Do you need Rental Car Coverage?

Do I need to buy rental car insurance?rental car insurance

The trip you’ve been planning is finally here. After a long flight, you collect your luggage and head to the rental car counter. As you review the paperwork, the agent asks, “Do you want insurance on the car?”

You frantically try to remember if your auto insurance policy covers rental cars. And wasn’t there something about rental car coverage in that last email from your credit card company? It seems like you may not need it, but you really can’t remember the details. You end up buying the coverage just to be safe. 

Did you waste your money? It depends: There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to buying rental car insurance. However, there are a few things to consider that will help you determine if it’s right for you.

What does the rental car company offer?

Typically, car rental agencies offer four types of coverage:

  • Collision damage waiver means that the rental car company won’t charge you if the vehicle is damaged or stolen during your rental period. 
  • Supplemental liability protection covers costs to others if you cause an accident in the rental.
  • Personal accident insurance will pay in the event of injury to or death of the rental car’s driver and/or passengers.
  • Personal effects coverage will reimburse you if personal items are stolen from the rental car.

What kind of coverage do I already have?

Your personal auto insurance policy will likely provide the same level of coverage for your rental as it does for your own car. This usually includes liability insurance; it can also include collision, comprehensive, and medical payments, depending on your policy. There are exceptions: Some insurers won’t cover rentals in a foreign country or rentals that are being used for business.

Your credit card may also offer some protection, but the degree of coverage can vary greatly. Coverage is usually secondary, designed to step in and pick up where your auto insurance leaves off. Most cards require that you decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver and use the card to pay for the car rental in full. 

In addition, your health and life insurance policies may cover your medical costs if you are involved in an accident. If you have homeowners, renters, or condo insurance, you may also have personal property coverage to help repair or replace valuable belongings that are lost, damaged, or stolen from your rental car. Your deductible and policy limits will apply.

What am I missing?

Your regular policy may not cover loss of use and diminished value fees if something happens to the rental car. Loss of use is the income that the rental agency loses while the vehicle is being repaired. Diminished value is the calculated reduction in a vehicle’s resale value as the result of an accident. Your credit card may cover these fees, but be aware that they may require documentation that rental agencies can be reluctant to provide.

Before you take your next trip, call us or your independent insurance agent and verify the coverage available for your destination. Contact your credit card company to find out exactly what is covered when you use your card. Being prepared will help you make an informed decision about buying rental car insurance.

Umbrella Insurance – What is it and do I need it?

What is umbrella insurance?

Life is unpredictable. Common situations like having a teenage driver, owning a pet, posting on social media, or having people visit your home carry a certain amount of risk. An unexpected incident can quickly turn into a lawsuit that costs you thousands of dollars, if not more.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to be sued like one. If something happens on your property or you are at fault, do you have enough coverage? 

What does umbrella insurance cover?

An umbrella policy adds an extra $1 million (or more) of coverage above and beyond your existing policies. Many people only carry $100,000 of liability coverage. Although that sounds like a lot of money, it doesn’t go very far when a serious injury occurs.  Medical bills, lost wages, and other bills can add up quickly.

That’s why umbrella insurance is so important. It gives you greater peace of mind and protects you against life’s unexpected surprises. 

Do I need umbrella insurance?

 Umbrella coverage isn’t just for high earners. It’s for everyone, especially if you:

  • Own a home
  • Have regular income
  • Have retirement savings and other assets to protect
  • Entertain guests in your home
  • Have a teenage driver
  • Host sleepovers, children’s parties, carpool children, or allow your teen to babysit
  • Serve on a volunteer board or participate in your HOA
  • Use social media
  • Own rental properties
  • Travel outside the U.S.
  • Own a watercraft, RV, snowmobile, ATV, golf cart, or other “toy”
  • Have pets
  • Own firearms or other recreational weapons

But doesn’t my home or auto insurance policy cover a loss?

Unfortunately, home and auto insurance policies don’t protect you against every type of liability.

Consider these two scenarios:

1) You hear a juicy piece of gossip about one of your neighbors. You spill the tea to your closest friends at a BBQ and swear them to silence. Unfortunately, your neighbor finds out what you said. You get sued for slander, and it isn’t covered by your homeowners policy.

2) You go on a vacation to Europe. Instead of taking a tour, you decide to rent a car. You forget to drive on the other side of the road and cause a collision. Someone is injured, but your auto policy doesn’t cover you because you were outside of the U.S. and Canada.

In both of these instances, an umbrella policy may have provided coverage to protect you. Without an umbrella policy, your assets, savings, and even your future income could be at risk if you are held legally responsible for a claim.

Peace of mind costs less than you think.

