Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Iowa Insurance Division

News & Information (For Immediate Release)

Insurance and Those Holiday Packages in Your Car

Car tips for this and other winter trip issues

DES MOINES, IOWA, NOVEMBER 23, 2011. Before you hit the road this winter, 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 skis, a laptop or a video camera — none of which are covered by a car insurance



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.


“The truth is that these items must be covered by your homeowners or renters

insurance policy to be reimbursed if they are stolen or damaged,” Iowa Insurance

Commissioner Susan E. Voss said.


Onethird of Americans also believe their auto insurance automatically covers a rental

car, according to the NAIC survey. However, this is not true, and the NAIC and the

Insurance 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 5 Auto Insurance Tips

Confirm your car insurance is active and premiums are uptodate. Have a

current copy of your insurance card in the car.

Select liability limits that are appropriate to your financial circumstances. People

with more assets generally need to select higher limits of liability than those with

fewer assets. If you are found to be atfault in an accident and purchased

insufficient limits, your personal assets are at risk for the remaining financial


If renting a car for the trip, check your policy to see if it includes coverage. Verify

potential coverage limitations with your agent, and make sure you are not

duplicating benefits from your existing auto, health or home insurance policy.

Verify your homeowners or renters insurance covers the theft of personal items

from a car, especially if you are planning to carry expensive items in your car.

Check to see if your policy includes roadside assistance. You can be covered for

towing, fuel delivery, lockout service, jumpstarts and more.

If you are unclear about your car insurance coverage or would like to learn how to lower

car insurance costs, visit or contact the Iowa Insurance Division

at .


Winterize Your Car

To avoid car troubles, schedule a tuneup a few weeks prior to your trip and be sure to

get regular oil changes. If you want to do some basic maintenance yourself, here’s what

Consumer Reports recommends you do:

Maintain Visibility. If your car’s wipers leave streaks of water behind, or if the

rubber on the wiper blade shows signs of stiffness or cracking, get a new set of

wipers. Don’t use the wipers to remove ice from the windshield – keep an ice

scraper on hand. If it’s going to snow the next day and your vehicle is parked

outside, put the wipers into the raised position to keep them from freezing to

the windshield.

Use the Right Oil. Engine oil will thicken when it’s cold, making it harder on the

engine. Always check the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s

recommendation, but generally speaking, you should use a multiviscosity oil

that has a W as part of the viscosity index. This means it’s formulated for winter


Check Other Vital Fluids. This includes fluids for the engine, coolant,

transmission, brakes, power steering and windshield washers.

Maintain Hoses and Belts. You can check hoses on a cool engine by pinching

them. There should be no soft spots or bulging areas. Feel for lengthwise cracks

in the inner liner of the hoses. Check all belts for worn spots, cracks or shredding

fabric reinforcement.

Prep the Battery. For maintenancefree batteries, check the window on top to

see if it’s fully charged. If it’s not, have it professionally tested. For conventional

batteries, remove the plastic caps on top of the battery and check the fluid level.

If it’s low, add distilled water. Make sure battery cables are securely attached to

the terminals. If your battery is more than five years old, consider replacing it.

Check the Brakes. If your car pulls to one side when you brake, or if you hear any

grinding noises or feel unusual vibrations when you apply the brakes, take the

vehicle to a mechanic.

Make Sure You Have Appropriate Tires. Partially worn tires reduce your ability

to stop or get going in snowy driving conditions. Winter tires have tread patterns

and compounds that are specifically designed to grip snow and ice for good

traction on slippery roads.

Pack an Emergency Kit. It should include a flashlight, flares or reflective triangle,

a distress sign, first aid supplies, basic tools, blankets, water, and a fully charged

cell phone. If you have roadside assistance, store the number in a handy


Rental Insurance – Do You Need It?

Car rental companies typically offer the following products at the counter. Check to see

if they duplicate existing coverage before purchasing.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is also referred to as a Loss Damage Waiver

(LDW). If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, you

will likely not need this additional protection. Collision insurance covers the cost

of repairs or the actual cash value of the vehicle, if damaged in a crash or


Liability Insurance covers medical expenses and damages to another person’s

property as a result of a car accident caused by the insured’s negligence. If you

are adequately insured on your own car, you may consider forgoing this.

Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to the renter and passengers for

medical bills resulting from a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance

and disability income insurance, or are covered by personal injury protection

under your own car insurance, you will likely not need this additional insurance.

Personal Effects Coverage provides for the theft of personal items inside the

rental car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, it generally

covers this already. If you frequently travel with expensive jewelry or sports

equipment, it may be more costeffective to purchase a floater under your home

or renters insurance policies so the items are fully protected when you travel.


About the Iowa Insurance Division

The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all

insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and

regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies,

agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or

securitiesrelated questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 8779551212

or visit the division on the web at