The importance of insurance reviews
Most people contact their insurance brokers or underwriters when there is a major event in their lives that requires new or revised risk coverage, perhaps when they buy a new home or it is time to change the old car. However, far fewer remember to check their insurance at regular intervals or when more subtle changes to their coverage requirements occur.
Reviewing your insurance regularly helps ensure that your coverage is what you expect it to be in the unfortunate circumstance that you need to file a claim. It also helps you make informed decisions regarding coverage and be proactive in minimizing your insurance costs.
There are many different circumstances that could possibly change your coverage requirements and lead to a call to an insurance professional for a review. The examples below identify some of the cases in which you may want to review your coverage:
- Renewals – If you carry out reforms in your house, it is likely that you are also increasing its value. Whether it’s a new kitchen, bathroom, pool, or even expensive landscaping, remember to check your policy limits to make sure they’re still adequate in the event of an insured loss. If you recently renovated your basement, keep in mind also that you will most likely need to review your water damage insurance.
- You’ve been accumulating possessions Have you done an inventory of the house lately? Most people have more personal possessions than they realize. Estimating the full value of your content is vital to help ensure that your limits are appropriate.
- You have purchased a high value item: Remember that some of your personal belongings must be scheduled to be properly covered. Jewelry, antiques, collectibles, wine collections, and art are some examples of pieces that may require additional coverage.
- New coverages are available – The insurance industry frequently adapts to changing market conditions and offers coverage in areas that it did not have in the past. For homeowners, in some areas, some insurers recently offer insurance for groundwater damage and home repair problems (such as broken furnaces). Additionally, brokers looking to cover more of your risk and insurance needs offer legal expense insurance, travel insurance, and pet insurance.
- Laws that change to give you more or fewer options – Changes in car accident benefits mean you need to review your options.
- Become eligible for additional discounts – Changes in your personal circumstances may affect your eligibility for policy discounts. For example, if you install an alarm system, you are likely eligible for a discount on your homeowners policy. If you use snow tires on your vehicle, many insurers offer a discount on your auto insurance policy. If you go from age 50 to 55, you may be eligible for mature driver discounts.
- If you change jobs and have a shorter trip: You should report this to your insurance broker, as driving less frequently is correlated with lower risk and less expensive premiums. If you have a certain job occupation, you may also be eligible for lower insurance rates.
- You have started a home business – A different use of your home, other than strictly residential, may require commercial insurance to adequately cover liability risks.
- Your personal circumstances change – If you are married or have children, you may want to review your coverage to make sure your coverage levels are adequate to care for your dependents in the event of an accident.
- Your child gets a driver’s license. Always check if your child can be added to your policy. It is often the least expensive option to ensure they drive. If you get your own car, you are probably also eligible for a multi-car discount.
- If your child moves to attend college or university: Check to see if your homeowners coverage can be extended to protect your child’s assets while in school. It can be more profitable than buying a separate renters insurance policy.
- If you haven’t had an insurance review in over a year: Your coverage levels may be out of date. A key example of this is your home insurance. Property values and replacement costs can easily increase to the point that your existing coverage limits do not allow for the total rebuilding of your home in the event of a total loss.
Taking the time to speak with your insurance professional is always time well spent. Even if you don’t save on your insurance costs after the call, there is no substitute for having the coverage you expect when a claim is necessary. Since most insurance policies are valid for one year, it is a good idea to speak with your insurance professional before renewing your annual coverage.