Car insurance hacks

Posted by & filed under Auto Insurance.

We all love the freedom and convenience that comes with owning a car, or in some case, using a vehicle as part of a job. However, there are certain responsibilities that come with owning and operating a vehicle. Whether you’re looking at personal or commercial vehicle insurance, you need to make sure that you have proper coverage in the event of an automobile accident.

Naturally, you want to get the best insurance coverage at the lowest price.  You’ll be happy to hear that you have a lot of control over the situation. Still, you might not know all the tricks that could save you on car insurance. Here are a few helpful hacks to get you on track for savings.

1. Buy a Less Valuable Vehicle

You can definitely drive a luxury vehicle without paying major ducats for insurance, but you’re going to have to find a way to reduce the relative value. This can be accomplished by purchasing a used or certified preowned vehicle, just for example.

Car values depreciate over time, and insurance rates are based partially on the value of the vehicle you drive (ostensibly due to the cost of repair or replacement). If you want to slash your insurance rates significantly, skip the brand new Porsche and opt for an older model instead.

2. Add Security Features

Car insurance rates are based on risk.  Therefore, the more security features you add, the lower your risk and associated insurance costs. You could earn lower rates with extra features like airbags and anti-theft devices.

3. Make Annual Payments

Did you know that opting for monthly payments could end up costing you more over time? Instead, put your monthly payments into savings in preparation for paying annually. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars each year on insurance coverage.

4. Shop Around

Leverage is a valuable asset when it comes to getting the price you want on the auto insurance policy you prefer. When you compare car insurance rates, you may be able to talk one vendor down by pointing out that competitors offer better options. Any carrier that wants your business should be willing to work with you.

5. Shop Around Again

Did you think purchasing your policy was the end of your consumer duty? If you want to continue receiving the best rates for coverage, it behooves you to keep an eye out for better coverage at lower rates.

This isn’t to say you have to give up your current policy for something better.  However, you should definitely look at other policies at least annually so that you can continue negotiating with your current carrier to ensure the rates remain competitive.

Motorcycle insurance concept

Posted by & filed under Auto Insurance.

Driving a motorcycle instead of (or in addition to) a car can be beneficial in a number of ways. For one thing, motorcycles are less expensive than most cars all around.  When considering purchase price, fuel, and maintenance, you could be paying considerably less than a standard sedan.

They also offer convenience, especially if you live in a state where lane-splitting is legal and parking is sparse. If you’ve had to suffer through gridlock during your commute or you’ve attempted to squeeze into a downtown parking space, you can definitely see the appeal of a motorcycle.

That said, motorcycles can be dangerous. Even safe and responsible drivers are sometimes at the mercy of much larger vehicles that might not see them on the roadways. Insurance is therefore essential.  However, there are a few things you need to know about motorcycle policies before you select the first option that comes along.

1. You Need to Comparison Shop

Just as you shop around for competitive car insurance rates, not all motorcycle insurance policies are the same, either. They may differ from carrier to carrier and one policy to the next.

It is very important to read the terms of any policy so that you understand what you’re getting for your premiums. In order to get the coverage you want at a price you can afford, you’ll have to consider deductibles and shop around to find the carrier and policy that best suits your needs.

2. You Might Need Extra Coverage

The average motorcycle insurance policy covers your bike and any persons injured in an accident, including you and others.  This is considered a full-coverage policy in most cases. Depending on the policy you pick, your bike might not even be covered for certain accidents.  You might be left without coverage if you hit an animal or a stationary object or wipe out.

You’ll want to start with a policy that at least covers your vehicle and any people involved in an accident.  There is a good chance you’ll also want some supplemental insurance. Riding a bike can save you money over driving a car, but the insurance policies are different.  You need to understand what your policy covers so you don’t end up paying out-of-pocket for major expenses following an accident.

For example, what happens if another motorcyclist or driver involved in an accident doesn’t carry insurance? Comprehensive coverage will pay for all relevant expenses.

