What You Should Know About Car Rental Insurance

Factors to consider before, during and after renting a vehicle

Last year, automobilebankingon_e_a003034760 rental was a $24-billion-plus industry, according to Auto Rental News. Needless to say, a lot of people are renting cars. But do these individuals know what they should about the insurance they need for rental cars? Read on.

Properly preparing for a trip to the rental car counter sounds silly, but research is important! You wouldn’t want to make costly mistakes like purchasing coverage that you don’t need, or worse, not purchasing coverage that you do need!

There are, however, a few things you need to consider before you even rent the car. First, states have minimum age requirements for renters, and most major rental car companies won’t rent to someone under the age of 21. The younger the renter, the higher the rental rates. Additionally, some rental companies look into credit history and driving record before car pickup, so it helps to know if that is the case ahead of time.

Calls to Make
According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), the first step anyone attempting to rent a car should take is to call your 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,” the I.I.I. recommends. “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.”

Insurance companies may also pay for administrative fees, loss of use or towing charges, as well. However, in most states, diminished value is not covered by insurers, so make sure to ask all the right questions.

Credit card companies also offer insurance benefits at times, but it always differs by company and/or bank issuing the card and the type of card. Other cars or property and personal belongings are not usually covered, but damage to or loss of the rented vehicle may very well be. Likewise, some cards cover personal liability coverage for bodily injury or death claims, but most do not – same with towing coverage, diminished value and administrative fees.

Policies are always changing, so call the toll-free number on the back of the card to find out exactly what kind of coverage is available to you. If you have multiple credit cards, call around to find out which offer is best. Request that the credit card company send you their coverage information in writing, if you do decide to depend on a credit card for insurance protection, instead of that from an insurance company. You may need that confirmation when picking up the vehicle. With all that being said, credit card benefits are usually secondary to the insurance offered by the rental car company or your personal insurance protection.

Types of Insurance
Insurance is regulated at the state level, so coverage and costs will vary. However, coverage options are generally similar nationwide:

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
An LDW is not technically a type of insurance. It is, however, a document that will relieve renters of financial responsibility if their rental car is damaged or stolen. These waivers may or may not provide towing and administrative fees and 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. Keep in mind that the waivers are voided if an accident is caused by speeding, driving on unpaved roads or driving while intoxicated. If, upon checking with your current insurance company, you deem the LDW necessary, it usually costs between $9 and $19 a day.

Liability Insurance
The state-required amount of liability insurance that is lawfully required to be provided by rental companies doesn’t provide much protection. Usually sticking with your own liability insurance will suffice, but supplemental insurance through the renter will run between $7 and $14 a day. A more cost-effective option may be to elect an umbrella liability policy.

“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,” states the I.I.I.

For a million dollars’ worth of coverage, these policies typically cost $200 to $300 per year.

Personal Accident Insurance
This protection usually costs around $1 to $5 a day, and is used to cover medical and ambulance bills for injuries you or your passengers sustain in a car wreck. Current health or auto insurance may already cover this, as well, so be sure to check.

Personal Effects Coverage
This is insurance for the items in your car in the event of their theft. Through the rental car company, this coverage costs between $1 and $4 a day, but it’s not necessary if your current homeowners or renters policy includes off-premise theft coverage. Similarly, a “personal articles floater” under your homeowner’s policy protects valuable items such as jewelry and musical equipment both at home and while traveling.

Yes, there seems to be countless things to think about before renting a car, but if you do your homework, you can save yourself a lot of money that adds up during a trip. As a side note, keep in mind that there are special considerations for renting vehicles abroad, regarding both insurance and other factors, like needing an international driver’s license.

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Hidden College Costs

Don’t ignore these hidden costs when planning your college budget

If you’re planningbankingon_e_a003034757 to continue your education or if your children are approaching college age, you may be shocked when you first see what tuition costs at many schools. You’ll be even more shocked if you don’t know about the hidden costs that many students and their families fail to account for when budgeting. When you know what to expect, you can make the best financial decisions for your family and make paying for college a little easier.

The following are common hidden costs associated with college:

Greek Life
Although fees and other expenses are associated with many on-campus clubs and organizations, Greek organizations can be the most expensive. Not only will new members most likely to be expected to pay hundreds of dollars in fees, most active members will be expected to continue paying in subsequent semesters.

“Ask the campus’s Greek-life coordinators to give you a specific rundown of fraternity and sorority fees to flesh out your budget,” states Kathryn Moody from Kiplinger. “Chapters without houses may be significantly less expensive; dues are generally $200 to $300 per semester. And many Greek chapters have scholarship programs and payment plans for their members, so you may not have to pay the fees all at once.”

Off-Campus Life
While most students live on campus their first year, many are excited to get off-campus housing in their later years. Many students imagine that they can save money by cooking for themselves and not purchasing their school’s expensive meal plan, but they may end up being unprepared for budgeting and actually spend more on food and other bills.

When students live on campus, they don’t have to figure out how to afford meals and housing, it comes directly out of their financial aid check.

