When renting a vehicle, the last thing the salesman always asks is "Do you want to purchase insurance for this vehicle"? Many people believe they are covered but the spur of the moment question and the little doubt they have, the end up purchasing it anyway just to be safe. So, do you really need to buy rental car insurance or not?
Truthfully there isn't a one size fits all answer. However you can likely reach a conclusion you're comfortable with by considering the following three questions.
1. What Types of Rental Car Insurance Are Available?
Typically, car rental agencies will offer you four types of insurance to purchase:
Collision damage waiver - The rental car company won't charge you for a damaged or stolen vehicle when you buy this.
Supplemental liability protection - Electing this will ensure you're covered for costs to others if you cause an accident in the rental.
Personal accident insurance - This coverage will pay for injuries or death of the driver and passengers of your rental car.
Personal effects coverage - Reimburses you for stolen personal items while renting the car.
2. What Rental Car Coverage Might I Already Have?
Start with your personal auto insurance. It's likely that your policy will provide the same level of coverage for your rental as it does for your own car. That usually includes liability insurance, and, depending on the policy you purchased, may include collision, comprehensive and medical payments, too. There are exclusions, however. Some insurers won't cover rentals in a foreign country, or rentals that are being used for business. Get in touch with your independent insurance agent to verify your coverages.
Next there's your credit card. Most cards offer some degree of coverage, but it varies widely. Coverage is usually secondary, designed to step in and pick up where your auto insurance leaves off, and it tends to be mostly confined to collision, damage and theft. For coverage to apply, most cards require that you decline the rental company's collision damage waiver and pay for the car in full with the card that provides the protection. Again, contact your card company to find out exactly what is covered.
Then, consider your health and life insurance, too. If you’re in an accident involving a rental car and you have these policies, you likely have coverage for your own costs. Plus, with your homeowners insurance, you may have personal property coverage to help repair or replace valuable belongings that are lost, damaged or stolen while you’re in a rental. Your deductible and policy limits will apply, and the same goes for renters insurance or condo insurance.
3. What Rental Coverage Might I Be Missing?
In the event something does happen to the rental car, you may be looking at loss of use and diminished value fees, and your regular policy may not cover them. Loss of use is the income that the rental agency loses due to the vehicle being in the shop for repairs, and diminished value is the calculated reduction in a vehicle's resale value as the result of an accident. Credit cards sometimes cover these, but be aware that they may require documentation that rental agencies can be reluctant to provide.
So, before you rent your next vehicle, call your independent insurance agent and check with your credit card company. That way you'll be ready to make an informed decision when you get to the rental car counter.
Around the end of World War I, homeowners hired “door shakers” to walk around and check doors to make sure they were locked.
Home security is just a little bit different now.
Thanks to a perfect storm of expanding technology and decreasing costs, homeowners now have access to the types of tools and systems that previously only celebrities and the wealthy could obtain.
Here’s a rundown of some of the options you have to protect your home, from all-in-one systems to separate components for do-it-yourselfers:
Full Home Security Systems There are a number of companies that offer full-service security systems with central monitoring. These systems often include video surveillance, remote access, smoke and carbon monoxide detection and even medical alerts in case you have an emergency. Some include home automation tools so you can control lighting, heating, cooling and other appliances when you’re away from home.
Many systems can also send you alerts via text message so you know the kids are home from school safely, for example.
Smart Cameras Installing cameras used to mean dealing with bulky equipment and yards of wiring. Today, however, newer cameras are unobtrusive, wireless and capable of much more than ever before. Some even use motion activation, so they only record when there’s a reason to in order to save data storage space and battery power.
Keyless Entry Systems Even items as basic as the locks on your doors are starting to be impacted — and improved — by technology. You might not think you need an entry system that relies on a code or a smartphone, but it can come in handy at times. Say, for example, you need to let a trusted repairman into your home while you’re away, but you don’t want to risk hiding a key outside. With a keyless system (or a hybrid version that uses both keys and codes), you simply provide a temporary code for the repairman to use.
Home Automation Have you ever forgotten to leave a light on while you’re away? Burglars thrive in the dark, and having lights on both inside and outside your home, along with noise from televisions, radios, etc., can be powerful deterrents. Thankfully, you can now turn these things on and off from anywhere in the world. It doesn’t take much to get started. At least one home automation product plugs into the power outlets you already have. You can then control that outlet’s power remotely through a smartphone app.
Of course, there are still some low-tech tools and techniques you can use to deter crime, including motion-activated lighting outside. Don’t leave valuables out in plain sight, and make sure your windows and doors are locked each night. Plus, there’s always the security system that will love you back: a watchdog.
However, if high-tech is more your style and you’re into gadgets, you might find that getting set up with the latest in home security is fun. And, if you’re into saving money, many insurance carriers offer home insurance discounts for having specific home monitoring systems. Check your policy or ask an agent for details.
With summer in full force, you may be coming down with a serious case of pool envy, obsessed with having a pool right outside your door for cooling off and entertaining friends. A swimming pool can increase the value of your home, but will it also increase your homeowners insurance rate?
Before you dive in and add a pool to your property or buy a new home that already has one, here are three important things to keep in mind.
1. Anytime you have an increase in property value or risk, you may need to increase your insurance coverage too.
A pool increases your exposure to risk. You could be on the line for medical bills and other damages if people get hurt in or around your pool, even if they weren’t invited over for a swim. At the same time, a pool increases the value of your property. Your homeowners insurance needs to reflect both the increased value and risk of a pool, and you may want the added protection of an umbrella policy.
2. Safety measures aren’t just nice to have. They may be required.
Your town, municipality or insurance company may require a fence and locked gate for your pool and even have specific guidelines on the height of that fence. If your house opens directly into the pool area, you may also consider a door alarm and safety cover to keep pets, children and other non-swimmers safe.
3. Pool equipment, furniture and accessories increase the value of your personal belongings.
Be sure to include any pool- or patio-related items of value when you add up how much your personal belongings are worth, and ensure you have enough coverage on your homeowners insurance policy. Keep in mind that per-item limits may apply, meaning the maximum amount payable on a single item is capped. If, for example, you have an expensive outdoor sound system, you may want to check the per-item limit for electronics. Expanded coverage is often available for high-value items.
Above all, pose question after question to your independent insurance agent. Against which risks is damage to my pool covered? Is the pump covered too and under what circumstances?
Working closely with an insurance agent is one of the best ways to fully understand how a pool may affect your homeowners insurance rates. Your agent can help you find the right balance of coverages for your specific situation and help ensure your relaxing oasis isn’t an unmanageable risk.
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.