Identity theft is getting creative… don’t fall for it!

You’ve probably seen the latest trend gone viral where you can get a glimpse of what you’ll look like in 30 years. “Face App” has gained popularity after celebrities like Carrie Underwood, Drake, LeBron James and Taylor Swift posted filtered photos of themselves on social media portraying an aged image with grey hair and wrinkles. While it may be the first time there’s been humor surrounding looking older, it also revealed some warnings of identity theft by the parent company based out of Russia. There may only be a few quick boxes to check when downloading an app like this but agreeing to terms you haven’t read is never a good choice.

In this example, anyone that agreed to the company’s terms allowed access to their photos and full licensing to use the photos however they’d like without any permission or the ability to take legal action. Driving along a highway and seeing your face on a billboard that you weren’t aware of is a scary thought, right? Even worse, that headshot could potentially be used for photo recognition allowing access to your bank account or personal information. Even the newest iPhone unlocks based on your smiling face.

This isn’t intended to call anyone out or make you worry if you were curious enough to check out your best Grandma or Grandpa look…. But it is a peek at what is happening out there in regards to identity theft.

Not necessarily for Face App issues, but there is a simple step you can take when it comes to ID theft and your insurance. Identity theft insurance is intended to cover the expenses, typically up to $25,000, related to restoring your identity and credit score (if applicable), not the amount of stolen funds. Such expenses may include: costs of executing affidavits, notary and certified mailing costs, application fees for re-applying for loan(s), reasonable attorney fees and loss of income resulting from time taken off work to complete theft/fraud paperwork.

Identity theft insurance can be added to your property insurance policy (home or renters), or possibly even your auto insurance policy, for approximately $50/year.

Tips for avoiding identity theft:

  • Keep the amount of personal information you carry to a minimum
  • Make sure you have up to date firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus programs installed on your computer AND phone
  • Carefully monitor your bank and credit card accounts on a regular basis, as well as your credit report
  • Passwords should always be unique and never the same password used for multiple accounts/logins
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi when possible
  • Shred any personal documents or statements that you dispose of
  • Check for updates to social media privacy policies that you may not have been notified of

Don’t be fooled by surprise medical bills this April 1st!

Yes, it’s April 1st but don’t be fooled!

If you’ve ever heard “Be your own advocate!” when it comes to health care, or ever been in a situation where that would apply… you know how true it is. Things are happening in health care. Big things. And while some of them are huge innovations, strides with technology and more knowledge than medical professionals ever dreamed of… there’s still a bit of a dark side that the average consumer needs to be aware of. Billing. Womp womp.

Now before this gets misconstrued as a negative connotation of doctors, nurses, hospitals or anything else specific to the medical world, we are not by any means speaking generally or negatively about all things health-related. This is simply a warning to patients to pay attention.

Here are some quick stats from a healthline study to ensure that we are providing facts rather than opinions on this:

  • Up to 80% of medical bills have errors
  • Nearly 1/3 of Americans learn that their health insurance doesn’t pay what they expected
  • 59% of the time Americans are contacted by debt collectors is for an outstanding medical bill
  • 16% of Americans’ credit report includes medical debt totaling over $80 billion

Instead of pointing the finger at medical professionals or facilities for over charging, let’s discuss a few ways you can prevent being on the receiving end of those not so fun surprise charges:

  1. Speak up. If you don’t understand a procedure, diagnosis, treatment plan or medication, find your voice and use it. Ask questions. Make notes. Do some research. You know your phone is close by, look it up online and educate yourself. Yes, you should trust the licensed and very well educated professional that spent a lot of time in school to do this for a living but understand what they’re telling you and be sure you’re on board.
  2. Price shop. Find out if certain facilities perform procedures for less and why. This is common with teaching hospitals. This also applies heavily to prescription drugs. Don’t just use the pharmacy closest to your house because it’s convenient and they have a drive-thru. Look at goodrx.com or call around to others to see what their cost is. Now obviously, keep in mind that if you have health insurance, there may be certain pharmacies they work with or providers that are in or out of their network. But don’t just default to the most popular or most convenient. Your wallet will thank you.
  3. Request details. Ask for an itemized bill/Explanation of Benefits. Keep documentation for your records. Don’t just pay whatever you’re told without knowing what exactly it’s for.
  4. Channel that feisty preteen 7th grader in debate class that we know is still in you and fight for yourself. It might amaze you at how much health care providers are willing to negotiate if you can come to an agreement of either a payment plan, pay in full discount or overall reduction if it can be justified.

