The hallmark of good financial planning is insurance – something to fall back on if things go sideways. While there are contracts that can safeguard your interests in case of a personal crisis, not all deals are equal or even worth it. Therefore, we asked the field experts about what you should look for when considering a life, home and car insurance and what are some pitfalls to guard against.
With life insurance, the key is taking on a needs-based approach.
Rupert J Connor, Partner at Dubai-based Abacus Financial Consultants, says one way to determine if you need a life insurance is to consider what financial obligations and contributions exist and what the impact of these would be on loved ones if you were no longer around. It’s also imperative to consider age and what they can afford when considering getting on a plan.
James McMullan, Senior Financial Planner at Seven International, explains that people generally leave getting insurance until they are older; this isn’t wise. “Insurance is cheaper when you are younger because your health is better,” he explains.
Besides this, some people don’t see the importance of the critical illness cover until it’s too late. “What they don’t consider is that medical insurance pays for treatment only and not the loss of income,” he says.
Before signing on the dotted line, you must read the terms and conditions carefully, so you know exactly what a policy covers and what makes it null and void – and what happens if it comes into effect. For instance, how will the money be transferred and after what period of time?
Rakesh Shirke, Senior Consultant at Metlife UAE, adds that if you are an expat, you must ask, “If I leave this country tomorrow, what will happen to my insurance? Will I be able to carry it with me? Can I pay the premium if I go back to my home country?”
While having an insurance policy is important, it’s just as important for the beneficiaries to know it exists and what they can expect if the clauses are triggered, says Shirke.
Neeraj Gupta, CEO at Policybazaar.ae, warns, “If you don’t name or update your beneficiaries, your policy may not pay out as you intended.”
Car insurance is a contract that covers your vehicle and its occupants against damage. However, not all vehicle insurance policies are the same, explains Gupta.
When it comes to buying the minimum required coverage, an analysis of risk, need and coverage is essential.
“Most countries require drivers to have a minimum third party amount of liability coverage. However, this may not be enough to cover the full cost of a serious accident. You should buy enough coverage to protect yourself and your assets,” he says.
Next, Gupta says, evaluate the type of policy you need, then shop around. “Compare quotes from multiple insurers and look for discounts and incentives that can lower your premiums,” adds Gupta.
Finally, read the terms and conditions thoroughly so you aren’t caught unawares when a situation to claim insurance arises.
Home insurance is just as necessary as it is difficult to compute, after all it requires an objective look at your assets and their monetary value.
When insuring, one must not over-insure or under-value their house, warn experts. “Underinsuring your home can leave you with a large gap between the insurance pay-out and the actual rebuilding cost in case of a total loss. Over insuring your home can make you pay higher premiums than necessary,” says Gupta.
You must also know what is covered in your plan − and just as importantly, what is not. It helps if you have a record of things in your possession when making claims.
“You should make a list of all the items in your home and their estimated value. You should also take photos or videos of them and keep receipts or appraisals for valuable items. This will help you determine how much coverage you need for your personal property and make it easier to file a claim if something is damaged or stolen,” he says.
Don’t make the mistake of not increasing your deductible. This is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. However, many people choose a low deductible to avoid paying upfront in case of a claim. “This can be a mistake, as you may end up paying more in premiums than you would save in claims,” says Gupta. ■