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Warmer weather is finally here, and you've probably already started - if not completed - everything on your spring cleaning list. Or so you thought. In actuality, you need to do some "spring cleaning" of your insurance policies. It's one set of chores that could save you from losing everything you own - something you won't risk if you fail to power wash your home.

So put a hold on the other kind of spring cleaning: Here are three essential steps to spring cleaning your insurance policies.

Step 1: Read your policy

It may not be exciting reading, but you may be surprised at how much you don't know. And you also may discover a coverage exclusion that you now need; for example, perhaps you've always assumed that homeowners insurance covers flood damage, and you live in a high-risk flood zone. Upon reading your policy, you'll discover it's not covered. Be glad you spotted it; being in a high-risk area means you should buy flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) immediately.

Step 2: Ask about discounts if you've changed anything

This is something you should do annually, because your insurer may have just added a new discount and...good news: You may be eligible for it. Also, if you've recently experienced a big life change, such as getting married, having children, or moving to a new city or state, ask about discounts. Perhaps you've removed that old freestanding woodstove?

Step 3: Understand what each coverage means

While reading your policies, note anything you don't understand. Ask your agent about these so you'll be able to identify any holes in your coverage or changes that need to be made. For example, many assume that having full-coverage auto insurance includes towing and labor, rental cars, and medical expenses. However, "full coverage" actually means you carry only comprehensive and collision coverage - which pays for damage to your vehicle - as well as your liability coverage.

Posted 12:00 PM

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