Tag Archives: discussion

Rental Car Insurance: Are You Covered?

25 Aug

We get asked a lot – should I buy the rental company insurance? Here are some good thoughts on what might work best for you when renting a car.

I drove down to Los Angeles to visit clients a few months ago.  I chose to pay for the company’s damage waiver at $13 per day.  Someone next to me snickered.  “Sucker,” he said.  “They just sell that so they make more on the rental, you’re already covered!”

I didn’t feel like informing the good-intentioned but rude jackass that my deductible with my personal policy is $1,000. Renting the car for three days meant a $39 insurance bill.  If anything happened to the car, I’m out only that $39.

As my luck had it, the plastic grill of the car I rented was crushed by a person in LA who felt no moral obligation to let me know they had wrecked the front end of the car when they had tried to parallel park in front of it.

Had I relied on my insurance, it would have cost $1,000 to cover the deductible.  Had I paid out of pocket, it was likely $500 in damages or more.  I paid $39 and, unless my insurance company reads my blog, my premiums won’t go up for making a claim and I won’t lose any safe driver credits.

In most cases, your personal policy will extend to a rental car. Just be sure to call your carrier to confirm what your policy covers (e.g., damage, theft, liability). Be sure you understand your deductible.  Is it more than the daily damage waiver?

Is insurance coverage through your credit card an option?

You may also get some form of rental car coverage through your credit card. American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa all provide car rental insurance options to members for free, as long as you charge the rental to your card. If you choose to rely on insurance from your credit card, call your company first to find out exactly what kind of coverage it provides.

When using your card for rental car insurance, keep these pointers in mind: 

  • Charge it. To get coverage, you’ll need to charge the whole rental fee to your credit card and decline any extra coverage the car rental company offers.
  • Choose the right vehicle. Trucks, off-road vehicles, and expensive, exotic, or antique cars generally aren’t covered. Other exceptions may apply, so be sure to check with your credit card company.
  • Be aware of time limits and other restrictions. Find out if there’s a cap on how long your credit card covers your rental car. Coverage may not be available in some countries, so check the company’s policy if you’re traveling abroad.


What kind of coverage does the rental company offer?

Typically, I’ll use the company’s coverage.  But you want to know what you’re buying when purchasing coverage through the car rental company. There are usually four main choices:

  • A damage waiver transfers financial responsibility from you to the car rental company in case of damage or theft.
  • Supplemental liability insurance protects you against claims that exceed your regular policy limits.
  • Personal effects coverage protects personal property that’s damaged or stolen from a rental car. (Your existing homeowners insurance policy may also cover these items.)
  • Personal accident insurance covers any injuries you or your passengers sustain. (Personal injury protection on your regular auto policy will also cover the rental.)

Read the Small Print of the Contract! 

Finding a balance between the cost of coverage and what you get for that price point is key to evaluating your options.

Don’t wait until you’re at the rental counter to start considering your insurance options. Call your insurance and credit card companies to find out if you’re already covered or if you should purchase insurance through the car rental company.

A little preliminary research will help ensure a smooth start to your trip—and possibly free up some funds in your vacation budget. Safe travels!

© 2014 Commonwealth Financial Network®


Why Do We Treat Women This Way?

18 Aug

It takes practice to convey a genuine bit of flattery without coming off as rude, fake or worse.  Do you notice how men are often rude, insincere and worse when it comes to treating women with respect. Why?  Women typically aren’t this way with men.

I enjoyed this very honest take on the subject of harassment.  And I do plan to be more vocal toward those who refuse to act with dignity and respect toward others.

A Better Way

13 Aug

In the past, I’ve posted many times about our association with B Corporation.  As a certified B Corp since July 2009, we’re very proud of this ideal and the growing movement. Today, over 1,000 companies world-wide, large and small, live and work by the triple bottom line ideal.

But aside from the outliers like Patagonia or King Arthur Flour, the early adopters were much smaller companies like ours. Admittedly, our impact on the global economy is negligible at best. I often wondered if it would really ever take off and truly begin to change the way companies do business. Or would this idea fail to attract enough attention to truly make a difference.

I no longer wonder.  Today, article after article in business press (Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur) , or in main stream media like the New Yorker or New York Times continue to see this ideal as a better way forward for global companies.

