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.
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 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 up‐to‐date. 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 at‐fault 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, jump‐starts and more.
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 Iowa Insurance Division
at www.iid.state.ia.us .
Winterize Your Car
To avoid car troubles, schedule a tune‐up 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
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 multi‐viscosity 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
Prep the Battery. For maintenance‐free 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 cost‐effective 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
securities‐related questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 877‐955‐1212
or visit the division on the web at www.iid.state.ia.us.