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Cheat Sheet

Insurance For Dummies

From Insurance for Dummies, 2nd Edition by Jack Hungelmann

Health insurance, car insurance, and life insurance are a part of everyday life. Making a list of all your insurance policies makes sense to help you keep track and for your loved ones if the day comes that your life insurance policy is activated. Another handy checklist is reviewing your umbrella policy and fixing any gaps in your coverage. And when you’re in a car accident, remembering all the information your insurance company wants you to get is easier if you carry a list in your glove compartment.

How to Summarize Insurance for Your Survivors

It may not be a particularly welcome thought, but you generally purchase insurance for when things go wrong, and death is the last thing that will go wrong for you in this life. But the list you make now — and update annually — of your insurance policies can save your loved ones a lot of headaches at a difficult time.

Make copies of a list of all your insurance policies, investments, and bank accounts that includes the following information:

  • Policies and type: Umbrella, auto, home, health, dental, disability, and life insurance; and IRA, 401(k), and bank accounts

  • The insured item or person

  • The issuing company or institution and the policy or account number

  • Amount of coverage

  • Annual premium

  • Agent and contact information

On the same list include, phone numbers for the professionals knowledgable about your

  • Will and legal dealings (write down the location of your will)

  • Accountant

  • Investment manager or advisors

  • Banks and bankers

  • Insurance agent

Umbrella Insurance Checklist

You purchase umbrella insurance so that you’re covered under every contingency. An umbrella policy should also provide coverage for the gap between the value of the insured item and the amount you owe on it. The following table lists basic umbrella coverage every umbrella policy should include:

Gap Description What Coverage You Need Comments
Territory of coverage Worldwide Make sure lawsuits outside the U.S. and Canada are covered.
Personal injury liability Libel, slander, false arrest, and so on Underlying insurance may be required. Be careful.
Coverage of newly acquired vehicles, boats, and so on Automatic, no notice required Poor policies require notification in 30 days or no coverage. Dangerous!
Liability assumed in contracts Weddings, parties, rentals of all kinds Poor policies limit coverage to residential contracts only.
Punitive damages Allowed in some states You could travel in a state that allows them.

Insurance Information to Gather at the Scene of an Auto Accident

When you’re in a car accident, it’s easy to forget what information you need — you’re shaken up and rattled. But for your insurance company and that of any other people involved, carry a copy of the following list in your glove compartment so that you get all the information you need to protect yourself and expedite your insurance claim.

  • Date and time of accident

  • Accident location (take photos if you have a cellphone with a camera)

  • Name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number of the driver of the other vehicle

  • Injuries (for each person)

  • Name, address, and phone number of each witness

  • Police department responding, including phone number

  • Police case number

  • Police officer’s name

  • Tickets issued (if any)

  • Name, address, and phone number of each passenger in your vehicle

  • Name, address, and phone number of each passenger in the other vehicle

  • Name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number of the owner of the other vehicle (if different from driver)

  • The year, make, model, license plate number, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the other vehicle

  • The insurance company, insurance agent (name and phone number), and policy number of the other vehicle’s driver

  • The insurance company, insurance agent (name and phone number), and policy number of the other vehicle’s owner (if different from driver)

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