Insurance tends to be something that people think about when there’s a major change. You update your insurance policy when you buy a new car and or a new house.
Or, maybe you’ve been in a car accident or suffered some other type of loss and have needed to file an insurance claim. You might pay careful attention to your insurance policy coverage and benefits depending on the outcome of the claim.
The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division of Insurance is encouraging consumers to think about insurance coverage more frequently. Massachusetts residents should ring in 2020 by taking steps to make sure they are properly insured and protected, the groups said in a news brief issued Dec. 24, 2019.
Here are their recommendations on how you can be proactive and ensure that you and your family are fully covered:
Review all of your insurance policies. Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverages in place. Consider purchasing insurance coverage that you don’t have. For example, flood insurance for your house or renter’s insurance if you live in an apartment.
Notify your insurer of any changes. Make sure you keep your insurer informed of any changes that could affect your insurance needs. Maybe you have a child who has just gotten his driver’s license or perhaps you’ve renovated your house or added on an addition. Changes work the other way, too. On the flip side, if your children have moved out of the house or your spouse has passed away, you might be able to reduce your coverage.
Consider optional endorsements. There are many coverages that come standard with an insurance policy, but many other coverages do not. Optional coverages run the gamut from oil leak coverage to auto collision coverage. They’ll increase your premium. However, in the event of a covered loss, they’ll pay off. Your insurance agent can explain and recommend optional coverages best suited to your specific situation, needs and budget.
Know your network. Your doctor and any medical specialists you see might not always belong to your health plan’s provider network. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what your plan covers and doesn’t cover and what your co-pays or other cost-sharing obligations might be if you seek out-of-network treatment.
Minimize your risks. Take steps to make sure your home and auto are maintained in a safe condition. For example, look around your yard for tree branches that could cause damage to your house or car if they broke and fell off during an ice storm. Get that check engine light checked out. Paying money proactively to minimize any risks that you know about could prevent you from needing to make expensive repairs in the future.
Know how many and what insurance policies you and your family have. Make sure you keep the insurance policies in a safe location and review them on an annual basis.
If you have questions or concerns about your insurance coverage, you can call the Insurance Division’s Consumer Services Unit at (617) 521-7794 or visit the Division’s website at www.mass.gov/doi for information on all lines of insurance.
An attorney can also provide you with advice when it comes to dealing with an insurance claim and even handle the claim on your behalf.
When to consult with an attorney about an insurance claim
If you’ve been injured in a car accident or some other type of accident and aren’t sure whether you should consult with an attorney before filing any insurance claims that you might have, here are some factors to take into consideration:
Minor property damage and injuries: One of the most common types of insurance claims is a car accident claim. Maybe someone rear-ended you at a red light or hit your car backing out of a parking space. There’s minor damage to your vehicle, and you and your passengers have sustained minor injuries. In this type of case, an insurance claim is straightforward and will most likely provide you with sufficient compensation to cover your losses.
Minor versus major injuries: However, it’s important to realize that what at first might have been considered a minor injury could turn into a major one that requires expensive medical treatment and results in long-lasting consequences. If you’ve already accepted a settlement offer, you’re out of luck. You won’t be able to renegotiate with the insurance company and obtain additional compensation, even for newly discovered injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you determine the full extent of your injuries and advise on the best time to accept a settlement offer.
Serious injuries: If you’ve sustained serious or permanent injuries in a car crash or other accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer who is skilled in negotiating with insurance companies will make sure you receive full compensation for your injuries.
Fair treatment: If you believe an insurance company isn’t treating you fairly, you should speak with an attorney. Maybe the insurance company isn’t returning your phone calls or is “low-balling” your claim. Insurance companies are infamous for engaging in tactics to avoid and delay paying claims and preserve their own bottom line. A skilled attorney can help you cut through insurance company red tape and get the payment you’re owed.
It’s complicated: Many car accident and other personal injury claims are complicated. Maybe the other driver isn’t insured or is underinsured. Maybe you slipped on snow and ice in front of a neighbor’s house, but the neighbor is insisting that the accident is your fault. In situations like these, an attorney can provide sound legal advice, protect your rights and maximize your payout.