Archive for Wednesday, September 24, 2008

KID helps Kansas kids’ caretakers

September 24, 2008

Kansas grandparents raising their grandchildren and single parents raising children often have unnoticed or unidentified insurance needs. I think it's important that the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) help provide information that reflects the varied life situations and needs for these Kansans.

That's why KID has partnered with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to expand components of the award-winning Insure U consumer education program.

Two of the newest components of the program are aimed directly at raising grandchildren and helping single parents better understand their insurance needs. The insurance tips and special considerations for four basic types of insurance - auto, home, health and life - are online at www.InsureUonline.org.

They couldn't come at a better time.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau study, there are more than 2.4 million grandparents nationwide raising their grandchildren. These older adults assume the many responsibilities that accompany child rearing, including medical, psychological, educational and financial needs.

A special challenge facing these grandparents is that state and local governments, communities and schools may not formally recognize their role in raising their grandchildren. While acquiring legal custody and guardianship of a grandchild may be financially and emotionally burdensome, grandparents should be aware that many benefits, including health care, emergency care, financial assistance and social security benefits, require proof of a legal relationship before they will help.

Also, according to the Census Bureau, more than one quarter of American children live with only one parent. These single and divorced parents are often so busy balancing work responsibilities and home life that they may find it difficult to educate themselves about insurance issues.

Here's a sampling of the information available for grandparents at the Insure U site:

¢ You will likely assume additional chauffeuring responsibilities when caring for your grandchild and his/her friends. Consider increasing your liability insurance to make sure you are covered in case of an accident. You may also want to consider purchasing a liability umbrella policy to protect your assets.

¢ When caring for a grandchild and his/her visiting friends, consider increasing your liability coverage through an umbrella policy in the event that someone is injured on your property. Remember that backyard items, such as a trampoline or pool, may require an increase in liability coverage.

Under the single parent category, here are two samples of the tips:

¢ If you and your children are dependents on your spouse's employer group coverage, and you get divorced or legally separated, you must contact the employer if you wish to continue your health coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The employer will not notify you that you have been removed from the plan.

¢ Never leave a life insurance benefit directly to a minor child; instead make sure the policy names a contingent beneficiary or a trustee who will act as a beneficiary on behalf of the child.

The total Insure U program directly reflects the varied life situations and needs that characterize a diverse group of Kansans. All of the components fit into KID's mission to "regulate, educate and advocate" for consumers. I hope you will take time to check out the Web site; you can also link to it through our KID Web site, www.ksinsurance.org.

And, as always, if you need additional help, call our Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484.

- Sandy Praeger is Kansas commissioner of insurance and is a Lawrence resident.

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