Understanding Auto Insurance Endorsements

Think of auto insurance endorsements as “added options” to your auto policy. Just like you could customize your vehicle, endorsements allow you to customize your coverage. Sometimes endorsements are as simple as an address or name change, or when you want to add coverage to your current policy.

An endorsement is also a good way to add extra coverage to your policy without having to purchase an entirely new one. Your ERIE agent can walk you through your policy and let you know which endorsements you currently have on your policy and if there are any additional endorsements that make sense to add.

Here are a few popular choices.

4 Common Auto Insurance Endorsements

  • Relax, you're getting a rental: ERIE offers Transportation Expense coverage1 for customers who don’t have access to their vehicle for a particular time period due to a covered accident or other covered loss.


    Basic rental car coverage for a compact car due to a covered comprehensive coverage loss is automatically included in your auto policy in most states if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage. However, if you need a larger vehicle or Transportation Expense coverage for a collision loss, there are options to buy additional coverage (With ERIE you can choose from six different classes of vehicle rentals, each with a corresponding premium rate).

    You can also purchase ERIE’s Roadside & Rentals bundle, which has options to include Roadside Service coverage2 along with Transportation Expense coverage.

  • Secure Your Rate: With the ERIE Rate Lock® feature, you can pay the same premium year after year. Even if you have a claim, your rates won’t change until you make certain changes to your auto insurance policy, such as adding or removing a vehicle or driver from your policy or changing your primary residence.3

  • Poof: Gone! The ERIE Auto Plus® endorsement includes Diminishing Deductible and extends limits to the basic auto policy. For around $30, you can cover all of the vehicles listed on your policy with higher limits to many of our “Xtra Protection Features.” And for each consecutive claims-free policy year (beginning when this endorsement is added), the deductible amount will be reduced by $100 up to a maximum reduction of $500. It also includes a $10,000 death benefit.4

  • True Blue Replacement: ERIE’s New Auto Security coverage endorsement5 offers customers the opportunity to replace a totaled vehicle without worry of depreciation. If your new car is less than two years old and it gets totaled, ERIE will reimburse you the cost to replace it with a vehicle of the newest model year. And if your car is more than two years old, ERIE will pay the cost to replace it with another vehicle of the same model up to two years newer with similar mileage. How nice is that?

When it comes to your auto insurance, you’ve got a lot of choices. When you choose ERIE, you can feel confident about your coverage. Why? Because every policy comes with a local insurance agent to help you understand how your policy works, what it can help protect, and how to customize it based on your needs (and budget).

This story was originally published in 2019. Original blog from Erie Sense.

1 Transportation Expense coverage is included with comprehensive coverage and optional with collision coverage (although Transportation Expense Collision is included in Virginia at no additional cost). North Carolina and Virginia offer a monetary reimbursement subject to purchased limits of coverage. Rental car classes do not apply.

2 Vehicles eligible for coverage include cars, light trucks and motorcycles. The service also covers horse, livestock and other trailers while attached to a motor vehicle that are pulled by vehicles that ERIE insures. See individual policies for specific coverage details. Certain terms and limitations may apply. In North Carolina, coverage is purchased by limits ($25, $50 and $100).

3 ERIE Rate Lock® does not guarantee continued insurance coverage. Not available in all states. Limited to three years in Virginia. ERIE Rate ProtectSM offered in New York. Insured must meet applicable underwriting guidelines. Premium may change if you make a policy change.

4 In New York, the comprehensive deductible cannot be reduced to less than $50 and collision deductible cannot be reduced to less than $100. Additional Transportation Expenses are not available in Kentucky. Increased coverage includes higher limits for things like locksmith costs, personal items and non-owned trailers. The endorsement contains the specific details of the coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions. Ask your ERIE agent for details.

5 The endorsement is sold on a per-vehicle basis, not per policy, and contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage is not available in all states. Eligible vehicles must carry both comprehensive and collision coverage and payment for a totaled vehicle is based on the cost of  a comparable model. See individual policies for specific coverage details. New vehicle replacement and better vehicle replacement do not apply to leased vehicles. Only auto lease/loan component applies to a leased vehicle. Coverage does not include items such as overdue payments and carry-over balances from previous leases/loans, etc. When payment is made under new vehicle replacement or better vehicle replacement, auto lease/loan coverage will not apply. 

Does My Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

When it comes time to rent a car, here are two common questions that customers often ask us:

  • Do I need to buy the insurance offered by rental car companies?

  • If I am in a car accident and need to rent a car, am I covered?

