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How to rent a car without borrowing trouble

By Cincinnati Personal Lines

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Know your auto policy before you travel with a rental car.

If your travel plans include use of a rental car, a little knowledge about auto insurance could preserve your peace of mind and save you money. Before you rent, consult with your insurance agent and check your policy for coverage, limits and deductible amounts.

You may be able to save money by declining the insurance offered by the rental company if your own policy provides the coverage you need.

Other than collision

If you are involved in an accident while driving a rental, you could be liable for damage to the auto and any resulting injuries. You could also be responsible for the rental agency’s lost income and the diminished value of the rental car, if damaged. In addition, you may be responsible for losses other than collision, such as fire, theft or vandalism, while the rental is in your possession.

Other drivers

Drivers already named on your personal auto policy may be covered for use of a rental car within the United States. However, if the rental contract limits who can drive the vehicle, be aware of the restrictions and act accordingly. Some personal auto policies are contingent on the language of the rental contract, so you may not be covered if you let someone else drive the vehicle.

And, if you don’t have an auto policy of your own, the rental company’s insurance may be your only option.

Collision

Some personal auto policies cover collision losses to rental cars only if you already have collision coverage on your owned autos, subject to the policy deductible. Other policies offer “first-dollar” coverage on rented vehicles through their liability coverage, meaning you pay no deductible on a covered loss.

Liability

Purchasing an umbrella policy can further protect your interests by increasing your liability coverage. The umbrella also may extend your coverage territory beyond that of your auto policy. However, when traveling abroad, you may need to purchase the insurance offered by the rental company, because foreign countries may not recognize your U.S. policy.

Your personal auto policy may also provide coverage for rental of other types of vehicles: trailers, such as do-it-yourself moving trailers; pickups; vans; and trucks under a specified weight limit.

Your local, independent insurance agent can help you evaluate your coverage needs and make sure there are no gaps in your policy.

As you prepare to travel, take time to assure that the right auto coverage is in place; …read more

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Take a trip … and put it all behind you

By Troy Dohmeyer

safety-tips-towing-behind

Ensure a safe and fun trip with your trailer or boat by following some towing tips.

Every year millions of motorists by choice or necessity engage in a widely-practiced highway pastime: towing a trailer behind their car or pickup truck. I’m one of them. Growing up in Northern Wisconsin, I had hundreds of opportunities to tow trailers, boats, travel trailers and anything else you can think of, and over the years I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to assist the occasional tower.

Although towing a trailer isn’t “rocket science,” you should realize there’s more involved than when you’re driving a vehicle with nothing hooked behind. Here are some trailer-towing safety tips:

Before You Go

Before you hook up the trailer, inspect the trailer, hitch and safety chains for excessive wear. Ensure the electrical hookups work for the trailer wiring and brakes. Check tire air, oil, fuel and coolant levels — you should do this before any trip, whether or not you’re towing a trailer. Make certain the vehicle and trailer lights operate.

Proper Trailer Loading

Load the trailer with heavier items toward the front for proper weight distribution. About 60 percent of the cargo weight should be in the trailer’s front half. This properly places about 10 percent of the loaded trailer weight on the tow-vehicle hitch.

Practice Driving…Especially Backing

If you’re not a trailer-towing rock star, take time to practice before beginning your trip. When backing up, place one hand on your vehicle’s steering wheel at the six o’clock position. To move the trailer’s rear end to the right, turn the steering wheel to the right; to the left, turn left. In more complex towing situations, such as boat launching, use low-range gears for extra power and control.

Turning Suggestions

Allow more room to the inside on right turns since the trailer wheels track to the inside turn path more than will the vehicle wheels.

Passing

When passing a slower motorist or changing lanes, signal well in advance and move gradually into the next lane. After passing, allow the trailer or RV extra room before returning to the driving lane. Avoid passing on steep grades, up or down.

Stopping

Driving while towing a trailer requires a greater distance to stop. A good rule of thumb: Allow one vehicle and trailer length between you and the vehicle you’re following for each 10 mph of speed. Eliminate panic stops by shifting to a lower gear and pumping brakes lightly to reduce vehicle speed.

Clearance

Be aware …read more

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Divorce and the life insurance beneficiary

By Ronda Bradley

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Make sure your life insurance beneficiary designations are in order. These arrangements are easily overlooked in the event of divorce.

