Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. Whether you’re getting away to the nearest lake or crossing state lines to visit friends or family, you want to get there safely.
Here’s a quick refresher on how you can prevent common driving mistakes and make sure you have a smoother trip.
3 Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not inspecting your tires. If you drive a newer car, the instrument panel might notify you when your tires need air. If not, use a tire pressure gauge to check. Low pressure plus hot weather can cause a blowout, especially under the added weight of luggage and passengers.
Equally important, check your tires’ tread depth. Worn tires make it harder to brake, especially on wet roads. Better yet, ask your mechanic to make sure your car is in top shape before you leave.
2. Forgetting to pack a car emergency kit. Even with a recently tuned-up vehicle, things can happen that may leave you stuck on the road longer than you planned. A car emergency kit can help you handle these incidents with less stress. Include plenty of food and cold water for people and pets, plus items like jumper cables, a functional spare tire and a working flashlight.
3. Skipping a traffic check before you head out. An app like Google Maps can tell you if there’s a major traffic jam in your way. Be prepared to plan an alternate route or adjust your schedule if necessary. After all, no one likes getting stuck in bad road conditions
Another common driving mistake is not having enough insurance coverage. Before you hit the road, reach out to make sure you’re fully protected.
Homeowners insurance may provide limited coverage amounts for lost jewelry or valuable items based on the type of item and cause of loss. Valuable items coverage may provide the protection you need for your valuable possessions in the event of covered loss from, for example, theft or fire.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings?
Homeowners insurance alone may not sufficiently cover your engagement rings and wedding rings. People who own valuable possessions may need broader coverage than a basic homeowners policy provides. The good news is that there is additional protection available that may help cover the cost of a lost or stolen engagement ring or wedding ring.
How to Add Engagement Ring Insurance or Wedding Ring Insurance
You can add engagement ring insurance or wedding ring insurance through two options that Travelers offers: You can purchase a “Valuable Items Plus endorsement” or a “Personal Articles Floater (PAF).”
With a Valuable Items Plus endorsement, your homeowners insurance coverage is expanded to protect your valuables from loss caused by additional perils (subject to a few common exclusions). For jewelry, paintings and other fine art, you can purchase up to $50,000 of coverage; for silverware, you can purchase as much as $20,000 coverage. The maximum payment for any one item is either $10,000 or $20,000, depending on the state. You pay no deductible.
If you own valuable, rare or irreplaceable items, such as collectibles or antiques, you may want to consider the comprehensive protection offered by a PAF. In case of a covered loss, this coverage allows you to recover the value of an item (based on a recent bill of sale or appraisal). This policy provides coverage for fine art and jewelry at an amount you and your agent agree upon. For other items, the policy provides either actual cash value, cost to repair, cost to replace or up to the insured amount, depending on the cause of loss and its current value.
What Does Jewelry Insurance Cover?
Jewelry insurance covers valuable items from jewelry to collectibles, if they are stolen or damaged in a covered event. A typical homeowners insurance policy may not cover, or provide enough coverage for, those valuable items. Jewelry and valuable items coverage can help give you peace of mind.
How to Insure Jewelry and Other Valuable Items
Step 1. Tell us what jewelry or valuable item you need to insure.
Step 2. Fill out a brief form to tell us about yourself and your jewelry or valuable item and how much it is worth.
Step 3. Once you’ve obtained the coverage you need, enjoy your jewelry or valuable item, knowing that you’ve protected these items with insurance coverage.
1. Personal Articles Endorsement or Floater
This itemized coverage can give you some peace of mind knowing your belongings and jewelry may be covered at the time of a loss. Offered as protection for valuables, policies can be purchased separately. There is no deductible for most classes or types of property and the coverage insures against many risks.
Consider a Personal Articles Floater policy for:
2. Adding Jewelry to Homeowners Insurance
Available as an add-on coverage to homeowners insurance, a Valuable Items Plus endorsement can offer higher limits on certain types of valuables, and expanded protection. Unlike the PAF where items are individually listed, the Valuable Items Plus endorsement provides blanket coverage that affords protection for a class of property collectively, such as jewelry insurance coverage, up to a certain amount. This coverage insures against many risks, such as lost jewelry.
Protecting your valuables from loss may be an affordable option depending on your needs. Whether you just need coverage for your jewelry or want insurance for multiple valuables, Travelers offers multiple options. You can add on and choose the coverage that fits your needs. Find a Calfee Insurance agent near you to get an insurance quote for your diamond, wedding or engagement ring, or any other valuables you may want to protect.
More than 40,000 Americans died on the roads in 2016, the most significant increase in deaths over a two-year period in more than 50 years.1 Whether someone you love has been known to text and drive, or you have found yourself distracted behind the wheel, these tips can help avoid dangerous activity on the road.
