words Al Woods
Some people are reluctant to purchase anything except clothing and books from an online retailer. But it’s a fact that millions of adults buy their life insurance policies online as well. But before you head to your PC and get ready to purchase coverage, know the ins and outs of buying insurance online.
You’ll need to check out the ratings of carriers you’re interested in, think about the kinds of coverage you need, understand what free-look periods are, know how to compare quotes from different companies and get a list of questions ready to ask agents you contact by telephone. Here’s a crib sheet for anyone who wants to buy insurance online:
Compare Company Ratings
One of the best things about the Internet is that you can compare products from dozens of companies from the comfort of your computer chair. There’s no need to make 20-plus phone calls just to get the basic facts about who sells what, and for what price. Remember to check several of the websites that rate insurance companies. The ratings change from time to time, and websites use different parameters to rank the carriers. So, expect to see some disagreement among the raters. In general, the best companies will be in the top 10 on most lists you check.
Options for Long Term Care
Long term health care insurance is growing in popularity as more and more members of the baby boom generation opt for assisted living facilities and various in-home services from nurses, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals. Long term care (LTC) policies can cover most or all of the cost of these services. If you’re interested in obtaining an LTC policy, be certain to ask any online carriers if they sell it. Not all do. You can even use the chat feature on most of the company websites to ask an agent about LTC options like coverage periods, elimination periods and inflation protection.
Know the Length of the Free-Look Period
Nearly all insurance contracts include a free look period. This is a fixed amount of time during which you can cancel the policy and receive whatever money you have already paid, no questions asked. Be aware that the period differs from company to company and even for different policy types from the same company.
Be Careful When Comparing Premiums
Comparing premiums can be tricky because there are so many variables involved. If you do a head-to-head comparison between carriers, make sure the premium amounts you’re looking at are for the exact same kind of insurance. Fine print on any contract can be confusing, so be careful about term lengths, coverage amounts, payout amounts, interest rates on any savings features and other key parts of the contract’s terms.
Use the Phone
After you whittle your list down to two or three carriers, telephone them and ask whatever questions you have about their products. This is a great way not only to find out basic information about policies and carriers, but to evaluate each company’s customer service function.