Monthly Archives: June 2016

house for rent 2Ah, the lure of easy money. You’re planning on taking a week away here and there throughout the year. You keep hearing about rental services like Airbnb and think it’s a great alternative to traditional hotels. Then someone suggests renting out your own home while you are away. Why not, you think. They have a good vetting policy, renters are screened and most rental stories you here are good ones. Plus, maybe you can break even on your lodging costs if someone is also paying you. But before you sign-up, pull out your homeowners insurance police and do some research.

If you only plan to rent out your home once or twice a year, a standard homeowners policy will probably suffice. Some insurance companies may require a special endorsement. Either way, you should definitely notify your insurance professional about the rental. You may also want to consider mandating a renter’s insurance policy, as property belonging to the tenant would not be covered.

If you plan on renting out your residence several times a year on a regular basis, or have a vacation property for rental, this would constitute a business. Standard homeowners insurance policies do not provide any coverage for business activities conducted in the home. To be properly covered you would need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy.

If you are planning to lease your home for a longer period of time, say six months or a year, you will likely need a landlord or rental dwelling policy. f you are regularly renting out a vacation home or investment property, this would also require a landlord or rental dwelling policy. Landlord policies provide property insurance coverage for physical damage to the structure of the home, for any personal property you may leave on-site for maintenance or tenant use, and liability coverage.

Your best resource for all things insurance is your insurance professional. They are well-versed in what coverages are offered in a standard homeowners policy, which are needed for different rental arrangements, and how to best protect you and your home. Make an appointment to discuss all of your coverage options and make sure you have what you need.

auto accident 1There are a lot of vehicles on the road. If you have spent any time on the freeway, this is not news to you. Some people are careful drivers, some are, let’s say, less than aware that there are other cars sharing the road. One of the reasons why you have auto insurance is because of careless drivers. Of course, sometimes such carelessness extends to a lack of insurance on their part. Should you be the one involved in the inevitable accident these moronic drivers will be in, will you be covered?

According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), one driver out of every seven drivers in the United States is currently uninsured. This is especially startling considering that an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can result in significant costs that aren’t covered by a basic liability insurance policy.

The State of California mandates liability limits for auto insurance be 10/20/3 for low cost auto insurance policyholders. For regular drivers, it’s 15/30/5. The first number is medical payments per person in an accident, the second is total payments for everyone in a single accident, and the third payment is total property damage payment.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is designed to help you pay for bills associated with a crash that was caused by another person who either doesn’t have an auto insurance policy or has a policy with liability limits that are too low to cover costs associated with a covered loss.

As with any insurance questions, your best resource is your insurance professional. Take a few minutes to meet with them and explain your concerns. They will make sure you have all the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

gas pump 1

The good news is it seems like gas prices have stabilized at around $3 a gallon, depending on where you live. So it isn’t necessary have to take a second mortgage out to fill your tank, but you are still paying more than a few dollars at the pump. If you are interested in getting a few miles more out of your gas dollar, check out the following suggestions:

Drive at a moderate speed – This is the ABCs of gas mileage. Consumer Reports once tested a Honda Accord at a steady 65 mph and the car’s fuel economy dropped from 49 mpg to 42 mpg compared to 55 mph. Driving at 75 mph cost the car another 5 mpg..

Don’t stop and start – Obviously avoid hard acceleration and braking whenever possible. Consumer Reports tested an older Camry and found that frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced mileage by 2 to 3 mpg.  Obviously there are times when you can’t avoid traffic, but when you can, look ahead and drive as smoothly as possibly.

Remember aerodynamics –At highway speeds, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Of course, some weekend outings often require the use of a roof rack, but try to avoid carry things on top of your vehicle when you don’t have to. Even an empty rack can create enough drag to suck gas mileage down 5 mpg.

Check your vehicle – Under-inflated tires are one of the most common causes of poor gas mileage because they have more rolling resistance, which means your engine has to work harder to keep your car moving. A dirty air filter restricts the flow of air into the engine, which harms performance and economy. Motor oil that has lost its viscosity (if it has turned black, that’s a hint) also makes your engine work harder. That means wasted gasoline.

Some myths about gas mileage savings include morning fill-ups allegedly get you more gas for the money. Gas may be denser in the cool morning, but the temperature of the gasoline coming out of the fuel nozzle changes very little, if at all. Open tailgates and tonneau covers and another myth for improving gas mileage. These can actually hurt gas mileage.

Another way you can save money on the cost of driving is by going over your auto insurance. For most people, reviewing their auto policies (or any policy) is rarely done. So sit down with your insurance professional and look at ways to keep some of your premium dollars in your pocket.

classic car 3A standard auto insurance policy is pretty straightforward with what is and is not covered. Alterations, expensive sound systems, custom wheels, etc. all require extra coverage. But there is a point where your vehicle will need an policy independent of your auto insurance.  If you own a classic or vintage vehicle, you may want to consider additional coverage.

