I Can’t Believe Open Enrollment Will Be Soon

In a sign of how quickly the year is going by, we got an announcement about the open enrollment period for 2012 insurance.   They haven’t announced a date but they did announce some good news, and that’s that they are freezing premiums and co-pays (and in some cases, even lowering the co-pays) for next year.  They also said they will be lowering out of pocket maximums.

That’s definitely great news.  Last year saw a huge increase, though, way above market average, so honestly, this years freeze will probably just level things out to where they ought to be anyways.

We had considered going with an High Deductible Plan in 2011, but because we knew we were having a baby and the associated costs with that, we opted for the more traditional plan, which had higher premiums but also paid out more and had low deductibles.  If we anticipate that our medical needs will be lower in 2011, this could be a good way to go, especially depending on what they come out with for the out-of-pocket maximums.

I’ll keep you updated when the actual info comes out, but that is a welcome bit of good news (now, we just have to see if there will be any raises!).

How are things shaping up for your 2012 insurance enrollment?

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Does Your Insurance Agent Make A Difference?

I never really gave much thought to who my insurance agent was.  I have been with Allstate since 1996 when my parents booted me off their plan following my college graduation.  At the time, they were the cheapest I could find with a company name I trusted.

They’ve provided good service and when I’ve comparison shopped my policies a couple times since, I’ve never found a deal convincing enough to leave.

When I first signed up, I was assigned an agent that was most likely closest to where I lived.  At some point when I was living in my condo in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, I got a letter stating that the agent I was with had retired and I was being assigned to a new agent that was the closest to where I lived.

Whatever, right?

I then got another letter from the new agent welcoming me as a customer.  More whatever, right?  They were all about looking out for my needs and what seemed standard stuff you put in a letter to make sure your new customer doesn’t jump ship.

Except it wasn’t just talk.  This agent has actually looked out for me over the years.

He calls me just to check in.  He sat down and reviewed our policy line by line when we added my wife to the policy around when we got married and again when we moved into our house.  When I call with any questions, both him and the lady that does the ‘grunt work’ both know me by name.

Even though we moved about fifteen miles away, we still stuck with that agent because I felt that they really were actually looking out for us.

Recently, though, they really blew me away.

I got a call from the agent. He was obviously excited about something, so much that I thought he was calling to tell me that he had just finished a marathon or something (which, even though we’re friendly, would have been odd).  But, as it turns out, he had proactively looked at our auto and homeowners policy, ran some numbers, and found that we could increase our coverage without paying more.

Wait, not just avoid paying more, but save roughly 15%.

By adding an umbrella policy over the top of our auto and home policies, we could reduce the liability coverage on those two policies, dropping them in cost substantially, but add it back in and then some with the umbrella policy.  The coverage stays the same.  All the deductibles stay the same.  Our liability coverage actually works in our favor.  The only changes are that we have three policies to pay instead of two and that the total amount over a year will be 15% less than what we paid last year.

Pretty cool, huh.  I did all the research I could.  I reviewed every line on the policies to make sure I wasn’t missing something or setting myself up for a fall later.  So far as I can tell, it’s all on the level!

The 15% stuck out in my head as memorable because of the ‘Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more’ tagline from Geico.  Turns out, with Allstate, I didn’t even have to spend the fifteen minutes.  My agent did, and I still got the savings.

It’s pretty hard to beat that!

Have you ever had a company go out of their way to save you money when they probably didn’t have to?

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Having Health Insurance Is Hazardous To My Health!

As many of you know, we had a beautiful baby girl a month and a half ago.  As with any change, a new baby has meant that everything has changed.  While there are challenges, they’re all worth it for those beautiful moments that only a newborn can give you, a soft sigh, a little breath, or a touch of wonderfully soft skin.

One area that hasn’t been amazing has been the health insurance.  As with anything major, the cost of having a baby is pretty high.  There are insurance claims upon insurance claims.  The ironic part is that keeping on top of all the insurance claims have been a source of more stress than actually having a newborn!

Consider this:

Adding our baby was pretty simple.  HR walked me through the steps I would need to go through to add the baby to our insurance plan.  The plan wasn’t changing, since we were already on family coverage anyways, it was just adding her to the plan.

Simple enough, right?

It seemed so when she appeared on the website after I logged in a couple days after providing HR the information.

Smooth sailing, except that all of the claims associated with her delivery and hospital stay were…



I talked to the insurance company and they said, “Well, it’s because you haven’t responded to the form we send out which makes sure that she isn’t covered by any other insurance plan.”  When I pointed out that I had just added her a couple of days ago and there was no possible way that I could have gotten that form and responded to it, the nice lady said “Oh, yeah, it probably hasn’t even gone out in the mail yet.”

Double huh?!?

At least she was nice about it.

She explained that the system that tracks the responses only provides a Yes/No as to whether this information has been provided.  If it’s no, the claim is rejected.  There’s no date stamp or any other flag that could at least give the customer a chance to receive the form and mail it back.

Luckily, the lady was super nice and she was actually able to enter my responses into the system on the phone, and submit the claims for re-processing.

Still, doesn’t that seem like a huge waste of everybody’s time over something so simple?

Here it seems that it’s a good thing that I have health insurance because I’m stressed but I’m stressed because I have health insurance!  Figure that one out!

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I’d Rather Be Safe Than Sorry

Last month was the four year anniversary of having closed and moved into our home.  It’s been great.

With that came the annual responsibility of paying our homeowners insurance premium (we don’t escrow).  We do our car and home insurance through Allstate, as having both with the same company saves us money on both policies.

I’ve gotten into a pretty good system where I have this payment set through my online access.  It deducts from my bank account and we’re good for another twelve months.

Not this year.

I went in a couple of days before the date of which the payment was due.  Having worked with this before with no problems, I figured I’ll keep my money as long as possible.  Logically, I know it’s only a couple of pennies in interest that we’re talking about, but still.

Except it wouldn’t let me in.

I had the username and password correct.  I keep this in a master list of access codes and the site even confirmed that I was entering it correctly, but it wouldn’t let me in due to some ‘Account Upgrades’ that were taking place in the back end.

Concerned, I called my agent’s office.  The nice lady on the phone (who I’ve dealt with many a time) assured me that I have until 10 days after the policy is due to pay it without penalty and that the account access would be restored by then.

What do you think I did?  Do you think I said ‘OK’ and hung up, taking my chances that I could pay past the due date.


I cheerfully asked ‘Well, can you just process the payment for me?’

‘Sure’.  So I paid over the phone (oh, and with my 1% Citi card so I’ll get 1% of my policy amount back, woo hoo).  Ahead of time.

I guess I could trust the insurance company.  They’ve never given me reason not to.  They’ve always handled every claim I’ve processed quickly and without error.  They’ve always worked with me when I had any concerns on pricing.  They always handled everything on the up and up.  They’ve given me every reason to trust them.  I could have.

But I didn’t 🙂

Better safe than sorry, I say, and I certainly slept better that night having exercised those words of wisdom!

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