Insure Your Fun

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Regardless of the time of year, recreation plays a prominent role in our lives. Whether we're hitting the slopes or hitting the links, whether we're sailing or water skiing, we love to get out and enjoy life. And the toys that help us enjoy life become more expensive as our disposable income grows. That new set of Callaway golf clubs, those K2 skis, or a 25-foot sailboat not only bring you pleasure, but also put a small dent in your wallet. So have you taken the extra step of protecting your recreational investments?

If you own expensive recreational toys, I recommend you speak to your personal insurance agent about taking out a special articles floater, commonly called "scheduled personal property." Why should you pay extra to specifically insure these items? Doesn't your homeowner's policy already cover them? Yes, but read the fine print. First, these items are subject to your deductible, which might range from $250 up to $1,000 or more. That's money straight out of your pocket if you suffer a loss. Second, your policy might contain a theft limitation, such as for firearms (take note, sportsmen). Finally, if these items aren't named on your policy, you risk being disappointed in the replacement value a claims adjuster might determine for your equipment.

The advantage of naming (or in insurance jargon, scheduling) your recreational equipment is that the property deductible is waived and the coverage is broadened. About the only things that won't be covered are wear, tear, and war. So even if you lost your $600 Big Bertha driver in the lake (it just slipped out of your hands, right?), your insurance would replace it. Your unendorsed (that's insurance gibberish for regular) policy, however, covers only the classic losses most of us associate with insurance, like theft, vandalism, and fire.

When your equipment is scheduled, it also has a set dollar value assigned for replacement, which means depreciation is not a factor. You won't have to worry about haggling with a claims adjuster over what each of you believes it will cost to replace your water skis.

You can endorse a number of recreational toys onto your homeowner's policy for a nominal charge, including golf clubs, snow and water skis, hunting rifles, mountain and racing bikes, and camera equipment. The small additional cost will save you a fortune in frustration in the event of a loss.

Even smaller boats can be included on your homeowner's policy; every policy is different, but a rule of thumb is a maximum $2,000 value for your boat, including the motor. The same goes for the trailer. For your larger investments, such as a ski boat or sailboat, you need to take out a boat owner's policy that will not only protect your boat, motor, trailer, and onboard equipment, but will also provide liability coverage. Your lending institution might have already required you to do this, but make sure that the values assigned for the hull, motor, and any ancillary equipment are adequate.

For those of you who own other types of recreational vehicles not licensed for road use, such as snowmobiles, golf carts, and dirt bikes, most insurance companies will offer a recreational vehicle policy to meet your needs. It works just the same as the boat owner's policy.

Take stock of the investments you've made in your family's fun and games. Then do just what you do for your home and your car: Preserve your assets and your money with the best possible insurance protection. Don't allow bad luck to take the fun out of your recreation.


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