Seven insurance things to be thankful for
Like most Americans who will be gathering around a Thanksgiving table, you’ll probably be pondering things you’re thankful for. A stable job, good health and a loving family often make the list.
But before digging into the turkey or Grandma’s apple pie, why not take a minute to be thankful for some under-appreciated aspects of auto, health and life insurance? Here are seven of them to chew on.
1. You’ve got an incentive. With auto insurance companies vigorously fighting for your business, they’re constantly rolling out incentives to attract or retain customers, says Frank Cacchione, CEO of TNC Management Group, a management consulting and project management firm for the insurance industry. Those incentives include “accident forgiveness” (your insurer won’t raise your rates after your first at-fault accident) and “disappearing deductibles” (a perk that shaves off a certain amount from your deductible for each year you remain accident-free).
2. You have a cornucopia of choices. Auto insurance companies regularly tout how much money you can save by switching to carriers. This gives consumers a lot of coverage options.
“This is a very good time for most auto insurance customers, and especially good drivers who have not had an accident in the past few years,” Cacchione says. “However, even drivers with less-than-perfect driving records have been able to find companies that will insure them.”
While auto insurers’ ads do reflect real savings that consumers can achieve, keep in mind that they typically reflect “extreme” examples, not the average amount saved. In other words, you might not save as much money as the ads imply. Nonetheless, there are savings to be had if you shop around.
3. You’re paying less, not more. Mike Coleman, an insurance agent with State Farm in Lineville, Ala., says auto insurance rates are going down – not up. However, it’s hard to pin down just how much savings you might see, as your geographic location, credit history and driving record are among the ways that auto insurers determine your premiums.
“You really can’t compare what you’re paying with someone else, because there are a lot of factors involved,” Coleman says.
4. You didn’t go the “cheap” route. If you decided against cheap, no-frills auto insurance with extremely high deductibles, Shane Fischer, a personal injury attorney in Winter Park, Fla., says you have a lot to be thankful for. The same thankfulness applies if you went with optional comprehensive and collision coverage; comprehensive coverage kicks in when your car is stolen, for instance, while collision kicks in when you get into an accident with another car or object.
“I’ve dealt with both the ‘cheap’ policy companies and the more expensive, quality companies. And paying a bit more for quality is worth it,” Fischer says.
5. You no longer have to pay for preventive care. In years past, you may have had shell out your own money toward a deductible or co-pay to cover things like cholesterol or colon cancer screenings. For any health insurance policy that went into effect on or after Sept. 23, 2010, a full 100 percent of preventive care — including an array of screenings and vaccines — is now covered. This could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.
“This is the case even if the plan is a high-deductible, major-medical-only plan,” says Jared Balis, owner of Utah Insurance Advisors in Salt Lake City, which sells individual and family health insurance.
6. Your coverage is “unlimited.” In September 2010, lifetime limits on health insurance plans were eliminated as part of the federal health care reform law. For instance, your health insurance company may have set a lifetime limit of $100,000 for cancer treatment. Now, that limit has vanished.
This new wrinkle will reduce bankruptcy filings among people who’ve drained their bank accounts to pay medical expenses, says Michael Goodheim, a small business health insurance consultant in Seattle.
7. You can get the deal of your life. Joshua Kaskin, co-owner of Bradley Associates Insurance Service Inc., an independent insurance agency in Escondido, Calif., says life insurance is a relative bargain compared with auto and home insurance.
“Life insurance rates continue to remain low,” Kaskin says, “allowing budget-conscious people the ability to buy affordable life insurance for family and business protection, estate planning and wealth-transfer needs.”
A healthy 40-year-old man who buys a 20-year term policy with a fixed annual premium might pay $350 a year for a $500,000 death benefit, depending on his health and the kind of work he does.