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An illustration of a cat face superimposed on an insurance policy.
An illustration of a cat face superimposed on an insurance policy.
An illustration of a cat face superimposed on an insurance policy.

Published July 20, 2018.

Four kinds of insurance you may, or may not, want.

Some insurance policies, like pet insurance, are more optional than others. There's a big insurance market out there, with coverage for all kinds of things.

While the need for certain types of insurance — like health, homeowners and auto — is obvious, others are less clear-cut. Here's a look at four kinds of insurance you may (or may not) want to get.

Pet insurance.

You treat your pets like family. So you should get insurance for their medical treatment, right? Maybe not.

Josh Martinsen, a compliance analyst and consumer advocate with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, advises pet owners to look at what's covered by a policy. For instance, if the pet is a breed prone to ear infections or hip dysplasia, care for those issues is probably excluded.

Consumers "can't just assume that pet insurance is going to cover everything that comes up," he said. And once you compare the cost of premiums against the coverage, often "you might as well save the money yourself."

Insurance is "nice to have when you need it," Josh Martinsen says, "and you pray that you don't ever have to use it.”

Renters insurance.

Like homeowners insurance, renters insurance usually includes liability coverage and protection for personal belongings. But it's cheaper than homeowners insurance because it doesn't cover the building.

Consumers are "getting a pretty good bang for your buck" with renters insurance, Martinsen said.

Renters should catalog their belongings — you might be surprised by how much you own, Martinsen said. And check the policy for limits on coverage for items like jewelry, firearms or tools. If needed, you can add a "rider" to increase your coverage.

Car rental insurance

If you have auto insurance, you probably don't need to get extra insurance when you rent a car. But first check your coverage. If you don't and you have an accident, it "turns into a very sticky situation very quickly," Martinsen said.

If you don't have auto insurance, your credit card might cover rental cars. Again, check before renting.

Travel insurance.

It's worth considering, Martinsen said: "Some of these trips, you're spending thousands and thousands of dollars. "But travelers should be careful to know what they need and what they're buying. Will the insurance cover it if the trip is canceled because of illness? Natural disaster?"

Consult with a travel agent and talk to them about the different types of policies that are available, Martinsen said.

The takeaway.

Always make sure you understand what you're insuring and what you're not. The right kind of insurance can ease a bad situation.

Insurance is "nice to have when you need it," Martinsen added, "and you pray that you don't ever have to use it."

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