Do you have enough coverage?

The importance of reviewing your auto and homeowners insurance policies

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Bob Phillips

Personal Finance Writer

Bob Phillips is a personal finance writer whose expertise in insurance and investments has been developed through over fifteen years as an advisor/tr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross h…

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

Insurance serves as a safety net, providing financial protection against unforeseen events. However, what if your safety net has holes? Many people find themselves in a predicament where they are underinsured, leading to significant financial losses when disaster strikes.

This article will delve into the realms of car and homeowners insurance, explaining what it means to be fully covered and why it's crucial to regularly review your coverage.

How do you know if you have enough insurance?

In order to be fully protected your insurance, your coverage must be sufficient to cover the full cost of potential damages or losses.

For instance, if your home is worth $300,000 but you only have $200,000 in insurance coverage, you're underinsured by $100,000.

Similarly, in car insurance, if your policy's liability limit is lower than the potential costs of an accident, you're underinsured.

The risk of being underinsured in car insurance

Car insurance is mandatory in most states, but the minimum coverage required by law often falls short of covering all costs associated with a major accident. If you're found at fault in an accident and your insurance doesn't cover all the damages, you could be sued for the remainder.

For example, if your policy covers up to $25,000 for property damage, but you cause an accident resulting in $50,000 worth of damage, you would be responsible for the additional $25,000.

How being underinsured can impact your homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect your biggest investment: your home. But being underinsured can leave you footing a significant portion of the bill if disaster strikes. Whether it's a fire, flood or storm damage, the cost of repairs can quickly escalate. If your insurance coverage isn't adequate, you'll be left to cover the difference.

The importance of regular insurance reviews

Insurance is not a one-and-done deal. It's a dynamic contract that needs to keep up with your ever-changing life circumstances, market conditions and the impact of inflation on asset values.

Experts suggest reviewing your car and home insurance policies at least once a year or whenever significant changes occur in your life. This could be when you:

  • Buy a new car
  • Move houses
  • Renovate your home
  • Add a new teen driver to your policy

Regular reviews ensure that your coverage aligns with the current value of your assets and adequately protects you against potential losses.

Now consider this: customer ratings consistently indicate higher satisfaction levels among those who review their policies regularly. They are less likely to face unpleasant surprises when filing claims and are better equipped to make informed decisions about their coverage. Furthermore, by comparing car insurance annually, you can potentially save money and secure better coverage.

Inflation: A hidden factor affecting insurance costs

Inflation is an economic phenomenon that silently erodes the purchasing power of money over time. While it may seem unrelated to insurance at first glance, inflation plays a significant role in the risk of not being fully covered by insurance, particularly when it comes to auto and homeowners insurance.

The impact of inflation on auto insurance

When considering car insurance, inflation impacts two main areas: the cost of vehicles and the cost of repairs.

As inflation rises, so does the price of new and used cars. If your car insurance policy doesn't account for this increase, you could find yourself underinsured if your vehicle is totaled in an accident.

Similarly, the cost of car parts and labor for repairs typically increases with inflation. An accident that would have cost $500 to repair a few years ago might now cost $700 or more. If your insurance coverage hasn't kept pace with these rising costs, you could be left paying the difference out of pocket.

Inflation's effect on homeowners insurance

In the realm of homeowners insurance, inflation can significantly impact the replacement cost of your home. Over time, the cost of building materials and labor rises due to inflation.

This means the amount it would cost to rebuild your home today could be significantly higher than when you originally purchased your insurance policy. If your homeowners insurance doesn't include an inflation guard, which automatically adjusts your dwelling coverage each year to account for inflation, you could be underinsured. This could result in substantial out-of-pocket expenses if you need to rebuild your home after a covered loss.

The importance of keeping pace with inflation

As a savvy consumer, it's essential to understand how inflation affects your insurance coverage. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your policies can help ensure your coverage keeps pace with rising costs.

Consider policies that offer inflation protection. For instance, some auto insurance policies include an option for new car replacement coverage, which can provide you with the money to buy a new car if yours is totaled in a covered claim. For homeowners insurance, look for policies with an inflation guard.

Lowering the cost of increasing your coverage

Insurance is a necessary expense, but that doesn't mean we can't find ways to save. One of the most effective methods of reducing premiums without compromising coverage is bundling policies. This involves purchasing your home and auto insurance from the same provider, which often leads to significant discounts. 

Bundling insurance policies offers two main benefits:

  1. It simplifies the management of your policies. Instead of dealing with multiple companies, you have one point of contact for all your insurance needs. 
  2. Bundling often leads to substantial savings.

For example, if you're looking to increase your car insurance coverage from $25,000 to $50,000, the increased premium might be mitigated by the savings from bundling your homeowners and auto insurance.

Similarly, if you're considering increasing your home insurance to cover the current replacement cost of your home, the additional premium might seem steep. But again, bundling discounts can help make this extra coverage more affordable.

Don't take the risk of not being fully protected

At the end of the day, insurance is about peace of mind. Being underinsured can lead to substantial out-of-pocket expenses when you least expect them.

Don't take chances with your financial security. Take the time today to review your car and homeowners insurance policies. Ensure you have enough coverage to protect yourself and your assets from potential disasters. Remember, it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. 

In conclusion, understanding your insurance coverage and regularly reviewing it is essential to avoid the pitfalls of being underinsured.