We just couldn’t help ourselves. TTAI doesn’t take its eye off the ball even over the Holidays. Each year many of us make a list of resolutions that likely won’t last through January…the author of this article included. Mostly, our resolutions are about lifestyle changes. Lose weight, eat better, and spend more time with loved ones.
The insurance resolutions below may only take a few minutes to complete, but the benefits may last a lifetime!
Without further ado, here are the top 10 insurance resolutions for 2012 (and every year after).
1. Get Online Quotes – It takes all of five minutes and may save you hundreds of dollars in premiums. You’re already online. Get some insurance quotes and stop wondering if you are overpaying for coverage.
2. Ask for Discounts – If you own a television set, you know discounts are all-the-rage, as insurers fight to retain your business.
Tip: You need a new agent if your current agent recommends increasing deductibles or lowering coverage to save money when you inquire about discounts.
3. Bundle Home and Auto – You may earn discounts if you get both your home and auto insurance with the same insurer.
Tip: Don’t settle for just the discount. Shop online and see if you are still paying too much. Every insurer has different rates. Bundling with your current insurer may still be more expensive than switching to another insurer altogether.
4. Consult an Independent Agent – The days of driving to the closest State Farm, Farmers or Allstate agency and paying whatever they ask are over. Independent insurance agents can often get you better coverage at a lower premium.
Tip: The companies independent agents represent don’t spend $500,000,000 of your premium dollars on advertising each year. Chain insurers are the “insurance equivalent” of Bank of America.
5. Get Renters Insurance – Renters insurance is one of the cheapest insurance policies out there…think $200-$400 per year. Just because you rent doesn’t mean you cannot suffer a huge property or liability loss. Can you afford to re-purchase everything in your apartment if it burns down this year?
Tip: Your landlord’s insurance policy does not cover your “stuff.”
6. Review Your Current Coverage – Do you still pay for comprehensive and collision insurance (full coverage) on your 15-year-old car? Do yourself a favor and drop that coverage if your car isn’t worth that much anymore.
Tip: Your auto insurance company will pay you the LESSER of the cost to repair or replace your damaged vehicle or it’s actual cash value at the time of the loss…regardless of how much it means to you personally or how much you pay to insure it.
7. Inventory Your Personal Property – Do you have a list of everything you own? We didn’t think so. You will be required to provide an inventory of your contents in the event your personal property is lost, stolen or damaged and provide it to you insurer. Take video, pictures or write a list and keep it in a safe place. We recommend uploading this list to your email account, where you can access it from any computer on planet Earth that has an Internet connection.
Tip: Do you want to make that list now while you still have your “stuff”…or from a hotel room after your home or apartment has burned down. We’ll bet you a shiny nickel you’ll miss a few things if your home burnt down. Also, you insurer doesn’t just write you a check for your “Contents” limit; you must provide a list to them in the event of a loss.
8. Research Your Current Insurer – We’re not talking reading angry posts on the Internet from individuals who didn’t follow steps 1-7 above. We’re talking court cases here. Many large chain insurers are currently being sued by the states in which they conduct business. The lawsuits range from overcharging for coverage to underestimating your home’s replacement cost (to keep their premiums lower). You have the Internet…use it.
Tip: Google the phrase “lawsuit” and any company who advertises on television every 30 seconds and you’ll see the light.
9. Read Your Policy – Even TTAI knows this isn’t fun. But would you rather find out you didn’t have coverage for a particular loss after it happens or before? While the policy language is mind numbing, you’ll find that asking your agent of insurer for a laymen’s terms explanation of a particular coverage is pretty easy.
Tip: Your agent will not be attentive after a claim if she/he isn’t attentive to your coverage questions prior to a claim. Again, do you want to know what kind of agent you have before or after you file a claim?
10. Stick to Your Resolution – Just like laying off the chocolate or soda, real results come from continued discipline and effort. “Set it and forget it” works for cooking a turkey…not for your insurance. This is one of your top expenses in the budget. Treat it as such.
(photo: John Brennan)