Archive for the ‘article’ Category

What is GAP insurance and do I really need it?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

There are few things in life quite like the feeling of driving a brand-new car that you just purchased. The immaculate clean look and feeling of the inside, the incredible new car smell that wafts through your nostrils, and even the envious looks of your friends and neighbors as you pull your beauty into the driveway. Yes, owning a brand-new car is truly one of life’s great pleasures. On the flipside, one of the most disappointing things that can happen in life is when you and your new car are involved in an automobile accident.

gap-insurance-newcar2

Everyone expects to keep their new car in pristine shape throughout its life but this is seldom the case. Scratches and bumps and dings do occur and in worst case scenarios, you could be involved in a serious accident that could even total your brand-new prized possession. The realization that the new car you just purchased is now headed for the junkyard can truly weigh heavy on your heart indeed. The only saving grace is that at least you have a full coverage insurance policy, or so you thought.

Unfortunately, getting involved in an accident with a brand-new vehicle can have another downside to it other than just the damage to the vehicle itself. You might be surprised when the car you just paid $30,000 for is only valued at about $24,000 by the insurance company in the event of a total loss. Your frustration may turn to outright anger as you try to explain to the insurance company that you just paid $30,000 for this vehicle just a few days ago. As time wanes on, you begin to realize that the settlement offered by the insurance company is the maximum you can expect to recover. Once the $24,000 has been applied to the loan, you now owe $6000 for a vehicle you don’t even have anymore. Well, this scenario is not an isolated incident, it is actually a fairly common occurrence and it can happen to you as well if you don’t have a protection called GAP insurance.

You see, when a brand-new vehicle is on the lot of the dealership, is worth a certain price. When you sign the paperwork to purchase the car, it is still worth that price. Mysteriously, however, when you pull the vehicle off the lot, the value of it quickly diminishes. When a brand-new vehicle has been purchased and is being driven by a brand-new owner it loses significant value almost immediately and this is called depreciation. In addition, your auto insurance policy is only required to pay for damages to the vehicle up to the total value of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

gap-insurance-newcar

Taking into account this depreciation, and the fact that you have yet to make any payments toward the loan, someone who gets into a total loss accident soon after purchasing a vehicle will experience a gap in the amount of coverage they have on their policy versus what they old on the vehicle loan. This gap is often thousands of dollars and is usually not taken care of until somewhere after the first year of owning the vehicle. Gap insurance is a type of coverage that will provide you additional money over and above what the insurance company will offer for your vehicle to make sure that you can pay off your vehicle in full if it is totaled in an accident.

If you are purchasing a brand-new vehicle, gap insurance really does make sense, unless perhaps you paid cash for the vehicle and don’t owe the bank anything. Dealerships will often try to sell you GAP insurance at the time you purchase your new car but it is wise to do your due diligence as purchasing from the dealership may not be the best idea. Be wary of anything and everything that a car salesman wants to put into the contract as you will end up financing the amount of whatever it is that you add over the length of your vehicle loan. Another thing to keep in mind is that the actual price of the GAP insurance as purchased through the dealership might be quite a bit more expensive than if you purchased it elsewhere such as your existing auto insurance company. Another option to obtain this GAP coverage is to search for a vehicle loan that includes GAP coverage as part of the loan itself.

This can truly be a fantastic deal and it is simply an incentive thrown in by the bank to help earn your business and will result in your paying zero dollars out of pocket for coverage that may end up paying you thousands of dollars if your car is totaled in an accident.
As you can see, in certain circumstances, GAP insurance can be a fantastic safety net to help protect your financial situation should the worst happen. Keep in mind, however, you may not have a need for GAP insurance much after the first year of owning the vehicle because the payments you have been making on the loan will have paid it down significantly and once you owe about the same amount of money as the car is worth, you will no longer need to keep this coverage.

photo credit flickr: ryantxr & wishymom

Understanding Auto Insurance for Teen Drivers

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

One of the scariest days for parents is when their little babies get their driver’s license. It seems as if just yesterday they were pedaling along on their big wheels, but now they’re getting behind the big wheel of an automobile to hit the open roads on their own. Of the many considerations that parents have to contend with and of the most important and potentially most expensive is that of auto insurance now that you have a teen driver in the household.

reckless-driving

Many people are unprepared for the price shock that often accompanies adding your child to your insurance policy and it almost always results in a significant rate increase. The reasons for this are simple in that younger drivers account for the highest percentage of automobile accidents. While rate increases are likely, there are some things you can do to mitigate the severity of them and help to keep your rates under control while still providing more than adequate protection for your teenage driver as well as you and your family’s assets.

