SHARP HOME

Thursday, 30 May 2013

How you can protect the integrity of your small business

Being a small business ourselves, we laud all who want to break away from the mainstream options in order to develop their work in a way that is unique and innovative. It is no small feat to manage an independent business well. All too often, such companies that begin with great promise, and that are founded on excellent principles, still find themselves going belly up owing to small oversights that have monumental impact. Here are the ways that you can protect your small business from experiencing such calamity.

Expect loss. While confidence is a key ingredient in the performance of a small business, overconfidence can be deadly. Knowing that losses will occur sets you up to meet them head on. You should see to it that your company is adequately insured. At a minimum, this involves: general liability insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, workers' compensation insurance, environmental protection insurance, business interruption insurance, intellectual property insurance, employment practices liability insurance, and data-liability insurance. Of course, the best way to make sure that you are adequately protected is to meet with your broker in order to discuss your company's specific needs.

Expect disputes. Generally speaking, most people are not comfortable in situations charged with disagreement or friction. The biggest mistake they then make is to avoid them altogether. This is problematic because it means that decisions are not made. While you shouldn't seek confrontation, you should expect it, and have a plan for tackling the issues that arise.

Manage your time wisely. While organizational skills in determining what needs to get done are key, those alone won't ensure that your time is being allocated optimally. Take advantage of time management software tools. They will help you to realize where time is being lost.

Embrace change. While humans tend to be creatures of comfort, preferring predictability and routine (especially when the stakes are so high, as in a small business!) flexibility is one of the most critical traits to possess in survival. Darwin figured this one out ages ago!


Communicate variedly. Utilizing a variety of means of communication ensures that you are reaching all of your workers and colleagues in the way that is most likely to get through to them. Additionally, when information is covered multiple times across various media, it is more likely to stick with people in general.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

How to put off replacing your household goods


Even with extended warranties, and—when that runs out—content-specific insurance, we still don't like to see the break-down of our belongings. The inconveniences and expenses of having to replace items we rely on for a smooth week are things we would rather avoid altogether. Fortunately, there are reliable ways to delay needing to this. Below we'll consider some of the vital pieces in your home that are costly to replace, and the various ways that you can avoid replacing them prematurely.

Dishwasher: The good news about dishwashers is that these are pretty low maintenance appliances, and therefore do not require a great deal of labour on your part to keep them in tip top shape. That said, there are times when they don't function correctly, and there are things you can do to combat this. Cleaning your dishwasher is important. Running an empty wash with no detergent, using a cup of vinegar, will clear away all soap residue to keep it working optimally. If you discover rust on the interior of the dishwasher, be sure to treat it right away. Usually, a steel wool pad will be effective enough to remove it, but if it's really bad, you may need a specifically formulated solvent. Over the years of use, debris will collect in the holes at the bottom of your dishwasher; removing them manually will help it to work more effectively. If you have issues with your dishwasher draining, check the filter, clean it well, and give it a run after you clean.

Computer: Is there any household item that causes more grief, consternation, or panic when it goes awry? Be sure to back up your data frequently, but also in multiple places. External hard-drives are wonderful devices, but they too are susceptible to malfunctions, so be sure to use an additional alternative form of back up. On top of this, be sure to stay on top of software upgrades to protect your data from loss or harm via viruses, and remember to secure your information. If you are using a desktop computer, you should also make a habit of cleaning it as needed. You would be amazed at the amount of dust that accumulates inside your tower; this does affect your computer's ability to function optimally, so be sure to keep an eye on this.

Deep freezer: If you use your freezer to stockpile on groceries that have gone on sale, you know this one is invaluable to you. The first bit of advice we have regarding the deep freezer is that if you are about to buy one, and if space allows it, consider the classic chest type over the newer upright versions. While the upright versions are attractive in their limited use of floor space, they actually consume twice as much energy as their horizontal counterparts. Additionally, in the case of a power outage, a chest freezer will hold cold air in for a long time, while an upright freezer will not. With either model, be sure to watch for the buildup of ice on the walls over time, and to remove it. This will keep it functioning optimally.

