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2006: A look back - A look ahead  
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Kids gone? 20 insurance tips for empty nesters

8. Make a smart move.
If you're downsizing, moving into the dream house or shifting some things to a vacation home, be certain your belongings are covered during transit.

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Many movers offer insurance policies that pay by the pound.

At 60 cents per pound, your $2,000 plasma TV would net you a cool $36. Other plans offering partial or even full protection may be available if you ask.

Or you can call your home insurer and pick up a "special perils contents endorsement" to cover your goods for full replacement value during the move, says Hungelmann.

Health insurance
An empty nest often means more travel. That can make a big difference in your insurance needs and add some new considerations.
Tips to save on your insurance
9. Double-check your health insurance.
10. If traveling, will the insurance follow?
11. Make an evacuation plan.
12. Think of the other guy.
13. Talk to adult kids about insurance options.
14. View student coverage as a supplement.
15. Proceed with caution on discount cards.

9. Take a second look at your health insurance.
"The family's needs are changing, so it's a good time to look at health insurance options," says Lankford. With an eye toward what you need now, take a second look at the plans your employer offers. Is your current selection still a good match for your changing lifestyle?

10. If you're going to travel, will your insurance follow you?
"Ask: What happens if I need health care when I'm out of the country or out of the state?" says Sevigny. Not every policy will cover you. So you might have to make changes to your policy before you hit the road.

Ditto if you're on Medicare. "Pick a supplement that will cover you in multiple states," says Hungelmann. Your goal: Make it easy to access medical care wherever you might be.

11. Have an evacuation plan.
Nothing can be more frightening than having a health crisis in a strange city or foreign country. Either on a per trip or annual basis, you can have a policy that will fly you home immediately in the event of a medical emergency.

"And make sure you, not the local doctor or facility, gets to decide whether or not you need to come home for treatment," says Hungelmann.

12. Think of the other guy.
If retirement is looming for you or your spouse, what are the health insurance options for the still-working party? If both of you are on the retiree's health plan, what do you have to do so that the working party has continuous coverage? (A lapse can trigger those nasty pre-existing condition exclusions and make it harder to get another policy.)

Some options:

13. Talk to your adult kids about their insurance options.
Since many employers are cutting health insurance benefits, some 20-somethings are staying on mom's or dad's group plan as long as possible.

If your kids hit the maximum age your plan accommodates and still don't have health insurance, they can buy another three years on the policy by paying all the premiums themselves through COBRA, says Lankford. "That's great if they have medical conditions, but you will be surprised by the cost," she says. 

14. View student health coverage as a supplement.
If your kids are still in college, consider using the school's student coverage as a supplement to your policy, says Hungelmann. Frequently, student plans will provide access to school facilities or local providers near the campus, which is great if your own plan is lacking in that area, says Hungelmann. But student plans typically are not good for stand-alone coverage, he says.

-- Posted: Nov. 1, 2006
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