Annual insurance check-ups help protect financial well-being

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Protecting financial health requires as much vigilance as protecting physical health. That is why the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust encourages its plan participants and all AVMA members to undertake an annual evaluation of the types and scope of insurance coverage they currently possess based on where they are on their professional and personal paths.

Yearly reviews can reveal gaps in insurance coverage created by a change in marital status, a growing family, purchase of major assets such as a home or practice, children who are entering college, practice expansions, and other life changes—any of which may trigger adjustments to an insurance portfolio.

Life changes may signal the need to add or expand disability insurance or insurance to cover professional overhead expenses, which protect veterinarians' personal and business finances when illness or injury keeps them from practicing for an extended time. Life insurance adjustments also may be required to ensure loved ones are financially protected in the event of death.

"Insurance is your protection from the bumps in life's road," said Dr. James F. Peddie, GHLIT secretary/treasurer, who was forced to leave his veterinary practice serving the movie industry when an immune-system disorder rendered him unable to work safely with predatory animals. "My disability coverage was sufficient to protect my income while I recovered and transitioned into my next life stage. If you are a practice owner, POE insurance offers the same protection for your business, covering overhead expenses and keeping a practice viable until the veterinarian can either sell it or return to work."

Regular medical plan check-ups—at least every three years—by a licensed insurance agent or financial planning specialist are also important for identifying ways to reduce health care costs while maintaining appropriate coverage levels. Insurance is constantly evolving, and GHLIT's portfolio evolves with it to provide plan options that meet almost every need in terms of scope of benefits and premium levels.

For example, high-deductible health savings account-qualified medical plans are growing in popularity among GHLIT participants. Since the plans were first introduced in 2004, participation has increased steadily, reaching 33 percent in July 2009.

Driving the popularity of high-deductible HSA-qualified plans are their low premiums and ability to reduce out-of-pocket health care expenses by tapping into the tax-deferred savings available through the HSA. Personal and portable, HSAs allow participants to deposit pretax dollars that can then be withdrawn, tax free, to pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by health insurance plans.

GHLIT trustees take pride in the insurance products available through the Trust and are constantly evaluating the market to identify opportunities to enhance coverage and reduce costs. By staying abreast of ongoing changes within the insurance industry, they can design insurance plans that provide high-quality, comprehensive health and financial protection.

More information on GHLIT's benefits can be found at GHLIT insurance program is underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company. For more information—including plan details, rates, exclusions, limitations, eligibility, and renewal provisions—or to find a GHLIT agent, call the Trust office at (800) 621-6360.