Not knowing the right questions to ask about your insurance protection is among the key reasons far too many consumers hear the dreaded words “you’re not covered” at the worst possible time — after a personal property or liability insurance loss. Not knowing what we don’t know is a dangerous and common cognitive bias that contributes to many regrettable decisions. Discerning between the known, unknown, and known unknowns can be confusing, as memorialized in this explanation by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The Known Questions
The following are just a few examples of the questions many consumers KNOW to ask about their insurance protection:
- Can you lower my premiums?
- How much liability insurance do I really need?
- Am I “fully covered?”
- What is my deductible?
Questions like these are all valid and worthy of answers. Meanwhile, relying on prior experience, advertising campaigns or glib “how to buy” articles in the media prevent consumers from getting far more important answers to the many questions they don’t know to ask.
The Unknown Questions
Consumers who want their insurance program to protect their assets from a wide range of threats need clear answers to many more questions than they know to ask. These questions are the unknowns. For example, consumers should press for clear answers to these questions:
- In addition to the risks I am covered for, what are the risks I am not currently insured for?
- Are there any coverage gaps, policy exclusions or forms of coverage that have not been offered that are exposing my assets to uncovered property or liability losses?
- How does the claims settlement process differ among insurance carriers?
- Are there effective strategies to control the cost of coverage without requiring me to sacrifice important protection?
- What services are available to help prevent or reduce the risk of loss?
- What can I do now to ensure the best outcome in the event of a large property or liability loss?
Uncovering the Known Unknowns
Although there are MANY more questions to accompany those shown above, there is one question all consumers should first examine:
Who is responsible for knowing the right questions I need answered to help me reduce the risk of experiencing an uncovered loss?
Independent insurance agents and brokers who specialize as personal risk guides know the unknowns and can provide insightful answers to the many important questions few consumers know to ask. Consumers need the assistance of an independent agent who functions as a de facto risk coach, and not simply an insurance company promoting a “better deal” on an insurance policy. To learn whether you are working with an insurance agent who is truly focused on helping you make well-informed decisions to properly manage your risks, here’s a good question to ask that person:
Are there other questions I have not asked that can help you better assess my exposure to uncovered losses?
The answer you receive can help you determine if the person whose job it is to help you understand and manage your risks is even focused on meeting that objective.