In the current economic climate, consumers are looking at every aspect of their finances with an eye toward trimming costs. Cutting back on lattes, clipping coupons and do-it-yourself home repairs are all smart places to start (as long as you’re handy with a hammer), however most Insurance customers need a bit of education regarding pitfalls to avoid if they’re looking at cutting their insurance coverage.
Simply reducing coverage or dropping important coverages altogether can leave a your dangerously underinsured in the event of a loss or disaster. Here are the five biggest insurance mistakes consumers make, according to the Insurance Information Institute, along with suggestions to avoid these pitfalls while still saving money:
1. Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding. When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales or market price of the home. You need to make sure that they have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings.
A better way to save: Raise deductibles. An increase from $500 to $1,000 or to a percentage deductible can save up to 25 percent on premium payments.
2. Selecting an insurance company by price alone. It is important to choose a company with solid agents that can provide sound financially advice and provide good customer service. Also, a top-tier claims organization is critical in selecting an insurance company.
A better way to save: You should select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.
3. Dropping Flood insurance. Damage from flooding is not covered under standard Homeowners and Renters insurance policies. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program as well as from some private insurance companies. Many homeowners are unaware they are at risk for flooding, but in fact 25 percent of all flood losses occur in low-risk areas.
A better way to save: Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine whether the property is situated in a flood zone; if so, consider a less risky area. If you are already living in a designated flood zone, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage and consider purchasing flood insurance. Additional information on flood insurance can be found at www.FloodSmart.gov.
4. Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability for your car. In today’s litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability means a customer is likely to pay more out-of-pocket if they are sued—and those costs are steep.
A better way to save: Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars worth less than $1,000. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident.
5. Neglecting to buy Renters insurance. Most renters think they don’t need insurance or believe that the landlord is providing insurance for the tenant. A Renters insurance policy covers possessions and additional living expenses if a you have to move out due to an insured disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in the home and decides to sue.