Insure Yourself Against the Unexpected

Get in touch with the Aflac duck as soon as practicable.
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It would be so pleasant to ignore insurance. Pleasant and, unfortunately, wrongheaded.

Obviously, if you own a car or a home, it's sensible and often mandatory that you insure them. But if you have a family or anyone who depends on you, it also makes sense to consider buying term life insurance. Even if you don't own anything and have no dependents, there is insurance you shouldn't ignore: health and disability or long-term care insurance. Even if you're healthy, you need this coverage because health care can be a devastating financial burden if you have an accident, fall ill or simply are unable to do for yourself in your old age.

Until a few years ago, insurance was still a murky business that made policyholders feel like marks. To buy insurance, you stepped into a local insurance agency where agents pitched their firm's policies, sometimes with more concern for their quarterly sales goals than your needs.

Today, you've got much more power, largely thanks to the Internet. There are several quote sites where you can enter a modest amount of information and get quotes from a range of companies with just a click of your mouse. Here are a few quote-shopping sites you might want to check out:

  • www.quotesmith.com
  • www.insure.com
  • www.reliaquote.com
  • www.insweb.com

You can also just call insurance companies that sell policies directly to consumers. If you're looking for some advice, which is completely understandable given the complexities of disability and long-term care insurance, it's often best to look for an independent insurance agent or financial planner. These folks don't represent a single insurance agency; rather, they shop the broad range of industries out there to find a policy that suits your needs.

A good way to start looking for these folks is to ask friends with similar financial situations if they work with an independent adviser they like. It's also a good idea to look up the folks in your area via professional agencies like the Independent Insurance Agents of America and the Financial Planning Association. Here is their contact information:

  • Independent Insurance Agents of America:
    www.iiaa.org
    1-800-221-7917
  • Financial Planning Association:
    www.fpanet.org
    1-800-322-4237

10 Things You Should Do Before You Invest

  • Figure out what you're worth.
  • Set your goals and figure out how much they cost.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Build an emergency savings fund.
  • Pay off your credit card debt.
  • Insure yourself against the unexpected.
  • Contribute to tax-deferred retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs.
  • Consider using software to keep track of your money and help with your taxes.
  • Be your bank's thriftiest customer.
  • Check out your credit report.

Ian McDonald writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to

imcdonald@thestreet.com, but he cannot give specific financial advice.