Thursday, September 25, 2014

Insuring a rental vehicle: what do I really need?

Car rental insurance is something many of us don’t think about until we get to the rental counter. There we often just guess, wondering if we really need the coverage they offer.

Don’t leave your decisions to guesswork. The truth is you probably don’t need everything they’re selling. Here’s our advice.

Step 1. What coverage do you have?
Your first step is easy. Call us to clarify what your auto insurance covers and whether it extends to a rental car, truck or trailer. Just as important, ask what your policy doesn’t cover.

Tell us if you plan to rent a vehicle for vacation, business or moving things. Your existing coverage might be adequate. Some personal auto policies don’t cover vacation rentals but do cover rentals if your car is being repaired due to an accident. If you’re renting for business, your employer’s policy might already cover you.

If you rent vehicles frequently, consider a rental car endorsement. This could save you money over time.

Step 2. Know what to expect at the rental counter
Whether you’re renting a car, truck or trailer, most rental companies will offer you a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) to cover collision damage to the rented vehicle.

CDW isn’t insurance. It’s a waiver stating the rental company will waive the rental contract provision that makes you liable for:
·      Losing or damaging the vehicle while you are renting it, whether or not it’s your fault
·      The cost to repair or replace the vehicle
·      The loss of income to the rental company while the rental vehicle is being repaired

If you say yes to CDW, the rental company takes on your liability. The waiver can be voided under some circumstances. Find out what they are.

If your personal comprehensive and collision insurance cover a rental vehicle, the coverage handles only the cost of damage or replacing the vehicle. It does not cover the income the rental company lost while the vehicle was being repaired – a cost you’d be expected to pay. When in doubt, ODI  suggests you pay for CDW.

Some credit card companies offer CDW-like coverage if you pay with their card. We advise calling the credit card company for details, as offers vary and can be complex.
Other types of insurance

The rental clerk will also offer these coverages: 

Liability or Supplemental Liability Insurance. Your personal auto policy probably covers liability while driving a rental. Check with us. Ask if your liability insurance applies if another family member drives the rental.
Personal Effects Insurance. PEI covers damages to or loss of personal belongings in your rental car. Homeowners insurance might cover part of this, but find out the amount covered, what belongings are excluded, and the deductible. Then you can decide if you need PEI. 
Personal Accident Insurance. This covers medical and ambulatory costs related to accidental injury or accidental death while renting the vehicle.

For each type of insurance, ODI requires the rental company to give you a factual brochure that explains the insurer’s coverage, exclusions, limitations, provisions, how to file a claim and more. Read this brochure before you decide.

Gather these facts now, and you’ll be able to step up to the rental counter with confidence.

This information is brought to you by Dostal & Kirk, Inc., a proud member of the Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Benefits of Safe Driving on Your Car Insurance Rates

Most of us recognize unsafe driving. Texting while driving is not safe. Eating while driving is not safe. Reading, applying makeup, shaving are not safe behind the wheel. Turning around and talking to the kids in the back seat is definitely not safe. Drinking while driving is not only unsafe, it’s against the law.

Committing to save driving habits can save your life and the lives of your friends and loved ones. And there are many other benefits to safe driving too.

Driving Safe Deductible Auto Insurance Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who they consider safe drivers. These incentives for driving safe may be a vanishing deductible discount. Depending on your driving record, this discount may mean that for every year you do not file a car accident insurance claim, your deductible is discounted. Lets say you have a $500 deductible. If you file no claims for five years and have no accidents, your deductible could be discounted to zero.

Save Driving Courses Save Money and Lives

Taking a safe driving course can help you learn how to improve your driving skills, save your life and help you obtain a discount on your insurance premium. In some states if you take a defensive driving or safe driver course, you could get up to 10% off your insurance rates for three to five years. While safe driving courses do vary, they do teach students how to:

·         Make informed decisions on the road
·         Anticipate potential dangerous situations while driving
·         Have insight into potential problems in their own driving techniques and make needed changes
·         Handle road rage
·         Deal with dangerous weather and road conditions

You may take safe driving courses online, in the classroom or also receive behind the wheel training.

