Here are a few tips to consider before you hit the road
How can I secure my house or apartment while I’m away?
Create a lived-in look to deter burglars. Put your house lights on a timer or ask a neighbor to turn your lights on in the evening; stop the newspaper and mail deliveries; ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway occasionally; put an exterior light on a motion sensor switch. And, of course make sure 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 normally are 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 $200 limit on money and $1,500 on securities, passports, tickets and stamps. There is generally a $1,500 limit on watercraft, trailers and outboard motors. For fine jewelry, furs and watches that are stolen, a usual limit is $1,500. And, there is typically a $2,500 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. Photographs or a videotape of your belongings can be a useful way of establishing a record of the things 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. If you own any items that are unique, or have an unusually high value, it is important that those be appraised by a professional. (re: antiques, fine art, jewelry …)
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, such as a camp or summer home. Those items are likely 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, so this limitation is usually not a problem.
I plan to rent a car for this trip. Is it necessary to buy the insurance the rental agency sells?
It may not be. Before leaving for vacation, check with our office to see if your personal auto insurance policy covers damage to a rented vehicle, as many policies do. A rental car is generally considered a temporary substitute for a vehicle that is already covered on your policy. Remember that the coverage’s that apply to the vehicle on your policy are also the coverage’s that apply to the rental vehicle. The limit of liability, deductibles, glass coverage, collision … all of the terms that apply to your insured vehicle also apply to the rental vehicle. (re: if you don’t carry collision on your own car, then you don’t have collision coverage on the rental). You may also 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.