Retirement brings lots of changes—from your daily routine to your insurance needs. Depending on your situation, you might need more, less or different coverage than you had pre-retirement. You might even qualify for new discounts. Here are five insurances that you should review as you enter retirement.
Teen drivers pay higher rates for insurance because they are more likely to be in accidents due to their inexperience. At age 25, rates generally start to decrease, provided a driver has a good driving record. At some point, typically when you’re about 65, your rates will start to increase again, in part because seniors have higher rates of impaired vision, diminished cognitive functioning, changes in physical functioning and the use of prescription medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. in addition, seniors who have accidents tend to have injuries that are more serious and costly.
Still, you may be able to lower your premiums by letting your insurance company know that you’re no longer commuting (this is true even if you’re still working but work from home). You can also save money by taking an online driver safety course. Car insurers are required in most states and the District of Columbia to give a discount to older adults who complete these courses, which are offered by AARP and AAA for about $25. Many car insurance companies also offer a discount to retired military service members; if that’s you, be sure to ask about it.
Some homeowners insurance companies offer discounts for older adults. That’s because retirees spend more time at home, which lowers the risk of losses due to burglary and fire, according to the Insurance Information Institute. If you’re at least 55 years old and retired, you may be eligible for a discount of up to 10 percent, depending on the insurer.
It’s also a good idea to review your policy and make sure it meets your needs. If you’ve done a remodel, for example, you may need to bump up your coverage amounts to be sure you are adequately protected. Also, consider your travel plans. If you plan on being away from home for an extended period—say, to travel across Europe or spend time with the grandkids—you may need a special endorsement. Your home may be considered “vacant” or “unoccupied” if you leave it empty for 60 days or more. Contact your insurer before leaving town for extended periods to make sure you are covered.
Retirement is a good time to review your life insurance needs. While you probably bought a policy years ago to ensure your family’s financial security in case you passed away, you may no longer need that protection—especially if the kids are grown and done with college, the house is paid off, and you have enough savings to see you and your spouse comfortably through retirement.
That said, if you have financial obligations that would hinder your surviving spouse’s retirement—or if you want a way to pay your estate tax bill—it might make sense to keep that policy active. If you’re not ready to get rid of the policy altogether, it’s always an option to lower your coverage amount to meet your current needs.
Medical expenses are a real concern for older adults, and having adequate healthcare coverage is key. Be sure to sign up for Medicare during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period, which begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after that month. If you don’t enroll during this period, you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty—and you could end up with a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later. This is also true of the prescription drug program known as Medicare Part D. Medicare can be confusing, so it’s a good idea to read about the different programs at the official U.S. government site for Medicare.
Keep in mind, Medicare doesn’t cover all your medical expenses, so you will probably want to buy supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap. These policies are sold by private insurance companies and are designed to fill in the holes in Medicare’s coverage. Another option is a Medicare Advantage Plan, an HMO-like program.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Most adults over the age of 65 (70 percent) will use long-term care at some point, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, Medicare offers very limited coverage and will only pay for a short-term stay following hospitalization—nothing more. Note that Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people, may cover nursing home care, but only if your income and assets fall below certain guidelines. Most standard health insurance policies don’t cover long-term care either—but most long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies will.
These policies are sold by private insurance companies and usually cover skilled, intermediate and custodial care in a nursing home, plus home care services and assisted-living. While LTCI policies can provide peace of mind, they can be expensive—especially if you wait until you’re older or ill. It’s a good idea to buy this type of policy when you’re still relatively young to get the best rates and the most options.
Do an Inventory
As you approach retirement, inventory your insurance needs and see if anything needs to change. If you’re using a financial advisor, this is a good topic to review.
One other policy you may be able to drop, if you have it: long-term personal disability insurance. Payments for these plans, which you buy privately, are generally based on replacing some portion of your salary if you become seriously disabled and can no longer work. Once you’re retired, you won’t have a salary.