One of the first considerations that parents may look at is purchasing a used inexpensive car for the brand-new driver. Purchasing a reliable but affordable vehicle can help to keep costs down in several ways. First of all, by buying a used car you may be able to pay for it with cash out right rather than have to finance it over several years. The discount you will receive on the used price coupled with the savings you won’t pay on interest on a loan can be significant indeed. In addition, because you purchased an inexpensive car and don’t have a bank loan on it, you may want to consider waiving collision coverage on the auto insurance policy for your teen driver. Collision coverage usually represents the highest expense on an underage driver’s policy because of their propensity to cause damage to the car by their own doing. Waiving this coverage can often save hundreds of dollars per year off the normal price of the policy.

student-driver

If going the used is not your plan of action but instead you want to add your teenage driver to an existing vehicle in the household or perhaps buy them a brand-new vehicle, there are still some things that you can do that will help to generate savings. If opting for a full coverage policy including collision, it is wise to keep a high deductible on this coverage for several reasons.

The first one is that the higher the deductible is the less expensive the policy will be. The deductible represents the amount you agree to pay in the event of an at fault accident. For instance, if your collision deductible was $1000 and your teenage driver damages your vehicle, the insurance would pay the difference of the damage over and above the $1000 mark.

The next and oftentimes the most significant reason to keep a high deductible on a teenage driver policy is to help protect the insurance rating of the driver. By keeping a high deductible, you are lessening the chances of turning in any at fault claims that would fall below the deductible amount. In this scenario above, if you’re deductible was $1000 and your teen caused $700 damage to your vehicle, there would be no reason to contact the insurance company at all. This would help to keep their insurance claim record clean and prevent any rate increases that could result from at fault claims.

Finally, there are usually some pretty nice sized discounts available to teen drivers as well, if they qualify. The first of these and probably the most popular with insurance companies is a good student discount. If your child receives a B or higher average and is attending school full-time either high school or college, they may be eligible for this discount. This provides a fantastic incentive for your child to keep and maintain excellent grades, especially if you are making them pay at least part of the insurance premiums. Another popular discount involves completion of some type of safe driving program. This may involve your child filling out a logbook of their driving experiences, completing a video safe driving course, and sitting down with your insurance agent to discuss the safety issues pertaining to driving. Depending on the company that your insurance policy is with, the actual discounts offered may vary so it is important to sit down with your insurance agent and discuss all the options available and how you and your teen can qualify for these discounts to ensure the best possible savings.

One additional area to mention is liability coverage. While it doesn’t involve saving money on the premium necessarily, it can save you an enormous amount in the event that a catastrophic accident does occur. The liability portion on your teen’s insurance policy is the most important coverage that exists. This is the portion of the policy that will pay for other parties in an accident where your teen is at fault. Because your teen is at a much higher risk to have an at fault accident than most other age groups, you will want to maximize this coverage to make sure that there is plenty of money available from the insurance company in the event of one of these accidents and that someone else does not come after you or your assets should one occur. This is absolutely not an area where you should try to save money on your insurance premiums, but instead, purchase the highest amount of liability coverage you can afford at the time.

Watching your teen drive down the road for the very first time can be truly a bittersweet experience indeed but if you follow the suggestions above and schedule an in-depth insurance review with your insurance agent, you can help to reduce the cost of adding your teen to your insurance policy while still protecting both them and you in the event of an at fault claim.

Steps To Take After an Auto Accident

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Being involved in an automobile accident can be a terrifying and oftentimes painful situation. Even if you aren’t physically hurt, the entire scenario itself can be painful for many reasons. First of all, you’ll have to deal with getting your car fixed and depending on who was at fault, potentially getting the other person’s car fixed as well. In addition, the logistics involved may mean you have to take some time off work to deal with auto body repairs or even medical situations if in fact you were injured. Finally, one of the most painful aspects of having an auto accident for many people is dealing with the insurance company.

auto-crash

Auto insurance exists to help pay for incidents that occur in our lives but that doesn’t mean the process is not a flawed one. It can often take months and sometimes years to fully settle an auto insurance claim and the process can be downright maddening if it doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. There are some things that you can do, however, to help make the process move along as smoothly as possible. Let’s look at some steps that you can take following an auto accident to make sure that all of your bases are covered and that you comply with your insurance policies contract.

