Shopping for Health Insurance? 5 Tips on How to Get It Right

Shopping for health insurance is all about comparing the benefits of the various cover plans available vis-à-vis their cost and then selecting a plan which best suits your needs and budget. The variations in health insurance plans are quite puzzling and, therefore, few individuals bother to understand or even go through the terms of contract till they run into trouble. Moreover, the vast variations between states only add to the complexity of this matter. For instance, some states authorize medical underwriting, thereby giving your insurer permission to raise your premium or even totally reject you from a policy based on your heath history. Those which don’t permit underwriting are no better as the premiums will usually be higher overall.

In deciding which plan is best for you, you will need a clear understanding of how your personal medical spending patterns relate to the fine prints of the different medical plans you qualify. Whatever plan you choose, if you have been previously entitled to a medical cover by your employer, prepare for sticker shock.

To get you through this mind boggling process, below are 5 tips on how to go about it:

1. Understand the Different Alternatives Available
If you were recently laid off or left your job, COBRA is the simplest option as it let you stay on your employer’s medical plan. However, you will need to pay the full cost, therefore may not utterly be the cheapest option. That is because, more than often, employers subsidize their employees’ premiums letting them only pay a fraction f the full bill. If you are in good health and rarely need to see the doctor, you may find a low cost high-deductible medical plan with a lesser amount of coverage.

Conversely, if you have issues with your health, COBRA may be superior deal overall. The major advantage of the COBRA plan is that you qualify for it irrespective of your pre-existing condition.

In deciding the best plan, you need to consider what you need, its cost, and how it weighs against other option. Paying highly for a coverage you are not going to use is like, as Martin Rosen (Heath Advocate co-founder) put it, “throwing your money down the fireplace.” If you are between jobs, and therefore having some financial constraints, you better go for the state-run programs that often discounted. For example, the state of New York provides cheaper health insurance cover for low income groups courtesy of its “Healthy New York” program.

2. Shop Around
Due to the complexity of insurance, the cost implication of being in a wrong plan may be great. Therefore, it is necessary to shop around and ensure you understand what you are buying before signing that contract. Here, the online heath insurance brokerages will give you a starting point. They automatically give you the quote of whatever plan you opt for. Just enter your information and get the quote.

Alternatively, you can hire a health insurance broker to guide you through. The brokers are listed in the National-Health-Underwriters, NAHU’s database. However, not all brokers are qualified therefore getting a referral from a family member or a friend will be advisable.

Either way, you will need to get different quotes for the different plans and then compare the details and monthly premium costs.

3. Affiliation with Groups
All factors constant, group insurance will be cheaper than getting a health insurance yourself. When you are a staff member, your company automatically qualifies for group rates. When you are going it solo, one good way to go would be to create or find a group. Alumni associations, trade groups and other organizations sometimes offer association insurance to their members. Nonetheless, you will still need to compare the coverage against the rates for a good choice as association insurance may not always be the cheapest option.

4. Consider Tax Deductions
Self employed persons can always deduct their insurance premiums prior to taxation. The premiums are “above-the-line” deduction which will reduce your gross income irrespective of whether or not you itemize them. On the other hand, medical expenses are a schedule-A deduction that can only be taken when itemized and has exceeded 7.5 percent of your gross income. In the end, the net cost of every dollar you spend on your health insurance cover will generally be less that spent on medical care.

5. Calculate the Long-run Cost of Different Plans
Cheaper insurance plan may not necessarily prove to be cheaper in the long-run. The long-term cost will depend on the cover exclusions, your heath spending, your in-network as well as out-of-network usage and several other factors. Consider your entire family’s health spending and patterns – the doctors you visit, your past medical services as well as a need to travel. You may find that you’re not covered by some plan.

Having a fully understood your heath issues, you may also want to consider the financial ones. Even though premiums are important, they are accompanied by some extra fees like co-insurance for seeing the doctor. Check for exclusions and benefit limits of your intended plan. A full understanding of your health issues and financial limits of the plan will help you know whether that particular cover will be cheaper or expensive in the long run.

How to Get Lower Auto Insurance Premiums

If you own a car, it must be insured. Driving is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. There are rules and regulations that apply to the car you’re driving–one of them is that you must have automobile insurance if you drive on public roads. In addition, the car must have full coverage insurance if it is financed (for the protection of the lender.) Following are a few tips on how to get lower auto insurance premiums.

Types of Coverage
The purpose of carrying auto insurance is to give you financial protection if you’re in an accident, the vehicle is stolen, or the car is somehow damaged. You can get insurance for practically anything, but the normal areas of coverage in an automobile policy are liability, collision, and comprehensive. If you carry adequate coverage in each of these areas, you shouldn’t have to worry about suffering a financial loss if something happens to the car. Another type of insurance that may or may not be necessary is called gap insurance, which covers you if you owe more on the vehicle than it is actually worth.

Shop for the Best Price
Probably the best advice anyone can receive when they’re looking for automobile insurance is to shop for the best price than can find. Because the insurance industry is so competitive, they are constantly vying with each other for your business. This can work to your advantage. Go on the Internet and get some quotes from online insurance companies. After that, start calling or visiting the more traditional brick and mortar agencies for additional quotes. Remember to ask for the same type of coverage from each place, so when you evaluate the prices the quotes will be for comparable coverage.

