Here are six New Year's resolutions you can make to be prepared for or avoid common claims in 2017, as suggested by USA Today
and Nerdwallet writer, Lacie Glover
1. Create a home inventory.
Damaged property after a fire or natural disaster can be devastating, and filing the insurance claim can be overwhelming. But a home inventory that you’ve kept up-to-date can help you justify the items that you’re claiming.
The inventory can be neatly handwritten, on an Excel spreadsheet, on a form downloaded from the internet, in a video of your belongings, in information added to an app or in some other form of record. What’s important is that every item is accounted for, with as much detail as possible.
Related: The 11 rules every homeowner needs to follow when creating a home inventory
2. Read your insurance policies.
Most insureds don’t read every word of their policy or its endorsements, which are a key part of any insurance policy. The key to making a claim is understanding your policy.
For auto and home insurance, look for the policy’s declarations page. Make sure you understand the limits and deductibles of each policy.
3. Improve your credit.
For many insurers, credit-based insurance scoring is one of the most important and statistically valid tools to predict the likelihood of a person filing a claim and the likely cost of that claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Credit-based insurance scores are based on information like payment history, bankruptcies, collections, outstanding debt and length of credit history.
Credit history can impact your car insurance rates more than your driving record, according to Consumer Reports. Only California, Hawaii and Massachusetts ban the practice.
Related: Risky borrowers may be treated worse than drunks by insurers
4. Stop leaving the keys in your vehicle.
In 2015, there was a auto theft every six-and-a-half minutes where the driver left the keys or fob inside. And it's a growing problem. Over the past three years, this kind of theft grew by 31 percent, according to the latest report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Related: Top 10 metro areas for auto thefts with keys
5. Stay in the kitchen while you're cooking.
You can help avoid the inconvenience of a common insurance claim by staying in the kitchen when you cook.
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
Related: 10 dos and don'ts to prevent home fires
6. Download your insurers' apps.
Currently, 46 states allow drivers to provide electronic proof of car insurance during a traffic stop, according to Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. That means you no longer have to remember where you put your paper insurance card.
Insurers will even let you start a claim and see your policies on their apps