Washing machine: While the new, energy efficient front-loading washing machines are a great boon for laundry bills and environmental impact, you should be sure you know how to take care of yours. The primary complaint around these is the build up of mold on the inside. This is a fairly easy problem to prevent: leaving the washer door open after use will allow it to dry without this happening. If space does not allow for this, then wiping it dry, then leaving the door ajar (almost closed, but not snapped shut) should do the trick as well.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Shopping for a new hobby? Try one of these low-profile, low insurance sports...


While most of us have long to-do lists and bucket lists and lists of all sorts to keep us occupied for several lives, there are times when we still wish we were doing something else. It isn't that we don't have enough to do, it's that we're looking for something new, something interesting, or something that intrigues us in a way that we can't really account for. This is especially true when it comes to physical activity: while basic forms of exercise like running and swimming are here to stay (with good reason!) the ever-changing trends in fitness classes speak to that need for the unique in our leisurely pursuits. For this reason, we've rounded up a few of the less frequently indulged sports for your consideration, along with tips on how these sports might affect your life insurance rates.

Fencing. If you've always wanted to know what it feels like to “demand satisfaction” via means of sword-fighting, this may be as close as you can get, since the sport of fencing is actually derived from sword fighting. (The faint of heart need not panic if their loved ones decide to take up this quixotic past-time—the blades are blunted.) In order to defeat your opponent, you want to accumulate a greater number of points. This is achieved by striking designated areas on your opponent's uniform. Since fencing gear is extremely protective, injuries are kept to a minimum. However, despite the prolific padding and the lack of sharp edges, as with any sport, injuries do occur. The most common types of injuries sustained during fencing are those affecting the ankles and the knees (typically from repeated strenuous movements). Fencing insurance rates are actually among the lowest for any sport, so from that angle, we give this one a thumbs up!

Octopush. Even though this past-time does not involve wrestling with an octopus (imagine the impact on your insurance rates if it did!) it's still an apt name: an underwater version of hockey, the flailing and grasping involved will bring you closer to the feeling of being a tentacled creature than any other experience we know of. Using a stick that is only a foot long, and a three pound puck that sits at the bottom of the pool, players must try to shoot the puck through their opposing team's goal (much like with conventional ice hockey). Unlike ice hockey, body checking isn't so much of a feature of this game: rather, the players' swimming and diving abilities are the primary focus here. Because of this, injuries sustained during underwater hockey tend to be less frequent and less severe than those sustained during ice hockey...another keeper from an insurance standpoint!

Disc golf. What this game has in common with conventional golf is the idea of trying to meet a target with as few tries as possible. The major difference, however, is that rather than moving a ball to a certain target using a golf club, the players are moving a disc towards the target by throwing it, much as you would throw a frisbee. The “holes” are above ground structures, rather than in-ground openings. Just as there are different types of clubs in conventional golf, there are different types of discs with disc golf. While injuries include strain to shoulders and knees (and the odd strike from a stray disc—ouch!) insurance providers still don't see disc golf as a peer to sky diving or bungee jumping. So if you're looking for an excuse to use that free frisbee you got during orientation week, head out to a disc golf course for some practice.

Do you have an unusual past-time? How did you first discover it?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Does your car know how to park itself?


Few things are as stressful as driving into the core of a metropolis and trying to parallel park into a space that's only a hair longer than the length of your car. Visions of Kramer ping-ponging his vehicle back and forth between the sandwiching cars come to mind. Even though we're all required to learn this skill and to demonstrate it in order to pass our driver's licensing exam, once that's been taken care of, most of us shy away from parallel parking if we can help it. And of course, less practice leads to less confidence, which leads to less practice, and so forth. So of course it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the technology for a car that parks itself at the push of a button. This isn't just a jetsonian futuristic thing either—today you can buy a car that parks itself. Auto companies are presently making this an option, with the selling point being that self parking cars can fit into spaces smaller than anything even the best of drivers could squeeze into. Another selling point for this technology is that it could potentially lower costs related to car insurance claims, since the likelihood of damaging either your own vehicle or another vehicle during a difficult park job would be greatly eliminated.

