The idea of insurance doesn’t necessarily jive with the mindset of a young person. It took me way too long after college to really get serious about insuring my stuff. What’s life without a little risk, right?
In reality, that mindset doesn’t usually last through the first emergency or disaster that strikes while you’re uninsured. It’s easy to laugh it off when you’ve been lucky, but one bad day teaches you the importance of making sure you cover your assets.
Being a fully functioning adult requires that you be ready to protect what’s yours.
Why insurance is important.
Insurance is like wearing a helmet while you’re biking. You may not need it, but you’ll be glad you put it on when you take a tumble.
“Having quality auto, health, renter or homeowner, and life insurance is vital to protecting yourself and your family — or your future family — from the unexpected,” says blogger Eric Rosenberg of Personal Profitability.
But choosing an insurance company is hard work. First, decide what coverage you need. If you need both renters and car insurance, can you choose the same company and save money with a multi-policy account?
The two most important factors with insurance are the premium (how much you pay each month) and the deductible (how much you pay to file a claim and receive money from your insurance company). Your car insurance premium may cost $100 a month with a $500 deductible.
That means if you get into an accident and do $600 worth of damage to your car, you’ll have to pay the $500 deductible before your insurance covers the rest.
Most companies offer a multi-car discount for families with more than one automobile. Premium rates vary based on how much coverage you have, so don’t base your judgment solely on how much you’ll pay each month.
For example, coverage for uninsured or underinsured drivers is optional, but often a good idea. When I got hit by an uninsured driver, my car suffered $3,000 worth of damage. My insurance company handled everything because I’d opted for that extra coverage.
This is a common theme in every area of insurance: risk tolerance. You need to toe the line between how much you’re willing to pay monthly, and how comfortable you are with the risk of being caught uninsured. In an ideal world, we could all afford comprehensive coverage in every area, but the real world is a little more restrictive.
Lee Huffman, who owns several rental properties, says he always recommends renters insurance to his tenants. Most renters policies cost less than $20 a month, but can reimburse you in case your valuables are stolen or damaged.
“As a rental property investor, we remind our renters that the landlord’s insurance covers the building only,” he says. “It does not cover any of the personal items of the renters, nor does it cover the renter in case someone gets hurt and tries to sue them.”
Take pictures of your most prized possessions and keep receipts for anything valuable. Those will help if they’re lost or damaged and you need to file a claim.
The Affordable Care Act requires that you have health insurance or pay a fine. This year the fine will be 2.5% of your income or $695 per adult — whichever is greater. For example, if you have an adjusted gross income of $40,000, your fine will be $1,000.
One hospital visit can bankrupt you when you don’t have health insurance. You are your most valuable asset, so make sure that’s covered. Millennials in good health are often fine purchasing a high-deductible plan and paying a smaller premium. You can use a Health Savings Account in conjunction with your high-deductible plan for even better results.
This type of insurance is vital if there’s someone relying on your income, like a spouse or child. If your spouse dies, can you afford to live without them? Can you pay the mortgage by yourself? Can you raise your child on one income? Single parents should consider purchasing life insurance so their children will have protection in case they pass away.
Rosenberg recommends term, not whole, life insurance for millennials. The younger you are when you purchase a policy, the cheaper it will be.
“You are never as young and healthy as you are today, which is the best time to lock in a 30 year policy,” he says.
Don’t let the unexpected ruin your finances. Cover your assets with the right insurance and you can shore up your finances from disaster.