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Helping Seniors Get Insured

by Penny M. Hagerman

Seniors face many issues as they age that make getting affordable insurance difficult. During later years, health often declines, seniors lose the ability to drive safely, and the likelihood of death multiplies. These added risks increase rates and make finding the right insurance coverage challenging.

Unique Needs 

Having married and raised families of their own, most seniors enjoy retirement immensely. Though more stay in the work force past the usual age of retirement these days, life tends to slow and become more enjoyable once the responsibilities of family and children are past.

During the later years, however, older citizens may find themselves losing their sense of perception, judgment and balance. In addition, eyesight often fails, response time lengthens and serious illness becomes more likely—all precursors to higher insurance rates.

Most people 65 and older get Medicare through the federal government to cover major medical expense. But those ready to retire and lose their health insurance may be fearful that, once they qualify, Medicare won't provide the extent of coverage that's needed.

And with Social Security in trouble, those funds may not be available to help fill the gaps in coverage Medicare leaves behind.

Equipping the Elderly 

As seniors age, finances should be managed so they last for life—regardless how long. And with the elderly now living longer than ever before, the right protection is absolutely vital to leading a full, rich life in later years.

Seniors looking for affordable insurance coverage on a fixed income should consider the following advice courtesy of InsureMe, and then shop for policies that keep them protected year after year.

Auto Insurance
Because mature drivers are some of the safest on the road—having fewer accidents and tending to drive safer cars—many insurance companies offer discounts to those between 50 and 70. However, rates generally climb with age, health declines and the likelihood of serious accident and fatality increases.

To keep car insurance rates low, regular eye exams should become part of life. The aged should avoid driving when drowsy or taking medication and consider taking a driver's training refresher course to ensure they're up-to-date on driving skills and state law.

Health Insurance
As seniors retire and leave jobs with group health insurance behind, new health coverage is needed to replace it.

Though some employers may continue health care insurance for long-time employees, Medicare becomes the primary insurer when seniors turn 65—and anything Medicare doesn't pay for becomes the insured's responsibility. An individual health insurance plan helps fill this gap.

Those who leave the work force before turning 65 and can't continue employer-sponsored coverage should also consider a personal health insurance policy. This coverage may be continued beyond the 65th birthday for extra protection, if supplemental health insurance is warranted.

Home Insurance
As a group, seniors spend more time at home, and are more likely to maintain property and correct household problems before they become major. This type of diligence earns most a home insurance discount and cheaper rates.

As children leave for college, get married and have families of their own, many people downsize to a smaller home. Those with smaller mortgages have less to protect, so buying a smaller home during the later years is also a good way to reduce home insurance expense.

People who've accumulated valuable possessions like antiques, art or jewelry over the years should consider adding umbrella protection to their home insurance. Protection like this provides additional protection above and beyond the normal home insurance policy and ensures that, if disaster strikes, seniors can get reimbursed the value of those precious collectibles.
Life Insurance
As the elderly age, life insurance premiums naturally increase. But for the sake of loved ones, it's important to stay current on premiums as time goes by.

Retirees who plan ahead by purchasing life insurance create a financial safety net that can be used as an emergency fund, a blanket to cover the social security "blackout period" imposed on a surviving spouse, bequests for heirs and favorite charities, or a supplement to Social Security survivor's benefits.

Though older Americans can still get life insurance, it's more expensive during later years. The best way to save money on this type of coverage is to buy it while you're young.

Long Term Care Insurance
Purchased from private insurers, LTC insurance covers costs associated with aging not covered by other insurance policies. Seniors who contract chronic, long term illness or lose the ability to take care of themselves as they age need long term care insurance to help maintain quality of life.

Long term care insurance covers expenses like nursing home, hospice or in-home care. When seniors are no longer able to dress, feed or bathe themselves, or become immobile due to illness or injury, LTC insurance pays for assistance performing these daily chores.

Long term care coverage should play a part in every financial planning experience.

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