Friday, May 31, 2013

What Is Loan / Lease Gap Auto Insurance?

If you’re like most people, you take out a loan when you buy a car. Like most of us, you also probably think that if your new car costs $25,000, it is still worth $25,000 the next day when you show it to your friends. Well, think twice because the minute you drive your car off the car dealer’s lot, it depreciates in value. Within weeks you may have a gap between the loan amount and the value of your car.

When You Buy/Lease a New Car, Do Not Ignore Gap Coverage
Guaranteed auto protection, also known as Gap Insurance, covers the gap between what you owe on a car and the actual cash value if your car is totaled or stolen in a covered loss. With a car lease, the same principle applies; your car may be worth less than the lease amount. Gap coverage is not a substitute for your regular car insurance policy; it is an additional coverage.

Do You Need Gap Insurance Coverage?
When you take out a loan or lease a new vehicle, you may need Gap coverage since most
vehicles depreciate in value — and quickly — from the moment you leave the dealership.
Typically, a car depreciates in value approximately 30% within three months of purchase. If your car is totaled in a covered loss, you'll have to pay out of your own pocket the difference between what you owe and what your vehicle is worth on that day.
Gap coverage will close that gap. You may not need GAP if you make a large down payment on your vehicle as the value of the car may not be more than the value of the loan or lease. If you paid cash for your car, you do not need GAP insurance.

What Gap Insurance Can Do
Let’s say you swerve to avoid a deer and end up driving down an embankment and total your car. Although no one's hurt, the cost to repair your vehicle is higher than its actual cash value (ACV). Your insurance company determines the ACV is $20,000. If you have a $500 deductible, your insurance company will pay $19,500 to settle your claim. You bought your car a few weeks earlier for $24,000 and haven't even made the first payment yet, so you will still owe the full amount to your lender. You are responsible for paying the remaining $4,500 to your lender. Gap coverage will pay the $4,500 which includes your deductible, but be aware that not all Gap policies cover your deductible.

How Do You Buy Gap Insurance Coverage?
You buy Gap coverage at the time you purchase or lease the new vehicle in either of two ways. You can ask your independent insurance agent to add Gap to your car insurance policy or you can ask the finance/leasing company. Generally, the cost might be higher if the coverage is purchased within the finance agreement because you are paying for the coverage plus some fees. The price the finance company can charge is not regulated, but the cost of the coverage through your auto insurance policy is regulated by the state. Often leasing companies include Gap coverage in their contracts; make sure you review your lease contract so you don’t pay twice.

What to Look for When Purchasing Gap Insurance
 Gap insurance coverage is similar from insurance company to insurance company. However, you should check with your independent insurance agent as there potential exclusions and limitations such as:

 Overdue lease/loan payments
 Security deposits not refunded by the lessor
 Costs for extended warranties
 Deductions for wear and tear, prior damage, towing, and storage
 Equipment added by the buyer

What You Should Do

As your independent insurance agent, Dostal & Kirk works to find you the best coverage at the most competitive rates. Contact us when you decide to purchase a car and we will help you decide whether you need Gap insurance. We take great pride in providing professional customer service to you as we handle all your insurance needs.  Please call (877) 562-6801 to discuss your options and review all of your coverages.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Preparing for Natural Disasters: Floods, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Earthquakes

Disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can occur
in almost any area of the country…..even Ohio, so it’s a good idea to prepare for them.
Organize your home to minimize damage, create emergency plans, and
make sure you have emergency supplies. You should also plan what you
would do in case of a natural disaster and discuss it with your family to
make sure you are all as prepared as possible.

Possible disasters
Any disaster that has occurred in an area can happen again, and other disasters
are always a possibility. To find out which disasters to prepare for in your area
and how to handle them, contact your local emergency management center, civil
defense office, or American Red Cross chapter. Also, learn about your
community’s warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do
when you hear them. The following are some types of disasters that may affect
your community:

·         A flood or flash flood is the overflow of water to a normally dry area. A flood can
occur when water slowly rises following prolonged rainfall or rapid melting of
snow. A flash flood may occur when sudden, heavy rainfall creates too much
hillside runoff, overflowing dams, levees, and dikes. If you live in a flood plain
near a river or stream, or in an area surrounded by mountains or hills, your
home may be at risk during heavy rains.

·         A hurricane is an intense tropical storm that spirals around a calm center, called
an eye, and gains strength and speed over the open water of an ocean or gulf.
When wind speeds reach 74 miles per hour, a tropical storm becomes a
hurricane. This type of storm mostly affects coastal areas, especially in the
Southeast, and usually occurs between June and December. A hurricane may
bring high winds (up to 220 mph), heavy rains, high tides, and inland flooding.

·         A tornado is an extremely violent, localized storm in which winds up to 200 mph
whip around a central vortex. This type of storm may accompany thunderclouds
in certain atmospheric conditions, and appears as a funnel cloud that stretches
from the ground to the sky. Tornadoes can occur in any state (especially east of
the Rockies), and usually travel from southwest to northeast.

