You could almost insure every step you take in life — but you shouldn’t.
You could spend every available dollar you have on insuring against something bad happening. What’s the likelihood of something going wrong? What are the exemptions in the policy? And if you make a claim, will the payout be worth the cost?
That said, insurance can protect you, and having it can put your mind at ease. Life insurance, for example, is important to have if your family relies on your income. There are some exceptions to life insurance, but all depend on your situation and comfort level.
Putting life insurance aside, here are seven insurance policies you should consider canceling. Put money aside in an emergency fund to cover you in the rare event that something does go wrong in these areas:
Rental car insurance. We’ve all been bombarded at the rental car counter by a salesperson trying to get us to buy extra insurance as we rush through a rental agreement. Chances are your credit card covers you if you’re paying with one, or your auto insurer for your car you left at home covers rentals. Check with both companies before you leave home.
If you insist on having rental car insurance in case of an accident, one option is Protect Your Bubble. It sells rental car insurance for $8 a day, compared to the $30 or so the rental agency will charge you at the counter. The catch is you have to buy it ahead of time. The checkout counter, as many insurance companies know, isn’t the best place for a consumer to make an educated decision.
Pet insurance. Read the policy’s fine print for exclusions and coverage. Ask yourself if it’s a worthwhile expense, given that your pet may be old and be in more pain after surgery than without.
John K. Barnes, a certified financial planner for Modern Woodmen of America, says it’s a waste of money for his pet, which would cost $50 to $100 a month to insure, depending on the plan. Putting that money in a savings fund, such as $50 in a college 529 plan each month, would exceed $20,000 in 18 years, Barnes says. While your dog won’t thank you for that savings choice, your kid might.
Travel or evacuation insurance. Traveling to a foreign country can be exciting, but it can also bring trepidation before a trip — especially to somewhere covered by a U.S. Department of State travel warning.
Suzanne Garber, a travel executive who has helped thousands of people out of dangerous situations, says she has never bought travel or evacuation insurance. Medical, security or other travel emergencies can be planned for, she says. “Plans can be as elaborate as researching the destination or packing appropriate safety supplies to taking certain medications that prevent disease or discomfort while traveling.” Plus, many health care policies already cover you when traveling. She also recommends using a carryon bag to make changing flights easier if your flight is cancelled.
Auto collision insurance. If you own an old car that’s paid for, you don’t need collision insurance. It covers repairs after a car accident, but it doesn’t such non-collision events as fire, theft and vandalism. Those are covered by comprehensive auto insurance.
Both types of coverage will likely be required by your lender if you still owe money on the car. But once you own the car outright, collision insurance is optional.
If a car is totaled in an accident, insurers only pay the current value of the vehicle. So if you own an old car that isn’t worth much, you won’t get much money. You’re better off putting that collision premium in a fund to help you buy a car when you need one.
Mortgage insurance. This will pay off your home’s mortgage if you die. While that can be a major benefit to your family, you’ll save money by buying a term-life policy instead to pay off the mortgage and other bills through the length of your mortgage.
Water line insurance. This is one I get every year from my water company, reminding me that I’m responsible for the water and sewer lines between my house and the curb. If something breaks, I’ll have to pay for it. I throw each letter in the recycle bin, knowing that repair costs are a few thousand dollars that are more affordable than the insurance coverage being offered.
Credit card insurance. Your credit card company may try to sell you this, playing on your fear of losing your job and being unable to pay your credit card bill. A better idea is to not use your credit cards so much to begin with. Insurance is also sold to cover you if your credit card is stolen. Don’t buy it. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if your card is used by a thief, as long as you report it promptly.
Insurance isn’t meant to cover the little problems of life. It’s meant for the big problems that could devastate you or your family. Don’t let these small issues get in the way.