This month you may be planning your Thanksgiving dinner, winterizing your home or preparing for the holiday shopping season. While you’re making your lists and checking them twice, here are two important tasks you can’t afford to forget.
#1: Your annual insurance review
- What is it? A review of all your insurance policies to make sure the coverage you have is just what you need.
- Why do it? Your needs may have changed. You may not have as much coverage as you need; on the other hand, you may have too much! You may no longer need a particular type of coverage, and you may discover there's another category of coverage that you do need.
- What should you know? According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, your annual insurance review should involve three questions.
- What type of coverage do I have? A homeowner's policy covers the structure you live in and the belongings you keep inside it. A renter's policy covers only your belongings. Your replacement value may cover the actual cash value of repair (minus depreciation), or the real cost of replacement. Also, do you have liability and medical coverage for non-residents?
- How much coverage do I need? Your coverage should be proportionate to the actual value of your structure and belongings.
- What are my deductibles and discounts? You can adjust your deductible to deliver either better coverage or better savings.
- How to get started? First step, do a home inventory to determine the value of your belongings. (We'll cover that below). Next, ask your insurer these five questions:
- Has anything about my policy changed since last year?
- Is my coverage adequate?
- Are there any losses that pertain to me (floods, for example), which my current policy doesn't cover?
- Are additional discounts available?
- Are there any additional options for bundling my insurance policies?
#2: Your home inventory update
- What is it? Your home inventory is a detailed list of everything valuable that you own.
- Why do it? It will be instrumental in determining how much coverage you need. More importantly, if you experience a loss, your inventory will speed the claims process and ensure you get every penny you're covered for. It will also save you the emotional hassle of trying to recall the details when you're stressed, and prevent you from forgetting anything that’s not top-of-mind.
- What should I know? Record as much information about each item as possible. Take lots of pictures; consider taking video as well. Note which room each item is in. Revisit the list each year (and every time you receive valuable gifts) to make sure it's all still accurate.
- How to get started? There are a variety of mobile apps that make it easy and straightforward to catalogue your home. Take a look at the top picks from Forbes, and have fun with it!