Life doesn’t stop after you obtain insurance coverage. Maybe you added that much-needed extra bathroom to your home or inherited your grandparents’ precious antiques. Perhaps your teenager is going to college or you’re starting a new business. You’ll need to adjust your insurance coverage to align with your new circumstances.
Here are 16 life experiences that should prompt a call to your insurance professional:
- Getting married or divorced: Many insurance companies offer benefits like marriage discounts, multicar discounts and bundled insurance policies. If you’re getting married, you should insure your wedding and engagement rings since they’ll probably exceed the $2,500 jewelry limit in standard homeowners or renters policies. Create a new home inventory and increase your personal property coverage when you combine your belongings. If you’re going through a divorce, let your agent know. (Some divorce decrees specify insurance requirements.) You should adjust your policies, reflect name changes, update your life insurance and all listed beneficiaries.
- Buying, renting or moving to a new residence: It would be terrible to lose your home in a fire or hurricane only to find out that you’re not insured. Make sure the policy limits are high enough to cover the cost to rebuild your home (different from market value). Even if you don’t own a place, you and your belongings need protection. A renters insurance policy will cover your personal belongings and offer added liability coverage (if someone is injured on your property or sues you).
- Purchasing a car: Call your insurance professional with the make, model, and vehicle identification number if you buy a vehicle. Your insurance rate may change significantly depending on the vehicle type and your residence.
- Becoming a business owner (even if it’s a home-based business): No matter where your business is located or how big it is, you’ll need coverage to ensure everything is properly protected. Take note of your business operations, even in a home business. If you use your car for business or store merchandise and supplies at home, you’ll need extra coverage. Ask your agent if a business owners policy (a “BOP”) is right for you.
- Doing home renovations: Major improvements to your home, such as adding a new room, remodeling your kitchen or enclosing a porch can put you at risk of being underinsured. An increase in the value of the structure may require an increase to your homeowners insurance coverage limits.
- Having a new teen driver: When your teenager gets their driver’s permit or license, they need to be properly insured. Teen insurance can be pricy, so make sure they attend all the necessary driver’s education classes and keep their school grades elevated. And be sure to let your agent know so you can take advantage of any discounts.
- Acquiring something expensive: Anytime you inherit or buy something valuable, you should reevaluate the contents coverage portion of your home or renters insurance policy. The policy limits may not be high enough. Compare the cost of increasing insurance on your valuables versus the cost of adding an umbrella policy to expand coverage ($1 million or more) over your home and auto.
- Heading off to college: If your college student is moving to on-campus or off-campus housing, you should review your insurance policies to make sure their personal possessions and vehicle are adequately covered.
- Joining a carpool: If you’re a regular carpool driver, your liability insurance should reflect the increased risk of additional passengers in the vehicle.
- Installing a security or smart home system: Security systems deter theft and some smart home systems prevent catastrophic structural damage (like a whole house water shut-off system). Call your agent about insurance discounts for these systems, even if you’re only in the planning stages.
- Switching mortgage or auto lenders: Payments can get confusing if your old lender is listed on your policy. Your insurance company may need to issue a check to both you and your lender when there’s a claim. If the wrong lender is listed, it can delay claims processing or payments for premiums (leaving you temporarily uninsured).
- Driving less: Working from home, living closer to your office or joining a carpool will reduce your mileage. Auto insurance companies consider less mileage a risk reduction, so you might be rewarded with a cheaper rate.
- Buying a second home: Whether a beachfront property or a mountain getaway, don’t skimp on the insurance — especially if your second home will be vacant for long periods. If you rent your second home, ask your agent about landlord insurance.
- Traveling internationally: If you plan to drive outside the United States, your current coverage may not protect you abroad. (For example, Mexico requires that all drivers have Mexico auto insurance. They don’t recognize U.S. auto insurance, and you can be fined or jailed in addition to not being covered in an accident.)
- Having your identity stolen: If you’ve been the victim of this kind of crime, you may want to invest in identity theft or cyber liability coverage to protect you and your family in the future.
- Retiring: You might be able to get a discount on your homeowners insurance when you retire. In addition, if you regularly commuted to your job, your annual mileage may drop significantly.
Don’t forget to keep your insurance agent in the loop as your circumstances change. They’ll help you offset your financial liability and protect what’s important to you!