For about the cost of a dollar a day, an umbrella policy offers an affordable way to prepare for the unpredictable. Schedule a risk assessment with your independent insurance agent to understand your coverage needs and find out if an umbrella policy is right for you.

7 Reasons to Choose an Independent Insurance Agent

Insurance can be complicated.  How do you know you’re making the right decision when it comes to protecting the most important things in your life?  Find out how an Independent Insurance Agent is a simple solution to this!

    We give you more choices and options

    The beauty of working with an independent insurance agent is that we represent many different insurance carriers that offer a wide variety of coverages at varying price points.  We do the work of shopping your quotes around with those different companies to determine which one is the best fit for the types of coverage you need with the best rates for that coverage.  We shop, you save!

    We are industry experts

    Insurance is complicated, let’s be real!  We are licensed and trained in industry verbiage and terminology and are equipped to be able to explain to you, in simple terms, which help you to make informed decisions.  Why go to google and confuser yourself on the different kinds of insurance that are available, when we are just a phone call away?

    We are your advocate

    Since we work for YOU and not the insurance company, we are your advocate!  We will assist with claims, billing or changes your coverage directly with the insurance company.

    We are your neighbor

    We are a small, local business that shares your passion for our community and famillies.  We are woman-owned and have a pusle on the local community and its benefits and challenges.  You won’t sit on hold in a quete, but can walk right into our quaint office in Rosemount.

    We are a one-stop-shop

    With the ability to write with so many different insurance companies, we are able to meet all of your insurance needs.  Everything from Home, Auto, Life & Business coverages, we work with tons of companies that offer a variety of coverages.

    We are your personal advisor

    Insurance isn’t just about finding the cheapest prices.  It’s about making sure that you aren’t suprised by unexpected expenses if a loss were to happen.  Through working one-on-one with you, we listen to meet your specific, unique insurance needs.  

    We are your lifelong advisor

    We love building life long relationships with our customers and often times, they become good friends.  We know that life is ever-evolving and we work with you throughout those stsages.  Everything from buying a home, getting married, growing your family, teen drivers and getting ready for that retirement home.

    Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

    Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

    It would be amazing if all you needed to prep your home for fall was to hang a wreath and light a bunch of pumpkin spiced candles. While yes, those are a crucial part of getting ready for the change of seasons, there are more important (and not exactly fun) preparations that come with being a homeowner. Consider this everything you need to know before your house transitions from hot summer days to cool fall nights…and eventually freezing temperatures.

    1. Clean, or possibly replace, your gutters.

    Real talk: You’re so used to your gutters working properly — and draining thousands of gallons of water from your roof yearly — that you forget they could use a little TLC. If they’re clogged, you can end up with a flooded interior and damaged exterior. So clean them, and if necessary, replace them.

    2. Check for drafts.

    Heat loss through windows is responsible for 25-30 percent of heating energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But it doesn’t have to be that way, because weatherstripping is simple and probably the most cost-effective way to keep heating costs down.

    Pro tip: To check if you have a draft issue, close a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, you need to update your weatherstripping.

    3. Drain your outdoor faucets.

    Say it with me now: “I will turn off all outdoor faucets before winter!” Drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots to prevent any water freezing. Not doing this can result to pipes bursting, so yeah, do this.

    4. Bring your outdoor furniture in.

    Yes, your furniture is outdoor furniture. No, that does not mean you should test the label by leaving it outside through hurricane-like weather and snowstorms. It cost you money and time to set that outdoor space up, so if you want to get another summer season out of it you should store it in a garage or shed. If you don’t have anywhere to store the items, you should cover it in a waterproof furniture cover.

    5. Fix any cracks in your driveway.

    I know, I know — this seems tedious and is one of those things where you’re like, “eh, it’ll be fine!” But, it could very easily not be fine. When water gets into cracks it freezes, expands, and can make the crack even bigger. Enough small cracks can turn into big cracks, and eventually the concrete can crumble. Plus, uh, you’d probably prefer a driveway without a giant pothole. So, using concrete crack sealer, fill it up and be done with it.

    6. Change your filters.

    Found: Another thing in your house that might be costing you more money then it should be. If your filters are clogged, it’s harder to keep your home at the temperature you want it too be which will increase your heating bills. Clean these filters monthly, not just before the fall, and thank me later. FYI: Disposable filters can be vacuumed one time before you replace it, and foam filters can just be vacuumed and not replaced.

    7. Fertilize your lawn.

    You know what they say: The best offense is a good defense. If you want to keep your lawn looking great in the spring and summer, you need to prep it for the fall and winter. Roots are still active when the grass isn’t growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent winter damage. Doing this will also help your lawn turn green faster in the spring, which is crucial, because who wants to look at a sad lawn once it gets nice out?