Your health is not a game and you can’t put a price on a medical necessity… so you should by all means get the best care possible. However, a little awareness and self-advocacy can go a long way and may even help facilitate a more proactive approach to good health… now that you’ll be able to afford it.

Do You Have Enough Life Insurance?

When you consider your workplace benefits package, how much value do you see in your employer offering life insurance? This coverage can oftentimes be overlooked or undervalued but it can be very beneficial to your loved ones in the event something were to happen to you. Then there’s the question of whether or not the coverage your employer provides is enough. According to most experts, the answer is no.

There are several things to take into consideration if you depend on employer-sponsored coverage alone, especially if you are responsible for the care of others. The biggest mistake most people make is that they do not truly understand their need for life insurance and do not realize that the amount they have is inadequate. More individuals than ever before are using their employee perk as sole coverage over buying outside coverage, according to LIMRA. If you have a family, outside coverage will aid in paying bills, debts, and future expenses that employer-sponsored coverage could not fully pay.

Do not worry if you haven’t purchased life insurance separately because it’s not too late and we’re here to help! Those who are single, mostly debt free, and do not have dependents will probably be fine with their work coverage. Determining if you need more coverage is the first step.

At any point in the process, you can give us a call at 352-371-7977 and speak with Nick Deas, our resident life insurance expert. Nick can help you determine what type of life insurance your lifestyle requires and how much coverage you’ll need. Although discussing life without a loved one can be very difficult and a topic many people avoid, it’s extremely important to be prepared and all on the same page. Feeling confident and comfortable with your family’s financial stability can bring a lot of peace to an otherwise negative subject.

Florida Blue Member Website

Did you know Florida Blue has a member website? Did you know that creating a login for the site makes updating contact information easier, provides details about your claims and deductibles, and can earn you discounts?

Member Website

Setting up your account is quick and easy! Follow this link and the instructions. All you need is your Member Number that is on your member ID card. Once you are registered you can access your health insurance account on a completely secure and accessible site. You can view recent claims and the status of you and your family members deductibles. There is also information about your spending toward your out-of-pocket maximum. You have access to a provider directory and information about what is included in your specific plan as well. Another benefit of the account is the ability to compare costs. You can choose a service, provider, and location to estimate costs of x-rays, MRIs, surgical procedures, and specialty visits.

Need more reasons to create an account? By becoming a user on the site you have access to tons of deals. Go to https://www.blue365deals.com/browse-all-deals to get deals ranging from discounts on hearing aids to access to some of the top fitness centers at a reduced cost.

Mobile Application

Florida Blue also offers a free mobile application on Google Play and in the App Store. The mobile app provides the same great information as the member website on the go! When you need to find a provider in a hurry, the app ensures that you choose someone who is included in-network for your specific plan and based on your current location. If you need your member ID card the app also provides a digital copy.

Creating a Florida Blue member account helps to ease stress, provide convenient and quick information, and keeps you up-to-date on your plan and Florida Blue. Take the time to create your account today!

Auto Insurance When It’s Not Your Car

In most instances, borrowing a car or renting, your auto insurance will follow a vehicle rather than a driver.

Rented Vehicle

Typically, the insurance you obtain for your personal vehicle will carry over to a rental car. Seems easy enough, but there are some stipulations to this rule. The rental vehicle cannot be used for business. In order for your coverage to carry over the rented vehicle must be used for 30 days or less and inside the United States. Only coverage that you currently have carries over. If you have no comprehensive and collision coverage then you’re left without it on the rental car. Knowing this information can save you a lot of money. You can get away with not purchasing extra insurance in some cases.

Auto

Borrowed Vehicle

Say that you have a friend who needs to borrow your vehicle to run errands or move. If they have your permission to use the vehicle then your auto insurance will follow the vehicle and transfer to them. They cannot be previously excluded from your insurance in order for the transfer to work.

Make sure to check your policy as these rules can vary. If you need more information feel free to give us a call today, 352-371-7977.