Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Answers to questions you may have before going on vacation.

How can I secure my house or apartment while I’m away?
Create a lived-in look to deter burglars. Do this by stopping newspaper and mail deliveries, asking a neighbor to park their car in your driveway occasionally, and putting lights on a timer or asking a neighbor to turn lights on in the evening. Use a telephone answering machine or call forwarding to quiet ringing telephones. And, make sure that all windows and doors are locked to make entry difficult for intruders.

If my home is burglarized or damaged by fire,
are all of my possessions covered?
Under a standard homeowners insurance policy for a single-family home, the contents of the home are normally covered for at least 50 percent of the amount of insurance on the building ($50,000 contents coverage on a house insured for $100,000). A renters policy is written for a specified dollar amount, based on what you own, to cover the loss of personal belongings in your apartment. There are special limits of liability on certain items in certain situations, however. Typically, there is a $100 or $200 limit on money and $1,000 on securities, passports, tickets and stamps. There is generally a $1,000 limit on watercraft, trailers and outboard motors. For fine jewelry, furs and watches that are stolen, a usual limit of $1,000 is set. And, there is typically a $2,000 limit for theft of guns and a $2,500 limit on theft of silverware, goldware and pewterware.

A home inventory is important to have should you become the victim of a burglary or fire. The inventory is a list of your possessions, including makes, models and serial numbers. Photographs or a videotape of your belongings are other ways of recording what you own. These records should be kept in a safe place away from the house or apartment so they would not be lost in the event of fire.

What if the items I take with me on vacation are stolen?
Your belongings generally are covered by your homeowners or renters policy anywhere in the world, including items in storage facilities, suitcase contents and items lent to friends. Exceptions to this are items usually kept at another residence of yours, which then would be limited to the greater of $1,000 or 10 percent of the personal property limit shown on your policy (some restrictions also apply to theft). Typically, you would have another policy to cover all the eligible property at that location, including loss by theft.

We’ll be traveling by car on vacation. Do you have any suggestions?
Check with our agency to make sure that your policy is up-to-date, and make sure the car is in good running condition. While traveling, be sure your passengers wear seat belts and young children ride in car seats at all times. Also, keep cameras, purses and other valuables with you while on vacation; never leave them in the car.

I plan to rent a car for this trip. Is it necessary to buy the insurance
the rental agency sells?
It may not be. Prior to leaving for vacation, check with your professional insurance agent to determine if your personal auto insurance policy covers damage to a rented vehicle, as many policies do. You may want to contact your major credit card company to ask if a rental car charged to that account is covered for damage. If you don’t have one of these pre-existing coverages, it may be wise to purchase insurance from the rental agency.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do I need a separate insurance policy for my boat?

Is my boat covered under my homeowners policy or do I need a separate policy?
Most homeowners policies provide liability insurance for smaller motorboats with outboard motors of 25
horsepower or less, and for sailboats less than 26 feet long. Typically, there is $1,500 coverage for damage to the
boat for specified perils. However, theft and windstorm are limited and sinking is not covered at all.

What type of policy is best?
Boat owners are well served by a policy specifically designed to insure watercraft, offering all-risk coverage for
the boat’s full value. A boat owners policy provides the necessary liability, hull and motor coverage. The policies
follow the format of personal auto policies; however, they vary from company to company much more than auto
policies do because they are written on nonstandardized policies.

What should I look for when I select a policy or check my existing coverage?
• Limits of navigation, or where the boat can go and still be protected by the insurance policy;
• provisions for insuring sails, spars and other property on the boat;
• permissive users of the boat;
• exclusions for how the boat is used (e.g., commercial, parasailing, racing, etc.);
• all-risk versus named perils; and
• be certain the personal umbrella policy will include an underlying boat policy.

Do you have any other advice?

Consult our agency to determine what type of insurance best meets your needs. Read and make sure you
understand your policy. Periodically review your coverage with us and be sure that your craft is registered
properly. In addition, be certain to follow all laws of boat navigation, including laws regarding drinking and
boating, which are available from the U.S. Coast Guard and your local law enforcement agencies.

Is it illegal to drink alcohol while boating?
It is against federal law for a recreational boat operator to have a blood alcohol content higher than .08
and for other vessel operators to have a BAC of more than .04 percent. State laws apply for boaters in
waters within state geographical boundaries.

What is the law in New York state?
New York state law prohibits the operation of a boat on state waters while one is impaired by drugs or
alcohol or is intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. Violators charged with boating while
intoxicated face up to a $1,000 fine; up to one year in jail; and loss of boat operating privileges for one year.

Is boating while intoxicated a widespread problem?
Federal Department of Transportation statistics show that nearly 700 boating fatalities occur in our nation
each year. Alcohol is reported officially as a factor in 21 percent of those deaths, although experts suspect the
number is much higher.

Got more questions that we didn't answer? Call the Insurance Geeks at 888-565-2212.
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