Filed Under:Agent Broker, Coverage Issues

5 keys to 'insuring' a safer 2018

Insurance covers the unexpected — but only if your policies are current

The first of the year is a good time to assess what types of insurance coverage you have and what needs to be updated. (Photo: Shutterstock)
The first of the year is a good time to assess what types of insurance coverage you have and what needs to be updated. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Most people have great intentions when it comes to launching a new year on a strong note.

They promise to eat healthier, exercise more, make family a priority and maybe even work a little less.

Most of these habits may last a few days or weeks, but there are some steps everyone can take that will have long-range, positive implications.

Every policyholder should consider starting their year with an evaluation of their various insurance policies – auto; homeowners; personal liability; specialty coverages like flood, cyber and earthquake; general business liability and the like.

Consider what changed over the past year — did you sell or buy a business, an expensive piece of jewelry, collectibles, electronics or other items that may warrant increased coverage? Was there a change in your marital status? Did you adopt or add to your family in some way? Do you have adequate healthcare insurance?

Related: Mitigating the No. 1 natural disaster in the U.S.

“The first of the year is the perfect time to get your financial house in order, and an evaluation of your insurance policies should always be part of that effort,” says Chris Hackett, PCI’s senior director of personal lines policy in a press release.

The devastation caused by multiple hurricanes and wildfires demonstrates how quickly life can change – especially if someone is under- or uninsured. “It’s important to make sure you’re prepared for today’s risks,” said Hackett. “Updating your insurance policies can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re properly covered for any unexpected events that may occur in the new year.”

An insurance review does not have to be complicated if you follow these basic steps:

clients meeting with insurance agent

Your insurance agent can help you determine adequate coverage limits so you purchase the correct amount to cover your risks. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 1 – Talk to your insurer

Contact your insurer or agent to set up a time to talk about your existing coverage and changes that could affect your liability in new or different areas. Together you can determine coverage limits, new risks such as identity theft or cyber attacks, and discuss your plans for 2018.

auto insurance premium

An insurance policy will spell out in detail exactly what is or is not covered in the event of a loss. (Photo: Shutterstock) 

Step 2 – Read your policies

Most policyholders don’t read their insurance policies until they actually need to use the coverage. By then it’s too late to see what your deductible is, that your auto policy doesn’t cover towing or the cost of a loaner car for more than a few days, or that your policy pays the actual cash value (the depreciated amount of an item) instead of the actual replacement cost for items damaged in a flood or fire.

Knowing what type of reconstruction budget you have to work with can be the difference between using builder grade or custom finishes on a house that’s suffered damage, or having additional living expenses (ALE) covered.

Related: How to calculate deductibles for multiple related losses

insurance policies on table

Consider what other personal or commercial risks may provide you with exposures if there is some sort of disaster. (Photo: Shutterstock) 

Step 3 – Consider additional types of coverage

Some insurance policies must be purchased separately from existing auto or homeowners policies. Flood insurance, earthquake insurance and cyber insurance are just a few examples. Flood insurance must be purchased at least 30 days before the policy becomes effective (meaning you can’t purchase it a few days before a hurricane is supposed to hit your area).

This could also be a good time to consider updating your home inventory so you have accurate coverage for your belongings and an accurate list of items like works of art, collectibles (e.g., stamps, automobiles, firearms, paintings, etc.), jewelry and antiques. Take photos of each room and save them to your cloud for easy access in case of a loss.

Related: The trouble with estimating additional living expenses (ALE)

young woman using a computer on her sofa in an apartment

Rental insurance can protect your belongings and guests in your apartment. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 4 – Do you need rental insurance?

If you’ve just moved into your first apartment or out of a dorm room into an apartment, it might be wise to look into rental insurance for your belongings. Some students may be covered under their parents’ homeowners policy, but it’s always good to verify coverage and limits.

According to PCI, rental insurance isn’t terribly expensive, ranging from $10-$30 a month to cover losses from theft, fire and more.

Related: Renter households reach 50-year high

shopping for insurance online

A wide variety of apps and programs will allow customers to compare insurance policy pricing. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 5 – Compare prices

Today’s apps make it easy to compare prices for coverage. Ask your insurer about multi-policy discounts, possible discounts for a clean driving record or other ways you can save money on a policy. When comparing insurance policies, make sure they offer the same levels of coverage.

Checking on your insurance health and wellbeing is a worthwhile resolution that can benefit you for the entire year. It takes a little time and research, but identifying your risks early can help manage them before you suffer a loss.

Related: Update on homeowners' insurance market

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