While we all dream of happily ever after, various sources reveal that in the U.S. approximately 50 percent of first marriages, 64 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages will end in divorce. These staggering numbers highlight an issue that may be overlooked in the process – life insurance and beneficiary designations.

Review life insurance beneficiary designations

Divorce can have a major impact on a life insurance policy when a former spouse is designated as the beneficiary. The beneficiary will not be affected by the divorce if the:

  • divorce decree or property settlement includes the life insurance policy
  • policy includes divorce or marital status language (ask your independent life insurance agent about your specific policy)
Check your beneficiary designation early

It is critical to review your life insurance policy and beneficiary designations when you go through a divorce.

Currently, 30 states have laws that automatically revoke the beneficiary designation to a former spouse after the divorce is final. If the insured person dies and a former spouse is named as beneficiary on the policy, the proceeds may go to either the contingent beneficiary or to the deceased’s estate if there is no contingent named. An exception may be made when the policy is part of the divorce agreement.

If you have elected a former spouse as a beneficiary, but have not addressed this in the property settlement or divorce decree, you may want to consider reconfirming your former spouse as beneficiary. Although some state statutes are not completely clear that reconfirming the beneficiary will have the desired effect if the death benefit is litigated, it is best to reconfirm your intentions for the death benefit so that the life insurance company has this information.

Individuals going through a divorce should be aware of the possible difficulties of beneficiary designations and seek the advice of a divorce attorney so the insurance proceeds can be addressed properly in the court settlement.

Life insurance represents the last chance to tell family members that they are special. Make sure your last gift is delivered as intended.

For more information about life insurance products to protect your family, see your local independent insurance agent.

The post Divorce and the life insurance beneficiary appeared first on The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog.

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Protecting your identity AND the environment

By Maureen Johnson

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You can do your part to protect the environment while at the same time protecting your identity.

While we know that it’s important to take steps to protect our personal information, it always seems to end up at the bottom of the to-do list.

But identity theft is not going away any time soon. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014 alone. With numbers like this, chances are good that someone you know has been a victim. And you also know how much of a hassle it can be to deal with the aftermath of identity theft.

What if you could cross several items off your ever growing to-do list all at once? Did you know that many of the actions that help prevent identity theft also have the added benefits of simplifying your busy life and protecting the environment?

3 Environmentally-Friendly Ways to Protect Your Identity
  1. Go Paperless – An easy way for thieves to gain access to your personal information is by stealing your mail. Take advantage of the electronic delivery and online payment services that your banks, utilities, credit card and insurance companies offer. If you already pay online, but still receive paper statements, consider turning them off. Not only do you reduce the risk of identity theft, you reduce the amount of paper cluttering your desk and landfills.
  2. Eliminate Junk Mail – All of those pre-filled credit card offers that seem to arrive each week are another way for criminals to use your personal information to open new credit accounts. You can take steps to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail that you receive. The Federal Trade Commission website has an entire section devoted to privacy and security, including ways to opt out of unsolicited offers and telemarketing calls.
  3. Shred Documents – Believe it or not, criminals routinely sift through the trash of both homeowners and businesses looking for sensitive identity information. One way to prevent this is to shred any documents with personal information after they are no longer needed. While many businesses already shred documents with personal information, homeowners can look for similar services or invest in an inexpensive shredder from the office supply store. In addition to shredding documents, these services also recycle the paper, keeping it from the landfills.

So, set aside a few minutes this weekend to reduce the …read more

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Help your employees fight distracted driving

By Mark Rose

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Employers can establish training programs to battle behaviors that result in distracted driving.

Every business owner wants to see that employees get safely to the jobsite or that cargo or products are safely delivered to their customers. Every year, distracted driving becomes a bigger barrier in the way of that goal.

The primary task of anyone behind the steering wheel of a car or truck is to safely control that vehicle on and off the highway. All too often we see a news report that starts with something like, “This morning’s fatal auto accident on the inbound expressway was caused when a distracted driver…”

Driver distraction is anything that diverts the driver’s attention away from the driving task onto another activity. In 2014, 10 percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures. That year, 3,179 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and 431,000 people were injured, the agency noted.

