Just the medical bills alone can easily reach $500,000 in a serious accident. If you have any income or assets that you are concerned about losing in a lawsuit, add an extra layer of protection on top of your basic policies in your insurance portfolio -- called an umbrella policy -- of at least $1 million or more. A $1 million policy costs about $200 a year. I consider it the best buy in the insurance business.
Tip 4: Most people are underinsured for lawsuits. The most common limit I see is $100,000 per person. That won't even cover the medical bills in a serious accident. The minimum liability coverage that anyone with any assets or income to protect should be carrying is $500,000 to $1 million or more. If your liability limits are low, contact your insurance agent right away and get those limits raised to more realistic figures. Raising liability coverage is surprisingly minimal in cost.
Tip 5: When you raise your liability limits on your car insurance, don't stop. Raise your limits on your home, cabin, boats, snowmobiles, etc., to the same amount. You don't know where the lawsuit may come from. You want the same amount of money protecting you, so it won't matter where it comes from.
Tip 6: Raise your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on your car insurance to the same levels as your liability coverage for people you hurt. It's estimated that 10 percent to 20 percent of all drivers have no insurance. I guarantee you that these are not the drivers with perfect driving records. Since we can't control who hits us or how much insurance they have or don't have, buying high limits of this coverage is the only way we can ensure that we and the loved ones riding with us get fairly compensated.
Tip 7: Save money by dropping collision and comprehensive coverage of older vehicles you can comfortably afford to replace without car insurance. Make sure you save enough money to make it worth the risk.
Save money on insurance by self-insuring more of the small losses on your vehicles with bigger deductibles. Not only does it save money, but it also reduces the number of small claims you file, thus keeping rates as low as possible now and in the future.
Tip 8: Remember that buying life insurance is an act of love. It's the only insurance policy that you can buy where you are not collecting on it. For a family of four, financial experts recommend that survivors of one parent's death make do with 7.5 times income. I recommend 10 times income. The extra cushion will allow the surviving parent to work fewer hours and spend more time with his or her children. Nothing can replace the emotional loss to the family. Don't compound the pain by adding financial stress to the picture.
Tip 9: For a young family getting started financially, I recommend term life insurance as the most cost-effective way to provide the most money for the lowest premium. Lock in the price for at least 20 to 30 years. And make sure the policy is convertible to a permanent policy, so if at the end of the term you find that you still need life insurance and can't qualify for it medically, you are assured you can convert.
If one spouse is a homemaker, carry at least $250,000 to $500,000 in life insurance on that person. Buy an amount high enough so the surviving working spouse can be more available to the children and still hire replacement services such as a nanny.
Tip 10: It's quite common for employers to provide some life insurance for their employees as a company benefit and at the same time offer them supplemental group life insurance on a payroll deduction basis. What most people don't realize is that the costs for the supplemental life insurance are quite a bit more than a healthy nonsmoker will pay on the open market for the same amount of coverage. The tip here is to not just buy group life insurance because you assume it's cheaper. It probably isn't. In addition, when you leave the company or the company closes down, so does your life insurance.