Sometimes life takes us in different directions and we have to adapt; our needs change over time. Your insurance plan may have been perfect when you selected it, but now you may need something different.
Regardless of whether you purchased your policy a few months or many years ago, it is important to review your coverage periodically to make certain it still provides adequate protection for you and your family. You might be surprised to discover that your current plan misses the mark, and it may be a good idea to start looking for one that is a better fit.
Below are three items to consider as you decide whether or not you should keep your existing coverage or shop around for a new plan.
If you’ve experienced a big change in your life such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child or retirement, it is essential that you review your existing coverage. As your life changes, so do your insurance needs.
Did your name change? If anyone covered under your policy has changed their name, you need to advise your carrier and include the reason for the change and the date it was done.
Did you move? It is very important that you notify your insurer immediately if you change your address. All communications are sent to your last address on file.
Did your marital status change? If you divorced or married, your coverage can be affected. You may want to add a co-insured to your plan or change to ‘single’ coverage. (Some health insurance plans allow continuation of coverage for a divorced co-insured person or dependent children if an application for continuation is submitted to the insurer within 30 days of the change in status.)
Do you have a new dependent? You can add a qualified dependent to your coverage at any time by submitting a written application and filling out a medical questionnaire, if applicable. And if your dependent is a newborn, insurers do not require a medical questionnaire as long as they are notified in writing within 30 days of the birth (coverage will be effective the first day of the following month).
Did your little one leave the nest? If your child does not attend post-secondary school, or has graduated college or university, they will no longer be eligible under your plan.
Finally, did you change careers or retire (or are you planning to soon)? Health insurance coverage through an employer may not continue. If you had health benefits, you should get a new plan within 90 days to ensure automatic eligibility.
Your insurance premium is the amount of money you pay each month for health insurance coverage. As your premiums adjust from year to year, it might be a good idea to review your plan every few years and ask your broker if there are alternative options.
Remember, over the years your priorities for your health coverage can shift. Perhaps having orthodontic coverage isn’t as vital now that the kids have grown, but you may want to discover if there is a plan that may longer duration travel protection.
If you decide to upgrade your coverage, you may be required to complete a medical questionnaire (and you may expose yourself to coverage limitations based on your health history). Typically, your plan must be in force for 12 months before you can apply to downgrade benefits, which you would do by sending an email to your broker (like SBIS). If you decide to change insurer, there may be restrictions on when you can apply for the new carrier’s plan – so be certain to understand any barriers to a smooth transition prior to cancelling your existing coverage.
If your policy includes accidental death benefits, you should designate a beneficiary (if you have not already done so). To change an existing designation, complete a Beneficiary Designation Form and return it to your insurer.
Regardless of whether you choose to maintain your existing coverage, upgrade or downgrade your policy, it is important that you select a solution that provides the protection you and your family need. Without adequate coverage, you could be responsible for hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical bills if you experience an unexpected illness or injury. SBIS can cross reference your current plan against others to see if you have the best plan for your needs and budget.
The amount you pay for your health insurance plan is about more than just the premium. Most plans also have co-insurance/co-payments. Frequently, plans that have a lower premium have higher co-insurance/co-payments, and the reverse is true — higher premium, lower co-pays. If you’re looking for ways to decrease your health insurance costs up front, you might decide a plan with a lower premium and higher co-insurance/co-payments is a better choice for you.
Are you thinking about changing your banking or credit card? Remember, you have regular insurance bills to pay. If you’ve closed your joint accounts and opened an individual account (or vice versa) or have a credit card that earns better points, notify your insurer immediately to change your premium payment info. To avoid a lapse in your health coverage, you should advise your insurer by phone, fax or email a minimum of 10 business day before the change will take effect.
It can be helpful to speak with an SBIS customer service representative who can assess your needs with you. We’ll go over different plans, the coverage they provide and the costs associated with them so you can choose the one that is right for you and your family.