Insurance Checkup for the Summer Season

Tips for an Insurance Checkup

SAN MATEO, Calif., May 9, 2007 - Financial security includes the right insurance, says co-founder and co-CEO Andrew Housser -- and summer is the perfect time to give property and budgets an insurance checkup.

"Sunny skies don’t remove the risk of an economic rainy day," Housser said. "Summer is a great time to check your policies to make sure you’re protected."

Consumers can evaluate their coverage with Housser’s five-point checklist:

  1. Home insurance: Most mortgages require basic property coverage. Specific needs differ based on local rebuilding costs and the home’s finishes. Housser notes that riders can cover jewelry, collections or art. "Home-office workers should ask if a policy covers business equipment," he added. "If not, business equipment riders are fairly inexpensive." Your insurance agent also will ask about risks such as a dog or a swimming pool. Finally, renters aren’t exempt from insurance needs -- renters’ insurance covers property in a rented or leased dwelling.
  2. Auto and RV insurance: Companies often give the best rates to safe drivers who buy multiple policies from the same insurer. "One of the most important things you can do to get a good deal is to obey the law and avoid moving violations that hike your rates," Housser advised. In addition, when buying a car, check insurance costs first. Features like turbo engines or high-theft vehicles can cost more to insure. Additional cost-saving programs include safety refresher courses for drivers over age 55 or driver’s education for teens. Boats and self-propelled recreational vehicles require separate policies.
  3. Life insurance: Life insurance provides for others who require on the policyholder’s income after the policyholder passes away. "At a minimum, if you don’t have enough cash to pay for funeral expenses, it’s not a bad idea to hold policies to cover those costs for yourself, your spouse and your children," Housser suggested. A financial planner can help determine the necessary coverage. Policies are inexpensive compared to the cost of adding debt, especially in a time of bereavement.
  4. Umbrella policy: "Today’s lawsuit-filled society increases everyone’s risk.," Housser said. For a few dollars a month, you can add million-dollar coverage in the form of an "umbrella’ policy," so named because it overarches other coverage (such as home and auto). These policies protect you if you are sued for an accident or liability on your property.
  5. Disability coverage: As many as one in eight people will become disabled during their lifetime. If an illness or injury makes it impossible to work, disability insurance pays part of the policyholder’s income (usually 50 percent to 70 percent) until he or she can work again. Many full-time jobs offer disability coverage. Social Security also offers disability benefits. However, the amount might not cover all financial needs, and the waiting period can be long. Remember that private disability insurance policies often pay only after three or six months have passed, making the need for an emergency fund that would cover the waiting period critical.

"The right insurance coverage can help prepare you for the unexpected," Housser said. "A few dollars paid out now can help bring you financial security for years to come. Best of all, once your insurance is squared away, you can sit back and enjoy summer with true peace of mind."

Based in San Mateo, Calif., is a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and comparison shop for products and services including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages and other loans. The company blogs about consumer finance issues. Since 2002, and its partner company, Freedom Financial Network, have served more than 15,000 customers nationwide while managing more than $350 million in consumer debt. The company’s co-founders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, were named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young’s 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.