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Which Types of Insurance Do You Really Need?

There are only a few types of insurance you need which are essential. Learn all the types of policies you need and why you should buy them.
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Insurance is an interesting industry. It is there to protect you, but it sometimes seems like a huge waste of resources if you don’t need it.

Of course, if you do end up with a serious problem, not having insurance could take an already difficult situation and turn it into a financial catastrophe.

While you don’t need to insure against everything, there are a few insurance policies that you should have.

The key is to recognize which insurance policies are the most essential to protect yourself and find a way to incorporate them into your budget. Not doing so is a gamble which can have a devastating financial impact if something happens.

6 Types of Insurance Policies You Need To Buy

These are the types of insurance you need to insure against the largest threats to your budget in the event of an unexpected disaster:

1. Auto Insurance

If you have a car, you need auto insurance – and not only because every state law requires that you carry it.

For many people, their car is their only way to get to work; if it becomes un-drivable due to an accident, and the money isn’t available to buy a new one, it can be hard to earn a living.

Additionally, if you are at fault in an accident, the liability you have could become very expensive.

Your auto insurance policy may pay medical bills and property damage so that you wouldn’t be forced to come up with the money out of pocket, possibly resulting in financial ruin.

The good news is auto insurance is a competitive industry. You can easily compare rates with different car insurance companies to find the best deal in your area.

2. Life Insurance

Life insurance is probably the most important insurance policy you will ever purchase. It protects your loved ones by providing income for them in the event you pass on.

It can also be a good idea to insure your life, even if you aren’t the primary breadwinner. After all, the duties of a stay-at-home spouse are worth quite a bit.

Though you may not pay a stay-at-home spouse a salary, it would be expensive to replace everything they do to run the household.

Consider your needs, and make sure that you have adequate life insurance.

3. Home/Rental Insurance

Your home represents a huge, expensive asset. If it’s damaged, it’ll cost you, big time. And depending on how bad the damage is, you might not be able to live there while repairs are being made.

Depending on your policy, homeowners insurance can help you pay for home repairs, short-term lodging, or even a new home . . . without a huge outlay of capital all at once.

Rental insurance is also a good idea since the landlord’s property insurance usually only covers the structure and land, not the contents of the rental property.

Thankfully, rental insurance is usually very affordable, sometimes as low as $10 a month. At that price, you can’t afford to skip it.

4. Health Insurance

If uninsured, you may be one hospital stay away from bankruptcy.

Health insurance will help you offset some of the rising costs of health care – at least when it comes to large health needs.

Health insurance can help you better afford the care you need if you have a chronic condition.

Even if you are in good health, and rarely use health care services, it can be a good idea to at least have a policy that covers major medical problems, just in case an accident befalls you.

5. Disability Insurance

Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will become disabled at some point before they retire. Even though this statistic includes people who receive short term disability, it is an astounding number.

This makes us ask the question, “Can I afford a short term or long term disability?”

Is your emergency fund large enough to sustain no income for a month? What about two months, or three months, or six months? The average monthly benefit paid by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is $1,065 per month. Will that be enough to support your family?

Disability insurance can help cover unknown situations, and it can be a good idea, especially if you are the primary breadwinner in your household or work in a high-risk industry.

If you have an injury that qualifies for your policy, your disability insurance will pay you while you cannot work.

Disability insurance policies often vary substantially between providers, so be sure to thoroughly review your policy to understand which situations qualify for benefits, how and when you qualify for payments, how much you will receive, etc.

Typically, there is a waiting period of up to 30 days or longer before disability benefits kick in, so it is always good to have an emergency fund in place so you can have something to live on in the meantime.

6. Travel Insurance

You may want to consider travel insurance, especially in certain situations.

For example, let’s say you plan the trip of your lifetime, and you go all out, virtually without regard to your budget (which is extreme, I know).

You may not want to worry about spending tens of thousands of dollars and have something come up that ruins the deal.

For a small fee, you can hedge your bets here. Of course, if you’re planning a little weekend trip and making your travel by car, you might want to pass up any extra costs.

You can shop for each of these different types individually, but I always recommend you use a broker or a comparison site to knock it all out at once. In some instances, you can save by bundling policies, too,  so it’s worth taking a look.

4 Types of Insurance Policies You Don’t Need

In one of my favorite episodes of the television show Family Guy, a slick door-to-door salesman convinces the bumbling Peter to purchase volcano insurance.

When Peter first suggests that they’d never had volcano trouble in Rhode Island, the salesman responds “Don’t you think we’re due for one?” which ensures his sale.

Even though it would take effort to be as naïve as Peter, there are definitely times when it’s difficult to know if the insurance you are considering is worth your money or if it’s just another example of volcano insurance.

Here are four insurance policies you can feel comfortable skipping:

1. Life Insurance for Children

The traditional purpose of life insurance is to financially provide for your family in the case of premature death.

Since your children are not contributing financially to the family and will most likely grow up to be safe and healthy, paying premiums for their life insurance does not make sense.

The money you would spend on premiums would be better spent in an emergency fund, a 529 plan for their education, or in an IRA.

  • Exceptions: Sometimes, a life insurance policy makes sense for children. This includes when your child earns an income and contributes to the family or when you can get a very inexpensive rider on your life insurance policy. Otherwise, you may be better off skipping the life insurance policy for your children.

2. Mortgage Life Insurance

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable policy.

This insurance will pay off your mortgage in the event of your death, giving your family one less financial headache during a stressful time. However, a good life insurance policy should provide your heirs with enough money to handle the mortgage and any other bills they will have to pay.

There’s no need to purchase a separate policy for this—just ensure that your life insurance is adequate to cover your family’s needs.

Caveat: mortgage life insurance can be a good idea if you have preexisting conditions and are ineligible for a term life insurance policy; otherwise, term is the way to go).

3. Credit Card Insurance

For those who carry a balance on their credit card, having a policy that will pay your credit card bill if you cannot do so seems like a smart plan.

The benefits of these plans are relatively limited, meaning you’re paying a monthly premium only to have your benefits capped and still be in debt.

It makes much more sense to send the premium amount toward your bill and try to get your credit card paid off. You’ll save money on interest in addition to avoiding having to pay another bill.

4. Cancer and other Disease Insurance

Sadly, many medical insurance policies have holes in their coverage.

Because of that, specific disease insurance policies—specifically cancer insurance—have become popular over the past few years to care for the gaps in regular medical coverage.

The problem with these types of insurance is that they are so specific and do not necessarily cover everything related to the disease. For example, many cancer insurance policies do not cover skin cancers, the most common form of the disease.

A better use of your money would be to upgrade your current health insurance. That way, you’re covered no matter what happens.

When it comes to insurance, always take the time to research what you need and what will be covered before you sign on the dotted line.

And beware of volcano insurance salesmen!

Are there other types of insurance people need (or should at least consider)? Leave a comment with your thoughts!


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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. Devon says

    I keep my life insurance independent of my work place as suggested above. Deductibles on car and home insurance are usually really high so that I don’t get tempted to claim on a small damage. I’m saving for the emergency fund …have about 80% of my target savings there, still the thought of any untoward incident gives me the jitters. I have combined life, home and car insurance all with AARP to keep paperwork simple.

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