Taking a Vacation

Ahhhhh. Vacation. White beach. Blue water. Colorful drinks with little paper umbrellas. New sights, new sounds, new smells... Maybe you'll rent a car and explore, maybe you'll relax within the resort. It's all up to you.

Or, maybe your idea of a vacation includes slopes, powder, skiing, sledding, or mountain climbing.

Whether you're heading North or South, East or West, whether you prefer action-packed or easy-going, it's easy to forget that unpleasant things can still happen on vacation (even though you are trying to get away from it all!).

Invest some time in preparation (aside from packing) to set yourself up for true peace of mind. When you do this, you can rest assured that you and your family will be protected if something bad happens.

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you plan your trip. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call!


Rental Car? Buy the Insurance

There you are, just off the plane and headed to the rental car counter. From the plane, you've already seen the incredible color of the water... turquoise-blue and crystal clear. You've seen the palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. The only thing between you and two weeks of careless happiness is one more signature on one more sheet of paper.

Then, the question comes: "Would you like to purchase the insurance for your rental car?" This should be a simple question, yes or no. However, there are a few factors you should consider before you make this decision.

Does your credit card provide coverage for rental cars? What about your auto insurance, back in New Jersey? From what you've heard, driving here is different than back home, so maybe you should purchase the extra insurance? You don't want to start your vacation spending a couple hundred dollars on an unaccounted-for expense, but you want to make sure you're protected, too. How do you decide?

Start your vacation off right and don't let surprise questions catch you off-guard at your destination. When it comes to rental car insurance, our answer is easy and straight-forward: Buy the insurance.

You have the option to purchase a "Loss Damage Waiver" (LDW) from the rental car company. If purchased, this waiver relieves you from financial liability for the loss of, or damage to, the rental car as well as the parts and accessories that come with it.

We recommend buying the LDW for a variety of reasons:

  • Prevent substantial charges to your credit card. If you cause any type of damage to the rental car, the rental car company will likely require immediate reimbursement for the repairs. They won't wait until a claim is submitted and processed. That means they will charge (and possibly max-out) your credit card to get the car fixed as soon as possible. They won't do that if you purchase the LDW.
  • Prevent being charged for "loss of use." A rental car company only makes money when they rent out their cars. If the car is "on hold" because it is in a repair shop due to the damage you caused, the rental car company may also charge you for "loss of use." This is also covered when you buy the LDW.
  • If you don't have collision/comprehensive coverage on your New Jersey auto policy, there won't be collision/comprehensive coverage available for the rental car. This means you will be responsible if you don't buy the rental company's insurance and you damage the vehicle.
  • Avoid paying a deductible and filing a claim on your auto insurance policy. If you do have collision/comprehensive coverage on your New Jersey auto insurance, your policy will extend to the rental car, but you still have to pay your deductible. Also, you may face a rate increase at your next policy renewal. If you buy the Loss Damage Waiver, there is no deductible and no potential rate increase.

Keep in mind: Even if you buy the LDW, there are likely to be some exclusions. Some common exclusions include coverage for listed drivers only, no coverage if you drive while intoxicated, no coverage for certain sections of road (such as the infamous road to Hana on Maui), and/or no coverage for going off-road. Make sure you take a few moments to read the fine print.

As to your credit card: Some credit cards will, indeed, extend to provide coverage for a rental car. However, contracts vary from card to card, and some cards may only provide secondary or excess coverage. This requires you to file a claim with your auto insurance first. Call your credit card company to confirm coverage before you rely on them.

Also, your personal auto insurance will only extend protection in the US and Canada. If you travel abroad to Europe, Asia, or South America and plan to rent a car, it is best to purchase maximum liability limits through the rental company's coverage.


Your Homeowners or Renters Insurance Can Cover You Even Away from Home

Done! Everything is packed! It was a chore, but definitely worth the trouble. You wanted to be sure you didn't miss a thing. After all, it's the trip you've been saving up for a year or two. Two weeks at the sports resort, where you can ski on the glacier, golf, and lounge by the pool -- all in one day!

You packed your skis, snowboard, golf clubs, camera gear,and two weeks worth of clothes. Needless to say, everything is maxed-out.