What about the cost of equipment like your helmet, boots, gloved, and leathers?  All of your riding gear can be pricy, and one good hit to your helmet will leave you looking for a replacement for the sake of safety. You may also have extra parts on your bike, such as panniers, a passenger seat, or different handlebars or head and tail lights. Add-ons to your motorcycle insurance policy can gain you coverage for these pricy items.

Do you have AAA or other roadside assistance coverage?  If not, then you should also ask about packages that include extras like towing and labor for breakdowns. You may also want to consider coverage for rental bikes or other vehicles (like jet skis or snowmobiles) when you travel.

3. Minimums

When you purchase full-coverage automobile insurance, you can generally anticipate enough coverage to repair or replace your vehicle.  You can also expect as several thousand dollars to pay for the expenses of anyone else involved in an accident.

However, the minimums for motorcycle insurance are bound to be a lot lower, mainly because motorcycles tend to cost less than cars. It’s important to understand the minimums of your policy in case you feel the need to purchase additional coverage.

4. Discounts are Available

You don’t necessarily want to opt for cheap motorcycle insurance just because you’re a skilled and responsible rider. If you were the only one on the road, this might be fine.  Unfortunately, other drivers can cause accidents, too.  Even animals and weather conditions could trigger a crash. You need to prepare for any scenario by purchasing comprehensive insurance coverage.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to paying through the nose. There are plenty of discounts available. Your best option is probably to pair your motorcycle policy with other insurance you already have.

Bundling with the carrier that provides you with home, automobile, and even life insurance policies can net you a discount on all of your insurance coverage. You should always ask about additional discounts if you have a clean driving record or other considerations, as well.

5. Every Bike Can and Should Be Insured

You might think your classic or custom bike isn’t eligible for standard insurance coverage, or that the policies available won’t suit your needs. This is untrue. Most states require you to insure every vehicle, including your motorcycle.  However, you can find policies suited to any bike, not matter how rare or fancy.

Buying a life insurance policy is a big decision so you'll want to make sure there are no surprises after you sign on the dotted line.

Posted by & filed under Insurance Broker.

Buying life insurance is not a decision to be made lightly. Policies can get expensive so you need your insurer to be reliable and trustworthy. Many providers have strict requirements that must be met in order to obtain coverage. This means you will likely have to submit to a medical exam so that the underwriters of your policy may ascertain what type of a risk you present.

There are plenty of questions to ask when you’re shopping around for the best policy for you and your family. Here are five of the most common that you should bring up before you choose an insurer that you could be working with for the next 20-30 years.

1. Is the Insurer Reliable?

How long has the agent been in the insurance business?  What type of ratings have they received? What is the financial strength of the insurance company?

These are all basic and vital queries to determine when making your choice for an insurance provider. The last thing you’ll want is for your family to have trouble redeeming your policy in the event they need it.

2. How Much Insurance do I Need?

As you begin to shop for policies, you first need to calculate how much coverage you need to pay off outstanding debts, estate and end of life costs, as well as provide for your family’s financial future. This is a discussion to have with your insurance agent as you work together to determine your specific amount of coverage your family will need.  Once a figure has been decided, be sure to get a full accounting of how the broker arrived at that number.

3. What Type of Coverage is Appropriate?

Term life insurance and permanent insurance are the two most common types of coverage available. The former is more affordable and easier to understand while the latter can retain cash value that you can access should you need to borrow money during your lifetime.

4. Will a Change in Health Affect My Coverage?

After you receive your medical exam, the insurance company will place you into one of six possible risk classes. Each one carries with it a price for premiums and benefits in the event something should happen.

However, our health can improve or worsen over time so you should ask how this can impact your coverage. If you end up in a lower risk class with higher premiums, find out if they can reclassify you if your condition improves and vice versa should your health decline.

