Whether you own a home or not, all of us have recurring expenses that we should monitor on an annual basis, at the very least. If you have an agent for your car insurance, home insurance, renter’s insurance, or other insurance, it is very important at the annual renewal date to sit down and discuss the coverages and limits.
Home Insurance: Recently a friend who lives in the Sonoma area of California updated me on the general current financial situation of the people who owned homes during the major fires of two years ago. The bottom line for many who had their homes totally or partially destroyed in those fires is that they were woefully underinsured or uninsured, especially in the category of replacement costs. The obvious question is how this could happen when most, if not all, of these people had insurance agents?
Auto Insurance: By way of example, a friend of mine did not have underinsured motorist’s coverage on his auto insurance policy last year. A person without any auto insurance crashed into his brand new automobile. In the reporting of the accident, he discovered he did not have uninsured/underinsured coverage. When he asked his agent about the lack of this coverage, his agent did not have a good answer. The cost to repair his car was many times what the cost of insurance would have been.
Hopefully, this can be a timely message to call your insurance agent to set up a meeting and review all your coverages. If your insurance agent is already doing this annually, then you probably have a very good and conscientious agent!!!
This message is not just for insurance coverages. There are some professionals you pay fees to who do not look out for your best interests. As a result, it is important to analyze the fees you are paying on a regular basis.
Banks & Credit Cards: They often charge many fees, and if you are not paying attention, these can add up. If you have a brokerage account, check on the fees you are paying. In any of these situations, call and set up a meeting to discuss fees. Many times, you can negotiate better fees at a higher level of service. I guarantee you that the professional involved, once they know you are watching fees, will be more careful with your account.
A Personal Example: Our Comcast monthly fee jumped one month. It turns out that some of our features had a time limit on them such that when the time period ended, the rates went up to a maximum level. I called Comcast and spoke with a billing specialist to see what could be done to reduce our bill. The specialist found lower rates for our services, and our monthly bill went down considerably.
In summary, it is important to monitor the fees you pay whether you have an agent or not. In the end, you are responsible to understand the services you are paying for, and the fees you are paying should be clear and fair.
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