As interesting as it sounds though, is it worth the investment for this technology? To answer this, for yourself, you would need to compare manual parking with automatic parking and determine what value these advantages hold for you. To make this comparison, first consider what manual parking entails. In order to be successful in parallel parking, your space needs to be the length of your car plus an additional six feet. Getting into the space involves pulling ahead of it (aligning yourself with the parked vehicle in front of it), turning your car's wheels in the direction of the curb, and backing into the space at an appropriate angle. Once you reach the point where your front wheels line up with the back wheels of the car in the space in front of you, you straighten out your car as you finish backing in. You then turn your wheels away from the curb to bring the front end of your vehicle in line with the rest, and then make final adjustments to ensure that you have equal amounts of space behind and in front of you, and that you are a foot away from the curb.

Self parking cars take all of the guesswork out of this process for you. Even though monitoring the speed (using the brakes) is still up to you, the assessment of angles, and the timing of turns is all done for you. When you start the self-parking feature, you allow it to take control of your steering wheel. It will bring the car up beside the vehicle in front of you (much as you would do yourself if you were parking manually). It will give a signal when you should stop, and put the car into reverse. Then the system will turn your steering wheel to back the car perfectly into the space. It will give a signal once again to let you know when it's ready to have you change out of reversing and back to driving. In addition to making sure all angles are calculated perfectly for you, self parking cars are also equipped with technology to ensure that bumping into vehicles and other objects never happens (via cameras, sensors, etc). If you live in the country on an acreage, and you seldom visit the city, this may not be among your top priorities. But if you live in the downtown of a major city and are constantly dealing with the stress of tying up traffic and worrying about parking correctly, self-parking cars may be an answer to prayer for you.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Are you guilty of auto insurance fraud?


While most of us know that the phrase “insurance fraud” is one that we never want our names to be associated with, some of us may not be entirely certain which behaviours constitute insurance fraud. Unfortunately for such persons, ignorance is not a strong enough excuse to grand you pardon, should you be found culpable of committing such a violation. For this reason, it is important to educate yourself about the various forms that it takes to ensure that you are blameless; you may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that a “minor” omission of relevant information, or an “innocent” exaggeration of claim details have placed you under the label of fraudulent. Since one of the most common types of insurance that is prone to fraud is auto insurance, let's take a look at some of the ways auto insurance fraud happens.

Pertaining to insurance registration
  • Lying about the distances and routes for which your vehicle is driven daily is fraudulent. It is important that you report such details as accurately as possible.
  • Indicating a primary driver when, in fact, the main driver of the vehicle is someone else, is fraudulent. You may be tempted to say that a parent is the primary driver when in fact it is their teenage son, in order to get a lower rate. Don't do it. If you get caught, the penalties will sting.
  • Moving to a new address without updating this information through your insurance provider is problematic; particularly if this move is out of province. Registering an address other than the one from which you primarily drive your vehicle is not okay.

