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Further Thoughts You’ll Need Next Time You Go Shopping For a HealthCare Insurance Policy

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Further Thoughts You’ll Need Next Time You Go Shopping For a HealthCare Insurance Policy

Prohibited Marketing Practices. It is unlawful for a company or agent to use high pressure tactics to force or frighten you into buying a Medigap policy, or to make fraudulent or misleading comparisons to get you to switch from one company or policy to another. Deceptive “cold lead” advertising also is prohibited. This lactic involves mailings to identify individuals who might be interested in buying insurance. If you fill in and return the card enclosed in the mailing, the card may be sold to an insurance agent who will try to sell you a policy.

Check Your Right to Renew. States now require that Medigap policies be guaranteed renewable. This means that the company can refuse to renew your policy only if you do not pay the premiums or you made material misrepresentations on the application. Beware of older policies that let the company refuse to renew on an individual basis. These policies provide the least permanent coverage. Even though your policy may be guaranteed renewable the company may adjust the premiums from time to time. Some policies have premiums which increase as you grow older.

Know With Whom You’re Dealing. A company must meet certain qualifications to do business in your state. You should check with your state insurance department to make sure that any company you are considering is licensed in your state. This is for your protection. Agents also must be licensed by your state and may be required by the state to carry proof of licensure showing their name and the company they represent. If the agent cannot verify that he or she is licensed, do not buy from that person. A business card is not a license.

Keep Agents’ and/or Companies’ Names, Addresses and Telephone Numbers. Write down the agents’ and/or companies’ names, addresses and telephone numbers or ask for a business card that provides all that information.

If You Decide To Buy, Complete the Application Carefully. Do not believe an insurance agent who tells you that your medical history on an application is not important. Some companies ask for detailed medical information. If you leave out any of the medical information requested, coverage could be refused for a period of time for any medical condition you neglected to mention. The company also could deny a claim for treatment of an undisclosed condition and/or cancel your policy.

Look For an Outline of Coverage. You must be given a clearly worded summary of the policy… READ IT CAREFULLY.

Do Not Pay Cash. Pay by check, money order or bank draft made payable to the insurance company, not to the agent or anyone else. Get a receipt with the insurance company’s name, address and telephone number for your records.

Policy Delivery or Refunds Should be Prompt. The insurance company should deliver a policy within 30 days. If it does not, contact the company and obtain in writing the reason for the delay. If 60 days go by without a response, contact your state insurance department.

Use the “Free-Look” Provision. Insurance companies must give you at least 30 days to review a Medigap policy. If you decide you don’t want the policy, send it back to the agent or company within 30 days of receiving it and ask for a refund of all premiums you paid. Contact your state insurance department if you have a problem getting a refund.

And again, do not rush or be pressured into deciding on a policy. Trusting salespeople will take their time with you. If you are uncertain about a particular program, have the salesperson tell it to someone else, this sometimes helps too.

Canadian Travel Health Insurance

With Canada so close to the US, it is easy to forget that Canada is another country and even though we feel at home when we go there, there are formalities one must have in mind – like having a travel health insurance because the American healthcare system does not pay for treatment outside the US.

There is hardly anything special in purchasing a travel health insurance plan when going to Canada that is very different from doing it for any other part of the world. Maybe one difference is that Canada has a high st andard of living and therefore you can reasonably expect that there, like at home, medical and dental services will be more expensive than those in some Third World countries. And this is one more reason to look for the best, not the cheapest travel health insurance plan.

As far as money is concerned, a regular basic plan usually provides coverage for you and your family amounting about $50,000 CAD (about USD 43,000), which is usually enough to cover ambulance service, laboratory examination, doctor’s fees, a short stay in the hospital, etc. But if you are afraid that this is not enough, there are companies that offer over USD 1,000,000 as coverage. And if you go to ski in Calgary, for example, or go on a fishing trip to Ontario, do not let a broken limb ($400-500 with therapy, crutches, etc.) break both your mood and finances.

There are many Canadian companies that offer travel health insurance to Americans and there are many American companies that offer the same for Americans going to Canada, so the choice is unlimited. Just visit their sites and spend some time with the online calculators that allow to enter your age, the duration of the trip, the destination province and your medical condition, and in no time at all you will have plenty of offers to choose from!

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