(BPT) - If you own a home, vacation property, boat, art or other valuables, you likely understand the importance of insurance. What you might not know is there's a good chance you're overpaying for that insurance, and furthermore, it's likely not providing the coverage you really need.
Most financially successful people who insure their assets with carriers geared primarily for the average U.S. household overpay for coverage, according to an ACE survey of independent insurance agents. Furthermore, the survey found that coverage is often inadequate, leaving their wealth unnecessarily exposed to the risk of severe financial loss.
'It's a shock to many families with substantial assets that they are overpaying for inadequate protection,' says Jim Williamson, president of ACE Private Risk Services. 'The reason this occurs is people frequently fail to update their coverage as they build wealth.'
Unfortunately, unless people experience a severe loss, they never realize their agent and carrier no longer have the expertise, insurance coverage and services to fully meet their needs. By then, it's too late. In order to get the right coverage for your assets while paying appropriate premiums, it's best to take a proactive approach.
The first step is to conduct a personal risk review. Risks tend to grow alongside wealth and situational complexities make each person's needs unique. A sound insurance program should be developed with an independent insurance agent or broker who has experience working with high net-worth families. Learn more at www.aceprs.com.
Three important risk assessment areas to discuss include:
Physical and financial assets
Make a list of all properties, cars and recreational vehicles that need coverage. High-value jewelry or art collections should be assessed as well. Additionally, reviewing financial assets is important so the agent can determine net worth and recommend the correct liability coverage.
Occupation, activities and family status
Communicate your career and where you work to your insurance agent. Do you work from home? Do you serve on any boards of charities? Do you employ a nanny or other household staff? Additionally, discuss the needs of your family, including safety concerns or age-related issues.
Tolerance for risk
Think about your personal viewpoint on insurance. Do you have it mainly to serve as protection against catastrophic loss or would you prefer it to cover small losses as well?
In many cases, families discover they need more liability coverage and better protection for their home and valuable collections, while cost-savings found elsewhere in the program keep total premium about the same. In fact, 51 percent of the agents from the ACE survey said that the cost of a newly structured program with a high net-worth carrier was usually 5 percent less than the cost of the previous mass-market carrier.
Williamson notes these top ways to save:
Agents report 81 percent of families likely have homeowners and auto insurance deductibles that are too low. You will pay substantially more for smaller deductibles, yet oftentimes wealthier families are able to cover higher deductibles in the event of an incident. For example, the ACE Platinum Portfolio policy that insures a $1 million home with a $2,500 deductible versus a $500 deductible saves about $900 a year.
The survey found 62 percent of families likely do not take full advantage of discounts earned by placing multiple policies with one carrier. Lesson: Resist the temptation to have your auto, home and liability insurance with separate carriers. Spreading policies across carriers can cause insurance gaps and eliminates opportunities to save by packaging policies together. Packaging discounts can be as high as 10 percent.
Loss prevention credits
Half of the agents surveyed believe that families overlook credits available for safety systems. Safety systems such as burglar alarms, water leak detection and power backup systems can reduce the cost of insurance coverage by 30 percent or more. Rehabilitating plumbing, electrical and heating systems in older homes can result in additional premium credits.
'The best way to get the right coverage is to work with an experienced agent who can provide expert counsel based on your unique situation,' says Williamson. 'They will be able to recommend the right options and investigate discounts so you can get more for your insurance dollar.'