We’re approaching year end, when it’s time to wrap up business and start with a fresh slate. If you haven’t looked at your homeowner’s and automobile insurance coverage in a while, tending to it at the start of the New Year is wise. Here’s why.
It’s Quick & Can Save You Money
An insurance review doesn’t take much time and it could save you money. When you automatically renew your policies annually without reviewing your coverage, you’re hoping you have sufficient coverage, when you may not. If you experience a major loss, it could cost you a bundle.
You may also have too much or unnecessary coverage in some areas. Tailoring your insurance policies to your needs means you don’t pay for things you don’t really need and protect what’s important to you well.
Insurance is also a very competitive industry. Your independent insurance agent may find you equal or improved coverage at a lower cost.
Revisit the Value Of Your Home
A home is the most valuable asset most people own. Many people buy insurance when they purchase their home and seldom, if ever, revisit their coverage even though many things can change with time. They simply renew their policy and pay their premiums.
As a homeowner, you probably consider your home an investment that will hopefully appreciate over the years. You may have invested time and money into improvements, too. Without adjusting your insurance, you’re left with a coverage gap, which could easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars, especially since construction costs continue to rise. Should you experience a total loss, your insurance may not provide sufficient funds to rebuild your home.
Take Stock of Contents
According to the Insurance Information Institute, only 52% of homeowners said they had a home inventory in a June 2015. That means 48% of homeowners have absolutely no idea of the estimated value of the contents of their home.
High-balling the value of your possessions leads to high premiums. Too little coverage means you’ll be unable to replace lost items. A home inventory helps your insurance agent determine the insurance type and amount of coverage you need and it simplifies the claims process.
If you have a home inventory, review it for accuracy and then call your insurance agent. You may discover that you’ve accumulated far more than you thought or you may need specific coverage for items such as antiques, jewelry, fine art, and expensive musical, audio, or computer equipment.
Discuss Implications of Planned Upgrades
Homeowners commonly forget to discuss their renovation plans with their insurance agent. Some renovations lower your premiums such as installing a hail-resistant roof or impact-resistant door and windows in hurricane regions, or upgrading your plumbing, electrical, or heating systems.
In Rhode Island, your homeowner’s insurance policy covers unexpected events such as a burst pipe or a home fire, but not damage caused by renovations. If you’re a DIY renovator, it is especially important you’re covered during and after renovations. If you’re using a general contractor, they must have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
Your insurance coverage should address outdoor upgrades, too. If you intend to install an elaborate backyard grill or top-notch storage shed, upgrade landscaping, or want to build a pool, review your coverage before you begin.
Get the Discounts You Deserve
Many discounts exist when you add additional security in your home, too. For instance, adding a security system can lower premiums by as much as 20%. Fire protection devices such as smoke detectors often warrant additional discounts.
An annual review is also a great time to discuss life changes. You may qualify for discounts if you retire, quit smoking, or join a professional organization or union. If you insure your vehicle and home with one company, you may also qualify for a discount when you bundle your policies.
Understand What’s Covered
Unless you understand all the clauses in your policy, there’s no way to know whether you’re covered for particular events, or not. Your independent insurance agent can walk you through your policy and highlight potential problems. For instance, some people assume they’re covered for flooding when they’re actually not.
They can also clue you into benefits your policy offers so you do not need to buy additional coverage. For instance, you may have coverage for your child’s possessions while they attend college and live in a dorm. You may also have coverage for things stolen while travelling and protection if your dog bites someone while they’re on your property.
An annual insurance review often reveals risks and forgotten items which aren’t covered under your existing policy. Call your insurance agent and ask what documents you should bring. They work for you and can assess your needs and balance premiums against your budget.