While there is no standard rule of thumb when it comes to a definition of classic cars, there are a few points to consider. If a car’s value exceeds its original selling price, then it might be considered collectible. A “classic” or “antique” vehicle is usually at least 25 to 30 years old. Many modified vehicles, particularly high performance “hot rods” should carry extra insurance, as should exotic or super-luxury models. Vintage military vehicles, classic motorcycles and antique tractors are also candidates for classic car coverage.

In order to qualify for a classic car policy, there are a few common criteria noted by the Insurance Information Institute: Limited Use—Your classic car cannot be used for everyday commuting or errands; Car Shows and Meetings—The ‘limited use’ provision of a classic car policy allows for travel to car shows and auto club meet-ups; however this coverage may be restricted by some insurers. Secure Storage—When not in use, your special vehicle must be stored in a locked, enclosed, private structure, such as a residential garage or storage unit; and Clean Driving Record—You may be disqualified from classic auto insurance if you have serious offenses on your driving record, such as reckless driving, repeat speeding violations or driving while intoxicated.

Before you obtain a classic car policy, you will need to reach an agreement on how much your vehicle is worth. This will be specified in your policy until any changes are made. You’ll want to be sure your policy allows you to use a specialized mechanic or body shop, as well as towing and the ability to obtain specific spare parts.

As with other insurance questions, you will want to speak with your insurance professional. Take a look at your current auto policy and compare it to what shape your vehicle is in now. Sometimes people make assumptions about their coverage, only to find out that they cannot claim a theft or loss. Be sure now rather than be sorry later.

wedding 1Planning a wedding comes with plenty of stress coupled with and equal amount of reward. There is nothing like planning for the Big Day. Of course, veteran event planners know that sometimes, not everything goes as planned. That’s why it’s a good idea to look into wedding insurance.

 

Actually, “wedding insurance” is somewhat of a misnomer. A special  event policy can be purchased for other celebrations: a milestone anniversary party, a bar or bat mitzvah, a quinceañera, graduation party or any special occasion. Special event insurance is designed to provide financial protection if you have to cancel or postpone a gathering due to adverse weather and natural disasters such as hurricanes.

 

Most policies will also cover an event cancellation in the event a death or of serious illness or injury of a main participant, as well as a missing clergy member or key vendor, such as a caterer or photographer.

 

Coverage may also be available should the bride or groom suddenly be called for military service, tuxedos or gowns become unavailable due to stores going out of business or damage to the clothing, or the necessity to cancel a honeymoon trip due to illness, bad weather or other circumstances.

 

If you are planning a backyard wedding at your home, you may want to review your homeowners or renters policy to see if any additional liability coverage is needed. Also check to see if your current coverage will cover the loss or theft of wedding gifts and wedding rings. You may need to purchase a one-time endorsement.

 

Always check with your insurance professional when you have coverage questions. Instead of guessing — maybe wrongly — you will have solid answers and can be certain that you are covered for most unforeseen (and uncontrollable) circumstances.

car vacation 1

There are a thousand details involved when planning the family vacation. Where to go, what to do, etc. Then you book the hotels, make the airline reservations, pick out the right size rental vehicle. Pack a suitcase (or two), close up your house, and head to the airport. You are finally away and ready for a relaxing vacation. You go to the rental car counter and discover you need to make one more planning decision: Should you purchase the optional insurance?

Most personal auto insurance policies also cover rental cars. That means you have the same coverage driving a rental that you do when operating your own vehicle. So your personal liability coverage is the same, as is your med-pay, uninsured motorist, etc. All coverages will transfer. Of course, that is the same for anything you may lack. If  you have homeowners or renter’s insurance, any personal items stolen from the vehicle will be covered up to the policy terms.

Of course, the rental car company is primarily (or only) interested in your comprehensive and collision. That’s what covers the vehicle you are driving. If you damage the vehicle, you are still responsible for the deductible. If you are renting an exotic vehicle, and RV, or some other non-traditional vehicle, you will probably be required to purchase the rental company’s own insurance regardless of your own policy. You may also be liable for any loss-of-use. One other caveat: Many insurance companies do not offer coverage in foreign countries.

Credit cards can offer rental car protection as well. There may be some exclusions, such as driving on unpaved roads, damage to rims or tires, or rental of full-size SUVs, trucks, etc. Some companies have a maximum days covered, and you will likely not be covered for loss-of-use, either.

The best way to relieve your anxiety (about the rental car insurance, anyway) is to talk with your insurance professional. Ask about your current auto and homeowners/renter’s policies and find out what coverage you do have. Have a great trip!