June 12, 2009

What Every Woman Should Know About Insurance

Thinking about the loss of your husband is difficult, but the reality is close to 70 percent of wives in the Baby Boomer generation or expected to outlive their spouses. Besides the psychological, social and emotional impact a husband&rsquo^s passing on our lives, we must also cope with the financial quandary associated with the multitude of insurance policies and coverage. If you have not already prepared the necessary documents and phone numbers, compiling them after your husband&rsquo^s passing can be an overwhelming task.

You must first determine what, if any, health insurance, auto insurance and life insurance as been purchased to cover your husband. Begin by looking in your safe deposit box and through documents in your home. Talk to the human resource department at your husband’s place of employment. Another resource is bank records – you can pull them and review for transactions that appear to be insurance-related. Speaking with your auto insurance agent and home insurance agent may also help you to track down any pertinent insurance coverage.

Once the applicable auto insurance, health insurance and life insurance policies are identified, you will have to determine the claim-filing process and what documents are required in order to file a claim. Then, you must decide what type of payment arrangement will transpire and how it will take place.

Preparing yourself for a loss such as this by compiling essential documents ahead of time will take a lot of stress out of an already traumatic situation and can allow you more energy to cope with your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Assemble Essential Documents Ahead Of Time

Within one week of your spouses passing, you should have completed the necessary paperwork to receive any financial benefits to which you are entitled. These include:
• Proceeds from life insurance policies
• Employee benefits
• Social Security
• Benefits from spouse’s labor union
• Benefits from spouse’s credit union
• Veterans’ Benefits

Keep in mind, in order to secure these benefits, you will need the following documents and information, which (except for death certificate) you should assemble now and secure in a safe place where they can be easily accessed when necessary. Work together with your spouse to compile and file these documents, so that you both know where they are located.

Essential Information Checklist

• Name:
• Social Security Number:
• Date of Retirement:
• Date of Birth:
• Place of Birth:

• Date of Marriage:
• Place of Marriage:
• Income Tax Records:
• Checking Account Numbers:
• Savings Account Numbers:
• Auto Insurance Policy Numbers:
• Health Insurance Policy Numbers:
• Life Insurance Policy Numbers:
• Home alarm codes and information
• Safe deposit box information

(If government employee, military or veteran)
• Retired Rank / Grade:
• Branch of Service:
• Final Duty Station:

Essential Documents Checklist

• Death certificate (You will obtain this from the county health department or funeral director. Get a dozen copies if possible. If that is not possible, make 12 copies of the original and have those notarized as true copies.)
• Thorough list of total property including: assets, debts, trusts (and dates completed), executors, money market accounts (and numbers), annuities, dividends, interest earned, part time jobs, businesses, brokerage accounts, 401K, stocks, IRAs, bonds, treasuries, list private residence, vacation property, autos, recreational vehicles, home alarm codes and information, pets, safe deposit box information, etc.
• Marriage certificate (If you do not have this on hand, obtain a copy from the courthouse in the county where you were married.)
• Auto insurance policies
• Health insurance policies
• Life insurance policies
• Disability insurance policies
• Spouse’s will
• Birth certificates of your children and/or dependents
• Spouse’s certificate of Discharge from the Military (DD214)

Important Phone Numbers Checklist

If your spouse passes, the following is a checklist of phone calls that should be made as soon as possible. Compile phone numbers now so that they are handy in the case that you need them.

• Social Security Benefits:
(Notify Social Security immediately. This is important because any benefits paid after your husband’s passing will have to be paid back.)
• Auto Insurance Policy Benefits:
• Health Insurance Policy Benefits:
• Life Insurance Policy Benefits:
• Real Estate Contact:
• Tax Preparer:
• Banker:
• Lawyer:

(Essential phone numbers for military and veterans)
• Military Retired Pay:
(Military retirement pay stops upon your spouse’s death. You must report your husband’s passing to the appropriate military branch’s accounting system. This is very important, because any retirement pay that is paid after your husband’s passing will have to be paid back.)
• Military Survivors Benefit Plan:
• Veterans Administration:
(Again, any money paid after your husband’s death must be paid back. The VA can also assist you with other aspects of your husband’s military benefits.)

Financial Issues To Prepare For

The following is a list of financial issues you should be mindful of and recommendations to follow, which could make managing your financial situation easier were your husband to pass away.

• Determine monthly expenses and design a budget for your household
• Establish priorities and discern how much income you can invest and save to reach your financial goal
• Transfer all investment accounts and retirement plans to your name
• Settle your estates
• Change beneficiaries on insurance plans and update will
• Review and make any other necessary revisions to your auto insurance plans, life insurance plans, health insurance plans and disability insurance plans.