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10 Ways to Assess Your Insurance Policy; Are You Covered

It is important for clients to review their policies every year to prevent claims confusion or rate increases in the future.  Policyholders are encouraged to educate themselves about their policy features, exclusions and rating criteria.

1. Is your Name and Birthday Correct?

Sometimes the representative you work with misunderstands what you say and can issue a policy with the wrong information.  The difference can result in higher premiums or confusion when a check is issued for a claim.

2. Make Sure the Named Insured is Correct

The name insured listed on a policy is who coverage is provided for.  The named insured(s) is the only person who can make changes or inquire about specifics of the policy.  The named insured physically resides at the address listed for the location.  This can change due to divorce, death and separation of property.  If the named insured incorrect, it can affect accurate payout of a claim.

3. Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

Do you know what your home and belongings are covered for?  Make sure you are aware of the method of payout to prevent a lower payout than anticipated at the time of a loss.  If your policy lists “Actual Cash Value”, inquire about endorsements or changes to buy your way to replacement cost.

4. Additional Insured

An additional insured is a person, trust or institution with a financial interest in the property.  Ex-spouses who have their name on a deed, but live somewhere else need to be protected by being listed as an additional insured, not as a named insured.  When a claim is paid out, the additional interest is notified and required to sign-off on all payments.

5. Beneficiaries

When was the last time you reviewed this?  Do you want your ex to receive your life insurance funds, or a sibling you don't speak with?  It is important to review your beneficiary information for accuracy as your life changes.  People leave and babies enter; Who do you want to take care of when you are gone?

6. Is your Basement Covered?

Don't assume your finished basement is covered; It's probably not.  Talk to your insurance company about coverage for your basement and the large appliances you may have down there.  Ask about endorsements specific to your state.

7. What's your Deductible?

Don't be caught off guard by the deductible.  The deductible is a large expense and necessary before payment can be issued.  Be aware of your deductible before you make a claim.

8. What is your Earthquake Deductible?

If you are caught off-guard by the question, you need to call your insurance company if the risk of earthquake concerns you.  Most policies do not extend coverage for earthquake unless it is specifically included with an endorsement or separate policy.

9. What is your Liability?

Liability is coverage provided by your company is you are found negligent for a claim.  Liability is never paid in excess of the listed policy amount.  What is your worth?  What can a claimant potentially come after you for?  If you are under-insured, you can end up paying out of pocket for anything higher than what your policy allows.

10. What are the Exclusions?

Exclusions are spelled out in your policy booklet and declaration pages.  Don't assume something is covered.

Try to learn as much as you can about the insurance industry.  Ask questions, read your policy and schedule policy reviews.  Insurance companies expect you to know what is covered before you make a claim, and they don't provide coverage as a courtesy for anything you don't.