Consider High Deductibles
It is standard within the insurance industry to lower your premiums if you raise your deductible. The higher your deductible, the better price you get on your insurance. Keep in mind that if you have a high deductible, you will need to have access to enough money to pay it if you need to file a claim. That’s because the insurance company will not cut you a check until the deductible is paid. One sure way to be certain you’ll have the money available for the deductible payment is to open a savings account for that purpose. If you deposit money into the account on a regular basis, there will always be enough for an emergency–providing you don’t use it for something frivolous.

Ask for Discounts
When you’re talking to the various insurance agencies about the cost of coverage, don’t forget to ask for discounts. Most insurance companies will give a discount if you don’t file a claim for a certain amount of time. You may also be able to get a discount for staying with the same company for a long period of time. Other discounts could be available that you may not be aware of unless you ask. If you aren’t eligible for any of their existing discounts, find out what the qualifications are–you may be able make the appropriate changes to qualify.

Install Safety Features
By installing safety features in your car, such as anti-lock brakes or side-impact airbags, you may be eligible for a discount. Another safety feature that may lower your premiums is an anti-theft device. You may qualify for an additional discount if you take a driver safety course.

Raise Your Credit Rating
Although it may seem unrelated, having a bad credit score can mean higher insurance costs. By raising your credit rating, you will not only give yourself the opportunity to borrow money at lower interest rates, it could also lead to lower monthly automobile insurance premiums.

Use One Insurance Company
A good way to make sure you get the best possible price for auto insurance is to let one company provide all your insurance needs. If you get your home, auto, life, and health insurance through the same provider, it could mean considerable savings on your monthly premiums. As part of each company’s attempts to achieve a higher percentage of customers, they have come up with a way to offer lower premiums to customers that have multiple policies with them.

Drive a Fuel-Efficient Car
You may also be able to qualify for lower premiums by trading in that old gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient car. It will not only provide a savings on insurance cost, but you’ll save quite a bit at the pump as well.

Guest post from Cameron Gray. Cameron writes for

How to Insure Your Motorcycle for Less

If you ride a motorcycle, it’s important that you have adequate insurance coverage to protect both you and your bike. The thought of searching for a policy, though, that not only meets your insurance needs but fits into your budget as well may seem like a daunting task. The good news is, it really isn’t as difficult as it may seem. There are several things you can do to save money, and you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice valuable coverage in the process. Highlighted for you here are some money-saving tips to help you find motorcycle insurance for less.

Ride a Standard Bike

If you are shopping for a motorcycle, keep in mind that a standard or basic bike is one that will be more affordable to insure. If you opt for a sport or racing bike, or a deluxe model with all the bells and whistles, you’ll be looking at higher rates. If you don’t necessarily need a fast or luxury bike, don’t get one. Insurance companies generally view sport or deluxe motorcycles as higher risks, so a standard bike is your best bet if you don’t want to pay through the nose for decent coverage.

Have a Safe Place to Park

Having a safe place to park or store your bike when it isn’t in use will most likely knock some of the cost off your motorcycle insurance premiums. If you live in an area with a higher crime rate, you’ll definitely want to have a place to park your bike indoors, such as a garage or locked storage area. Even if you live in a seemingly safe neighborhood, having a place to park your motorcycle where it won’t be accessible to potential thieves or vandals will be looked favorable upon by an insurance company. In addition to having a proper storage place for your motorcycle, installing an anti-theft device on your bike will help you obtain lower rates–especially if your bike is newer or a model that’s more expensive to fix or replace.

Be a Responsible Rider

Being a safe and responsible rider is one of the best ways to secure a lower insurance rate, and if you continue on that way, your rates will most likely go down even more over time. You can maintain a good riding record by obeying traffic laws, respecting other motorists, and being acutely aware of what’s going on around you while you ride. If you can do this, you’ll be rewarded with affordable premiums as well as a significantly reduced chance of being involved in a traffic accident or receiving a ticket for a violation. If you’re an inexperienced motorcyclist and your insurance company sees you as a higher risk because of it, enroll in a motorcycle safety or training course at your local DMV. By doing this, you might be able to get your premiums discounted.

Compare Multiple Quotes

Get quotes from several reputable insurance companies, and compare policies to see which one can offer you the best coverage for the lowest price. Never buy insurance without reading the fine print first. Just because a policy has the lowest price-tag around doesn’t mean it’s the best. If an insurance policy doesn’t provide reasonable coverage, you could stand to lose a lot of money in the long run if something unfortunate were to happen. Compare policies as well as quotes before making any decisions.

Inquire About Additional Discounts

While you look at the different options that are available to you, ask about additional discounts that you might be eligible for. Many insurance companies offer a variety of different discounts–just ask your insurance agent if they feature any that would apply to you.

Whether you just purchased your first bike or you’re a seasoned rider, motorcycle insurance is something you simply can’t go without. These useful tips will help you find the coverage you need at a price you’ll feel good about paying.

About the author: Guest post from Kerry Clare. Kerry writes for