“For those who live off campus, only the money for tuition is taken out of financial aid, and the rest is given to the student,” states John Coogan from Marketwatch. “That means the student is responsible for using that money to pay all of their bills including rent, utilities, groceries and other expenses.”

If your student already has a vehicle, living farther from campus and driving to class can make a big difference in the cost of rent. So can finding roommates who attend the same school and can split rent and transportation costs to and from campus.

Public Transportation
If your student is attending school in a city, you can plan on several trips on the public transportation system per day. These can really add up.

“Graham Haskin, who graduated from Emerson College in Boston, says he was dismayed by the cost of textbooks, but the really big college expense came from using public transportation,” according to Carole Moore from Bankrate.com. “The website for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington estimates student transportation costs at $1,452 per year, whether a student lives on campus or commutes.”

Sports Events
If your child is attending a school with a big sports culture, you can expect that he or she will want to attend games. Unfortunately, these are typically not free. If your child is a big sports fan, he or she may have even made the decision to attend a certain school because of its sports team and those schools with high-profile teams can have tickets with the steepest price tags.

“Students generally get a large discount; still, season tickets for popular sports teams in football alone can range from $77 (Virginia Tech) to $245 (University of Notre Dame),” states Moody. “Student season tickets to both basketball and football games at Indiana University are $300. If your child’s school is a powerhouse at a popular sport, expect tickets to be more expensive for that set of games.”

Talk to your child about a game budget at the start of the semester and decide on a certain number of games that he or she will attend. That way, the cost won’t continue to climb, but your child will still be able to be a part of the fun.

<spanstyle=”color:#000000;font-family:tahoma;font-size:xx-small;”> Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Be A Green Pet Owner

Tips for being a more environmentally friendly dog and cat owner

We love our pets,IMN23523A2 so naturally we want to do everything we can to make them happy in return for the joy they bring us. Pet ownership can take a toll on the environment, however, so there are some things you should keep in mind in to be sure that you are as kind to the environment as you are to your cat or dog.

Many people do not realize the magnitude of the effect that our pets can have on the environment.

“They can have a big impact, especially when you consider that there are about 175 million dogs and cats in the U.S.,” says Katherine Miller, an animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to lesson your impact. Here are a few to get you started:

Go biodegradable
If you use waste bags to pick up after your dog, make sure that they are biodegradable so they don’t clog up landfills. The difference that biodegradable baggies make is tremendous.

“They typically break down in about one month as opposed to an estimated 1,500 years for a plastic bag in a landfill,” states Kristine Lacoste from Pets Adviser.

If you have a cat, also make sure you are using biodegradable products.

“Cat litter is available in all-natural and biodegradable forms, and you can even consider making your own pet waste compost container,” states Lacoste.

Purchase eco-friendly supplies
When you first took home your pet, you may have been shocked at the variety of supplies you needed. One leash is never enough, and many dogs are picky about the types of beds and toys they will play with.

Fortunately, there are many manufacturers that make green pet products, such as by using organic and recycled materials, lessening your pet’s environmental footprint. Furthermore, if you buy toys and gear that are made in the US, you will prevent the need for unnecessary shipping.

West Paw (westpawdesign.com) and OliveGreenDog.com are two companies that prioritize the environment, but there are many others, so look for them next time you are at the pet store or shopping online.

Purchase locally made food
“The best pet foods are meat based, and meat production takes up precious agricultural land,” according to MarthaStewart.com. “Try to compensate for this by using minimally processed foods that contain meat from locally raised animals and organic vegetables.”

In order to reduce the amount of shipping that it took to produce your dog or cat food, read labels carefully. Look for packages that state the food is both made in the US and uses ingredients sourced here. If the label only says made in the US, then the ingredients may still have been sourced from another country.

Lastly, if you avoid beef-based food, you will also lessen your pet’s impact.

“Beef production reportedly uses more resources than other forms of protein, such as chicken or rabbit,” states Lacoste. “Switching to a pet food based on proteins other than beef helps lower the environmental impact of the food.”

Make your own treats
While it can be difficult to make your pet’s own food while still achieving the right nutritional balance, treats should only account for a very small portion of your pet’s diet, so they don’t have to feature the same balance of nutrients as food. This means that you can make your own pet treats and seriously decrease the amount of fuel required to bring your pet’s rewards to your door.

Depending on what your pet prefers, you can use your oven or a dehydrator to make chicken jerky, you can freeze low sodium broth in an ice cube tray for hot days, or you can even bake cookies using one of the pet-friendly recipes that are easily found online.

Here are some recipes from Martha Stewart online to get you started: http://www.marthastewart.com/904143/our-tastiest-homemade-dog-treats.

Save your scraps
Even if you don’t want to cook your own treat cookies, you can save any pet-safe food scraps to use a treats. Leftover lean meat and egg can both be great treats, for example. Make sure to avoid fatty and salty foods and to not feed too large of a portion of your pet’s calories as treats.

