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Insurance insights: evaluating your coverage and your needs.

Editor's Note: As a membership service, MTNA has, for the past several years, been offering quality, low-cost insurance products through the Robert H. Clarkson insurance Agency. MTNA also is committed to educating members about these products.

Many people really do not review the definitions of their insurance policies until they need to use them. The normal mindset regarding insurance by most is that insurance is something we need to have, it's very confusing and it's always expensive. The most requested insurance coverage is the automobile and homeowner's coverages. Most people are clear about the how their deductible works and how much coverage they are required to have at their loan closing or to get their auto licensed. The other details of these policies are left to their agent to determine if they really need them or not.

The definitions are provided by the IRMI/Glossary of Insurance and Risk Management. Terms for these coverages are as follows:

Automobile liability insurance--Insurance that protects the insured against financial loss because of legal liability for automobile-related injuries to others or damage to their property by an auto.

Automobile physical damage insurance--Automobile insurance coverage that insures against damage to the insured's own vehicle. Coverage is provided for perils such as collision, vandalism, fire and theft.

Some major factors driving up the cost of automobile insurance include the rising costs of medical care, vehicle repair, jury awards, automobile theft and fraud; according to the Insurance Information Institute, this will increase rates by 6 percent in 2004. The average cost of auto insurance nationwide is estimated to be $898 for 2004--an increase of $51 per vehicle since 2003.

Homeowner's insurance policy--A package insurance policy providing property and liability coverages tailored to the needs of most homeowners, condominium owners and apartment tenants. Various versions are available depending on the type of dwelling insured and the scope of protection to be covered. It is the most commonly used insurance policy protecting homes in the United States. (Basic to modified forms are determined by type of home.)

The rising costs of construction and increase of natural disasters are expected to push the cost of homeowner's insurance up by 8 percent in 2004, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

What can you do to reduce your premiums without compromising protection?

Automobile insurance costs can be offset in the following ways:

* Change your deductible.

* Compare your insurance coverage between companies.

* Reduce coverage on older cars or cars not driven daily.

* Buy more than one policy with the same company to receive the multi-policy discounts.

* Maintain good credit.

* Shop, Shop, Shop!! Get a least three quotes from different companies.

Remember to ask about discounts, like the good student, driver's training, senior operator accident prevention and auto safety devices, which can provide up to a 15 percent cost savings. Always talk to your agent to check on new programs available with insurance companies that may provide you with a savings.

Homeowner's insurance savings are provided when you know what to look for in the coverage. These steps will provide you with questions you should discuss with your agent:

* Know the form of homeowner's insurance that is best for your property. There are five forms of policies: Basic (HO1), Broad (HO2), Special (HO3), Comprehensive (HO5) and Older/Condos (HO8).

* Change your deductible (the higher deductible amount, the lower the premium).

* Review claims for urgency and amount before reporting them to the company.

* Photograph and record the value of your possessions.

* Schedule items such as computers and musical instruments that may not be included in your coverage.

* Riders for weather pattern changes can be added such as flood, hurricanes or wind, if not included in your coverage.

There were an estimated 121.4 million housing units in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2003, and approximately 105.9 million of the units were occupied by owners or renters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report of February 3, 2004. With this number of people requiring the same type of insurance, the competition between companies will be very active, which in turn will be great from the consumer's viewpoint.

The Robert H. Clarkson Insurance Agency understands the time it takes to review, compare and shop for these types of insurance. Since 1964, we have developed strong relationships with national insurance companies to bring you the best coverage available. We welcome the opportunity to provide MTNA members with a free quote comparison on their homeowner's and/or automobile insurance. To accommodate your schedule, a quote request can be e-mailed directly to our office at mtna@rchgroup.com or call roll free at (800) 338-7148.

Tammy Wallace has been with the Robert H. Clarkson Insurance Agency since October 2002 as marketing director and MTNA program coordinator. She has nearly fifteen years' experience in the insurance industry and holds life, health, and property and casualty insurance licenses.
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Title Annotation:Professional Resources
Author:Wallace, Tammy
Publication:American Music Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:814
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