From regular oil changes to replacing furnace filters and annual visits to the dentist, smart shoppers know that taking preventative measures can prevent costly repairs. Insurance is another item that should go on your regular maintenance list.
Here’s the problem: No one wants to think about insurance unless they have to. But once a year, it’s important to do a quick review to make sure you have enough money to buy at the best price.
Some of us have to learn these things the hard way. I don’t know how many years we paid a special rider to cover my husband’s recording equipment on the landlord’s policy. Sure, it was a good idea when he was actually an artist. But the rider continued for many years after selling the equipment.
Then came my friend Lucy who got tired of bothering him and agreed to buy him car insurance. Within 15 minutes of calling an insurance broker, he was earning less than $500 a year. His problem was his loyalty to the assistant he had been with for 13 years. But $500 is a lot of money, so he called him to tell him he was going to a cheap ranch. “Wait,” the assistant pleaded. “Give me another day to try to beat this word.” He said, rewriting his policy $600 less a year without any changes.
When your policies are coming up for renewal, spend less time shopping.
As your vehicles age, your insurance needs to change. Factor in age and status when you choose your deductible. Maybe you want a higher deductible on an older car that may not make sense to fix if there is a fender bender. Changes in the number of young drivers included in your policy, the distance you travel to work and where you park your car will also have a big impact on your premiums. Ask about other discounts you may qualify for, such as being a good driver or a good student.
HOME OWNER’S INSURANCE
If you own a home, check your inventory once a year and update your inventory accordingly. Check out all the riders and extras. Edit or delete as appropriate. Look closely at any changes the insurance company has made to your claim. You want to know about this before disaster strikes. Repairs, renovations and major purchases such as electrical appliances should be included in your plan. A new roof or security system can reduce your costs.
How you change your life insurance depends on the type of policy you have. In the long run, quickly compare your premiums to see if yours is still competitive, especially if your insurance is raising more than you expected. Term insurance is cheap these days, so take advantage of it.
For whole life insurance, remove the riders you no longer need. If you find that you don’t need as much protection as you’re paying for, ask for a lower face value (“minimum commitment”). Look for extra charges and if you see them, ask for them to be removed or negotiate with them.
When making a change in insurance, don’t cancel one policy until you are sure that you have the capacity to replace it. You don’t want to run the least risk in Learning.
This article was originally published in 2014. Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this section is stocked with links and resources to all legitimate products and services. Mary invites questions and comments on https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This section will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder EverydayCheapskate.comlifestyle blog, and author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”