5. Does Inflation Affect the Death Benefit?

The cost of living increases almost every year so you need to ask if your death benefit adjusts to meet these changes. You don’t want your death benefit to be eaten away by inflation when it comes time to collect, so ask your insurance company how they meet these concerns. Most of them adjust their policies to keep your benefit worth what you paid, but some companies offer that option in additional riders which can cost more to purchase.

If you want to protect your family in case you suffer a tragic accident, then consider a term life insurance policy to provide needed financial support.

Posted by & filed under Insurance Broker.

If there’s one thing that almost all young families have too little of, it’s money. Raising a family today is expensive as you negotiate the costs of buying a house, purchasing a practical and reliable car, and outfitting your home with child-friendly furnishings and accessories. That doesn’t even include trying to save for retirement or college.

There is a whole list of financial responsibilities to deal with as you start your family.  The one that many often overlook is life insurance.

But life insurance may be one of the most important decisions you can make as a young family starting out. Life insurance is a safety net that no one expects to need, but if you do then you’ll be thankful you have it. A policy is meant to provide financial support for your family in the event of your death.

If your family relies on your income to live a comfortable life, then what’s going to happen if you’re no longer there to provide for their every need? With life insurance, you need not wonder as it pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries in case of your untimely death.

Among the options available, term life insurance is the most practical and affordable solution.

Why Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is the most fundamental type of coverage you can buy. It’s simple to understand and is often the cheapest form of protection available.  While less expensive than other options, it will still provide your family with the financial support they need.

How Does Term Life Insurance Work?

Term life insurance is also fairly straightforward.  You purchase a set amount of coverage over a number of years, or the life of the term. Once the term expires the coverage terminates.

For young families, term life is the best option because you pay one fixed price for your premiums for the duration of the term. Those payments can be as affordable as you wish, while still devoting enough money to the other necessities in your life.

Since life insurance is something you hope to never need, you can keep it active for as long as your children live under your roof. Once they grow up and move on to start their own lives and families, you can cancel the policy if you wish, or continue with it for security in the event of tragedy later on.

Some individuals keep their policy to cover their estate costs. This way you can keep assets safe without the need to sell anything off to cover expenses in that regard.

You may prefer for your own doctor to perform your life insurance exam, but you'll need to undergo extra pokes and prodes before being granted a policy.

Posted by & filed under Insurance Broker.

When you apply for a life insurance policy, you will need to submit to a medical examination to find out just how healthy (or unhealthy) you might be. The results of this exam are then taken into account to determine the price of your policy. After all, the reason you’re taking out life insurance is so the issuing company pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries after you pass away. The older you are or sicker you may be, the more of a risk you represent to the insurance company, thus affecting your premiums.

When applicants first learn of this critical step in the process, the first question most of them ask is if they can get their personal doctor can perform the examination. Those who have just undergone a full physical and would rather not be subject to another bout of poking and prodding usually ask if they can submit their recent results for the purposes of the insurance company exam.

The answer in both cases is a simple and direct “no” and there are very specific reasons for why not.

What’s the Problem?

A paramedical examiner will conduct your insurance company examination.  The insurance company employs this professional for the sole purpose of conducting a thorough and specific health examinations of applicants for life insurance. They conduct the examination to gather your medical history, check your vitals, collect urine and blood samples, and check for other various health issues and conditions.

The insurance company will then decide whether or not to provide life insurance coverage.  If they do grant life insurance, then these health factors will determine the price of your policy.

Insurance companies do not allow personal doctors to perform the exam because he or she is likely not checking for medical problems that the paramedical examiner will investigate. That’s not to suggest that your doctor is being negligent with your physical, but the insurance companies are looking for certain indications of your health that your doctor might not cover in a regular physical.

Many applicants may worry about someone they don’t know and have never met giving them a physical.  It is a common fear that the paramedical examiner is there with the sole purpose of finding a reason for the insurance company to deny the application. However, this is not the case.  In truth, the examiner has no stake in your results nor any incentive to falsify their findings in order for the company to withhold coverage.

