Protect yourself. The best way to avoid being scammed when presented with an enticing offer is to call your state's insurance department and ask whether the company or agent is licensed to do business in the state and if any action has been taken against them. Local Better Business Bureaus also collect complaint data. In general, warning signs include unsolicited insurance offers made by fax, phone, or E-mail; "act now" and other high-pressure sales pitches ("Nobody should be pressured into making a decision on the spot, and in a legitimate situation, they would not be," says Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner); being asked to provide bank account or credit card numbers to get locked in; and monthly premiums that are much lower than usual. Know too that there is no "ObamaCare" plan being marketed or sold by the federal government, Praeger says.
The consequences of falling prey can be grave, says Quiggle, from crushing bills—even bankruptcy—to ditching legitimate coverage for what only appears to be a good deal. Hey and Andlovec, now uninsured, learned the hard way that what sounds too good to be true generally is.