Today, I was reading an article in USA Today about homeowners that lost a court case contesting the policy language of their homeowner’s policy about storm surge/flood waters regarding the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. The judge upheld the ruling that the policy language is clear about not covering damages caused by storm surge or flood waters whether it is caused by actual flooding or wind. Obviously, none of these people had flood insurance, because they believed they would never need it. It’s a tragic story, because now we’ll definitely be seeing the true fallout of the Katrina damages when foreclosures and bankrupties sky-rocket in New Orleans. I am a property claims adjuster, so this article was very interesting to me, and it got me thinking about what types of insurance all adults should have no matter what phase of their lives they are in. Here are my top four types of insurance that every human being should buy in order to maintain financial stability.
- Auto Insurance: This one is obvious because it is illegal to drive in the U.S. without some form of auto insurance. My suggestions on auto insurance if you are looking to save some money is to do your homework and go to an independent agent whom can shop different companies to find you the best rate. Save money on the premium by opting for a higher deductible or cutting out collision coverage if your car is more than 7 years old. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT go cheap on the liability portion of auto coverage. If you cause an accident and someone becomes paralyzed for your negligence, an attorney will take you to the cleaners without proper liability insurance.
- Health Insurance: There are plenty of people between the ages of 18 – 30 whom do not have health insurance. I was one of them. In college I did not have any health insurance, I had major accident insurance, but not a standard health policy. Luckily, the worst ailments I ever had in college was influenza. Look, I know it is expensive, but you gotta have it. One semi-major accident or illness and you will be paying medical bills for the next 10 years. I know that there are plenty of universities that offer a plan that is catered toward students and the premium is reasonable. If your employer offers a health plan in their benefits package, PLEASE sign up for it. Usually they fit the bill for most of the monthly premium.
- Property Insurance: This coverage applies to renters and homeowners. If you own a home or a condo/townhouse, then you NEED to have a homeowner’s policy. The standard homeowner’s policy is the most bang for your buck in terms of what it covers as an insurance policy. I know that many people think that homeowner’s insurance is lousy (especially if you live in Florida), but it offers quite a bit of coverage. First, it covers your home for everyting unless specifically excluded like flood (see above), it covers your personal property ANYWHERE in the world, and it gives you liability coverage if someone sues you for being liable for something that happened to them. It’s your biggest asset, you NEED to protect it. If you rent, you NEED to have a renter’s policy. It covers your stuff for things like theft, water damage, fire, and lightning. It also has some liability coverage built into it as well. A renter’s policy is literally $10 – 15 per month. Cut out two pizzas per month and you can afford it.
- Long-term Disability Insurance: This is the one that most people do not think about, and therefore, seldom purchase. This especially goes for younger people, because we like to think we’re invincible. Well, the fact is that accidents happen all the time, and you need to protect yourself if something tragic happens, and you are unable to work any longer. Long-term disability insurance kicks in when you injure yourself and are unable to go back to work for an extended period of time or never. it supplements the income you would have earned. This insurance is rated largely on your occupation, so if you have a desk job, your premium would be really cheap. But if you are in the construction business, your premium would be pretty expensive.
Some of you may say, “Hey Erik, you left out life insurance”. Well, I left out life insurance for the reason that not all people need life insurance in all phases of their lives. A young couple with no childrem whom both work and make comparable salaries or a retired couple with a large nest egg do not necessarily need life insurance policies. Life insurance policies should act to insure that your dependents are taken care of if you die tomorrow. If your wife makes more money than you or you do not have kids/your kids are grown-ups, then paying for life insurance is a waste. The four listed above are all insurances that are indispensible and everyone, no matter what phase of life you are in, should be mindful of owning these four types of insurances.