How the Exam Works

First of all, you should know that there is no cost to you for this examination. The paramedical examiner will even come to your home and conduct it there at your convenience. The exam usually starts with a recording of your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse.  They will also likely take blood and urine samples.

The exam will also cover certain internal organs and other parts of your body and vital internal systems for the purpose of meeting the insurance companies’ underwriting criteria. Then the examiner will go over your medical history and that of your family.  The interview may include questions you already discussed with your insurance broker.

If the questions seem familiar, it’s by design. The paramedical examiner is going over the same points to make sure that your answers are consistent with the previous information you gave to the insurance agent. After the examination is complete, the paramedical examiner will report on all of his or her findings. The report is then sent to the life insurance group that you are seeking to provide you with a policy.

The report will place you into one of four risk classes, each one with a premium that represents how much you will pay for your policy. However, if you are a tobacco user know that your costs will automatically be higher than non-smokers.  Insurance companies reserve two additional risk classes for smokers that also affect how much you will pay for a policy. If you only use electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or cigars then you may find some leniency in the company’s underwriting criteria.  Your premiums will likely be higher if you are a frequent or even infrequent user of traditional cigarettes.

Do you still need your life insurance policy after retiring? While it may be tempting to stop paying those premiums, the answer isn't always so simple.

Posted by & filed under Insurance Broker.

You purchased life insurance to provide security for your family in the event something tragic should happen. It was a smart move then because your income provides the financial support your family needs to get by. Now, your children have all grown up and have careers and families of their own, you and your spouse are retirees, and you’ve paid off your mortgage and other debts.

Is life insurance still a smart move now that life is so different? After all, life insurance is there to replace your income when it is lost due to your death.  If you’ve left the workforce then you aren’t earning any more income, and thus, nothing left to supplant. Right?

The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you may think.  Many individuals 65 and older have a lot to consider before they decide to cancel their policy and eliminate those monthly life insurance premiums. There is a lot of uncertainty in this phase of your life and life insurance shouldn’t be one of those nagging mysteries hanging over your head.

You might still need your policy even after retirement, but the best way to determine that is to sit down and take stock of where you are in life by weighing the pros and cons of continuing to pay those premiums. Sometimes a policy still smart once you make some smart adjustments to keep it easier on your wallet. For some individuals, the financial picture isn’t as rosy or secure as it could be, so keeping the policy going is just smart financial planning.

Here are some of the reasons you may want to keep your life insurance policy intact.  Compare these scenarios to your current situation to determine if you still need your policy or not. We’ll also take a look at some of the potential drawbacks that come with continuing your policy so that you can get a clear picture of the options before you.

Compensate for Current Income

You’ve hit retirement age and you’ve cut back on the number of hours or the type of employment you’ve been keeping all this time. However, for whatever your reason, you are still working a few hours a week and bringing home some income. That means any lost revenue from your death may be substantial enough to keep your policy.

Pay Down Debt

You may not be working anymore, but you still have some significant debts that require your attention (and money).  Keeping your life insurance policy active to meet those debt obligations is a shrewd idea.  You will only need a policy large enough to settle your debt(s) should something happen to you in the interim. Reducing your payout only to the amount you owe can help you lower your premiums as well.

Replace Your Pension

So you’re fully retired and are now living off income that is coming, in part, from your pension. That’s a steady revenue source that you might need to protect with a life insurance policy, much for the same reason as why you got it in the first place. Your spouse may not be eligible to receive the funds from your pension after you pass away, but life insurance can provide suitable financial support as an alternative.

Cover Estate Fees and Taxes

Many retirees maintain a policy so that there is ample money available to cover estate planning costs. This way, your estate can be left alone and your heirs will not need to sell or liquidate any assets in order to pay these fees.

Why You May Not Need Life Insurance

There are a few reasons you may want to think about not having a policy as well. If there is no one else relying on your income for financial security, you may not need your policy anymore. There are other considerations, too.

Unless you have a policy in place that you’ve been paying for years, life insurance premiums can get incredibly high if you take out a policy later in life. You may not be able to afford this expense after you enter retirement.

