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Supplemental Insurance: What is It and When do You Need It?

 supplemental insurance what is it

Editor's Note: The following is editorial content that has been contributed by Marion R. Hutton.  

To some people, supplemental insurance might seem a little redundant. After all, insurance can be considered a 'just-in-case' type of financial arrangement, and to augment this precaution with another provisional measure in the form of supplemental insurance might not immediately make sense.

However, it is necessary to delve into common insurance policies and how supplemental insurance packages can help you rest easier. With that in mind, this article discusses the basics of what supplemental insurance is, particularly with regard to life and health insurance, and when it is necessary to purchase one.

What is It?

Supplemental insurance is a broad term for insurance policies and packages that are undertaken on top of existing or insurance policies. These are used to cover expenses that your primary insurance doesn’t, with benefits that pay directly to you and not to medical providers or other insurance partners.

AOL explains that supplemental insurance provides coverage where traditional insurance policies typically fall short, a potentially life-saving tool particularly when it comes to health insurance. This is because typical health insurance policies have broad coverage which, while useful for general financial precaution, might not be enough for specific illnesses or medical procedures. In this case, contract limits under traditional insurance packages would mean that not all potential costs would be covered. 

In addition to covering these previously unaddressed expenses, The Balance details several other things covered by supplemental health insurance, such as lost wages and other financial needs that arise from illnesses or injuries. These can include everything from out-of-network providers, travel costs, and lodging to housekeeping, childcare, and groceries.

Supplemental life insurance works the same way. It fills in the large gaps left by more common and affordable term life insurance, while giving the protection benefit of whole life insurance packages without a considerable financial commitment. SafeMoney.com previously explained that term life insurance has the advantages of fixed premiums, lower cost, and straightforward benefits. However, term insurance does not have a cash value in the policy, any return benefit, nor any death benefits to be provided upon the term's expiration.

Such arrangements are typically given by employers, and may not always be sufficient to cover the needs of your loved ones if you pass away. This is where supplemental life insurance comes in, as the more comprehensive option of whole life insurance may be too expensive for some families.

When Do You Need It?

Before deciding whether or not to get supplemental insurance, it is important to review the terms and coverage of your existing insurance contract. When it comes to supplemental health insurance, Reader’s Digest points out that it’s highly likely that your coverage isn’t enough.

Medicare packages in the United States typically only cover up to 64% of annual healthcare costs. This translates to as much as $250,000 a year, leading around 90% of Medicare beneficiaries to acquire some form of supplemental health insurance.

When choosing among packages, be sure to ask about coverage for pre-existing conditions, hospital indemnities, and critical illnesses, as well as the limits of the contract. This is to ensure that what you’re getting is worth it, in case the unthinkable happens.

Meanwhile, life insurance policies are often provided by organizations as part of their employee benefits package. However, Health IQ points out that these insurance policies are often lacking, especially for employees with families, whose members will be more financially at risk.

It is advisable to supplement your basic coverage at work with additional private insurance, which also gives you the benefit of being covered even when you change jobs. In other words, supplemental life insurance gives you the benefit of both portability and peace of mind.

Supplemental insurance may seem like an additional burden, especially for the financially constrained. However, when it comes down to it, these supplements ease the burden on individuals and their families if and when they most need them.

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