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Floridians Should Double-check Their Coverage during Get Smart about Insurance Week


TALLAHASSEE – Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to give their insurance coverage a check-up during Get Smart About Insurance Week, which kicked off on Monday.

"Like a medical checkup, it's a good idea to get an insurance checkup once a year," Gallagher said. "When it comes to insurance, knowledge is your best policy. "

In a recent survey commissioned by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), more than half of respondents admitted that they did not fully understand their insurance policies and were not sure if they had adequate coverage. The NAIC, a voluntary organization of the nation's chief insurance regulatory officials, has designated Jan. 20-24 as "Get Smart Week" to encourage consumers to review their insurance coverage.

Gallagher, the state's former insurance commissioner, is Florida's first chief financial officer and in that post oversees the new Department of Financial Services. The new department is the result of the merger on Jan. 7 of the former Department of Banking and Finance and the Department of Insurance. Gallagher said the merging of these two agencies provides consumers with one source for comprehensive information and assistance on a variety of financial and insurance issues.

The Consumer Helpline, at 1-800-342-2762, operates 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and is staffed with analysts who can help consumers with questions about their coverage, verify the license status of their insurance agent or insurance company, or report possible fraud. Consumers can also visit to access numerous consumer guides, post a complaint or research their insurance company or agent. A free brochure is also available through the NAIC's web site at

Here are some important points to keep in mind when reviewing your coverage or when considering buying new coverage:

· Make sure you are dealing with a licensed agent who works for companies licensed to sell insurance in the state. A business card is not proof of licensure.

· Shop among at least three companies for the best coverage at the best price. You may start by asking friends and family for recommendations.

· Ask if you qualify for discounts. Some insurers offer discounts if you have two or more policies with them, like a homeowner's policy and an auto policy. If you have an alarm in your home or automobile, you may be entitled to a discount. If you've had coverage through an insurer for a number of years, ask about a reduced premium.

· A higher deductible generally means a lower premium, but make sure you understand the pros and cons of higher deductibles before making your decision.

· Remember: an insurance policy is a legal document. Read it carefully.

· Keep your policy in a safe, waterproof location.

"Everyone should make an appointment with their agent to review their coverage once a year," Gallagher said. "An annual check-up will ensure that you have the coverage to protect your family."