Many often file their insurance policies among life’s “set-and-forget” items. We rarely give them much thought after obtaining the policies and coverage we think we need. Over time, however, life and insurance industry changes can affect insurance coverage in ways we might not even realize. That’s why it’s important to do a regular review of all your policies to ensure your records are up-to-date, your coverage is still what you believe it to be, and you aren’t spending more on premiums than you need to. Here are some simple steps for a thorough yet hassle-free annual insurance review.
- Create an “at-a-glance” document that summarizes each of your policies and their pertinent details. This can be a handwritten sheet, a typed document, or a spreadsheet — whichever you find easiest. Paperwork for each insurance policy includes a page called a “policy summary” or “declarations page.” Using the information on this page, include the following for each policy:
- Policy type
- Provider and the agent’s contact information
- Issuance date
- Policy number
- Premium amount, payment frequency, and means of payment
- Names of the insured
- Names of beneficiaries
- With this document complete, schedule an appointment in person or via phone with your insurance agent to review each policy. This is important because a knowledgeable agent is constantly following insurance trends and fully understands all rules, regulations, and new policy deductions. If your policies have stayed the same for several years, an agent may be able to answer whether new legislation or loopholes have been introduced, and if those updates might have changed your coverage unbeknownst to you. Your own life circumstances may also have changed in ways you didn’t realize could affect your insurance coverage. Here are a few examples:
- You remodel your house and include a finished basement with a game room and home theatre. These home improvements plus a healthy real estate market make your home worth much more than it was when you first got your homeowners insurance policy. It’s smart to adjust your policy to reflect the actual value of your home. This way, in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster, you receive the full replacement cost — not a value that reflects your home’s worth five years ago.
- In the last year, you’ve decided to make some extra income by signing up as an Uber driver on the weekends. You use your own vehicle and have comprehensive and collision insurance. But did you know that you likely need another layer of coveragewhen using your car for rideshare services that your personal auto policy does not include? Best to update that coverage accordingly!
- Your life insurance policy lists your daughter as your primary beneficiary. She recently got married and changed her legal name, but your life insurance policy still has her maiden name listed. It’s good to get these details cleaned up so there is no room for error or confusion in the event she was to file a claim.
Whatever the circumstance, an annual review with your trusted insurance agent can help you quickly identify gaps in coverage, opportunities for reduced premiums, and areas that you should double-check so you can process future claims with ease.
- If you have multiple policies with multiple providers, ask your insurance agents about bundling policies with a single carrier. Many sign up with insurance companies based on parents or spouses adding them to policies. Others shop for the best rates, opting for single policies when they need coverage. However, as we get older and acquire more possessions or more types of coverage, bundling these policies with one carrier can mean substantial savings.
Plus, having multiple policies with one insurance provider can streamline your policy review and payment processes. If you have questions about three different policies, you can call one agent instead of three and submit payments to one company instead of paying three separate bills. It’s a time and money saver worth considering if you haven’t yet.
An annual insurance policy review simply makes good financial sense. Having a trusted insurance agent on your side can make the process much easier.