Summertime offers an opportunity for those in the upper Midwest to open the windows, slap on sunscreen and head outside for the first time in months. Whether you are planning a family road trip, going to the lake, heading overseas, or simply enjoying the outdoors, there are plenty of insurance factors to consider. A small amount of planning and additional protection can make sure your summer isn’t ruined by an insurance nightmare. As you pack your bags, think about the following:
If you are taking a road trip this summer, remember that you are sharing the road with drivers without insurance. According to the Insurance Research Council, at least 15% of drivers have no insurance at all and an even higher percentage carry the state’s minimum coverage, which is often far too little to cover damages in accidents. This means that we need to make sure we protect ourselves on the road.
For instance, consider adding higher underinsured and uninsured limits to your auto policy, which can be done at minimal cost. Another example is adding the relatively inexpensive roadside assistance to your auto policy to provide breakdown and towing coverage. However, what most people don’t know is that roadside assistance is often limited to 15 miles. For a little extra money, most companies offer expanded roadside coverage that also provides trip interruption. This means that if you have an accident in the Nevada desert and need to stay a few days while your car is being repaired, your hotel bills and additional expenses are covered.
At the Lake
If you plan to retreat from the day-to-day grind and find a place to beat the summer heat, enjoying a weekend trip by the lake is a good idea. But the lake also has a lot of dangers, especially if you are hoping to spend time on a boat. Boat insurance is a low-cost way to offer you protection in case of an accident, but more importantly, for liability concerns if you have an issue. But one thing your boat policy liability will not cover is injuries to your family members, who are often the ones who are injured in boating accidents. To ensure there is some coverage for a family member who may fall out of a boat and be injured, be sure you maximize the medical payments coverage on your policy.
Another thing to consider is the person driving the boat. We often allow our children, friends, neighbors and acquaintances to drive our boats, but your policy may not provide any coverage for them if there is an accident. Before you start your boat engine, check your policy for potential restrictions and make sure you contact your agent to list any family member who will be driving the boat regularly.
Skipping road trips and going abroad for the summer this year? Going on a vacation abroad can be very rewarding and memorable, but if you happen to get sick or injured on your trip, things get extremely difficult and stressful. This is because most health insurance plans will not cover your medical bills overseas and will not pay to get you back home for treatment. This is where a simple travel insurance policy can help. A best practice is to read the different policies carefully as they can differ but generally, they will provide medical assistance, rescue and repatriation. Some policies will even cover cancelled flights and lost luggage. Travel insurance policies are generally inexpensive and is worth the cost, especially if you end up losing your luggage or need medical help abroad.
Staying in Town
Many people choose to stay in town for the summer. This is not surprising because often times, summer is the best time to see the sights around your own town. Longer daylight hours, great weather and tons of outdoor events can make staying in town a good idea.
You may decide to take out your new electric bike and ride around town. But if your bike gets stolen while parked outside the ice cream shop, you may be surprised to find out that coverage is not automatically available on your home or renter’s insurance policy. Home or renter’s insurance policies have limits to what they will pay and generally, that limit is very low (e.g. $1500 subject to your deductible). Fortunately, with a little planning, you can make sure you are fully protected. For instance, home or renter’s insurance policies allow you to schedule items individually to the policy for only $6 to $10 per $1000 item-value you add. By scheduling your valuable items, you get coverage up to their actual value with no deductible.
While in town, you may also notice a new trend – people riding around on electric scooters. Electric scooter sharing programs are growing in popularity and many people are choosing this mode of transportation to get around the city. Unfortunately, many companies providing e-scooter sharing program do not cover accident liability. This may change in the future, but until then, be careful when renting an electric scooter and watch out for these scooters when you are sightseeing around the city.
Before you embark on any trip, a good practice is to check your current insurance policies to determine whether you are covered for the activities you intend to do this summer. Consider an umbrella policy for extra liability insurance that provides coverage for injuries, property damage and lawsuits. If you are unsure what policies work best for you, speak with an insurance advisor to get a complimentary coverage evaluation. Summer is meant to be fun and relaxing, and a quick conversation with your insurance advisor can prevent your summer from becoming a stressful time. Having a peace of mind allows you to focus on the more important things in life, like enjoying summer.