CHICAGO, Dec. 26 -- The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America issued the following news release:
As 2013 wraps up and the New Year approaches, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges homeowners, renters and motorists to review their insurance policies to make sure they're ready for whatever 2014 may bring.
"Knowing what's in your insurance policy is a great New Year's resolution," said Chris Hackett, PCI's director of personal lines. "With the New Year, many people are setting goals related to personal finances which makes this the perfect time to talk with your insurance agent, review your policy and make certain you have the coverage you need to protect you, your family and your belongings. Having that conversation with your agent or insurance company can help to prevent you from being caught financially unprepared if a natural disaster or other emergency occurs."
Catastrophic events can happen in every part of America. However, your insurance company is there to protect you from these potential disasters. Although favorable weather conditions in 2013 produced one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons in recent memory, it's important to remain vigilant. "There is always the potential for a volatile storm season in the future and the time to prepare is now - rather than at the last minute," said Hackett.
Dry conditions across the country contributed to more than 45,000 wildfires, burned over 4 million acres, and destroyed thousands of homes in 2013. "These dry conditions are predicted to continue, in 2014 which means we could be in for another unstable year," said Hackett. "PCI urges homeowners to have their policies updated, and to have a safety plan in place for their families."
While there hasn't been any significant seismic activity in 2013, it's important to note that every part of the country is susceptible to an earthquake. Recent tremors in Oklahoma prompted the state's insurance commissioner to issue advice to residents. "Many don't realize that earthquake coverage is not included in a typical homeowners insurance policy," said Hackett. "Homeowners in earthquake prone areas need to consider their risk and consider buying this additional coverage to protect their most expensive asset - their home."
According to NOAA, there were 111 tornado reports this past November, making it one of the most active Novembers on record - well above the average of 58 tornadoes. "This late season tornado outbreak reminds us that the possibility of severe weather is always something to be aware of and highlights the importance of advance preparations," said Hackett.
As you think about the New Year, PCI offers a few resolutions that will only take minutes, but could save you thousands of dollars and a tremendous amount of heartache.
Know What's in Your Policy - PCI's 5 New Year Resolutions
1.) Conduct an annual review of your insurance policy - Call your agent or insurance company to discuss your policy and coverage options. They can assist you in determining the type of policy you should have and the proper amount of coverage for your auto or home.
2.) Know what your insurance policy covers - The details matter. Check whether your homeowners policy pays replacement cost or actual cash value for a covered loss. Actual cash value takes depreciation into account. The replacement cost is the amount necessary to rebuild the home with construction materials of like kind and quality. Talk with your auto insurer about what happens if you get in an accident. Ask about towing and rental car coverage.
3.) Create a home inventory of your possessions - Your insurer may have tools available to assist you in creating your home inventory. Additionally, there are other resources you can use such as the Insurance Information Institute's Know Your Stuff Home Inventory and Know Your Coverage Apps
4.) Consider purchasing flood and/or earthquake coverage - It is a good idea for most people to buy flood insurance because flooding is the most common natural disaster. While flooding and earthquakes are not covered in standard homeowners insurance policies, they can be purchased as separate policies.
5.) Make sure you're getting the best deal - It is always a good idea to periodically shop around for the best deal, but remember the lowest premium is not always the best option. Make sure to know the amount of your deductibles. The deductible is the amount of a covered loss that the homeowner must pay. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium will be. Inquire about discounts that may be available. There may be discounts for things such as security systems, smoke alarms and steps you have taken to mitigate damage from natural disasters. Additionally some insurers offer discounts for consumers who purchase multiple policies.
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