Pertaining to motor vehicle collisions
  • Using an accident as an excuse to invent injuries for the purpose of getting “free” physical therapy or massage treatments is definitely fraudulent. Certainly, you should disclose whatever injuries have truly sustained, and seek the appropriate compensation for them. However, be sure that you have medical evidence of these injuries. If you get caught inventing injuries on an auto-insurance claim, the penalties are severe.
  • If you are a healthcare practitioner, indicating that a patient has sustained an injury when they have not, or even “fudging” the details around an actual injury is highly problematic. Additionally, overbilling for treatments, or billing patients for services you have not provided is illegal and could cost you your job.
  • Faking a car accident in order to trick your insurance provider into paying for “repairs” or “injuries” as a result of the staged accident is a bad, bad idea. This might sound absurdly obvious, but the number of people who think they can pull this off is astounding. The insurance industry has seen it all, and deals harshly with such cases, so don't ever consider making a second career of staged collisions.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Five ways that you can take charge of your car insurance premiums


While there are some factors contributing to your car insurance premiums that you really don't have much control over, such as your gender or age, the good news is that most other factors are within your grasp of influence. Here are some ways that you can lower your car insurance rates.

Drive safely. One of the most influential factors contributing to your auto insurance premiums is your driving history. If you have a record of making reckless decisions on the road, and frequent involvement in collisions, this will definitely raise your rates. Interestingly enough, research has shown that persons in certain professions are more likely to offend this way: particularly physicians and lawyers. Knowing this, if you are a member of one of the “offending” professions, your own personal driving record is even more important in lowering your rates.

Pay your bills on time. Insurance providers read your credit history as a way of determining the likelihood of future losses. By paying your bills on time, you demonstrate your responsibility; that responsibility in your financial affairs is seen as commutative across other areas of your life: insurers expect that if you do well with your finances, you will do well with driving.

Make your insurance payments on time. Even one day's delay in making your insurance payment can cause your policy to
become canceled. Sending in a late payment doesn't necessarily guarantee that your old plan will automatically restart. If this happens, you will likely find yourself facing the prospect of paying a higher rate for similar services to what you were getting before.

Drive less. To be sure, the whole purpose of owning a car is to drive it; it won't do you much good sitting unused in a garage, collecting dust. That said, by exercising judgment about how and where you use it, you can save money on your premiums. By carpooling and walking when it's convenient to do so, you lower the mileage on your car, which in turn lowers your rates.

Get married. It's true: not only does getting hitched provide you with a lifetime of bliss, it lowers your insurance rates. But methinks our readers do protest...maybe this one isn't as much in your control as the others, so we'll give you one last suggestion.

Shop carefully. If you're in the market for a vehicle, new or used, it's worth sitting down with your insurance provider beforehand to learn which makes and models are expensive to insure, and which are the most affordable to insure. This is because certain vehicles are more prone to theft, while others are expensive to repair or replace. For example, minivans and SUVS are among the cheapest types of cars to insure. Since the specifics of this information changes from year to year, you definitely want to speak to a pro about this one.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Understanding the basics of life insurance

If you've never purchased a life insurance policy before, the prospect of doing so can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be! By understanding the basics, you can prepare yourself to shop for the right policy with confidence.


Who needs life insurance?
If you have dependents in your life—that is to say, if you have children, a spouse, or elderly parents who are dependent upon your support—then you need life insurance. Purchasing a life insurance policy for yourself will protect your dependents from the financial burdens they may encounter should something happen to you.

So do I only need life insurance if I earn a wage?
No; being a wage earner is not the only grounds for requiring life insurance. Certainly, if you have an income, then this is the most obvious item for you to insure. You want to make sure that your family's current financial needs are met even in the face of disaster. However, if you examine your current lifestyle, there are probably other things you are doing that, while not necessarily generating an income, still have monetary worth. For example, if you are a stay at home mom or dad looking after your children, you are providing your family with a service that would need replacing should anything happen to you. How much would full time child care cost in such a case as this? This is something to consider. Similarly, if you are looking after a relative with special needs, what would it cost to hire somebody to carry out the same tasks that you are carrying out right now? In summary, you need to consider your contribution to your family both in the wages you bring in, as well as in the other supports that would need to be outsourced if you weren't providing them.

