That’s exactly the wrong time to find out your coverage is inadequate. In general, you should review your insurance coverage once a year, or whenever you have significant changes to your personal or financial situation.
“Taking time to do an insurance review with your consultant may save you money and ensures you have the proper coverages in place to protect your loved ones and your belongings,” says Justin Staebler, SVP Personal and Life Insurance, Johnson Financial Group. “Most insurers have unique coverage,” Staebler adds. “An independent agent has access to a range of companies and will take the time to understand your needs, explore all the options and help you choose what’s best for your situation.”
Topics to Cover
You and your insurance consultant should discuss:
- Changes in your home’s value. Over the past few years, home prices have increased. “As inflation and the cost of materials rise, the cost of rebuilding a home goes up,” Staebler says. “Rather than focus on what you paid for your home, you need to consider the cost to rebuild.” In addition, any remodeling, renovations or added square footage may have increased your home’s replacement value beyond what your current policy will cover.
- Your personal property. A home inventory is key to help make coverage decisions and assist in the insurance claims process after theft, damage or loss. “If you’re the victim of a fire or theft, you aren’t necessarily going to remember every item you own,” Staebler says. “One of the easiest ways to create a home inventory is to take pictures or videos of each room in your home. Record serial numbers of electronic equipment. Then upload the information to the cloud so it’s always accessible.”
- Your auto insurance. Reviewing your car insurance coverage regularly will ensure you are protected in case the unexpected happens. “Your consultant can explore whether your coverage is adequate, make recommendations on coverage options and see if you are eligible for discounts based on your individual situation,” Staebler says.
Where are the gaps?
Your review is also a good time to discover coverage gaps that should be addressed. “For example, water damage is one of the top reasons for homeowners insurance claims, but not everyone is aware that flood damage is generally excluded under a standard homeowners policy,” Staebler says. “Yet even homes in areas not usually subject to flooding can be at risk.”
Another consideration: Many high‐value items—such as cash, art, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, certain musical instruments and firearms—are either not covered or have a coverage ceiling. You may need to include policy riders to protect these items.
When it comes to auto insurance, medical payments coverage provides financial protection for you and the passengers in your vehicle in the event you are found at fault in an accident. “It’s one of the most important protections you can have, and it’s often overlooked or even left off an auto policy,” Staebler says. Finally, consider umbrella insurance, which provides liability coverage over and above your homeowners and auto policies. “You may not realize that, even with few assets, if you’re sued and found at fault, your future wages could be garnished,” Staebler says. “Umbrella liability coverage provides inexpensive peace of mind.”
Time well spent. We’ve all seen ads promoting pricing tools and online gimmicks suggesting that getting insurance is quick, easy and cheap. But there is no substitute for an in‐depth conversation with an independent consultant who has your best interests in mind.