Let’s find out the answers.

INSURANCE OFFERED BY RENTAL CAR COMPANIES

You’re standing at the rental car counter and the person helping you asks if you want to buy insurance through them. Do you need it? Ultimately, it’s up to you but in most cases, you probably don’t, as your personal auto insurance should have you covered for liability claims, but your ERIE Agent can tell you for sure. Additionally, If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, you may also be covered for damage to the rental car.

Auto insurance from Erie Insurance is designed to suitably protect you and your family for incidental use of a car that’s not your own, such as a short-term rental of less than 45 days. The coverage extends to cars in the U.S. or Canada. That said, it’s a good idea to check with an insurance adviser beforehand since auto policies vary from person to person.

Here are a few questions to ask your agent about insurance and rental car coverage:

Q: When I rent a car for a combined business trip and a personal vacation, am I covered?
A:
Your personal auto policy may not cover you, but your employer’s insurance might.

Q: If more than one person is driving the rental car, am I covered?
A:
Your auto insurance likely only covers individuals that are on your policy, such as spouse or kids. So, in this scenario, coverage from the rental company could be a good idea.

Q: If my luggage, purse or personal possessions are stolen out of my rental car, am I covered?
A:
Maybe. This depends on the details of your individual auto policy. In many cases, personal property may be covered by a homeowners or rental insurance policy, but not by your auto insurance. It may be worth asking an associate from the rental company what their policy is regarding personal property stolen from their vehicles.

Another option to consider: Many credit card companies offer rental car insurance if you pay the rental fee using their card. Just know that this coverage typically only covers physical damage to the rental car, so you’ll still need separate liability coverage. Get in touch with your credit card company to ask for details.

With liability coverage, there are a few things you should consider. Most states have a required minimum amount of liability coverage, which rental car companies are required by law to offer, but that still may not give you enough protection. If you have personal auto insurance and have opted for higher liability limits, you’ll be better protected.

INSURANCE FOR RENTING A CAR AFTER AN ACCIDENT

If your car needs to be in the shop for a while after an accident, you may need to rent a car. Most auto insurance policies offer rental reimbursement coverage for a nominal extra charge, but sometimes auto insurance shoppers skip adding it to their policies.

With ERIE, basic rental car coverage is automatically included in most states if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage. That means if your car is disabled because of a fire, theft, glass damage or another comprehensive type claim that may be covered under your policy, you’re covered for a compact sedan rental car. If you need a bigger rental vehicle, you could buy additional coverage (details below).

To have rental car coverage while your vehicle is being repaired from collision losses, such as hitting another car or a fence, building or pole, you would need to purchase collision coverage and add the rental car coverage to your policy.

At ERIE, this add-on coverage is called Transportation Expenses. It allows you to select a class of vehicle you want. It’s a nice benefit, because if you are a family of six… a compact sedan is probably not going to work. There are six classes* from which to choose:

  • Class 1: Compact sedan

  • Class 2: Traditional sedan

  • Class 3: Small SUV or pickup truck

  • Class 4: Minivan or midsize SUV

  • Class 5: Luxury sedan or large SUV

  • Class 6: Specially equipped vehicle that can be operated and accessed by an individual with a disability.

IS TURO COVERED BY INSURANCE?

Looking for a rental with a personality that matches yours? Turo (formerly RelayRides), is a carsharing platform that allows car owners to ‘host’ their vehicles, cutting out the rental counter and adding a more personal feel to your rental experience. While auto coverage with ERIE will cover you if you are renting a car through Turo, it will not if you are hosting (i.e. renting your vehicle out). A rental through Turo would also be covered under Transportation Expenses as a temporary substitute after an accident.

With that in mind, it's easy to add rental car expense coverage to your auto insurance policy. Just ask your agent to add Transportation Expense Coverage.

And, while you’re at it, consider adding Emergency Roadside Service Coverage. Insurance rules vary by state, so it is best to check with a trusted insurance advisor to review the specifics of your auto policy.

This story was originally published in 2018. It was updated with new information on April 29, 2019. Original blog from Erie Sense.

*With ERIE, you can choose from six classes of rental car options, each with a corresponding premium rate. North Carolina and Virginia offer a monetary reimbursement subject to purchased limits of coverage. Rental car classes do not apply.

Ultimate Guide to Understanding Auto Insurance

When it comes to auto insurance, there are a lot of companies and coverage choices. How do you know who to trust and what’s essential? Some of the insurance terms like endorsements or comprehensive and collision coverage may also be a bit confusing. And what about those extras you can add on? Which ones do you need?

