Having insurance is a lot like carrying an umbrella with you at all times: Most of the time it feels burdensome, but boy, are you glad to have it when the rain comes.
The right insurance policies are key to a healthy financial life. Below, we've explained briefly which those are, plus when you should purchase them.
Keep in mind that insurance policies are largely personal. Everyone's situation and needs are different, and as your life changes (say, you get a new job or have a baby) so should your coverage.
One of the best things you can do to get the best coverage for your needs is to educate yourself: Get multiple quotes, read your policy closely before signing on, and don't hesitate to ask questions when you don't understand.
Also note that while the policies below are arranged by age, of course they aren't all set in stone. If you become a homeowner in your 40s instead of your 30s, for example, that's when the need for homeowner's insurance will kick in.
Here's a brief overview of the policies you need and when you need them:
In Your 20s
Auto insurance (when you get a car). There were over 5.6 million accidents in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration. If you have a car, you need auto insurance. Insurance rates vary according to everything from who is driving the car (like your teenager) to your driving history.
You'll stop needing it: When you no longer own a car.
Renter's insurance (when you rent your own place). Renter's insurance, while not a baseline requirement like health or auto insurance, is something any renter will be glad to have in the case of a fire, leak, or storm. While policies differ, they're generally low cost (think $30 a month) and cover costs including the replacement of your personal property as well as a temporary living situation should you be unable to occupy your rented home. Note that, if needed, you can usually add coverage to this policy for an engagement ring.
You'll stop needing it: When you stop renting.
In Your 30s
Homeowner's insurance (when you buy your own place). This is one of those non-negotiables: If you own a home, you need homeowner's insurance, which should cover everything from the structure itself to your belongings to liability should someone be injured on your property. Note that if you live in an area of the country that's subject to flooding, earthquakes, or other natural disasters, you may need to purchase additional coverage that isn't included in your primary policy.
You'll stop needing it: If you sell your home and go back to renting, or make other living arrangements.
Pet insurance (if you have a pet). Pet insurance isn't necessarily a must-have, but if you're the type to shell out $8,000 for your dog's surgery, it might be worth considering. Some plans even cover routine vet visits and vaccinations, and most will reimburse 80-90% of your vet bills for a premium that ranges from about $100-$300 per year.
You'll stop needing it: When you no longer own a pet.
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