You can blame President Obama, Congress, evil corporations, Wall Street, whomever and whichever you like for the massive imbalances between rich and poor, for the poor state of the environment or the shaky ground of the economy.  But the quickest way to fix all of these things is intentional consumer purchasing.  Yep, we’re to blame.  Not them.

Stop buying from WalMart.  Start buying from a company like Costco which treats their employees remarkably better. Quite simply, it is that easy.  Being more careful about which companies get your dollar is all this really is. We spend blindly, as Americans.  Once we begin to open our eyes to who gets our hard-earned money, the world of business will be forced to react.  In fact, as you can read by all these links, it already is reacting.

Don’t believe me?  Have a look at how Unilever’s new CEO is running that massive, multi-national company these days.  Businesses are starting to see that raping the Earth, screwing their employees and simply enriching their shareholders is not exactly the best recipe for success.


Very Grateful It Is Friday!

23 May

Monday, we learned about the sudden death of a long-time client. Vicki was only 55. She was healthy.  She didn’t have cancer.  She just died.

It was my first call Monday morning.  It jolted me more than any cup of coffee.  It shocked me.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of death of late. My Dad last fall, good clients and friends this year. It isn’t ever easy. But all of these people were older and had been sick and we had, I suppose, mentally prepared a bit for the news of their deaths.

But not Vicki.  Her husband if one of my review calls I often dread, to be honest.  He can be quite a stickler with me on returns, fees and generally speaking, has seemed to enjoy keeping me on my toes over the years.  So, when I called, I had already steeled myself for his tough questions.

But when he picked up, his tenor was different. Did he have a cold? His voice was not all together present.  He sounded sick or something.  “Vicki died last Thursday, Matt. I needed to let you know but I just couldn’t talk last week.”

 Some time has passed since Monday morning.  But the shock has barely worn off for me.  55! Not sick. She just didn’t wake up that Friday.  My God, what would I do if that were Sarah? How would I cope? How could life ever return to normal?

 That what is so inspirational about this man, Dan.  He is touching and helping people who are sick. Who might not expect to live.  This is amazingly heartfelt and real.  Sure, Starbucks is a big old evil corporation.  But Dan is an angel.  Keep it up, Dan. You’ve made me wonder how I can do the same.

 Enjoy your weekend folks.  I’m happy you will have one to enjoy and I’m grateful I will too!

Is it Any Wonder Cultures Clash?

19 May

Click here to read a  fascinating look at the way cultures of the world approach negotiations.

To quote the article “By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us.”

Well, that could be pretty handy, no? It has me recall a time when I worked in the Sheraton Hotel at the Brussels Airport. I was an intern and working in control of the food and beverages. The hotel had four restaurants plus room service, not to mention it fed its own employees. There was a lot of food and drinks being consumed.

All I had to do was measure yesterday’s levels against today’s levels and cross-reference that to the orders being submitted by the various restaurant chefs. Pretty easy I thought. Until cultures started clashing.

In other words, If there were four bottles of a particular wine yesterday and there were only 2 today, I should see that two bottles were ordered at some point in one of the restaurants that day.

I had noticed that the cheeses of one particular restaurant were at lower totals than their corresponding orders. “How should I reconcile this?” I asked my boss, a very uninterested and rather dumb fellow.

“I’d ask the Chef!” he said.

“I have already done that. He believes my math is wrong. It isn’t. Someone is stealing cheese. What is my next step?” I said.

“I’d ask the Chef if he is stealing cheese.” m boss said sarcastically. I could see he wasn’t going to offer me guidance.

I did go talk to the Chef and it turned into a raging argument with both of us accusing the other of lying. I ended the conversation with “Look, I’m just an intern, I could care less if you’re stealing cheese. Don’t call me a liar. I’ve got a report to turn in, I’m going to turn it in with my numbers. I’ll be in America by the time the GM reads it. Your call, Frenchie.”

Had I only had this chart, I’d have known his yelling was simply step three in French negotiations and I would have been so much better off! See how us Americans lay the cards all out? “Where is the missing cheese, Monsieur?” I spelled it out, I confronted and provoked him, we had a fight…but we did not ever reach clarity.

Had I understood their culture better, I could have simply restated the logic and we’d be good. This sort of chart could be so useful for folks in international business. I just found it very interesting.