Distractions can come from many sources – both inside and outside the vehicle. It used to be that the biggest concern was distractions from outside the vehicle. That is changing. Along with driving the vehicle, drivers are often trying to perform secondary tasks such as texting and talking on cellphones, monitoring GPS systems, tuning the radio to another station, or interacting with passengers. These secondary activities can all take the driver’s eyes off the road and mind away from attentive driving.

Automobile and mobile device manufacturers are continually coming out with new equipment that they say will help reduce these driver distractions. New hands-free and voice recognition devices are hitting the market almost every day.

But studies are now revealing that the hoped-for increase in safety is not being realized. For example, a recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phones still require the driver’s eyes and hands at least half of the time. These visual-manual tasks are associated with a greater crash risk.

Many resources are available for employers who want to reduce distracted driving among their drivers. The National Safety Council offers a number of downloadable materials for employers on its website, including samples for an employer distracted driving policy, promotional campaign and employee communications.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued <a target=_blank …read more

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Preserve your prized jewelry and watches

By Matthew Cluxton

capstone-jewelry-watches

Jewelry can be both sentimental and practical. Take care to preserve your collectible jewelry.

Jewelry and watches have a strong appeal to many people. They can represent sentiment, personal adornment, private assets, family heirlooms and collectible works of art. Because of their unique value, jewelry worn today should be preserved for tomorrow.

Consider the following tips to help protect your jewelry:

  • Store jewelry in a clean, protected location, such as a jewelry box.
  • Place jewelry in separated compartments because some metals and gemstones scratch or chip more easily than others. Some boxes include individually padded slots for rings and provide posts for hanging necklaces and bracelets.
  • Consider installing a secured safe within your home to prevent theft.
  • Keep your most precious items or items you wear infrequently in a bank vault or safe deposit box. In addition to preventing theft or misplacement, you may also save on insurance premiums.
  • Prepare an inventory of your watches and jewelry, just as you would all of your property. Take photos and keep purchase receipts. Store a copy offsite.
  • Take extra steps when traveling:
    • Photograph jewelry you plan to take with you in case an item is lost or stolen.
    • Pack jewelry in your carry-on bag, not in checked luggage.
    • Keep your most expensive items with you at all times.
    • Place unattended jewelry in a locked safe or vault under hotel management supervision rather than in your hotel room safe.
  • Examine the condition of each item on a regular basis. Check for loose settings, weak clasps and worn strings. Have any weaknesses or damage repaired as soon as possible.
  • Visit a professional about every 6 months to have your jewelry professionally cleaned and inspected.
  • Schedule a jewelry re-appraisal on a regular basis, about every 3 to 5 years.

Jewelry and watches have style and beauty we can admire. Contact your local independent insurance agent for more detailed information on how to preserve your collection for generations to come.

The post Preserve your prized jewelry and watches appeared first on The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog.

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Phones a huge distraction, and it’s killing us

By Michael Harrold

Phones a huge distraction, and it's killing us

Phones are a dangerous distraction, and that’s just part of the story. GPS, radio knobs — anything that lures your eyes off the road is a threat.

The advent of the smart phone has brought with it a deluge of texting and other distractive behavior while driving a vehicle. This is no longer confined to the young and restless – we see people of all ages, genders and backgrounds using phones when they should be driving.

SAFETY THREATS

Some startling figures:

These numbers are most likely higher as drivers involved in accidents may be reluctant to admit to driving distracted.

COMMON DISTRACTIONS

While all of the following are common distractions behind the wheel, text messaging is by far the most alarming. It requires significant visual, manual and cognitive focus from the driver – three key things a driver needs to drive safely.

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Reaching for something
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps and navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or other controls in a vehicle
AWARENESS

As important as it is for us to make an effort not to drive distracted, we also need to be aware that others around us – drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians – may be distracted. While you may be able to quickly discern when pedestrians or cyclists are focused on their phones, some behaviors that may tip you off to a distracted driver include:

  • Drifting around in the lane or not staying within lane lines
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Braking abruptly
  • Going slower than surrounding traffic
  • Driving faster, then slower again in an erratic pattern
  • Failing to respond to street directional signs and signal lights
  • Following too closely
DROWSINESS

Finally, distracted driving issues can be compounded by fatigue. More and more our daily demands seem to be impinging on our ability to get required sleep. Sleepiness, without fail, results in cognitive and behavioral changes that can contribute to vehicle crashes, poor work performance, …read more

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