Want to get the biggest financial bang out of your New Year's resolutions in the coming year?
Resolve to get insurance smart.
I know: easy for me to say. But having spent a few years now trying to break insurance down into layman's terms for Bankrate readers, I've come to two conclusions: 1) it ain't rocket science, and 2) it's still the best means ever invented to play financial defense.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault with insurance is not in our policies, but in ourselves.
A new national survey by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, aka "The Big I," finds that 38 percent of Americans have never conducted their own research before purchasing a policy, and 40 percent are less than confident that they have adequate or appropriate coverage right now.
Which tells me one of two things: these folks either have money to burn or they've never taken the trouble to meet an insurance agent. Oh wait: the Big I survey says here that more than a third of us have neither met nor spoken with an insurance agent in the past year.
So let's make that Resolution #1, shall we? Meet or talk to your agent this year. Go on, call them up. Ask them questions about your homeowners insurance or auto policy. That's what they're there for.
"Keeping your agent updated on changes in your family or to your property is crucial to your financial security," says Big I's Madelyn Flannagan. "A new baby, marriage, divorce, death, home renovation or a major purchase could significantly impact your insurance needs and costs."
Here are three more resolutions to help you get the most out of your insurance in 2014:
Resolution #2: Tailor your coverage
You wouldn't wear a coat that was too small or pants that were too short, so why would you pay good money for coverage that doesn't fit? Yet the Big I survey says less than a third of us ranked coverage limits as the top priority when buying auto insurance, home coverage or other policy types. This year, resolve to "try on" your coverages to see if they still fit.
Resolution #3: Let value, not price, be your guide
In a perfect world, your best insurance choice would be the cheapest and ice cream sundaes would be incredibly slimming. Here in the real world however, you want an insurance policy that fits your needs on a whole range of features, including deductibles, exclusions and policy limits, not merely price.
Resolution #4: Ask about discounts
Insurance, like any other over-the-counter product, typically offers a wide range of money-saving discounts to lure you away from the competition. "Many consumers foolishly throw money away because they fail to ask about insurance discounts for which they may qualify," says Flannagan. "When every dollar counts, some may be able to nickel-and-dime their way to big savings."
Best wishes for a prosperous and fully protected New Year!
Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus
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