30 Mar Insurance Alert – USPS Delays
No one likes being late on their insurance premium payments. The hassle of late fees or a potential lapse in coverage are a pain to deal with and correct. That’s why most of us try to stay on top of it by marking the calendar, putting an alert on our phone, sticking a note on the fridge, reciting our due date as a daily mantra, etc… But even still, that may not be enough.
We received a bulletin from the state insurance commissioner that many people who mail their insurance premiums are at risk of losing their policies because the payments are being delayed by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The commissioner suggests the following 5 points for insureds to consider when paying their premiums:
1. Know when your payments are due.
If you have not received your bill or are not sure when your premium is due or how much you are required to pay, call your insurer or insurance producer (agent or broker) NOW to find out when payments are due, how much you must pay, and where/how payments can be made. Make sure that you write down the date and time of the call, the information you are given, and the person you spoke with.
2. Sign up for electronic notices and billing if you can.
Contact your insurer to sign up for electronic receipt of notices and bills so that you do not have to depend on the mail. If you are uncomfortable with email, a family member or trusted advisor may be able to help. Some insurers will provide both paper and electronic notices and bills if you ask them to.
3. Pay electronically, by phone, or in person if you can.
There are many electronic payment methods that may be available to you. Insurers and agencies may accept payment by credit card or by an authorized debit of your bank account either by providing that information by phone or by accessing a web-site or an app. If you have access to the internet or smartphone technology, go online to review your payment options or contact your insurer or insurance producer for guidance. Remember, never give out personal information, including policy information or financial/banking/credit card information to someone who calls you!
When you make electronic payments, make sure that you write down confirmation numbers, print receipts, and/or take screenshots of the payment confirmation as evidence of your payment.
4. Consider automatic withdrawals from your bank account.
If you pay your insurance premium using recurring payments, talk to your bank and your insurer about how to set up automatic transfers from your account.
5. Make sure you have proof of payment/mailing.
If you must use the USPS to pay your premium, allow significant additional lead time in mailing and protect yourself by using the Priority Mail service or by securing a proof of mailing receipt. Both options can be obtained at any USPS kiosk or at the service counter. At this time, a proof of mailing certificate costs $1.50. Information regarding certificates of mailing can be found here: https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Certificate-of-Mailing-The-Basics.
If you have experienced an insurance problem due to delays in USPS mail delivery, contact the Maryland Insurance Administration for assistance at (800) 492-6116.