Do your loved ones have an Umbrella Insurance policy?

pexels-photo-100671.jpegThanks to Barbara who asked about concerns she had with wording in a renewed insurance policy. I suggest that all families who are helping or caring for someone with mild cognitive impairment or dementia consider the addition of an “Umbrella” policy.

In a Kiplinger article titled Why You Need an Umbrella Policy, they share that “adding extra liability coverage to your auto- and homeowners-insurance policies can protect your finances from expensive lawsuits.”  Umbrella policies are designed “to help protect you from major claims and lawsuits and as a result it helps protect your assets and your future. It does this in two ways: Provides additional liability coverage above the limits of your homeowners, auto, and boat insurance policies.”

One of my super-powers that I used to my advantage during my parents journey into dementia, was a sense of possible future landmines. My parent’s had auto- and homeowners insurance, but I had a major concern that the might do something that would jeopardize their retirement savings because of their cognitive status. Thankfully, I suggested to my dad that he add an Umbrella policy to their insurance and he agreed that it would be a smart protection given how litigious the world had become.

There was a period of about 3 months when my dad was driving without a valid license. Their doctor had submitted the paperwork to have both of their driving licenses revoked. However, they let me read, then ripped up the notice from the Division of Motor Vehicle that notified them of the license revocation and acted like it never existed. For some reason, they thought only my dad had his licenses revoked, even though they both received the letter (just a week apart). My mom would tell me that if the police pulled them over she would tell them “I was driving but got a cramp in my foot, so my husband took over so he could get me home to take my medication.” Yeah, my parents got really crafty in trying to maintain their status quo.

I was pretty sure the auto-insurance wouldn’t cover them since their licenses were revoked, so I prayed that nothing would happen. If it did, I hoped the umbrella insurance would help protect their assets to pay for the years of care they would be needing.

Later, at a happy hour at my parent’s retirement community, my dad fell over onto a woman and sent her to the ER. Thankfully, she knew my dad and she nor her family pursued a lawsuit. However, I could only imagine how quickly all of their assets could disappear in legal fees and an award.

Two things to do to protect your loved one and their assets:

  1. Contact your insurance agent and have an open discussion about your concerns to find the type of policy that could best protect you and your loved ones.
  2. Contact your estate lawyer. A Trust might be a solution to help protect your assets …. but I’m NOT a lawyer …. so please find a local elder care attorney who can help you navigate the coming years.

Dementia is a cruel beast and it steals so much from the individuals it preys upon, and the loved ones caring for them. I hope the suggestion on how to deal with practical issues to protect your loved ones will help you and your family. Experienced. 

My Durable Power of Attorney vs. Armed Forces Insurance (AFI)

afiOn a recent visit, I find my mother has written a check* for $495 to Armed Forces Insurance (AFI). I had no knowledge of this insurance plan and my mom had no recollection of what it was for, she just paid it. Sometimes my Mom will set it aside and hand over bills and other times, she will pay them. It’s really only been a major issue when it comes to magazine subscriptions which is why we have a subscription to Birds & Blooms until 2025. This is the first real bill she has paid in a while.

I find a copy of the invoice and contact the customer service department. They were very helpful and just asked that I send in a copy of my durable power of attorney. The customer service representative offered the option of emailing or faxing. YEAH!

I emailed the durable POA with my address and request for documentation on what the insurance is for. It was a list of personal items and jewelry. As I review the list, I know my Mom no longer has some of the items. She has handed over some of the jewelry to children already. I set it aside to address later.

Three weeks later, I get a call from AFI.  They want to know if they can help answer questions and if I’m aware that the policy needs to be renewed. The woman on the phone kindly walks me through the steps needed to get online access so I can renew and make the needed adjustments to the policy.

Armed Forces Insurance, not only made this easy, they followed up and helped me get this settled. Of course, they wanted payment, but they made the process of reviewing and accepting my Durable Power of Attorney what we all thought it would be!  Psyched. 

* My Mother was not ready to give up her checkbook so I opened a second account with limited funds that I monitor. It is not ideal, but it helped smooth the transition of the bill pay activities and protect their real checking account from a major loss of funds.

USAA vs My Durable Power of Attorney

usaaTwo months ago, my mom sent in a payment to USAA for a policy we believed was cancelled in January.  As we were going through the move with my parents from Independent into Assisted Living, we tried to make changes to their policy. When USAA refused to make the changes we requested, we decided to cancel the policy and purchased new insurance. That was the quickest and easiest way for us to resolve having the insurance company accept our calls to make adjustments to our parents insurance policies.

My initial call on 5/7/2013 to update the address and straighten out my parents insurance policy started off badly. The woman on the phone asked me for a lot of information about me and my husband — birth dates, employer, social security numbers — and I was a little put-off.  I stopped her and asked her why she needed this and she admitted she was interested in updating the records she had on me since we were eligible for USAA.

I am sure my voice was not pleasant when I asked her to just help me resolve the issue that I called about. She continued to try to engage me and got an earful. At first she tried to suggest I complete the USAA version of the power of attorney. I explain that my parents no longer have the ability to sign over this power — and the durable power of attorney was done for this reason and should suffice. She finally provides me with the fax number and directions to get my request resolved.  She tells me it will take about 2 weeks to have the durable power of attorney reviewed and I would hear back from USAA confirming their receipt of my request.

When three weeks passed and I had not received an acknowledgement, I called back.  I’m told they don’t show receiving either of the two 11-page faxes I sent to the number provided. The gentleman promises that when they receive the documents, they will put it on the fast track and I should hear back within a few days.

I just resent both copies of my Durable Power of Attorney in today — I will let you know when I hear back and the outcome. Aggravated.