Tips for buying your insurance

Buy it during open enrollment. 

The best time to buy a Medicare supplement policy is during your Medicare open enrollment period because companies must sell you any plan they offer without regard to your medical history.

Look at different companies.

The prices may vary. Insurance premiums depend on the type of policy you get and other factors, like where you live. If you have an age-issued policy, your insurance premiums are based on your age at the time you purchased the policy. Companies can increase insurance premiums for age-issued policies once during your first year of coverage. After this, the company cannot increase the insurance premium for 12 months. If you have a policy for reaching age, your insurance premium may increase in the first 12 months and will increase on your birthday.

Consider other factors. 

Price should not be the only factor you consider. You can obtain a company’s complaint history by visiting the TDI website or by calling the Helpline at 800-252-3439. Also, ask family and friends if they have had any experience with the companies you are considering.

Consider your needs. 

Although it is illegal to sell you more than one Medicare supplement policy, insurance companies may offer you other policies with benefits that work differently than Medicare supplement coverage. These include cancer, specified illness, hospital indemnity, and long-term care policies. Any duplication of benefits must be disclosed in writing. In general, duplicate coverage is a waste of money because you pay twice as much for the same coverage.

Protect yourself

  • Make sure the agent and company are licensed. You can check the licenses of agents and companies by calling the Helpline.
  • Try to buy from an agent you know and trust. Ask your friends and family for recommendations.
  • Ask questions and take notes when you speak with an agent. They may be able to help you later if a dispute arises over what you were told about a policy.
  • Invite someone you trust to be present when you speak with the agent or company.
  • Be careful when leaving or changing a plan. If you decide to drop your Medicare supplement plan, you may not be able to get it back if you change your mind later.
  • If an agent tries to rush you, don’t be fooled. Tell the agent you need more time.
  • Read what you are asked to sign before you sign it. Never sign a blank application form.
  • Get the names and addresses of the agent and the insurance company. Learn how to contact the agent and the company if you have questions.
  • Answer all the questions on the application correctly. If an agent helps you fill out the application, make sure the information is correct and complete before you sign it.
  • Do not pay cash or write a personal check to an individual agent. Make checks only payable to the insurance company. Always pay with a check or money order so you have clear proof of your payment. Ask for a receipt signed by the agent on company letterhead.
  • Before making a lump sum payment, ask the agent or company about reimbursement of unearned insurance premiums. This is particularly important during the open enrollment period when you have the right to change companies. Unearned insurance premiums are what you paid upfront that wasn’t actually used for coverage. For example, if you buy a policy and pay a year’s worth of insurance premiums in advance and cancel your policy a month later, the company would owe you 11 months of your insurance premium.
  • Read your policy carefully when you receive it. You may return a Medicare supplement policy for any reason within 30 days and receive a full refund.
  • Pay insurance premiums on time. The company may cancel your policy if you do not pay your insurance premiums. Read your policy notice about paying insurance premiums, grace periods, and cancellations.

Unfair practices

Agents and companies that engage in any of the following activities are breaking the law:

  • Intentionally making false statements to encourage you to cancel a policy and replace it with another company. This is called induction (twisting, by its name in English).
  • Use strong pressure tactics, including the use of force, fear, or threat to pressure you into purchasing a policy.
  • Obtain leads through advertising that hides the fact that an agent or company may be trying to sell you insurance. This is called unsolicited advertising (cold lead advertising, by its name in English).
  • Using misleading advertisements that look like government correspondence using eagles or similar images or a sender with a name that sounds like an official government office or agency.
  • Impersonate a representative of Medicare or a government agency.
  • Selling you a Medicare supplement policy that duplicates your Medicare benefits or health insurance coverage you already have. Agents are required to review and compare your other health coverage.
  • If they suggest that you falsify an answer on an application.

If you believe an agent or company has used unfair and illegal practices, file a complaint with TDI.

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