What You Need to Know About Your Medicare Card

When you enroll in Medicare, you’ll receive a card that proves your enrollment. Like most other health insurance cards, you present the card when you get medical care.

Social Security and Your Medicare Card

If you’re turning 65 and you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll get a Medicare card automatically – it should show up in the mail three months before your 65th birthday. If you’re turning 65 and not yet getting Social Security benefits, or if you need Medicare for other reasons, you can apply in three different ways: online at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling Social Security (800-772-1213) between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by going to your local Social Security office in person.

What’s On Your Medicare Card

Your Medicare card will be red, white and blue. It will show personal information about you – like your name and when your Medicare coverage took effect. It shows less personal information than it used to. Medicare cards used to identify enrollees by Social Security number, so losing your Medicare card was as serious as losing your Social Security card. Thanks to the CHIP act of 2015, Medicare enrollees are now have by unique Medicare numbers. This means your Medicare card is more secure and easier to replace if it gets lost. 

If you’ve been enrolled in Medicare for a while and just got a new card, the government recommends you destroy the old one. If you haven’t received your new card yet, don’t worry. As long as Social Security has your current address on file, it is coming – the deadline for it to be sent to you is April 2019. 

Presenting Your Medicare Card at the Doctor

Once you have your Medicare card, keep it on you just like you would your ID. Any time you visit a doctor or other healthcare facility, you’ll present it when you check in. And in case of emergency, having your Medicare card ready will make treatment and billing both go much more smoothly.  

If you enrolled in any supplemental Medicare plans, like Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage, you may need to present a separate card at the pharmacy to get your medications. 

Home Sweet Homeowners Insurance: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Covered

There’s no place like home. That’s why it’s so important to protect your home with homeowners insurance. While the paperwork can sometimes seem overwhelming, there’s nothing more rewarding than the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the right amount of homeowners insurance. If you’re ready to get a better understanding of how your coverage works and to see if you need to make any updates to your policy, these tips can get the job done faster than you imagine. 

Homeowners Insurance Requirements

First things first. For most of us, homeowners insurance isn’t optional. Why? We don’t actually own our homes. Banks do. 

Until your mortgage is paid, your bank or mortgage company is going to require you to carry homeowners insurance. They want their investment protected. The exact specifications can vary, but generally, your lender will want you to have coverage at least up to your outstanding mortgage amount. Each lender will specify the exact amount of coverage you need, plus the different hazards that your policy must guard against. In most cases the lender will want you to protect yourself and them with “replacement” cost.

What’s In My Policy

If your mortgage happens to be paid off or you simply want to double check your coverage needs, there are a few different considerations to make when calculating how much homeowners insurance you need.

Homeowners insurance isn’t just about guarding against the loss of your home. In fact, there are four different parts that come with most policies. You will want to evaluate the amount of coverage in each of these areas. 

Dwelling Coverage

This portion of your policy defines the amount of coverage available to repair or rebuild your home, based on the type of policy.  Many “replacement” cost policies will include calculations factoring in attached structures like garages and decks. You may also have other structures coverage, which will cover sheds or even detached garages on the property in case of loss.

Personal Property Coverage

Personal property coverage protects the value of items in your home. This generally covers items like furniture and clothing. If you have expensive enough itemssuch as an engagement ring, for exampleit may also be worth adding a jewelry rider, sometimes called “a floater,” to your homeowners policy. 

Liability Coverage

Should someone be injured on your property or in your home, liability coverage is the part of your insurance policy that kicks in. Personal liability covers bodily injury to others as well as property damage. Plus, some policies also have a separate section for medical payments to others. In the event of a lawsuit, you will be relieved to have good coverage here. 

Additional Living Expenses

Should your home be damaged and become unlivable, this portion of your policy covers any costs related to loss of use or access to your dwelling. This could be everything from staying in a motel to getting food or even a toothbrush. If the truly unthinkable happens, it’s likely that you’ll be left with nothing. Additional living expenses coverage can help you get back on your feet.