1. Don’t admit fault-Even if it is very obvious that you’re at fault for an accident never admit so at the scene. Oftentimes, there are other circumstances involved in the accident that you weren’t even aware of and by simply admitting that you are at fault you may give up your rights to any future compensation or shared liability on behalf of the insurance companies.

2. Call the police-Having a police officer on the scene will help to lessen the potential that any arguments get out of hand and that the proper information is shared between the parties. Don’t be surprised if because no one was injured they decide not to send an officer, but it still can’t hurt to give it a try.

3. Exchange information-It is important that both parties exchange information at the scene of the accident to help expedite the ensuing claim and verify insurance coverage by both parties. No matter who is at fault, it is important that both parties give the other their complete info as fault will not be determined at the scene and occasionally shared liability exists. Here is a quick list of what information to obtain at the scene of an accident:
a. full name and complete address including phone number
b. year, make, model of vehicle
c. drivers license number
d. name and phone number of insurance company
e. insurance policy number
f. name of the owner of the vehicle if it was not the person driving

auto-crash2

4. Call the insurance company-it is not necessarily required that you contact the insurance company at the scene of the accident but it can help you get through the situation if you’re unsure about how to proceed. You do want to contact the insurance company as soon as possible after the accident so that they are made aware of the potential for the claim and can begin preparing paperwork to file if necessary.

5. Snap some pictures-again, taking pictures at the scene of an automobile accident is not required but it can help to be proof of what exactly occurred and may be helpful to the insurance company or even the court system if the claim progresses that far.

6. Seek medical attention-Now, if there is no mistake that you were injured then one of the first steps on our list would be to go to the hospital but I’m sure that’s probably an obvious one. What can and often does occur after an accident within a day or two is for the body to begin to feel soreness and stiffness because of the impact. This may be signs of whiplash or even potentially something more serious. If you are feeling pains of any kind it is wise to visit a doctor to have a complete examination. The expenses of this medical treatment may be covered by the other person’s policy or your own depending on the particular scenario.
The fact is, most of us will be involved in at least one accident during the course of our driving lifetime. If you follow the steps above and make sure to do your due diligence in the event of an automobile accident, you can help to make it much less stressful and progress much more efficiently which will usually lead to a more favorable outcome to all parties involved.

Pros & Cons of Buying Car Insurance on the Internet: What every consumer should know FIRST

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

The Internet can be fantastic money and time saving tool allowing us to purchase everything from our weekly groceries to even a vacation home in the Caribbean if we so choose. Anyone with a connection to the Internet is connected to the world and can get just about anything they want with the click of a button. This begs the question, “Just because I can do it, should I?”

shopping-online

You see, just because something is convenient does not necessarily mean it is better. Many decisions are better made by speaking directly with a qualified person face-to-face whom we can develop a relationship with and learn to trust the advice that they give us over time. This represents one of the major advantages of using a local insurance agent to purchase your car insurance versus purchasing it online.

Many people, however, are taken in by the creative advertising campaigns for these online insurance companies and simply seek them out for the convenience and promises of huge savings that they offer in their commercials. The fact is, the reality of the relationship you develop with an online insurance company can often be far different from the one portrayed in their ads. It is up to you to examine the process carefully to make sure that you make the best decision for you and your family.

Let’s examine in detail the pros and cons of purchasing car insurance online.

Pros of buying car insurance online


• One Click Convenience-let’s face it, buying on the Internet is easy. You simply find what you want, type in your credit card information and then press submit and you’re done. This process seems far easier than having to spend an hour on the phone with an insurance agent or even sitting down with them face-to-face to rate a policy and then to purchase it. Convenience is often the major reason people buy car insurance online.
• Can often print proof of coverage immediately after purchase-adding to this convenience is the ability to print a temporary insurance policy immediately after purchasing it online. This allows you the flexibility to buy a policy and show proof of coverage as soon as payment has been submitted. Oftentimes, bricks and mortar insurance companies simply offer you a Binder number that acts as proof of coverage but your actual policy will not arrive in the mail for several weeks.
• Ability to shop rates quickly-because you are simply looking at different websites when shopping for car insurance online, is fairly easy to jump from one site to the other in order to price out your policy. Most of these companies are brokerages and work with several different carriers to offer you the best deals possible as well making finding the best deal possible much more easy than if you had to visit individual insurance companies face-to-face.
• Potential discounts associated with online service-many online insurance companies offer huge discount incentives in order to earn your business. These discounts, if you do qualify for them, can be significant and offer an additional reason to purchase your car insurance online.
• Don’t have to set an appt or leave the house-purchasing car insurance the traditional way meant you had to set an appointment with an insurance agent, then get in your car to drive there, and then spend time sitting with the agent as you discuss your coverages and premiums. If you decided not to go with this particular company, you had to do the same thing all over again. When purchasing car insurance online, you won’t even have to leave the house to finish the transaction.

Cons of buying car insurance online
• Very difficult to establish true relationship with the company-if you do end up purchasing car insurance online, it is less than likely that you will be able to establish a warm relationship with the company. This is because your interaction with them will be via e-mail and occasionally the phone. Relationships can be extremely important when it comes to your insurance needs as the more a company knows about you and your family, the better they will be at helping to tailor your coverages to best meet your needs.

insurance-agent
• Customer Service may be lacking-if you need an answer concerning your car insurance and you need it quickly, then working with an online car insurance company may not be the best route. These companies often work with call centers or through e-mail service portals. This means that in less you have a claim, your service request may take many hours or even days to process.
• Financial track record/standing of the company-insurance claims are paid based on the financial stability of the insurance company. It can often be hard to tell how stable your company is if they are simply a website. The last thing you want to have happen is to have purchased an inexpensive policy online only to find them going out of business within a year to because they don’t have enough money to pay for claims.
• May receive savings at the cost of proper coverage-one final important note that represents a potential negative in purchasing car insurance online is that of the actual product you receive. We may see a price that we like after giving an online car insurance company our information, but price is only one factor, the actual coverages you receive are the most important aspect. If the online insurance company is offering you a cheap policy, it may be because they are greatly diminishing the amount and type of coverage that policy has. When working with a face-to-face insurance agent, you will be able to go over your policy coverages in detail to make certain you are fully covered the matter what situation may arise.

Purchasing a quality insurance policy may be one of the most important things you do in your life, especially if you encounter a serious accident sometime in the future. While purchasing a car insurance policy online can offer both convenience and savings, it will lack the relationship that you can build by dealing with insurance companies face-to-face via a local insurance agent. Take these pros and cons into consideration when choosing to purchase your next car insurance policy.

Life Events and how they Affect your Auto Insurance Rates

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

While auto insurance rates may not be your favorite topic in the world, they have probably been included in at least one of your conversations as of late especially considering the state of the economy. Auto insurance can represent one of the most expensive bills that individuals and families can pay each year. While these policies can certainly save us from financial ruin in the event of a catastrophic accident, it is also important that we try to save money on these premiums whenever we can. Many life events can affect our premiums both positively and negatively and it is important that as a client you understand how they can so that you can better plan for and budget for your auto insurance needs whenever one of these life events happens to you.

getting-married

The following is a list of five of the most common life of ends and how they can have an affectation on your auto insurance rates.
Age-age is certainly a life event we deal with each and every year. Auto insurance rates are at least partially figured using the age of the driver. Newer drivers and those all the way up to age 25 often pay much higher insurance rates than those people who are between ages 25 and 65. In addition, individuals who are age 65 and older see a rate increase as well as the older they are, the more likely it is that they will be involved in an auto accident.

Marriage-getting married can actually represent a discount on your auto insurance. Individuals who are rated as inexperienced operators or those under 25 will often get rated as adults when they get married which will help to significantly lower their insurance premiums. In addition, when a married couple decides to put all of their cars with one insurance company, they will usually receive what is known as a multicar discount which will help to further lower the premiums as well.

Children-having children, like marriage, can lower insurance rates. That is, until the children hit 16. Once your child begins driving, your insurance rates will almost always go up. This is simply due to the fact that younger drivers have the most accidents. This is certainly a life event will want to sit down and talk over with your insurance agent to make sure that you understand the risks involved for your new driver as well as any discounts that you can apply for to help lessen the burden on your pocketbook.

New Job-some may not even think to talk to their insurance company when they take a new job, but this life event can sometimes affect your insurance rates on your automobile. The main reason for this is the amount of miles you will drive to and from this new job. If the new position you just took is only a few miles away from your home, you may be driving less which could work to reduce your insurance rates a great deal. On the other hand, if your commute is much farther, this could have a negative effect on your insurance rates. In addition, if you have to use your vehicle as part of your new job, this is something that you want to talk over with the insurance company as well to make sure the policy you have currently will cover your automobile in the event of an accident.

moving

Moving-moving to a new location is another common life event will almost always result in a change in auto insurance rates. You see, your insurance premium takes into consideration such things as crime statistics and the amounts of automobile accidents that happen within a particular area. If you moved from the rural countryside to the bustling density of a major metropolitan area, your insurance rates are almost surely going to skyrocket. This is an important life event to speak with your agent about as well so that you can examine your policy to see if there is anything you can do to help mitigate or offset this rate increase.

Life events are, well, part of life. Each and every change we make in our lives often affects other aspects of our lives as well and your auto insurance rates are no exception. Make sure to schedule regular checkups with your insurance company so that you can make certain your insurance plan continues to meet the changing needs of you and your family.

I was at fault in an auto accident…what can I expect from my auto insurance company?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Auto accidents can truly be some of the most disruptive and chaotic events that occur in our lifetimes. From the craziness that can ensue at the scene of the accident to the aftermath of dealing with the parties involved, getting cars fixed, and sometimes dealing with medical situations if injury occurred, it is perhaps one of the biggest understatements in the world to say that auto accidents are no fun.

One of the least fun things about dealing with an auto accident can be the time you spend dealing with the insurance companies involved. It seems that you have conversation after conversation where you end up saying the same thing and giving statements and facts about the incidents that occurred so that the insurance companies can best determine who is at fault and whose policy should pay for the damages. Your problems simply become compounded if it is determined that you are the one that is at fault. Now the fear sets in of just exactly what is going to happen concerning your insurance policy. Will your rates go up? Will you be canceled? These questions and more can drive many of us crazy with uncertainty as we deal with being at fault in an auto accident. While none of the answers are steadfast and occur specifically in every situation, let’s look at some of the things that can potentially occur concerning your insurance company following an at fault accident.

First of all, if there is any kind of affectation, it will not happen immediately. Many times, insurance claims can take many months or even years to be settled. In almost every case, no specific determination will occur on the insurance policy until the case has been completely closed. This does mean that if the accident occurred on one day and the case was not closed until two years later, any rate increase or decision of cancellation would probably not happen until the next renewal date following the closing of the insurance claim.

Secondly, depending on what is offered by your particular insurance company and how long you have been insured with them, you may be eligible for some type of accident forgiveness program. The way these generally work is, if you have been insured with the company for a specific period of time, they may waive any negative affectation to your policy for the first accident that you have. This would mean no rate increases or cancellations of any kind. These types of programs often have stipulations on them so it is best to sit down with your insurance agent and find out the wording of your particular policy to know how these may or may not apply. In addition, things such as reckless driving or driving while intoxicated may not fall under this category and because of the nature of the incident, you still may be penalized from the insurance company.

Once all determinations of fault have been made and the claim has been closed, the company may impose a rate increase or cancellation on the policy of the driver of the automobile in the accident that occurred. One of the things that determine the actual rate increase is the total amount of money that was paid out as part of the claim. This could include liability paid out to the other party, damage to your vehicle, and any other expenses accrued. The general rule of thumb is that these rate increases will take effect at the next renewal date following the closing of the claim. This is not steadfast, however, and your company’s policy may differ so again it is important to sit down with your agent to go over the exact wording of your particular policy. Generally, insurance companies don’t cancel a policy after one incident but instead simply raise the rates of the premium for a set period of time. If multiple at fault incidents occur within a set period of time, then the company may decide to take action and non-renew the policy.

There are a few ways to potentially mitigate the rate increases that a company may impose based on an at fault accident. One of these is to raise the deductibles of coverages such as comprehensive and collision. Once you have one accident, you certainly don’t want to have another and if you do, the more you can pay out of pocket than the more you will save on your insurance premiums. This makes raising deductibles such as collision to their highest limits a potentially wise idea. Another way to help mitigate these rate increases is to perform what is called a driver exclusion. The insurance company may offer to exclude the person who was at fault in the accident in order to keep policy on the books. If you were the only person in the household and this would preclude you from driving your automobile, this wouldn’t be a wise idea but if the person driving was a friend or another family member that could get insurance elsewhere, this may offer a solution to you and may even stop the rate increase from happening at all.

Please keep the above in mind if you ever do have an at fault accident and in the meantime, make sure to visit with your insurance company and agent face-to-face to go over the specific definitions of your policy so that you understand exactly what could occur if you are found liable for an auto accident in the future.