The other major consideration is whether you have term life or a cash value policy. The former is simple.  You pay a set routine premium and the policy pays out in the event of your death. The latter can be a bit more complicated. Cash value policies often come with commissions, high fees, and costs for maintenance that could end up being more expensive than that term policy in the long run.

Did you know you can loose all of your money following an accident? Read more to see if you need added protection with umbrella insurance.

Posted by & filed under Insurance Broker.

Obtaining Insurance is an important component of being a responsible adult these days. In fact, there are several instances in which it is required, either by law or by lenders. Whether you’re comparing car insurance rates or seeking home insurance quotes, however, you should know that your standard policy may not cover everything you need.

In other words, you may require supplemental insurance in addition to your regular policy.  You may need something like an umbrella insurance policy if you want to be certain that all costs will be covered in the event of a total loss.  Here are just a few things you should know about these supplemental policies.

What is Umbrella Insurance?

You may have heard of this policy referred as extra liability.  As its name implies, it provides additional liability coverage. When you compare car insurance, you’ll probably find that most providers offer liability coverage somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 per person (or $50,000 per accident).

What happens if you’re involved in a horrendous accident and medical bills for the victims outstrip your liability? Would you have to pay out of pocket? Not if you have umbrella insurance. Insurance companies design these policies to cover overages that your regular policy won’t cover.  The precise amount of coverage depends on the umbrella policy you purchase, however.

What is Covered?

Not only does umbrella insurance cover excess liability costs beyond your regular home, boat, auto, or cheap motorcycle insurance policy, but it can also be applied to costs. For example, it may be applied to personal injury liabilities like libel, slander, or false arrest.

You can also use this type of policy in cases of lawsuits following accidents, to cover legal expenses including lawyer fees, court costs, and judgments to third parties. Exact coverage will depend on the policy you choose.

What isn’t Covered?

Many types of damages may not be covered under an umbrella policy unless expressly stated. Standard exclusions include flooding not covered by standard insurance, liability assumed under contract, or liability resulting from war. It’s important to speak to your insurance provider regarding your specific coverage concerns.

Who Should have Umbrella Insurance?

You can answer this question easily enough with just some simple math. Compare the value of your car, home, or other assets to the limits of your current liability coverage. If your regular insurance policies would leave you covering a large gap for expenses out-of-pocket in the event of loss or certain types of liability that you deem likely, you may want to purchase an umbrella policy.

Just like the car you drive day in and day out, you'll need to obtain appropriate auto insurance for your classic car to protect you in case of an accident.

Posted by & filed under Auto Insurance.

Classic cars are not only enduring examples of automotive history; in many cases they are also beautiful pieces of art and testaments to our love of all things mechanical. Whether your heart goes pitter-pat when you see a Silver Ghost or you feel like you’re running with wild horses whenever you rev the engine on your Boss 429, classic cars certainly have the ability to give you a thrill.

That said, collecting classic cars can be a pricy pastime.  The last thing you want is to risk losing your car AND all the value of restoration by purchasing inadequate insurance. If you’re keen to own a garage full of classic cars (or even one), it’s important to understand how to insure your vehicle(s) properly. Here are a few things you should know when you start comparing car insurance.

1. Get an Appraisal

Before you start checking car insurance rates, you need to know what your classic is worth. A professional appraisal will help you determine how much insurance coverage you need.

2. Ask About Categories

Most insurance providers have categories for older vehicles that help to determine coverage and rates. Do you know if your car is considered “exotic”, “collectible”, or “antique”, for example? If not, you should speak to insurance providers about your category and what it means.

3. Ask About Mileage

Whether you start searching for cheap motorcycle insurance or look to compare car insurance, the number of miles you log annually could make a difference in determining rates. For example, many drivers can save on traditional insurance if they drive relatively few miles (as compared to the average driver).

