A few years ago my wife and I purchased kayaks and a trailer. The salesperson was friendly, informative, and offered several worthwhile suggestions regarding equipment and accessories. While the salesperson was helpful there were items we wound up purchasing that he didn’t immediately suggest.

As an example, we didn’t like the idea of simply strapping our kayaks to the trailer as they could easily be damaged while being transported. When we expressed that concern the salesman recommended saddle cradles typically used for car rooftops that were able to be added to the trailer crossbars to provide a secure mounting system for each kayak.

When we questioned the potential for theft if we used basic straps to tie down each kayak the salesman brought to our attention available theft-deterrent, locking straps. For each potential concern we expressed there were accessories available.

In my estimation, the salesman didn’t do us a disservice by not immediately suggesting all of the equipment and accessories we wound up purchasing. The purchase process required our participation: we thought about what was important to us and asked questions to make certain we had the proper equipment and accessories to meet our needs and expectations.

Throughout my career I’ve found there is seldom this level of participation when people are buying insurance. More often there is a misconception that basic insurance policies will provide coverage for anything and everything that may happen.

The reality is there is an extensive array of additional coverage options available with most insurance policies. These coverage options are available to custom-tailor each policy to meet your needs, but it requires asking questions and identifying your expectations when working with your insurance agent.

Take auto insurance as an example:

  • Do you need roadside assistance coverage in the event your vehicle needs to be towed or if you need some type of service for a lockout, flat tire, or dead battery?
  • Do you need additional coverage to pay for a rental car if your car is out of service due to a covered loss?
  • If so, how much coverage – per day – would you need for a rental car? (A good example as $30 a day may be enough to pay for basic transportation, but what if you routinely transport kids and equipment and may need to rent a more sizable, higher cost vehicle like an SUV?)
  • Are you financing or leasing a new vehicle and may need gap coverage?

Home insurance offers an even wider array of additional coverage options to provide coverage for guaranteed home replacement, personal property replacement, valuable items (including jewelry, fine arts, and collectibles), water backup, tree removal expense, refrigerator & freezer contents, identity fraud, home businesses, personal electronics, service lines, sinkholes, shoreline property for waterfront homes, and increases in repair costs to comply with local ordinances and laws.

A good insurance agent is going to take time to ask questions intended to help design a policy that meets your coverage expectations. The likelihood of buying an insurance policy with coverage options tailored to your situation increases when you take an active role participating in the purchase process.

An excellent example is one of my clients recently expressed concern as they live in an area where there have been issues with sinkholes. While additional coverage is available for sinkholes it is somewhat costly and isn’t an option most people would choose to pay extra to include with their home insurance policy. In that case the client helped me identify a specific concern I was able to address with an additional coverage option appropriate for their unique circumstance.

The important takeaway from this article is to be actively involved when purchasing insurance. Think about what could happen, ask questions, and participate to be certain your insurance policies will respond as you may need and expect in the event of a loss.

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