Are These 4 Auto and Home Insurance Myths Costing You Money?
Oct 31, 2019 00:55
Americans love to argue, but they agree on one thing: Insurance is confusing. Online pollster YouGov found that nearly three-quarters of consumers think insurance jargon is tough to understand.
Yes, the law requires insurers to provide certain disclosures. But that doesn’t excuse a poor customer experience. People buy insurance to protect their investments. Shouldn’t insurers be responsible for explaining — in plain language their customers can actually understand — what that protection entails?
Top Home and Auto Insurance Myths
Insurance may be a complex product by its nature, but clearer language would certainly help put an end to the following home and auto insurance myths:
1. Your driving history is the only thing that matters to auto insurers.
You probably know that wrecking a car or getting a DUI is going to make your auto insurance premiums go up. You might not know, however, just how large of a role financial factors play in your auto insurance rate.
Believe it or not, drivers with subpar credit scores may pay triple what their peers do. “A good driving record is only half the story,” says Say Insurance director Marc Dieter. Insurers want not just safe drivers, but good customers.
Before applying for a new policy, check your auto insurance score. Even if you’ve never had any tickets or accidents, your score could be impacted by low account age, a checkered payment history, or credit overutilization.
2. Unless your home itself is damaged, homeowners insurance won’t help.
Yes, the term “homeowners insurance” implies that this type of insurance will only protect your home in the event of a disaster. In fact, most homeowners and renters policies cover not just the structure, but the possessions of the policyholder.
“Most people get home insurance because their mortgage requires it,” explains Director of Personal Insurance Mila Araujo of Ogilvy Insurance, “but there are a lot more coverages included in your home insurance policy than you might realize.”
Often, getting the right coverage is as simple as choosing the right form. Homeowners Comprehensive Form (HO-5) provides the most protection, but most homeowners fill out the Homeowners Broad Form (HO-2). “HO” figures in between represent intermediary coverage tiers.
One way to get the coverage you need without paying for a top-tier policy? Ask for a rider. Assuming you’re willing to accept an increase in your deductible, assets like firearms, precious metals, and furs can sometimes be accommodated by higher sub-limits.
3. Auto policies that provide the legal minimum in liability protection are enough.
If your state says an auto insurance policy provides enough liability protection, then it’s enough — right? Nope. If you were to accidentally crash your car into a mall, do you really think $10,000 in property damage protection would cover it?
Fortunately, raising for liability limit isn’t all that expensive. According to finance guru Ron Lieber, boosting your liability protection to $1 million typically costs around $200 more per year per car.
“Is it worth saving $25 or so a month to leave yourself exposed to the highly unlikely worst case?” Lieber asks, “Or would you rather sleep better at night knowing you could could cross that off your list of things to worry about?”
4. Homeowners insurance covers all types of damage.
Earthquakes and falling trees both destroy homes. But only one — tree damage — is typically covered by homeowners insurance.
“No matter what type of home insurance policy you buy,” warns Insure.com Editorial Director Amy, “there’s a list of common problems (called ‘perils’) that most insurance companies will not cover.”
Whether a peril is covered or not, Danise says, is dictated by the “HO” figure on the policy. HO-3 plans typically cover anything not outlined in the policy, which often includes intentional loss, floods, and earth movement. In contrast, HO-2 policies only kick in when the damage is done by one of 16 perils, such as theft, electrical issues, vehicle damage, and vandalism.
What if you want flood or earthquake protection? Some private insurers accommodate earthquakes with endorsements. For flood insurance, you’ll have to turn to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other coverages, such as war and terrorism, are virtually unavailable for homeowners.
Insurance may be confusing, but it’s also necessary. Before signing on to a new policy, take the time to understand what you’re buying. If you ever need it, you’ll be glad you did.
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