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Reviewing your insurance policies in the New Year

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Our needs can change throughout the year, and it is important to make sure your insurance policies accurately reflect those needs and provide you proper coverage. The beginning of the year is an excellent time to make these assessments.

Frank Darras, founding partner of DarrasLaw, joined Gary Pozsik of Health, Wealth, and Happiness to discuss why policyholders should review insurance policies at the beginning of a new year.

Homeowners insurance

The beginning of the year is a good time to examine your homeowner’s insurance policy. Here are tips for keeping your rates reasonable.

Shop around for the best coverage

It is advisable to get at least three quotes before settling on insurance coverage. Your state department of insurance and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners are excellent resources for price comparisons.

However, it is important to look beyond pricing as well; policyholders should also consider which companies provide the best customer service.

Additionally, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take the time to research any insurance companies names you do not recognize.

Raise your deductible

If you raise a $500 deductible to $1000, you may save as much as 25 percent on your premiums.

Bundle your insurance coverage

Some insurance companies will reduce your premium up to 15 percent if you bundle your coverage and hold at least two policies from them.

Consider renovations that protect against disasters

If you live in areas prone to hurricanes and windstorms, it may be wise to fortify your home with storm shutters, shatterproof windows and a reinforced roof. These renovations may also save you money on your homeowner’s insurance premium.

If you live in an older home, you may also consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems. These upgrades will make your home safer and could also provide some savings.

Flood insurance

According to FEMA, 90 percent of major natural disasters in U.S. involve flooding, yet many homeowners skip flood insurance. Unfortunately, homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flooding.

Homeowners should resolve to purchase flood insurance if there is a moderate chance that their home could be damaged by rising waters in a storm. It is also important to remember that floods can occur in unexpected places and at unexpected  times.

Learn more about common flood insurance myths and tips for purchasing coverage.

Auto insurance

There are several factors that affect auto insurance rates, and they should be reviewed at least on an annual basis.

Alert your insurer to changes in driving habits.

Auto insurance premiums may be tied to how often you drive and to your vehicle model; therefore, it is important to make sure you notify your insurance company about your new driving habits.

If you are driving less miles than you used to, you may be eligible for some savings. Additionally, driving a newer, safer and more environmentally friendly vehicle may affect your premiums.

Reassess your collision and comprehensive coverage

Many insurance experts recommend dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on older vehicles to save money.

Collision coverage pays the costs of repairing cars after an accident, while comprehensive coverage funds losses not caused by accidents like theft or tire damage.

Insurance companies will provide finances for repairs or replacements, but only up to the value of the vehicle. For many drivers, paying for full coverage on an aging car may not be worth the cost.

Talk to your agent or broker

Your insurance agent or broker should sit down and evaluate your policies with you at least once a year. They collect commission for this reason, so make sure to get your money’s worth. Here are several items to discuss with your agent or broker:

  1. Evaluate your insurance coverage needs and policies and determine what may need amending or eliminating.
  2. Consider purchasing an individual disability policy, should you get sick or disabled; this will help pay the bills if you cannot work.
  3. If your personal wealth has increased, look into additional life insurance coverage to protect your family from estate taxes.
  4. Ensure the second party listed on your policy is still available and reliable. Double-check all contact information.
  5. Get waiver of premium; if you become sick or injured, your life insurance premiums will be waived.
  6. If you are approaching 60 years old, consider long-term care insurance and find out if your life insurance can be transferred to a long term care policy.

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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