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by Megan Wilson, Trusted Choice

As millions of Americans hit the airports, holiday joy can turn into holiday despair really quickly. Long lines, cranky infants, turbulence, unexpected delays, and cramped quarters can test your limits when traveling. Here is a list of pro tips to make your summer travel as easy and simple as possible.

1. Know your plane

Once you’ve decided on day, and are debating flights, take a look at the planes available. Look up the plane’s type, and make sure you’re comfortable with the layout. Websites likewww.seatguru.comare invaluable in giving you an insider’s peek at your flight. From customer photos and seating charts with recommendations to actual reviews by people who have taken the same flight, this website can help you make your flight as comfortable as economy can be, helping you avoid common pitfalls like limited recline or a squeaky neighboring seat.

2. Bring your own food

Many fliers are intimidated by the TSA regulations regarding bringing food through security; however, much of this anxiety can be avoided. To make it simple, you’re allowed to bring your own food through security, as long as it’s wrapped. (It does have to go through the scanner, however.) This not only can help those with special food needs or allergies, but also helps you avoid long lines and frustrating or expensive airport restaurant experiences. Additionally, many airport restaurants overload you with salt and fat, leaving you in an uncomfortable situation for sitting on a plane for hours on end.

3. Keep hydrated – start before you fly

Sitting in a 17.2-inch wide seat for hours is definitely not the most comfortable place to be. This can take a toll not only on your sanity, but on your health as well. In addition to cramped quarters, the oxygen in a plane is thinner, which can cause you to get dehydrated much more easily than usual. To combat this, cut down on your salt intake the day before you fly and drink a few extra glasses of water. Always say no to alcoholic drinks on board. While they may be tempting, the alcohol, in addition to the thin air, can lead to dehydration before you know it. Grab some H20 once you're past security and keep it handy during your flight.

4. Take a stroll

While it may not be convenient for your neighbors, it’s important to get up and walk during your flight. As you sit on a plane, blood flow to your upper body can be impeded, leading to swelling and aching in your legs and ankles. Every hour or so, make it a point to take a quick break to go to the restroom or walk the aisle a few times to give your body a kick-start. To avoid post-flight leg cramps, snack on a banana for a quick potassium boost.

5. Entertain yourself

While it’s nice to bring a laptop or music player on a plane, try to bring something a little more time-consuming, like a notepad and a set of coloring pencil, or an easy craft. Finding something that actually exercises your brain to take your mind off things can help make a long flight seem shorter.

6. Traveling with kids

Traveling with kids is a huge challenge. From diaper changes (whoever invented the changing tables that are found in airplane bathrooms needs to be shot) to squirmy kids, there’s no two ways about i: Be ready for anything. Kids and infants get restless easily, so opt to sit near the aisle so you can take frequent walking breaks. Additionally, if you ask politely and explain your situation, many stewardesses can help you find a row that has an extra seat for you and all your gear to spread out in for the flight. Bring lots of books and activities, and pick up some of those easy-to-do crafts from your local dollar store. Typically self-contained in a cellophane bag and not needing glue or heavy craft artillery, these are a great way to keep your kids amused.

7. Don’t get exposed

One big drawback to flying is the exposure to others – and their germs. Make sure to stock up on your immune-boosting vitamins before hitting the skies. You are 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than at any other time. You may also want to consider wearing a mask while in flight to avoid germ inhalation as well. You may look silly, but you’ll be enjoying your destination while others may be sitting in a doctor’s office.

Good luck and safe travels from everyone here at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker!

Car Rental

From our Trusted Choice friends

As the summer holiday season approaches, millions of Americans will take to the roads to visit family and friends. Since many will make the trip in a rented car, it’s an appropriate time to discuss one of the most frequently asked questions of agents and brokers all over the country: “Should I buy the insurance from the rental car company?”

