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Wednesday, August 6, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY– Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak is recommending consumers review their insurance policies before and after welcoming a new addition to the family.
“A new baby brings so many wonderful, exciting changes to your life and you have to be prepared to protect your growing family,” said Doak. “That’s why it’s important to talk to your agent or broker to ensure that your coverage is up-to-date.”
The Oklahoma Insurance Department recommends these tips for expectant Oklahomans.
Before the baby is born, review and understand your coverage options and find out exactly how your health care plan handles the costs of a new baby. Consider prenatal vitamins, prenatal and neo-natal screenings and tests, emergency procedures, delivery (C-section and traditional) and pediatric care in the cost assessment.
Once the baby arrives, formally notify your carrier of the birth. Health insurance carriers typically require that a newborn be added to a policy within 30 days of birth. A new baby is considered a life event allowing you to enroll as soon as he or she is born rather than waiting for the next open enrollment period. Keep in mind that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), failure to sign a baby up for health insurance could incur a penalty for not providing insurance for your child in addition to paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses.
For families with more than one benefit option, remember to compare the health insurance policies to determine the best fit for your family. This includes co-pay amounts and exactly what is covered for both parents and children. You may be able to make use of tax advantages such as flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts (HSA), which allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses and childcare.
When planning your life insurance needs, consider the expenses of a new child. These typically include childcare costs, housing, education, medical needs, etc. Covering both spouses, even if one is not employed, is a good idea to help in the event of a premature death. Always keep your policy current and update your policy to include new children as beneficiaries. You may want to name a trustee to administer the benefit of the policy if your children are under the age of 18.
Make sure you understand the types of life insurance and weigh the costs and benefits of whole life versus term life insurance or universal life insurance.
- Whole life insurance policies build cash value as well as pay a death benefit with a more expensive cost. You may consider term life insurance with a conversion option to change to a whole life policy for a fee when ready.
- Term life insurance offers death benefit protection for a specific time. Since term life premiums increase as you age, it is typically less expensive in younger years than whole life insurance, which covers you for your entire life and typically has stable premiums.
- Universal life insurance has features of both whole life insurance and term life insurance. Generally, your premium payments pay the pure cost of the insurance with the balance of the premium payment invested to cover the increasing cost of insurance as you age. Universal life insurance is more complicated than whole life or term, so make sure that you get a good explanation from your agent.
Auto and Homeowners Insurance
Here are some other insurance tips for auto and home:
- Buying larger vehicles such as mini-vans or SUVs could affect your premiums since premiums are linked to vehicle age and type. Check rates before upgrading vehicles.
- Since carpooling may be something in your near future, consider increasing liability insurance in case of an accident when transporting other children.
- Notify your homeowners’ insurer of major changes to the home to prevent being underinsured. This could include making any major home improvements, such as adding a nursery.
- Often overlooked is the installation of backyard items for kids, such as a swing set, trampoline or swimming pool. You might consider increasing liability coverage with an umbrella policy, which will protect you in the event that someone is injured while on your property.
Since you will be buying and/or receiving new baby-related items, be sure to document all of the new items in your home inventory in case of covered peril like theft, fire or wind storm. For more information, consumers are urged to call the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-522-0071 or visit www.oid.ok.gov.
About the Oklahoma Insurance Department
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.
For more information contact:
Kelly Collins Dexter