For those buffaloed by talk of ""settlement options,"" ""collateral assignments,"" ""subrogations,"" and ""umbrellas,"" insurance man Lipson, a columnist for the Boston Globe, offers a wide-ranging primer--telling you why to give more attention to your coverage against all the natural shocks that flesh is heir to, as well as some of the shocks that dent cars or ruin residences. Can you collect twice for the same illness? Get the deductible back after an auto collision? Lie on an application blank? Protect your privacy? If it's possible, Lipson will tell you--and if it isn't, he'll tell you that too. Interspersed are answers to anonymous questioners. Never mind the outpouring of calamity: it may be useful some day to know how to cut through social security red tape, allocate health insurance after a divorce, cram for a medical exam, or view-with-skepticism the TV and direct mail hype for easy coverage. There is a checklist of things to do after an auto accident, along with a few helpful phone numbers. ""The key to understanding your insurance policy,"" says the author, ""is being able to read the contract."" Some of his explanations may help, and at least the reader will be better able to talk business with an insurance agent. Lipson's ultimate advice: ""find an agent whom you trust."" An appropriately sensible (if plodding) addition to a shelf of self-helpers.