Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind
when shopping for medical insurance:
Shop carefully before you buy -
Policies differ as to coverage and cost, and companies differ as to
service. Compare before buying.
Don't buy more policies than you need -
Duplicate coverage can be expensive and generally is unnecessary. A single
comprehensive policy is better than several policies with overlapping or duplicate
Know with whom you are 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. If
the agent cannot verify that he or she is licensed, do not buy from that person. A
business card is not a license.
Get agent and company information -
Write down the agents' and/or companies' names, addresses and telephone
numbers or ask for a business card that provides all that information.
Check on the financial stability of the
company you are considering - Several private companies or
rating agencies conduct financial analyses of insurance companies and grade them. These
ratings carry no guarantee of accuracy, but can provide you with information on how some
analysts view the health of particular insurance companies. Different agencies use
different rating scales, so be sure to find out how the agency labels its highest ratings
as well as the ratings for the companies you are considering. Ratings from some agencies
are available at most public libraries, or you can call the agencies directly at the
numbers listed below. (Note that there will be an extra charge on your phone bill for
calls to "900" numbers.)
Take your time - Don't be pressured into buying a policy. Principled sales people will not
rush you. Be suspicious of agents who try to force you to make an
immediate decision or attempt to get you to pay by the year. If you are not certain whether a policy is what you need, ask the salesperson to
explain it to a friend or relative.
Complete the application carefully -
If you do decide to buy, do not believe an insurance agent who says
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 should be given a clearly worded summary of the policy ...
Do not pay with 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 should be prompt -
The insurance company or agent should deliver a policy within 60 days. If
they don't, 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.
READ YOUR POLICY CAREFULLY -
Check to be sure a copy of the original application is attached to the
policy and it is complete and accurately reflects your medical information. Review the
schedule of benefits and verify the information is correct and what you were expecting. Make sure there are no pages missing and no unexpected riders or exclusions included in
the policy. IMPORTANT: Your policy is the insurance contract. If you have questions about it, call
the company and get them resolved during the 10 day "Free Look" period.