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home at nightIt may be simple to buy insurance, but that doesn't mean the decisions one makes when taking out a policy don't require some amount of thought and research. Rush to take out the first cheap policy you find and you may end up with an insurance portfolio filled with gaps, inefficient policies and more self-insurance risk than you can afford. Here are six tips to help ensure that you get exactly what you need without learning the hard way that you needed it.

  1. Watch your deductibles. Many insurance policies allow a policyholder to take on an initial amount of the damages after an insurable incident. This amount, called a deductible, is paid out of the pocket of the insured before any insurance benefits are awarded. With auto, health, home and many other insurance policies allowing for deductibles, it can be easy for an insured to over commit himself and have more personal financial responsibility after a disaster than he can actually afford. Imagine if a disaster, such as a hurricane, resulted in damage to your home, your car and an injury to your person. You'd have three potential deductibles to pay after just one event. This could result in the depletion of short-term and retirement savings and the creation of additional debt--just to have reduced your premiums a small amount.
  2. Check the insurance company's rating. Rating company A.M. Best routinely assesses the financial health of the companies that sell insurance policies. In doing so, they can help insurance consumers identify which insurers are more likely to be around when it comes time to pay the claims that their insurance policies promise, and which may not. Look for companies that have an A rating or better and be sure to monitor the updates so that you can make an alternative plan should your insurance company's rating start to slide.
  3. Assign appropriate limits. Insurance policies don't generally protect against an unlimited amount of loss. Because insurance is a product meant to make you whole after an incident, policies will generally have a ceiling, or limit, on the benefits that it pays out. It’s up to you to pick limits that offer you enough coverage that you can be made whole after an incident but not so much coverage that you pay for more protection than you’re actually entitled to.
  4. Don’t just look for discounts—implement them. It’s definitely helpful to get discounts for all the steps you’ve already taken to make yourself less risky to your insurer, but the buck doesn’t have to stop there. You can learn about all the many discounts that are available and make the appropriate changes in your life to take advantage of them. For example, if you know your home insurance company offers a discount if you have an alarm system, consider putting one in. Not only will you save on premiums but you’re also much less likely to come home to an empty house after a vacation or long day at work.
  5. Avoid the auto renewal. Auto renewal may seem like a practical step to take in order to keep your insurance coverage going from year to year, but insurance is not a product that’s suited for such a hands-off approach. Not only is it a good idea to keep an eye on the A.M. Best rating of your insurers, but you also need to compare rates to ensure that you’re getting the best deal for the coverage you need. But it’s not just insurance company data and rates that can change; your life can easily go through major changes in the course of a year. Reading your old policies before they renew will help you identify areas that are no longer offering appropriate coverage for your current situation. If you auto renew, you miss out on this important opportunity.
  6. Have an agent, have an advocate. Everyone needs someone to be on their side when life starts getting tough. Insurance agents are an important resource for consumers to help them find the right insurance policies, secure the right coverage and help out with claims processing. Find an agent that works with you and who values his relationship with his clients.

We would love to be the agency that helps you out when you buy Battle Creek home insurance or other types of insurance, when you finally need to use it. Give us a call today to meet with one of our experienced agents.

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