Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"I have two health insurance plans. Why do I still have to pay for some things?"

Q: "Why do I have to pay anything out of pocket? I have two health insurance plans. Between them, shouldn't they cover all the costs?"

A: Unfortunately, most insurers changed the rules under which they coordinate benefits within the past 10-15 years. Under the new rules, there's less economic advantage to have two (or more) health insurance plans.

As a general rule, if you have two health plans and you receive both of them on your own (i.e. you don't get either of the plans through your spouse), then generally the plan that you've had for the longest period of time should be the primary policy.

However, there are a lot of variables that can change the result. For example, if one of your plans is Medicare and you get the other plan through your employer, then having a Medicare plan can change the order of benefits, depending on the size of your employer.

Confusing? Yup. If you're having problems with an insurance issue and you live in Washington state, feel free to give us a call. We may be able to help. Our insurance consumer hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number if 1-800-562-6900. You can also reach us at AskMike@oic.wa.gov.

Insurance tips: Are my antiques and collectibles covered?

Q: "I have a number of rare antiques and collectible items of special value. Are they covered by my homeowners policy?"

A: Household goods usually are covered, but only to a limited value. If you have rare, valuable items, it's a good idea to talk to your agent or insurer about that, because you may need to insure them separately. This will likely cost more, but maybe not a lot more. And you'll know you're covered, rather than finding out after a fire, burglary, etc. that your policy was inadequate.

Also, you may need to get professional appraisals to establish the current, accurate value of the items.

For more tips, including inventorying your possessions, resolving claims, etc., please see our "insurance tips for homeowners" page.