Getting married or divorced, having or adopting a child, and retiring are important life stages.
These “qualifying life events,” as they are commonly referred to in the insurance industry, may allow you to make adjustments to the benefits you receive through your employer or other provider. If you’ve recently experienced a life event, review your benefits and determine if you need to make any new or different choices to ensure the coverage you want for you and your family. Keep the following in mind as you complete your review:
Act quickly. Be aware of the deadlines for making your new benefits choices. Typically, providers offer special enrollment for a limited period during which you can update your new status or make changes to your covered dependents. If you miss the window, you may face a waiting period. In some cases, a missed deadline means you’re out of luck until the next open registration period or the first of the year, whichever applies to your situation.
Change health insurance coverage. Do you have enough insurance? Too much? If you’re just married, compare the benefits offered to you and your spouse by your respective employers to see where you can get the most out of them. A higher-deductible plan may be a good idea if you have two incomes, are both young and healthy, and don’t anticipate major medical expenses. If you add children to your family, you’ll want to make sure they’re included in your health insurance as dependents. If you’re retiring before you’re eligible for Medicare, consider COBRA benefits (continued coverage under your employer’s plan), insurance through a still-employed spouse, or your options in the health care market. health.
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Evaluate life insurance and disability insurance. Marriage, divorce and the addition of children are all reasons to assess your life and disability insurance coverage. If your coverage is insufficient, it is best to obtain additional insurance. Unfortunately, many policyholders forget to remove an ex-spouse as a beneficiary from their policies after a divorce or remarriage, which can complicate legal cases if your health is unexpectedly endangered. When reviewing your coverage, take the time to verify that your beneficiary designations are correct.
Adjust your Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions. If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and have had a family event this year, the amount you are allowed to contribute annually may have changed. If you’ve added to your family through marriage or children, you can set aside more money in an HSA. If you’ve been through a divorce, you can divide the accumulated savings in a CGS or assign the benefits to your ex-spouse as part of a divorce settlement. Check with your health care provider to find out how much you can contribute based on your situation.
Consider legal and financial advice. Certain life events, such as divorce or adoption, may involve benefit decisions that have legal implications. Consider meeting with a lawyer to discuss your situation and get advice on next steps. Moreover, these events can lead to many changes in your budget, investments or other financial affairs. Consider meeting with a financial advisor who can help you assess your benefits within the larger financial context of your life goals and retirement plans.
Nic Gilliam is a Financial Advisor at Cordian Wealth™, a private wealth advisory firm of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC in Statesville, North Carolina. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies. To contact him, you can call 704-872-8181. It is located at 642 Signal Hill Drive Ext Statesville, NC 28625.