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7 Ways to Save Money on Your Life Insurance Policy

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As many as 57 percent of all Americans had a life insurance policy in 2014, reports the Insurance Information Institute. That's good news because life insurance pays for funeral expenses, medical bills and debt an individual may accumulate. Unfortunately, some people don't purchase this beneficial coverage because of its cost. Don't make that mistake. Save money on life insurance in seven ways.

1. Purchase term life instead of whole life. Term coverage is cheaper than whole life. It also covers you for a set time period like as long as your kids live at home, for example.

2. Stick to basic coverage. Multiple riders that cover your kids or allow you to purchase more insurance later on can enhance your life insurance coverage. If saving money is your primary goal, though, skip these options and purchase basic coverage only. 

3. Choose a lower coverage amount. Experts recommend consumers purchase a life insurance policy that's 10 times your annual salary. If a policy of that amount is too expensive, try to at least cover your mortgage and debt repayment, monthly expenses, funeral costs and any educational expenses your survivors may incur. 

4. Buy while you're still young. Young people often receive better insurance rates than older adults. The sooner you purchase life insurance, the better your chances of saving money on a policy.

5. Stay healthy. Insurance companies often charge higher rates to people who are in poor health or who suffer from certain conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Other health conditions that can affect life insurance rates include: gender, tobacco use, overall health, family history and lifestyle. 

6. Bundle policies. By purchasing life, auto and home insurance from the same company, you can save money. Ask your agent for more information about bundling your various insurance policies. 

7. Comparison shop. Numerous companies offer life insurance, so comparison shop as you find affordable rates. 

Every individual's life insurance needs are unique. You can find affordable coverage, though, especially when you apply these seven tips. Talk to your insurance agent for additional ways to save money on life insurance. 

 

5 Life Insurance Rider Options You Might Need

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Life insurance gives you peace of mind since it provides your survivors with financial resources to pay everyday expenses, repay debt or fund education. However, you might need five riders that enhance your life insurance policy and add a further layer of financial protection.

1. Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

Receiving a terminal illness diagnosis is emotionally and financially devastating. With an accelerated death benefit rider, you receive 40 percent of your benefits now to pay for treatment or other expenses. While this early payment reduces the amount of money your survivors receive in the future, it can ease your current financial burden and potentially prolong your life.

2. Guaranteed Insurability Rider 

You might be in good health today and eligible for affordable life insurance. A change in your health condition could make you uninsurable in the future, though. With a guaranteed insurability rider, you never have to worry about needing a medical exam to qualify for life insurance. 

3. Waiver of Premium Rider

Add a waiver of premium rider to your life insurance policy and receive a free pass from paying your premium. You can use this rider if you become ill, injured or unable to work. It's a beneficial option for sole earners or anyone who doesn't wish to lose life insurance coverage during a health or other crisis. 

4. Spouse Insurance Rider

When you have life insurance but your spouse doesn't, you're both taking a risk. Provide your spouse with coverage, too, when you purchase a spouse insurance rider. Select the same amount of coverage as you currently have or a lower amount as you buy peace of mind and reduce your future financial risk. 

5. Long-Term Care Rider

Health care expenses during your senior years can quickly drain savings, especially if you live a long time or have serious medical challenges. A long-term care rider finances your nursing home care. Although the payout reduces the benefits your survivors receive, you receive essential care in your senior years. 

If any of these riders interest you, talk to your life insurance agent. Adding additional coverage increases your peace of mind and provides essential protection for you and your loved ones. 

 

A Guide to Health Insurance Hardship Exemptions

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According to the Affordable Care Act, most United States citizens must purchase health insurance or be penalized with a fine. However, certain hardship exemptions exist and can eliminate the fine for qualifying individuals.

How to Qualify for a Hardship Exemption

Three basic qualifications can exempt you from purchasing health insurance. They include: 

1. A sudden increase in living expenses that makes purchasing insurance impossible. 
2. Purchasing health insurance would deprive you of necessities like food, shelter or clothing. 
3. Another legitimate circumstance that prevents you from obtaining health insurance.

Additionally, you may qualify for an exemption if you meet one of these criteria. 

  • You recently experienced a disaster like a fire or flood that substantially damaged your home.
  • You are a recent domestic violence victim.
  • Your close family member recently died.
  • You care for an ill, disabled or aging family member and face an increase in living expenses.
  • You've filed for bankruptcy within the past six months.
  • You have incurred significant medical expense debt in the past 24 months.
  • You've received a shut-off notice from a utility company.
  • You're facing eviction or foreclosure.
  • You've been evicted from your home within the last six months.
  • You're homeless.
  • Your state does not offer expended Medicaid coverage so you are ineligible for Medicaid.
  • You win an appeal for an exemption and become exempt from paying the fine for the months in which you did not have coverage. 

How To Get the Hardship Exemption

To qualify for a hardship exemption, fill out the application on your state's health insurance exchange. Be prepared to provide proof of the incident that prompts the hardship exemption. It must be legitimate and have happened fairly recently. 

You may also contact your health insurance agent for details. He or she can walk you through the process and discuss alternatives like catastrophic health insurance. It covers major medical and typically includes low premiums that may be affordable despite your situation. 

 

As Costs Rise for Common Procedures, Make Sure You're Insured

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Between 2011 and 2013, hospitals raised patient costs for various common procedures by as much as 20 percent, well over double the rate of inflation. Learn more about the increases and ways you can save money if you need one of these procedures. 

Common Procedures and Cost Increases From 2011-2013

The following medical procedures saw an increase in costs between 2011 and 2013. For comparison, the cost Medicare covers is included. 

1. Atherosclerosis (arterial disease)
Average cost: $19,219, a 17.1% increase, Medicare pays $3,188

2. Back and neck procedures, excluding spinal fusion
Average cost: $36,215, a 22% increase, Medicare pays $5,818 

3. Chest pain charges 
Average cost: $19,867, an 18.1% increase, Medicare pays $3,029 

4. Circulatory disorders, except acute myocardial infarction with cardiac catheterization
Average cost: $39,093, a 15.1% increase, Medicare pays $6,189

5. Degenerative nervous system disorders 
Average cost: $28,033, a 17.2% increase, Medicare pays $6,020

6. Fractures, sprains, strains and dislocations other than femur, hip, pelvis and thigh
Average cost: $22,041, a 17.3% increase, Medicare pays $4,100

7. Medical back problems 
Average cost: $26,214, a 17.5% increase, Medicare pays $4,825

8. Percutaneous cardiovascular procedures without a coronary artery stent
Average cost: $75,331, a 17.2% increase, Medicare pays $12,743 


How Can You Combat These Price Increases?

Despite cost increases, you can receive medical treatment at a reduced cost when you follow two steps. 

First, use in-network providers who contract with your insurance company to offer services at a reduced rate. Since many insurance companies now feature narrow networks, check your policy carefully so you know exactly which doctors and procedures are covered. 

Second, update your insurance policy. Choose a plan that covers the procedures you need or plan the procedure to take full advantage of your deductible. If you know you'll need a costly procedure done in the future, shop around now for insurance that will cover it. 

Talk to your insurance agent today to discuss your needs and the best coverage for you. With the right coverage, you can ensure you're adequately insured despite rising medical costs.