Gunning Daily News

Tips for Renting a Car over Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

Labor Day weekend offers a chance for a final summer escape before the arrival of fall. An estimated 34.1 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, the highest turn out since 2008, when the recession was at its peak, the American Automobile Association reports. Gas prices are also down, nearly 5 percent, another plus for vacationers. However, for those renting a car, it can be confusing, frustrating and downright daunting. Unfortunately, many consumers do not even think about car rental insurance until they get to the counter, which can result in either wasting money by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having dangerous gaps in coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Before renting a car, I.I.I. suggests that you make two phone calls—one to your insurance professional and another to the credit card company you will be using to pay for the rental car.

Insurance Company

  • Find out how much coverage you currently have on your own car. In most cases, whatever coverage and deductibles you have on your own car would apply when you rent a car, providing you are using the car for recreation and not for business.
  • If you have dropped either comprehensive or collision on your own car as a way to reduce costs, you will not be covered if your rental car is stolen or damaged in an accident.
  • Check to see whether your insurance company pays for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges. Some companies may provide an insurance rider to cover some of these costs, which would make it less expensive than purchasing coverage through the rental car company. Keep in mind, however, that in most states diminished value (the reduction in a vehicle's market value occurring after a vehicle is damaged and then repaired), is not covered by insurers.

Credit Card Company

  • Insurance benefits offered by credit card companies differ by both the company and/or the bank that issues the card, as well as by the level of credit card used. For instance, a platinum card may offer more insurance coverage than a gold card.
  • Credit cards usually cover only damage to or loss of the rented vehicle, not for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others. You may not have personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims. Some credit card companies will provide coverage for towing, but many may not provide for diminished value or administrative fees. Some credit card companies have changed their policies, too, so you may not have as much coverage as you thought.
  • To know exactly what type of insurance you have, call the toll-free number on the back of the card you will be using to rent the car. If you are depending on a credit card for insurance protection, ask the credit card company or bank to send you its coverage information in writing. In most cases, credit card benefits are secondary to either your personal insurance protection or the insurance offered by the rental car company.
  • If you have more than one credit card, consider calling each one to see which offers the best insurance protection.

At the Rental Car Counter

Since insurance is state regulated, the cost and coverage will vary from state to state. Consumers, however, can generally choose from the following coverages:

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)

Also referred to as a collision damage waiver outside the U.S., an LDW is not technically an insurance product. LDWs do, however, relieve or "waive" renters of financial responsibility if their rental car is damaged or stolen. In most cases, waivers also provide coverage for "loss of use," in the event the rental car company charges the renter for the time a damaged car cannot be used because it is being fixed. It may also cover towing and administrative fees.


Waivers, however, may become void if the accident was caused by speeding, driving on unpaved roads or driving while intoxicated. If you already have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, check with your personal auto insurer to make sure you are not duplicating coverage you already have. Should you decide it is necessary, this coverage generally costs between $9 and $19 a day.

Liability Insurance

By law, rental companies must provide the state-required amount of liability insurance. Generally, these amounts are low and do not provide much protection. If you have adequate amounts of liability protection on your own car, you may consider forgoing additional liability protection. If you want the supplemental insurance, it will cost between $7 and $14 a day.

An umbrella liability policy, however, may be more cost effective. Umbrella liability insurance is so named because it acts like an umbrella, sitting on top of your auto and homeowners (or renters) liability policies to provide extra protection, including accidents, while driving your own car or one that you rent. These policies, usually sold in increments of a million dollars, cost as little as $200 to $300 annually for a million dollars worth of coverage and another $50 to $100 for each additional million.

Those who do not own their own car and are frequent car renters, can also consider purchasing a non-owner liability policy. This not only provides liability protection when you rent a car, but also when you borrow someone else's car.

Personal Accident Insurance

Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to you and your passengers for medical and ambulance bills for injuries caused in a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you may not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1 to $5 a day.

Personal Effects Coverage

Personal Effects Coverage provides insurance protection for the theft of items in your car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy that includes off-premises theft coverage, you are generally covered for theft of your belongings away from home, minus the deductible. If you purchase this coverage through the rental car company, it generally costs between $1 and $4 a day.

If you frequently travel with expensive items such as jewelry, cameras, musical equipment or sports equipment, it may be more cost effective to purchase a personal articles floater under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. With such a floater, your valuable items are protected at home as well as while traveling anywhere in the world and the coverage is broader.

Source: www.iii.org.  


Word of the Day

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

Plat. Map or survey showing the location and boundaries of individual properties and how they have been subdivided into lots and blocks.

 


Q: What Can I Do If I Am Turned Down for a Loan?

August 28, 2013 7:48 pm

A: Unless your credit is absolutely abysmal – with all kinds of judgments, liens, excessive delinquencies or non-payments, foreclosures and bankruptcies that show no attempt on your part to make progress – you can generally get a loan.

More and more borrowers are finding ways to become homeowners despite past credit problems, a lack of a credit history, or debt-to-income ratios that exceed traditional limits.  This is because a greater number of lenders are willing to take a chance with borrowers today that they once turned down for home loans.

If you are denied a mortgage, ask the lender for a full explanation.  If you feel you are creditworthy, then appeal the decision in writing.


If You're Moving For Work, Go Where the Jobs Are

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

One of the major drivers behind people relocating is to pursue or improve their employment situation. So why not target your relocation to where the biggest pockets of job growth are occurring, and avoid areas where job growth is stagnant or retracting.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its July metro area employment data and the results were on par with the month prior, as 42 of 52 metros saw payrolls rise in July.  Zooming out, the picture gets more encouraging, as just five metros have seen employment fall over the last three months while only two remain flat; there are only five metros with lower payrolls than six months ago and only Cleveland has seen employment fall from a year ago.

Here are some details from that report, courtesy of The Hoyt Organization out of Orange County, CA:

  • Minneapolis continued leading the Midwest region in July, and leads all metros in employment growth over the past three months. The metro added 13,700 jobs in July and ranks third among metros in growth over the past six months. Minneapolis employment is also up, with growth accelerating 5.2 percent over the past three months.
  • The DC area shed 300 jobs in July, and is now one of very few metro areas showing longer-term declines as well. Suburban Maryland has was one of just ten major metros that contracted payrolls in July, losing 600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Meanwhile, Northern Virginia has seen jobs grow in five of the past six months, adding 400 jobs most recently in July.
  • Portland has been posting impressive job gains recently, topping the six-month growth chart among major metro areas and adding 4,000 jobs in July, and more than 4,000 jobs or more in each month since May. Portland has also seen payrolls grow 2.4 percent over the past year.
  • While most of the other long-struggling metros have gained traction on their road to recovery, Cleveland lags behind. Cleveland’s economy has shed jobs in four of the past five months and it is the only major metro still reporting employment declines from a year ago.

Top Winterizing Tasks for Your Home

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

BPT—If you shudder at the thought of shivering through another frigid winter, building industry experts say now is the time to consider winterizing your home. Several simple and cost-effective measures can yield both immediate and long-term benefits.

  • While instinct may prod you to increase the heat during winter and keep your home toasty all day long, that's not always cost-effective. Investing in a programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature remotely, lowering the setting when the house is empty, and save money in the process. Modern thermostats let you monitor the indoor temperature of your home remotely via your smartphone or online. By keeping the temperature low when no one is home and programming the thermostat to increase the temperature when everyone arrives home, you could notice a 10 percent drop in your heating costs.
  • Fall is also an ideal time to ensure your furnace is functioning optimally. Schedule an appointment for a professional to inspect and clean your furnace once a year. By doing so, you'll help your furnace function more effectively and last longer.
  • If ice damming on the roof is an annual problem, consider taking measures to completely stop dams from forming. Major damage can result from ice damming, so it's never too early to start thinking about a long-term solution. Ice damming occurs when warm, indoor air escaping through the roof melts snow on the shingles. The water then refreezes as it runs off the roof, creating a barrier of ice at the edge. Shoveling snow or chipping ice away can threaten life, limb and roof, so it's best to consider more permanent solutions.
  • While caulking or weather-stripping can help address the gaps allowing the air to escape, the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Saver website says that proper air sealing, insulation and attic venting are the best methods to stop ice damming from occurring. Spray foam insulation is one modern material that both insulates and seals to stop ice damming. Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation works well in all climates to completely seal the building, filling every gap to stop air leakage and stop ice dams from forming.
  • As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home, according to InsulationSmart.com.
  • While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket and ice damming to occur, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months.

Source: icynene.com.  


Choosing a Home with Your 'Blended' Family in Mind

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

With 1,300 new stepfamilies forming each day, there is a constant flow of families starting over in a brand new home. The interior decorators with Decor&You, one of America's leading, full-service interior decorating franchises, understand how difficult moving can be and share four key tips on how to handle one of life's toughest transitions.

"The process of starting a life over with a stepfamily in a new home can be both exciting and challenging," says Decor&You Founder and CEO Karen Powell. "Whether you are moving across the country or across town, the pressures of blending two families can be stressful on everyone. It's important to make sure every family member has a voice in choosing the new residence and creating an environment that everyone can call home."

Decor&You shares the following tips on how to create a smooth transition into a new home while taking your "blended family" into account:

1. Carefully consider the size and floor plan of the home you buy. While there is no single "right" home for a blended family, a house with as many bedrooms as bathrooms will allow the family the opportunity to learn how to live with each other without feeling too crowded. Allow the children to decide if they prefer to have their own bedroom or to share a bedroom with a sibling.

2. Turn a first-floor den into an extra bedroom. Turning the lower-level room into a bedroom allows teenage children or college students to feel independent and maintain their privacy.

3. Consider a renovated house with bedrooms at both ends. Buying a home with bedrooms on both ends and a common living space in the center allows blended families to maintain a degree of physical distance, while still meeting in the middle at mealtimes or for recreation.

4. Include everyone in the decorating process. Involving the entire family in decorating the new home makes starting over much easier and allows all members to feel included. Give a few options for different elements of shared spaces and let each family member share their opinion.

