HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each year dawns brightly, but reality can set in quickly if something happens and your insurance coverage is not up to date. That's why the Pennsylvania Insurance Department is offering insurance tips to consumers and encouraging them to pay close attention to their coverage in the New Year.
"It can be really helpful to start out the year with the knowledge that all of your insurance coverages are up to date," Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said. "In any given year, each of us has some type of significant life event or major purchase that should be reflected in our insurance coverages. Make a resolution now to have an insurance check-up and adjust your coverages as needed."
Consider the following questions when pulling out your policies or talking to your insurance professional:
- What happened in your life this year – marriage, new baby, divorce, retirement?
- Have you taken a new job – have your benefits changed?
- Have there been any changes or improvements to your home?
- How about those expensive holiday gifts – have you added them to your homeowner's insurance policy?
- Do you have a child who is planning to drive, heading off to school or perhaps finishing college this year?
Changes—such as a birth, divorce, remarriage or even a new mortgage or new job—are indicators that you might need to make changes to your life insurance policy and, at the very least, that you should review your policy.
Read your policy carefully. In the case of the birth of a child or a new marriage, you might want to consider increasing your death benefit. Also, newborns should be added to your health insurance plan immediately. Health insurance companies typically require that a newborn be added to a policy within 30 days of birth or within 60 days, if purchased through the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
Alternatively, events like paying off your mortgage, retirement or children finishing college might mean that you can lower your life insurance coverage and premiums. Your life insurance company might be able to offer "conversion privileges" from your current term life insurance policy to a new whole life insurance policy.
This, too, is a great time to update your home inventory and make sure your homeowners' policy or a student's rental policy is up-to-date. If you have made major improvements to your home, such as adding a room, enclosing a porch or expanding a kitchen or bathroom, you risk being underinsured if you don't report the changes to your insurance company.
Also, remember to add any new gifts to your home inventory, too. Include as many details as you can and take a photo of each item. Most basic homeowner's insurance policies have standard limits for big-ticket items like electronics, art, jewelry or sporting equipment. Depending on the value, you may wish to supplement your policy with a floater. This is an addition to your policy that provides insurance for your valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy, such as accidental loss. Your insurance company will ask that you have such valuables appraised.
And if you have a teenager taking the wheel this year, it is generally cheaper to add your teenagers to your own auto policy than for them to purchase coverage on their own. But be sure to shop around – more than 200 auto insurance carriers offer their products in Pennsylvania. Also, good grades and a driver training course can help. Most companies will give discounts for getting at least a "B" average in school and for taking recognized driving courses.
For more tips, visit www.insurance.pa.gov and click on the "Insurance Tips for the New Year" icon. Consumers with questions about insurance coverages may also call the department's toll-free hotline at 877-881-6388.
Media contacts: Rosanne Placey or Melissa Fox, 717-787-3289
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance