Renting Cars Through an App and How It Impacts Insurance

Most cars stay parked more than they roam the road throughout most of their lifetimes. Seems like a waste. What if, simply by using an app, you could not only get additional use from your car, but also make a little money on the side? Perhaps to help finance the payments or insurance, take a trip or just to save some extra cash? Copying business models similar to those of Uber and Airbnb, peer-to-peer car-sharing services use apps to make this happen for folks across North America and the world.

What do you need to know about any rules, regulations and insurance before trying to turn your extra vehicles into cash cows?

Why Peer-to-Peer Sharing Appeals to Users

Peer-to-peer car-sharing companies such as Turo and Getaround appeal to customers for reasons of convenience, value, variety and location. Peer-to-peer renters can bypass busy airport counters and all of the paperwork processing that can lead to frustration and delays. Prices for renters can be lower substantially lower, too, in part because peer-to-peer companies require much less overhead. Obtaining a vehicle can happen without the two parties ever meeting in person. 

Customers using apps to rent cars potentially enjoy other advantages: Peer-to-peer and specialty companies can offer a more distinctive array of vehicles. Want to provide the experience of a lifetime? Rent someone your Ferrari or Rolls! Depending on how much your car is worth, renting it out could net you thousands of dollars a year. 

Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Is Not Widely Regulated – Yet

Only a few states have begun to regulate peer-to-peer car-sharing companies. How to collect sales tax, the use of airport property to store the autos and how to safeguard with auto insurance coverage, as big car-rental companies must do by law, is still developing. But more states every day are moving to protect the interests of consumers and the established rental-car giants. States such as New York, Maryland, and California have moved more quickly to regulate peer-to-peer companies. Illinois has legislation pending, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, that would change the definition of what it means to “rent.” If passed, the effect on consumers could mean higher prices at peer-to-peer companies.

How Are Cars Insured?

Turo offers an extensive protection plan through Liberty Mutual, but hosts can substitute their own commercial insurance if they prefer. Turo’s premium plan covers $1 million in liability. It’s also possible for the renters to use their own insurance. 

If something goes wrong — from insurance claims, to accidents and breakdowns, to late returns and missing vehicles — how a host chooses to insure will change how the issues are addressed. And as this model becomes more prevalent, you can expect additional attention on how insurance works with peer-to-peer car sharing. 

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In the Driver’s Seat: Understanding Auto Insurance For Business

For many companies, business depends on cars. This is true whether the business is a sole proprietorship or a corporation with hundreds of employees. When it comes to insurance needs, the type of policy can vary widely.

It all depends on the type of business, who owns the vehicles, who’s driving them, and how often. 

Coverage Needs

In most states, business vehicles require liability insurance for both bodily injury and property damage  that may result from an accident involving someone from the company. Many states also require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and/or personal injury protection (PIP). If the business owns or leases the vehicle, physical damage coverage is also often purchased.

The typical insurance policy that covers your business operations—a Business Owners Policy (BOP)—does not cover vehicles. A separate policy is needed for autos. In most cases, it will be a Business Auto Coverage Form (BACF).

The BACF doesn’t require the same level of coverage for every vehicle your business uses, however. You can “schedule” them separately, choosing different coverage levels for different vehicles depending on need, but all under the same policy. For example, why get the same $30,000 collision coverage for a beat-up work truck that you would for the brand-new one in your fleet?

Personal Versus Business

Depending on the type of business you own, the vehicle use required and how much the business is worth, you may be fine with your personal auto policy and the policies your employees carry. Personal policies do cover some business use. However, they won’t cover vehicles owned by the business. Personal “umbrella” policies won’t either. 

If you or your employees are driving personal vehicles for business, be sure all of you have sufficient liability coverage to protect the business in the event of a serious auto accident. If the coverage limits on each personal policy add up to less than what your business is worth, a victim’s insurance company will likely sue your business. 

A minimum of $500,000 in coverage is the recommendation for small business liability protection, which typically only a BACF can provide. Even a very small business can secure $1 million in protection for a slightly higher premium.  

Generally speaking if the business owns, rents or leases vehicles, the driver should be covered with a business policy. If no vehicles are owned/rented/leased, personal policies may suffice. It all depends on coverage limits versus the value of the business. 

There are many variables and nuances in determining the right auto coverage for your business. It’s best to talk with a Bond Insurance Group licensed insurance agent who will help you determine the coverage you need. Much depends on who will be driving the cars, whether you own, rent or lease; and if you and employees are likely to be driving their own cars for your business. The answers to these questions will ultimately indicate the exact coverage you need. 

 

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

What do you need to know when it comes time to sell your house? Maybe you’re ready to downsize after the kids have grown. Or perhaps you’re family is growing and you need more space. No matter the situation, here are 10 questions to ask before hiring a real estate professional to help you sell your home.

Why Work With a Real Estate Pro in the First Place?

The idea of putting up a “For Sale, By Owner” sign has obvious appeal because there’s no commission to pay. But most buyers themselves typically use agents and a buyer’s agent might hesitate or even refuse to show your property unless another professional is helping to make a deal happen.

“There are only two reasons why I show an FSBO: Either there is no other inventory available, or the price is ridiculously low,” said Bruce Ailion, a realtor with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta. “Many experienced brokers have been burned by an FSBO transaction where the seller did not pay the full, agreed commission, or any commission at all, to the agent who brought the buyer.”

It’s within a real estate professional’s self interest to spread such opinions, but it also reveals a big risk when going the FSBO route. Being guided by a professional, especially if you are selling for the first time, makes a lot of sense.

Is Your Real Estate Professional a Licensed Agent, a Broker or a Realtor? 

There’s a difference—in qualifications required and services offered—among agents, brokers and realtors, even though the terms seem to be used interchangeably.

  • Agents, also called associates, are a starting point for real-estate professionals who have passed all required real-estate classes, along with any state-mandated licensing exams.
  • Brokers have additional qualification requirements, but can also work as agents on their own.  
  • Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors, who abide by association standards and practices, and agree to uphold a code of ethics.

Why Is Real Estate Licensing Important?

There are other positives to using an agent. Most of the reasons have to do with saving money. Specifically, agents can help you:

  • Keep your own emotions out of the bargaining process
  • Save time; it’s often time consuming to sell and buy property
  • Find a bigger pool of buyers
  • Weed out unserious buyers who are “just looking”
  • Analyze the positives and negatives of your property
  • Protect clients from lawsuits if something goes awry

Licenses also a certain amount of protection for consumers via authorities such as the Better Business Bureau. License requirements for real-estate professionals vary from state to state. While academic degrees are not necessarily required, they still can be helpful:

Completing a degree gives agents a solid foundation in the basics of buying and selling of real estate, allowing you to make more informed decisions about properties, mortgages, interest rates, and stay on top of the latest trends in the industry.

In addition, holding a degree often makes potential agents more attractive to real-estate brokerage firms.

Here’s a recent list of real-estate agent requirementsfor each state. 

How Long Has the Agent Been in Business?

Experience matters. It’s likely the more sales an agent has completed, the more they have learned about the business—what and how to do it, and what to avoid. Inexperienced agents might have more time to concentrate on selling your house because they haven’t stockpiled clientele. But they also haven’t been around the block (literally and figuratively) as much as you might like.

What Strategy Will the Agent Use to Sell Your Home? 

With occasional exceptions, there’s more to moving property than sticking a “For Sale” sign in the front yard (although that could be part of it). What is the strategy? Where and how frequently will your agent advertise? Is it appropriate to use direct mail? What about online marketing? What steps do you need to take to prepare your home for sale? On that note: What about the house’s physical condition to improve to help its potential for sale?

How Good of a Negotiator Is Your Agent? 

Real-estate markets fluctuate. There are “buyers markets” and “sellers markets” that depend on all sorts of economic factors—interest rates, notably—but there are many variables. An agent’s list-price to sales-price ratio can be a helpful statistic to know. A strong listing agent should have a track record for negotiating sales prices close to list prices—the closer to 100 percent, the better.

Can the Agent Help Find Other Professionals Who Are Necessary to the Sale of a House? 

Mortgage brokers, home inspectors, title companies all are part of buying and selling a house. Agents should be able to supply you, in writing, with a list of vendorswith whom they work, along with reasons why they endorse these particular professionals. A word of caution: “Affiliated,” could mean the agent and their broker receive compensation for using a particular vendor, which means you could be paying a premium. 

In addition, get an advance copy of any legal documents is helpful to being better informed.

Can the Agent Produce Referrals? 

If the agent has many online reviews, this step might not be necessary, but no matter how you do it, it’s important to research an agent or agency’s references to inform your opinion. A questionnaire should give you a good start on how to go about doing this.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Cost? 

It is said that sellers typically pay the freight when it comes to real estate commissions, which tend to be 5 to 6 percent of a home’s purchase price. While it’s really a technicality based on how real-estate transactions work legally, fees split between the agents of buyers and sellers typically do come from the seller’s end, which obviously impacts what the list price will be. Therefore, knowing what a listing agent charges becomes an important consideration.

What Topics Might I Have Forgotten?

Selling a home is a process. It’s possible that during your first meeting you might not have all of your questions resolved with answers. Or, you might come up with more questions as the process unfolds. Being comfortable with an agent who listens is vital. It’s especially true if you’re in the process of selling one home and buying a new one. Will your agent be able to answer all your questions to your satisfaction?

Understanding Renters Insurance

The number of renters in America continue to rise. For the past several years, almost 40 percent of households are renters. There are myriad reasons why renting is the best decision for many people. While it is easy to think that renting means your landlord or rental company has you covered when things go wrong, that isn’t always the case. Enter: renters insurance. Once you understand what renters insurance provides, you will see why it is a smart money move for all renters to make. 

What is Renters Insurance?

Often times, people equate renters insurance with homeowners insurance. Some people assume renters insurance covers the apartment structure so it’s not necessary. While the owner carries insurance on the building, that coverage is usually for the structure itself, not the contents of the building. 

Renters insurance covers a renter’s possessions. Think frozen pipes that burst and ruin your couch. Or a burglar who gets away with your new iPhone and computer. Essentially, if the items in your apartment are damaged or stolen, you can claim the loss with renters insurance. 

Renters insurance is also important in case someone has an injury in your home. If someone sues and you’re responsible for the injury, you would have to cover their hospital bill and other expenses. With renters insurance, you can file a claim to have those medical costs covered. It may also cover your legal expenses depending on the details in your policy. 

Is All Renters Insurance the Same?

Replacement cost value (RCV) policies cover the cost to purchase or repair the same or similar items today. Actual cash value (ACV) policies cover an item based on an adjustment on the original purchase price.

What is the big difference? Depreciation. When using actual cash value, something that cost $500 when you bought it but is worth $250 today, due to depreciation, means the item is covered at the lower price point.

It is important to read the policy coverage closely to see what is and isn’t covered and what the deductible amount is. In RCV and ACV policies, the renter is responsible for the deductible. 

How Much is My Stuff Worth?

Do you really know what is in your home? It’s difficult to remember every single item in your home, never mind knowing what everything cost. If you can’t recall this information on a good day, imagine how difficult it would be to recall in an emergency.

One of the best ways to make sure your renters insurance policy accurately covers your belongings is to create a home inventory. An inventory is a list of everything you own and is easily accessible when filing a claim. It may be especially helpful to have big-ticket items appraised separately. Depending on your policy coverage, you may also need to take out a separate rider to cover expensive items, like jewelry. 

Does Renters Insurance Do Anything Else?

Sometimes renters insurance does more than cover the replacement cost or the repair price of your items. Some policies can also provide other coverage. For instance, if you are unable to live in your apartment due to a hailstorm or fire, you may be reimbursed for the cost of staying in a hotel. It is important to review your policy before any emergency takes place so you know what will and what won’t be covered.

How Do I Get Renters Insurance?

While you are researching renters insurance options, start with what is covered by your landlord and what isn’t. Once you have that information, you will have a more accurate understanding of the type and amount of coverage you need.

Next, you will want to make sure that you have an idea of the value of your belongings. That is where a home inventory or appraisals will be helpful. Then, you can work a licensed agent from Bond Insurance Group to request a quote. 

Your premiums will fluctuate on how much you are willing to pay with your deductible. When you talk to your SelectQuote agent, take a few minutes to outline your needs and find a plan to ensure the coverage you elect meets those needs. Once you’ve have the right coverage, you can breathe easy knowing you’re protected while you rent.

How to Prepare for the Cost of Aging with Long-Term Care Insurance

Insurance involves thinking about the possibility of misfortune—everything from a damaged car, to a damaged home, to damaged heath. And the older we get, the more we need to consider the possibility of long-term care (LTC) insurance to help in our twilight years. 

What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

LTC is an insurance policy that pays for care when you can no longer manage yourself. Should you need to enter a nursing home, move to an assisted-living facility, use an adult daycare center or have a caretaker in your home, LTC can protect you, and family members, from financial disaster.

How High Are Long-Term Care Costs? 

The costs of long-term care are staggering. According to the 2018 edition of Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, nursing home care averages $8,365 per month for a private room ($7,441 for semi-private), $4,000 per month for an assisted living facility. Homemaker and Health Aide care in your own home? Each averages more than $4,000 per month. It’s easy to see how savings can vanish quickly when the need for long-term care arises. For some, the only option is to fully exhaust their financial means until they qualify for a Medicaid facility.

Who Should Get Long-Term Care Insurance?

Anyone who could possibly find themselves in need of long-term care due to diminished mental or physical capacity at some point in the future is a candidate for long-term care insurance. From that perspective, that’s pretty much everybody. 

People are living longer, which means “old age” will be a more extended period than it was for previous generations. If your health is good, and you don’t have a family history of ailments such as stroke, dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, you may not need much in terms of long-term care. But even the most fit people can find their capacities challenged as they head into the 80s, 90s and beyond. All it takes is one fall to change the entire course of an elderly person’s life.

Long-term care isn’t only for the elderly. If you’re in a profession that comes with the possibility of a debilitating injury, you may find yourself with diminished capacities at a young age. Is it better to spend money on long-term care insurance or take your chances that the odds will be in your favor? These are the kind of personal questions that make considering long-term care insurance so difficult.

How Does a Long-Term Care Policy Work?

Every policy will have its own fine points. But essentially, LTC insurance will begin paying out benefits once your physical or mental conditional reaches a particular point, determined by your insurer. Some policies will begin paying immediately upon reaching that point, where other less-expensive policies put a waiting period between the point at which you become eligible and the point at which payments begin.

What Does a Long-Term Care Policy Cost?

This is probably the most sensitive part of LTC insurance—it’s expensive. According to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, a couple age 55 can expect to pay about $3,000 a year in LTC premiums. That’s why it is recommended to buy it sooner rather than later. If that same couple waited 10 years, their premiums would equal about $4,675 a year. A lot of money, to be sure. But if it eventually helps them each offset over $100,000 a year in nursing home costs, it might very well be worth it. 

How Much Long-Term Care Insurance Do I Need?

A reputable provider should be able to help you calculate a benefits amount that’s right for your situation. Try an online calculator to figure out the correct amount for you. Another smart move is to be sure you understand the healthcare costs you’ll need to meet in retirement well before the need for using your long-term care insurance might arise.

Where Do I Get a Long-Term Care Policy?

As with all decisions about insurance, make sure you buy your policy from a well-respected company. You need to be confident your insurance provider will still be in business when you start collecting benefits after decades of premium payments. SelectQuote doesn’t have a recommendation for one company over another, but a simple search for will help you get your search underway.

And keep in mind that long-term care involves more than just insurance concerns. There are other factors to consider. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a useful overview of the subject.

Insurance 101 for House Flippers

Flipping houses hit an 11-year high in 2017. It’s no secret why. Television shows such as “Flip or Flop” and “Rehab Addict” flaunt how flipping houses can provide a lucrative career or side hustle. But it’s not always an easy one. Many things can go south during a flip, including stolen materials or structural damage while the house sits empty. Mishaps that eat into potential profit. 

Most people go into a flip thinking about asking price, cost of renovations and earning potential. It’s important to add insurance coverage to the early list of considerations. 

Below we answer four common insurance questions from flipping newbies. 

What Type of Insurance Policy do I Need for my Flip? 

New house flippers may think general homeowner’s insurance will cover their needs. The type of insurance policy needed for a flip depends on the stage of the project. Here are four policies to consider. A Bond Insurance Group agent can help determine the best policy for each stage of your flip.

Builder’s Risk Policy – A builder’s risk policy covers the property during construction. Work with your insurance agent to ensure all of the needed items, such as an installation floater for materials, are included in the policy. Once you complete construction, secure another type of insurance.

Dwelling Policy – A dwelling policy covers the home’s structure, not the personal belongings inside. This makes it an ideal policy for flippers, whose renovations do not contain personal belongings.

Liability Insurance – Liability coverage protects the owner and investors in the event an injury occurs at their property. 

Vacant Home Insurance – If the property will sit empty for 30-60 days purchase a vacant home insurance policy. Vacant homes pose a higher risk because no one is present to catch big problems, such as flooding. And vacant homes are also more susceptible to theft and vandalism. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not include coverage during times of vacancy. If there are delays in the rehab schedule or the house sits on the market empty for months instead of weeks, vacant home insurance provides protection.

How Much Insurance Coverage Do I Need? 

In general, obtain enough insurance to cover the cost of the home after renovation. This accounts for both the replacement of the home at the cost you paid, as well as renovation costs.

When Should I Get Insurance for my Flip?

Don’t wait to contact an insurance agent. Many policies must be in place before a certain percentage of the renovation is complete. Talk to an insurance agentearly in the process, before making an offer, to determine policy options.

Can I Purchase One Policy for Multiple Houses? 

A policy covering multiple pieces of real estate can be especially appealing for investors looking to flip more than one home. This type of coverage does exist but may be harder to come by. An insurance agent can help research and find the right fit.

Ensuring proper insurance covered at each stage of the project is key to protecting your flip. Guard your investment. Contact a Bond Insurance Group agent before jumping into a flip to learn more.

What’s Covered by Insurance When Your Car is Stolen?

Pop quiz: What is the most popular vehicle in the United States? If you answered the Ford F-150 pickup, you know the auto industry. What about the most popular vehicle among car thieves? If you said the 1996 Honda Civic, you know the insurance industry. 

So what happens if your vehicle disappears from your driveway, parking garage or wherever you last parked it? From an insurance standpoint, it all depends on the type of policy you purchased to cover the vehicle.

If you’re driving a ’96 Civic, chances are you’re carrying only liability and/or collision insurance. That’s a wise decision for a 22-year-old ride. Unfortunately, you’d be out of luck as far as recouping the value of that car. However, if you have a comprehensive policy, you can expect a check for whatever your stolen make and model is worth, minus the deductible. 

Simple enough, right? Yes and no. It gets more complicated when it comes to coverage for any personal or business belongings were stolen along with the vehicle, and if the vehicle is damaged from vandalism—or certain parts of the car were stolen or damaged. 

Which Policies Cover Theft?

In most states, “comprehensive” auto insurance covers everything from storm damage, falling meteors and collisions with a cow to theft or vandalism. But be sure to check your policy because it varies. 

Collision coverage shields you from the cost of repairing the vehicle you’re driving and/or another vehicle involved in the accident (if you’re deemed responsible).

Liability insurance protects you—and your assets—in the event you caused injury to the other driver and/or passengers. 

Only comprehensive coverage will cover the value of your vehicle if it’s stolen. 

What Happens if Other Items Are Stolen with the Vehicle?

As if losing your beloved automobile weren’t bad enough, what about your golf clubs in the trunk, your purse or wallet in the console or the laptop with your entire music collection stored in it? 

Your comprehensive auto policy will only cover permanent components that are pre-installed car parts, not personal belongings left inside. The good news is if you have homeowners or renters insurance, these items may be covered. But you’ll need to file a separate claim.

If that laptop is owned by your employer, it is likely covered by a business policy. But a separate claim will need to be filed.

What About a Break-in or Vandalism?

Sometimes, you might wish the car was stolen after seeing the results of a break-in or vandalism. It’s one thing to have a window broken and a holiday gift stolen. It’s a much bigger deal if your $5,000 custom sound system is ripped out or the exterior is spray-painted.

The coverage and the claims you need to file could get tricky. 

In the case of the broken window and stolen gift, again you’re dealing with different policies. Many auto policies have separate claims and deductibles for glass. So you might be able to replace the window for $50 or $100. However, the value of the gift—a personal belonging—would need to be claimed against the homeowners or renters policy. 

The after-market stereo, amplifier and speakers are considered part of the vehicle, not personal belongings. However, if stolen, they might only be covered to the value of a factory-installed OEM sound system. That may be only $1,000-$1,200 at the dealership. To cover the rest, talk to your agent or carrier ahead of time about the full cost of your investment and get special coverage. It most likely will make for a nominal increase to your premium, but you can’t do this after the fact. 

The cost to fix acts of vandalism, such as smashed windows, slashed tires or a keyed paint job, are typically covered by a comprehensive auto policy. Pay your premiums on time and pay your deductible to restore your ride to its previous appearance. 

Even the most advanced security systems and secure neighborhoods don’t immunize your vehicle or its contents from theft and vandalism. It pays to be knowledgeable about the coverage(s) you need to protect your property and your pocketbook from all the possibilities

Disaster Strikes Your Second Home: Are You Prepared?

Once you decide you’re financially ready to buy a vacation home, one important step is insuring your new pad. It’s different than buying insurance for a primary residence. Factors such as where it’s located, who stays there and what amenities are available will help determine your home insurance needs.

Your Vacation Home Versus Mother Nature

For many people, the whole idea of a vacation home is to be closer to a sandy beach or among the crisp mountain air. That perfect location for rest and relaxation may come with some additional insurance costs.

Hurricane season and intense rainstorms underscore the importance of knowing your coverage. The point applies to primary residences and vacation homes. When hurricane Florence hit in September 2018, more than 30 million people were under a flood watch and media outlets reported only about 3 percent of North Carolina and South Carolina homeowners held insurance policies

And the cost from homeowners without insurance can be significant. When assessing the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Department of Insurance reported the average cost of flood damage caused was $80,000.

You can purchase a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is run by the Federal Management Agency (FEMA), or private insurance companies.

Other natural disasters or risks associated with a given region should be considered, as well. 

For areas where earthquakes or other seismic activity are common, supplemental policies to cover these risks are available. If you live in California, you also can receive it through the California Earthquake Agency (CEA). 

But Hawaii homeowners affected by volcanic eruptions and related damage were less likely to find coverage.

Whether it’s one of the aforementioned risks or another threat like wildfire, the area in which the home resides can result in higher deductibles for your property.  

Insuring Your Vacation Home for Guests

Renting out your vacation home is becoming more common. Homeowners do it to recover their investment and earn extra income. Unfortunately, guests can inadvertently hurt themselves or, inexplicable as it may seem, intentionally damage the property.

Don’t have enough insurance — or the right coverage? Additional headaches could follow. So, if you go this route, you’ll want to consider the potential insurance needs.

Before renting out your vacation home and selecting insurance, you’ll want to determine how often you’ll rent out the property and what service you’ll use.

Many insurance carriers will make a distinction based on how often you rent the property. If you plan to rent your vacation home occasionally, your carrier may offer a rental rider to add to your existing homeowners policy. These typically provide limited property and liability coverage. 

If regular renters seem more likely, your needs could warrant business insurance. 

The other important consideration is what service, if any, you will use to rent your property. Because of its large community and ease-of-use, Airbnb is a popular choiceAirbnb offers an insurance program to hosts. It would be easy for a homeowner to think they’re completely protected by the program. That would be a mistake.

It does provide coverage up to $1 million for property and liability claims. But there are still gaps. It doesn’t cover certain liability scenarios, such as assault, or protection for your valuables. 

Having rental guests? Don’t guess. Contact a Bond Insurance Group licensed agent to know what coverage you need. 

Insuring Your Vacation Home From Itself?

First, similar to how coverage works with your primary residence, the home’s specifications and features will affect how much your insurance costs. 

How old is the home? And what materials make up its construction? A carrier will review these factors when pricing coverage.

The style of home also could dictate cost. A four-bedroom, single-occupancy house on the beach may cost more to insure than a condominium two streets away. 

Not only would construction and age affect the costs, but how the property is managed could, too. Features or services provided (or not) by a property’s homeowners association, such as security, may affect cost.

Speaking of features, amenities that pose a risk could increase premiums and the need for more liability coverage. Pools and hot tubs are a prime example. 

Other Implications and Getting Help

When adding up the factors that go into insuring your vacation or second home, the costs can be greater than that of your primary residence.

Keep in mind the implications. If disaster strikes and you don’t have the right coverage, your insurance company could deny your claim. Additionally, in certain scenarios, they might decide to cancel your current policy or request you switch to a business policy. The latter may lead to higher premiums. 

Can Your Smart Home Save You Money?

There’s a definite “cool factor” to the idea of a smart home. The ability to turn lights on and off with your voice, get notified if there’s someone on your porch, or have your smoke detector alert the fire department if it detects a problem seems futuristic. It’s reminiscent of the Jetsons and Iron Man.

Smart home devices definitely are cool – but they’re also practical. Many of the devices aren’t just about convenience, they’re also about safety. Lights that turn on and off automatically when you’re on vacation can deter burglars, smoke detectors that call the fire department can save lives and property, and doorbells that capture porch activity can help serve justice if your belongings are ever stolen.

Even beyond peace of mind, smart devices can help you save money. It goes beyond smart thermostats that monitor the temperature of your home to save you money on utilities. 

It’s time to start looking seriously at how certain smart home devices can help you save money on homeowners insurance. Many insurance companies offer premium discounts of 5 percent to 20 percent for policyholders who install smart devices. The decreased revenue from premiums still costs less than the costs to repair or replace lost or damaged property. 

If you have or plan to install any of the following smart home devices, check to see if you’re eligible for any insurance discounts on the product itself, the installation or your premiums. 

  • Home Security Monitors

  • A small, weatherproof tower with a camera that surveys your home and property. It regularly sends photos to your smartphone. Your insurance company can use these photos to assess any damage that occurs rather than sending out a surveyor. It may allow the insurer to pass along those savings to you in the form of a discount.

  • Video Capture Doorbells

  • Notifies you of motion at your door so you can not only view the activity but communicate two-way with your visitors. These doorbells may be eligible for discounts not only on premium, but on purchase of the device and installation. 

  • Smart Smoke Detectors

  • These devices not only test themselves regularly and notify you of the results, they also alert you and/or the fire department if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide and lets you know where the problem originated. Insurance companies may offer discounts to policyholders with smart smoke detectors installed, since they can help the insurers save significantly on repairing property damaged by smoke or fire. 

  • Interior Fire Sprinklers

  • No longer just for commercial buildings, interior sprinklers can help prevent the spread of any fire that may occur, especially for homes in more remote areas. 

  • Water Sensors Coupled With Auto-Shut-Off Valves

  • Designed to detect flooding that isn’t caused by weather and turn off the water supply to the problematic area. This means if you leave for the weekend and a frozen pipe bursts, you won’t have water gushing into your home the whole time you’re away.

  • Smart Lock Systems

  • Can be controlled manually provide extra security while you’re away from home. Can’t remember if you locked the front door or shut the garage? Just check the app and make sure you’re all locked up. 

In most instances, installing smart home security devices like these won’t negate their purchase prices – you’ll still be paying more than you’re saving in insurance discounts. However, any discounts you receive can help you justify their installation. After all, if you can save a few bucks on your homeowners policy and feel a bit more like Iron Man, why wouldn’t you? 

Any discounts you get on your insurance premiums from installing a smart device is icing on the cake. After all, if you can save a few bucks on your homeowners policy and feel a bit more like Iron Man, why wouldn’t you?

How to Insure Your Car for a Short Period of Time

In doing auto insurance research you may have run across some information about temporary car insurance. If you ask Google “Do I need temporary insurance for my situation?” we have the answers.

In most cases, experts say, additional auto insurance is not necessary or even useful. Exceptions pop up, but chances are the comprehensive auto policy you already have also will work in a “temporary” situation. Realize something else: With some exceptions, “temporary insurance,” usually means terms lasting six months or a year. However, it’s also the kind of agreement you can cancel once you no longer need it.

No matter who your insurance company is — Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, or any of Bond Insurance Group’s many trusted carriers — getting in touch with your agent to review your policy is a smart move. In the meantime, let’s check out a few scenarios where someone might think they need additional auto insurance.

Renting a Car Internationally

Rules differ from company to company, but auto coverage in the U.S. typically (though not always) extends to Canada. This is much less the case in Mexico, where many insurance carriers licensed in the U.S. do not have operating privileges. Some companies offer temporary auto insurance packages for Mexicothat include everything from liability to collision and theft, to medical payments and legal assistance, to vandalism and U.S. repairs. Conversely, for people coming to the U.S. — maybe road tripping on a motorcycle — offer short-term insurance solutions are available.

U.S. residents traveling anywhere else — Europe, South America, Australia — won’t be covered by their regular policies. One possible solution to keep in mind: Credit card companies often will make available insurance policies if you pay for the rental with the card. Check with your credit card company for details.

Ride Sharing Professionals

Drivers who use their own car to transport people for a fee may realize a regular policy does not cover ride sharing. Getting paid transforms your car from a personal vehicle into a commercial one. Uber and Lyft extend insurance with certain limits to drivers. You might never need it, but the more you drive, the greater the chance of an accident. No matter how long you plan on working as a driver, any supplemental insurance solution won’t be temporary. Talk to your carrier about commercial insurance.

Frequent Car Renters

Business people who rent cars first want to make sure their primary auto insurance covers their needs. Spending extra money on insurance at the rental counter is an option. Most experts will tell you the car insurance sold at rental counters is not necessary. Your regular insurance probably gives you the coverage you need.

An effective primary auto insurance policy goes wherever you do, and extends to family, friends, the neighbors, or any chosen occupant.

People ‘In Between’ Cars

It depends on what “in between” means. Do you to buy a vehicle in a few weeks or even months? You should have some kind continuous insurance. Have you sold your car and plan to ride the subway or take taxis (or use ride share) everywhere? If you plan to literally never drive, and don’t need to purchase insurance for reasons other than driving, perhaps you can ditch your insurance policy. Something to consider: If you think you might drive again, a long lapse in coverage will make insurers wary to sell you a policy, which could affect your rates.

Non-Car Owners Insurance Needs

If you don’t own a car but might need to drive one occasionally, look into a non-owner policy. People who don’t own vehicles but instead borrow cars for personal use, or perhaps drive cars professionally that are not their own, should pursue a non-owner policy. Like other policies (away from the car-rental counter), it’s something that keeps you legal.

With few exceptions (most of them at the airport rental counter) there’s no such thing in the U.S. as temporary car insurance. The most important thing to remember is having the right continuous insurance so you’re covered no matter where, when or what you’re driving.