"My house was eaten by termites," she said. "We basically had to gut it and start over." McClanahan said her bank was unwilling to open a HELOC because construction was already underway. Unable to tap her home equity, she had to dip into other savings and sell investments to help cover the out-of-pocket costs of the repairs. 3) Conduct an insurance review Make sure there aren't any gaps in your homeowners, auto or life insurance coverage that could leave you on the hook for a bigger bill. Auto insurance: Drivers with a new car or a lease might consider so-called gap insurance, which covers the difference between what you owe on a lease or loan and what the insurance company will pay if your vehicle is considered a total loss, DeLorenzo said. There can be a substantial gap if you have long-term financing , or have picked a pricier car. "The more expensive the vehicle, the more quickly it depreciates," he said. Buying used? Be careful about dropping comprehensive coverage, said Loretta Worters, a vice president for the Insurance Information Institute. It's a move that drivers use to cut premiums, but leaves you uncovered for a wide range of problems, including hail damage, theft of your vehicle and flood losses. "They'll have to pay that out of pocket, and that can be quite a large amount of money," she said. Life insurance: The big gaps here are not having enough coverage, or not having coverage , period. If you're in a relationship where you and your partner depend on each other's income or where you have dependents, life insurance is a smart move, McClanahan said. Homeowners insurance: Look through your policy to make sure you aren't underinsured, or are lacking extra coverage for floods or earthquakes if you live in an at-risk area, Worters said. When it comes to your possessions, make sure you're covered for their replacement value, rather than their actual cash value, she said. The latter factors in depreciation meaning you'd only get back a fraction of what you originally paid for that couch or TV. Ask about riders to cover expensive items like jewelry or electronics. 4) Pick up extra coverage Certified preowned cars tend to be pricier than other used cars, but they also tend to be in better shape thanks to a rigorous inspection process, DeLorenzo said. Manufacturers often also throw in valuable perks like an extended warranty and roadside assistance, helping you reduce or avoid bills if repairs are needed.
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