Tips for Cheaper Health Insurance
15 ways to save on homeowners insurance



Getting health insurance coverage after retirement is one of the biggest issues. The odds are very good you will pay far more for health insurance when you retire than when you were employed.

Many employers pay 50% to 90% of the actual cost of their employees' health insurance. Merely picking up the portion of the premium paid by your former employer will greatly increase the monthly cost for many retirees. If you can't obtain health insurance as a member of a group after you retire, being forced to buy an individual health insurance policy can also dramaticaly increase costs. The premiums for individual health insurance policies are often 50% to 100% higher than group plans offering equivalent benefits. Finally, as we age, we tend to spend more money on health care. In health plans that vary the premium by age, a 40-year-old might pay 50% more than a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old would pay more than double the premium of the 40-year-old.



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Here are some tips:

May consider belonging to a professional association and/or obtain insurance for self employment. Groups like Insurance agents, Realtors, other sales reps, etc. can get a better group rate while maintaining a leisure lifestyle. There are plenty of brokers who are willing to accept "part-time" agents. Who says you have to actually sell anything?

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). If you are not employed you may be eligible to continue your previous employers' health insurance through COBRA. This also applies to children going off to college... you also may be able to continue on your parent's health insurance coverage through COBRA. This is a very good option for people who may have lost their job and are still undergoing medical treatments. If you were to switch to another insurance plan, your current medical treatments may not qualify under the new health insurance plan. But.. WARNING! This will not be an affordable health insurance option. The premiums will be much higher and you may be able to better afford one of the below options first. It is best to gather all your available health insurance options and pick the best health insurance plan for you.

Workers' Compensation: Many people don't realize that they may be covered under their state's Workers' Compensation program. If you are being treated for any work related injury, your employer must offer you treatment under their Workers' Compensation program.

Medicaid: Don't automatically think that since you have a job you won't qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid will pay health care expenses for low-income families and individuals. Each state sets the eligibility requirements so qualifying for the program is state specific. If you are working and still don't have enough to buy affordable health insurance, it doesn't cost you a penny to see if you or your children qualify for Medicaid so it is always best to check Medicaid first before moving on to the next options. And, there is good news about Medicaid... more and more states are adding health care benefits for low-income families so if you don't qualify now, keep informed of your state's Medicaid and health insurance laws because you may qualify in the future.

Medicare: Most people know if they qualify for Medicare or not, but I need to add it to the list just to make sure it is not overlooked. Medicare is provided by the government and administered by the Social Security Administration. If you are sixty-five years old or older you would qualify for Medicare. You may also qualify if you are getting Social Security disability benefits.

Getting health insurance as a student can also be a low cost alternative. Taking one or two courses per semester may qualify.

State High Risk Health Insurance Pool: If you are turned down by individual health insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions, your state may have a high risk health insurance pool you can obtain health insurance from. It may not be an affordable health insurance choice, but it may be the only individual or family health insurance option available to you that will pay for your pre-existing conditions if you don't qualify for COBRA.

Health Insurance Discount Cards: Again, this is also not an insurance plan but can be a good source for getting low cost health services. There are many companies who offer affordable health insurance discount cards and they work like this: You pay a small monthly fee for a membership card and when you go to the doctor or hospital you will get a discounted rate on your services. These are not for everyone and one thing you have to remember is that if you had a catastrophic health crisis the discount on these cards is not a lot, so you would still have an enormous amount of bills left to pay. But, on the other hand, some people do choose to go this route and at least are able to get a discount on their doctor bills. These cards should not be used in place of insurance and if you choose this option you should still be working towards getting health insurance in the future.

If you are over 50 and seeking individual/family health insurance, it might be better to separate your family when you apply, especially if your spouse is younger. Health insurance for couples and families is sometimes based on the age of the oldest individual, and different carriers have different age-rating bands—one might be 55 to 59 and another 56 to 60—so shop around and try different combinations of family members to find the best deal. If you choose a family policy, put the policy in the name of the younger spouse so that person still has coverage when the older spouse switches to Medicare.

