The escalating cost of insurance is of concern to all consumers. Senior citizens, however, feel the greatest impact, since rising costs can put a significant dent in their fixed retirement income. One thing that can help rein in these costs is guarding against improper claims.
It is estimated that improper insurance claims cost insurance companies and their customers $20-$30 billion annually. The costs of these claims are passed on to the consumer. Because senior citizens are the fastest-growing segment of the population, they carry a disproportionately greater burden of the cost of these bogus claims. Here are some preventative measures that seniors can take to help keep insurance rates as low as possible.
While seniors can be the offender by making false statements on insurance applications or submitting false claims, all too often seniors are used by others as unwitting vehicles for submitting false insurance claims. For example, some health care providers offer free examinations but then ask for the seniors medical insurance number and use it to bill for the services. If the service is indeed free, there should be no need to supply medical insurance information. Seniors can catch on to this kind of scam by getting into the habit of checking their monthly statement of benefits. Here is a checklist of what to look for on your monthly benefit statement:
Did you receive the services or medical supplies indicated on your statement of benefits?
Did your physician order the services?
Were you charged more than once for the same service?
Did a medical service or screening that was advertised as free appear on the statement?
If something looks suspicious, you should call:
your health care provider for an explanation or clarification of unusual or questionable charges
the Medicare insurance company listed on your monthly benefits statement
the Medicare hotline at (800) HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477)
the NJ insurance consumer protection section at (609) 292-5316
Seniors can also be targets of staged or intentionally caused automobile accidents. In a typical example, a group of people in an older car pulls suddenly in front of a newer car driven by a senior citizen and stops abruptly causing a rear-end collision. All of the occupants of the other vehicle, claim to be hurt and blame the senior citizen. The seniors insurer is then hit with bogus medical claims. Here are some things to look for in a staged accident:
Other vehicle is an older model
Multiple occupants in the other vehicle
Occupants of other vehicle claim to be hurt with aches and pains but no signs of blood or broken bones
Occupants of other vehicle decline on-site medical attention saying they will see their own doctor
Whenever you are in an motor vehicle accident remember these tips:
Always request to have a police officer at the accident scene, even if it appears minor. If not possible, go to the nearest police station and make a verbal report.
Get a copy of the accident report for your own records.
Report the accident to your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
Promissory Note Precautions:
Promissory notes are usually not sold to the general public ask questions
Is the investment registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission?
Is the rate of return offered higher than current fixed-rate investments?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Warnings About Payday Lending
The fee charged for the short-term loans converts to a very high interest rate.
Ask yourself, do you really need to borrow at double or triple digit interest rates?
Look for more conventional, and regulated, sources of loans at fair rates.
Viatical Settlement Precautions
Before selling your policy, find out if you have cash value that you can obtain from the policy.
Find out if you have an accelerated death benefits provision that could pay you now.
Check with your tax consultant and financial planner for possible financial implications.
Check on the impact the viatical income will have on food stamp and Medicare eligibility.
Avoiding Predatory Lending Schemes
Ask yourself, do you really need to refinance your home?
Compare the interest rate being offered to rates offered by other financial institutions.
Dont be rushed to refinance if it is not what you really want to do.
Have YOUR legal representative at the closing.
READ WHAT YOU SIGN!