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Understanding Your Insurance Rights

Insurance -- life, health, and disability -- is one area that changes greatly once you have a baby. Young single people and even married couples may take a set-it-and-forget-it attitude toward insurance coverage. But once you become a family, you need to reexamine your insurance arrangements to be sure they suit your new needs. Here are some guidelines for making sure that your family is properly covered.

  • Collect the latest paperwork on the health insurance coverage both you and your spouse may have. Also, check the company's Web site for any recent updates. Review the options both of you may have in order to decide which plan will suit your new needs as a family. Does one cover well-baby care? Or include pediatricians you are considering?
  • Talk to the benefits specialist at your company regarding your health insurance coverage. If you are thinking of keeping both policies for the additional coverage, be sure to understand your plan's "coordination of benefits" clause. In some cases, insurance companies don't allow duplicate coverage or agree to pick up coverage where another policy leaves off.
  • Remember to notify your insurance provider in writing after the baby is born. Many insurers will refuse to cover a baby's medical expenses after one month unless they receive this document.

Most workers never consider disability insurance until disaster strikes. Now that you're becoming a family, it's even more crucial to understand what coverage you might have in the event that you suffered a serious injury.

Talk with the benefits provider in your company and be sure to understand the following:

  • Sick leave: How many days are you entitled to and at what rate of pay? This may have changed over time with your length of service to the company.
  • Worker's compensation: If your disability results from a job-related injury, worker's compensation may provide some benefit. But don't look for it to replace your salary, especially if you are a high-end earner. States usually cap the benefit at two-thirds of the average statewide wage.
  • Long-term disability: Only about 40% of workers in medium-size and large companies receive the coverage, and even fewer employees of small companies are protected. What's more, you may not qualify for coverage unless you've worked at the job for a several years. A standard group plan replaces 60% of income up to $5,000 a month.

While no one wants to think about the possibility of their death, it's something that every new parent needs to face. Here are a few guidelines for finding the right life insurance plan.

  • Determine how much money the family would need if the wage earner(s) were to die. Be sure to consider more than just day-to-day expenses. Calculate for mortgage payments, college tuition, etc.
  • Compare term and whole life policies. Term insurance is less expensive and insures you only during the years your child is financially dependent on you.

Source: Kiplinger's Personal Finance

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.