TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski today advised consumers who are making life changes, such as buying a home or a car or getting married, to be mindful that those events can also bring about changes in insurance needs.
“Consumers who are in the midst of making major life changes often do not stop to consider that their financial situation or insurance needs are also changing,” said Commissioner Kobylowski. “It is better to evaluate insurance and other financial changes as part of those events rather than waiting until a crisis such as an auto accident or home damage occurs.The time to find out about coverage is before you have to file a claim, not after.”
As part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ national public awareness campaign, “Life is Unpredictable. Get Ready,” Commissioner Kobylowski offered insurance tips to consumers who are making life changes that frequently occur during the summer months.
Wedding: What insurance issues do newly married couples need to consider?
Most group insurers consider marriage as a qualifying major event and will allow you to make related policy changes outside the approved open enrollment period. Report a change in family status promptly to avoid coverage gaps.
• Consider more than simply the lowest premium when deciding whose health insurance plan to keep. Review provisions containing deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance. Make sure you understand what is and is not covered.
• Be sure your employer applies beneficiary changes to to any company-sponsored health and life insurance policies to include a new spouse or children. Beneficiary changes do not happen automatically.
• Revisit your life insurance needs. When deciding how much coverage to buy consider future income potential, the cost of raising children and outstanding mortgage payments in your calculations.
• Revisit all current insurance policies to determine if you qualify for better rates. Many insurers consider married couples to be a lower risk. That could mean lower premiums.
A New Car: The sale or lease price is important, but so is the cost to insure it. Insurance premiums can cost as much as monthly finance payments and repair shop bills. Shop around for the best rates.
• Compare insurance rates on various models. SUV’s, convertibles and sports cars typically cost more to insure.
• Consider safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, side air bags, automatic seat belts, anti-theft devices and GPS as you negotiate your auto purchase or lease price. Safety-related add-ons can mean lower premiums.
• Storing your car in a garage or locked parking lot may qualify you for lower premiums.
A New House: Here are some of the issues home shoppers need to think about:
• Mortgage payments are not the only costs involved. Repair costs, utilities and insurance are part of what it takes to properly maintain a home.
• Disaster preparedness should begin before moving in. Consider buying flood insurance which is not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies.
• Consumers sometimes need more coverage than what is required by the mortgage lender.
• Consumers should consider how much liability insurance they need.
“When making important life decisions, consumers should also take the time to make informed insurance decisions related to those life events,” said Commissioner Kobylowski. “Most major life events change an individual’s insurance situation. It is better to be aware of that and make any insurance-related decisions proactively than to wait until a crisis occurs.”
For more information on the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s public awareness initiative, “Life is Unpredictable. Get Ready,” go to: http://www.insureuonline.org/get_ready_resources.htm
For more information from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, go to: www.dobi.nj.gov<http://www.dobi.nj.gov/>.
To verify that an insurance company or insurance agent is licensed by the State of New Jersey, go to: http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/data/inscomp.htm. To confirm that an insurance agent is licensed by the State of New Jersey, go to: https://www20.state.nj.us/DOBI_LicSearch/insSearch.jsp.