Setting up Third-party Notification for Unpaid Bills
Paying bills is a critical part of any routine, but sometimes bills go unpaid in situations like these:
- Justine had long-term care insurance, but when she developed Alzheimer’s Disease and became confused about bills, her policy lapsed. Without insurance, she doesn’t have the coverage for home-health aides.
- Deborah had her Medicare prescription insurance on autopay so she wouldn’t miss a payment. For some reason, the insurance stopped taking the automatic deductions from her checking account and started sending her bills instead. Because the bills didn’t get paid, she lost her prescription coverage on the first of May, and could not enroll again until the fall.
- Marcie fell and was in the hospital, followed by three months of rehab. During this time, her electric bills did not get paid, and when she was ready to return home, her electricity was off.
Missed payments can result in the termination of services. However, whether you are dealing with utilities or insurance policies, you can do one important thing to make sure that you or your loved ones don’t miss important bills: File a Third-Party Notification form with each company so you, or someone you designate, can be notified if a bill has not been paid.
For long-term care insurance policies, the form is called a Lapse Designee Form. Utility companies (electricity, gas, oil, water, cable, phone) will have a similar form, often called a Third-Party Notification Form. Companies often use different terms, but the form and its purpose remain essentially the same and it’s worth investigating.
An organized approach is often the easiest way to tackle this project, as there can be a large amount of information to track. We recommend using a chart or spreadsheet, like our sample, which you can download as a PDF or a Word doc, to record the following information:
- Type of service (utilities, insurance, etc.)
- Company name
- Name and contact info of the person at the company
- Date you contacted the company
- Date you submitted the form
- Date the company confirmed that Third-Party Notification is in place
- Name of Third-Party or Lapse Designee
Here’s a checklist to help you with the process:
- Start by making a list of all bills (don’t forget real estate bills).
- Gather any Third-Party Notification Forms included with bills.
- Identify companies remaining to be contacted to get such a form.
- Call, write, or go online for the form, or ask how else you can be sure that a third party will be notified.
- Upload or mail the forms and record them in your chart so you have the information.
Even if you are (or someone designated by you is) checking to make sure bills are being paid, finding the bills may be dependent on access to the mail. Hopefully, bills are easy to find as opposed to being hidden among piles of magazines and junk mail or slipped behind a sofa cushion.
By having Third-Party Notifications in place, you work with the companies themselves to reduce the risk of losing services, insurance, or property. To make sure your bills will get paid, and particularly when acting on behalf of a loved one, it is worth the time spent to set up Third-Party Notifications.