Sometimes Americans Can Be So Selfish

16 May

There are a lot of indictments these days. Usually, they are thrown around a wee bit too easily in this rapid, Twitter-fed world we live in.  I point, for example to all the local leaders who are only now, after many months of dealing with this issue, jumping all over Efren Carillo to resign.  Why now? The court process is what you awaited, you say?  Well, that court process found him innocent.  So, if you wanted to respect the process, why can’t you respect the process’s outcome? Mostly because the outcome isn’t in line with their political opportunism.  Opportunism is another word selfish, is it not?

Selfishness, in my opinion, is what is harming America’s culture more than any one aspect of what may be wrong. I see it when I’m coaching youth sports. I see it in Rotary Clubs.  Heck, we see it every day on the crosswalk where driver after driver deem their time more important than the law and fail to yield to pedestrians.

I see it in my business dealings quite a lot. People seem to think win-win is old fashioned and useless.  More and more, I see pemedieval stocksople approach everything in their lives from a ‘zero sum’ point of view.  Winner takes all, the loser can suck it.  If you hadn’t noticed, that attitude creates quite a lot of dissonance and anger among us all.

Maybe one way we can all work to change the selfish attitude that so often prevails is to begin publicly shaming the selfish? Some modern day stocks, so to speak? Stocks had been used in the past to humiliate an offender.  The offender would be exposed to whatever treatment those who passed by could imagine. This could include tickling of the feet. As noted by the New York Times in an article dated November 13, 1887, “Gone, too, are the parish stocks, in which offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned, with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke, while sundry small but fiendish boys improved the occasion by deliberately pulling off their shoes and tickling the soles of their defenseless feet.” 

Maybe by posting this story, we can put FourSquare CEO Dennis Crowley’s head and hands in a proverbial stock and give him more of the public shaming he so richly deserves.  Maybe next time, this entitled, rich, and clearly moronic man and his wife will think twice before they cheat. I doubt it. But who knows?



How Can You Be Happy?

15 May
Ever heard of an Englishman named Stephen Fry?  He’s absolutely hilarious. But he’s also incredibly intelligent.  He lends his voice here to the philosophy of Humanism.  I have to admit, I loved this three minute video. I suppose it may be offensive to some who have deep faith or belief in their own religion of choice.  That is not why I’m sharing this, to offend anyone. I just liked the thoughts shared.
It does seem to me the meaning of religions often get confused and even more often, are found in the middle of our global conflicts.  Perhaps these humanistic ideas are worth considering. He’s a fascinating, brilliant man, Stephan Fry.  But his points of view do challenge the status quo. So, if you find yourself easily offended, skip this blog.

Would You Like in on a Secret?

9 May

The other day, I blogged about how I’m finding new musical acts. Today, I’m going to tell you about how to find different wines than you are used to drinking.  Wines you’ve never heard of before. Wines that will take you to memories of meals on an Italian piazza where the wine and the meal melt together with conversation and music into one blissful experience.

How many of us have been to Europe and found a different way of dining that was very appealing?  Somehow, the dinners stretch into hours long conversations. Someway, that fish is cooked perfection. Somehow, that wine seems to pair seamlessly with that fish. How do they do that? How is it the meals in Europe can be so hard to duplicate stateside?

Sure, we have wonderful restaurants, wines and produce.  But rarely do things all seem to click together and combine to make the sort of experience I’ve had abroad.

I think this is partly due to the American mindset. Restaurants are a business as much as anything else here.  So is wine production.  Maybe not quite as true in Europe. While many of their restaurants and vineyards are corporate run, many are still family held and run for a different reason, to express their love of food and wine. And of all the ingredients in that memorable meal in a southern French restaurant, I believe it is the wine which brings everything together so perfectly.

Subtlety, mastery, refinement all begin running for the door when corporations take over wine making.  Yet, there are still wine makers in our area who try to make wine the right way. As my host father Gerard in France used to say “c’est correct, ce vin” That win, it is correct.  In other words, it is made well, in the right way.

After many years in the corporate world, Don Chigazola realized that how you apply corporate bottom line to medical or technical devices might be fine. But if those same measures of corporate structure are applied to wine marketing, it may mean a lesser quality wine.  In his travels to Italy, he came across that smaller, family-run wine and unlike most of us, he decided to try to bring some back home for the rest of us to share.  In the land of his ancestors, northern Italy, he saw an opportunity.  Perhaps he could import some of these family wines to America?