Following are a few considerations when mulling this important decision:

Damage Waiver & Your Personal Auto Policy  

First, the good news: In many cases, a personal auto insurance policy will cover damage to a rented vehicle. That said—don’t get too comfortable! There are other costs associated with damage to a rented vehicle that the policy will not cover. For this reason, careful consideration should be given to purchasing the damage waiver offered by the rental car company.

On your personal auto policy, “Collision” insurance covers your vehicle for damage resulting from a collision with another object. “Comprehensive” (sometimes called “Other Than Collision”) covers your vehicle for theft, vandalism, falling objects and other causes not resulting from a collision. If you have a car loan, your lender will require you to purchase both. If you pay the loan off, the choice to purchase collision or comprehensive—and both or neither—is up to you.

Your personal auto policy will only cover damage to the rental car if you have the appropriate coverage type on at least one vehicle you own. For example, if you damage the rental car in a collision, you must have “collision” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. But if the rental car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged in any way not resulting from a collision, you must have “comprehensive” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. The key point: If your personal auto policy excludes the coverage type that damages the rental car—and you reject or violate the damage waiver—you will become personally responsible for paying all costs related to the damaged rental car out of your own pocket! In contrast, the damage waiver usually offered at the rental counter will cover the damaged rental car regardless of what’s covered by your personal auto policy.

Limitation in Your Personal Auto Policy

What else could you possibly owe the rental company following an event or crash? These include administrative fees and the depreciated value of the vehicle after repairs—neither expense is covered by your personal auto policy. In addition, most personal auto policies only pay up to the actual cash value (ACV) of the damaged vehicle. If the contract requires the damaged rental’s replacement, the ACV payout may not be sufficient to cover the entire expense.

Again, in contrast, the damage waiver will cover all such expenses.

Also, the rental contract likely will require you to pay the rental company’s “loss of use.” These are expenses they incur resulting from the inability to earn income from the damaged rental. This cost could be hundreds of dollars or more. Some personal auto policies will pay a limited amount for this expense (such as $20 per day or $600 total). Others will not cover it at all.

In contrast, the damage waiver will pay the full cost of the rental company’s loss of use.

No Claim Necessary

If something happens to the rental car, purchasing the damage waiver gives the rental agency management of the process. This will allow you to avoid filing a claim and possibly help keep the cost of your insurance from going up. It also will keep your deductible in your pocket.

Limitations in the Damage Waiver

Don’t forget that the rental car company’s damage waiver is a contract. It will include a list of restrictions that, if violated, may terminate the waiver and leave you personally responsible for paying the costs associated with the damaged rental car. Examples of such restrictions may include:

•             Damage to rental while driven by someone not specifically named on the contract.

•             Damage to rental while driven on unpaved roads.

•             Damage to rental while it’s being occupied by more passengers than available seatbelts.

•             Damage that occurs while pushing or towing.

This list is only a sample; the typical damage waiver may include additional restrictions.

Moreover, the car rental company’s loss damage waiver covers “diminished value,” the economic reduction in value of a repaired auto due to it having been damaged. Almost all auto policies and many credit card coverages exclude diminished value. What’s the impact to you? If you don’t take the damage waiver, you could get hit with a diminished value claim of $1,500 or more, depending on your type of damaged rental car.

Damage Waiver Covers Vehicle Damage Only

Perhaps the most important fact to remember is that the damage waiver only applies to damage to the rented vehicle. It is not a substitute for liability, medical payments, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection, and any other personal auto insurance coverage.

Other Products Offered by Rental Company 

In addition to the damage waiver, most rental car companies offer a few optional insurance-type products. For example, some may offer a liability enhancement that gives you the option to increase the liability limits you already carry on your personal auto insurance policy. Depending on your available auto liability insurance, this option may be worth consideration.

Others may offer options such as accidental death, trip cancellation, or damaged luggage insurance during the rental period. Such options vary by company and may provide insurance dollars you cannot get elsewhere. However, they should not be purchased without first reviewing your current home, health and auto insurance policies as there may be duplication.

