Thanks to your health insurance policy, you can receive routine checkups, specialist consultations, lifesaving medications and necessary procedures for just a few dollars a month. Your premiums may be rising this year, though, because of increased health insurance policy costs and decreases in your employer’s budget. Instead of dropping your coverage or paying a fortune for health insurance, stay healthy and balance your personal budget in the new year with six tips.
1. Review Your Benefits
Does your current health insurance policy include vision, dental or prescription medicine coverage that you rarely use? Dropping these options could reduce your health insurance costs.
2. Shop for Private or Government Exchange Health Insurance
Instead of automatically accepting your employer’s coverage with higher monthly premiums or fewer benefits, shop around. Private or state sponsored health insurance could be a more affordable option for you.
3. Increase Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Put your good health to good use and elect to pay lower monthly premiums in favor of higher out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, your deductible and copays will increase, but you could save money in the long run.
4. Consider Joining Your Spouse’s Policy
If your spouse or partner has employer-sponsored health insurance, discuss the costs of joining his or her policy. You could save money by switching to family coverage instead of carrying individual policies.
You should also check out your options after qualifying events occur in your life. In those cases, you may be able to switch your health insurance coverage and save money. Those events include:
- Child Birth or Adoption
- Legal Separation or Divorce
- Death of Spouse or a Dependent
5. Rethink Insurance Options When You’re Laid Off
January is a typical month for downsizing. If you lose your job, you could be eligible for Cobra (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). You continue to pay your health insurance premiums plus a two percent administrative fee, and your insurance does not lapse.
The costs of COBRA can be expensive, though, especially when you aren’t receiving a paycheck. You have 60 days to decide if you want your COBRA benefits or not, so start researching private options as you make the best financial decision for you.
6. Get and Stay Healthy
Little things like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking can reduce your health care costs since you’ll see the doctor less often. Additionally, your employer may offer wellness incentives for healthy living that can reduce your premium costs. Even if they aren’t offered, you will save money when you get and stay healthy.
This January, take time to review your health insurance. With these six tips, you can save money, be healthy and stay on budget in the new year.
Homeowner’s insurance protects your home’s structure and belongings since it can pay for costly repairs or liability after a natural disaster, break-in or accident. You’ll be stuck with a huge bill, though, if you don’t have enough home insurance. Follow these steps as you make sure your home insurance is adequate for your needs.
Determine the Home’s Value
When you first purchased a homeowner’s insurance policy, you told the agent how much your home was worth. That figure might have changed since then. Use a recent tax assessment and an independent contractor to give you a current and accurate value for your home.
Switch to Replacement Cost
Actual cash value calculates an item’s worth as the amount you originally paid for it minus depreciation. Replacement cost pays you to replace the item at today’s cost. Update your policy to replacement cost and give yourself more coverage for a few dollars more.
Inventory Your Home’s Contents
Over time, the contents of your home have probably grown, so take time to update your inventory list. Include all the valuable artwork, jewelry, electronics, firearms or collectibles you’ve acquired. Take pictures of your valuables, too, and include the receipt from its purchase, if possible, a written description, serial numbers and other identifying details.
If one of your valuables is super expensive, purchase an additional endorsement. It’s designed for items of significant value.
Consider an Umbrella Policy
Say you install a pool in your backyard or add an addition to your home. Check into an umbrella policy. It provides additional liability coverage that accounts for your home’s upgrade and protects your assets.
Check Into Flood Insurance
Most regular homeowner’s insurance policies do not include flood insurance. Add this valuable coverage if you live in a flood plain or if there’s any chance that your home could be flooded.
Insure Your Dog
Certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers, are not insurable, and your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover liability if one of these breeds bites someone. Tell your agent if you’ve purchased or adopted one of these breeds.
Check Your Condo Coverage
In case you live in a condo, read the association policy to understand what part of your building you must insure. Usually, that’s the contents of your home and any improvements you make to your condo.
Do an Annual Review
At least once a year, review your homeowner’s insurance policy. Ensure your coverage is adequate for your current needs.
Homeowner’s insurance is one way you protect your valuable home, belongings and other assets. Make sure you have enough coverage when you talk to your agent today.
You own your home, have your own business, and drive a new car. Though you are not rich, you are comfortable. It will be a shame to lose it all if someone sustains injuries by your car or at your home or place of business.
You have insurance you say; you have standard auto liability insurance. The limits are $100,000 for a single person and a total of $300,000 for multiple people. Suppose you are responsible for any accident involving a shuttle taking ten people to the airport. Three hundred thousand dollars allows on average $10,000 per person. That is hardly enough to cover the emergency room fees let alone any surgery, rehabilitation, lost wages and other medical expenses. If there is a fatality, you may consider bankruptcy.
Your business has a small storefront on a busy street. A middle-aged executive comes into your place of business following a rainstorm. Your floor is wet and slippery, and the executive slips and falls. He strikes his head, loses consciousness, and goes into a coma. Your general business liability insurance has the same limit as your auto insurance – $100,000. It may cover part of the hospital bill, but the official says he is permanently disabled and sues you for future wages for $1 million. Since your business is a sole proprietorship, bankruptcy beckons.
Your son invites a friend over for a swim in your pool. He dives into the shallow end strikes his head and suffers traumatic brain injury. Sadly, the damage is permanent — with standard liability limits of $100,000 — well, you know, bankruptcy stares you in the face.
The inexpensive, elegant solution to the problem is umbrella insurance. When a claim exceeds your standard liability insurance limits, your umbrella insurance policy takes over and pays up to your umbrella liability limits. Most people who buy umbrella insurance extend their liability limits to $5 million.
Though you hope never to use it, for a few hundred dollars per year, you can protect your assets, and avoid financial disaster. Umbrella insurance pays when you are responsible for an injury that exceeds your standard liability limits.