Auto Insurance for Used Cars: What should I consider when buying coverage?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Auto insurance is confusing. There, I said it. The combination of different types of coverages as well as the variables that exist in different situations and just about ANYBODY can get confused. It would be so helpful if there were just some kind of ONE SIZE FITS ALL policy that would cover anyone and everyone in every situation but there simply isn’t. The fact is an auto insurance policy can often be as complex a thing to figure out as is the contract of buying the car itself! It would make sense to handle the tailoring of an insurance policy at the time of the purchase of the car but many of us are more interested with pulling our new found love into the driveway than we are with sitting with an insurance agent discussing deductibles. The lack of time spent on customizing the policy is a shame because it is only AFTER a claim occurs when you find out you may, or may NOT have the coverages you need. In addition, you may end up spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars for others you don’t. One particular scenario that falls into this last category is that of an insurance policy designed for a used car purchase.

Auto insurance policies for a used car can vary somewhat from that of a new car purchase. For one thing, used cars cost less, so there is often a need for less coverage, but only in certain areas. Many people make the wrong assumption that just because they are buying a car of lesser value they can skimp on the policy overall. They often don’t see the need in paying high premiums considering how low their actual car payment is. In addition, because many used cars are purchased without the need for a bank loan, a full coverage policy is not always required. This does NOT mean, however, that a full coverage policy may not make sense. Let’s check out the basic coverages of an auto policy and see how each one may pertain to the scenario of a used car.

Liability-Ok, this is the biggie. Liability coverage protects the other party in the event of an accident in which you are found fault. What this means is, this coverage protects your assets! If you are found liable in an accident and you don’t have sufficient liability coverage, then a lawsuit may come after you, your income, and even your home in the worst cases. I don’t care if you have a clunker that cost you $200 this is NOT AN AREA to skimp on coverage. Buy it and buy it big. State minimums are a joke and if your policy is the state minimum in this area, the joke COULD be on you.

Uninsured Motorist-This is the coverage that will cover YOU in the event you are in an accident, and someone else is at fault, BUT, they either don’t have insurance, or the accident was a hit and run. What cover yourself LESS than you would the other person? The rule of thumb here is, mirror your regular liability limits.
Collision-NOW maybe we can save some money. Collision is designed to pay for your vehicle in an accident where you are at fault. If you ARE driving that $200 clunker, then you probably don’t need collision. The less your car is worth, the less effective this coverage is. The goal here is to weigh how much this coverage costs versus how much your vehicle is actually worth. If this coverage costs you $400 every year, and your car is only worth $2000, you might consider not including collision as part of your policy.

Comprehensive-Comprehensive can be pretty effective in many cases actually. It takes care of all those things other than collision. Windshield cracks or breakages, vandalism, hail damage and vehicle theft are all covered by comprehensive. Windshield breaks are common and often help make the decision for folks to go ahead and keep this coverage with a fairly small deductible.

No Fault or Personal Injury Protection-In many states this is called PIP and it is the first line of payment if you are in an accident and are injured. Injuries occur in new cars and used alike so this has no special affectation in the case of a used car. The coverage is usually inexpensive, so max it out if you can afford to.
Car Rental-If your car is in the shop because of a covered claim and you have to have one to get back and forth, you will be happy you have this coverage on your policy. It is fairly inexpensive but if you will need a car in the event of a claim, it is best to keep this on board as well.

Emergency Road Service-Now here’s one that can come in handy in the case of a used car. Let’s suppose your used car decides it just doesn’t want to start anymore. Well, you will need to tow it somewhere to get it fixed. This inexpensive little coverage can reimburse your towing expenses. In addition, it can cover things like roadside maintenance such as running out of gas or having a flat tire.

As you can see, an auto policy for a used car is not all that different than for a new one. Collision is the main decision you will have to make here but, while the tips above may help you decide, it is ALWAYS wise to sit down with an insurance professional and go over your plan coverage by coverage.

6 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

For many people all over the country, their auto insurance bill represents one of the highest AND most frustrating that they have to pay on a regular basis. Oftentimes, insurance bills can be as high as $200 per month or even higher depending on your particular situation. Aside from the price itself, one of the things that frustrate people the most is that auto insurance is one of the bills that they HAVE to pay as required by law. It can often seem like we keep paying and paying but we never get anything back. The fact is, auto insurance is often the only thing that stands between you and financial devastation in the event of a serious accident. Still, if you can save money on your premiums and still have great coverage, why not go for it?

dollar-bills
Let’s check out 6 ways that you can begin saving money on auto insurance right now.

