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New Year Personal Insurance Checkup

New Year Personal Insurance Checkup

As 2016 comes to a close many people will be thinking about the future. Do you have New Year’s Resolutions? Have you made specific personal financial goals for 2017?

The end of the year is a good time to take stock of the year that was and review your personal insurance to see if any changes need to be made. Here are a few points to ponder:

Auto Insurance

Since auto insurance is mandatory in most states, it is easy to just “set it and forget it”. You buy the policy, put the premium on auto-deduct from your checking account and motor off into the sunset. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. Are all of my current autos on my policy?
  2. Have I sold, donated, or traded any vehicles in the last 12 months?
  3. Has my insurance agent been notified of any driver changes like a new driver or the departure of a driver due to death or divorce?
  4. Have any special modifications been made to a current vehicle that would change the value?
  5. Are my insurance needs being met by my current insurance policies? Do I have coverage I don’t need? Is there coverage I need that I don’t have?

Another important question to ask: Do I know where my auto ID cards are? Many insurance companies now offer apps that include your auto ID card, or they allow you to print your auto ID card from their website. A good rule of thumb is to have two hard copies: one for your glove box and one for your wallet, even if you have an electronic copy on your phone. If your phone loses power or internet/mobile connection, it will probably be when you get pulled over or are involved in an accident.

Home Insurance

Whether you are a renter or a homeowner, an annual review of your insurance needs is always a good idea. Things can change in 12 months, and it is important to cover your assets.

  1. Have I moved in the last 12 months? Did I make my insurance broker aware of the move?
  2. Have I made any large purchases or sales in the last year?
  3. Are my limits sufficient to meet my needs?
  4. If I opted not to purchase policies such as flood or earthquake, should I purchase those now?

One of the more common mistakes made when it comes to homeowners or renters insurance is failing to inform your insurance broker of a move. You will continue to pay on your old policy, but if there is a claim you will most likely be without coverage. All insurance policies require you to specify a coverage location, and only offer temporary coverage (usually 30 days) when you are in the middle of a move.

Now is a good time to find your policies and decide on a storage location. Whether it is a fireproof lock box or a filing cabinet, be sure you have them clearly labeled in case of a claim. Staple a copy of your insurance broker’s card on the file for easy contact. If you store electronic copies, make sure everyone in the family knows how to access them.

Health & Wealth

If you have health insurance, life insurance, or disability coverage, now is the time to locate those policies and review them. Make note of any questions you may have and schedule an insurance checkup with your broker.

If you don’t have health insurance, now is the time to get it. Open enrollment is available for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and many other private insurers offer policy enrollment year round. If you are not currently covered, this is the time to purchase coverage and avoid penalties imposed under the ACA.

Life and disability insurance needs may change over time, so if you have that coverage, it is always a good time to review with your agent to make sure these policies are meeting your needs. If you do not have this coverage, purchasing sooner rather than later will save a lot of money on premiums over time. The older you are, the higher your premium!

If you have not yet invested in a 401k or IRA for retirement, you may still be able to benefit from the tax credits for 2016 by starting and contributing now. Talk to your broker to find out more.

Miscellaneous Items

Have you purchased any unusual items in the past year such as a golf cart, a boat, antiques or expensive jewelry? These items may require special coverage that is not included with a standard homeowners or renters policy.

Do you hire casual workers, or do you have a housekeeper or nanny? Workers compensation coverage may be required for these employees, so contact your agent to find out if you need this coverage.

You can always check your policies at renewal, but the new year is a great time to get your financial house in order. Call your broker to schedule an insurance checkup for 2017. You’ll be glad you did.

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