Financial tips for 2019

This was originally published on Monday, December 31, 2018, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN. 

2018 is just about over. To prepare for the new year, take some time to review your insurance.

Update your insurance. Review your coverage. Does it still cover what is important to you? Did you make a large purchase in the past year? If you did, be sure that your insurance will cover it. If you use photos or videos to keep records of your belongings, it’s time to update them. You can easily store copies of photos and videos online in private accounts. If your computer and paper files become damaged, you will still be able to retrieve online copies from another computer.

Inspect your home. By inspecting your home annually for fire, theft, and flood hazards, and correcting the problems that you find, you can protect your family from perils. You will possibly prevent or limit damage to your home. Did you invest in a new anti-theft system? If you did, you may be able to lower your insurance costs.

Check your doors and windows for gaps where water and hot air can enter. It may take a simple act of weather stripping, but it will save you a lot in power costs and water damage. Look for fire hazards as well. Test your outlets and look for signs of electrical damage. Test your smoke detectors and replace the batteries if necessary.

Insurance discounts. Over the past year, you may have made improvements to your home to safeguard your structure and belongings against major perils. You may have installed smoke detectors, added typhoon shutters, or otherwise weatherproofed and secured your home. Not only do these actions protect your home and your family, but they also may make you eligible for a discount. Create a list of improvements to refer to when you visit or call your insurance broker or agent.

Update your car insurance. If a young driver moves away from home or no longer needs to drive the family car, an annual review can help remind you to adjust your coverage to your current number of drivers. You can also check for car insurance discounts if you have made any changes in the past year, such as installing a car alarm.  Some insurance companies will give discounts to students who have good grades as well.

Adjust your deductible. If you have saved up enough to cover a higher deductible for your car and home insurance, you can adjust your deductible upward to save money on premiums. But before you do this, it’s a good idea to move those funds away from the financial accounts that you use frequently, to a standalone emergency savings account. If it’s easy for you to transfer funds from your savings and into your checking account, you may be more tempted to spend your deductible before you need it.

Discuss your situation with your broker or agent. Your broker or agent can talk to you about the changes you have made over the past year, and help you find discounts of which you are unaware. He or she can also help you re-shop for insurance and find policies that are better suited to your needs and budget.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 24 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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