How much life insurance do I need?
This is a question that often leaves people feeling more overwhelmed than they should. In point of fact, determining the answer to this is relatively simple, and really just requires for you to give close consideration to the following factors:
  • how much debt you currently have
  • what your monthly spendings are
  • what your monthly savings are
  • what amount of income your dependents will need in your absence
Once you have taken these factors into consideration to draw up a rough figure for the sum of money your family will require in a year, multiply that by the number of years remaining before you turn 65. Of course, this will give you a rough idea only. Meeting with your insurance provider, having prepared all of this information in advance, will give you the best fit for your family.

When should I buy life insurance?
The sooner, the better...and this isn't just the industry's answer to get more people spending on insurance; quite the opposite. You'll actually spend less on life insurance by starting young than you will if you wait until you actually need it—significantly less.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Three ways to recover from bad credit


It's no secret that your credit score is a contributing factor to setting your insurance rates. If you are meticulous about paying bills on time and managing your debt responsibly, this is good news for you. However, sometimes, despite our best intentions, life throws curve balls at us causing our finances to go awry; we forget (or are unable) to pay our bills when they are due, and exceed our credit limits. These things do not just happen to the careless; they happen to all of us at some point or another...and there is a lot of fear around the possibility of becoming “that person.” This is understandable: these are not conditions you want to live with for the rest of your life: not only are they [destructive[ in and of themselves, but they affect other important areas of our lives too (like our insurance premiums). So how do you recover from a bad credit score, and join the ranks of low-paying “insurees?”

Apply for a secured credit card. One of the most difficult challenges a person may face in trying to build a good credit score is the chicken-and-egg type of dilemma it presents: you need to have various sources of credit in order to prove yourself, but in order to be approved for those forms of credit you typically already need to have a decent credit history (and how can you establish a good credit history without any source of credit?) One way to circumvent this is to apply for a secured credit card. These are specifically aimed at people who have bad or no credit. The way a secured credit works is that you pay a deposit, and that deposit becomes your credit limit on the card. After a set amount of time (agreed upon in your terms and conditions) that deposit will be returned, and you will have contributed to your credit score over that period.

Add the “other” type of credit: loans. The best way to demonstrate your responsibility with credit is to show that you can manage both kinds: “revolving” (credit cards) and installment” (loans). Sources of the installment type of credit include student loans, mortgages, and car payments, as well as a line of credit.

Remember that slow and steady wins the race. You may be tempted to rack up huge bills on your new credit in order to show that you're putting it to good use, but that might not be wise. Treading lightly is generally a better game plan. Here's why: your credit providers actually want to see that you don't exhaust the credit available to you. If you can keep your purchases limited to 30% of your credit limit, that would be a good way of demonstrating that. Lowering that even further to 10% would be excellent, if you're really ambitious.

The most important thing to remember is that even when things seem daunting, and finances have temporarily taken a turn for the worse, where you end up is still within your control. You don't have to accept the label of someone with bad credit; it is within your grasp to change it.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Commonly misunderstood auto insurance terms

Because your insurance providers are typically doing their best to make your coverage as customizable as possible in order to best meet your needs, there exist several terms for any given type of insurance that indicate such customizations. Auto insurance is no exception. It can be overwhelming for a shopper to try and sort out exactly what these terms mean, and how these terms apply to them if hearing these phrases for the first time. Familiarizing yourself with these terms before you start your auto insurance shopping will give you confidence in your decision making, and will help you to make choices that are best suited to you.

Collision coverage is what funds the cost of repairing your vehicle in the event of a car accident (whether it involved another vehicle or not).

Comprehensive coverage is what funds the cost of repairing your vehicle in the event that it sustains damage from a cause that is not owing to an accident (such as natural disasters, inclement weather, theft, or vandalism).

Personal injury protection covers the cost of medical care (for expenses beyond AHCIP coverage) as well as lost wages for the injured party, regardless of who was at fault.

Medical payments coverage covers a variety of things: it covers expenses (particularly medical and funeral expenses) to you and your family if they are hit as pedestrians, and also covers these expenses if you or your family are involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Liability coverage is what gives you protection in covering the injury or damage you cause to others with your vehicle. There are two types: bodily injury liability, and property damage liability.