In terms of classic cars, which are treated differently than your daily driver, there may be restrictions related to miles because it is expected that classic cars won’t see as much drive time as the average vehicle. If you exceed these annual mileage restrictions your insurance rates could go up.

4. Experienced Driver

There are several potential caveats to insuring a classic car, from mileage restrictions to added safety requirements (like alarm systems and storage facilities). One you might not be aware of is the experience requirement.

In most cases, the driver being insured must have a minimum of five years of licensed driving in order to be approved for a policy. In addition, a clean driving record may be required.

5. Agreed Value vs. Actual Cash Value

When you seek home insurance quotes, the value of your home is set by appraisal and your insurance reflects that. The same is not true of car insurance.

Most auto insurance offers an “actual cash value” payout if your car is totaled. This number reflects the depreciated value of the vehicle over time. When insuring a classic car, which gains value, you want “agreed value”.  This is the amount that you and your insurance provider agree on as the payout value of the vehicle at the time you purchase (or renew) the policy.

After buying a boat, you'll want to look into insuring your new water craft. Before agreeing on a policy, ask yourself these important questions.

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When you seek auto or home insurance quotes, there are a number of questions you’ll want to ask in order to get the policy that best suits your needs. The same is true of purchasing a boat insurance policy. Here are a few questions every boat owner should ask before buying insurance.

1. Am I Required to Carry Insurance?

The answer to this question might surprise you. It’s obvious that you should check car insurance rates because nearly all states require drivers to carry auto insurance by law. None, however, legally require boat insurance to own and operate a pleasure craft on the water.

That said, there is no shortage of reasons to insure your boat. You should know that your homeowner’s insurance will not cover your boat, despite the pervasive myth that it will.

Naturally, you want to protect this pricy craft. Whether you own a speed boat or a yacht, chances are you paid a pretty penny for your boat.  You are gambling with that money if you fail to insure your boat.

Even aside from the expense associated with damage to your boat, however, you don’t want to have to pay out-of-pocket for harm to persons involved in boating accidents. The right insurance policy will cover such occurrences so that you don’t go bankrupt paying for medical bills in the event of an accident.

Furthermore, most boat owners have to take out a loan to purchase a pleasure craft. In this case, the lender will almost certainly require insurance that covers the amount of the loan in the event that your boat is damaged or destroyed. Some marinas also have requirements for liability minimums if you want to park your boat at their dock.

2. How do Insurance Providers Calculate Rates?

One of the most common questions when consumers compare car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or boat insurance is how much it costs. There are a number of variables that insurance providers use to calculate rates for boating insurance.

Like car insurance, providers base rates in part on the value and age of the boat. The experience and age of the driver is also a contributing factor to the cost of boat insurance rates in most cases. However, the length of the boat (from stern to bow) may also play a role, as could the horsepower/speed of the craft. Where you choose to drive your boat could also be important when calculating premiums.

3. What Value is Covered?

There are two types of value you should know about when insuring your boat: agreed and actual. If possible, you should look for a policy that offers agreed value in case of total loss.

What this means is that you and your insurance provider agree on a set amount of coverage for losses at the time the policy is purchased. Actual value, on the other hand, is subject to depreciation due to time, wear and tear, and so on, potentially resulting in a lower payout in the case of total loss.

4. Does Coverage Include Emergency Assistance?

Most boat insurance policies do not include emergency assistance. While your auto coverage may stretch to include a trailer when you tow your boat on the roadways, you’ll almost certainly want coverage for assistance should you get stuck out on the water (tows, gasoline, etc.). You’ll have to ask your insurance provider if you want to add this coverage to your policy.

5. What Does it Mean to “Lay Up”?

Many boaters leave their craft in the garage, in dry dock, or in other storage locations during certain times year (winter, for example) when the boat is not in use. Some insurance providers or policies allow for “lay up” periods for inactivity. This allows you to temporarily suspend your coverage (and premium payments).

6. How Can I Lower My Costs?

If you drive a motorcycle, you might seek out cheap motorcycle insurance. Or you may choose to drive a less expensive automobile in order to reduce the price for your auto insurance. You can also find ways to reduce the cost of boat insurance.

