As consumers begin preparing shopping lists for Christmas shopping, the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) advises Michigan shoppers to find out what their current homeowners or renter's policies cover.
"Make sure that you're covered if the jewelry or television you just bought is stolen," OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton said. "Many homeowners and renter's insurance policies cover valuable items like electronics or jewelry while others may require you to purchase additional coverage."
What to check before making holiday purchases:
Find out what your insurance policy already covers:
Many shoppers may be traveling from store to store with gifts in their vehicle. It's important to find out what items are covered under your homeowners or renter's insurance and if there are exceptions. Your insurance usually protects against theft or damage, though there may be caveats about what is covered.
Keep receipts with you instead of in the bag with the merchandise. This will make it easier and faster to prove you purchased the items in the event anything is stolen.
Know the stipulations of your policy:
Ask your agent about coverage amount limits to make sure your new purchases don't exceed your policy threshold. Certain valuables might be better covered with an insurance rider or additional policy, depending on the circumstances.
Consider renter's insurance:
If you are a renter and don't have renter's insurance, you might consider this kind of protection. Although your landlord should have insurance for structural damage to the building, this coverage does not extend to your personal property.
Understand the difference between insurance and warranties:
Part of the holiday shopping tradition is the extended warranty sales pitch as you check-out. However, a warranty is not insurance and does not cover damage in the way a homeowners or renter's policy might. A manufacturer's warranty offers a certain kind of guarantee to the quality or performance of an item for a specified time period.
Update your home inventory:
Keep a list of electronics and other valuable household items with model numbers and receipts. As you buy, give away or sell belongings over time, your coverage needs can change. Checking your inventory regularly can help you save money or avoid being under-insured. A home inventory can also help when filing a claim after a loss.
Michigan consumers are encouraged to use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' (NAIC) free myHOME Scr.APP.book smartphone application that makes it easy to document possessions, update home inventories and store information.
To download the free app, go to the iTunes or Android Market app stores and search "NAIC."
If Michigan residents have any questions or complaints regarding an insurance product, company or individual, they can contact OFIR's toll-free consumer hotline 877-999-6442 or visit www.michigan.gov/ofir.
Increased traffic at malls and retailers also means more opportunity for ID thieves.
When fighting the crowds, experts offer the following advice for shoppers:
- Prevent pick pocketing. Keep your purse tucked securely under your arm and your wallet in a front pocket or other safer place than a back pocket. And don't bog yourself down by too many shopping bags.
- Keep receipts in your wallet. Retailers are required to maintain the privacy of all but the last four digits of the credit or debit card used to make a purchase but it is still a good idea to keep all your receipts together in safe place rather than in your bag.
- Review your credit card statement regularly. Check your credit card activity weekly during the holiday season-rather than waiting for the statement at the end of the month-in order to catch suspicious charges as quickly as possible and immediately report any irregularities to your credit card company.