Once you stop working, it becomes even more necessary to protect yourself from life's surprises, and several different types of insurance can help you do so. The exact coverage you need depends on your finances, circumstances and preferences, but the insurance options highlighted below are all particularly useful for retirees and pre-retirees. Take some time to decide which are the best fit for your needs.
1. Health Insurance
Health care is always important, and that's especially true in retirement. If you retire before age 65, you may need to arrange coverage on your own until you're eligible for Medicare. To do so, you can potentially get insurance from marketplace plans in your state, or you may be able to continue benefits from an employer plan for a limited time after retirement.
Most people working in private-sector jobs enroll in Medicare after age 65, but you may need additional coverage options to fill in gaps where Medicare falls short. For example, Medicare Supplement insurance, or Medigap, can help you manage your expenses, easing the burden of copayments and deductibles in retirement.
Alternatively, a Medicare Advantage plan can provide a variety of services, including dental and vision coverage, that are lacking in Original Medicare. Ask an insurance specialist what types of insurance make the most sense for you.
2. Long-Term Care Insurance
Illness and injuries are a reality at any age, and they become increasingly challenging as you get older. If you're unable to perform everyday tasks like eating, bathing or dressing, you may need to hire help or enter a care facility.
Unfortunately, some care is expected to last more than 90 days — this is what's known as long-term care. This type of retirement care is required when people need regular help with activities of daily living (ADL), possibly after rehab or recovery from a fall, accident or critical illness; from a cognitive impairment; or sometimes, just as they get older. Long-term care can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home.
The real issue is that the cost of this type of care can range anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000 per month. While traditional health insurance and Medicare provide limited (or no) coverage for these expenses, a specific long-term care insurance policy can help provide additional financial support. Otherwise, you'll need to pay for these costs out-of-pocket or, if you've already exhausted your savings, the government's Medicaid program may be able to provide assistance. Lastly, you may be able to access funds in certain life insurance policies if the need for long-term care arises.
3. Life Insurance
Life insurance can be useful throughout your life, and for those entering retirement, life insurance may help ensure that your family has the resources they need after your passing. For example, if your death results in the loss of a pension, the reduction of Social Security benefits or causes other financial hardship, insurance can reduce the financial impact on loved ones.
If you have a life insurance policy with cash value, it may also provide a living benefit that you can use during your lifetime. Those funds might supplement your income or help with unexpected costs like expenses for health care. Be sure to review your policy and your needs with your insurance agent and your CPA regularly. It's important to keep sufficient cash in your policy so you can avoid losing coverage or creating tax complications.
4. Income Insurance
Once you're no longer working, it's critical that you receive the income you need to pay for things like food, travel, recreation and health care. Social Security, pensions and other resources typically provide the funding you need.
If you want an insurance company to guarantee that you receive a specific amount of income (for a certain number of years or for the rest of your life), an annuity may make sense. After you make an initial lump sum investment or regular contributions, a lifetime annuity pays you for as long as you live, and those payments can cover a spouse's lifetime as well depending on your contract.
There are several ways to draw income from an annuity. A basic lifetime annuity pays out income for the rest of your life and might offer the highest monthly payments, but you can also purchase annuities with income riders. These add-ons can provide guaranteed income while potentially leaving the option to take large lump sum withdrawals.
As you enter retirement, it's important to evaluate what forms of coverage will be most beneficial to you and your loved ones. Several different types of insurance can help you weather life's storms as well as pay for everyday living expenses. While it'll likely be smooth sailing during retirement, it's still best to have safety nets in place — just in case.
JD Osterhouse has worked at Bankers Life for 19 years and currently leads the Bankers Life branch in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He holds an undergraduate degree from Hope College, an MBA with an emphasis in Finance from Western Michigan University, and a Life and Health License along with Series 6 and 63 securities licenses. The products he offers through Bankers Life include Medicare Supplement, Long Term Care insurance, Life Insurance, and Fixed Annuities. Securities products are offered through Bankers Life Securities. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and two teenage sons.