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.
One in five people resolve to lose weight or get healthier every January. Several additional New Year’s resolutions can also prolong your life, so consider adding them to your resolution list this year.
Vitamins help with Illness Prevention
Regular doses of Vitamin D – followed with 15 minutes of sun exposure (to activate the Vitamin D), Multi-vitamins, Zinc (with Amino acids to help Zinc absorption)
Eat Fewer Calories
Food fuels your body, but when you eat fewer calories, you lose weight and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Choose a smaller plate, chew each bite carefully and stop eating when you start to feel full to eat fewer calories and prolong your life.
Add Brain Foods to Your Diet
Certain foods help your brain and body function properly. Plan to add these brain foods to your diet as you live a healthier lifestyle this year.
- Nuts and seeds
- Pomegranate juice
- Whole grains
- Wild salmon
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, improves your mood and boosts your brain’s grey matter, which helps to regulate your sensory perception, muscle control, decision making and self-control. Listen to a meditative CD or simply sit still and relax as you add this practice to your daily routine and gain its benefits.
Learn Something New
When you learn a new skill, you stretch your brain and improve your memory. Resolve to take a college class, learn to edit photos or watch TED talks that enrich your life and your brain with new thoughts, ideas and lessons.
Move Every Day
Regular movement helps you stay fit, improves your overall body function and reduces stress and depression. As a bonus, moving outdoors in nature could lower your blood pressure and boost your immunity. Whether you take a walk, sign up for a dance class or join a sports team, aim to move at least 10,000 steps per day and live longer.
Start a New Hobby
Hobbies like gardening, cooking and reading improve your quality of life. Many hobbies also reduce your stress levels, improve your focus and boost your brainpower. Start a hobby or two, and you increase your enjoyment of life and life expectancy this year.
Play helps kids develop properly and learn essential skills, and play gives adults important benefits, too. Relax your body and stimulate your mind when you put together up a jigsaw puzzle, join a bowling league, shoot hoops during work breaks and play more in 2018.
Get a Physical
During your annual physical, you and your doctor review your current health and address any ongoing health issues. Prioritize this visit to stay healthy now and into the future.
Resolve to live longer thanks to these resolutions. They improve your life and your health.
Christmas isn’t the same without lights. Strands of sparkling lights can be hazardous, though, if you forget to follow safety tips as you hang, plug in, store and enjoy these holiday essentials.
Buy lights that are safety tested. Lights without an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) tag may be unsafe to plug in and use.
Inspect lights and plug them in before hanging them. This visual assessment exposes fire hazards like cracked, loose or broken bulbs and frayed, chewed or broken cords. It also lets you replace burnt out bulbs and ensure all the bulbs are the same wattage. After repairing any problems, plug in the lights to ensure the bulbs work and the strands work properly.
Separate indoor and outdoor lights. Strands designed for indoor use should not be hung outdoors because their thin insulation is easily damaged when exposed to cold, wet outdoor conditions.
Hang lights with insulated hooks. Staples, tacks or nails can pierce the strands and cause dangerous electrical shorts and increase the fire risk.
Use extension cords properly. Plug no more than three strands of lights into each extension cord, lay rather than coil extension
cords and use only outdoor certified extension cords for your outdoor lights. If the cords feel hot, unplug the lights for a while to reduce fire risk.
Turn off lights before you go to bed or leave the house. Otherwise, the hot lights could start a fire, and you will be asleep or away
from home and unable to intervene.
Water the tree regularly. A dry tree and hot lights are an unsafe combination.
Store lights properly to prevent damage and simplify decorating next year. Instead of stuffing them in a box, carefully wind the
light strands, secure them with twist ties and store them in plastic bags. Alternatively, wrap the strands around a paper towel tube and thread the ends through the tube’s hollow center.
Hanging lights is a fun and festive holiday tradition. With these safety tips, you have peace of mind as you enjoy your sparkling home all season.
Whether you received valuable collectibles or heirloom jewelry, you’ll want to insure these holiday presents. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may provide coverage for some of your new items, but anything above the existing coverage limit requires a personal articles floater. Consider specific gifts that you’ll want to insure this year.
Jewelry: Your homeowners insurance policy should cover jewelry valued at less than $2,000. However, appraised jewelry that’s more valuable will require a floater.
Furs: From a real fur jacket to a fake fur-trimmed hat, add any furs you receive to your homeowners insurance policy.
Fine Art: Paintings, sculptures, rare books, manuscripts, ornamental collectibles, glasses and antique furniture fall under the fine art category. Record these items and their value on an itemized schedule attached to your insurance policy.
Electronics: Laptops, cameras, TVs and other electronic devices, plus telescopes, video recording equipment and films, are typically included in your existing homeowners or renters insurance policy. If these items are high-end, consider a floater.
Coins or Stamps: Depending on their value, you’ll want to add a floater for new coins or stamps in your collection.
Musical Instruments: List any musical instruments, including sound equipment, on a floater.
China, Crystal or Silverware: List these items on a schedule and include the insurance coverage amount.
Guns: List and describe each gun on a schedule. Include the value.
Sporting Goods: Bicycles, golf equipment, guns and other sporting goods fall under your existing insurance policy unless they’re collectible, rare or expensive.
Tools: Insured under your homeowners or renters policy, your new tools won’t need a floater unless they exceed the value of your existing coverage.
As with everything in your home inventory, record a detailed description, serial number, purchase date, value and picture of your new holiday presents. Store copies of this information with your insurance policy in a fireproof safe and in a secure location other than your home.
Go ahead and enjoy your new holiday presents. Just remember to check with your insurance agent to be sure they’re covered.