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7 Types of Optional Car Insurance Explained

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You need auto insurance to drive your car legally, but there a few different types of coverage you can opt into that provide additional protection. Understand these seven types of insurance as you decide on coverage that meets your needs and budget. 

1. Liability

If you're at fault for an accident, your liability insurance will pay for property repairs, medical treatments and other related expenses. Many states require minimum liability, but it's a wise idea to purchase more. Otherwise, a single accident could wipe out your savings and cause severe financial hardship. 

2. Uninsured Motorist

You could get stuck with the bill if you're in an accident caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance or adequate coverage. In this case, your uninsured motorist insurance will pay to repair your vehicle. 

3. Medical or Personal Injury

Medical payments after an accident can reach thousands of dollars. If you don't have a good health insurance policy in place, use your medical or personal injury insurance to pay medical bills for you and your passengers.

4. Collision

Pay to repair your own vehicle after an accident with collision insurance. Many consumers don't buy collision coverage on older vehicles, but it's definitely a smart investment for new or expensive cars. 

5. Comprehensive

Damages that occur outside of an accident are covered by comprehensive insurance. Examples include storm damage, animal collisions or theft. While it is an extra expense, tracking and anti-theft devices reduce comprehensive insurance costs.

6. Gap

When you have a car loan you're still paying, consider gap insurance. It pays off your vehicle if you're in an accident that totals your car. With this coverage, you're not stuck paying off a car you can no longer drive while figuring out how to buy another vehicle. 

7. No-Fault

Several states currently offer no-fault insurance. It can be expensive, but it pays for injuries and property damage no matter who caused them. 

Do you have or need these seven tips of car insurance? Talk to your agent and make sure you're adequately covered.

Ways To Secure Your Yard And Prevent Home Break-Ins

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Home break-ins occur every 13 seconds. Is your home secure? Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) offers several convenient ways to tweak your yard and protect your home, family and peace of mind. 

Cut Foliage

Overgrown shrubs, bushes and trees provide the perfect cover for hiding burglars who can hide in the bushes or the shadows. Overgrown trees also serve as convenient ladders that allow thieves to gain access to your second floor. By trimming foliage, you reduce hiding spots and thwart a burglar's attempts at entering your home. 

Reduce Hiding Spots

Tall or thick flower and weed growth provides convenient cover for thieves. Take a minute right now to walk outside and look at your landscaping. Note any areas that need to be pruned or weeded, and do it today as you reduce burglar hiding spots. 

Plant Thorny Bushes

Burglars are lazy. They won't fight thorns to invade your home. By planting roses and other thorny bushes under your windows, you eliminate hiding spots and help deter thieves. 

Clear the Front Door

Some burglars are very bold. They'll dress like a delivery person, mail carrier or construction worker and walk right up to your front door. If trees or bushes hide the door from nosy neighbors, thieves may then decide to open or break the door and get into your home. Clear the entryway to prevent burglary.

Install Lights

Thieves love darkness, so install motion detector lights around your home. They're less invasive than a spotlight but turn on when someone moves outside your house and provide the security you need.

Maintain Your Lawn

Burglars are more likely to target homes that look uninhabited. By maintaining your lawn, you show thieves that you care and are present in your home. If you plan to go on vacation or work long hours, hire someone to do yard work for you. 

CPTED is one tool that prevents break-ins. Your insurance agent can offer additional tips, too. There's no better time than today to tweak your landscaping so that it works for you in protecting your home.

How to File a Renters Insurance Claim

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Your renters insurance policy protects you from liability and replaces your possessions if they're damaged, lost or stolen. Now that you're prepared with a policy, learn how to file a claim.

1. File a police report if necessary and contact your insurance agent. 

As soon as you notice that something's stolen, call the policy and file a report. You'll then want to call your agent and share the police report file number and details of the incident. If someone's hurt, follow the same procedure but also call medical emergency personnel.

2. Document all the losses and damages. 

Your insurance company will need details on what was lost, damaged or stolen, so write a list. Include each item separately, and include as much information as possible, including:

*Physical description with dimensions, color and any identifying marks
*Serial number or ID number
*Purchase date, price or estimated cost and receipt or invoice

3. Obtain repair or replacement cost estimates.

This step is important whether you have an Actual Cash Value or a Replacement Value policy.

4. Make and keep an appointment with the claims adjustor.

By now, your insurance company should have assigned a claims adjustor to your case. This person will investigate the claim, authorize emergency housing vouchers, negotiate settlements, prepare any legal documents and ultimately approve or deny the claim. Be available to provide details about the incident, and feel free to ask any questions about coverage or how long the process will take.

5. Prepare for claim settlement.

On settlement day, you sign off on the claim and get a check for damages. Before you sign anything, though, review the final claim documents for accuracy. Make sure everything's on the claim that was damaged, and verify accurate descriptions and values. If you're confused, ask a knowledgeable friend or attorney for help. If everything's in order, sign the papers and get your check. 

Renters insurance gives you peace of mind, and now you know how to file a claim if necessary. If you don't have coverage, talk to an insurance agent today and make sure you're protected.

How to Find the Proper Watercraft Coverage for Your New Boat

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Summer's over, and now's an affordable time of year to buy a new boat. You can grab your dream watercraft at a deep discount from boat dealers who need to unload inventory before winter hits and from private sellers who plan to upgrade in the spring. Before you buy your boat, though, use several tips to make sure you can purchase proper watercraft insurance coverage. 

Don't Rely on Auto Insurance 

Your auto insurance policy does provide liability or physical damage coverage for your car, but that coverage does not extend to your boat. Purchase a separate policy to guarantee that your boat is covered if it's damaged, stolen or lost.

Double Check Your Homeowners Policy 

While your homeowners or renters insurance protects your home, it's not designed to insure certain watercraft. Purchase a boat that's valued over $1,500, longer than 26 feet or more than 25 horsepower, and you'll need a separate watercraft policy.

Make Sure Your Boat can be Insured

Because of the risk, some insurance companies restrict the type of watercraft they insure. Ask your agent if they cover personal watercraft like wave runners and jet skis, homemade boat kits or houseboats, or competition fishing or speed boats before you purchase one of these watercraft. 

The boat's age also affects its insurability. Some insurance companies will not insure boats over 15 years old. 

Finally, order a marine survey inspection. It reports any damage or performance issues that make the boat a high-risk and can prove to your insurance company that the boat you want is seaworthy. 

Consider Personal Umbrella Insurance

If the boat you really want isn't covered by your homeowners insurance policy or a watercraft policy is too expensive, consider an umbrella policy. It provides additional liability coverage for your boat. Ideally, you'll purchase this policy from the same company that carries your homeowners insurance. 

Buying a boat now is a good investment. Just make sure it's properly insured. Use these tips and talk to your agent today as you protect your new fun investment.