We have written in the past about the importance of insurance of all types. When you are young you need many types of insurance, but as you get older you begin to get to the point where you can self insure. Instead of purchasing insurance you can afford to take the risk of loss while saving your insurance premium. But what can you afford to self insure and when?
Self Insurance Possibilities
Many types of insurance are focused on protecting a specific asset. The insurance you get protects a specified amount of potential future expense. These are the type of scenarios where you can consider self insuring. When the potential loss is such that it will be insignificant compared to either the cost to insure or your total assets, then it is probably time to self insure. But what types of insurance meet this definition:
Collision insurance protects the value of your car in an accident. If your car is inexpensive and a small percentage of your total assets you may choose to forgo collision insurance. The risk of course is if your car is totaled you have to pay out of pocket for a replacement. Still it might be worth it for the savings on your insurance rates, especially for a beater car.
Comprehensive Insurance covers things like hitting a deer, hail, a tree branch falls on your car, or a vehicle gets stolen. Basically the things that happen that are not related to you or another drivers actions. Like Collision insurance the real question here is the value of the car compared to the cost of replacement as well as the impact of that replacement on your assets. If you can honestly say replacing your car won’t be a significant loss then you can cut back here.
Property Damage Insurance
Property damage insurance is yet another type of car insurance. This insurance pays for the damage your car inflicts on other cars or property during an accident. The dollar amount for self insuring this one is likely higher than collision insurance as you could do extensive damage if you crash into an expensive car on the road. Still there does come a point where it is unlikely you will do more damage than a certain number. If you can shake off a $200,000 to $300,000 bill then you might be able to self insure here. All others need not apply.
Disability insurance is meant to replace your paycheck should you be injured and no longer able to work. In fact it typically pays out in reference to your current pay and your ability to work. So if you are financially independent you probably do not need disability insurance to replace your paycheck. Save your money from this expensive insurance for other things. If you are earlier in your career and not financially independent, especially if you have a family, having this should be a priority. This is one my biggest mistakes from earlier in my career, I got lucky despite not carrying this insurance.
The purpose of life insurance is also to replace a paycheck or work, in this case for a surviving spouse or loved one when you leave this plane of existence. Again if you are financially independent you can forgo this insurance. An important note though, being a stay at home mom does not mean life insurance is not necessary. Child home care is a form of work, so at minimum the stay at home mother should be covered by a policy that would cover child care if you are not financially independent.
This fancy sales product covers the difference between your car value and what you owe in case of a car accident. Collision insurance only pays the cars value so you can be on the hook for significantly more if you owe more on the car then it is worth. If you buy a new car and its a huge portion of your assets you may want to consider this one. However, you probably should not do this anyway. If you buy a less expensive car and put a decent amount down then you really don’t need this one in the first place. For this reason this insurance made my list of Insurance You Should Never Purchase.
Long Term Care Insurance
Long term care itself is expensive, but so is the coverage. It essentially covers your care if you become disabled and need a care giver. Given the price can range into the thousands per year the equation can tip in the direction of self insure fairly easily if you put away the premiums into investments for a later date and start young. At the very least at true financial independence you can potentially consider forgoing this one.
Owner Title Insurance
Owner title insurance protects you against issues in titles to real estate. For example older easements, liens, or other issues with a title may end up costing an owner significantly. Owner Title Insurance covers those costs that may come up as result of these and many other title issues. This insurance is rarely used, but forgoing it may end up costing as much as the entire value of the house. If you have the funds necessary to walk away from the house you just bought, or more likely if you have no skin in the game because you put no money down on an interest loan, then you can self insure here. All others should buy the insurance.
Vision plans only actually cover a checkup and a pair of glasses/contacts on a schedule. You are essentially prepaying. If anything really goes wrong with your eyes it will be covered by Health Insurance. As such you should weigh whether it is cheaper to buy the plan or pay out of pocket for the checkup combined with glasses from somewhere cheap like Zeni Optical.
Do Not Self Insure
Other items are not self insurable, or at least you probably should not. Most of these fall into the liability bucket. Basically large payouts with potentially no limits, namely liabilities, should always be protected against. At very least you should have enough coverage to hire a lawyer to protect your assets via your insurance company. I actually recommend instead of decreasing these you increase them by getting umbrella insurance on top of them. Common insurances where this applies are:
Renter or Homeowner Insurance
I know, your thinking when your young you have very few assets, so why do you need to insure your apartment or your home. You might even be thinking I’m financially independent so I can afford to replace everything I own. That’s all fine and good but renter and home insurance also covers liability if someone else gets hurt on your property and decides to sue. Given that meets our definition of potentially unbounded expense due to liability means you should never self insure these.
While not strictly an unbounded legal liability, health issues can cause an unbounded financial liability. You never know if you could be one of the unlucky who gets a short or long term debilitating disease that requires expensive treatment. Some diseases these days require pills priced more than a car. Very few if anyone can afford to truly self insure health insurance and it’s not worth it to roll the dice.
Auto Liability Insurance
Your car may be cheap, but if you hit someone with it and they sue it could be very costly. Even if you have no money they could put a lien against your future earnings. It’s just not worth the risk.
Did I miss any insurance types you are curious about? Any conclusions you disagree with?