One of the best options is to bundle your boat insurance policy with other policies, such as those for automobiles, your home, or even life insurance, just for example. When you purchase multiple policies from the same insurance provider you can often save on all of your policies.

You may also receive discounts for taking (and passing) a safe boating course, for including specific safety equipment on your boat, and of course, for the type of boat you have. For example, insurance companies consider boats that run on diesel less hazardous than gasoline and may infer a discount on insurance rates as a result. Don’t forget to ask about diminishing deductibles the longer you go without filing claims (basically, safe driver discounts for boat owners).

Avoid costly mistakes when you file a homeowners insurance claim by following these best practices for insurance policy do's and don'ts.

Posted by & filed under Homeowners Insurance.

Most of us know exactly what to do in the event of an automobile accident. When a collision occurs on the roadway, the drivers pull over to the side of the road, trade information (IDs, phone numbers, license plates, insurance info, etc.), gather witness accounts, and phone the authorities (police, fire, and/or ambulance, as needed).  These days, drivers also take photos of the scene and any damage on their smartphones for later reference.

This helps drivers avoid any confusion when dealing with insurance claims or courtroom proceedings.  It could also help to guarantee that drivers don’t have to compare car insurance quotes because their rates jump dramatically as a result of the accident. So why is it that so few people know what to do when it comes to filing insurance claims for their home?

If you went to a lot of trouble to compare home insurance quotes and secure the best policy, it pays to know how to use it appropriately. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to observe when it comes to placing a home insurance claim, whether you are dealing with damage from hail, replacing a faulty roof, or seeking reparations following a home invasion robbery.

DO: Understand Your Coverage

Whether you’re talking about cheap motorcycle insurance or the most comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy on the market, the policy you select is only as good as your understanding of the provisions within. If you don’t know what is covered, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on the full value you’re due when you file a claim.  Worse, you’ll file claims for damages that aren’t even covered.

DO: Prepare to Pursue Your Claim

When you purchase insurance, your goal is to avoid paying out-of-pocket for covered damages. Unfortunately, your insurance provider doesn’t always have the same agenda. Like any business, your carrier has a bottom line to consider.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t come to an agreement. It just means you have to do your homework and be willing to follow through if your insurer denies, delays, or downgrades your claims. Often, the problem stems from misfiled paperwork or a failure to understand your obligations. Make sure that you file appropriately for the best chance of seeing the payout you deserve.

DO: File in a Timely Manner

Most insurance providers have clear limitations on how long you can wait before filing a claim. It’s generally in your best interest to inform your insurance provider of damages as soon as possible so that incidents are fresh in your memory, so that immediate damages are accounted for (and there’s no question that the damage was caused by other factors), and so that you can get the ball rolling on repairs and reparations.

DON’T: File Small Claims

Everyone knows that their car insurance rates are going to go up any time they’re in an accident for which they are responsible, regardless of the amount of damages. For this reason, many drivers offer to pay for fender benders out-of-pocket to avoid the added expense of insurance premiums increasing.

When you file a claim against your homeowner’s insurance policy, the same basic principle applies. Your rates may or may not go up, but do you want to risk it for a small repair? Suppose your insurance pays a few hundred dollars to replace a broken window but you end up paying thousands more over the next several months or years due to an increase in your rates?

In other words, reserve your claims for major expenses that you actually can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket.  This will save you money even if you end up paying higher premiums as a result.

DON’T: Forget to Document

The more documentation you provide in the form of written accounts, photos and videos of damage, the better chance you have to receive coverage for any and all damages to your home.

DON’T: Dismiss the Idea of Hiring a Public Adjuster

Many insurance agents and companies are trustworthy and provide a valuable service to their clients. Even so, you might not know the right steps to take in order to get everything you’re due from your policy. A third-party claims adjuster acts as your advocate when negotiating claims so that you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.