This past Sunday, June 28, was National Insurance Awareness Day. Given data indicating that about 13 percent of drivers in the US do not have insurance and that a staggering 50 percent of residents may not have adequate homeowners insurance coverage, Financial Partners Credit Union – a California-based credit union with over 84,000 members and their own in-house insurance agency – is sharing important tips to “ensure” that you aren’t vulnerable when an accident or damage happens and it’s time to file a claim.
“Many times, we see drivers and homeowners opting for the lowest cost option when it comes to insurance,” says Mario Osorio, President of Partnership Insurance Agency, a wholly owned subsidiary of Financial Partners Credit Union. “While we all want to save money, it’s important to ensure that you have adequate coverage and that your deductible is appropriate. In the event of an accident or damage to your home, you could end up spending much more without proper coverage.”
Here are some basics to keep in mind when purchasing and maintaining insurance – whether homeowners, renters, or auto – the same rules of thumb apply.
Rule #1: Shop Smart! Price is an important factor for your budget; however, your monthly payment or annual cost should not be the determining factor when it comes to insurance. First, look at what your lender requires as your baseline. For example: what is the maximum allowable deductible? What are the minimum coverages? Then, assess how you may want to add-on to those requirements based on your personal needs. Working with an insurance agent can help you ensure you have the proper coverages.
Rule #2: Avoid Monthly Payments if Possible: While it’s certainly budget-friendly to take the monthly payment option when it comes to premium payments, you can save when you pay quarterly, every six months or annually if you’re able. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your coverage is secure, and you can save a few hundred dollars or even more in the process.
Rule #3: Look for Deductions: With auto, renters and homeowners insurance, you can qualify for deductions based on some “hacks” like having a surveillance system installed in your home, having a tracking device on your car or other tactics that can save you money and provide added security. Also, if you keep your car in a garage at night instead of parking on the street – you can save! There are many little hacks to save money that a qualified professional can help you determine.
Rule #4: Never Let Coverage Lapse: If money is tight – as it may be considering the current economic climate – it’s important NOT to let your insurance coverage lapse. If your policy falls behind, the insurance company may cancel your coverage which not only puts you at risk but also could mean a higher premium when you re-apply. Additionally, many lenders will “buy insurance coverage on your behalf,” which gets added to your auto or home loan. “If you’re having trouble making insurance payments, it’s important to reach out to your insurance agent right away to discuss ways to avoid cancellation,” Osorio says. “We’re here to assist and often can help determine strategies to help you maintain coverage.”
Rule #5: Re-Evaluate Your Insurance Annually: Circumstances change so it’s important to look at your insurance coverage regularly to make sure it still meets your needs and that you are getting the best coverage for the money. Additionally, an annual review helps you plan for potential issues. For example, if you know you will be adding a teen to your auto policy, you may want to talk to your insurance agent in advance to determine the best policy adjustments.
“One of the many benefits of a credit union over other financial institutions is that we are member-owned and not for profit. This means as a member, you are part owner. So we are always looking for added benefits like insurance services, to help our members save money,” says Osorio. “We want to help our members stay financially fit – which includes looking at their coverage to make sure members aren’t caught off guard or worse, uninsured and that they aren’t overpaying for their coverage. Basically, at Financial Partners Credit Union, we’re committed to helping our members build their best financial lives.”