Review the State of Your Insurance at the End of Each Year

By on November 7, 2018

As one year draws to a close and another is soon to begin, take the time to look at your insurance policies to see if there are any last minute items you can take advantage of, as well as review your policies to make sure they are up-to-date. Let’s face it, a lot can happen in the course of a year, and your insurance policies need to reflect those changes.
Why is an end-of-year review of your insurance policies so crucial? Take life insurance, for example: You need to make sure your policy will live as long as you do.

If you’re like most busy Americans, you don’t think much about your insurance coverage on your home, car or yourself very often. But as 2018 winds down, some insurance costs are going up — unless you lock them in now. Think of the end of the year as a good opportunity to look at your policies and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Once you’ve taken a look at your policies, you can start 2019 knowing that you have the best rates and the best coverage possible. Insurance documents don’t make for light reading, but we’ve made it easy for you by compiling a list of the specifics you should be looking for as you go over your policies.

Manage Your Life Insurance at the End of Each Year

If you own anything other than term or whole life, you want to give your policy a physical before the year is over.

  • Verify your beneficiaries
  • Make any necessary changes based on marital status, new dependents, increases in your estate, etc..
  • Check-in on cash-value investment components and fund positions
  • Assess current value of the policy per the financial needs of your beneficiaries
  • Convert a term policy into a permanent life policy

Speak with insurance agent to determine the strength of your life insurance policy at the end of each year. Purchase more insurance if necessary and make smart investment moves with the help of your agent and financial advisor.

Check-up Your Homeowners and Auto Insurance Policies

End of Year Car Insurance Review

Before your next auto insurance payment is due, review you financial statements at the end of the year to see if you qualify for any number of discounts–from good driving and no claims discounts to those based on education and bundled risk (home/auto). Some carriers even offer discounts for paying premiums annually or bi-annually rather than monthly.

In addition, some policyholders may benefit from changing their deductible, adding or dropping comprehensive coverage to save money long-term. Your insurance agent should be able to help you make your decisions.

Annual Homeowner’s Insurance Review

If you’re a homeowner, check into whether you need increased coverage. Not only does the value of your home affect your insurance coverage amount, but the cost to rebuild is a factor. Many homeowners lack the extra coverage needed to cover this quickly rising expense and avoid paying hefty out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a major claim.

Make sure your insurance company evaluates any home additions or energy-efficient improvements to the property, as well as conducts a thorough evaluation of projected rebuild and replacement costs in 2018.

Prepare for Changes in Health Insurance

Don’t miss out on time sensitive insurance benefits – Some health care plans cover annual physicals, vision or dental checkups and minor treatments with little or no out-of-pocket expense to the policyholder. Check with your insurance company at the end of each year to confirm your eligibility for specific annual services.

Many health plans waive the deductible for services such as preventive care or the emergency room fee if you are admitted to the hospital. Check your policy so can take advantage of essential care. And review your expenses to see if you have met your deductible (out-of-pocket health expenses). Some deductibles reset on January 1 while others may carry over. If you have met your deductible, then claims for qualified treatments before December 31 may be covered by insurance.

Finally, ensure you’re getting essential health care at the most affordable price. Some plans have been discontinued or employers are offering new alternatives so everyone can find affordable care. Speak with a trusted insurance agent to compare qualified health insurance plans before the Affordable Care Act January 1 deadline for enrollment.

Get Medical or Dental Treatment Before Your Deductible Resets

While some health insurance plans run on a fiscal year, most run on a calendar year. Millions of dollar spent in premiums go to waste as patients allow benefits to go to waste as soon as December 31 passes. You might save a significant amount of money by taking care of these appointments now, instead of waiting until 2019.

It is up to policyholders to check to see what benefits they have remaining before the end of the year. If you have met your deductible, use up your treatment benefits before the deductible resets.

Some plans have separate deductibles for in-network care versus out-of-network care. Find out the rules and always check whether providers to ensure you’re not spending extra money unnecessarily. And if you have a family policy, check if there are separate or combined deductibles for each member covered by the plan – rules can vary from one insurance company to another.

Manage Your Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts

If you pay for health care expenses from a qualified tax-advantaged account in which the government sets a limit on the amount of pre-tax money you can contribute and how the funds can be used to pay for medical, vision and dental, spend any remaining balance in your flexible spending account (FSA) and up to the carryover limit for a health savings account (HSA) prior to the end of the year.

  • An FSAs allows employees to supplement insurance plans by saving funds (tax-free) to pay for co-pays, deductibles and treatments not covered by insurance plans. FSAs have an annual limit of $2,650 per year. And any unused balance by December 31 cannot be used to fund health care spending in the next year (no rollover).
  • An HSA allows high income employees to save part of their earnings tax-free to pay most of their medical, dental or vision care out of pocket once the high annual deductible has been paid. Deductible balances do rollover into the next year, however the amount will be counted as a contribution to the account.

Enroll in Qualified Health Insurance Plans via Your Employer or Health Insurance Exchanges

Since 2014 every American, with some very few exceptions, have some form of health insurance or they pay fines. People without insurance will be able to shop for private insurance in health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges. And many others will be eligible to enroll in government subsidized plans.

For health insurance coverage starting in 2019, the Open Enrollment Period is October 1, 2018–March 31, 2019*. Insurance experts advise consumers to take their time and comparison shop to find the most affordable policy for their personal financial situation.

*The White House may extend the open enrollment period, although anyone not covered for three months in the calendar year (up to April 1, 2019) will be subject to penalties.  And those wishing to have an active insurance plan before March 31 needs to apply by February 15 to have an active plan by March 1 (since plans begin on the beginning of each month).

Review Your Premium Payments with a Trusted Insurance Agent

To establish the proper insurance coverage and get full use of your benefits for the best price, speak to your trusted insurance agent. In some cases a lower deductible benefits the family budget, while other cases call for raising the deductible to lower monthly premiums. Review your personal financial safety net to determine easy ways to save on necessary protections as you head into the new year.

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About Scott Ho

FSN insurance and retirement journalist - Planning for your retirement or understanding your insurance needs can be confusing and difficulty. Scott knows these tasks can seem daunting. He offers his experience to make choosing insurance coverage and planning for your golden years a successful endeavor. Connect with Scott at !

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