The exercise equipment gathering dust in Americans' bedrooms and basements is a familiar sign of the way New Year's resolutions often are quickly abandoned. But a few resolutions you'll not only want to make but also stick with involve being more prudent about insurance.
That means spending wisely and getting the coverage that matters most. It's a good idea to start each year by taking stock of your coverage because auto, home, life and other insurance needs change over time -- as you move, switch jobs, add to your family, change vehicles and grow older.
When you have to use your insurance, the last thing you want is to learn that you don't have enough coverage. But you also want to make sure you aren't carrying more insurance than you really need.
Here are some New Year's resolutions to help you fine-tune your insurance policies.
As you launch into a new year, look for ways to cut life insurance costs, says Debra Newman, who chairs the board for the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, or LIFE.
"Have you become healthier?" she asks. "Did you stop smoking? Did you lose a significant amount of weight? Are you off medications? You may now qualify for preferred rates."
If you're the family breadwinner, it's a good idea to make sure a nonworking spouse or domestic partner also has adequate coverage. The main reason for life insurance is to replace lost income, but a homemaker's work has value, too. "Think about what your partner does in any given month to keep your family functioning," Newman says. "You would have to replace that expense."
Kristen Komer, a MetLife vice president, suggests checking A.M. Best Co. ratings or other indicators of your life insurance company's financial health, to make sure it has the assets to pay your beneficiaries when you die.
"With all the changes that have happened in financial markets, it has never been a more important time to check the financial strength of a company," Komer says.
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