When people buy insurance, they often feel they know enough about their policy, what’s insured, and its risk. However, like a wallflower at a high school dance, what’s excluded in an insurance policy is barely given attention. You may not want a dance with those exclusions, but you should know what they are. Once you do that, you’ll find yourself asking a lot of questions. What if your grandmother’s antique sewing machine in mint condition is ruined in a flood? Will your homeowner’s insurance pay the full amount of the sewing machine’s prior value? If your car is stolen and you owe $5K on it, will your insurance cover the remainder of the loan? Such questions, along with other times you’re at risk for losses or damages — whether yours or another’s — have answers in the form of important insurance policies you didn’t even know you needed. Here’s a list of them:
1. Personal Electronic Equipment Insurance
Even 10 years ago, there’s a good chance the average household didn’t have many personal electronics. In a scan of just your living room today, many of you reading this can easily name 5-10. If your $5K computer is damaged by a volcanic eruption, explosion, or other named homeowner’s insurance peril, it will be covered. Unfortunately, the top three causes of loss for personal electronics are accidental damage, theft, and power surges. Although it sounds like some kind of far-fetched insurance product protecting your restroom habits, Personal Electronic Equipment (PEE) insurance can carry higher limits and cover a broader range of damage.
2. Renter’s Insurance
If you don’t own the home you live in but rent, why do you need insurance for it? Because you’re a renter — plain and simple. Renters insurance protects personal belongings and even your personal reputation. Liability coverage is one of the most important parts of this policy because even renters can be sued for losses or damages connected to rented properties. Imagine what would happen if you negligently burned your apartment building down, bringing down five other people’s homes and personal property along with it — or even lives. If you don’t have renters insurance, you probably can’t write checks to cover all of your neighbor’s losses and damages (on top of yours). It’s also highly unlikely that you could pay for personal injury and/or wrongful death lawsuits. Fortunately, it’s very affordable, yet only about 47% of renters carry it, even though the average cost is only $17 monthly.
3. Event Insurance
The average wedding in today’s society costs a whopping $26K and many brides plan for their day to be “princess” without safety nets. When that much money rests on one single event contained in a day, you need to think about protection, and the coverage it can offer is actually impressive. For example, if you need to postpone your wedding due to an unexpected illness, this policy can help. It can also protect expensive items like jewelry and wedding dresses depending on the policy. Did your wedding day become a rainy day? If so, event insurance can help pay for resulting losses or damages. If someone slips on that shiny dance floor, severely injuring themselves, they may come after the event organizer for medical bill coverage, and event planners would be the ones sued. Event insurance has a liability portion built in for that kind of protection. It can be purchased for all other event types as well, but weddings are one event when it’s definitely needed.
4. Burial Insurance
Many people say buying insurance is gambling, and that those playing are gambling on something bad happening. However, there’s one thing none of us can gamble on — death — and there’s insurance to help specifically cover part of its cost. Burial insurance, a form of whole life insurance not to be be confused with pre-paying for funerals at funeral homes, is one of the safest policies you can buy because you know it will be utilized one day. You won’t be around to see the payoff of burial insurance (literally), but loved ones left with final expenses would certainly appreciate your foresight. It helps covers final expenses in their truest form — burials, cremations, and funerals. If you aren’t sure how your funeral will be paid for, this is definitely worth looking into.
5. Flood Insurance
According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flooding is the number one hazard in the U.S., yet many homeowners aren’t aware it’s not covered under standard insurance policies. You don’t have to live in a high-risk area to warrant buying a flood insurance policy either, as 20% to 30% of flood claims come from low- to moderate-risk areas. If you don’t have flood insurance, damage isn’t covered, and according to the NFIP, the average flood insurance claim is $30K. The NFIP reports average annual premiums of about $600, or rather, $50 a month. If you buy a home and plan on living in it for 30 years or the rest of your life, doesn’t spending $600 a year to protect your home seem logical given your long-term plans?
6. Gap Insurance
In 2010, 737,142 cars were stolen, totaling a stunning $4.5 billion in personal property losses. It’s likely some of those car owners still owed on car loans originally used to purchase the cars. Without gap insurance, you’re responsible for paying off that loan even if the insurance company has written off your car. Regardless of the car, its sale price, or any other factors, anytime you take out a loan to buy a car — especially brand new or very expensive ones — you should purchase gap insurance.
7. Umbrella Insurance
Your homeowner and auto insurance policies offer liability coverage, but it’s normally only up to a certain amount. Have you ever considered what would happen if you got sued for more than your liability limits? You’d have to pay out of pocket and with the rest of any assets you have. An umbrella policy provides extra liability protection at an affordable cost — a $1 million policy will usually run anywhere from $200-$500 a year.
8. Accident Insurance
Did I do that?
Whether it’s your fault or Steve Urkle’s, accidents happen and they can be financially devastating depending on the severity of the injuries you sustained from an accident. If you think bills from general practitioners are high, the costs of losses and damage incurred in an accident makes $180 seem like pocket change. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the average hospital stay is five days, meaning lost income, extra daycare, bills for the cafeteria’s gourmet meals, and more. That’s a lot of money, especially when the cost of staying at the hospital is more than $22K on average. Accident insurance is what could help cover — to at least some degree — things like those previously mentioned — lost income, insurance deductibles, and childcare among other things.
9. Pet Insurance
If you love your four-legged friend, whether dog, cat, or something more exotic, you probably care for them like another human family member. If they get sick, treatment can cost thousands. According to the Americans Pets Products Association, $12.2 billion was spent on veterinary care in 2009 alone, and those statistics are rising. Procedures become increasingly expensive, and those formerly out of reach are now widely available. If you want to protect your pet, this insurance policy can help you save money in the long run, but do it now. Similarly to the underwriting guidelines of many insurance types, you want to obtain coverage as early as possible — don’t wait until your pet’s vision seems to be waning. Buy it when your pet is still healthy to help lock in premiums and discounts that may help if something drastic happened, causing rates to rise. Additionally, pet insurance is still a relatively new frontier, so it’s wise to purchase it before it catches on more, which would likely mean more premiums.
10. Private Medical Insurance
If you’re employed and still have health coverage, thank your lucky stars. As the costs of health care rise, some employers are considering dropping benefits altogether. Then you may find yourself in the sticky situation of searching for private insurance — along with 46 million others who are uninsured. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, private medical insurance can cost up to $1K monthly, and the average cost of one ER visit is 40% more than the average U.S. rent amount at $1,233.
If you look at insurance as gambling, that’s fine. However, the irony of calling it gambling is that when you don’t “gamble” by not buying insurance, you’re gambling that nothing bad would happen, and that’s a gamble you want to lose.
Follow Desiree on Twitter @DesireeBaughman.