How to Determine Your Needs

Now that you understand the types of coverage that typically come with a policy, it’s time to determine if you have enough coverage. Two of the biggest reasons why you want to have ample coverage is to make sure that you can pay to have your home rebuilt in case something happens to it or that you are protected in the event of a lawsuit if someone is injured at your house. 

So how do you know if you have enough coverage? Using these methods will help.

Understand the Real Cost

When the real estate market takes a dive, people tend to think their homeowners insurance is too expensive. But it’s important to understand exactly what your insurance covers. Your insurance isn’t based on the current value of your home or your mortgage. It’s based on what it costs to recreate your homefrom materials to workmanshipin the event of a disaster. 

If the unthinkable happens to your home, you do not want to find yourself in a position where you realize that you can only afford to rebuild 80 percent of your home. And yet, many homeowners find themselves underinsured. Construction costs and other expenses are on the rise, which means that building a new home, even in the same space, can cost more than you might imagine. 

You may even be able to request a reconstruction valuation from your insurance company. When considering the cost of your policy and the amount of coverage you hold, it’s important to remember that your homeowners insurance is based on building cost, not market value.

Take Inventory

In terms of your personal property coverage, one of the best ways to determine if you have enough insurance is to take an inventory of everything in your home. You can create a catalog by going room to room and estimating costs of furniture, decor, clothing, electronics. Then, you want to compare this estimate to the amount of coverage in your current policy. 

How to Update Your Coverage

Even if you aren’t thinking of updating your coverage immediately, you will want to at least review your policy if you find yourself in one of these situations:

  • Buying a new property or a second property
  • Renting out your property
  • Remodeling 
  • Buying one or more big-ticket items
  • Adding security features 
  • Adjusting the amount or type of pets you own

If you decide to adjust the amount of coverage you carry, you can do this in a few simple steps. Gather your current insurance paperwork and contact your insurance company. Clarify the parts of your policy that you want adjusted. You can then request a quote to see how those adjustments will impact your premium. 

If you decide to move forward with the updated coverage, you will either have to pay an additional amount or you may be entitled to a refund. Make sure you get a copy of your adjusted policy in writing and that you are clear on both the start and end dates. By double checking these dates, you can ensure that there are no gaps in coverage.

How to Adjust Your Deductible

Often times, people feel that their homeowners insurance is too costly. If you are someone who is fortunate enough to have never filed a claim, it’s easy to fall into the trap that you’re paying for nothing. Rather than skimping on coverage to save yourself some money, a better strategy involves adjusting your deductible. 

By electing a higher deductible, your premiums will often be reduced considerably. You can use an online calculator or work with your insurance provider to get different quotes based on various deductible amounts. The most important part to remember, though, is that your deductible has to be met when you file a claim. Don’t set a deductible higher than what you have stashed in your emergency fund or savings account. 

The Real Value of Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance can seem complicated. But the simple truth is it’s peace of mind and protection against the unthinkable. Understanding the different parts of your policy and the amount of coverage you have in each area is a fundamental part of making sure you aren’t underinsured. Knowing how to adjust your coverage and your deductible can keep you protected while paying a reasonable rate. 

Top 12 Questions (and Answers) About Life Insurance

Even the most calm and collected person can become confused by the prospect of getting life insurance. 

So many of us know we need life insurance, but we also feel we don’t understand it enough to make the best decision. Good thing at SelectQuote we know when it comes to investing your money in ANY kind of purchase, the only stupid question, as the saying sort of goes, is the one you didn’t ask.

There’s a funny thing about so-called dumb questions—a lot of people have them.

And with that, here you can find answers to some of the questions you have about life insurance but don’t feel comfortable asking out loud.

Do I Need Life Insurance?

If anyone depends on you bringing in money in order to survive, you need life insurance. It’s a great comfort to know your loved ones will have much-needed money in the event of your death.

Even if you’re single, with no dependents, you may still need coverage:

Did someone co-sign a loan for you? In the event of your death, that co-signer will be responsible for your remaining debt.

