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You are part of the work force and out on your own. Establishing a solid financial foundation should be a priority, including insurance in the mix. It’s important to understand what affects the cost and availability of insurance. If you have accidents, insurance will increase in cost. Financial instability, getting smothered by credit card debt, is frequently a predictor of future insurance losses. As a result, an insurance company may see additional risk, making it more difficult to get coverage at the best possible price. Conversely, if we take care of ourselves and protect what we own, insurers will see good insurance risks and are more likely to compete for your business.

What you pay for auto insurance depends on several factors: prior claims; driving record, including speeding and other traffic citations in recent years; and the kind of car, how many miles and where you drive. For example, people who generally drive to and from work in or near a major city will tend to pay more for auto insurance than drivers who live in rural areas, have short commutes and primarily use their cars on weekends for pleasure travel. A car that is popular with thieves or has expensive repair costs will cost more to insure. You can lower your insurance premium by raising the deductible, installing anti-theft devices, and dropping collision coverage if it’s an older car.

People who rent their home often make the mistake of thinking that the landlord’s insurance covers their possessions in case of a fire or other catastrophe. Not true, you need your own insurance. Relatively inexpensive, renters insurance protects the things that you own. It provides liability coverage, protection from lawsuits resulting from harm that you, your pets or your family cause to other persons or damage to their property. Renters insurance also helps you establish a good insurance track record, or loss history. If you show that you are a responsible insurance risk, you’ll have no trouble getting insurance when you eventually buy your own place.

If you are living in a condo or coop, you depend on two insurance polices for protection: your own coverage and the insurance purchased by the condominium or co-op board for the common areas of the property that you share with the other owners, like the roof, basement, elevator, boiler and sidewalks. The condo or co-op association may be responsible only for insuring a unit up to its bare walls, floor and ceiling. The owner may have to insure kitchen cabinets, built-in-appliances, plumbing, wiring, bathroom fixtures and so on. Read the association’s bylaws and/or proprietary lease to better understand where the association’s responsibility ends and yours begin.

If you’re buying a home, and have a mortgage, in most cases you will need to purchase homeowners insurance. The cost will vary according to the size and construction of the home; where it is (proximity to the coast or other natural hazards, e.g. fault line, wildfire zone); fire safety features; anti-theft devices; and the property’s loss history. Insure your home for the cost of rebuilding it, not the market price. And make certain that the value of your insurance policy is keeping up with increases in local building costs.

**Information provided by The Insurance Information Institute: www.iii.org**
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