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How to prepare for a stress-free road trip

By ThisIsReno

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Before you hit the road this summer, the Nevada Division of Insurance (Division) reminds you to make sure your car and car insurance are ready for the journey. Planning ahead can help avoid mishaps that could ruin your vacation.

Whether you are traveling near or far, you will likely be lugging some valuable items such as golf clubs, a laptop or a camera — none of which are covered by a car insurance policy. According to an April 2011 survey released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), 40 percent of Americans incorrectly believe their car insurance will cover the replacement of personal items stolen from their vehicle.

“It’s important to understand that your auto policy covers only the car, not the possessions you may have in it,” said Nevada Insurance Commissioner Brett Barratt. “The good news is that your personal possessions should typically be covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.”

Top Auto Insurance Tips

  • Confirm your car insurance is active and premiums are up-to-date. Have a current copy of your insurance card in the car.
  • Call your agent to verify your homeowners or renters insurance covers the theft of personal items from a car, as there may be a limit of coverage.
  • Check to see if your policy includes roadside assistance. You can be covered for towing, fuel delivery, lockout service, jump-starts and more. If you do have roadside assistance, store the number in a handy location in the car.

To avoid car troubles, schedule a tune-up a few weeks prior to your trip and be sure to get regular oil changes. Before leaving check windshield wipers, fluids and tire pressure. Don’t forget to pack an emergency kit for your trunk, just in case.

One-third of Americans also believe their auto insurance automatically covers a rental car, according to the NAIC survey. However, this is not true, and the Division recommends checking with your auto insurance agent to make sure you have adequate car insurance whether driving your own car or a rental.

Top Car Rental Tips

  • If your current policy doesn’t offer coverage for a rental car, see if an insurance rider can be added for a small fee, and make sure you have loss of use coverage.
  • Many credit cards include some level of collision and theft protection. In most cases, these benefits are secondary to your personal auto insurance or the car rental company’s insurance, meaning the credit card company will only pay claims after other insurance coverage has been exhausted. Call your credit card company and ask about benefits.
  • If you lack personal auto insurance and your credit card does not provide benefits, it might be wise to purchase the liability insurance and collision damage waiver at the car rental counter.
  • Keep in mind that if it is a longer-term rental (e.g., a week, a month or more), there might be limitations on the coverage your existing auto insurance policy provides. Check with your insurance company or agent for details.

If you are unclear about your car insurance coverage or would like to learn how to lower car insurance costs, visit www.InsureUonline.org or contact the Division at www.doi.nv.gov or over the phone at (775) 687-0700 in Northern Nevada and (702) 486-4009 in Southern Nevada.

The Nevada Division of Insurance protects the rights of Nevada consumers in their experiences with the insurance industry and ensures the financial solvency of insurers. The Division investigated more than 2,400 consumer complaints during fiscal year 2010. The total premium dollar amount of all lines of insurance in Nevada for 2010 was approximately $11 billion. The Division is an accredited member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a national organization comprised of state insurance regulators dedicated to the development of good public policy in insurance.