1. Buy a lower priced SAFE vehicle -Now, you may not want to turn in the car you have now, but if you are looking at buying a new one in the future, keep in mind that the more expensive and less safe the car, the higher the insurance premium. Purchasing a used or lower-priced vehicle that has a very high safety rating will go a long way toward your paying low auto insurance premiums.

2. Maximize your discounts - one of the best ways to save on auto insurance is maximizing the discounts available by your particular company. These can include things such as multicar discounts,  a safe driving record,  adding other types of insurance policies with the same company, and even a high credit score in certain instances. In addition, if you or someone in your household is categorized as a younger or inexperienced operator, there may be other discounts available associated with the types of grades on a report card or even the completion of a safe driver program. Make sure to sit down with your agent personally and get a list of the specific discounts offered by your company and how you can take advantage of as many of them as possible.

3. Raise your deductibles - one of the easiest ways to lower insurance premiums is to raise deductibles on certain coverages such as collision and comprehensive. These deductibles represent the amount of money that you are willing to pay in the event of an incident that will be considered a covered claim on your policy for physical damage to your automobile. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

4. Drive safely-auto insurance premiums are largely driven by the risk of the operator and weigh heavily on past driving records. If you are a safe driver and don’t have any recent history of speeding tickets or at fault accidents, your insurance premium will be much lower than those without a clear driving record. Driving safely makes sense for many reasons and one of these is the lower insurance premiums you can expect to pay.

5. Establish a long term relationship with your Insurance Agent & Company-speaking of the discounts above, one of the more significant discounts you can receive from a company is a longevity discount which takes into account how long you have been insured with that particular company. The longer you stay with the company, the higher this discount will be. In addition, you may be eligible to take advantage of first accident forgiveness benefits that many companies offer for their longtime customers. This forgiveness will allow your premiums to remain unchanged even in the event of an at fault accident. Make sure to inquire about this particular benefit as it is not available at every company.

6. Use an insurance brokerage - while I just mentioned that staying with the company for long periods of time can result in a discount, using the services of an insurance brokerage to shop your policy may be another good idea for you to help to try to maximize your savings. Because of the claims activity that a particular company can experience, your insurance premiums may be raised significantly even though you yourself did nothing wrong. You see, the insurance premiums we pay take into account the claims from all of the insured at your particular company. Using the services of an insurance brokerage can help you to shop your coverages to other insurance carriers as their prices may be significantly lower than you are paying currently.
The above tips represent six of the most popular ways to save on auto insurance and if you take the time to go over your policy with your insurance agent and keep in mind the principles listed above, it is likely that you’ll be able to save significant amounts of money on your insurance premiums each and every year.

5 Tips for Dealing with Car Insurance Claim Adjusters

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

One of the least fun things to deal with in our lives is that of an auto insurance claim. No matter what incident occurred, these situations often disrupt our lives and cause chaos where there was once order. Our vehicles are our lifeblood when it comes to getting to and from where ever it is we need to go and when that means of transportation is severed due to an auto insurance claim, it can disrupt just about every facet of our life.

crooks

One thing that just about no one looks forward to in dealing with an auto insurance claim is dealing directly with the insurance companies themselves. Many people adopt an us versus them mentality pertaining to insurance companies and often view insurance claim adjusters as the enemy in these situations. This mentality can actually work against them and help to lengthen the time it takes to settle a claim rather than if they simply had adopted an agreeable and mutual understanding of how to proceed effectively and efficiently to get the claim settled as quickly as possible.

corporate-building
It is a fact that insurance claim adjustors are looking out for the best interest of the insurance company, but they are also looking to satisfy the needs of those involved in the claim as well. It is only when all parties see eye to eye that these claims work smoothly and easily. Let’s look at five tips that will help to better deal with car insurance claims adjusters in case you’re involved in an auto insurance claim.

