Portland News

Don’t Let Costly Hazards Sink Your Summer: My Conversation with an Insurance Insider

Despite rising inflation, many Americans still plan on celebrating the summer season with family trips, BBQs, staycations, and pool parties. Whether hosting a get-together or traveling with the kids, summertime also brings about a higher potential for accidents. And now, more than ever, a fender bender could turn costly under the right conditions. 

Still weary of the lingering and surging virus, many people are preferring to drive instead of flying for their travel. However, the pandemic has left almost everyone’s motor skills a bit rusty. National data suggests that after decades of car safety gains, the pandemic has made people more reckless behind the wheel. With a higher potential for accidents on the road, Michael Orefice, SVP of SmartFinancial, cautions motorists to drive carefully and give themselves plenty of time for unexpected travel delays, but he also wants travelers to be aware of unexpected costs inflation may leave them with.

“Labor and parts are more expensive than in previous years, so state minimum coverage won’t fully protect you if you cause a crash,” said Orefice. “Your collision coverage, which protects your car, should be revisited for higher limits, too. Car and car-parts theft is also on the rise, so consider buying comprehensive coverage if you don’t have it.”

Before hitting the road this summer, Americans should also consider performing an insurance coverage review to ensure they are protected from any potential summer hazards. Orefice also suggests to “compare car insurance rates at least once a year to see if you can save some money and offset inflationary prices.” 

Some families are opting for a staycation to avoid the cost of travel and the hassle of coordinating trips. Those lucky enough to have a pool only have to head to their backyard for a cool way to spend a summer day. But swimming pools can be a major headache if neglected.

“It’s a good idea to raise your liability limits because you’ll be held liable even for a trespassing child getting hurt or worse in your pool. Swimming pools are often called “an attractive nuisance” in the world of homeowners insurance and can raise your rates. This is because every day, approximately 10 people die from unintentional drowning. About half of these drowning victims are children aged 14 or younger. Aside from raising liability limits on your home insurance policy, pools should be gated to keep trespassers (namely curious children in the neighborhood) out. Never leave children unattended at the pool.”

Raised liability limits don’t just protect against pool hazards, either. They can serve to protect homeowners from other injuries or accidents around the house during summertime. 

“If someone other than a household member trips and falls while on your property, your homeowners insurance will cover an injury, as long as you have a policy with liability coverage,” said Orefice. “If your dog bites someone, you’re covered for medical bills and legal fees if you’re sued. Say a guest’s handbag gets destroyed by being too close to the grill – your home insurance would cover that piece of personal property. If you accidentally set fire to your home while grilling, you would be covered for damages too.” 

Another issue more prevalent in summertime is drinking and driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, summer will account for 28% of drunk driving-related fatalities, making it the deadliest season. Homeowners who host BBQs and get togethers could be held responsible if a party goer leaves  the party intoxicated. 

“Your homeowners insurance will not cover you if someone below the age of twenty-one drinks and drives,” said Orefice. “In some states, you may be on the hook under “social liability laws” for allowing a person of any age to drive while intoxicated. You may be sued by the injured party, but your homeowners insurance’s liability coverage would cover your legal bills. If you are the one drinking and driving after a BBQ and have an accident, the injured party can claim damages, which may be covered by the liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy.”

If you’re getting behind the wheel, make sure not to drink and drive. Have a safe, protected, and cost-effective summer.

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.