Advisors can start the year off on a positive note by going over clients’ insurance plans. Here are some tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC):
Homeowners or Renter's Insurance
“While the decorations are out of storage, take photos or video of your baubles,” the NAIC advises. Clients should note any antique items and their value so they can ensure proper coverage.
Remind clients to add any valuable holiday gifts to their home inventory. They should include as many details as they can and take a photo of each item. Most basic home insurance policies have standard limits for big-ticket items like electronics, art, jewelry or sporting equipment, so clients may need special coverage.
Whether clients are trying to escape the weather for someplace warmer or just preparing for the first drive to work in the snow, they should check their policy to make sure their liability coverage is appropriate. This coverage pays for any injury or damage if they cause an accident. If their liability insurance is too low, it is possible that they could be sued for any damages above the liability limits.
Clients also should look at their deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. This is the amount they will pay if their car is damaged or totaled without fault of another driver. Raising or lowering this amount can affect the premium. (A higher deductible means a lower premium but more out-of-pocket exposure.)
“Before hitting the road, make sure you have a copy of your insurance card and your insurance agent or company's number in the car,” the NAIC suggests. Drivers should have a way to record details of an accident if one occurs; the NAIC offers a smartphone application--WreckCheck--that walks you through the process of gathering information following an accident so you can email your notes directly to your agent. Drivers can download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.
Many families recently went through the open enrollment process for their health insurance at work or for Medicare. Those clients may have new insurance cards and paperwork coming in the mail. It is a good idea to get all this information together before winter illness or accidents happen.
In addition, clients should check their provider lists to verify that visits to specific doctors, including specialists, are still covered by their policy; in-network or preferred provider lists change from year to year. Clients also should read through their documents and make note of copays for in-network and out-of-network providers so they are not surprised later.
When planning a vacation away from home, clients should check with their insurance carrier to identify which urgent care centers and hospitals, near their destination and along the way, will accept their insurance coverage. They can ask their carrier about applicable co-pays and deductibles if care is needed.