Safe Travels

young family at airport with a trolley full of luggageWhere’s your dream destination? Soft, warm sand meeting the waves, not a cloud in the sky? Majestic, snow-capped peaks rising up to the heavens? Or maybe a warm fireplace, surrounded by family and friends?

Many people use the summer time to get out of town. But nothing ruins a vacation like an unexpected mishap. Traveling is, by definition, a break from the ordinary routine. It’s a journey into unfamiliar territory. Any break from the comfort zone is a ripe time for complications.

Take a few minutes to prepare yourself, though, and you’ll be able to safely enjoy your travels.
Before You Leave

The best way to stay safe is to fix problems before they ever occur. Before you roll out the driveway, be sure you’re thoroughly prepared for your trip.

1. Weather — Check the climate and forecast before leaving. Have you packed the appropriate clothes and layers for the trip?

2. Travel Alerts — Check online travel alerts for your destination. Some places in the world become dangerous, and you should know the cultural climate before you arrive (note: this applies more for international trips than domestic) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html.

3. Health Concerns — Visit a travel clinic before any international trips. You may need certain vaccinations before boarding the plane. Or there may be general concerns such as food poisoning.

4. Credit Card — Before leaving the country, call your credit card provider and set up a travel alert. This will allow you to use your card without setting off red flags. Even if you aren’t expecting to use the card, you never know when you’ll need it.

5. Itinerary — Whether traveling internationally or domestically, give a trusted friend or family member your itinerary. Let them know when you’re traveling, where to, and what day you expect to return. 6. Home Safety — Ask a trusted friend to watch after your house and keep it safe.
In Transit

The act of traveling provides its own unique risks. Take a few easy steps and ensure you arrive to your destination in one piece.

1. Stretch Often — Whether traveling by car or plane, it’s dangerous to stay sitting for too long. Take frequent opportunities, when the airplane’s seatbelt light is off or when filling up your car’s gas tank, to stand up and stretch. Walk around, get your blood flowing again.

2. Stay Hydrated — Traveling, exhausting as it is, doesn’t expend much energy. Mostly, you just sit there. Thanks to this, it’s easy to avoid drinking water — you almost forget about it. But you can still get dehydrated. If you change altitude (driving into the mountains or boarding an airplane) this happens even quicker. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. It may mean more frequent restroom breaks, but that just means you get up and stretch!

3. Keep Essentials On Hand — If you travel with any essential or valuable items (for example, prescription medicines) keep those within easy-access. This means checked baggage if you’re flying or glove compartment if you’re driving. You never want to spend time tracking down an item you need in the moment.

4. Maintain Vehicle — Remember to tune up your vehicle before driving it across the country. Take it in to a trusted mechanic and find out if anything needs fixing to make it roadworthy. If your auto insurance has roadside assistance, make sure you have the phone number handy.
While You’re There

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, practice a few simple principles to avoid unnecessary risk or hazard.

1. Communication Plan — Before you leave, create a communication plan. When will you let friends back home know you’ve arrived at your destination? If traveling internationally, do you know how you’ll communicate? Does your cell phone plan work, or will you use FaceTime or email?

2. Documents — While at your destination, keep important documents with you, and copies in a safe place. Necessary documents vary depending on destination, but may include passport, drivers license, and emergency phone numbers.

3. Don’t be a Target — Most tourists stand out in a crowd — large camera, loud clothes, wandering aimlessly and looking at a map. In other words, they’re easy targets for pickpockets. If you want to stay safe, sometimes the best method is to look safe. Walk confidently and blend into the crowd.

4. Travel Insurance — The best thing you can do to protect your trip is insure it. The right travel insurance can pay your medical bills for travel-related accidents, reimburse you for cancelled flights, and protect your car insurance rates if something happens to your rental. Some credit cards come with travel insurance, but check your coverage — it may not cover everything you want it to. Purchase your own travel insurance policy to be sure you’re fully covered.

Though traveling comes with its own risks, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. Take the time to properly prepare, and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation safe and sound!

Common Auto Insurance Coverage

Two cars crashedMost Auto insurance policies are actually many levels of coverage, combined together to form a single insurance policy. Like items in a first aid kit, each option can cover you from different damages, accidents, and events.

To build the policy you want it’s important to understand what each common type of Auto insurance covers:

Liability Coverage – There are two types of liability coverage – coverage for Bodily Injury and coverage for Personal Property. Most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage, or post a bond, to register your vehicle or obtain a driver’s license.If you’re legally responsible, or “liable” for damages, Liability coverage helps pay for them. Legally required for drivers in almost every state, Liability coverage includes Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage, which pay for someone’s medical expenses, personal injuries, and property damage if you’re at-fault.

Collision Coverage – If you hit something like another vehicle or a fixed object like a guard rail, lamp post, or telephone poll, Collision Coverage helps pay for the damages to your car.

Comprehensive Coverage – If your car is broken into, or dented in a hail storm, Comprehensive Coverage would help cover the losses to your car. Sometimes called “Other Than Collision” or “Fire and Theft,” Comprehensive covers losses from things other than an accident, like vandalism, riots, floods, hail, fire, animal collisions, and theft.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – These days, about 1 in 7 drivers are completely uninsured…and about 30% of drivers don’t have enough insurance. That’s why it’s important to consider Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It provides Liability (Bodily Injury and Property Damage) coverage for you, if an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault in an accident. If you or anyone in your car is ever hurt in an accident, Medical Coverage can pay for their medical expenses.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Pip is similar to Medical Payments coverage, but it covers a wider range of costs. It can help pay for medical and rehabilitation expenses, work loss, funeral costs, and even replacement services. Many states require drivers to carry a minimum level of PIP coverage. When deciding on your Auto insurance policy or making changes to your coverage, it’s important to understand what each option does, and how it would work if you ever needed it. Some coverages are required by your state, while others are extra options you may want to expand your coverage.

How you’d like to customize your car insurance depends on your needs, budget, and the amount of coverage you want. Get an Auto insurance quote or work with Nancy Kuznieski, your local Farmers agent, to choose the coverage combinations that provide the best car insurance coverage at a price that fits your budget.

Benefits of Travel Insurance

Family at the airportSpring break is coming up which means you’re most likely putting the final touches on your travel plans. Whether you’re headed to an island getaway, a cozy mountainside cabin, or visiting family across the country, one of the most important things to consider is Travel Insurance. From unexpected flight cancelations to lost luggage, a care-free vacation can quickly become a stressful nightmare.  Consider some of these benefits that Farmer’s Travel Insurance:

  • A complete range of coverage options from a basic coverage to a complete package called “Zmart”. This provides: medical evacuation, higher limits for property damage as well as liability and towing services to the nearest U.S. city, as long as the accident happens anywhere with 200 kilometers of the U.S. border.
  • Best-in-class claims service whenever you choose to repair your car (U.S. or Mexico)
  • Medical, Roadside, and Legal assistance
  • Bilingual support in all locations

A Travel Insurance policy from Kuznieski Insurance Ageny can help save you from any of the unexpected events that can ruin your plans. Get peace of mind for your upcoming adventure by contacting me today. I’ll help answer your questions and get you the insurance coverage that you need. That way, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is making sure to pack the toothpaste and extra sunscreen.

Auto Liability Insurance

Car insuranceAuto liability insurance is mandatory in the state of Texas, but insurance companies offer a full range of optional coverage that protects you and your family in the event of a collisions.  Some people will tell me they have “full coverage”, but there is no set definition for “full coverage”.   On average 25% of drivers have no insurance and another 30% do not have enough insurance.  To better understand your coverage, open to the first page of your insurance policy called the “Declarations Page”.  This is an overview of your coverage and how much coverage you have within each option or you can call your insurance agent.

As with most states, in order to register and drive your car in Texas, the state requires that you have a minimum level of certain types of auto insurance coverage. These include:

  1. Bodily Injury to Others: $30,000 per person / $60,000 per accident
  2. Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident
  3. Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $2,500 (unless waived by signature)

 

Liability coverage is the part the insurance company will pay to other people or property when you are negligently at fault in causing an accident.

Let’s look at what this really means that if you are negligible in an auto accident.  Insurance will cover up to $60,000/accident in medical bills to the other car(s), so if their medical bills are higher than $60,000 then you personally could be paying the additional expense.  The same is true for the property damage where the insurance pay $25,000 at most and you are liable for the additional expense.  Most people have more than this minimum coverage.

If your car is hit by a negligent driver, then your liability coverage does not pay you any money at all.  It only pays other people when you are liable for causing the accident, up to your policy limits.  If the negligent driver has no coverage, and you do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, then you may be out of luck. (There are a few things you can try, but they are long shots.  Call me and I can give you some advice.)

PIP is coverage that will pay medical bills and 80% of lost wages.  PIP pays if you are injured in any way dealing with your car of someone else’s car.  An example would be you open the door, trip out of your car, and break your leg.

It is always best to discuss with your insurance agent whether your coverage is enough and what they recommend for the area you live in.  We also recommend talking with your insurance agent once a year to determine whether your policy needs updating.

Keep Halloween Liability from Spoiling Your Fun

I can hear it now: “Trick or Treat!”

Yep, it’s the time of year when cleverly clad creatures of varying degrees of scary descend on your Halloween doorstep in search of sweet treats and often, a good fright. It’s also a very popular night for revelers to get together for some costumed fun at parties and neighborhood haunted houses.  But having a lot of people on your property, including many you may not know, opens you up to certain liability issues of which you may not be aware.  That makes Halloween a good time to make sure everything is in spooktacular shape for visitors.

Decor at the Door

For starters, Halloween decorations are fun and festive, but they can present some dangers if not arranged properly. Make sure sidewalks and porches are free and clear of debris or too much decor that can pose tripping hazards for trick or treaters or party guests. In addition, make sure the area is well lit, but watch using actual flames. Jack O’lanterns can be knocked over or brushed by little costumes, which can catch fire. Certain materials such as hay or straw used in popular holiday decor is also extremely flammable.

Know what You’re Serving

shutterstock_223157509Many parties are centered around the food table and themed holiday snacks provide a nice touch to any gathering. Make sure edibles are served in such a way as to maintain proper temperatures and avoid bacteria growth that can make people sick later. Label anything with the potential for an allergic reaction and keep it separate from other dishes. (This goes for distributing Halloween candy as well. Avoid handing out items that present choking hazards or to which many people are allergic.)

Party food is also a great idea if you’ll be serving alcohol, because it decreases its effect on the body, but you’ll still need to monitor consumption. Don’t let anyone leave your party intoxicated, especially if they’re driving. If they get in an accident, they may not pursue legal action, but the people they hit might. And do not serve alcohol to minors. This is not just unwise, it is flat out illegal.

Drive Safely

Even if you haven’t been imbibing, driving through residential areas on Halloween night requires extra caution. While staying sober is an excellent idea, slowing down is a good one too. This is one of the deadliest nights of the year for pedestrians, and drivers should fully expect dark costumed creatures to hurriedly veer from sidewalk into streets in search of their next treat. In spite of safely recommendations, these little ones are often not wearing reflective gear and will be hard to see until it’s too late if you’re going too fast.