Premiums for individuals age 55 to 64 are so high that in some cases it may actually be cheaper to get state-guaranteed health insurance from a state risk pool as if you were unhealthy—check out the rates in your state. To become eligible for a state risk pool you typically have to first apply and get rejected or uprated by a private carrier, although many state risk pools may accept you with just a letter from a licensed agent stating you would have been uprated or rejected if you had applied.




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15 ways to save on homeowners insurance

You can save money on homeowners insurance if you know how. Discounts from your insurance company are available for a variety of reasons, ranging from the type of building material used to build your home to how close you live to a fire station. Here are 12 ways you can save money on your homeowners policy:

Shop around
Check with several different insurance companies to get rate quotes. Get online quotes.

Raise your deductible.
The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance kicks in. Typically, deductibles start at $250. Increase your deductible to:

$500 and save up to 12% on your premiums.
$1,000 and save up to 24%.
$2,500 and save up to 30%.
$5,000 and save up to 37%.

Just MAKE SURE YOU CAN AFFORD to pay the higher deductible if something should happen.



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Buy your home and auto policies from the same company.
Many companies will give a discount if you buy both homeowners and auto coverage from them

Consider insurance consequences when buying a home.
If you're looking at buying a home, think about the cost of insuring the home. A newer home's electrical, heating and plumbing systems, and overall structure are likely to be in better condition than those of an older home. This can lead to a discount on your premiums.

Also consider the construction of the home and your geographical location. If you live on the East Coast, you'll want the house to be able to stand up to wind damage; on the West Coast, you need to keep earthquakes in mind.

Insure your home, not the land.
Although your home and its contents are at risk from fire, theft, windstorms and other perils, the land your house sits on is not. Don't include the value of the land in deciding how much homeowners insurance you need to buy.

Improve security and safety.
Items such as deadbolt locks, burglar alarms and smoke detectors often bring discounts of 5% each, depending on the company. Your insurance company may also offer a significant discount of 15% or 20% if you install a sophisticated home security system. If you're thinking about buying such a system, check with your insurer to see which systems they recommend and which will earn you a discount.

Stop smoking.
Smoking accidents account for more than 23,000 residential fires every year. Some insurers offer to reduce premiums if no one in the home smokes.

Try senior discounts.
Insurance companies have found that retired people stay at home more and spot fires sooner than working people. Older people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you're at least 55 years old and retired, you might qualify for a discount of as much as 10%.

Ask about group coverage.
Alumni and business associations often work out insurance deals with an insurance company, which includes a discount for association members. Ask your association's director about any such deals.

Stay with an insurer.
If you've kept your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive special consideration. Several insurers will reduce their premiums by 5% after you've been with them for three to five years, and some companies will discount you as much as 10% after six years.

Check your policy annually.
You want your policy to reflect the value of your home and belongings. If you review your policy every year, you will be able to make the necessary adjustments. If, for example, you just sold a valuable painting, you won't need the same amount of coverage. But if you added a garage, you'll need to increase your coverage.

Look for private insurance first.
If you live in a high-risk area (one that is especially vulnerable to coastal storms, fires or crime) and think you'll be forced to buy homeowners coverage from your state's high-risk insurance pool, check first with an insurance agent. You may find that you can still buy insurance at a lower price in the private insurance market than from the insurer of last resort.

Make payments electronically.
Many companies now charge up to $5 for mailed payments, so have your payments automatically deducted to shave that cost. Sometimes the deductions can come from your credit card, so you don't have to worry if the money is in your bank account when payment time comes.

Check your credit rating.
Many companies check your credit and base your policy on the information they find. Make sure your credit is in good shape, and if it's not, seek out companies that do not run credit checks.

Get replacement-cost coverage.
Actual-cash-value coverage reimburses you for the cost of your property at the time of the claim, minus the deductible. This can result in a lower claim payout than you expect. If your TV is worth $50, for example, that's all you'd get to buy a new one. Replacement-cost coverage will reimburse the full value of an item based on the cost of purchasing a new one. The upfront cost is greater, but you are more likely to receive accurate compensation for your possessions.









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