For Immediate Release:
SAINT PAUL, MN – Holiday mishaps have made millions of dollars for Hollywood’s movie industry, but they can cause consumers financial hardship if they happen to you. Like National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” or “Home Alone” the holidays and winter months bring a new set of risks that can impact your insurance coverage. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reminds Minnesotans to take a minute to review your insurance policies before you celebrate the season.
“Whether you are spending hours in the car or leaving your home during the holidays it is important to make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date and ready for the holiday season,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We are hoping that everyone’s holiday is ‘A Wonderful Life’, rather than a visit from the Grinch – so checking your lists twice to ensure your insurance coverages are adequate can save yourself a headache.”
Minnesota’s winter roads can be a challenge for all drivers. Before you go dashing through the snow, check your auto policy to confirm that it is appropriate for your needs. Remember, a new luxury vehicle requires a different level of coverage than an older car. This is the time to check your liability limits to make sure you have adequate protection against injury or damage if you cause an accident.
Accidents happen, and in those times of stress it is important to know what to do if you get in a wreck. Always keep a copy of your insurance card and your insurance provider's contact information in the car. To take the stress out of filing a claim after an accident, the Commerce Department has tips on its Claims Process Tips webpage, including links to NAIC’s handy WRECKCHECK smartphone app. The free app for iPhones and Androids walk you through the process of gathering information following an accident step-by-step and has the ability to email the report directly to your insurance agent from the accident scene.
Your homeowners or renter's policy can protect you against common holiday debacles, so check your policy before you deck the halls. This is a great time to check your policy’s liability limits and to make sure if your gifts are stolen, to see if they are covered by your policy.
A standard homeowners policy also provides coverage, subject to your deductible, if your home suffers damage during a winter storm or a house fire. Some policies offer additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your home during repairs. Check with your insurance provider to determine what your policy covers.
Once you unwrap your gifts, the holidays are a great time to create or update your home inventory. This will help you make sure your homeowners or renter's policy provides enough coverage for your belongings, as you may need to purchase a separate rider for high-cost items like jewelry, art or electronics. Visit the Commerce Department’s Home Inventory webpage for information on how to create a home inventory including the tools available to help protect your belongings. The page also includes links to the NAIC's free smartphone app, myHOME Scr.APP.book, for iPhones and Android and Google phones to help make the process of creating a home inventory quick and easy.
It is just as important to do an insurance check-up on your current health plan – especially if you are considering new options. This is the time of year to assess your annual health expenses, including pharmaceutical coverage, copays, coinsurance, and deductibles to see if there are cost-saving options available through other health insurance plans. Make sure to check provider lists and take note of your co-pays for in- and out-of-network providers. Once you have decided on a plan, read through your policy and keep your insurance card handy in the event of winter illnesses or accidents. Ask your insurance provider if they have a nurse help hotline that can answer questions about your symptoms or if your pharmacy has an urgent care center that will accept your insurance.
If you are traveling over the holidays, review your policy and make a list of pharmacies, urgent care centers and hospitals that accept your insurance in your destination city. Prior to leaving town, it is also a good idea to check with your insurance company about in-network healthcare providers at your destination. If you receive care from an out-of-network provider, you could pay more for treatment. Bring this information and health insurance cards for all family members with you when you travel.
The snow is already piling up across Minnesota, but before you hit the slopes or take out the snowmobile, check your homeowners or renter's policy. Generally, ski equipment that you own will be covered by your homeowners or renter's policy. On the other hand, snowmobiles are not covered by homeowners, renter's or auto policies. Ask your insurance agent if you need more coverage on your sporting equipment or need to purchase a separate snowmobile policy.
A warm weather escape is how some survive the chill of winter. Regardless of where you're going, winter travel can be uncertain. Delays or cancellations are inevitable. You may want to consider travel insurance, which can cover everything from lost luggage to delays and cancellations. You can find more information about travel insurance here.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help.
Call our Consumer Response Team at 651-539-1600 or toll-free at 1-800-657-3602 (in Greater Minnesota) if you have any questions about your insurance or if you believe you have been a victim of a scam or fraud.