As your life changes, so do your insurance needs. When you go through milestones such as home-buying, consolidating households or getting a learner’s permit for your teen, it’s especially important to take time to review your policies to help avoid overpaying and/or not getting the correct coverage that you and your family need.
Experts recommend reviewing your current coverage annually to account for any changes that may have occurred in your life, home or driving situation since your last policy review. Being overinsured—meaning you’re covered for situations and belongings that are no longer applicable to you—can result in you spending more on premiums than necessary. Meanwhile, being underinsured can mean you won’t be covered if and when you find yourself in need.
Here are 15 scenarios in which it makes sense to reconsider whether your auto and home insurance policy is adequate or if you may be able to receive a discount:
- You’ve gotten married or divorced
- Your child headed off to college
- You purchased a new vehicle or home
- You became a renter
- You added or removed a teen driver
- You’ve relocated
- You inherited or purchased valuables
- You renovated or added on to your home (new roof, deck, remodeled basement, etc.)
- Someone on your policy turned 25
- You installed a pool or hot tub
- Your commute has changed
- You’ve taken a driving course
- Your child has good grades
- You turned 55
- You installed a home security system
Tips for switching auto and home insurance coverage
First, take stock of your current coverage to see what’s covered, what’s not covered, what your premiums and deductibles are, and whether your current needs can be adequately met by making changes to your existing policy.
Also be sure to consider the service you get from the insurance company. Maybe your premiums unexpectedly increased after you moved, or you had a bad service experience with your provider during a claim. If you aren’t completely happy with your insurance provider, explore different options to make sure you can get everything you need out of an insurance company you can count on.
When you decide it’s time to switch insurance companies, there are a lot of factors that go into getting and comparing auto quotes when searching for a new insurance provider. Follow these pointers when shopping around to compare coverage, costs and customer service.
- Determine how much coverage you really need. Will you need full coverage? Will you have other drivers on your policy? How many miles per year are you averaging?
- Know your driving record. Having tickets, accidents or other infractions will negatively affect your premiums.
- Examine your current Declaration page. The declaration page from your current policy details the total costs for the coverage you have now. That will help you more easily compare car and home insurance quotes from various providers.
- Do your research. Look at reviews and customer satisfaction ratings. Call body shops and ask how easy it is to work with the insurance company on auto claims.
- Compare providers. Will you be getting a lower rate? What will your deductible be? What special benefits will come with the coverage?
- Ask about discounts. Many companies offer discounts that can lower your rate, such as when you bundle your home and auto coverage.
- Use your benefits. NEA Member Benefits provides the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program, which offers coverage options and packages to help you get the insurance you need.
- Avoid a coverage gap. Make sure you shop around early enough before your policy period ends. Insurers typically charge higher rates after a lapse in coverage.
- Ask your provider about cancellation fees or refunds. You can switch insurance companies most anytime. However, some companies may charge you a fee if you cancel mid-policy. On the other hand, some companies may provide you with a partial refund if you switch before your policy renewal date.
It’s also important that you determine whether your quoted policy will be for six months or a year. A six-month auto policy will appear to be less expensive than a quote for a 12-month policy, so be sure that you understand the terms and true per-month cost of the agreement. A 12-month policy also can help you lock in your rate so it won’t change for a full year.
Switching your coverage could save you serious money and stress, and the right insurer can even offer you other benefits you might not be able to get with your current provider.