Getting Prepared for Flu
September is National Preparedness Month. In light of the continuing spread of the H1N1 virus – or swine flu – the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) encourages consumers to include a flu response plan in their disaster preparations this year. The first step in making that plan is a comprehensive review of your insurance policies. Here are a few things you should look for:
The World Health Organization (WHO) is advising countries in the northern hemisphere to prepare for a second wave of pandemic spread. In many cities and towns, schools and hospitals are already dealing with wide-spread outbreak. A vaccine for the H1N1 strain of flu is expected later this fall, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control suggest that the following groups consider the vaccine: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
It’s always important to understand your health insurance policy, but with the potential for an increased demand for health care services, you need to be even more aware of your specific plan details. Take a few minutes to read your policy carefully in order to answer the following questions:
Be prepared for any eventuality with the following checklist:
Business Interruption Insurance
Business owners might be concerned about having to shut down their
operations due to an outbreak or absenteeism. Check your business
interruption policy to see what eventualities will trigger coverage under
your plan. Coverage generally requires the interruption to be caused by
physical damage or loss (e.g., fire or weather).
The federal government has created a Web site with information: www.pandemicflu.gov.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also has extensive information about H1N1 Influenza on its Web site: www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.
If you are unable to resolve any concerns you have about your health insurance with your insurance company, contact your state insurance department at www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm. You can also use the following link to file a complaint with your state insurance department about your insurance or your insurance company: https://eapps.naic.org/cis/.
Beware of insurance fraud during this time of heightened awareness. To avoid insurance fraud, make sure the company you're dealing with is reputable and licensed to do business in your state. Before signing any paperwork or writing a check, STOP; CALL your state insurance department; and CONFIRM that the insurance company or agent is legitimate and licensed in your state.
If you believe you have been a victim of insurance fraud, alert your state insurance department. Visit www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm for details on how to contact your state insurance regulator to report the fraud.
Get more information about creating an insurance disaster preparedness plan from the NAIC. Information here (http://www.naic.org/index_disaster_section.htm) will help you prepare a home inventory that will save you time and frustration following a disaster.
About the NAIC
Formed in 1871, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
(NAIC) is a voluntary organization of the chief insurance regulatory
officials of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S.
territories. The NAIC has three offices: Executive Office, Washington,
D.C.; Central Office, Kansas City, Mo.; and Securities Valuation Office,
New York City. The NAIC serves the needs of consumers and the industry,
with an overriding objective of supporting state insurance regulators as
they protect consumers and maintain the financial stability of the
insurance marketplace. For more consumer information, visit insureUonline.org.
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