One of my clients had his property and casualty insurance with the same company for almost 30 years. They insured his house, both cars and other personal property.

Something this year gave him an idea to check prices for coverage with a different insurance agent. He was shocked to find out he was paying almost twice as much as his new quote.

This is not unusual. A couple of years ago, my mother called me and asked if she was paying too much for her insurance. I asked why she was asking that question. She said she had just found out she was paying twice as much as her sister. I told her I needed to see her coverage and my aunt’s. I had to make sure I was comparing apples to apples.

About a week later, I received information on my mother’s and aunt’s policies. I suggested my aunt increase her coverage because it was probably inadequate. I told my mother I would make some calls to get her some quotes. I was able to find her coverage at a much better rate.

Often, seniors are afraid to shop around because they know if they lose insurance coverage, they will not be allowed to drive. They often pay the premium the day the bill arrives and don’t ask questions if there are better options. It seems like every insurance company claims to be $400-plus a year less than every competitor. That seems impossible.

One type of property casualty coverage that many people do not have and should is a liability umbrella. This is on top of your basic coverage and protects you if you are liable for damages from your negligence. The place where this is most likely to happen is if you are at fault in a car accident in which someone dies. You could be sued for $1 million or more.

The good news is you can add an umbrella policy that covers $1 million for probably between $150 to $250 per year. If you have many assets, you probably should add this coverage through you agent.

Many people lower certain coverages as their vehicle ages. This is because the standard auto policy depreciates your car as it gets older and will pay only a reduced damage claim. This strategy might make sense for your car. A few years ago, I was having my car serviced by a major service center. While it had control of my vehicle, one of the technicians wrecked into a light pole while driving my car. This company was self-insured, as are many big organizations.

I was told to get an estimate from a body shop for repairs. After I sent in the estimate, they told me we had a problem. They said the estimate was for more than the value of the car. I told them I did not see a problem. While my or your insurance company could do this to us, they could not.

The language in all auto insurance allows this to happen. We accepted it from our company when we bought the policy. However, I had not agreed to this with the repair shop. It had to make me whole for their damage and pay for the repairs regardless of the vehicle value. I collected a check for the total repair cost.

Shop around several companies when your renewal time comes. You may be the next one to save substantial premium dollars.

Gary Boatman is a Monessen-based certified financial planner and the author of “Your Financial Compass: Safe passage through the turbulent waters of taxes, income planning and market volatility.”

To submit columns on financial planning or investing, email Rick Shrum at

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