  1. Report Claims Promptly-First of all, as a policyholder it is your responsibility to report any incidents to your insurance company as soon as possible. The longer you decide to wait to contact your insurance company, the longer the claim will take to process. If you have an accident on a Wednesday and don’t contact your insurance company till the following Wednesday and then expect your car to be fixed a few days later, you’ll be sorely mistaken.
  2. Keep claim information with you at all times-one of the most common things that slows down the processing of insurance claims is because clients don’t have the proper information in front of them when the claims adjuster does call to speak with them. Simply keep every piece of paper associated with the claim in a folder and keep it with you at all times. This means when you’re at home, when you’re at work, or even when you’re driving in your car. You never know when the claims adjuster is going to call with questions or information pertaining to your claim and if you never have the information in front of you that they request, there will be many back-and-forth phone calls that will simply frustrate both you and the claims adjuster.
  3. Provide any info that is requested in a timely manner-when dealing with claims adjusters, the easiest way to keep them working is to provide them with information they need in a timely manner. Just as in the tip above, having your information with you is important, but having complete information is equally as important. When you have an accident, you will want to get all of the insurance and personal information of the other person you are involved in the accident with. If a claims adjuster is looking for information and you can provide it to them, this will help to greatly expedite the handling of the claim and you can bet the claims adjuster will look at you favorably and thank you for your due diligence in handling the matter.
  4. Know your insurance policy-knowing what types of coverages you have on your policy can be extremely effective in helping to handle an auto insurance claim and will demonstrate your interest and concern in the matter to your car insurance claims adjuster. If, when asked about deductibles for instance, your answer is “you’re the adjuster, you should know that”, you can bet that this won’t help move the claim along any faster. Oftentimes, changes to insurance policies do not occur immediately and a claims adjuster may be looking at a policy that doesn’t clearly reflect the coverages you had in place at the time of the accident. Simply taking the time to learn the coverages on your auto policy and helping to relate them to the insurance claims adjuster can greatly help speed up the claims handling process.best-friends
  5. Treat them as your friend-finally, treating your auto insurance claims adjuster as your friend will certainly be a lot more effective in dealing with them than if you treat them as the enemy. Claims adjusters are just doing their job and they oftentimes need your help in order to do it effectively. If you can empathize with their situation and treat them as an interested party in the incident and someone who is helping to resolve it, they will be greatly appreciative of your understanding and will oftentimes go just a bit over and above to help make your experience as enjoyable as possible as well.

Simply by following the five tips above, you can help to make your experience with car insurance claims adjusters a much more positive and efficient one. No one enjoys having to deal with auto insurance claims, but if you take the time to help move the process along, you can establish a positive working relationship with your car insurance claims adjuster to help get the claim settled quickly and to your satisfaction.

Shopping for Auto Insurance – Your neighborhood insurance agent

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Do you want an agent who is “Like A Good Neighbor?” May you would rather feel like “You’re In Good Hands” when dealing with your agent? MAYBE you just want someone who is “On Your Side?”

Well, chances are, al of these slogans bring one thing to mind: Your neighborhood insurance agent.

Ok, I may be a bit biased when speaking of neighborhood agents because that is where I have spent my career, but for me, personal service is key in dealing with insurance and financial services. The knowledge that you have someone you can speak with who knows you, your family, your personal situations, that has taken care of your insurance needs for years, is, well, comforting. Not all agents are as good as the commercials make you believe, but if you look around, ask for referrals, you can usually find someone who puts personal service at the top of their list of priorities. Some local agents are independent, meaning they can sell insurance from a variety of companies,  much like a broker, and some are captive, meaning they must sell insurance from only their parent company. State Farm is an example of a captive agent model. While price IS a concern when looking for insurance, keep this in mind:

Prices vary, and will always vary. What I mean is, company a may offer you the lowest price, for now. In 3 years though, their price may go up, and company b, who you switched FROM, may be lower than company a. If you spend all your time switching when rates are low, you have established yourself as a price shopper, and not a valued relationship to the company. As you have probably gotten from my repeated advisements, I recommend you stay in one place. Find a home you love and stick there! Get to know your agent, the staff, the different products they offer.

Most companies now offer such an array of products that you can get all of your insurance and financial needs taken care of at the same place where you have your car insurance. An agent who is really into personal service will often offer yearly insurance reviews. These are great opportunities for you to review your policies, see if any changes are needed, or see if additional policies are needed. Have a new child? Maybe you need life insurance. Your daughter is turning 16? You need to add her to one of your auto policies. You get the picture. Your neighborhood agent, in my opinion, offers the best combination of price and overall service for your insurance dollar.

The Good: Personal relationships, an agent and staff that can really get to know YOU, one stop shopping for insurance and financial needs

The Bad: You are limited to the products and prices offered by that particular agency or company.

Photo credit/Flickr/LoopZilla

Photo credit/Flickr/bucklava