Bodily injury liability covers you in the event that you cause injury to others with your vehicle. The expenses it encompasses include lost wages, medical expenses, as well as personal damages. Because these expenses can add up significantly, this is an important type of coverage to have; otherwise, you risk losing everything you own in a lawsuit.

Property damage liability covers you in the event that you cause damage to another's property with your vehicle. That property includes another vehicle, a home (as well as the structures surrounding it), a store, and so forth.

Uninsured motorist coverage takes care of you and your passengers in the event that you are the victims of a hit-and-run, or of an accident in which the other party is uninsured. Any losses you sustain as a result of such an incident are covered by uninsured motorist coverage.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The risks of running a photography business


As a photographer, you are gifted with the ability to preserve what few others outside of this vocation are able to capture. The satisfaction of seeing your completed projects, as well as the joy that these projects bring to your clients, is extremely rewarding. So is the thrill of honing your techniques through various classes, or in the acquisition of cutting edge technology. Being a part of all of those things is absolutely exciting. However, it's also a risky business: because there is so much invested into it, there is also much at stake. A business like photography is not one in which you want to play Russian roulette, by lacking appropriate and adequate insurance coverage. Not covering yourself this way could jeopardize your relationships with customers, your own confidence in your ability, and of course, your very livelihood. As with any type of insurance, photographer's insurance can be as comprehensive as you would like it to be. That said, here are the most common disasters to afflict photographers:

Data loss. This is particularly problematic for highly sentimental engagements (and for a photographer, there are few assignments you will take on during the course of your career that are not of a sentimental nature). Often, lost data can actually be restored, but it can also be very, very pricey to do so. Having an insurance plan that covers this will help you manage the cost of recovering lost data should the need arise.

Hardware failure. Coverage for hardware failure will cover you a variety of
circumstances. The basic items that will be covered under this category will be your camera (and all peripheral equipment pertaining to it), lenses, and computers. The circumstances that could harm or compromise your equipment which you would be protected from include: damage from inclement weather conditions, damage from improper handling (like dropping), and loss by theft. Your basic small business insurance or homeowner's insurance won't cover these items, so be sure you get them properly insured.

Bad weather. Especially for summer weddings, much of the photography is dependent upon outdoor locations. As a photographer, you probably know to have backup locations picked out well beforehand to prepare for the worst in this regard. However, despite your best efforts, you may come across a an impossible weather-related circumstance or a client who feels that the photography aspect of their big day is totally ruined. In this event, having wedding liability insurance covers the cost of you re-staging the event if that is your only hope. While it is unlikely that you will come to that very often, it definitely puts your clients at ease, and gives them confidence in your professionalism, to know how well prepared you are to capture their most significant memories.

Personal emergencies. Of course you will do absolutely everything in your power to make it to all of your engagements...but what of the factors that are not in your power? Consider what would happen if you were involved in a serious collision, were struck with severe illness, or were stranded by a natural disaster? Being able to hire a replacement who is matched to you in ability is an absolute necessity for the protection of your reputation. Having insurance coverage for this type of situation will shield you from the high costs of doing so.

Photographers: we'd love to hear from you. What were some of the scariest moments of your photography career?

Friday, 3 May 2013

Retiring comfortably, decade by decade


Because we hear the word “investment” tossed around so often, we frequently forget what exactly an investment is: financial, or otherwise, an investment is something that allows us to make (relatively) little effort now for a larger gain in the future. In other words, it's a type of insurance against future hardships. We teach this concept to our children all the time by encouraging them to do things like learning their multiplication table early on in order to complete their math homework with ease throughout high school. Given that investments are basically a clever way for us to reap more by doing less, shouldn't we be finding ways to use this strategy all of the time? Certainly! The difficulty lies in the fact that investments require planning, and they do require some sacrifice in the here and now. These challenges can make it difficult to execute an intention of investing now to save later.

