This update of a column originally published April 13 clarifies advice regarding disability insurance.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Most consumers depend on their employer for their health, life and disability insurance. But according to a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, this year's recession will cause at least 4.2 million people to lose their health and life insurance coverage. If the worst happens and the recession costs you your job, what would you do?
Byron Udell, founder and CEO of AccuQuote, a term-life insurer, recommends these four strategies to help you maintain your health, life and disability coverage when the economy is looking grim:
Switch to term life insurance.
If you have a group policy, you most likely will lose your coverage if you lose your job. Look into getting an individual tern life insurance policy. Not only is the coverage portable, but it's usually less expensive and if you're in good health you can probably get more coverage.
Compare individual health insurance plans.
Start this process before you run into a situation where you are forced into getting a new policy right away. If you lose your Cobra rights up front, you could end up in a tight spot. But if you lose your job and you can exercise Cobra rights to retain your current employer's health insurance policy, do so. Even if you think you might be able to buy coverage at lower expense under an individual policy, Cobra can offer you good protection while you are choosing.
Take care of important medical issues.
If you need significant medical care, do it now, while you're still employed and insured. While many medical procedures can't be timed, don't put off until tomorrow what you should do anyway today, while you still have a job.
Shop for disability coverage.
Consumers protect their health and life, but they often forget about their biggest asset ... their ability to work. Shop around for individual disability coverage. Unlike the one from an employer, consumers can keep this coverage if they move from job to job. And, benefits will be tax-free if the premiums are paid by the insured.
By Marshall Loeb