1. Review your NH home insurance and NH car insurance policies when received
An insurance policy is a daunting document that many people simply file away year after year. However, only you know what you own so it is critical to look at your policy to ensure it is accurate. Are all cars and drivers included? Is the named insured and property listed accurately? If there is an oversight or error that is not discovered until after a claim it may be too late, resulting in no coverage.
2. Increase the liability limit on your NH car insurance policy
Driving a car is typically the biggest risk you take each day. Anything can happen within a matter of seconds and without adequate liability limits you could lose everything you have worked so hard for. The liability limit on your policy includes coverage for not only someone else’s bodily injury, but also his or her “pain and suffering,” and loss of income. Even in the most minor of accidents these limits can be reached very quickly.
3. Review the coverage amount on your home
Many people obtain homeowners insurance when they first buy a home and then let it continuously renew without consideration. The coverage on your home does typically increase by a small percentage each year, but that is to keep up with inflation. If you put on an addition, finish a basement or close in a deck, you will want to review the dwelling limit with your insurance professional to ensure you are adequately covered
4. Insure art, antiques or unique items on an insurance schedule
A homeowner’s policy includes coverage for your personal property, but it would be impossible to ask a company adjuster to pay a claim on a painting of a pond, for example, that has been stolen without any further information. Perhaps it was a paint-by-numbers by your aunt or an original Monet? Anything unique needs to have an appraisal and specifically listed on the policy. That way there is no question as to the item’s existence or value.
5. Keep your Insurance Professional in-the-know
If there is an occurrence in your life that raises a red flag somewhere in your brain, use that as a cue to call your insurance professional to let them know what is happening. Some changes in your life can completely negate coverage like renting out a house that is written on a homeowner’s policy, moving from a home you still own but is completely vacant, or signing the title of a car over to your child without changing the insurance. These occurrences may seem minor, but can be major in regards to your insurance. If in doubt, call your insurance agent.
6. Be aware of coverage limitations on the NH homeowner policy
Most homeowner policies follow the same limitations for items that are highly susceptible to theft like jewelry, guns, silver and cash. This means that if someone were steal the jewelry box off your bureau, you may be looking at just $1000 settlement, no matter if it contained a diamond necklace or ruby ring well above this amount. There are ways around these coverage limitations so call your insurance professional to discuss.
7. Shop your insurance NH car and homeowners insurance
Like any industry, insurance is competitive and pricing and coverage may vary from year to year. The company that was the best fit for you five years ago, may not be today. Assuming your insurance is written through an independent insurance agency (meaning the agency represents numerous insurance companies and not just one like State Farm, Geico or Liberty Mutual), feel free to ask them to quote your policies with other carriers. It is free to get a comparison and will ensure that you are not over-paying.
8. Consider a NH umbrella insurance policy
We are all aware that the frequency of lawsuits is on the rise. What was once settled by a handshake is now ending up in court. Give yourself an extra level of protection by getting an umbrella policy. A personal umbrella policy is a liability policy that provides an extra level of liability protection over your other personal policies like car, home, boat, etc. This is a critical coverage as it not only provides additional liability limits; it can also include legal defense costs. A basic $1 million umbrella policy for one home and two cars can be as low as $150 for the year. Call your insurance professional for a quote that can meet your needs
9. Consider self-insuring
Insurance is one way of dealing with risk, but it is not the only way. As long as you understand the risk and are able to easily deal with it, then perhaps you want to consider self-insuring property like a home without a mortgage or a car without a loan. This is most frequently done when a car gets older and collision coverage is removed; however it can be done with any property you own.
That said, we would never recommend that liability coverage be removed from any motorized vehicle, boat, or property you own. You want to be able to understand the maximum risk before a decision is made to self-insure, and with liability, that is nearly impossible.
10. When considering coverage limits, consider your assets
“How much coverage do I need?” This is a question we frequently get as insurance professionals. Our answer is typically, “as much as you can afford.” Though this may seem like a smart-aleck response, it is the truth.
If you are involved in a major accident, you can be sure that the opposing attorney will consider your assets when deciding on a suit amount.
If you have a $2 million asset portfolio, but are driving around with the state-minimum liability limit, you are risking the gap between your insurance coverage and assets. This gap can most likely be covered by insurance so it is important to consult with your financial advisor and insurance professional to come up with a sound risk management plan.
Considering your assets is also a great way to think about self-insurance. Have you been paying $2,500 a year for the last 10 years to insure a tiny cabin you inherited without a mortgage? It is your money and as long as you understand the risk, you should be able to do with it what you want. There are companies who will allow you to self-insure the building while covering just the liability.
While many of the commercials on television today make it seem that you should be able to protect your life’s savings in just 15 minutes, we would suggest that you take the time to understand your risks and consult with an independent insurance professional.
You have worked too hard to build your assets only to see them slip away with a gap in coverage or a technicality you were not aware of in your policy.