Does Your Auto Insurance Follow You When You Rent a Car?

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard this question. And the answer is yes … AND no!

Item 1

Under your PERSONAL auto insurance policy, the broadest coverage applies to the cars you own and insure on the policy. While coverage does follow you when you drive certain types of cars you don’t own, that coverage is limited. Most BUSINESS auto insurance policies do NOT follow the business or its employees when driving non-owned cars–unless the business has specifically purchased this coverage.

Item 2

When you rent a car, you sign a contract. That contract contains all kinds of terms and conditions. If you don’t read the contract, you don’t know what those terms and conditions are. If you don’t show the contract to your insurance agent, he or she doesn’t know what they are, either.

Regardless of whether you or anyone else reads the contract, you are still bound by its terms once you sign it!

Other Items of Note

I’ve read LOTS of auto rental agreements and ALL of them include terms that surprise most people who sign them, such as:

  1. You agree to be legally responsible for anything that happens to the car, or resulting from the car, during the term of your agreement. This agreement applies even if you would not otherwise be legally responsible under law.
  2. You agree to replace the car at a value determined by the rental car company if it is destroyed  (this includes numerous fees and charges the rental car company also determines). Unfortunately, your auto policy usually only provides coverage at book value, which is generally much less than the amount demanded by the rental car company.
  3. You agree that your insurance policy will pay first, before all other insurance policies pay, in the event of a claim. Unfortunately, the auto policies in most states say they’ll pay AFTER the rental car company’s policy pays first.

So, what does all this mean? Here are some examples of the three points I just mentioned:

  • When driving a rental car you are the middle car in a 3-car accident. Although the person who hit you from behind is legally responsible for your damage and damage to the car it pushed you into, when you signed the rental agreement, you agreed to be responsible for the damage to your rental car and the car you struck.
  • Your rental car is torched while parked in the lot at Disney World. The rental car company says the car’s replacement value is $33,000. However, your insurance company says it will only pay the car’s actual cash value (i.e., book value) minus your deductible, or $21,000. You signed the contract, so you’re legally responsible for the $12,000 difference.

In most states, your auto insurance company will not make payment for damage to the rental car until AFTER the rental car company’s policy pays first. It will eventually pay, but it could take months…

Trust me, the rental car agreement contains other provisions that disagree with your auto policy–these are just three of the big ones. If you have any questions, ask away…

5 Things BUSINESSES Need to Know About ObamaCare

As a follow-up to the blog I wrote earlier in the week (6 Things INDIVIDUALS Need to Know about ObamaCare), hare are 5 things businesses need to know about the Employer Mandate (“employer requirements”) under the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA–commonly referred to as ObamaCare of the Affordable Care Act [ACA]):

(1)  Only employers defined as “large employers” will be subject to a shared responsibility payment (a tax) if they don’t provide their employees with health insurance.  For purposes of the PPACA, a full time employee works 30 or more hours a week.

  • A large employer is one with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs)
  • A full-time equivalent employee is NOT a person – it’s the number of hours a full-time employee works in a calendar year (2,080 hours), i.e., 40 hours x 52 weeks = 2,080
    • If the total number of hours worked by all of employees of a business in a year (including full-time and part-time employee) is 208,000, the employer has 100 full-time equivalent employees
    • It doesn’t matter how many of those hours are worked by full-timers or part-timers

(2) The shared responsibility payment will be imposed on large employers under two circumstances:

  • The employer does NOT provide health insurance approved under the PPACA to its employees AND at least one of those employees purchases coverage through an exchange and receives a premium tax-credit
  • The employer DOES provide health insurance approved under the PPACA to its employees  AND at least one of those employees purchases coverage through an exchange and receives a premium tax-credit

The shared responsibility payment is lower for large employers that DO provide coverage … and it’s calculated differently.

(3) The Employer Mandate has NOT been deferred or postponed.  However, three of its provisions have been delayed.  The IRS published Notice 2013-45 to explain how the delay works and refers to the process as transitional relief.

(4) Small employers are eligible for tax credits if they provide approved health insurance to their employees–and have been receiving them for some time (the PPACA was enacted in March 2010–at which time its provisions began being phased in).  Eligible employers include those:

  • With up to 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • The average annual salary of employees is no more than $50,000
  • The employer pays at least 50% of the employee-only cost of health insurance

Beginning in 2014, the tax credit for eligible small businesses will increase from 35% to 50% (for non-profits, it will increase from 25% to 35%).

(5) Here are some Web links for more information about how the PPACA affects businesses:

You don’t have to be an insurance agent to attend the A.D. Banker webinars I’m presenting on the Affordable Care Act … although you do have to pay for the presentations and CE filing fees. Cost: $27. Click this link for more information about A.D. Banker’s PPACA webinar. Upon arriving at the A.D. Banker website, click on Webinar and choose Health Insurance and the PPACA.

