Before holiday shopping check to see what's covered if gifts are lost, stolen

Office of Financial, Insurance Regulation: Holiday shoppers should know what homeowners policies cover

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LANSING, Mich. - As shoppers make their holiday lists, the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) suggests consumers should find out what their homeowners or renter's policies cover in the event items are stolen or damaged.

"Make sure that you're covered if the jewelry or television you just bought is stolen," OFIR Commissioner Kevin Clinton said. "Many homeowners and renter's insurance policies cover valuable items like electronics or jewelry while others may require you to purchase additional coverage."

This time of year shoppers are traveling from store to store with gifts in their vehicle.

Finding out what your insurance policy covers will save a headache later if something is missing.

Before making purchases:

It's important to find out what items are covered under your homeowners or renter's insurance and if there are exceptions.

Your insurance usually protects against theft or damage, though there may be caveats about what is covered.

Keep receipts with you instead of in the bag with the merchandise. 

This will make it easier and faster to prove you purchased the items in the event anything is stolen.

Know the stipulations of your policy. Ask your agent about coverage amount limits to make sure your new purchases don't exceed your policy threshold.

Certain valuables might be better covered with an insurance rider or additional policy, depending on the circumstances.

What about renters:

If you are a renter and don't have renter's insurance, you might consider this kind of protection.

Although your landlord should have insurance for structural damage to the building, this coverage does not extend to your personal property.

Insurance versus warranties:

Understand the difference between insurance and warranties will help in the event of a loss. Part of the holiday shopping tradition is the extended warranty sales pitch as you check-out.

However, a warranty is not insurance and does not cover damage in the way a homeowners or renter's policy might.

A manufacturer's warranty offers a certain kind of guarantee to the quality or performance of an item for a specified time period.

Keep a list of electronics and other valuable household items with model numbers and receipts.

As you buy, give away or sell belongings over time, your coverage needs can change. Checking your inventory regularly can help you save money or avoid being under-insured.

A home inventory can also help when filing a claim after a loss.

Michigan consumers can use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' (NAIC) smartphone application to make it easy to document possessions, update home inventories and store information.

To download the free app, go to the iTunes or Android Market app stores and search "NAIC."

Consumers with questions or complaints regarding an insurance product, company or individual can call the OFIR's toll-free consumer hotline at 877-999-6442

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