We’ve pulled together some of our best resources to make the experience of shopping for auto insurance easier. We’ll explore the ins and outs of coverage and what you should consider when buying or renewing your auto insurance policy.

Finding the auto insurance coverage that’s best for you
Whether you’re buying your first set of used wheels or a brand new car, you’ll need protection and service. Auto insurance kicks in for those unexpected mishaps—from a minor dent to a more serious crash. It also helps protect you, your passengers and your pets as well as some of the prized possessions being transported in your car.

Understanding auto insurance terminology
With coverage, you may wonder about some of the terminology used in your policy. Here are four common auto insurance terms and what they mean.

Exploring coverage options and additional protection worth considering
Almost in the same way that you could customize your car or truck, you can customize your auto insurance coverage. For instance, you may want to add emergency road service or rental car reimbursement coverage to your auto policy. The extra services do not cost a lot, and you’ll be glad to have them when you need them. Here’s more information about some of the options.

This story was originally published in 2018. Original blog from Erie Sense.

Choosing, Transporting and Caring for a Live Christmas Tree

There's something about the experience of cutting down your family's own Christmas tree that starts the holiday season. But did you know there's a lot to know about live trees? From choosing one, to transporting it home and keeping it fresh through the holiday season, there's something we can all learn.


That's why we've called in an expert. Richard Palmer, the third-generation owner of Palmer Christmas Tree Farms in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, is an ERIE business insurance customer. The family began selling Christmas trees in 1939. Today, they grow trees on 60 acres of land.

Here are Richard’s top tips for choosing, transporting and caring for a live Christmas tree.

How to Choose a Live Christmas Tree

The first order of business is to decide which kind of tree you want. Richard grows six of the most popular varieties, which include:

  • Douglas fir: Douglas firs have soft, blue-green needles. They also have high needle retention compared to other trees, making them a good choice if you’re especially vacuum-averse.

  • Fraser fir: Richard reports that the Fraser fir has become his most-sold Christmas tree in recent years. “They have a very good reputation for needle retention and being easy to handle,” he says.

  • Colorado blue spruce: This dense, cone-shaped tree derives its name from its unique bluish-gray color. “The blue spruce has sturdy branches and sharp needles,” adds Richard.

  • White pine: This tree has soft, flexible needles and is bluish-green in color. Just know they aren’t the best pick if you have heavy ornaments or you want a tree with an aroma.

  • Norway spruce: This northern European tree has shiny, dark green needles and dense branches. It does not retain needles very well, so buy it as close to Christmas as possible.

  • Concolor fir: If you’re looking for a tree with a beautiful scent, try a concolor fir. In addition to its pleasing citrus scent, this tree has a natural shape and good needle retention.

No matter which tree you choose, it’s important to make sure it’s healthy. “All Christmas trees will shed some needles, but it’s not a good sign if lots of needles are falling off,” says Richard. “It’s also a bad sign if the tree feels light.” 

Buy your tree as close to Christmas as possible. “I don’t sell any trees until the day after Thanksgiving,” says Richard. “A tree lasts about five weeks, so you shouldn’t be buying one before Thanksgiving.”

Live Potted Christmas Trees

Want to enjoy your tree after the holiday season has ended? Consider purchasing a living Christmas tree. Compared to a fresh-cut tree, living trees are either potted or have the root ball wrapped in a burlap sack. 

You keep the tree alive by caring for it as you would a potted plant. Then, instead of throwing your Christmas tree out in January, you can plant the tree outside. Or, keep it in a pot and use it again next year. 

How to Transport a Live Christmas Tree

After you’ve picked out the perfect tree, the next step is getting it home. It’s important you give this process the attention it deserves, because a tree that isn’t properly secured can be dangerous for you, your car and other drivers on the road. 

  • Before you leave, ask to get the tree netted. This will make it more manageable to transport. Then, place a tarp or blanket underneath the tree to prevent any scratches.

  • If possible, transport the tree inside your vehicle. Generally speaking, it’s safer and easier to do it that way. If you have a large van, truck or SUV, clear out some room before you head to the lot.

  • Use your roof rack. This equipment is specially designed to haul cargo. A rack with crossbars will protect your paint by keeping the tree off the roof, while providing secure mounting points where you can tie down the tree.

  • Face the cut end forward. A common mistake is to face the cut end of the tree toward the back of the car. “That blows the branches back, which causes the tree to lose needles,” says Richard. Instead, make the cut end face the front of your vehicle.