Might your health change? If you have a family history of life-threatening disease, it’ll be cheaper to get insurance now than when you’re older.

Are you planning on a funeral? It’s an unpleasant situation to think of but a policy that at least covers your funeral and burial cists can take a lot of pressure off surviving relatives.

What Kind of Life Insurance do I Need?

There are two basic types of life insurance:

Term life insurance covers you for a specified period of time.

Permanent life insurance covers you for your whole life, which is why you’ll also hear it referred to as “whole life” insurance.

As time goes by, financial responsibilities tend to lessen (kids grow up and get jobs, your mortgage gets paid off) there’s less of a need to carry a large insurance policy beyond a certain point in life. Most likely, the best bet for you will be term life insurance that covers your dependents during your income-producing years.  

What About Permanent Life Insurance?

The biggest reason why most people avoid permanent life insurance is the cost. It’s more expensive than a term life policy. It also doesn’t make sense for most people. Unless there are special circumstances, there’s limited need in most families for a large life insurance payout in the insured persons later years. Permanent life insurance tends to be most useful for people who expect to leave a large estate and whose beneficiaries might need the money to help ease the tax burden on that estate. 

Should I Take the Coverage My Employer Offers?

Absolutely. It’s probably a good deal and your premiums will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. Keep in mind any employer coverage you have will end if your employment ends. We’re not suggesting you’d quit your job without a game plan or get yourself fired, but we do live in a world where workforces sometimes get reduced and corporate mergers result in layoffs. It’s a good idea to have private insurance in addition to any coverage that comes with your job.

Where Do I Start to Buy Life Insurance?

Here’s a little something we know quite a lot about at SelectQuote. It’s our job to help you find the right insurance plan for you and your family. Talk with one of our licensed agents and we’ll get you the information you need to make the best choice. 

How Much Life Insurance Coverage Should I Get?

There are various recommendations to estimate how much coverage you need, but nothing compares to a careful analysis of your financial situation and exactly what you might count on a life insurance payment to do for your beneficiaries. That means only you can answer this question, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get some help. Our agents are here to help answer your questions and get you the coverage you need. 

Check out our online life insurance calculator. It also helps if you know what an insurance company takes into account when calculating a quote.  (Here’s a clue: Pretty much everything!)

What Information Will I Need to Provide?

Every company has its own application process, but common information that most will look for includes your height, weight, date of birth (DOB), some answers to health-related and lifestyle questions and an overview of your financial situation.

So, I Need to Answer Questions and Give Some Information?

Sort of. When it comes to specific health-related questions, your insurance company will most likely help you out by requiring a medical exam. Some companies will arrange for a qualified healthcare professional to come to you. Among the basics covered by such exams: medical history, current medications, family medical history, blood pressure, heart rate, basic heart function (determined by stethoscope), height/weight check, blood/urine samples, lifestyle questions.

What Kind of “Lifestyle” Questions Will I be Asked?

Before agreeing to insure you at a particular rate, your insurance carrier will want to know if you have any habits or engage in any activities that could be harmful to your health. Some questions to expect: Do you smoke? Do you drink? How much do you drink? Do you use recreational drugs? Do you have any hobbies that involve physical risks?

What if I am Not Completely Honest on a Few Questions?

That’s a really bad idea. A company can only insure you based on the quality of the information it has to go on; if you don’t give honest answers, odds are you won’t get a policy that truly meets your needs. To use a stronger word—lying on your life insurance application company can also result in a policy being denied or cancelled once the lie is found out. And if a serious omission of truth is discovered after you die, there’s a possibility your beneficiaries won’t receive the payout you set out to provide for them in the first place.

Who Gets All This Information?

The information you provide and the results of your medical exam are given to someone called an underwriter. The underwriter’s job is to assess all of that information and decided how much of a risk the company will be taking by insuring you. Those are the basics, but you can learn more, if you’d like.

Will I Ever Need to Change Life Insurance Coverage?

