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Don't Leave Home this Week Without Taking Steps to Protect Your Home and Your Summer Vacation Plans!
July 3, 2001 - As you make travel plans during this holiday week and throughout the busy summer vacation months, you shouldn't leave home without packing up a little peace-of-mind. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association offers these tips to help safeguard your property and your travel plans, so that your trip doesn't have you wishing you'd never left in the first place!
Protecting Your Home While You're Away
Don't let your dream vacation turn your house into a burglar's dream home! Here is a quick checklist to help give your house "that lived in look."
Leave blinds open in their usual position.
Have mail and packages picked up, forwarded or held by the post office.
Lower the sound of your telephone ringer and answering machine so they can't be heard outside.
Arrange to have your lawn mowed in summer and your walk and driveway shoveled in winter.
Stop newspaper deliveries.
Ask a friend to pick-up "throw-away" newspapers and circulars.
Use automatic timers to turn lights on and off in various parts of the house at appropriate times. Consider connecting a radio to a timer.
Tell police and dependable neighbors when you plan to be away and join with your neighbors to keep a close watch on what's happening in your area.
Check Coverages on Your Homeowners or Renters Policy
Before you leave take a few minutes to check your homeowners or renters policy. It will usually provide coverage for off-premises theft. So, for example, if your luggage is stolen, your insurer will pay to replace it, less the deductible.
If you are traveling with expensive electronic equipment, jewelry or sporting gear, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a "floater" or endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. The cost to insure a $1,000 ring would be between $10 and $40 annually. This would provide full coverage for the item, anywhere in the world, usually for one year.
Check Your Auto Policy Before You Rent a Car
If you plan to rent a car, you need auto insurance. If you have adequate insurance on your own car, including collision and comprehensive, this may be enough.
Before you rent a car:
Contact your insurance company.
Find out how much coverage you have on your own car. In most cases, the coverage and deductibles you have on your personal auto policy would apply to a rental car, providing it's used for pleasure and not business. If you don't have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or if it is damaged in an accident.
Call your credit card company.
Find out what insurance your card provides. Levels of coverage vary.
Consider Buying Travel Insurance
Vacations are often a big-ticket item, so you may want to consider buying some extra peace-of-mind in the way of travel insurance. This will cover your costs, minus the deductible, if the cruise or tour operator goes belly up or you need to cancel due to illness, a death in the family or other disasters spelled out in your policy.
There are four major types of travel insurance:
1. Trip Cancellation Insurance
This would reimburse you if the cruise line or tour operator goes out of business. It would also provide coverage if you have to cancel the trip due to sickness, a death in the family or other calamity listed in the policy.
In addition, if you or an immediate family member becomes seriously ill or is injured during the trip most policies would reimburse you for the unused portion of the vacation.
The cost is generally 5% to 7% of the price of the vacation, so a $5,000 trip would cost roughly $250 to $350 to insure.
Trip cancellation is very different from a Cancellation Waiver that many cruise and tour operators offer. Waivers are relatively inexpensive, costing approximately $40 to $60. They provide coverage if you have to cancel the trip, but they have many restrictions. They must be purchased when you book the trip and will usually not cover you immediately before departure (the time period most people cancel) or after the trip has begun. Most importantly, waivers are not insurance . Cancellation Waivers are not regulated by the state department of insurance, so if your tour or cruise operator gets into financial difficulty, you may not be able to collect.
2. Baggage Insurance or Personal Effects Coverage
This would provide coverage if your personal belongings are lost, stolen or damaged during the trip.
To insure $1,000 worth of personal belongings for a week, it would cost roughly $50 per year.
Before purchasing this type of coverage, find out how much insurance the airline or trip operator provides for your belongings. Also, check your homeowners or renters policy. It will usually provide coverage for off-premises theft. Therefore, if your luggage is stolen, your insurer will pay to replace it, less the deductible.
3. Emergency Medical Assistance
This provides insurance and medical assistance for travelers. It would cover you if you had to be airlifted off a mountain due to a skiing or hiking accident or had to stay for a prolonged period of time in a foreign hospital. It would also provide coverage if you got seriously sick or were injured and needed to be flown home. Some commercial airlines require very sick passengers to travel on a stretcher with a doctor. This means that you might have to purchase 10 or more seats on a plane at a possible cost of over $10,000.
Before purchasing this type of coverage, check with your own health insurance carrier. Find out what type of coverage you have when traveling abroad and if there are any limits. Also, ask if it will pay to fly you home or to a country with first-rate medical care.
4. Accidental Death
This would provide a variety of coverages if you or a family member dies on the trip. If you have a good life insurance plan or made other financial provisions for your loved ones, this may be duplicate insurance.
Your credit card company may also provide travel-related services and coverage. You can also purchase travel insurance from either a travel agent or you can buy directly from an insurer that specializes in this type of coverage.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.