Reviewing your insurance: 2021 Guide and Tips

Posted by A&A Editor

Looking to get organized for 2021? 

Uncertain about where to start?  

Do you even know where to start?

A&A Insurance is here to help you with a free policy review for clients and non-clients alike.

When it comes to looking at some peace-of-mind protection around major assets such as your home, car – and even valuables like high-end art and jewelry, A&A Manager Amy Lynne Armstrong says it’s never too early to make an appointment, gather your policy documents together and let an insurance expert provide you with a cost-free assessment.

“This is something that could pay long term dividends,” says Armstrong. And at the very least, it will answer the important question, ‘Do I have the right coverage for my current needs?’”

Since life is always fluid and life changes occur frequently, any purchase, additions or renovations that have been made in the past 12 months could have a significant impact on your insurance rates and coverage.

“Maybe your circumstances have changed: you’ve added a new deck or pool to your house or you’ve started a new babysitting business out of your home,” Armstrong explains. “Either way, you should let your insurance company know, because it can affect your rate. Talk to your broker and give us a chance to ensure you have both the right and best coverage so there are no surprises if you ever do need to make a claim.”

For example, updating a roof or replacing your furnace could lead to a reduction in your insurance payments.

“We can talk to people about their specific needs and potential risks,” she says.  “Our job as a broker is to advise, make recommendations and ensure the client can make the most informed decision about coverage.”

Armstrong says liability limits are a key item policy holders should want to review closely.  

A higher limit may be recommended and an umbrella policy might be suggested. An umbrella policy not only allows you to extend liability over and above your existing home and automobile insurance policies, but it may also provide additional protection that your basic policy excludes.

In a world where more people are opting to sue, one million dollars can disappear pretty quickly, so an increase in your liability limit may be something that you’re seeking. 

In an Intact policy, for example, the difference from a $1M to $2M liability coverage limit on a home insurance policy may only be an extra $20 per year.  “As you can see, the cost difference isn’t very much,” says Armstrong.

And if you are active as a coach or volunteer board member you really should talk to a broker to review options.  

An aspect of house insurance that Armstrong strongly recommends to review is water coverage. At one time, full policy limit sewer back-up coverage was provided for only nominal premium. 

However, she says times have changed and it’s not unusual to see fees ranging upwards of $800 to $1000 for this coverage today in certain areas. 

Armstrong also suggests that installing a sump pump with a back-up battery system in your basement and a back-flow valve on your main line could also cut insurance costs.  

“In today’s day and age, surrounded by water on three sides as Essex County is, a sump pump alone is not sufficient,” says Armstrong.  It may also be a good time to review if full policy limit coverage is really something you want to carry.  If you have an unfinished basement perhaps you would be better off reducing your coverage limits and saving the premium instead of paying for potentially hundreds of thousands of coverage you really will never use.

For contents insurance, Armstrong says you should immediately notify your insurance company if you upsize from a one-or-two-bedroom apartment to a house or if you make any large investments in contents.

“Most policies are on a replacement cost basis. Replacing a whole household full of furniture is going to be substantially more than replacing the content of your apartment,” she acknowledges.

Regardless, keep track of your property by taking photos and videos of your contents. Update them frequently and keep them in a safe place – in a cloud, on your e-mail or off site. 

“I can guarantee you that after you’ve had a loss, you’re not going to remember everything that you own. So, if you could keep those photos off site or on a cloud where it’s able to be retrieved, you can go back and say, ‘this is what I had.’”

There are other items to consider for review like life insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, wills and power of attorneys.  The latter two should be discussed with a lawyer, but you should contact your A&A Insurance broker for life, travel and health.

And while wills and powers of attorney aren’t in A&A’s wheelhouse, Armstrong says having them makes life infinitely easier for next-of-kin to realize your wishes.

“An insurance company, can only be directed by the executor or executrix when it comes to paying out or reassigning policies,” she notes. “For our purposes, we need a copy of the will to show who the executor is and a copy of the death certificate. If you don’t have an executor or a will, it can tie things up for quite some time, especially if it has to be court-appointed.”

Although a will can dictate the direction of your estate when you pass away – and could include directions for the support and care of your children should something happen to you or their remaining parent – it’s important to organize and grant powers of attorney. 

There are two powers of attorney to consider: one for personal care that can make medical decisions in case you’re mentally or physically incapacitated – and one for property.

“If you’re incapacitated, someone needs to make directions or decisions on – for example – to rent out a house, so the insurance company needs to be informed,” says Armstrong. “We can only take direction for change in coverage from the insured or their appointed representative.”

That 2021 calendar can be one of hope, promise – and best of all, protection.  So, start the year off right with a smart resolution: Make an appointment with your A&A Insurance broker for that free home and auto insurance policy review. There are still openings in January and February to book an appointment by calling A&A at 519-250-4111.

What are some questions you may have during your policy review? 

  1.  Does my policy have enough coverage if I need to rebuild my home – with all upgrades and full replacement? 
  2. Do I have enough coverage for landscaping and recent work I did for a new hot tub, sprinkler system and any new garden equipment? 
  3. How does my recent renovations to a basement, garage and deck affect my policy? 
  4. Do I need extra coverage for any water in my basement? 
  5. Is my high-end jewelry or art work covered under my home policy? 
  6. What kind of discounts can I get for my car or home insurance?