As we continue wading through the COVID-19 pandemic’s unexpected impacts and ongoing uncertainties, they should serve as motivation to reevaluate your insurance.
Insurance may be less top-of-mind than your new commute or your TSP balance, the pandemic has likely also changed your insurance needs – from what additional types you might want to consider to the size of the policies you already have.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five areas of insurance that likely merit a COVID-inspired gut-check.
Beginning with the most obvious risk posed by the coronavirus, death, the pandemic highlights that we’re all vulnerable to life’s uncertainties every day. And while no one wants to think about death, this reality also reminds us that life insurance is the best way to protect our families from the prospect of struggling to meet financial obligations and goals.
Fortunately for Federal employees, FEGLI provides this protection and is payable regardless of the location or cause of one’s death, including from coronavirus.
However, it’s far from guaranteed that FEGLI provides the right amount and length of coverage that your financial responsibilities require as you progress through your early-, mid-, and late-career Federal government service. This is especially true when you consider that those who only possess employer-provided group term life insurance have an average coverage shortfall of $225k. Keep in mind that FEGLI offers limited flexibility to increase your coverage and also lacks the ability to take your coverage with you when you move on or retire – two things that may be especially important if the pandemic has made you reassess your priorities.
Speaking of priorities, 91 federal agencies have been and continue to be involved in the government’s response to the pandemic.
While necessary, this response has led lawmakers to call for 9/11-style hearings on the federal government’s actions. These hearings could put many managers at heightened risk of a claim being made against them in regard to workplace duties, even something as simple as responding to employees’ concerns regarding the return to the workplace.
As such, now is a great time for many Federal workers to consider professional liability insurance through FEDS Protection, which provides legal representation and indemnity from this risk but must be secured before the claim or allegation is made.
Long-Term Disability Insurance
Contracting and recovering from an unexpected illness such as coronavirus may require you to miss work for an extended period of time. As long-term effects could arise unexpectedly, perhaps even months or years down the road, now may also be a good time to look into long-term disability insurance. This may be especially important for those who are regularly exposed to the public (first responders, postal workers, etc.) when it comes to COVID-19, but as with life insurance the virus reminds us that we all face the risk of losing our earning power due to a debilitating illness, injury, or accident.
The Carrier Letter that OPM issued on April 23 means that, fortunately, you don’t need to worry about whether or not your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program insurance will cover testing, preventive services, and telehealth for COVID-19. However, the pandemic reminds us of how important it is to use our health, dental, and vision benefits throughout the year, as well as any Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds before the end of the year. A simple dental or eye exam can reveal life-threatening health issues, from heart disease to cancerous tumors, and other underlying health issues.
In addition, while the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) may be attractive to many, it’s always valuable to consider them in the context of your specific needs. Open enrollment , which will be here before you know it (in November), affords Feds the opportunity to evaluate the coverage offered, and the pros and cons of high- and low-deductible plans.
Last but not least, your “everyday” insurance policies, for your home and auto(s), may merit a COVID-inspired revisit. This is especially true if you’ve participated in the recent surge of home improvement projects (meaning your more valuable home needs more coverage) or have experienced a steep decline in driving (which means your car needs less, especially if remote work becomes a permanent change). Remember, most large insurance companies (GEICO, AAA, etc.) offer discounts to current and retired federal employees, and membership in associations such as GEBA and NARFE might be able to help you save even more.
As the Product Manager for the Government Employees’ Benefit Association, Shelly Giuliano is the subject matter expect for insurance products and provides objectivity to the many insurance options federal employees have. She is responsible for researching and evaluating insurance plan features to support the needs of GEBA members and federal employees.