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There’s no time like the present to dust off that old paperwork and take a look at your insurance policies. To avoid having issues when a claim or difficulty comes up, Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin recommends that you review your insurance policies on a periodic basis.
In 2013, BBB received over 13,000 complaints nationally against insurance companies, agents and agencies. Complaints allege issues with billing, refunds and contract disputes.
Most insurance policies contain a page in front of the insurance contract that gives a policy summary. That will contain most of the information you will want to review. The easiest way to organize and review your insurance policies is to read over this summary for each insurance policy. If a policy summary doesn’t exist, consider creating your own.
An insurance policy summary should contain a section that has the basics of your policy and a section with details on the benefits and restrictions. When conducting a review of your insurance policies, pay the most attention to the benefits and restrictions.
Other basic information BBB advises a policy holder understand:
• Research the company. Check a company’s BBB Business Review first at bbb.org. You can view the company’s background, how they handle complaints, licensing information, and advertising related information if applicable.
• Type of Policy. Is it health insurance, life insurance, long term care insurance, disability insurance, property and casualty insurance, or auto insurance? Once you’ve answered this question, move on to more specific questions. For example if it’s a life insurance policy, what type of life insurance policy it is: term life, whole life, universal life or variable life?
• Insurance Carrier. What insurance company provides the insurance? Note the customer service number, or the contact information for your insurance agent. You may want to consider adding this information to your phone address book in case of an emergency.
• Policy Number. This is needed for any questions or claims when you call about an insurance policy.
• Insured. Who do the benefits apply to; you, your spouse, or a dependent child?
• Date Issued. If it is term insurance there will be an expiration date. Permanent insurance will have a surrender charge that may apply if you cancel the policy in the first five to 20 years.
• Premium Required. Always keep track of the premium you pay and how frequently it is paid. Note whether payments are paid by dividends within the policy or paid monthly from your bank account.
After you have finished reviewing these basics, be sure to call your insurer and get clarification on any remaining questions or issues. If any promises or clarifications are made and are not in your policy, ask for a printed copy of the information.
When in the market for insurance, visit bbb.org/Wisconsin for a list of BBB Accredited insurance agencies in your area.
If you have issues with a claim, or are concerned you may be getting ripped off the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance helps consumers resolve complaints against insurance companies, insurance agents and adjusters. You can also file a complaint with BBB at bbb.org.