Life happens and things change each year as should your insurance policies. Each year marks a great time to review your coverage with an insurance agent who can make sure you are getting all the protection you need at the price you deserve. Use our simple checklist as a tool to ask your insurance agent important questions that rarely get asked.
Have you ever wondered why your insurance rates continue to increase each year? Most people don't realize that if they take a few minutes to review the insurance policies that they will find numerous errors that can save them hundreds of dollars each year. What if you forgot to remove your 20 year old son from the household once he moved out. This could cost you thousands of dollars over years of not updating the policy to reflect the current household situation.
Here is a list of questions to ask your agent when you do the annual review:
Auto Insurance Policy Questions
- Household drivers – Confirm all drivers are listed on the policy and any drivers who have moved out are no longer rated on policy. Students away to college can often be removed until living with parents.
- Driving History – If accidents or tickets are over three years old you should make sure they are no longer surcharging for them. Some violations will take 5 years such as DUI or reckless driving. Companies may not allow surcharges to be removed until renewal of policy so set reminder of those dates to confirm then.
- Primary Insured Credit – If the primary insured’s credit history has improved ask the company to pull your new credit score. The better your credit the lower your insurance premium can be depending on the company and state you live in.
- Occupation – Some companies offer discounts for certain occupation groups such as doctors, teachers, and law enforcement. Company will require proof of occupation such as license or letter from employer.
- Marital status – If your marital status has changed this can often mean lower insurance rates for married couples. This is especially true for married couples under age 30.
- Vehicle lienholder – When you pay off a loan or finish a lease on a vehicle the lienholder is not automatically removed from the insurance policy. It won’t change the premium of the policy but it is good to remove them from the policy as a lienholder in the event of a claim.
- Vehicle coverage – As cars get older it may make sense to no longer fully insure the car with comprehensive and collision. This can often reduce the premium of the policy 25-45% but will no longer provide protection of the vehicle. Get estimates on the value of the vehicle and weigh the cost of continuing full coverage versus the savings of removing it.
- Liability protection – If your assets have increased or you make substantially more money it is a good idea to increase your liability limits on an auto insurance policy to exceed those assets. A good level of liability coverage starts at $100,000 bodily injury.
- Discounts – Because a computer is only as good what it is told you should ask about any discounts that you deserve that may not be applied currently. The most overlooked discounts include good student discount, driver’s education for young and senior drivers, car alarms, multiple policies discounts such as life and auto.
Home Insurance Policy Questions
- Household members – Be sure to include all adults living in the household so if property is damaged that belongs to that individual it will be covered.
- Dwelling coverage – This is the most important aspect of the homeowner insurance policy as it provides coverage for your home itself. If you have not reviewed this coverage in years like many homeowners it is likely not sufficient. Be sure to inform your agent of any new additions, remodels and discrepancies in building materials that the current policy shows.
- Personal Property – While the majority of your property will be covered under the blanket coverage there are items like jewelry and art that may need special attention. The number one underinsured item in a house is an engagement ring. These rings average $8000 in value yet most home insurance policies won’t cover them unless there is a jewelry floater on it. Be sure to ask your agent about any valuable jewelry, fine art, collectibles or guns.
- Liability coverage – Most home insurance companies offer $300,000 as a base package but it is little known that you can get $1 million in liability protection for as little as $25 per year. Ask your company how much it would be to increase liability to $1 million.
- Vacant land – Many people own vacant land that is not currently protected for liability claims. Most home insurance companies offer to add liability protection for this vacant land at little or no addition cost.
- Discounts – As with auto insurance there may be discounts you are eligible for but not getting yet. If you have a central burglar alarm or high quality roof these can save you another 10-20%. Always ask your agent to review for any possible discounts you are not getting.
Life Insurance Policy Questions
- Beneficiary – If a major life change occurred such as getting married or a death in the family this will often affect the beneficiary status of your life insurance. Be sure to update beneficiaries listed on the policy plus inform those individuals that they are beneficiaries.
- Address and Contact Info – Because life insurance is not regularly dealt with it is often forgot about if you move so be sure to update any address changes.
- Quit smoking – If you have quit smoking and it has been one year you are likely able to get non-nicotine rates but you will need to reapply for a policy.
Umbrella Policy Questions
- Underlying policies – You may be paying for policies that are no longer protected by the umbrella policy such as a car that was sold or a rental property that you no longer own. Because human error or lack of follow often leave these policies listed on an umbrella policy you will likely pay extra for them.