    8. Test winter equipment.

    Hi, I’m here from the future, where your snow blower isn’t working and you’re stuck inside and can’t get your car out to buy a new one. Seriously, just check it all now and make your life easier later.

    9. Change your batteries.

    Once a year you should be checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working. Since you’re already testing everything else out, you might as well add this on.

    College-Bound Students

    What Insurance Follows Your College-Bound Student

    Congratulations your child is off to college, way to go parents!  This is an exciting time of year but also comes with a lot of questions. When it comes to insurance; let’s talk about what coverages follow your student to school.

    Is your child taking a car to school?

    • YES. Let your insurance agent know so you can maintain full coverage, and ask about whether your child qualifies for a good-student discount, which could save on premiums.
    • NO. If your child moves 100 miles or more from home and doesn’t take a car, your carrier may allow you to temporarily exclude coverage for your child-which could decrease your rates significantly.  Just remember to add them back to the policy before they come home for breaks. If, on the other hand, you need to maintain coverage, ask your agent if you’re eligible for a student-away discount.

    Where will they live?

    • On Campus. In many states, unmarried full-time students under the age of 26 are considered resident relatives of your home and should be covered under your home policy; talk to your agent for specifics.
    • In An Apartment.  It’s likely your home policy won’t offer full coverage on permanent items like furniture on electric equipment, so definitely consider a renters policy. It will also include liability coverage-an important protection in the event someone is hurt in the apartment.

    Who’s Paying For School?

    • You. Consider a term life insurance policy for yourself. It could help your child stay in school if something happens to you.
    • Your Child. Talk to your agent about life insurance for your child’s financial future and ask for a Life Insurance Needs Analysis. They may be able to get a lower rate and better coverage. If you are a co-signer on your child’s student loans, a life insurance policy can help add to your financial protection as a co-signer.

    Before your student heads off to college, give us a call, 651-237-5180. Let’s talk about your insurance options and discounts now and for the future.

     

    Safety Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away

    KEEPING THE HOME FRONT SAFE WHILE YOU’RE AWAY Following these simple tips to make sure your home is as safe and inviting when you return fr om vacation as when you left. LEAVE INFORMATION ~ give a neighbor and/or the house and pet sitter the contact information for your service professionals and the name and number for your insurance agent. THat way, if anything goes wrong and you can’t be reached, they can contact the appropriate people. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE ~ Keep your home from appearing deserted by using timers or smart bulbs. Set timers so your living room and bedroom lights turn on in the evening and go out later at night. Also, consider installing motion sensor lights above all entryways (front door, garage, back door, etc.). CREATE A CHECKLIST ~ Plan ahead and create your own to-do list well before it’s time to pack up and leave. It’ll remind you to pull the plug on electronics, adjust thermostats and turn off the main water supply if you plan to be gone for an extended time. BE SMART ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA ~ It may be tempting to share your exciting vacation plans or wow your friends and family back home with Instagram-worthy pics while you’re away. But recognize that you’re also broadcasting that you’re not home to potential malicious offenders. Save our social sharing for after you’ve returned. Wherever your travel plans take you this summer we hope you found these safety tips helpful. Download a copy of our homefront checklist to help get you started. As always we’re available to answer any questions, call 651-237-5180 or email info@mysentinels.com

    Safety Tips For Boating At Night

     

    Essential Safety Tips for Boating at Night

    If you own a boat (or better yet, as the joke goes, you know someone with a boat), you’ve probably thought about spending some evenings on the water — especially in the summertime.

    It’s a great thought, of course. But, when you’re boating after dark, you need to think about staying safe, even as you enjoy the stillness of the water and the starry sky.

    Here are seven things to keep in mind, both before you hit the water and once you’re out cruising around:

    Have a plan — and tools to help if it goes wrong.
    Don’t go boating at night in an unfamiliar place. You can’t see as well, obviously, so stick to where you know the ropes, so to speak. And because things look different in the dark, make sure you have the correct navigational tools in case you get lost.

    Share your plan— Always give a friend or family member your “float plan.” Include where you’re going, your boat’s description and registration information, who’s with you and when you’ll be back.

    Check – and dress for – the weather— On top of the other difficulties of boating at night, you don’t want to get caught in a storm if you can help it. And you want to be comfortable, so be sure to bring clothing appropriate for the forecast. A sweatshirt, blanket and extra towels may come in handy, even in the summertime.

    Do a pre-trip inspection— This is good advice for daytime boating as well, but at night it’s crucial that your navigation lights work, for starters. You also need a horn, plenty of fuel, a radio, a flashlight, flares, fire extinguishers and life jackets for all passengers.

