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Smartphone apps just the ticket for new-year insurance review

Friday, January 04, 2013 | 05:40am
NASHVILLE, TN – As you ring in the New Year, it is a good idea to evaluate your insurance coverage. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) – of which Commerce and Insurance is a member – offers these tips and reminders to help with your review.
Homeowners/Renter's Insurance
This is a great time to update your home inventory and make sure your homeowners or renter's policy is up-to-date. While the decorations are out of storage, take some photos or video of your baubles. Do not forget to make note of any antique items and their value so you can talk with your insurance agent to ensure that they are properly covered. 
If you are starting a home inventory from scratch, the NAIC's free smartphone app, myHOME, takes some of the headache out of the process. Download the app from iTunes or Google Play. You can also download a print version here.
Now that you have opened all your gifts, remember to add them to your home inventory, too. Include as many details as you can and take a photo of each item. Most basic home insurance policies have standard limits for big-ticket items like electronics, art, jewelry or sporting equipment. You may need special coverage, so be sure to call your agent as soon as possible to discuss changes for your policy.
If you want to review your insurance policy or declarations page before talking with your agent, take a look at this consumer alert to help understand the terminology. 
Auto Insurance
Winter can be a challenge for all drivers. Whether you are trying to escape the weather for someplace warmer or just preparing for the first drive to work in the snow, there are a few insurance items you should review.
To make sure you are winter-ready, check your auto insurance policy. Here is a quick reference on how to read your declarations page.
Make sure your coverage is appropriate for your life situation. Liability is the part of the policy that pays for any injury or damage if you cause an accident. If your liability insurance is too low, it is possible that you could be sued for any damages above your liability limits. 
Also take a look at your deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. This is the amount you will pay if your car is damaged or totaled without fault of another driver. Raising or lowering this amount can affect your premium.
Before hitting the road, make sure you have a copy of your insurance card and your insurance agent or company's number in the car. It is also a good idea to have a way to record details of an accident if you are in one. The NAIC smartphone application WreckCheck walks you through the process of gathering information following an accident. You can then email your notes directly to your agent. Download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.
Health Insurance
Many families recently went through the open enrollment process for their health insurance at work or Medicare Open Enrollment, which means you may have new insurance cards and paperwork coming in the mail. It is a good idea to get all this information together before winter illness or accidents happen.
Make sure to check your provider lists to verify visits to your doctor and any specialists are still covered by your policy, because in-network or preferred provider lists change from year to year. Also read through your documents and make note of your copays for in-network and out-of-network providers, so you are not surprised later.
When you're planning a vacation away from home, check with your insurance carrier to identify urgent care centers and hospitals that accept your insurance coverage near your destination and along the way. Be sure to ask your carrier about applicable co-pays and deductibles if care is needed.
Click here for the explanation of some of the terms you may find on your health insurance paper work.
More Information
If you have questions about your insurance options or about your insurance coverage, call the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Consumer Insurance Services section at 800-342-4029; you also may email the section at CIS mediates insurance disputes between policyholders and companies, and it processes complaints filed by consumers. If you want to learn more about insurance, search the objective information found in the NAIC Insure U program here. 
The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee., @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), (Facebook), (YouTube) 

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