This challenge is never more apparent than when it comes to planning for retirement. The reason for this is that investing in retirement is both ongoing and dynamic. It's something you need to be paying attention to continually, and it's something that requires tweaking in your planning as the years go by. Thus, even when people see the wisdom of starting early, they struggle to overcome these challenges. Below are some of the challenges you may face, as well as some of the strategies you should consider, depending on where you are along this journey.

Twenties
Biggest challenge: actually coming to terms with the reality of being a retiree in need of adequate savings. When you are this young, it's hard to anticipate exactly how much you'll really need to retire comfortably, and just how many various obstacles are going to interfere with that goal between now and then.
Plan of action: This may actually be the easiest time for you to save. If you are still living at home, you are lucky enough to be eliminating housing expenses, which comprise a huge chunk of most household budgets. Before you buy a home and start a family, this is the time to put aside as much as you possibly can. The temptation will be to treat yourself to a higher standard of living, but if you can resist, this will be one of the best financial decisions you make in your life.

Thirties
Biggest challenge: for most people this age, this is the time when you are taking on more debts and expenses: buying a home, having children, buying a bigger car so that you have mobility with those children, and so forth.
Plan of action: Since everything you are purchasing during this time will feel like a “need” item, saving for retirement might take a back seat if you aren't proactive about it. To combat this, when budgeting for the month, budget as though your income is really only 90% of what it is. Don't make that last 10% optional for inclusion—direct it immediately to retirement investments. If you can do this with an even greater amount than 10% of your budget, you should

Forties and Fifties
Biggest challenge: becoming debt free. Even if the end of your mortgage is in sight, you may be hit with the new debt source of paying for your children's education.
Plan of action: Eliminate the biggest chunks of debt first. If you can accelerate your mortgage payments, do. Also, at this point in the game, it's really important that you resist the urge to dip into your retirement funds early; you'll take huge losses if you do.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Travel insurance for your pet?


Previously, we've considered both travel insurance, as well as pet owner's insurance as two separate issues, but haven't yet considered them together. If you are a pet owner and you plan to travel with your pet, as opposed to leaving your pet in somebody else's care while you are away, it is of the utmost importance to ascertain beforehand that your pet is as healthy as possible; after all, the strain of a different environment will take its toll even on the healthiest of animals. The effects will be more adverse on an animal whose health is already compromised. However, even after determining that your pet is well enough for travel, your responsibilities don't stop there: despite the best laid plans, there is no way to be sure that your pet will not face injury or illness while traveling, and as such, you need to prepared for that possibility.

Shopping for traveling pet insurance can be tricky: since it is not one of the more commonly sought types of insurance, you may be at a loss when it comes to determining what exactly you need. Here are some starting points. You should ask your provider to explain:
  • what conditions are covered by the policy
  • how long is the period covered by the policy for a given condition
  • what financial limits, if any, are in place for a given condition
  • what options are available for customization to ensure that the plan fits you and your pet specifically

What else can you do to protect your pet from harm while traveling? Given that most (nearly three quarters) of those traveling with pets travel by car, you can ensure that your pet is used to that environment by taking them on shorter trial excursions. Additionally, take your time in determining the safest and most comfortable form of restraint for your pet while on the road. Resist the temptation to let your animal ride in the front with you, as airbags can kill pets. Some animals, dogs in particular, enjoy hanging their heads outside of the window. Since this is dangerous, as the dog may be hit by another vehicle or object outside of your car, only let your windows down partially for fresh air, but not enough for the animal to be physically out of the car. On the actual day of your departure, be sure to feed your pet well in advance (at least two hours) to avoid nausea and vomiting.

In speaking with your insurance provider about traveling pet insurance, be sure to ask about any useful advice they may have about promoting pet wellness on the road—or in the air.