  • Tie it down at multiple points. After your tree is oriented correctly on top of your vehicle, start tying it down. Nylon ratchet straps offer a quick and easy way to secure your tree, but rope will work fine, too.

  • Check your work. Before driving off, give the tree a tug to ensure it’s not going anywhere.

  • Drive carefully! It’s wise to drive a little slower than usual. This will protect your tree, and reduce the likelihood of losing your precious Christmas cargo.

Caring for a live Christmas tree

First, water the tree by filling your tree stand with warm water. “It gets the tree’s circulation going and helps it absorb water,” says Richard. Afterward, you can use room-temperature water in your stand. “Just keep an eye on the water level and never let the water run out,” adds Richard.


Another mistake is resting your tree over a heat vent before you put it in the stand. “Trees can get burn marks this way,” says Richard. Place your tree in an area away from heating vents, fireplaces and candles. 

To prevent fires, inspect your lights to make sure there are no frayed wires, weird kinks or cracked sockets. Decorations should be non-flammable or flame-retardant.

A healthy tree will last about five weeks. One sure sign your tree is spent is when it starts dropping more needles than normal. By following these tips, you will be able to safely enjoy a beautiful and healthy Christmas tree during the holiday season.

This story was originally published in 2014. It was updated with new information on December 7, 2018. Original blog from Erie Sense.

How to Get 4 Overlooked Business Risks Covered

The success of any business depends on hard work and ingenuity. Should disaster strike, business insurance helps protect the effort and money you’ve invested in your business. But because businesses are so diverse, you should consider a variety of optional coverages too. These extras are added to your business insurance policy as endorsements. Here’s how endorsements can help cover four common business risks.

1. Data breaches: Any business that has personal or medical information about its customers, tenants or employees is at risk for a data breach. Most states have breach notification laws that not only require a business owner to inform any affected individuals (customers) of a data breach but also specify the manner and period in which the business owner must inform customers. Here are coverages you may want to consider:

 

  • Data Breach Response ExpensesIt could cover the expenses you incur when notifying affected individuals of a breach per state laws. 
  • Data Breach Liability Coverage: It could cover damages that you are legally obligated to pay when your customers’ nonpublic personal information that is lost, stolen or accidentally released is used fraudulently. It also covers the cost to defend lawsuits seeking damages.
     

2. Employment practices liability: These days, hiring, firing and day-to-day employee management can be risky business. You’d like to think that your employees would never dream of filing a claim or suit against you or your business for discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment or sexual harassment. Unfortunately, it does happen. Responding to claims or suits like these will require time and money.

With Employment Practices Liability Coverage, you will not have to face an employment claim on your own. It can help protect you against liability damages and cover defense costs. 

3. Professional liability: You’re expected to have technical knowledge or training in a particular area of expertise or perform certain services according to the standards of your profession. If you fail, you could be held responsible for any harm that you caused to another person or business. Professional liability coverage can provide you with protection for claims arising from negligent business or professional practices. 

4. Identity theft: As a small business owner, your personal credit may be tied closely to your business. Having your own identity stolen, could jeopardize your credit and affect your business operations. ERIE’s Identity Theft Recovery coverage can be added to a business insurance policy and provide coverage1 for:
 

  • Certain legal fees, such as those incurred while defending any civil suits brought against you by creditors or collection agencies.
  • Lost wages.
  • Credit reports and postage, phone and shipping fees related to resolving identity theft and fraud.


Your business needs protection provided by a company and insurance advisor that you can trust. You can count on us and our agents to help protect the business that means so much to you. As an customer, you also have access to risk control tools and services to help you identify and reduce common business risks. Give us a call to learn more. 

This story was original published on December 9, 2015. It was updated with new information.Original blog from ERIE Source.

What is Renters Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

If you’re looking to rent an apartment, make sure looking into renters insurance is at the top of your list. Yes, your landlord has an insurance policy, but more often than not, that policy won’t cover your belongings should there be a theft or fire. Here are six things to consider when you’re ready to purchase a renters policy:

1. Estimate how much your stuff is worth.
“There is value to everything when it comes to renters insurance,” says Dave Freeman, vice president and regional officer, Personal Lines Underwriting, at ERIE. “Most people underestimate the value of their contents, but once they itemize them, they realize there’s a dramatic difference from what they initially thought.”

2. Decide between actual cash value and replacement cost.
Actual cash value takes depreciation into account when calculating the worth of your belongings. So if you bought a brand new laptop for $1,000 five years ago, you’ll only be reimbursed for what the laptop is worth in today’s dollars minus depreciation. Say it’s only worth $500 today, then that’s all you’d get.