Click this link f you’d like to subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of about other webinars and presentations. I plan to begin presenting informational webinars about insurance to the general public before January. A nominal fee will be charged for these presentation (i.e., $5 – $10)

 

6 Things INDIVIDUALS Need to Know About ObamaCare

You’re hearing all kinds of things about health care reform, commonly referred to as ObamaCare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [PPACA] or Affordable Care Act [ACA]).  But how much of what you’re hearing is TRUE?  In addition to misinformation being passed around, scammers have been cropping up at an alarming rate.  Here is a list of 6 things you need to know about ObamaCare if you’re an INDIVIDUAL:

(1) Unless you’re exempt under law, if you don’t have federally approved health insurance in place by January 1, 2014, you’ll be subject to a “shared responsibility payment.”  Technically, this payment is NOT a fine or penalty–it’s a tax payable when you file your federal income tax return.  [This provision of the PPACA is referred to as the Individual Mandate.]

(2) If you have insurance in place right now, the following plans meet requirements of “approved” health insurance under the PPACA beginning in 2014:

    • Medicare Part A
    • Medicaid, CHIP
    • TRICARE
    • Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)
    • any government plan
    • any Indian tribal government plan
    • any health plan offered in the individual or group marketplaces

The following plans will NOT be considered “approved” health insurance under the PPACA beginning in 2014:  Medicare and TRICARE supplements, long-term care, disability, dental or vision plans (when issued without health insurance), accident-only, and workers’ compensation.

(3) The shared responsibility payment for individuals is the greater of an established amount per person (a family maximum applies) or a percentage of the family’s household income. For example, in 2014, each adult will be required to pay $95, each child will be required to pay $47.50, the family maximum is $285, and the percentage of family income is 1%.  These figures increase until 2016, after which they’ll be adjusted by annual cost of living increases. In 2016, they’ll be $695 per adult, $347.50 per child, $2,085 family maximum, and 2.5% of family income.

(4) Exempt Americans (those who are not subject to the shared responsibility payment) include:

  • individuals who are NOT required to file an income tax return based on income
  • undocumented immigrants
  • individuals serving time in jail or prison
  • members of an Indian tribe
  • members of a religion that is opposed to receiving health care (meaning the religion AND members are opposed)
  • individuals whose employee-only cost of group health insurance is more than 9.5% of their household incomes

(5) Beginning in 2014, the manner in which health insurance is rated will change.  NO health insurance rates may be based on a person’s health status or medical condition(s)–meaning pre-existing conditions exclusions and limits will no longer be permitted by law. Only four elements may be used when establishing premium rates beginning in 2014:  age, the geographic location of residence, tobacco use, and whether enrollment is for an individual or a family.

(6) Premium tax-credits (i.e., federally approved reductions in the cost of health insurance) will be made available to Americans who buy health insurance from one of the Health Insurance Exchanges IF the following eligibility requirements are met:

    • the individual is not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, employer-sponsored health insurance, a grandfathered plan, and a few other types of coverage (a few exceptions apply)
    • household income must fall between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL); in 2013, the FPL for a single individual is $11,490 and for a family of four it’s $23,550

Individuals purchasing insurance directly from an agent, as opposed to through an exchange, are NOT eligible for premium tax credits.

(7) Fraudsters are already capitalizing on consumers’ lack of familiarity with the provisions of the PPACA and people are being defrauded EVERY day as the deadline for compliance approaches. Here are some links for you to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how to avoid becoming the victim of health insurance fraud as the PPACA rolls out:

P.S. I’m qualified to talk about health insurance because I’ve worked for more than 30 years in the insurance industry as a licensed agent, consultant, instructor, and education provider. In fact, after selling the second of my two insurance agencies in 2011, I began working full-time as a course developer and writer, putting together insurance courses for continuing education and pre-licensing purposes. My clients are insurance companies, professional insurance organizations, and national and regional insurance education providers. I’ve developed and written several continuing education courses on the subject of the PPACA, including a two-hour webinar for A.D. Banker and Company that I present on a monthly basis.

P.P.S.  Check in later in the week to learn about what businesses need to know about ObamaCare.

You don’t have to be an insurance agent to attend the A.D. Banker webinars I’m presenting on the Affordable Care Act … although you do have to pay for the presentations and CE filing fees. Cost: $27. Click this link for more information about A.D. Banker’s PPACA webinar. Upon arriving at the A.D. Banker website, click on Webinar and choose Health Insurance and the PPACA.

Click this link f you’d like to subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of about other webinars and presentations. I plan to begin presenting informational webinars about insurance to the general public before January. A nominal fee will be charged for these presentation (i.e., $5 – $10)