Think you’ve got health insurance? Rescission could leave you broke and sick

%image_alt%Karen Knee’s insurance problems began with her 2005 New Year’s resolution: addressing her nagging health concerns. First on her list was to get those little benign cysts on her scalp removed. Blue Cross pre-approved the procedure, and it went off without a hitch — at first.

But then the insurer retroactively canceled her policy, claiming that Knee (at right), of Orange County, Calif., had failed to disclose a pre-existing condition, and saddled her with a $30,000 medical bill.
Knee was stunned. Four years earlier, she had applied for coverage online and included everything she could recall about her health history — doctors’ names, prescriptions taken, the test results of her latest pap smear...

Read More

Check FEMA flood maps now before flood insurance rates rise

FEMA flood insuranceWhile residents and businesses of Rhode Island and Connecticut are looking to FEMA for help after flooding, those in California are screaming because new FEMA flood maps may mean they have to buy flood insurance for the first time. FEMA is updating flood hazard maps nationwide. After the update, if your home is deemed in a high flood risk area, you could be required to buy flood insurance.

Most mortgage companies will not let you close on a home without flood insurance if your home is deemed by FEMA to be in a flood area. If you are determined to be in a flood area after the purchase and you don’t get flood insurance, mortgage companies can buy it for you.

You definitely won’t have a choice if your loan is backed by the federal government — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the FHA — and you’re...

Read More

How to Pick the Best Medigap Policy for You

Mid adult doctor checks breathing of senior patient

Alamy

More than 10,000 people enroll in Medicare each day, according to the National Council on Aging. If you are getting ready to join these ranks, you may find yourself in the market for a plan to pay costs not covered by original Medicare. Here are five steps to help you find the right plan for your needs.

1. Decide If You Want Medigap or Medicare Advantage

First, know that Medicare alone will not cover all your health care costs. “Original Medicare pays about 80 percent,” says Jane Kassel, owner of insurance brokerage firm Kassel Benefits in Phoenix.

The remaining 20 percent includes Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles and coinsurance, such as copays for office visits...

Read More

Life settlement funds: good investment, ghoulish, or a death bubble?

grim reaperInvestors large and small are looking for a new way to return to the juicy profit level of sub-prime’s heyday, and one product beginning to gain popularity is life settlement funds, AKA Grim Reaper funds.

In a life settlement, investors pay the elderly cash today in return for the money from their life insurance when they pass. Yes, it sound ghoulish, but when has that been an impediment on Wall Street? With $26 trillion of life insurance currently in effect, the prospects are enormous.

In the same way that mortgages were bundled and turned into securities, companies such as Credit Suisse are buying up quantities of policies to create funds. Investors are hoping for returns as generous as 20-40%. Last year, seniors sold life settlements with a face value of $11.8 billion...

Read More

How to determine if you’re smartly insured

How to determine insurance needsWhen consumers buy insurance, they are guided by a “well, you never know philosophy.” That, according to experts, is a huge mistake.

Saving money can be as easy as making a phone call. “The number one way people waste money is simply not asking for all the credits that they could,” says Bill Wilson, associate vice president of education and research for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

For instance, most insurance companies offer discounts for customers who buy more than one type of coverage. There are also deals for good drivers and for teen drivers with good grades. People should periodically review their coverage to make sure they are getting the most value for their money. Here are a few of the most common mistakes.

Auto
Has your driving routine changed because...

Read More

Watchdog: Allstate Auto Insurance Pricing Scheme Is Unfair

Earns Allstate

Nati Harnik/AP

The “Good Hands” people at Allstate have figured out a shady, possibly illegal, way to push up insurance rates, according to the Consumer Federation of America, which said Tuesday it discovered a letter from the insurance giant that is a “smoking gun.”

And the group, one of the most influential consumer advocacy groups in the nation, said the implications to American consumers over what Allstate (ALL) is doing is huge and can impact anyone with car insurance.

If regulators don’t block this scheme immediately, American consumers will pay a huge price.


“This is a watershed moment in the history of insurance consumer protection,” J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s Director of Insurance and the former Texas Insurance Commissioner, said in a statement...

Read More

5 Financial Decisions That Sound Smart but Are Really Dumb

Vector illustration ? Empty head and money brain.
Alashi, Getty Images

Norma Yaeger, 83, of Encino, Calif., thought she was making a smart financial decision last fall, when, after pulling into a Ralph’s supermarket, she impulsively hired two men to fix her car.

“Two nice gentlemen came over to me and look at my fender, which was badly scratched. They said that they had a compound that will remove the scratches and restore the paint,” Yaeger says.
They would fix it, for just $50.

Yaeger isn’t a rube — she was, in fact, the first female stockbroker to work at the New York Stock Exchange (and recently wrote an autobiography, “Breaking Down the Walls”). She also served as president of two stock brokerage firms. The men who approached her seemed honest, and Yaeger was self-conscious about her fender...

Read More

Uninsured Are Getting Harder to Sign Up for Health Coverage

Governors Meeting

Steve Helber/APSecretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says it’s getting harder to sign up those remaining uninsured under the president’s health care law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Tuesday has given three reasons why the 2016 sign-up season will be a bigger challenge: The most eager customers have already signed up; many of the remaining uninsured are young adults who may not see the value of coverage and those who remain are juggling tight household budgets.

Burwell says an estimated 10.5 million Americans who remain uninsured are eligible for subsidized private health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run insurance markets.

Open enrollment starts Nov. 1...

Read More

Top5 Insurance Industry Secrets You Need to Know

By Stacey L. Bradford,
Associate Editor, SmartMoney.com

INSURANCE IS many things, but straightforward isn’t exactly one of them.

A person’s age, claim history and credit score are just some of the factors used in the complicated formula that determines their premiums. And while some of these factors are controllable — a credit score can be improved or impaired — others are completely out of your hands — no one’s getting any younger, for example. Learning what matters most to insurers can help policyholders pinpoint ways to lower their premiums or get more claims covered.

To get the most out of your policy, here are five insurance industry secrets worth knowing:

1. We Track Every Claim You Make

The insurance industry keeps an almost Big Brother-like eye on the claims policyholders make...

Read More

Money Minute: Virginia Sees Big Rate Hikes for Obamacare

A first look at how much health care premiums may go up in the second year of Obamacare.

Insurance companies in Virginia have filed rate proposals for 2015 that call for significant rate increases, but nothing near the dire predictions of Obamacare opponents. The Wall Street Journal reports the proposed increases easily top overall inflation, but that’s been true of health care costs for years. One of the biggest plans, Wellpoint’s (WLP) Anthem HealthKeepers, is asking for an average increase of 8.5 percent. Other plans call for rate hikes of 3.3 percent to nearly 15 percent.

But it may be a bit easier to pay for those increases. Economists polled by USA Today expect wage increases to be a bit higher than they’ve been in recent years...

Read More