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Staying Insured

Insurance policies on our lives, health and property are important safeguards of our financial well-being. So try to pay your premiums and keep your coverage.

Insurance Action Plan

Step 1: Make a List of All Your Policies

You have many different policies, such as

  • Homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance on your home,
  • Car insurance on each of your cars,
  • Life insurance—either a private policy or one obtained through your union or where you work,
  • Health insurance—either a private policy or one obtained through your union or where you work, etc., and
  • Other special types of insurance.

Review each policy and list:

  • Name of insurance company,
  • Policy number,
  • Insurance agent’s name and phone number,
  • What’s covered,
  • Any deductibles,
  • Monthly payment, and
  • Terms under which your coverage ends.

Step 2: Check on Insurance Benefits From Your Job

Talk to your union or company insurance office to find out:

  • How long your health-care coverage lasts beyond the last day of employment. Coverage usually extends 30 days after the premium date.
  • Where you stand with respect to annual deductibles (the amount you must pay each year) for prescription drugs and major medical. If you have made your deductible for the year, you may want to get prescriptions filled before the coverage ends. See your doctor for advice.
  • What other types of insurance you have through your union or company (such as group life insurance). Can you continue to pay those premiums yourself?

Step 3: Call Your Insurance Agent

Call or write your insurance agent for each of your policies (car, life, homeowner’s, and other policies), and explain your situation. Ask the insurance agent to consider a different payment plan. What options do you have?

Step 4: Determine Your Minimum Coverage Needs

Talk to your insurance agent to see if you have too much insurance. The insurance company may prefer reducing your coverage than losing your business.

Step 5: See if You Can Lower Your Premiums

Talk to your life insurance agent about:

  • Changing to monthly, quarterly or semi-annual payment plan with the same or similar coverage,
  • Converting to term insurance,
  • Changing to more basic coverage that meets minimum needs,
  • Using accrued dividends to reduce your premium, and
  • Receiving discounts for which you may be eligible.

Talk to your car insurance agent about:

  • Dropping collision or raising the deductible if your car is older or already paid off, and
  • Reducing your coverage to include only liability coverage, which will reduce your premium.

Health Insurance and COBRA

The 1986 Combined Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal law that:

1. Provides for the right of each worker, at companies with 20 or more employees, to continue his/her health insurance in the event of layoff, strike or other displacement from the job, at the same cost the employer was paying, plus 2 percent.

You have 60 days to elect this option. The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides a 65 percent reduction in the premiums payable by involuntarily terminated workers and their families for health care continuation coverage under COBRA. This premium reduction will last for up to nine months. Workers who have been involuntarily terminated during the period from Sept. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2009, and their families are eligible. This premium reduction also applies to health care continuation coverage that may be required by states for insurance policies sponsored by small employers (so called state mini-COBRAs) and public employees. Ask your union representative or company insurance office how to apply for COBRA.

2. COBRA insurance protection lasts for 18 months. It may be expensive, depending on family size, even at group rates. But it offers protection to those who otherwise could not get medical insurance, like heart patients, pregnant women and cancer patients.

3. In the event of the death of an employee who has taken the COBRA option, the spouse has the option to maintain group insurance under COBRA for a period of 36 months.

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