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Insurance review tips

Gaps in your insurance coverage could cost you. Learn how to spot them.

Tags: Assets, Insurance
Published: January 21, 2020

Reviewing your insurance every year can help you save money, whether it’s on your premium now, or by making sure you’re covered in case something happens. It’s also key to ensuring your coverage evolves along with any changes in your life. Even small life events, like buying new jewelry or getting a raise, could affect both your premiums and the amount of coverage you need going forward. 

Start your review by making a list of all of your insurance coverage. Even though you can do this at any point during the year, try to review all of your policies at the same time. Some providers offer a discount if you purchase multiple plans through them, such as home and auto.

Here are some tips on what to look for with different types of insurance.

 

Life insurance

Reviewing your life insurance regularly helps ensure it's still meeting your financial goals and reflects major changes in your everyday life. This type of insurance is particularly important to monitor. When the policy does come into play, you’ll want the process to be as simple as possible for your beneficiaries.

Situations in which you may want to consider revising you coverage can include:

  • Changes in income including a job loss or promotion.
  • birth or death in the family.
  • divorce or marriage.
  • Changes in health or lifestyle.
  • New policy types and benefits become available, such as long-term care insurance.
  • The financial strength of your insurance carrier may have changed. Consider looking into what competitors can offer you.
  • Interest rates remain low. If you have a cash value policy, it may not be performing the way you expect due to the current low interest rate environment.

Life insurance policies are especially personal, so be prepared to provide information such as medical records and your beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers. Make sure to speak with a professional about your coverage needs.

Health insurance

Your health needs may change over time and whether you’re insured through your employer or purchase on your own. In addition to your own needs, changing state and federal laws can affect the type of coverage available to you, making a review even more important.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What is the current term on your policy?
  • Are your prescriptions covered under your current plan?
  • Are you allowed access to your preferred doctor and clinic, or are they considered out-of-network?
  • Is your plan eligible for an HSA?
  • How much are the premiums, deductibles and out of pocket costs?
  • Are you approaching age 65? It’s important to start looking into the complexities of Medicare enrollment and your options.

Depending on your preferences for an HMO or PPO and your healthcare needs, some of your answers to these questions may matter more than others. For example, you may be willing to pay more out of pocket to be able to see the physician you’re most comfortable with.

When it comes to your health insurance review, keep in mind what will work best for you and your family’s needs.

 

Homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance

To review your policy, look for the declaration page. If you can’t find it in your documents, ask your provider. The declaration page provides a summary of your current coverage.

From there, you can review what’s covered and determine if you need to adjust.

Some of the common reasons for updating coverage include:

  • Home renovations or remodeling can lead to a change in home value that would need to be accounted for in your policy. Even if your home value hasn’t changed, some policies may not cover remodeled areas if they haven’t been documented.
  • If you’ve bought jewelry, electronics or other purchases of significant value, it’s a good idea to update your coverage to include those assets.
  • Noting the difference between true replacement value coverage and cash value and which one you have. Many homeowners are surprised when they discover their insurance will not cover the full cost to replace items in their home after they file a claim.
  • Assess whether you may need umbrella insurance to compensate for any limitations in your home insurance policy. Umbrella insurance could protect you from worst-case scenarios such as if someone were seriously injured in your home due to negligence.

Next, check for discounts. For example, you may be able to reduce your premiums if you’ve updated your home security system or if the management team in your apartment building added a new sprinkler system.

It’s a good idea to shop around a bit, too. Don’t just look at your current provider and be sure to consider bundled coverage.

 

Auto insurance

How much you pay for auto insurance can vary based on a number of factors. Some are obvious, like the cost of the car and your driving record. Others are less so: Did you know improving your credit score could lower your premiums on auto insurance?

Other factors that could lead to lower premiums include:

  • If you’ve recently updated or changed your health insurance, you may be able to reduce the amount of medical coverage in your insurance policy.
  • Bundling your home and auto coverage can help you save, but even if you don’t, it’s worth investigating. Insurance companies often view homeowners as less risky.
  • What neighborhood you live in, and where you garage your car, can affect your rates.
  • If you have more drivers than automobiles, consider whether every driver needs to be listed as a primary driver. Switching a covered driver to “occasional” rather than “primary” can help you save.

Other insurance

It’s important to make sure you’re covered for your health, life, house, and car. But what about other types of insurance?

Ask yourself if the following policies might be right for you:

Make sure to consult with your insurance providers to discuss any changes you want to make or questions you may have about your coverage after reviewing it on your own. A financial professional can also help provide guidance on coverage for your needs.

 

As you review your coverage, consider these 3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore.