TRENTON – With school in recess and the summer officially underway, many New Jersey residents are preparing to go on vacation. Whether consumers are driving their own car on a trip, renting a vehicle, buying or renting a boat, or traveling abroad, there are insurance considerations.
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Tom Considine today offered some insurance tips related to summer travel to ensure residents have proper coverage while on vacation.
“Summer vacation activities as basic as a family trip to the beach or renting a car can have implications on insurance coverage,” Commissioner Considine said. “Before setting out on vacation, consumers should review auto policies to make sure they have proper coverage. If they are taking a longer trip or going out of the country they may also need to review health coverage and in some cases, perhaps consider travel insurance.”
Traveling By Auto
- Consumers should make sure their car insurance remains active with premiums promptly paid and keep a current insurance card in the car.
- People should select appropriate liability limits that fit their financial circumstances. People with more assets generally need to select higher limits of liability than those with fewer assets. If people found liable for damages and maintain insufficient liability limits, they run the risk for any remaining financial obligation.
- Homeowners or renters insurance consumers should verify that their policies cover the theft of personal items from a car, especially if they are planning to carry expensive items in their vehicle such as golf clubs, video or digital cameras or laptops.
- Consumers should check to see if their policy includes roadside assistance. You can be covered for towing, fuel delivery, lockout service, jump-starts and more.
Renting a Car
- Consumers renting a car should prepare to decide on insurance coverage before reaching the service counter. A check with their agent or auto insurance company on whether their policy covers rentals should help make the decision. Consumers need to know that some policies may not cover rentals on business trips and may have other limits.
- Consumers with a policy that doesn’t offer rental car coverage may want to consider paying the small fee for adding an insurance rider.
- Many credit cards include some level of collision and theft protection. In most cases, these benefits offer secondary coverage following the primary personal auto insurance or the car rental company’s insurance, meaning the credit card company will only pay claims after damages claims exhaust other available coverage. Consumers should call their credit card company for more information on this coverage.
- Consumers who lack personal auto insurance or do not have credit card insurance benefits, might be wise to purchase the liability insurance and collision damage waiver at the car rental counter.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP), medical coverage for injuries sustained in auto accidents, stands as one of the state’s more unique auto insurance provisions. Consumers should remember that PIP coverage follows the driver. A New Jersey operator of an out-of-state car rental will still have medical coverage when operating that rental vehicle.
Buying or Renting a Boat
- Maritime enthusiasts may have some coverage ($1,500 or less) for damage to a small boat through your homeowners policy. However, their liability risk is limited. Insurers generally provide liability insurance on small sailboats (26 feet or less) and powerboats with small motors (50 horsepower for inboard and inboard/outboard and 25 horsepower for outboard motors).
- Homeowners policies likely exclude larger boats for both property and liability coverage. Owners of larger boats should ask their insurance agent or company for a separate policy.
- Personal watercraft, like Jet Skis, will also likely need a separate boat insurance policy. This coverage may be available from homeowners providers or carriers that specialize in such hazards.
- Before weighing anchor, all sailors should be able to answer these questions: Are others insured while operating my boat or personal watercraft? Is there an age limit to operating these machines? Will towing skiers or inner tubes be permitted by this policy?
Taking a Longer Trip
- Loss against non-refundable travel costs, such as airfare, hotel and tour expenses, as well as losses due to medical emergencies, damage to personal property and even accidental death can be covered by various types of travel insurance.
- Trip cancellation/delay/interruption insurance can reimburse consumers for pre-paid travel expenses if they aren’t able to take their trip because of sickness or death, if the trip is delayed, such as a flight delay or cancellation, or is cut short due to a reason covered by the policy.
- Medical/Health carriers can reimburse consumers for medical and emergency dental expenses that result from an illness or injury while they travel.
- A current healthcare policy may not provide adequate coverage during trips abroad. Make sure any additional medical insurance obtained applies to the planned destination, especially if it includes foreign travel.
- If consumers purchase baggage loss insurance, they should make sure limits provided in the policy are adequate to cover items that might later be claimed. Purchased coverage should not duplicate benefits already provided through one’s homeowners policy.
- Travelers may also obtain rental car damage or baggage loss coverage, sometimes for an inexpensive rider on your current auto policy.
“Consumers who wisely take a little extra time in consultation with their carriers to make a common sense review of their vacation insurance exposure and needs help assure a smooth, worry free time with the family,” Commissioner Considine said. “No matter where they go, I wish our New Jersey citizens a happy, safe and fun summer.”