Shopping 101: When to shop for new insurance
To be, or not to be: that is the question. And for centuries it was! But no shade to Will Shakespeare: it’s been a minute, and now it might be time to update that classic line. To shop or not to shop — for insurance, that is — now that is the ultimate question!
We all need insurance to protect the most important things in our lives, but knowing when to buy and when to shop around can be confusing. This is especially true because, even if you’re unhappy with your coverage, some is better than none, and you definitely want to avoid going without. (In some US states, it can even be a legal requirement!) To help you navigate it all, we’ve got tips for when and how to shop around.
If you just don’t like your insurance
If you’re planning on switching your homeowners, renters, or auto policy, you’ll want to start browsing in advance of your renewal notice, which usually arrives about thirty to forty days before your current policy renews for another year. That notice will alert you to changes to your rate and coverage for the next policy term.
If you are not satisfied with your rate or coverage and decide to look elsewhere, you should ideally set up your new coverage at least a week before your old policy is set to renew. This will ensure that you don’t have a lapse in coverage, which can be both expensive and dangerous.
In the majority of cases, you can also switch policies mid-year and get a refund for any paid premium, but you’ll want to talk with your provider to make sure this makes the most sense for you and your finances.
If you’re moving states
Depending on where you’re moving, you have anywhere between thirty and ninety days to register your car and get it covered (and remember, car insurance is required in all 50 states). On the other hand, no one can force you to insure your home (unless you’re getting a mortgage on a new house, in which case your lender may require it).
But for both your home and auto, we suggest you purchase coverage as soon as you can. So if you’ve purchased a new house in a new state, the optimal situation is to have coverage begin the day the sale closes. And ditto for your car: ideally you want your new insurance to kick in as soon as you’ve crossed state lines.
If you’re a first-time insurance buyer
Wahoo: you’ve about to buy your very first home or car! Now you need homeowners insurance or auto insurance (and kudos to you for deciding to protect your newest asset). Since you’ll want to make sure your home or car are insured as soon as they become yours, we suggest you start shopping around as soon as possible.
In some cases, especially if you’re financing your house or your car, you’ll need to provide proof of your new insurance to your lender. And where better to organize all your new insurance than in your Marble account!
The Anomaly: Health Insurance
Health insurance is the exception to the rule: there are yearly open enrollment periods during which you can shop for new policies. When those periods occur, however, depends on the type of policy you have.
- Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7. There are exemptions, so you’ll need to check the fine print of your policy.
- Job-based health insurance open enrollment periods are determined by your employer, which means they can occur at any point in the year. Most employers opt to have open enrollment in the fall so that any new coverage can begin January 1st of the following year.
- Obamacare open enrollment takes place in most states between November 1st and December 15th. You can find a schedule on HealthCare.gov, the platform used by the majority of states. Some states offer more flexible enrollment periods, so be sure to look for your state’s specific timing details.
- Some extenuating life events allow you to obtain new insurance outside of open enrollment. These can include getting married or divorced; having a new baby or adopting a child; involuntarily losing your health coverage (for example: if you age out of a parent’s health plan or lose your job); moving outside of your previous plan’s coverage zone or to somewhere with other available policies.
The Anomaly: Other Policies
Some things, like RV insurance or engagement ring insurance policies, should be taken out as needed. What matters is that your assets are protected — and quickly. So if you know you’re going to be getting a Monet from your grandmother (lucky you!), you may want to shop around before the painting arrives.
The same could be said about flood or earthquake insurance, which you purchase on an as-needed basis. But because you don’t want to be caught off guard (there’s nothing worse than a flood without insurance), you should consider purchasing these policies as soon as possible.
When to stay with your provider
We’re not gonna lie: it’s not a great look to switch insurers immediately after you file a claim. This can make you appear flakey and may increase your rates when you make the switch. So be thoughtful about switching if you’ve just filed a claim!
Ultimately, whether to shop around or not is up to you. The most important thing is that you’re happy with your rates and your coverage. If you do decide to shop around, try using the tools in your Marble wallet to easily compare insurers and make sure you’re getting the right policy for your needs. If you haven’t already, set up your Marble account today and start earning rewards just for having insurance.