Replacement cost is a better option: It reimburses you for the original value of the item (or one of similar kind and quality at today’s replacement cost if the item is no longer available) and costs only slightly more than actual cash value.

3. Consider earthquakes and other disasters.
Depending on where you live, your ERIE agent can tell you more about adding these extra coverages to your renters insurance policy.

4. Choose a deductible.
Think about it this way by asking yourself these questions: “How much premium savings do I want from picking a higher deductible? How much could I afford to pay out of pocket should I experience a loss?” This will help you determine what deductible is right for you.

5. Think about extra protection for any valuables.
ERIE offers $3,000 worth of coverage for any one item that’s stolen. If you own pricey items like jewelry, art, furs or silverware, you’ll probably want to add an endorsement to your renters insurance policy to make sure they’re fully covered.

6. Pick a liability limit.
“Think about all the ways you could accidentally hurt someone,” says Freeman, “and you’ll see there are many.” If your dog bites another animal or person, you’ll be held responsible, for example. That kind of lawsuit can get pretty costly if the injured person has any long-lasting physical scars or impairments. (If you’re concerned about having enough liability protection, consider an umbrella policy that offers an extra $1 to $5 million in coverage.)

Finally, remember that no matter where or what you’re renting, we are always there to help you get the right coverage at the right price. In the meantime, check out the renters insurance page to help get the conversation started when you call!

What’s even better? Purchasing both a renters and an auto policy can qualify you for a multi-policy discount. In some cases, the discount actually pays for the renters policy.*

*Discounts subject to eligibility criteria and rates and rules in effect at the time of purchase.  For additional information be sure to give us a call. Individual policies may differ.

Who Insures Interior Improvements at Your Leased Office or Building?

If you lease a building or office for your business and make improvements to the space - such as remodeling the interior - it is a good idea to review your business insurance coverage.

Generally, if you've made any after-the-facts alterations, it's up to you, not the property owner or landlord, to insure them.

For example, let's say you've leased space for your beauty salon, retail business or medical office and you install new sinks, counters and shelving. You would need to insure those items.

In the insurance industry, we call these changes improvements and betterments. Essentially, it means that you're responsible in a leased space for insuring any alterations you have made, such as flooring, light fixtures, wall coverings, wiring, plumbing, cabinets, shelving or anything else that is attached to the ceiling, walls or floors.

Because these improvements might be essential to your business operations, it's important to understand who is responsible for replacing them if they become damaged. If you do not update your business insurance to cover these improvements, you could be underinsured and without the means to fully repair or replace the improvements, if a covered loss occurs.

With an ERIE Insurance policy, the improvements and betterments are part of business personal property coverage.

For more information,  get in touch with your local ERIE agent.

Do the Hustle: What You Should Know about the Rise of the Gig Worker

There's an exciting career revolution taking place - say hello to the "gig economy" (AKA, the side hustle), a booming new job market character by workers who call their own shots, set their own schedules and control their own destinies.

According to the Chicago Tribune reports, "There's no hard data yet on the size of this labor force. Some say it represents less than 10 percent of the domestic workforce but is growing rapidly, while other studies say it makes up nearly 25 percent. The U.S. Department of Labor is conducting a study to determine its size."

No doubt, it's a trend that is on the rise. That - of course - got us thinking: What do insurance needs look like in the gig economy?

  • The Gig Gap: For decades, having a job meant being an employee of a company - often for life. Today, it's a different story. Many people are a part of the "gig" economy. Upsides like freedom and flexibility attract people to this work. Yet there are downsides like hustling to find jobs and managing a fluctuating income. Another lesser known one is not having enough - or even any - business coverage. Fortunately, there are easy ways to fix that.
  • You're Invited: Remember the "exchange chain letters?" If you sent a single kitchen towel to the first person on a typewritten list and then mailed the letter to six of my friends, you'd receive the bounty of 36 kitchen towels. These days, invitations continue, but the requests aren't coming through the U.S. Postal System 0 they're coming via email, text and more often than not, social media.
  • How to Cash in on the Gig Economy: Whether you're a new graduate looking for a job, a retiree looking for some extra cash or a stay-at-home parent hoping to grow your nest egg, there are many advantages to joining the gig economy. Here are a few.
  • [INFOGRAPHIC] Evolution of the Gig Economy: Gig economy. Side Hustle. Welcome to the 21st Century workforce. Check out a few ways some of the most popular side gigs have evolved over time.