Shave Points off Drivers Record

Safe driving courses can help you shave points off your driving record after you have received a ticket for a driving violation. If you have received a moving violation ticket, taking a safe driver course may excuse you from having to appear in court. Often, taking the safe driving course may keep your insurance rates from rising after you have had a moving violation.

When you drive safely, additional benefits include:

·         You save money on gas. Your car can achieve peak efficiency when you avoid rapid acceleration and lots of quick stops.
·         Your tires last longer. Safe drivers do not tailgate, except in football parking lots. Because safe driving includes braking gently and not zooming from zero to 80 in 10 seconds, there is less tread wear on your tires.
·         Your engine is happy. Because you are not doing a lot of quick starts, accelerations and rapid stops, your car’s engine can function more efficiently, and thus last longer.
·         You live longer. While you cannot control what other drivers on the road are doing, you will have more awareness of the road and have the ability to be proactive when you sense danger coming. This can result in fewer accidents.

Questions about Driving Safe Benefits You May Qualify For?

Our agents can give you more information about the types of options involving safe driving courses or safe driver discounts that may be available to you in your region. Find out more by contacting Dostal & Kirk Insurance & Financial Services at (877) 562-6801 or We return all phone calls and emails promptly.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How Teen Drivers Affect Your Car Insurance 
When teens are about to turn 16, chances are they’re dreaming of carefree days behind the wheel with the windows down and the wind in their hair. As the parent of a new teen driver, your dreams may be clouded
with worry and higher insurance rates.

Talking to your insurance agent is a first step in dealing with both topics. Knowing that you have adequate car insurance coverage can offer peace of mind when you hand over the keys to your teenager. Your agent can help you design a policy that protects your family and meets your budget.

When to Add Your Teen Driver to Your Car Insurance
Every driver must be insured, even while they are driving with their learner’s permit. And in most cases, it’s more cost-efficient to add your child to your policy rather than buy a separate policy. Usually the new teenage driver will need to be designated as the primary driver on one of the family vehicles. If you are buying a new car as the number of drivers in your family increases, have your teen drive one of the older ones since newer cars cost more to insure anyway.

What Teen Drivers Mean for Your Insurance Rates 
Typically adding a new teen driver will increase your car insurance premium somewhat since teen drivers add more risk. It’s common knowledge that teen drivers cause more accidents and tend to be more easily distracted behind the wheel. Since insurance companies need to protect against those risks, it usually costs more to insure new teen drivers. But while your rates are likely to increase, there are ways to make your car insurance more affordable.

Several Ways To Save 

While the thought of having a new teen driver may send your blood pressure skyward, there are several ways to lower the cost of insuring them.

Raise your deductible. It’s an effective way to offset the cost of insuring a teen driver, but be aware that teens have more accidents, so you may not want to take on more risk than you can handle.
Postpone the license. Many insurance companies offer discounts for teens who mature another year or two before getting their license.
Share the family car. Having your teen drive one of your existing family vehicles may limit their driving time, which reduces your risk in the eyes of the insurance company. If you buy a car just for your teen, that unlimited access may mean more time behind the wheel.
Choose a new car wisely. If you need to buy a car for your new driver, you may want to research which ones cost less to insure. Your insurance agent can help.
Get good grades. Many insurance companies view responsible students as responsible drivers and reward the family with lower insurance rates.
Look for safe driver programs. Ask your insurance agent about safe driving programs. They often require the participants to sign contracts indicating they will not participate in risky behavior such as drinking and driving. They are a way to reduce your insurance premiums and also teach your child safe driving habits that could potentially save their lives.

Don’t Skimp on Coverage to Save a Few Dollars 
Shaving a little off your liability coverage may seem like a way to compensate for a higher premium, but ultimately it may not be the best choice. In the event of a serious accident, skimping on your liability coverage would leave you footing the bill for anything beyond your liability limits, which could potentially put your financial security at risk.

