’t Telling You

InsuranceInsurance companies are one of the sectors of the economy that we all love to hate. Even the people who sell insurance are seen as just a little bit shady by some. Much like car salesman, we love not to trust them and although that’s largely unfair to the hard working sales force in America, the insurance industry, like every other industry, carefully picks and chooses what they tell you and what they would rather you not know.

It’s not that they’re lying but if a lie of omission is still a lie then you may be able to make a case that some fabrication is going on. Hidden within these omissions is everything from largely non-significant all the way to something that could cost you big dollars if you’re ignorant to the specifics of the policy.

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