Taking your eyes off the road to search for an item can make you more likely to have an accident.
Share these tips to help keep others safe.
As you plan your next home renovation project, choosing the right contractor for the job is a critical first step in your planning process. You want to make sure you vet the quality of their work in advance, spell out in writing what work you want performed and agree upon the scope of the project, and inquire whether the contractor is properly licensed and insured in case something goes wrong.
This checklist compiles the top 10 tips to consider when selecting a contractor:
1. Get Multiple Estimates
Talk to several contractors and get written estimates from at least three. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you get multiple estimates. Look at building materials, work methods, timelines and other factors that may vary by contractor. Be cautious of estimates that are too high or too low.
2. Hire Local, Licensed Contractors Whenever Possible
Local contractors are easier to contact if problems develop with the work in the future, and they are more likely to be familiar with building codes in your area. Ask the contractor for their local, physical address. Be suspicious of anyone who goes door-to-door or refuses to leave a contract overnight.
3. Check Their Past Work
How has their worked turned out in the past? Do they specialize in the kind of work you want done? Check references about the quality of their products, their workmanship and their customer service. Inquire about their professional reputation and years in business with the Better Business Bureau. A contractor with more than five years of experience is preferable.
4. Take Your Time Making a Sound Decision
Get multiple bids before making a decision. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision, particularly with regard to signing a contract. Be cautious when asked to pay a large deposit up front. Make sure to read the fine print on all estimates and contracts. If you’re having emergency repairs done and don’t have time to thoroughly research a contractor, ask neighbors, family or friends to see if they have had a good experience with an emergency services contractor.
5. Check Their Insurance and Bonding
Make sure the contractor is properly insured and bonded. Ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance (COI), which should provide the name of the insurance company, policy number and policy limits the contractor carries. You can contact the insurance company directly to verify the coverage and make sure the policy is still in effect. Do not do business with a contractor who does not carry the appropriate insurance coverage. If the contractor is not insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.
Calfee Insurance allows you to customize your coverage to fit your unique needs. We focus on understanding you, so you'll feel right at home working with us.
6. Get Everything in Writing
Secure a comprehensive contract before work begins. Get everything in writing, and make sure the contract is clear and well written. Consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection before you sign it if the project involves substantial costs. The contract should include:
Changes to the contract should be acknowledged by all parties in writing. Ask the contractor for confirmation that he or she has obtained all applicable building permits. If you decide to cancel a signed contract, you should follow the contract’s cancellation clause. Written notification of the cancellation should be sent by registered mail to ensure you have proof of the cancellation.
7. Understand Your Right to Cancel
Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, in which you can cancel the contract without penalty. Check with the Federal Trade Commission and the laws of your state to understand your rights. Be sure to follow applicable rules during the cooling off period. If you do cancel, consider sending the notice of cancellation by registered mail to ensure you have proof of the cancellation.
8. Don’t Pay Up-Front
Don’t pay for the entire project before it is completed. Make sure you make checks payable to a company, not an individual, and do not pay in cash. For larger projects, it is standard practice to pay one-third of the estimated costs as an initial payment. That way, you can retain your cashed check as a receipt.
9. Anticipate Delays
Delays happen, and may not be the fault of your contractor. In spite of the timeline outlined in your contract, circumstances such as weather may prevent the work from remaining on schedule. Be realistic and prepare to adjust your plans accordingly.
10. Keep a Job File
Keep your contract and all the supporting documents in one folder. Your file should also contain any change orders, plans and specifications, bills and invoices, canceled checks, and certificates of insurance and any letters, notes, or correspondence with the contractor.
When you ask, “Should I lease a car?” you likely hear one of two words: "Do" or "Don't.’
That makes it difficult to decipher the pros and cons of leasing a vehicle. The answer to the question, like many financial decisions, depends on a host of individual details including price, terms, driving record, insurance history and more.
Misinformation and even some long-held biases on the pros and cons of leasing add to the confusion. But leasing a car makes sense for many people.
Are you among them?
The best way to judge is to understand the pros and cons of leasing a car, how leasing a car works and what insider tips for leasing a car might help you get the best deal.
Here are some of the particulars you might consider:
What Is a Car Lease?
You'll often hear car leasing likened to apartment leasing. There are plentiful similarities. When you lease a car or an apartment, you lease the property for a specific amount of time. You and the property owner have a mutual understanding that the assets will be returned in good condition.
Yet there are significant differences between leasing a car and leasing property or even other equipment. Many car lease agreements last two to three years and often allow you to purchase the car at the end of the term. Car lease agreements limit the number of miles the vehicle can be driven annually, generally between 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Those that exceed the agreed upon mileage are often responsible for paying 10 to 25 cents per mile. You may be able to increase the number of miles you can drive without a per-mile penalty, but the cost can be steep.1
How to Lease a Car
On the surface, it's easy to understand how leasing a car works.
