BY ANDREW STEWART
New gym memberships and weight loss goals are a familiar sign of the way New Year’s resolutions that are often made are quickly abandoned. But a few insurance tips and resolutions you’ll not only want to make but also stick with involve being more prudent about your insurance. That means spending wisely and getting the coverage that matters most. It’s a good idea to start each year by taking stock of your coverage because auto, home, life and other insurance needs change over time. As you move, switch jobs, add to your family, change vehicles and grow older you will have to make revisions.
When you have to use your insurance, the last thing you want is to learn that you don’t have enough coverage. But you also want to make sure you aren’t carrying more insurance than you really need.
Here are some New Year’s resolutions to help you fine-tune your insurance policies.
Auto insurance premiums may be tied to how often you drive and to your vehicle model, make certain you’ve alerted your insurer to any changes in driving habits. If you are driving a shorter distance to work or have become a secondary driver instead of primary driver that may lead to lower premiums. Consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on older vehicles to save money. Collision pays the costs of repairing cars following accidents, while comprehensive pays for losses not caused by accidents, such as theft or fire damage. Since your insurance company will repair or replace only up to the value of the vehicle, paying for full coverage on an aging car may not be worth it.
The start of a new year is a great time to update the inventory of your home possessions. You’ll need an accurate list if you ever have to make a home insurance claim. You probably have received holiday presents and done some boxing day shopping, there are new things in the house. Some of them could be worth a lot: TV, stereo, laptops & tablets, clothes for example. If you don’t want to take time to write things down, make a video recording of your home. If there is a theft, you can go back and say “I had this stuff” If you have a big flat-screen TV that costs over $1,000, you may want to schedule that separately.
The cost for a rider is usually pretty cheap. It will make sure your TV is covered for everything, including your child throwing a toy at it. Finally, make sure your home insurance coverage remains high enough if you ever have to repair or rebuild at today’s construction prices.
As you launch into a new year, always review your life insurance needs and make sure you are adequately protected. Did you move, retire, get married, have a baby, change jobs, etc.? If so, discuss these plans with your advisor. Your insurance advisor can make sure you have adequate insurance coverage before, during and after these events. You should also look for ways to cut life insurance cost. Have you become healthier? Did you stop smoking? Did you lose a significant amount of weight? Are you off medications? You may now qualify for preferred rates.
The main reason for life insurance is to replace lost income, it’s a good idea to make sure a nonworking spouse or domestic partner also has adequate coverage. Think about what your partner does in any given month to keep your family functioning. You would have to replace that expense.
You may want to trim your health insurance costs in the New Year. For healthy people who rarely go to the doctor, it may make sense to seek lower premiums through a higher insurance deductible. Supplementary health insurance focuses on non-core services that are not covered or not fully covered by government plans. They may be group plans sponsored by employers, unions and associations or individual plans that consumers purchase for themselves. Individual plans are policies that you purchase for yourself and your dependents if you are not eligible for a group plan, or need additional coverage to meet special needs.
Other types of Individual plans are:
- Hospital Cash Plans
- Insurance for Visitors and Returning Canadians
- Disability Insurance
- Critical Illness Plans
- Living Benefits
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- Travel Insurance
New Years is a fresh start for everyone and an opportunity to move forward and correct mistakes we may have made in the previous year. Let’s make the most of it.