As you are thinking about what you could be forgetting, the thought that something could get lost or stolen during your trip doesn't even cross your mind.

But... what if? This is exactly where a homeowners or renters policy could come in handy.

A homeowners or renters policy doesn't only protect you and your belongings while you're at home in New Jersey, it also protects your belongings away from home. For example, if your ski gear was stolen right from the porch of the lodge while you were inside, it would be covered under your insurance policy.

If you camera slipped out of the bag and tumbled down 75 feet of rocky slopes as you climb up that boulder -- it would be covered!

Even the stuff you have in your car (on a road trip or in everyday life) is covered by a homeowners or renters policy. It may be surprising, but these items are not covered by your auto policy like you might think. We would also like to take this opportunity to remind you not to leave any valuable belongings in your car and to always lock your car doors.

With a homeowners or renters policy, you also receive liability protection. For example, you could be held liable if you accidentally damage somebody else's property or, worse, hurt someone. If you are held liable for medical expenses or loss of income, you could be in debt for the rest of your life.

Imagine, you decide to give the black diamond trail a try. A quarter of the way down, you finally admit to yourself that you are in over your head. At this point, there aren't many options. You've got to get down. Sure enough, you fall, slide down on your back, and rumble straight into a woman who is waiting at the edge of the slope for her husband. She falls and breaks her wrist. Not only that, she's a surgeon and depends on her wrist and a steady hand to do her job (a very well-paid job that she won't be able to do, at least for a while).

If you have homeowners or renters insurance, you will have extra liability protection to help you. Please give us a call or request a quote for more information on how this valuable insurance can protect you, your family, and your assets in the event of a loss or an injury to someone else.


Going Abroad? Your Health Insurance Might Not Come Along

Aw, that hurts! You haven't broken a bone since you were 11 years old and fell off your BMX bike. At least that was worth it, because at the time you actually made it over that jump and really got some air, and everybody cheered -- and then you crashed. But the cast was kind of cool, with everybody's graffiti on it.

Right now, it's not cool. Nobody's cheering. There isn't even a bump on the slope. As far as you can tell, you fell right over your own two legs (which makes it absolutely not cool, and downright embarrassing). It really hurts, too!

The fact that you aren't skiing at home, but in the Swiss Alps, doesn't help. Oh my, you already see the ski paramedics coming toward you in their bright red overalls, with the carrier between them. You're not supposed to go down the slope in that thing, are you?

Well, evidently, there's no other way. Your cheeks will be burning brighter than the guys' overalls.

Before you even reach the bottom where the ambulance is waiting, you wonder... Does your health insurance cover this? How much is it going to cost? Just how much does a Swiss hospital charge to adjust a broken bone?

You swallow. In addition to the pain, this question really makes your heart race.

Unfortunately, your New Jersey health insurance plan might not cover you while you are abroad. Even if it does provide basic coverage for hospital or emergency costs, it might not cover your medical evacuation back to the United States.

If you are planning a trip abroad, you should call your health insurance provider to confirm whether or not your coverage extends to your destination.

Be sure to ask whether the policy covers medical payments abroad, includes high-risk activities that you might want to pursue (such as skiing, scuba-diving, para gliding, or mountain-climbing), and whether they pay foreign doctors and hospitals directly or if the foreign service provider will charge your credit card first.

Even if you travel within the United States, you might be surprised to find that you are not covered when traveling out of New Jersey. You might not even be covered outside your coverage area in your home state! Wherever you go, be sure to contact your health insurance company before you take off so you can set yourself and your family up with the right coverage for the trip.

Depending on the rules and restrictions of your individual plan, it may be wise to invest in a medical travel insurance policy that covers you for the extent of your trip.

There are a variety of very affordable medical travel insurance plans available that may return your investment in added peace of mind as you explore new corners of the globe. For a major trip, you also have the option to purchase a travel insurance package that includes medical coverage, trip cancellation or interruption coverage, lost or stolen baggage coverage, or even accidental death coverage.

This is your well-deserved vacation. Time to enjoy, relax, and re-charge. Don't let life's curve-balls interfere with it! Contact us today at 877-329-3261 and we'll review your options with you.