New Year Resolution: Getting Your Insurance Coverage in Order for 2013
COLUMBUS — As Ohioans ring in the New Year, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor says it is a good idea to evaluate your coverage needs for 2013 with your agent or insurance company. You can also utilize the Department’s new consumer guides, available at insurance.ohio.gov, to brush up on your insurance knowledge.
“Right now is an ideal time for Ohioans to review their insurance needs for the New Year,” Taylor said. “To ensure you have the right protection for you and your family, be proactive and consider all of your options.”
Taylor offered these tips and reminders to help with your review:
The beginning of the year is a great time to update your home inventory and make sure your homeowner’s or renter’s policy is up-to-date. A new and free smartphone app, myHOME Scr.APP.book, takes some of the headache out of the process. You can download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), in which Ohio is a member, app from iTunes or Google Play. A paper version is available at insurance.ohio.gov. Include as many details as you can and take a photo of each item.
Most insurance policies have separate limits for items like electronics, art, jewelry or sporting equipment. If you have big-ticket items or multiple items of a particular category, you may want to discuss insuring these items on a separate inland marine policy.
Make sure your coverage is appropriate for your life situation. Liability coverage is the part of the policy that pays for any injury or damage to persons or property if you cause an accident. If the liability coverage limits are too low, it is possible that you could be sued for any damages above your liability limits.
Also review your deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. This is the amount you will pay if your car is damaged or totaled when a claim is submitted to your insurer. Raising or lowering these deductible amounts can affect your premium. Be clear about Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage. This coverage is intended to provide financial protection if you were involved in an accident with a driver that has no auto insurance or has liability limits that are lower than yours.
Keep a copy of your insurance card and your insurance agent or company’s number in your car. It is also important to be able to record details if you are involved in an accident. The NAIC smartphone application WreckCheck walks you through the process of gathering information following an accident. You can then email your notes directly to your agent. The free app is available from iTunes or Google Play.
Many families recently went through the open enrollment process for their health insurance at work or Medicare Open Enrollment, which means you may have new insurance cards and paperwork coming in the mail.
Make sure to check your provider lists to verify visits to your doctor and any specialists are still covered by your policy, as in-network or preferred provider lists change from year to year. Also read through your documents and make note of your copays for in-network and out-of-network providers so you are not surprised later.
When you’re planning a winter or spring vacation away from home, check with your insurance carrier to identify urgent care centers and hospitals that accept your insurance coverage near your destination and along the way. Be sure to ask your carrier about applicable co-pays and deductibles if care is needed.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. Information is also available at insurance.ohio.gov. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook atfacebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.