NEW YORK (MainStreet) Consumers tend to make many changes throughout the year that could require an alteration in their insurance coverage such as buying a new car or other expensive item.
An insurance review could be triggered if you made a major purchase or lifestyle change such as getting married or remodeling your home. Making sure you have the appropriate coverage is key to ensuring your items can be replaced in case there is a burglary or accident.
Anyone renting an apartment, condo or house needs to make sure he has purchased renter's insurance in case of a theft or fire, said Laura Adams, senior analyst, insuranceQuotes.com. The average cost is $200 each year and will cover all your belongings, including your expensive electronics and sports equipment.
"If you are renting, there is no exception," she said. "Everyone needs a renter's policy no matter what kind of property."
If you are sharing the apartment or house with a roommate, your best bet is to get a separate policy for each individual so that all their items are covered and claims are reimbursed more easily since there are fewer questions about ownership, she said. Roommates can buy a policy together to save money, but Adams advises against that.
"Everyone needs to be clear about who owns what," she said. "Roommates can come and go. It also adds a layer of complication when claiming a loss."
Taking a quick inventory and documenting your belongings can be simple by creating a spreadsheet, taking some digital photos or just videotaping the contents of your bedroom closet.
"We typically own way more stuff than we can remember," Adams said. "Do a short video panning your closet it only has to be long enough to help you remember what items you own in the event of something catastrophic occurring."
Replacing all of your items could be expensive in the case of a leak coming from your upstairs neighbor.
"Unfortunately, many individuals only think about the big ticket items such as their TV and computers," said Mark Carrasquillo, an insurance agent with E.G. Bowman Company in New York City. "They never think about the little things like their clothes, shoes and linens. When they take the time to think about the little things, their initial estimate of $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 suddenly becomes $50,000, $75,000 and more."
A recent Traveler's Insurance survey found that 52.4% of people bought or financed a car in the past five years while 36.7% purchased an item valued at $1,000 or more.
Consumers who opt to purchase just the minimum auto coverage required by their state should reconsider increasing their liability coverage in case there is an accident and injuries are sustained by the other driver, Adams said. Getting sued for medical bills can be extremely costly, she said.
"Don't assume the minimum amount of coverage is a recommendation," Adams said. "Go above and beyond. Protect your net worth especially if you have assets such as investment accounts."
Millennials need to make certain they are protecting their technology and mobile devices, said Dan Weedin, a Seattle-based risk mitigation and insurance expert. Check to make sure all of your items are covered by your renter's or homeowner's policy. For instance, bicycles are covered on both renter and homeowner policies, but motorcycles require their own insurance.
Reviewing your insurance policy at least once a year to make sure your protection is adequate and correct, he said.
"Not all policies are created equal and life doesn't stay stagnant," he said. "It's vital to have a good agent you trust. In addition, they need to be someone that you can call in the event of a crisis and feel confident they will have your best interest at heart and work for you."
Buying insurance online can give consumers more of an opportunity to save money because the companies ask you a full list of questions and are more thorough, said Adams.
"There are no risks involved in buying insurance online," she said. "Different carriers give random discounts. By answering the full list of questions, it lets the company know if you are eligible for a discount. There are a lot of discounts out there. It is important to ask."
--Written by Ellen Chang for MainStreet