Remember, says National Insurance Consumer Organization president Robert Hunter, if you suspect something will happen, so does the insurance company--and its rates are set accordingly. On the other hand, if something is most unlikely, the insurers know that too.

Among other guidelines in the insurance world, according to Hunter: Do Buy:

* Annual renewable term life insurance in decreasing amounts as your children mature and your investments grow.

* Car insurance, at the lowest rates availabe. Shop around, using State Farm's rates as your guide.

* Homeowners or renters insurance, but not more than you need.

* Health and disability insurance, at group rates if at all possible, and only if you are not protected adequately through a job or retirement plan. Don't Buy:

* Credit insurance, unless you're in poor health or over 50, when it may be a good buy because it does not entail a physical exam.

* Pet insurance. What we don't need is CAT scans for dogs.

* Muggers insurance, which protects only in case of death or injury when both already should be covered.

* Car-rental insurance, which costs $5 per day or $1,800 per year, a high price for covering the $500 deductible in the rental agency's policy.

* Flight insurance--betting on your own demise.