Conclusion

In light of the information above, you should seriously consider—and probably buy—the damage waiver from the rental car company. Deciding whether to purchase other products from the rental firm, however, depends largely on the insurance already available to you from other sources. For assistance in determining coverage you already have and comparing it to the rental company’s options, call your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent today.

Business Travel Note: When you rent a car on a business trip, that’s an entirely different set of decisions, so again please talk with your agent.

Monday, 05 June 2017 01:14

Bicycle Safety and Insurance

bicycle safety

Great article from the Insurance Information Institute

Bicycling is increasingly popular, both as a sport and as a means of transportation. And bicycles can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars for a basic bike to thousands of dollars for specialized racing bikes. Whether you use your bicycle to commute to work or simply like to cycle around the block with your children, it is important to understand the rules of the road and protect your financial investment with the proper insurance.

Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.

If you are purchasing a new bike, keep the receipt and call your insurance agent or company representative immediately. If you own a particularly expensive bicycle, you may want to consider getting an endorsement that will provide additional coverage. Your insurance agent or company representative can review your coverage options with you.

There are two types of coverage for personal property:

Actual Cash Value – reimburses you for what the bicycle is actually worth given its age. A 10-year-old bicycle, for example, would be valued at the cost of a comparable bicycle minus 10 years depreciation.

Replacement Cost Coverage – reimburses you for what it would cost to replace your 10-year-old bicycle with one of like kind and quality at current cost. Replacement cost coverage costs about 10 percent more than actual cash value, but it is a good investment. 

Homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide liability protection for harm you may cause to someone else or their property. If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and he or she decides to sue, you will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Your homeowners or renters insurance also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone. This coverage usually ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.

To make filing a claim easier, the I.I.I. suggests the following:

Save your receipts. When you buy your bicycle you may also purchase expensive equipment to go with it, so make sure to save your receipts for everything. The cost of a helmet, patch kits, pumps, extra inner tubes and other essentials, not to mention that fancy new bike jersey, can add up quickly. If your bike and related items are stolen or destroyed, having receipts can help speed the claims process.

Add your bicycle and related items to your home inventory. Everyone should have an up-to-date home inventory of all their personal possessions. An inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and make the claims filing process easier if there is a loss. To help you create your inventory, the I.I.I. provides free, online software at KnowYourStuff.org.

Of course the best protection of all is to keep your bike safe; to help avoid theft, follow these simple rules:

  • Always lock up your bike, even if it is in your garage, an apartment stairwell, or a college dormitory.
  • Lock your bicycle to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock it to items that can be easily cut, broken or removed, and that the bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.
  • Lock up your bicycle in a visible, well-lit area.
  • Consider using a U-lock and position the bike frame and wheels so that they take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock-up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack the lock. Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. Do not position the lock close to the ground as this makes it easier for a thief to break it.
  • Do not lock up your bicycle in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target you.
  • Consider registering your bike with the National Bike Registry.

It is even more important to keep yourself and your family safe while you are riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that cyclists follow these seven rules:

  1. Protect Your Head. Never ride a bike without a properly fitted helmet.
  2. Assure Bicycle Readiness. Ride a bike that fits you and check all parts of the bicycle to make sure they are secure and working well.
  3. Learn and Follow the Rules of the Road. Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road; therefore riders must follow the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles.
  4. Act Like a Driver of a Motor Vehicle. Always ride with the flow of traffic, on the right side of the road, and as far to the right of the road as is practicable and safe.
  5. Be Visible. Always assume you are not seen by others and take responsibility for making yourself visible to motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists.
  6. “Drive with Care.” When you ride, consider yourself the driver of a vehicle and always keep safety in mind. Ride in the bike lane, if available. Take extra care when riding on a roadway. Courtesy and predictability are key to safe cycling.
  7. Stay Focused. Stay Alert. Never wear headphones as they hinder your ability to hear traffic. Be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively.

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