Many owners are surprised that their dogs love vegetables and fruits, so save your scraps and give it a try. Just be sure not to feed grapes, raisins, onions or any of the other foods that the ASPCA lists as harmful to pets at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.

It is easy to be a green pet owner when you follow these tips, and you’ll surely be inspired to learn more ways to be earth friendly once you get started.

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Top Five U.S. Filming Locations to Visit

Bring Hollywood within your reach

Feature film productioncreditunionon_pic_003034060 in Southern California has dropped off 50 percent from its peak in 1996, according to a study by FilmL.A., Inc. Studios are more often choosing to film in a setting more closely resembling that of its movie rather than on a sound stage in Hollywood.

“Every movie director will tell you the correct film location could make or break a project. Besides the main actors and the good quality of the script, it’s the location that ultimately creates the world we all escape to when we are sitting in the movie theater,” said Clara Berta, whose home and artist studio is used for filming locations in Los Angeles.

Many former filming sites have since become popular tourist locations, be it for the admiration of the movie or the reputation of the city itself. Check out five popular filming sites to visit below:

Mansfield, Ohio – “The Shawshank Redemption”
Visit rural Ohio where modern-day classic “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed. Sept. 2014 marks the 20-year anniversary for the film, but sight seers can check out the filming locations at any time with the help of the Shawshank Trail (shawshanktrail.com). The website directs you to a brochure for the “Drive-It-Yourself” tour, which starts at the historic Ohio State Reformatory, the site of Shawshank State Prison itself, and weaves you through thirteen other sites in Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky, where iconic scenes of the revered movie were filmed. Be sure to check the destinations ahead of time for any entrance fees and hours of operation, as they vary by site.

Dyersville, Iowa “Field of Dreams”
This year is also a notable anniversary for “Field of Dreams,” with 2014 marking 25 years for the Academy Award-nominated film. Famous quote from the movie, “If you build it, they will come,” could not be more accurate for this filming location. Jordan Rane for CNN.com estimates that 65,000 annual visitors flock to the site each year. The destination’s website, http://www.fodmoviesite.com, states that the farm and field is a popular tourist destination for young and old fans of the film alike, where reality mixes with fantasy and dreams can come true, just like in the movie.

“A moment in time, a place in cinematic history, a mecca for anyone longing to be a part of something greater than themselves, inching toward a destiny that has no limits. What could be more inspiring?” the website says. The “Field of Dreams” Movie Site is open every day from April through October and offers free admission and a gift shop. Check out the website for information on any special events the locale may be holding (“Field of Dreams” star Kevin Costner once performed there with his band, Modern West).

Philadelphia, Penn.- “Rocky”
Everyone knows of the scene where Rocky Balboa is running up the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; it is an iconic scene in cinematic history. But did you know that TV and movie site Screen Junkies, published by Break Media, ranked the Rocky Steps the number two most famous movie locations in the world? Each year, tens of thousands of visitors come to Philadelphia, rich with history itself, to run the stairs like Rocky, take in an awe-inspiring view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and then pose for a photo with the bronze statue of Balboa back at the bottom of the steps.

Like “The Shawshank Redemption”, this movie franchise too has a tour of its filming sites throughout the city. Visitphilly.com offers a Quintessential Rocky Tour of Philadelphia, with a list, descriptions, and directions to fourteen sites frequented by the fictional Balboa.

Lowell, Mass.- “The Fighter”
Subject Micky Ward hailed from Lowell in real life, so it is only appropriate that the movie was filmed on location there.

The movie’s realistic boxing scenes were choreographed from Ward’s actual fights and filmed at UMass Lowell’s Tsongas Arena (www.tsongascenter.com). However, Suzanne Steinert of ShermansTravel Media said there may be someplace more exciting for film fans to visit.

“Learn how to deliver a knockout punch firsthand at Ramalho’s West End Gym (on Lawrence Street in Lowell) – the old-school facility where Ward himself trained and the movie’s gym sequences were filmed,” Steinert said.

While in Massachusetts, you can make the short trip to Boston and its suburbs to see where award winners like “The Departed” and “Good Will Hunting” were filmed, among many, many others. It is recommended to take the Theater-on-Wheels tour (gotobus.com), a 2-1/2 hour tour of movie and television filming sites, or the Boston Movie Mile (onlocationtours.com), a two-hour guided walking tour of more than a dozen locations from well-known films.

Cleveland, Ohio- “A Christmas Story”
Back in the heartland is Ralphie’s house from seasonal favorite “A Christmas Story.” The movie was set in the fictional Indiana town of Hohman, but filmed in Cleveland, which is where the restored house and museum/gift shop sit. The house offers public tours year round, and the museum features famous props, costumes and memorabilia, including rare behind-the- scenes photos.

The website Achristmasstoryhouse.com also features much more information about the movie and the house from it, including a list of events that are part of Cleveland’s Christmas in July presented by “A Christmas Story House.”

This list compiles just five of the movie sites in the United States that are worth visiting. International Movie Database (imdb.com) lists filming locations, among other information, about nearly any movie there is. Find your favorite film and take a road trip today.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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