One Work Benefit Is Still Awesome (For Now)

I’ve bemoaned several cost-cutting measures by my current employer that have had a negative impact on our finances. Specifically:

  • Suspension of employer matching to our 401(k)
  • No raises in 2009 or 2010
  • Up to 100% increases in premiums for health care in 2011

All in all, it’s been a pretty rough couple of years and definitely not what I had been projecting when you think of such things.  I think we sort of got used to the idea that we’d get a raise every year (or two years) and that health care costs, while increasing rapidly, wouldn’t effectively double.

Still, enough complaining.

One thing that I’ve realized is really good is our life insurance benefits.  Our employer ‘gives us’ life insurance at two times our salary for nothing.  Additionally, you can ‘purchase’ up to eight times more at a pretty reasonable price.  You can also add life insurance for your spouse and for children.

I did some comparison shopping a while back, and no insurance company that I contacted could even come close to what we pay annually out of my paycheck.  Not even the company that supplies our home and auto insurance policies could anywhere near, and they were the cheapest!

It’s important to be well protected, so I will definitely make sure this is always addressed.  I know that I’ll have to look at this if any of the following scenarios were to take place:

  • I no longer worked at my company
  • My company discontinued or reduced this benefit
  • My company raised the cost of this benefit

For now, it’s a pretty kick-butt benefit, one of the few remaining, so I’ll happily take it for now!

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Another Twitter Success Story

I freely admit that I don’t use Twitter to anywhere near the potential that it could be used for.  I have a hard enough time keeping things current on the blog that I don’t spend a lot of time outside of my blog and other blogs.

However, I thought I’d give Twitter a chance as I’d heard that it can be a pretty good method to get through to companies in times of frustration.

Verdict: Success!

OK, so I’ll give the story.

Earlier in the year, Baby Beagle needed some surgery.  It was nothing life threatening, but something that they told us that he would need pretty much right after he was born.  As such, I boosted our FSA savings for 2010 in anticipation of the surgery.

The surgery came and went and Baby Beagle came through with flying colors.  However, the insurance and hospital payments didn’t go so smoothly.

There ended up being four claims filed, which I’ve learned is pretty typical for procedures.  The surgeon and anesthesiologist each filed one, and there were two filed by the hospital.  Three of the four claims were approved and paid by the insurance company within a couple of days.  The fourth, however, was flagged for needing more information.

The strange part is that the one that was flagged was what I would consider the most ‘generic’ claim of the four.  It was the hospital claim that was basically covering the pre-op, the operating room, and the recovery room.  To me, when the insurance company approved the claims for the surgeon and staff, it seemed pretty much a given that there would be hospital usage charges, yet that’s the one that they held back.

I never got a bill, but for the next four months, the claim sat in limbo as the insurance company wouldn’t pay it, yet the hospital claimed they had sent the information.

Finally, on Monday, I’d had enough.  I posted a Tweet on Anthem Blue Cross’ page.  Within an hour, I had a response and began an e-mail dialogue.  My issue was esclated and voila!  Tuesday evening I received an e-mail noting that the information had indeed been received but was stuck in ‘backlog’.  They processed the claim and everything is now moving forward!

Now, I know what we have left to spend for medical related costs through the rest of the year, and I also have the peace of mind of knowing that there’s not a bill potentially hanging over our head.  While, I was 99% sure that we wouldn’t be on the hook for the claim amount, it was a pretty big amount and I didn’t like even thinking of the possibility.

Maybe there is something to this whole Twitter thing!

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Annual Review Of Our Homeowners Insurance Policy

I got our renewal information from our insurance company for our homeowners insurance policy. I realized that it is probably a good time to review our policy and make sure we’ve got the right coverage.
Here are some things I looked at in terms of our policy:
The cost of our policy with no changes rose roughly 10% from last year’s total. I actually went online to competing sites to get some rough quotes, and our costs are still significantly cheaper with Allstate. One of the reasons, I’m sure, is that we also have our automobiles covered through Allstate.
I may take some time to check with a couple of other companies on the ‘entire package’ at some point. I’ve heard that some people actually take a day off work dedicated to performing this task. That may be something to consider down the line. As it stands, my preliminary comparison shopping shows me that we’re still getting a reasonably good deal. Though I’m not thrilled about the 10% increase, I can live with it as long as it doesn’t become a repeating trend.
After all this isn’t college tuition where those types of increases are the norm.
Personal Property Protection
This isn’t so much looking at our coverage, but seeing this line did remind me that we need to do a better inventory of our stuff. My parents bought us a new video camera for Christmas, mainly because we want it so that we can film Baby Beagle when he/she arrives, but doing a walk through of our house to catalog inventory would be a good use for this camera as well.
Additional Living Expense
Currently, we have coverage for up to 12 months. This would cover us in the event that our house needed extensive renovations or re-construction. I don’t know if there are opportunities to make adjustments to this length, but I think one year is fair.
Family Liability Protection
This is currently set at the ‘base’ limit of $100,000. My understanding of this is that if we were to have an accident at our house and then get sued for damages, this would be the amount that the insurance company would pay up to. So, if someone tripped and fell and then came to sue us, we would be ‘covered’ up to $100,000 in damages plus associated costs.
It’s my feeling that we should raise this. My company will raise this for $39 per year to raise it to $300,000 up to $115 per year to raise it to $1,000,000. I am gathering advice to see what is recommended, but unfortunately in our ’sue first, ask questions later’, I feel the additional costs might be a small price to pay.
Any thoughts or recommendations?
Guest Medical Protection
This would be coverage that would cover out-of-pocket costs for anyone injured on our property that might require immediate medical attention. The example I saw that made the most sense was that if you have a child, and they have a friend over for a sleepover, and the friend gets hurt, you could take her to the emergency room and these costs would be covered.
One person commenting on this felt that having additional protection here often reduced the chances of getting sued for minor accidents, reducing the chances that the previous category would be needed.
Currently, our protection is the base $1,000. They offer $5,000 of protection for $9 more per year. To me, this might be worth it as well.

Any thoughts or advice that might help out?

If you’ve had any experience with this, please let me know. I’m always looking to make sure we have the right amount of coverage, so any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

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