As wealth advisors work with financially successful families to refine their financial goals for 2014, one key aspect of family finances cannot be overlooked: their home, auto, liability and other property and casualty insurance coverage.

These families are typically overpaying for insurance that leaves them exposed to significant risks, a trend that has worsened since 2010, according to a recent ACE Private Risk Services survey of more than 600 independent insurance agents and brokers.

Because wealthy families often overlook savings opportunities, many high-net-worth clients are unaware that rebalancing insurance programs can strengthen protection, often without significantly increasing premiums, and sometimes it even lowers payments.

Fifty-one percent of agents said they typically see a premium reduction of 5% or more when they rebalance their clients’ insurance program and place them with a carrier that specializes in servicing high-net-worth families. Another 12% said they typically keep the change in premium within plus or minus 5%.

The benefits derived from breaking down high-net-worth clients’ insurance coverage represents an opportunity for financial advisors, who should pose property and casualty insurance as an issue that clients need to address. By understanding the most common insurance mistakes high-net-worth clients make and having a relationship with an expert agent, advisors can improve client loyalty and fulfill their fiduciary duty.

Here are six strategies wealth advisors can use to help families with substantial assets better manage, and even reduce, insurance premiums and ensure adequate coverage:

Increase Homeowners’ And Auto Deductibles
Many wealthy families carry deductibles of $500 or less yet only file claims for many times that amount because they can afford to absorb smaller losses.
They also worry that filing for small claims will increase their premiums. Families should consider how much they could pay for a loss without it significantly affecting their lifestyle, and then ask their agent to estimate the premium savings they could achieve with a higher deductible. The premium savings are often worth the risk of paying more in the event of a loss.

For instance, the owner of a $1 million home insured by ACE could save $900 a year by increasing the deductible from $500 to $2,500. Because the homes ACE insures typically suffer damage resulting in an insurance claim about once every 20 years, the family would likely save $18,000 over that time period and only have to pay the additional $2,000 for the higher deductible once—a net gain of $16,000.

Families with more expensive homes benefit even more with this strategy. Increasing the deductible on a $3 million home from $5,000 to $10,000 could save $1,800 per year and achieve a net gain of $31,000 over a 20-year period. The same logic applies to auto insurance.

Choosing a high deductible becomes even more attractive when the high-net-worth-market carrier offers a disappearing deductible—a feature that reduces the deductible on the first claim for each consecutive claim-free year on the policy.

Seek Premium Credits For Safety Systems
Half of the agents in the ACE survey said homeowners likely overlook premium credits they could receive for installing safety systems such as burglar alarms, water leak detection systems, battery backups for sump pumps and automatic standby generators. When combined, these credits can reduce premiums by 30% or more. Families with older homes can also earn premium credits for rehabilitating the plumbing, electrical and heating systems—perhaps by up to 5% for each system that’s upgraded, depending on how recently the work was completed. Families that install safety systems may then become more confident in increasing their home deductibles. Thus, the two savings tactics reinforce each other. Used together, they can reduce homeowner premiums by up to half.

For automobiles, safety systems such as theft alarms, fuel cutoff switches and location transponders can reduce premiums from 5% to 20%. 

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