Review car dealership websites. Then call or visit the dealership. That's how you'll find lease specials and selections.
One major difference between shopping for a traditional car loan and a lease is what you'd focus your energy on. With a traditional purchase, getting the lowest sale price is typically the goal, as that price, combined with the annual percentage rate (APR) of your loan’s interest as well as taxes on the vehicle, will be spread out over the course of a multi-year loan When leasing, your energy is better spent trying to determine the lowest possible payment, including all taxes and fees,2 since the term of the lease is typically shorter than a car loan term.
Shop at different dealerships before you select a car to lease, just as you would if you bought a car.
One tip: Don't forget to ask for all lease terms, from each dealership, in writing so that you can compare all fees, prices and terms.
Why Do People Lease Cars?
Some people choose to lease a car because it allows them to drive higher-end cars for a more affordable monthly payment. Plus, a two- to three-year car lease allows drivers to easily and frequently upgrade their rides.
Of course, not everyone leases because they want luxury wheels. Lower down payments, warranties, and free routine maintenance are among the benefits lease customers often receive.
Another bonus is that depreciation of the car is deducted from the total lease cost you pay. And some who end their lease find the car is more highly valued than predicted. That may entitle the lease owner to a payout or credit.3 An easy way to determine if you might be entitled to a payout or credit would be to evaluate your vehicle's value online and compare that value to your payoff amount. If your car is worth more than your payoff, you may want to discuss this issue with the dealership, to find out if you may be due some cash.
Many dealerships also offer leases for used cars. Those are usually certified preowned (CPO) cars. Those cars are generally newer, have low mileage and were inspected and repaired or refurbished.
What Are Some of the Downside of Car Leases?
The obvious downside to leasing a car is that you don't own the car at the end of the lease. That means you don't have a trade-in if you decide to purchase a car. Those that routinely lease cars over many years may pay more money than they would if they had initially bought the car.
Another thing to consider: You can break an auto lease, but it will likely cost you a hefty fee. Yes, you can sign a long-term lease, but that may negate the monetary benefits of leasing instead of buying a car. That’s because leasing typically costs you more than what you might have taken out in a long-term car loan. You’ll want to do the math to figure out if the numbers work in your favor to sign a long-term lease.
Should I Buy My Leased Car?
Just as you consider many factors when you lease a car, you need to analyze the costs and benefits of buying the car at the end of the lease.
First, do you like the car? Do you enjoy driving it and does it suit your needs?
That may seem like a funny question but consider your lifestyle. If you leased a small, compact car so you can easily maneuver through traffic, for example, and are moving to a rural area where you may need a vehicle that has sturdier road handling capabilities, you may find the compact car unsuitable for your new location. On the other hand, you may not want to drive a large SUV if you are moving to a congested urban area.
Are you happy with the car's performance?
Do you find gas mileage is reasonable?
Is the car always in the shop for warranty work? Analyze how much the car's upkeep will cost you if you do buy it.
If you decide the leased car is the one you want to buy, look at the residual value. How much is the car worth and how much would you pay to get out of your lease before it expires?4
There are various strategies to save money when buying your leased car, including financing through your bank or working directly with the lender (the creditor that owns the car). If you decide to buy the leased car, explore all options.
As with most personal financial decisions, the pros and cons of leasing a car come down to a host of individual factors. Analyze your needs and budget and then shop to make sure you make the right decision for you.
You've probably thought about what would happen to your home in the event of a disaster, but have you considered your personal belongings?
Fortunately, whether you're a homeowner or a renter, your insurance policy has you covered. The question is whether your current personal property coverage is enough.
If your possessions have multiplied over the years — or if you own special, high-value items — you may need additional protection.
What’s personal property coverage?
Personal property coverage, or contents coverage, protects your belongings, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, appliances, electronics and art. It insures the stuff that’s not part of your home’s structure (or permanently attached to it) against theft and accidental physical damage or destruction.
Personal property coverage also protects your belongings when you’re traveling or doing things around town.
How much coverage do you have?
Every policy will be different. For home insurance, your personal property limit is usually 70% of the insured dwelling value. In some cases, it can be more or less depending on your home.
If you rent your property or if you own a condo, it’s easier to tell how much coverage you have because your policy doesn’t cover the building. (The landlord’s or condo association’s policy covers that.)
Check your policy’s declarations page or get in touch if you’re unsure about your current coverage.
Should you increase your personal property coverage?
You may want to purchase extra personal property insurance through a rider or scheduled coverage if you own the following items:
Are you wondering whether something you own is valuable enough to warrant additional coverage? Reach out anytime.