·         An earthquake can be caused by the sudden shifting of rock plates beneath the
earth’s surface or from the pressure of rising magma in volcanic areas. They
usually occur along fault lines (where the rock plates that form the earth’s crust
meet), or in volcanic areas. The shaking may be very slight, or it may be quite
violent. Loud rumblings often accompany earthquakes, along with significant
structure damage, power outages, explosions, or fires.

Disaster-proof your home
Try to learn about the building where you live. Is it safe and able to withstand
disaster? Search for danger, and remember, in a severe storm, ordinary items in
the home can cause injury and damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or
cause a fire is a potential hazard. To minimize damage to your home in a

· Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
· Fasten shelves securely and brace overhead light fixtures.
· Avoid placing beds in front of windows. Hang pictures and mirrors away from
· Secure water heater and oil tank to wall studs.
· Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products away from heat sources.
· Place oily polishing rags or waste in covered metal cans.
· Clean, repair, and maintain chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors, and gas vents.
· Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations.
· Anchor heavy appliances, bookcases, and furniture to wall studs or floor.
· Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
· Keep hanging plants to a minimum. Use plastic pots instead of ceramic, and
  close or tie hooks and hangers shut.
· Store dishes, glassware, and pots in closed, latched cabinets instead of hanging or
  displaying them.
· Check hallways, exits, doors, and windows for hazards and obstructions. Keep
  the key easily accessible near locked doors or passages. Do not permanently bar,
  nail, or paint windows or doors shut.

Create an emergency plan
The best defense from any disaster is good preparation. Once you are aware of
what types of disasters might affect your community, you may want to hold a
family meeting to discuss the need for preparation. Explain the dangers of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes to children in terms they can understand. Explain that planning ensures that the family will stay together in case of an emergency. Plan to share responsibilities and work as a team.

· Meet with household members to discuss the types of emergencies that may
  affect your area. Explain how to respond, and find safe spots in the home for
  each type of disaster.
· Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries.
· Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room.
· Show family members how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main
  switches when necessary.
· Post emergency phone numbers near phones. Teach children how and when to
  call 911, police, and fire.
· Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
· Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call
  if separated during a disaster (it is often easier to call out-of-state than within the
  disaster area). Teach these phone numbers to each family member, including
  children and older adults.
· Pick two emergency meeting places
- a place near the home in case of fire
- a place outside the neighborhood in case family members can’t return home
· Take a basic first aid and CPR class.
· Keep family records in a waterproof and fireproof container.
· Create a Disaster Supplies Kit. Include a flotation vest for each member of the
  family if the area is prone to floods.
· Keep fuel in your car at all times and stock it with a Car Emergency Supplies

Create a disaster supplies kit
Keep enough supplies in your home to meet all basic needs for at least three
days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items that you might need if you are
homebound or forced to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy containers such
as backpacks, duffle bags, or covered trash cans. Prepare a smaller Car
Emergency Supplies Kit and keep it in the car trunk.

Disaster supplies kit
· A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and food that won’t
  spoil. Include a manual can opener, and any pet food and supplies you might
· One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping
  bag per person
· A first aid kit that includes prescription medications
· Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, plenty of extra
  batteries, and a utility knife
· An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash, or traveler’s checks
· Personal care supplies (toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, etc.)
· Any special items or equipment for infants, or for older or disabled family
  members (formula, diapers, denture or eye care supplies, etc.)
· An extra pair of eyeglasses
· Important family documents in a waterproof container
  Car emergency supplies kit
· Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
· Blanket
· Booster cables
· Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
· First aid kit and manual
· Bottled water and non-perishable, high-energy foods like granola bars and
· Maps, shovel, and flares
· Tire repair kit and pump

What to do during a flood or hurricane
In a flood or hurricane, follow these precautions:
· Tune in a battery-operated radio for instructions from the Emergency Broadcast
· Disconnect electrical appliances and turn off the main circuit breaker or switch.
· If instructed to evacuate, take your Disaster Supplies Kit along.
· In a flood, move to the highest point in your home. If flood waters are rising and
  you can’t evacuate, be sure to have flotation vests.
· In a hurricane, move to the center of the house, preferably to a small room
  opposite the direction from which the wind is blowing. Stay away from windows.

What to do during a tornado
In a tornado approaches, follow these procedures:
· Stay indoors and move to the basement, if there is one. Duck under the stairs or
  a heavy work table. Don’t stand under heavy appliances or furniture on the floor
· If there is no basement, go to a small room in the center of the house, on the
  ground floor. Get under a sturdy table, desk, or bed.
· Use a pillow, blanket, books, or your arms to protect yourself from wind-born

What to do during an earthquake
In case of an earthquake, protect yourselves using the following guidelines:
· If you are indoors:
- Move away from windows, glass, and breakable or loose objects. Beware of
  falling, flying, and sliding objects.
- Brace yourselves in a doorway or inside hallway, or slide under a sturdy table,
  desk, or bed.
- If you can’t move to a safer area, sit down where you are and protect your head
  and body with your arms, pillows, blankets, books, or any nearby object. For
  anyone in a wheelchair, lock the brakes.
· If you are outdoors, move to an open area away from trees, buildings, poles, or
  walls that could break apart or fall in an earthquake.
· If you are in a car, stop, park, and apply the parking brake. Stay in the vehicle
  until the tremors stop. Avoid trees, bridges, and power lines.
· If you are in a high-rise building, get under a desk or a table. When the shaking
  stops, evacuate calmly using the stairs (avoid the elevator).

