COLUMBUS – The first quarter of the year is a great time to reevaluate your insurance policies. Changing life circumstances may lead to different insurance needs. Did you get married? Add a child to your family? Purchase a new home or car? Are you downsizing? It’s a good move to check whether you have appropriate insurance protection.
Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, as part of her Think Again initiative, is urging Ohioans to review if insurance adjustments are in order.
“Talk with your family, think about shopping around and also get in touch with your agent,” said Taylor, also director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. “Consumers should be proactive to ensure they have the best coverage for their life situation. Maybe more coverage is needed, maybe it can be reduced.”
Taylor shared these insurance tips:
• Conduct a home inventory and make sure your homeowners or renters policy is up-to-date. Take photos or video of your possessions. Remember to note prized items and their value so you can discuss proper coverage.
• Use the free smartphone app myHOME Scr.APP.book to simplify the inventory process. You can download a paper inventory checklist at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
• Review your liability insurance. If it’s too low you could be sued for any damages above your liability limits.
• Assess your deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. You’ll pay those amounts if your car is damaged or totaled without fault of another driver. Adjustments can affect your premium.
• Keep a copy of your insurance card and your agent and/or insurer’s contact information in your vehicle.
• Maybe recently you enrolled or changed health insurance through your employer, Medicare or the federal exchange. Make sure you have a new insurance card. Verify that your paperwork is in order before seeing a doctor.
• Check your provider lists to be certain your doctor and any specialists are still covered by your policy. In-network or preferred provider lists change yearly.
• Know your copays for in-network and out-of-network providers to avoid surprises.
• Before traveling check with your insurer to identify urgent care centers and hospitals that accept your insurance coverage. Understand applicable co-pays and deductibles.
• Life changes should trigger a life insurance review. You might consider increasing your death benefit when adding a child or getting married.
• Events like paying off your mortgage, retirement or children finishing college might mean lowering your coverage and premiums.
• Learn about “conversion privileges” from your current term life insurance policy to a new whole life insurance policy. You might also be able to expand your death benefits to use them while you’re still living.
When shopping for insurance Taylor said people should be careful to avoid being a victim of fraud. Don’t give out personal information like your social security number or bank account data until verifying the legitimacy of the insurer and agent with the Ohio Department of Insurance.
Call the department at 1-800-686-1526 with your insurance questions and visit www.insurance.ohio.gov for insurance information.