How to Avoid Insurance Rip-Offs… and Only Get The Coverage You Need

Insurance is supposed to be a respectable field, but frankly, it sometimes resembles the much-maligned used car business. In both industries, it’s common for aggressive salespeople to pressure consumers into making unwise purchases.

Ask yourself: How much insurance do you need? Chances are you’re overpaying for unnecessary or excessive coverage. Remember, paying too much for insurance eats away at your retirement investment gains, which in turn diminishes your nest egg.

A prudent person purchases insurance for all sorts of needs. However, sellers of insurance are quick to play on our fears and ignorance, to pressure us into buying more coverage than we really need.

From a financial standpoint, the following are worth insuring, with caveats:

Health. Medical bills are the number one reason for personal bankruptcy in America. Don’t forget that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in effect; the former Trump administration was unable to kill it and the ACA is thriving under Biden.

To be sure, the implementation of ACA has had all kinds of problems, but the point of the law is that insurers are not allowed to discriminate against those with preexisting conditions. That can be crucial if you find yourself without insurance and learn there’s something wrong.

Life. If you have dependents, this is important coverage. However, many people harbor the misconception that they can buy life insurance and then put it on automatic pilot. Not so. Life insurance needs get lower as you get older. To determine how much life insurance you really need, the most commonly used rule of thumb is between five and eight times your current earned income.

Property. In most places, homeowners with mortgages are required to have some sort of insurance on the property. For many people this insurance premium is built into the mortgage payment. Find out how much it would cost to rebuild your home. Not all insurers give an accurate assessment. If you’re covered for more than the amount needed to rebuild, you’re paying too much.

Car. Most states require by law that you have basic auto insurance. Whether you need more extensive insurance than the law requires should be based on an honest assessment of your personal circumstances.

Read the fine print of your auto policy. You’ll probably find lots of areas where you’re getting soaked. For example: If you’re driving an old car that’s worth less than $5,000, eliminate comprehensive and collision coverage. Otherwise, you’re paying too much only to insure the replacement of a car with a low “Blue Book” value.

As with homeowner’s insurance, consider increasing your deductibles. If you’re driving a newer car, get rid of unnecessary coverage such as towing; the chances of a late model car breaking down aren’t high enough to justify it. These superfluous items often are tacked onto a policy, without you even knowing it.

Insurance You Don’t Need

Here’s a rundown of insurance you can safely forgo altogether:

Mortgage Life Insurance. This is a kind of policy that promises to pay your mortgage in the event you become disabled or die. In most cases, this will simply overlap with the life insurance that you should already have.

With a typical life insurance policy the beneficiary receives the benefit that can be used for any reason they choose, including the mortgage. You could choose to increase the coverage provided by your life insurance to make sure it provides enough payout to cover the mortgage, if that’s something you’re worried about.

Travel Insurance. This is another case where you may be paying for coverage that is redundant with what you already have. Review your current health and life policies to see how incidents resulting during travel or airplane flights are covered. More than likely there is some sort of coverage included.

Cancer Insurance. Cancer is a great concern to many Americans and several companies have come out with specific insurance policies to address this risk. But the primary health insurance you should already have generally covers medical expenses related to cancer treatment. Additionally, most cancer insurance policies do not cover skin cancer, which is in fact the leading type of cancer in the United States.

Consumer Product Warranties. Sales personnel in “big box” retail stores are trained to urge you to buy lots of warranty coverage of appliances, computers, etc. Many consumers forget that they even have this coverage. Products from reputable manufacturers generally work as they are supposed to, and consumers often replace their televisions and other household products so quickly that the question of replacing or repairing them never arises.

Credit Card Insurance. You can actually buy insurance that will pay off your credit card bills if you are unable to. A better idea would be to not run up your credit card bill in the first place, so you can save the cost of the insurance premiums as well as the exorbitant interest costs often charged by these lenders. Also, federal law limits your liability if your credit card is stolen. Your out-of-pocket costs are limited to $50 per card, so that’s not worth insuring against.

Editor’s Note: I expect the cryptocurrency market to continue its winning ways in 2024, as the bull market in Bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto assets forges ahead.

Consider this fact: the “blue chip” of crypto, Bitcoin, gained 156% in 2023. This year, BTC and the broader crypto realm are building on those gains.

Every portfolio should have some sort of exposure to crypto. But you need to be informed, to make the right choices. Start receiving our FREE e-letter, Crypto Investing Daily. Click here now!

John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.

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This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.