What to do after a disaster strikes
If a disaster does occur, do the following:
· Check for injuries and apply first aid. Call for help if needed.
· Put on heavy shoes in case of broken glass.
· Turn on a battery-operated radio and listen to the Emergency Broadcast System
  for information and instructions.
· Gather emergency supplies for evacuation, if necessary. If the home is damaged,
  seek emergency shelter. If you evacuate, post a message telling where you are
· If you leave home, do not return until you hear official notice that it’s safe.
· If you remain at home, use your Disaster Supplies Kit.
· If you smell gas, open all windows, turn off the gas at the main valve, and exit the
  home through escape routes.
· If you suspect damage to water pipes or the electrical system, turn off water or
  electricity at the main valve or circuit breaker.
· If you have pets, confine or harness them safely; if they are frightened they may
  run away, risking injury.
· Clean up potentially harmful material (broken glass, spills of gas, chemicals, or
  cleaning agents).
· Check house, roof, and chimney for damage.
· In the case of an earthquake, open closets and cupboards carefully in case
  contents have broken or shifted.
· After an earthquake, be prepared for aftershocks.
· If there’s been flooding, do not drink tapwater until authorities say it’s safe.
  Don’t use plumbing unless the sewer lines are intact.
· Do not eat food contaminated by flood water.
· Avoid using electrical equipment in wet or flooded areas. If electrical equipment
  has gotten wet, let it dry and have it checked for safety before using it.

The above suggestions include basic information to help you design an
emergency or disaster response system. You can also obtain more information
from your local government office of emergency services, fire department,
American Red Cross, National Weather Service, Federal Emergency
Management Agency, local utility companies, and local public library.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do I Need Rental Car Reimbursement Insurance?

Protect yourself from paying to drive when your car is in the shop.
You drive to and from work every day. You take your kids to the ballgame. You go shopping.
Have you ever wondered if your car were in an accident, how you would be able to survive
without a car? We have the answer. It’s Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage to the rescue. The
good thing about car insurance is that you can buy a number of endorsements for additional
protections and rental car reimbursement is one of them.

What Rental Car Reimbursement Covers
Rental reimbursement provides financial protection for you if you need a vehicle when your car
is damaged in an accident covered by your Comprehensive or Collision coverage. Some
policies cover car rentals when your vehicle undergoes mechanical repairs. Rental
reimbursement is generally available only with policies that include collision and comprehensive

How Do I Know if I have It
The first several pages of your insurance policy are called the declarations pages. These pages
contain the declarations of the coverage you have purchased for each of your vehicles and
include the specific description of your vehicle(s). Look for a line item listed as “Rental” or “Extended Transportation,” with a dollar amount listed to the side of it. You have purchased this
insurance only if there is a dollar coverage amount next to it and there is a policy premium
amount listed for the insured vehicle. You may purchase the coverage for one vehicle but not
for another, at your option.

How Rental Car Reimbursement Works
The optional rider offsets the daily cost of a rental vehicle for a specific time period and up to
the specific daily limit you purchased. You can generally purchase limits of $20/day and
600/30days or $30/900 or $40/1200. The first number indicates the daily maximum coverage and
the second is the maximum coverage for 30 days. For example, if you purchase 30/900, the
policy would pay up to $30 per day for up to a maximum of 30 days or $900, whichever comes
Most insurance carriers have pre-arranged agreements with several car rental agencies that
may include direct bill and pre-negotiated rates. Remember, if you exceed your policy limits,
you are responsible for the difference. You should select a rental rate based on the type of car
you need. If you have a family SUV, you should select a daily rental rate for a comparable

How Do I Know When I Am Covered?
If you purchased the coverage, you are insured while the vehicle is in the shop being repaired
after an accident or breakdown, up to your coverage limits. If your vehicle is not drivable, you
may be able to get a rental vehicle before your vehicle is being repaired, but always check with
your agent first. If your vehicle is stolen, call the insurance company or your agent immediately
after calling the police to report the car stolen since most have a clause in the policy that does
not cover a rental vehicle for the first 48 hours after the reported loss.

What It Costs
The cost of rental car reimbursement coverage is generally quite reasonable: under $20 per
vehicle per year. It can bring peace of mind knowing you won’t be forced to go without a
vehicle should something happen to your car.

We Can Help
As your independent insurance agent, Dostal & Kirk can help you select the appropriate
daily rental car reimbursement limit for you. Contact us when you are purchasing your auto
insurance and we can help you find the right insurance company for you. Call (877) 562-6801
or send us an email today.