When it comes to insurance, it pays to be proactive.

And there are plenty of areas where you can reduce your chances of having to file a claim. Much of this is simply common sense – thinking ahead to prevent unwanted things from happening.

During our nation’s recent Fourth of July celebration many Americans were outside grilling burgers, steaks, hotdogs and corn. That’s all well and good, providing that you take some precautions to head off all of those little things that could go wrong.

Is your grill too close to the wood siding on your home? How about that little chiminea you use to burn wood on the back patio? And needless to say, fireworks can create problems. Most cities have outlawed the use of fireworks by residents, but that hasn’t stopped some people from putting on their own, private fireworks shows. Just remember, people can get hurt if something goes wrong, and you don’t want to be dealing with that.

There are plenty of other things you can do to avoid problems. Make sure your car is in park when you leave it – you certainly don’t want it rolling into someone who happens to be walking by! And while you’re at it, lock your car up. Don’t leave your wallet, purse or other personal items or valuables in there. Otherwise, that’s a potential claim just waiting to happen.

Similar issues apply when you’re going on a trip. Don’t leave your laptop unattended at the airport or in a restaurant. That’s easy pickins’ for an opportunistic thief.

And circling back to your home, take a good look at your roof. If it’s in need of repair, be proactive and get it fixed. Otherwise, you might have a sizable claim down the road when a high wind blows some of the loose tiles in through your neighbor’s front window.

The point is, you don’t want to be filing small and frivilous claims because that will only hike your monthly premiums. And you definitely don’t want to be paying more for coverage than you already are. In many cases, it makes sense to have a policy with a higher deductible because that tends to discouarge people from filing small claims.

Bottom line: Be responsible and use your insurance the way it’s meant to be used. Contrary to popular belief, insurance companies and claims adjusters really do want to help. So sit down with your agent to see how your coverage really works – and how it can benefit you when you REALLY need it!