Insurance Blog

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.

moving
From our friends at Trusted Choice

May is National Moving Month and every year more than 40 million Americans will move, according to the American Moving and Storage Association. As you pack up your belongings and move across town or across the country, make sure you don’t forget to “pack” your insurance coverage.

Home Sweet (New) Home

When you move from an apartment to a house or house to house or apartment to apartment or condo to… well, you get the idea… your homeowners or renters insurance won’t follow on its own. Because a homeowners or renters insurance policy takes into account factors such as the building material used to construct your home, fire prevention systems like smoke detectors, sprinklers, etc., moving to a new home means that these factors could very well change, and as your risk changes, so should your insurance.

Depending on whether your move is across the street or across the country it’s important that you discuss your move with one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance Agents.

Is my stuff covered during the move?

Let’s say that you’ve got everything but the kitchen sink (which you’ve left for the people moving into your old home) packed into the truck for the big move, but there’s an accident with the truck and as a result antiques, carefully packed china and the 60” flat screen are all damaged beyond repair. Are you covered?

Well, that depends on whether you’re moving the items yourself or have contracted with professional movers and where you’re moving to. If you use a professional moving company, under federal law interstate movers are liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged items, so if you’re moving from North Dakota to North Carolina the moving company is liable for your belongings. However, they may present you with different options for coverage, including Full Value or Released Value. According to the US Department of Transportation, Full Value is more comprehensive coverage but it may cost more out of pocket, whereas Released Value is offered at no additional cost, but may only cover your belongings up to 60 cents on the dollar. If you opt for the Full Value, make sure you have an up-to-date estimated value for the belongings you’ll be moving. If you have an accurate and comprehensive home inventory, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task.

If you’re renting a truck or a van for the move, the rental company may offer you some coverage. One argument for taking the coverage is that if something does go wrong and can be covered by the rental policy, a loss would not reflect on your own insurance coverage, but again, the coverage they offer may not be enough to replace or repair damaged or lost items. Talk to our agents about how your existing coverage would respond to a loss.

Mind the Gap

You have coverage for the contents of your home under a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy, so the best option to protect those contents (and a Trusted Choice agent can help with this) is to make sure that there is no gap of time between the expiration or cancellation of your policy on the home you’re moving out of and the effective start date for the policy for the home you’re moving into- one way to do this is to have the new policy start the day you are planning on moving. Not only would this help provide coverage for your contents, but it would also provide you with personal liability coverage during the time of the move.

Because our agents have the ability to work with multiple insurance companies, we can work to help you find the coverage that’s right for your new place and for getting you and your belongings there.  

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