Insurance Blog

Pick pocket

Your summer and vacation plans will be the best ever - especially if you follow the checklist below! Remember to contact your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker agent for questions regarding insurance coverage for your vacation home, rental property, boat, or rental car. Here are 9 of the best quick tips we have found to keep you and your loved ones secure and safe!

Before You Leave

  1. Scan important travel documents and store them in a secure online repository. In the event that your information is lost or stolen, using an online repository allows you to easily access copies of your passport, drivers license, visa, and any other vital identification from anywhere in the world. Remember to do this for every person traveling with you, including children.
  2. Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Visit https://step.state.gov/step/ to enroll in STEP, which provides comprehensive traveler information, including travel alerts and restrictions; information on visas or vaccinations; crime and stability update; road conditions; laws of the country you're visiting; and consular contact information.
  3. Take only what you need. Chances are that you will not be writing checks; leave these and any extra debit cards or credit cards that you will not be using at home. This will decrease the amount of institutions you will need to contact if they are lost and decreases the damage criminals can wreak on your accounts. 
  4. Put mail on "postal hold" while you're gone. Go to your local post office or do it online at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/
  5. Make your home look lived-in. Arrange for friends or family you trust to pick-up newspapers, mail, and advertisement flyers in order to avoid drawing attention to your home. This will reduce the risk of break-ins which may result in the loss of valuables, including your identity.

While you are traveling

  1. Carry valuables safely. Your valuables and identification are a mere swipe away from a purse-snatcher or pickpocket. Money belts kept under clothing are the safest. For stowing cash, credit cards and identification, inside pockets and sturdy shoulder bags with straps across the chest are much better than handbags, fanny packs or outside pockets.
  2. Use the hotel safe. Place your cash, credit cards and especially your passport and all identification documents in the safe whenever they are not in use.
  3. Take caution with public computers and Wi-Fi. If possible, avoid using public computers to access anything sensitive, such as conducting online banking, making purchases, or accessing email accounts. These computers could potentially have malware that is designed to capture the information you have entered. Avoid these same activities when using a public Wi-Fi connection as the information can easily be captured by criminals on the same connection. Make sure to use an encrypted Internet connection whenever you go online.
  4. Be aware of social media updates. We all like to share photos online with our family and friends as we are traveling. However, when you tell people where you are, you are also telling them where you aren't - at home. Criminals use this information to gain access to your home, which contains your valuables, including your identification.

Click here for more travel tips.

Excerpt from Fraud Smarts, by Daniel Szabo. A practical how-to guide to help everyone stay safe to avoid the latest scams and prevent identity theft. With hundreds of easy to follow tips, this guide is designed as a go-to resource for consumers, teenagers, college students, families, senior citizens and small businesses. This book also provides a complete list of resources and support for victims of fraud.  

Travel large

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.

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Hudson, MA - 978-562-5652

Wayland, MA - 508-358-5383

Winthrop, MA - 617-846-0731

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