Source: http://www.decorandyou.com.


Word of the Day

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

Mortgage. Legal document that creates a lien on property; it secures the repayment of a loan.


Q: How Long Do Bankruptcies and Foreclosure Stay on a Credit Report?

August 27, 2013 5:54 pm

A: They can remain on your credit record for seven to 10 years. However, a borrower who has worked hard to reestablish good credit may be shown some leniency by the lender. And the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy may also influence a lender's decision. For example, if you went bankrupt because you were laid off from your job, the lender may be more sympathetic. If, however, you went through bankruptcy because you overextended personal credit lines and lived beyond your means, it is unlikely the lender will readily give you a break.  

 


5 Steps to Choosing the Right Refrigerator

August 26, 2013 8:09 pm

If it’s been a while since you shopped for a new refrigerator, you may be surprised at how much they have changed – both in style and functionality.  But a few key decisions can go a long way toward helping you choose the right refrigerator for your kitchen and your lifestyle.

Clerks at a well-known big box chain store offer six guidelines to making the right purchase:

Choose the size – Consider how much storage space you need. The average fridge for a family of four varies from about 18 to 25 cubic feet. If you entertain a lot, or tend to shop in quantity, larger is better. But also consider the outer size. Know the dimensions of the space in which the fridge must fit before you go shopping.

Choose the style – Top mount models, with the freezer on top, are the most common and least expensive, and customers may choose right-opening or left-opening doors. Bottom mounts, with the freezer at the bottom, often feature pull-out freezers. Side-by-sides, in which the fridge accounts for two-thirds of the size and the freezer one-third, are handy – but the narrow shelves make fitting some items more difficult. Today’s trendy French door models are much like bottom mounts, except that doors open from the center out. In most models, you can also choose from white, colors or stainless steel finishes.

Pick your features – Most models are available with standard, or add-on features such as adjustable shelves, ice makers, water and ice dispensers, soda can storage and more. Consider the features most useful for your family, but remember, too, that the more gadgets you choose, the more that can possibly break down.

Going green - Over the course of the past 20 years manufacturers have made tremendous gains in making home appliances more environmentally friendly and less costly to operate. Although typically more expensive to purchase, Energy Star appliances consume around 40 percent less energy than their counterparts and can save you up to $150 annually.

Consider brand and price – Most major brands are reliable, but comparison shopping is a must if price is important. Once you have determined the size and features you want, shop around, keeping in mind that dedicated appliance stores may offer more choices, while big box stores focus more on the budget-minded.


How to Save Big with Last-Minute Vacation Planning Tips

August 26, 2013 8:09 pm

(BPT) - Sometimes the vacation bug bites without much notice. If you find yourself craving a travel adventure in the near future, you might worry it will be too complicated or costly to plan without adequate time. But the truth is, sometimes last-minute trips offer the best opportunity to score big bargains, if you know where to find them.

There's no need to ignore your last-minute itch for travel. Try a few travel tips and planning strategies to ensure your trip is not only memorable and stress-free, but saves you cash, too.

1. Skip air travel and save at the pump

Last-minute plane tickets are costly, so for spontaneous trips, consider hitting the road instead. Pack up the car, RV or motorcycle and let the road be the gateway to your next great vacation. Download an app that tracks gas prices, like gasbuddy or Gas Guru -so you can always find the best price per gallon to cut down on fuel costs. Want better fuel economy? Improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, says the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Uncover hidden gem locations

Popular tourist towns with massive crowds will always cost more than those hidden gems visited by fewer folks. Get destination inspiration on websites like www.LiveLifeLocal.com.

3. Be flexible and ask for discounts

If you can be flexible with travel dates, you might be able to score a last-minute deal. Booking accommodations for weekdays rather than weekends will save you cash, and often there's more availability last-minute. If you know you want to travel in the near future, call hotels and campgrounds and see if they offer discount rates for open rooms/sites. Often rates are reduced 24 to 48 hours prior, but you need to ask. For hotels, a discounted room is better than a vacant room. For you, a fantastic deal awaits. Check out sites like Orbitz.com, Expedia.com or Booking.com.

4. Plan activities en route

Getting there is half the fun when you plan stops along the way. When you're short on time, go online to map your route and discover unique places to stop along the road to your final destination. For example, LiveLifeLocal lets you map your route and suggests nearby activities. To help organize and plan your stops along the way, you can add your preferred activities to a "collection" on your online vacation portfolio. It's a great way to quickly research and organize a last-minute vacation, plus it is free. Just add a title and save it for easy access, then share adventures on your favorite social media sites and make all your friends jealous.

5. Package and save

When it comes to saving money, package deals are a great way to ease a tight budget. Can you bundle activities together and purchase all your tickets for a deep discount? Does your hotel offer any freebie activities to local attractions along with a reservation? Always ask about possible discounts and packaged savings so you can get the best deals throughout your last-minute trip.

Give in to the wanderlust and take that last-minute trip with confidence. Whether you're hitting the road solo or bringing the whole family along, a few simple strategies will ensure a trip to remember without breaking the bank.