    Slow down— Speed is a factor in many boating accidents, and the limited visibility at night makes the water even more dangerous. Remember, you aren’t going to be the only one on the water at night, so know the right-of-way rules.

    Pay attention— Know how to monitor the navigation lights of other vessels to recognize which direction they are going. Be particularly cautious about small vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, as well as anchored or drifting boats. Their lights can be easily confused with lights onshore.

    Don’t get distracted — or drunk— It’s never okay to drink and operate a boat, so be sure you have a designated driver. And, though you’re out there to have fun, make sure you can still hear the sounds from approaching vessels. Keep the stereo low and your ears open.

    While these tips are important, there’s nothing like experience to help ensure a safe voyage. If you’re a new boater or just in an unfamiliar vessel, you may want to put in more hours during the day before tackling an area at night. Even then, start with short evening outings and work your way up to a moonlight ride. And don’t forget to turn on the lights at the dock before you go!

    Landscaping & Hardscaping Your Home

     

    With winter behind us, this is the best time of year to update the outside of your home! These updates can include landscaping and hardscaping. Both will create an oasis, up the curb appeal, and increase the value of your home. This post will help you determine the difference and which items you need to let your insurance agent know about.

     

    Landscaping is the soft, growing stuff like perennial flowers, shrubs, succulents, and trees. Softscape is living; hardscape is not. Hardscaping your yard can include outdoor dining, fireplaces, walkways, decorative stairs, decks, and even water elements. Adding a hardscape design to your yard using natural materials both increases property values and spaces in your home to be enjoyed during the seasons.

    Hardscapes are considered “other structures”.  They are usually pricier in cost and add significant value to your home, you definitely want your agent to know about them. Give us a call, we can walk you through it all! 651-237-5180

    Affordable Ways to Spruce Up Your Home for Spring

    Spring is around the corner and if you are feeling as though your home needs a little more than a thorough spring cleaning, we have some tips for you!

    There are so many ways to add some life to your home which can make you feel as though you are living in a totally different house.

    The number one way is through paint! Painting a bathroom or your kitchen cabinets can really transform a space and instantly make it look brighter and cleaner.  Start with a room or two to keep yourself motivated and not overwhelmed.  Bright colors or white/neutrals are your best route.

     

     

    Next up is some greenery.  Not only on the outside of your home, but bring some houseplants in.  Decorating with fresh flowers or bowls of fruit can really cheer up a corner and unify the look of freshness.  Baskets are a great way to clear and store clutter. Even hanging them on the wall can add interest thats fresh and creative. IKEA has plants both faux and real, at a fraction of the price.

     

     

     

     

     

    Here are a few more to consider:

    Changing out lamps, lampshades, and/or lighting quickly changes any room.

    Change knobs/hardware on drawers, cabinets, and dressers.

    Paint furniture such as end tables, night stands, or kitchen chairs.

    Switch your bedding and towels to white or a bright color.

    Get new outlet and light switch plates.

    Add extra seating outside, such as a small cafe table/chairs.

    Upgrade any landscaping and add potted plants and flowers to your front steps or porch.

    That doesn’t seem that hard to tackle, right?  We hope these tips have been helpful to you and you transform your home into the space of your dreams!

    Happy Spring!

     

     

    What should I do if I have a claim?

     

     

     

    You’ve just been involved in an auto accident. The most important thing is your safety. If you are injured , please call for emergency help right away.  Here are some additional steps to help you file a claim on your auto insurance:

    • Call for emergency assistance if needed.
    • Once all parties are safe it’s helpful to take pictures of the damage and exchange insurance and driver information.
    • Next call your agent whether you are at fault or not
    • Follow the directions your agent gives you to provide all documentation related to the accident and file your claim. You may need a police report.
    • Keep copies of all your documentation and bills related to the accident. Jot down detailed notes following conversations about the accident. You need to know who you spoke with and what they said, at what date and time, and how to contact the person.
    • Find out from your agent:
      • Time limitations for filing your claims and submitting bills.
      • Time limitations for resolving claim disputes.
      • When you can expect the insurance company to contact you.
      • Whether you need estimates for the damages.
      • Whether your policy covers a rental car while your car is being repaired and how much it covers.

     

    Next we will cover the steps to take to file a claim on your homeowner’s insurance:

    • Report any crime to the police if its due to a burglary or a theft
    • Phone your insurance professional immediately
    • Have the insurance adjuster inspect the damage
    • Make any temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your home or items in it
    • Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles
    • If you need to relocate, save your receipts, some of those costs may be reimbursed

    We hope this has helped you navigate the claims’ process and answered any of the questions you may have had.  If we can be of further help, feel free to give us a call here at Sentinel Assurance at 651-237-5180.

     


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