Friday, December 27, 2013

GUEST COLUMN: Resolve to get insurance coverage in order for the new year

By SANDY PRAEGER, Kansas Insurance Commissioner

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- There is not a lot of time to think about insurance during the hectic rush of the holidays, but as you begin the New Year, it is a good idea to evaluate your insurance coverage. We at the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) and The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offer these tips and reminders to help with your review.

Homeowners/Renters Insurance
This is a great time to update your home inventory and make sure your homeowners or renters policy is current for your needs. If your holiday decorations are still out of storage, take some photos or video of them. Note any antique items and their value so you can talk with your insurance agent to ensure that they are properly covered.

Now that you have opened all your gifts, remember to add them to your home inventory, too. Include as many details as you can and take a photo of each item. Most basic home insurance policies have standard limits for big-ticket items like electronics, art, jewelry or sporting equipment. You may need special coverage, so be sure to call your agent as soon as possible to discuss changes for your policy.

If you are starting a home inventory from scratch, the NAIC's free smartphone app, myHOME, takes some of the headache out of the process. Download the app from iTunes or Google Play. Also, on our website, you can print a hard copy of our Personal Home Inventory booklet; or, you can call us at 800-432-2484 to request a mailed hard copy.

Auto Insurance
Winter can be a challenge for all drivers. Whether you are trying to escape the weather for someplace warmer or just preparing for another drive to work in the snow, there are a few insurance items you should review.

Make sure your coverage is appropriate for your life situation. Liability is the part of the policy that pays for any injury or damage if you cause an accident. If your liability insurance is too low, it is possible that you could be sued for any damages above your liability limits.

Also take a look at your deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. This is the amount you will pay if your car is damaged or totaled without fault of another driver. Raising or lowering deductible amounts can affect your premium.

Before hitting the road, make sure you have a copy of your insurance card and your insurance agent or company's number in the car. It is also a good idea to have a way to record details of an accident if you are in one. The NAIC smartphone application WreckCheck walks you through the process of gathering information following an accident. You can then email your notes directly to your agent. Again, you can download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.

Health Insurance
Many families recently went through the open enrollment process for their health insurance at work, through the new online insurance marketplace or through Medicare Open Enrollment. This means you may have new insurance cards and paperwork coming in the mail. It is a good idea to get all this information together before winter illness or accidents happen.

Also, if you are getting insurance through the online marketplace, you have until March 31, 2014, to get covered and avoid paying a penalty.

Make sure to check your medical provider lists to verify that visits to your doctor and any specialists are still covered by your policy, because in-network or preferred provider lists could change from time to time. Also read through your documents and make note of your copays for in-network and out-of-network providers so you are not surprised later.

When you're planning a vacation away from home, check with your insurance carrier to identify urgent care centers and hospitals that accept your insurance coverage near your destination and along the way. Be sure to ask your carrier about applicable co-pays and deductibles if care is needed.

More Information
If you have questions about your insurance options or about your insurance coverage, call the KID Consumer Assistance Division toll free (in Kansas) at 800-432-2484. If you want to learn more about insurance in general for all life situations, go online to, the NAIC’s national website.


The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers,
regulates and reviews companies, and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state. More about the department is online at or at