Life changes. New dependents may arrive on the scene (e.g., children or elderly parents) current dependents may go out of your life, (e.g., divorced spouses or no-longer-dependent children). It’s good idea to review all of your insurance, life insurance included, at least every three years, to be sure your needs are being met and your beneficiary choices are in order.

You can get as in-depth as you want to in learning about life insurance. However much research you do, one of the most important pieces is to decide exactly what you want your beneficiaries to be able to do should you die and to then find the most straightforward policy for accomplishing that goal.

Here’s wishing you all the best in finding the right life insurance for you so you and your family have peace of mind for the long run.

9 Reasons Homeowners Insurance Claims Are Denied

Year after year, you send that premium payment for your homeowners policy. When accidents happen, you expect the insurance company to cut a check for the full extent of the damage to your home, no matter the amount or what caused it.

It doesn’t always work that way. What you think you’re entitled to under your policy and what the carrier believes they owe you are often two very different dollar figures.

Don’t take it personally. Remember, carriers have to price your coverage based on statistics, probability and risk. They can only pay to the extent a claim is based in cold, hard facts, policy language and evidence. 

If your claim falls under one or more of the criteria below, there’s a good chance it will be reduced or denied altogether. But alas, insurance companies don’t take claims personally, either. We’ll follow with ways to ensure your property is covered properly and recovered adequately.

Why Are Homeowners Insurance Claims Denied?

  • Not Enough Information

  • As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to file and prove your claim. Insufficient documentation of damage to your property won’t help your case. Neither will a lack of a complete inventory of valuables on or in your property prior to the loss.

  • Taking Too Long to File

  • If you take too long to file the claim, your chances of a satisfactory payment go way down. Policies typically contain time-sensitive requirements for filing the claim and documenting damage.

  • Late Payments

  • If your premium payments are late and result in any lapses in coverage, you run the risk of property damage occurring when your policy is exempt due to non-payment.

  • Threat of Fraud

  • Unfortunately, insurance fraud is a predictable reality. Therefore, your carrier will send their own claims adjuster to investigate almost every claim. Anything that raises questions—whether in the claim or in your initial application—could be game over. If your losses are serious, particularly if the policy covers your business, consider hiring an independent adjuster. 

  • Claim Type Not Included in Coverage

  • No homeowners policy covers the entire house and everything in it, nor does it cover against every possible source of damage or loss. Common policy “exclusions” include earthquakes, floods and water/sewage backup, or other regional risks. 

  • Loss is Close to Your Deductible

  • A typical homeowners policy deductible—the amount you pay before the claim kicks in—is $1,000. If the estimated loss is close enough to your deductible level, carriers will deny the claim, though in that scenario you wouldn’t want to file one. 

  • Perilous Claims May Not Be Covered

  • In insurance speak, “perils” refer to things like fire, theft, lightning and hail. “Occurrences” speak to the actual losses, such as a destroyed kitchen, or soaked carpet and furniture. Lower-end policies only cover a certain number of perils, others cover all of them. 

  • Somebody (or Something Else’s) Fault

  • If it was your contractor’s negligence that collapsed the foundation or your neighbor’s tree that totaled your SUV, your insurance company isn’t responsible—and your policy doesn’t apply. 

  • Excessive Wear

  • Imagine an insurance carrier paying to fix a rusted-out car bumper after an accident. Doesn’t happen. Same goes for an old roof full of worn shingles and leaks. If a claims adjuster finds evidence of poor maintenance or excessive wear-and-tear of your property, chances are the claim will be denied. 

Avoid the Dreaded Denial

  • Document all damage and file a detailed itemized claim to your insurance
  • Notify your carrier as soon as possible (even if in the middle of the night) of any loss and know the time limits for filing a claim
  • Don’t miss a premium payment
  • Know what your policy covers and excludes; obtain adequate coverage for more “perils” if available
  • Do everything possible to maintain the property before an event, and to mitigate the damage until an adjuster assesses the damage