In fact, teen car crashes are more likely to result in high-judgment lawsuits, so many insurers recommend adding an umbrella policy when insuring a new teen driver. Umbrella policies offer protection above and beyond the standard limits of your primary policies. And because umbrella policies are designed for those ‘perfect storm’ instances, they are relatively inexpensive.

Dostal & Kirk Can Help 
Having a new teen driver in the house can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact us when your teen is about to get behind the wheel. We’ll help you find out how to get affordable, dependable coverage so you’re prepared when you hand over the car keys to your child. Call (877) 562-6801 or email for more information.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Dangers of Texting while Driving

62 percent of high-school students admit to texting while driving, according to a survey by
Students Against Drunk Driving and Liberty Mutual Insurance. Of these young texters, one in
four believed there’s nothing unsafe about it.

On the other hand, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) blames the use
of cell phones at the wheel for some 1,000 fatalities and 240,000 nonfatal accidents every year.
That’s about 25 percent of all crashes. Add to this the facts that most young people think they
can easily “multi-task” and they think they’re immortal anyway, and you’ve got a big problem.

Cell Phones Are a Major Distraction 
Safety studies by NHTSA, the University of Utah, and other researchers show that cell-phone
use alone – just talking – is a major distraction for most motorists. It takes away the driver’s
concentration. It slows reaction time. It impedes both-hands-on-wheel control of the vehicle.
As highway-patrol officers have frequently confirmed, it reduces performance to the level of
driving drunk.

What’s more, it’s not just the equipment’s fault. Hands-free cell-phone use is no safer. The real
culprit is the conversation itself, especially when it involves decision making or emotional upset.
There is simply no way a caller can adequately do the complex work of driving – scanning the
road, monitoring traffic movements, reading road signs, adjusting speed, following distance,
and other variables – while on a call.

Texting multiplies these deficits and adds a few more.

  •  Inputting, like any kind of writing, requires more concentration that just speaking. 
  • Most texters need to keep glancing at the phone’s keyboard and disregarding the road. 
  • Reading an incoming text message can be even more problematic, as the driver squints at the tiny screen, then scrolls to follow longer messages. 
  • Should the car hit a bump, the phone could fly out of the user’s hand. What then? 

A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has found that while texting, 4.6 of
every 6 seconds are spent looking at the phone instead of the road. At 55 mph, that’s
equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. So deciding whether to retrieve a
dropped phone could literally be a matter of life or death.

Thumbs Down, Say Lawmakers 
States lawmakers are cracking down. Texting is now outlawed in 34 states and the District of
Columbia. Law enforcement officers can attest to the need, reporting that texters are easy to
spot on the road since they are inattentive, swerve between lanes and drive slowly.
Other counter-measures to on-road texting are also taking hold. The Occupational Health and
Safety Administration (OSHA), has petitioned President Obama for tougher laws. Why OSHA,
the occupational agency? Because much of America’s workforce is on the road daily, delivering
goods and services or conducting other business activities.

In response, the President instituted the Executive Order on Federal Leadership on Reducing
Text Messaging While Driving in 2009. It prohibits texting by all federal employees during
official business trips.

The courts and insurers are likewise adjusting to the spread of the texting habit. Phone-related
accidents and injuries, whether caused by talking or texting, are seen as forms of driver
negligence, in some cases on a par with DWI (“driving while impaired”) offenses. Increasingly,
victims of such crimes are eligible to receive compensation for their losses.

Safety statistics, here and abroad, make it clear that texting and talking, whether hands-on or
hands-free, make cell-phone use a major threat to public safety. But in the age of hand-held
electronics, will the trend-setting Uncle Sam follow the lead of Great Britain, Japan, Chile, and
more than a dozen other nations in banning these practices? The question remains open.

Call Dostal & Kirk Insurance & Financial Services Today
We have been doing business in Ohio for more than 135 years, so very little surprises us,
including what people do while driving. Don’t hesitate to contact Dostal & Kirk for ways to
instill good driving habits in your family or to discuss all your insurance needs.