I was lucky enough to meet Don last week. My friend Bob Andrews brought me over to Don’s home to evaluate a few of his newly arrived wines.  Greeted happily by the family dog, we sat down to fresh fruits and cheeses and began with a sampling of an incredible Prosecco.  Many of you may have tried Prosecco. Many of you might find it sweeter than you like. If you are like me, and like a more dry sparkling wine, try this wine!  There is hardly any residual sugar.  What a wonderful bottle of bubbly!

Don and Debbie The real treat was next though. While Don heated a bit of Italian sausage in a tasty marinara, he poured a side by side comparison of the 2008 and 2009 vintage of “Le Marognole Amarone” from the Veneto (near Venice) region of Italy.  I was fortunate to have had the 2008 vintage once. Bob had bought it for my mother’s table during my Dad’s celebration of life last fall.  It was a generous gesture and a memorable wine indeed.

Time has only helped the 2008. This is a wine that will blow you away. It is a wine full of complexity. There are berries and spice. But what I notice most is how long it stays with you on the taste buds.  The 2009, same grapes, same wine maker, is quite distinctly different.  Both are wonderful.  The 2009 would do well today or even many years from now. The 2008 is lovely today and, according to the wine maker, may just cellar for 10 or even 20 years and continue to improve.

Don clearly has a talent for finding unique wines and his website sells them at very fair prices.  If you like wine and would like to find something new and different, check out Chigazloa Merchants. I think you’ll like what you find!  

What is Next for Warren Buffet?  

2 May

With the annual shareholder meeting taking place tomorrow, I thought it was a good time to talk Warren.

Ever since the days of the dot com era, I’ve been a fan of Warren Buffet. Many of my clients are, too.  His company’s stock, Berkshire Hathaway, has performed well over the years.*

But he isn’t getting any younger.  The Oracle of Omaha has reach his mid-80-‘s now.  It is truly amazing, when you think of it, what this man is still up to at this age.

However, the question begs, what happens to Berkshire when he ultimately retires or dies?


This past week, the Economist digs into this question.   Found it informative to read both links as they give you some very in depth discussion on the topic.

Personally, I predicted the slump of Apple’s stock price upon Steve Jobs’ demise. That prediction hasn’t worked out very well for me.

What happens to Berkshire when Warren dies?


* This is an opinion piece and not advice or solicitation to buy or sell any stock or investment. Before buying any stock, please be sure to read any material information available and be certain the risk inherent in any investment is appropriate for you.

Iron Cage of Bureaucracy

28 Apr

German philosopher Max Weber coined the term “Iron Cage” in the early 1900’s to describe an instance where bureaucracy grows too large an unwieldy.  Where the unchecked nature of the system stops serving the people it was created to serve and now only serves the interests of those within the bureaucracy.

Is that California today?

The news that Toyota is pulling up 5,000 jobs and sending them to Texas isn’t be good. The fact is, large or small, California, with intense, over-reaching regulations and law and very high taxes, is a difficult place for businesses to succeed these days.

In the annual Chief Executive magazine “Best States / Worst States” ranking that surveys CEOs for their opinions, Texas has been holding on to the No. 1 spot for a while; California seems permanently relegated to No. 50.

Why? Why do we continue to vote for such inefficient fools? There is no question the majority of fault can be laid upon the feet of the Democratic party in California.  The idea that laws and regulations can save us all form ourselves is showing quite a few holes.

But if the Dems are so bad, how is it the GOP can’t find a way to point that out constructively and make a case to be elected? probably because the GOP is worried more about their God (instead of the planet their God created), my bedroom and their extreme stances on such things that have little to do with our day to day that they actually make the Democrat morons look…good. Ugh.

Can we just push the power button and ‘power cycle’ this state? How can we restart us?

I hit upon an analogy the other day coaching my kids in lacrosse.  We do sprints at the end of each practice. No one likes sprints.  But if you play basketball, lacrosse, football, soccer – you know you need to do sprint work to be in shape.

What always happens is one or two boys aren’t giving their all.  The result, they all get to run more.  That makes the boys who were lazy the target of the boys who gave their all. It creates divisions.  So, we encourage them all to work as a team.  And with 15 boys, we can get our result.

But with the 40 State senators and 80 Assembly members, we have 100 not sprinting and only 20 who really are working their hardest.

What does a coach end up having to do when he has so many on his team not giving their all? Not pulling the rope in the same direction? He has to cut those players and remake his team. The only other solution is to walk away from coaching the team.

Toyota walked away this week.  What company is next before we Californian’s figure out that we need a new start?

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