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You can change your health insurance plan during the open enrollment period if you get pregnant. Health insurance companies cannot refuse to provide you with a health plan if you are pregnant, whether you buy it yourself or get it through your employer.

There are few times in life more exciting — and more nerve-wracking — than the period before your child is born. However, remember to upgrade your life, health and home insurance coverage to protect your growing family.

Here are three insurance moves you should make well before the big day arrives.

We're pregnant written in sand

1. Buy life insurance — or more of it

Life insurance should be at the top of your to-do list when your family is about to grow. Even if you don’t think life insurance is a priority, it should become one, especially when you have kids, says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute.

A Pew Research Center analysis found that mothers are the sole or primary wage-earner in 40% of U.S. households. According to LIMRA, a life insurance and marketing research association, most U.S. households (70%) with children under 18 would have trouble meeting everyday living expenses within a few months if a primary wage earner were to die.

But you don’t have to be the primary breadwinner to need life insurance. According to the Center for American Progress, mothers contribute at least some income in 70% of married households with children under the age of 18 living at home. Even a small loss of income can affect a family’s finances.

Life insurance is also important for stay-at-home moms. If you’re one of the five million women who have children and don’t work outside the home, your family would likely need to pay for childcare and for someone to do other household tasks if you were suddenly gone. Your life insurance policy would help cover those costs.

2. Realign your health insurance benefits

If you don’t have health insurance, you can enroll only during an open enrollment period unless a qualifying event, such as a job loss, starts a special enrollment. If you want to get on your workplace health insurance plan, your employer can give you the dates of its open enrollment.

Pregnancy isn’t considered a life-changing event that qualifies you for a special enrollment period, but the baby’s birth is. You will have 60 days from birth to buy health insurance (for you and the baby) from a marketplace, but only 30 days to be added to your employer or your partner’s employer’s job-based health plan.

If you already have insurance, this special enrollment period allows you to make changes to your existing plan, such as adding your child. This is an important step, and it doesn’t happen automatically. If you wait past the special w

What does health insurance cover?

Health insurance usually covers pregnancy and childbirth. Under the Affordable Care Act, maternity care and childbirth are among the ten essential health benefits that all qualified health plans must cover. However, there are some exceptions.

One exception is if you’re under age 26 and are covered under a parent’s health insurance policy.

Larger employers who are self-insured don’t have to meet essential health requirements, according to the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. They can exclude maternity coverage for dependents, so it’s always a good idea to double-check if you have health insurance that covers maternity care. 

Most plans cover the costs of delivery and aftercare, but you may need to pay part of the bill for your hospital stay. You may have lower copays if you choose a doctor and hospital that is part of your plan’s network, so be sure to detail it from your hospital before seeking care.

Get a detailed list of your out-of-pocket expenses for the delivery and your hospital stay months ahead of your due date. Some hospitals require partial payment in advance. Plan ahead so you won’t be stuck in the finance office when you should be in the delivery suite.

If you’re still on a parent’s policy when you deliver your bundle of joy, you won’t be able to add your child to that policy. Your child is your dependent, not your parent’s, meaning you will need to purchase a separate policy for your child within the special enrollment period.

“I highly recommend expectant parents to sit down with local experts who can help them find and understand the plan that is best for them,” says Jessica Kendall, director of State Partnerships for Families USA in Washington, D.C., a non-profit health consumer advocacy group. Kendall works with enrollment assisters to identify best practices in enrollment-related activities, and she shares those lessons with the network at the national, state, and local levels.

If you have a low income and qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can sign up for these programs anytime, Kendall says. Most states have expanded their Medicaid coverage to pregnant women within certain income limits, but you should check whether yours does. If it does, determine the eligibility requirements since they can vary by state.

3. Reconsider your home insurance policy

A new addition to your family may require a new home, car, or both.

If you’re moving to a bigger home to accommodate the growing family, it’s time to shop for homeowners insurance or renters insurance, if you’ll be renting). Your current insurer may not be the best one for your new residence. Shopping for home insurance quotes can help ensure you’re getting a fair price.

If, instead of moving, you’re making significant home improvements, like adding a bedroom or bathroom to your home, let your insurance company know and adjust your coverage accordingly. You don’t want your new and improved home to be underinsured.

If your newborn child inherits a family heirloom that has some significant value — such as a great-great grandfather’s gold pocket watch or a grandmother’s diamond engagement ring — talk to your agent about whether you need to schedule it separately on your home insurance policy, Salvatore advises.

The paraphernalia that comes with a new baby — cribs, dressers, changing tables, car seats, play pens and so on — shouldn’t affect your homeowner’s policy. But you’ll still want to inventory it and keep the list of your personal belongings up-to-date so it’s available should the unexpected happen and your home is damaged in a fire or storm or robbed, Salvatore adds.

Can I get a discount on car insurance if I get pregnant?

Having a baby won’t get you a car insurance discount, but changing to a family vehicle might lower your rates. If you’re trading that two-seater sports car for a family-friendly SUV or minivan, expect to pay less each month.

Still, some vehicles you’re considering may have higher rates than others, so comparing costs is important before you hit the showroom.

“We always recommend you look at the cost to insure something before making the final purchase,” Salvatore says. “With a new baby and new expenses, money can be tight. So you want the best deal you can get.”

To compare rates between car models, you can use Insure.com’s average insurance rates by model tool, which features rate data for more than 2,000 current-year vehicles.

 

Frequently asked questions:

Can I add my unborn child to my health insurance plan?

No, you cannot add your unborn child to your insurance policy. In most states, you can’t enroll in or change your health insurance outside of open enrollment if you are pregnant. However, other life changes may let you have a special enrollment period: the birth of a child, placing a child in foster care or adopting a child.

If you have employer-sponsored insurance, your baby will be covered for a set duration immediately after birth. Get in touch with your insurance company, human resources and benefits department within 30 days of the baby’s birth to get your newborn added to the policy.

Is having a baby a life-changing event for health insurance?

Having a baby is a life-changing or qualifying event that allows you to enroll the newborn child in a health insurance plan, no matter what time of the year they are born. You will have a 60-day special enrollment period from the date of birth.

Sources:

Pew Research Center “ Breadwinner Moms “Accessed June 2022.

LIMRA “Life Insurance Is a Key Component of Middle-Income Families Financial Security “Accessed June 2022.

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Shivani Gite
Contributing Writer

 
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Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions.

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