By John D. Doak, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner
Special to Guthrie News Page
The first day of summer is June 21, and many Oklahomans are ready for a vacation. One-third of Americans are planning to take a trip this year, according to AAA. Before you hit the road or board a plane, consider these insurance suggestions
Road Trip with a Rental Car
Compared to last year, 10 percent more families are expected to take a road trip. But those renting a car for their summer trip often don’t start thinking about rental car insurance until they get to the counter which can lead to costly mistakes.
In order to make the best decision regarding your coverage, make these two calls:
- To Your Insurance Professional – Ask if your personal auto policy would also apply to your rental car, provided you’re using the rental for recreation and rather than for business. Also keep in mind, if you’ve dropped comprehensive or collision coverage on your personal car to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental is stolen or damaged in an accident.
- To Your Credit Card Company – Most credit card companies provide some level of insurance for rental cars. Call the credit card company that you’ll be using to rent the car and ask them to send coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal auto insurance policy or by the insurance coverage offered by the rental car company.
By law, car rental companies must provide a state-specific amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection.
Before renting a car, make sure you understand all of your insurance options in the event the car is stolen, damaged or you get involved in an accident. It will take a little bit of time and may cost a little extra money, but it will be better than finding out too late that you are legally responsible for a car you don’t own.
Protecting Your Vacation
After months of planning, the trip of your dreams is almost here. To decide if you need travel insurance, ask yourself these questions:
- If I canceled my travel plans, would I lose the financial value of the trip?
- Could weather delays result in missing out on all or part of my vacation package?
- Would I lose the money I paid in advance for the vacation if the tour operator goes bankrupt?
- Am I taking a vacation that includes activities that may cause me to be injured?
- Do I have special vacation needs? Am I traveling with small children or older relatives?
- Am I traveling to a location where I may need special assistance?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, travel insurance may be the way to go.
Most travel insurance policies include three basic types of coverage:
- Trip Cancellation, Interruption or Delay: Provides coverage should you need to cancel a trip due to sickness, a death in the family, bad weather, delayed shipment of luggage or another disaster listed in the policy. In addition, if you become seriously ill or are injured during the trip, some travel insurance policies will provide reimbursement for the unused portion of the vacation. Check your policy carefully because there may be exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
- Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation: Provides coverage if you become sick or injured while traveling—for example, being airlifted off a mountain due to a hiking accident, or in the event you get seriously ill or are injured and need to be flown home.
- 24-hour Assistance: This service is provided by most travel insurance companies and can help travelers find doctors, arrange accommodations, contact families or provide other forms of assistance in case of an emergency. Other travel-related coverages may include: Accidental Death, should you or a member of your group die during the course of a trip; and Luggage Insurance or Personal Effects Coverage, which provides protection if your luggage and/or personal belongings are lost, stolen or damaged during the trip.
There are many different travel insurance companies and types of policies to choose from. Before making a selection, compare companies, policy coverage, benefits and prices. Check your health and homeowners insurance policies to see what coverage you already have. You may discover that your medical insurance does not cover you abroad, and that it may provide no coverage at all for medical evacuation.
No matter what you have planned this summer, be safe and have a great time. For more insurance information, contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit www.oid.ok.gov.