Calif. Commissioner Reminds of Importance of Going Over Coverages

January 16, 2004

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is urging consumers with homeowners, health and auto insurance to take stock of current coverages and make important adjustments

Even though it’s now the second full week of the New Year, it’s never too late to make an important insurance resolution: Update your insurance coverage. Garamendi recommends that all Californians take this opportunity to examine and reassess their insurance needs.

“Our homes, our modes of transportation, our jobs, and our entire lives are constantly changing,” Garamendi said. “Our insurance coverages need to keep pace – otherwise, the next crisis you face could have a much more harmful impact on your life and the lives of your loved ones.”

Garamendi noted that in 2003, California residents were hit hard with numerous emergency situations, including the Southern California firestorms, the resulting mudslides in the San Bernardino area, and the San Simeon earthquake. Aside from those major events, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) heard from consumers about a litany of other concerns, including problems with the homeowners insurance claims process, fraud against seniors, health insurance and others.

“Financial trauma can be reduced or even eliminated if we all just take the time to update our homeowners policies, our health policies, and any other type of insurance coverage we may have,” Garamendi said.

Here’s what the Commissioner recommends:

· Examine each of your policies and update them to reflect any major changes, such as a change of address, home and work phone numbers, agents’ name.

· As your family changes (birth of a child, marriage, death of a loved one) so does your insurance needs and this affects your beneficiary status.

· Verify the renewal date and be sure to send your payments by the deadline.

· Your property may have appreciated in value. Consider increasing your coverage to reflect your new financial situation.

· Compare your current coverage with policies offered by other companies. The Department of Insurance has premium comparison surveys, policy brochures and other comparison information for many types of policies. Visit the Web site or call the Hotline (both listed below) for more information.

· When you purchase new insurance, it is important to remember to shop for insurance in the same way that you shop for any other consumer product – make sure to compare prices, features, and reputation.

· Keep your policy paperwork in a safe place, preferably a safe deposit box. Make a videotape inventory of all your valuables.

· Consider raising your deductibles in order to reduce the cost of your premium.

· Consider adding flood and earthquake insurance to your homeowner’s policy depending on your risk and location.

· In the event of a disaster, be sure to provide proper evidence of all of your insurance to cover the rebuilding effort.

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