All too often we see so many who consider themselves Special Needs Planners Are really just special needs insurance agents.
Insurance is a tool, although I’ll be the first to admit it’s not very popular. Very few people I’ve met who work outside the industry ever seem to have the desire to talk about it unless they are in a situation that makes them think about it; and all too often this is too late. It can be overwhelming, and trying to weigh the need for risk management against the much more in your face needs, like groceries and housing, becomes a balancing act.
Unfortunately too many of us end up ignoring the risk management side of our lives. We don’t revisit our auto/home/renter policies, unless it’s to get them in place with a new purchase. When we shop for these policies we tend to focus more on what the premium is going to be, rather than how they will protect us – in some cases leaving HUGE gaps we’re on the hook for out of pocket. We should be looking at an Umbrella policy.
It gets even more difficult when the discussion turns to personal risks – life, disability or long-term care. Parents of children with special needs know they need life insurance; however many also believe the perceived cost is too daunting – so few of us look into it until we are older and/or less healthy; making the concern about cost a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We are not insurance agents, it’s not my job to sell anyone any types of insurance. That being said, many of the families I work with have too little coverage, the wrong type(s) of coverage or, in a few cases, too much coverage. I think it’s worth taking 20 – 30 minutes each year to review what you have in place; and, if you don’t understand what it does for you, schedule a call with your agent (I have). I’ve lived through a few instances when I learned the hard way I didn’t have what I needed.
Talk through why the agents recommend what they do. If you have an older car, without a loan on it, ask if it makes sense to continue keeping the full coverage (many of us never change our coverage after the car’s been paid). Listen to what uninsured/under-insured means – in my opinion this is an example of where not to save a buck. Finally ask about the deductible; this may be an opportunity for you to decrease the premium.
With personal lines take the time to understand what, if anything, your employer offers. Many employers may not do more than give an employee and handbook and say “let us know what you want”. If you don’t understand what you’re reading ask your HR Department to review it with you, and if they won’t/can’t; hire a fee-only planner for an hour to help you decipher it – it’ll be well worth your time; and many fee-only planners will charge just for an hour or two, it shouldn’t be cost prohibitive.