Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
Even I was frightened when I started writing this blog. Wondering, “Will that claim be covered?” is one of the worst parts of an insurance agent’s job. Sometimes the dreaded claims adjuster informs the insured (and the agent) that a claim is not covered because the coverage has been invalidated in some way. That’s when the broker’s job gets tough.
You should always check the fine print of your insurance policy to make sure you’re not doing something that could invalidate your insurance coverage. Here are some situations to look out for:
Nonpayment of Premium
We had a client who didn’t pay his homeowner’s insurance premium for two years. Unfortunately, his home was damaged in a fire, and when he tried to file a claim, the policy didn’t pay. This client then tried to fight with us, claiming it was our fault he didn’t pay his premium on time.
Your insurance agent will probably send you a bill and maybe a reminder when it’s time for you to renew your policy, but it’s your responsibility to make sure the bills get paid. Don’t let payment due dates slip by and find yourself responsible for large late fees or, like our client, without coverage.
Put a reminder on your calendar for all bill due dates and policy renewal dates. You may be able to set up automatic withdrawal payments for your insurance policies. Making sure your premiums get paid on time will help you avoid late-payment fees and ensure your insurance coverage stays valid.
With life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and long-term health care insurance policies, you may come across a contestability provision. The contestability provision allows the carrier to investigate to determine if there was any misrepresentation at the time of your insurance application.
On life insurance and disability insurance applications, you have to answer questions about your health. Then you sign an authorization form that is essentially an oath saying you answered the questions accurately, to the best of your knowledge. The answers you provide influence the insurance company’s decision to accept or reject your coverage.
Some people with health concerns might be tempted to twist the truth in order to keep the premium down or guarantee coverage. This happens frequently with smokers. The premium for a smoker could potentially be double that of a nonsmoker. Wanting to pay less, a smoker might claim to be a nonsmoker. If the insurance company finds out that you are a smoker—or if you lied about something else on your application—that’s a quick way to lose your coverage.
This kind of invalidation usually happens with business policies. Sometimes contract obligations require an insured business to add a client as an additional insured. This most frequently occurs when a business hires subcontractors. The insurance company may require the insured business to add clients as additional insured to protect against any injury during the course of services rendered. If our client doesn’t notify us of additional insured parties, or the agent doesn’t notify the carrier, a claim could potentially be denied.
Change of Use
We had a client who moved out of state and didn’t tell us her house was vacant. While our client was out of state, a pipe burst in her vacant home, flooding the basement.
Since the house was insured as an owner-occupied single-family dwelling, and not a vacant home, the carrier was suspicious and did an extensive investigation. Different coverage is provided for owner-occupied homes and vacant homes, and the carrier was leaning toward denying the claim. In the end, the client ended up dropping the claim.
As a homeowner or property owner, you have an obligation to maintain your property to prevent and mitigate damage. If you have a vacant home or an investment property, the insurance is available, but it will be more expensive because you are not present 100 percent of the time to provide care, custody, and control of the property.
As with most issues of insurance coverage, the best way to avoid these mistakes and other ways of invalidating your insurance coverage is to be honest with your insurance agent about your situation and the type of coverage you need.
Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.
Is Pet Insurance Right for You and Your Pet?
Renter’s Insurance: Do You Need It, and What Does It Cover?
How to Choose the Best Insurance Agent
Choosing the Right High-Deductible Health Insurance Plan
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.