5 Reasons Why Your Auto Insurance Rates May Seem High
I hear it from drivers from all walks of life: “I’m paying too much for car insurance.” Seems we all know someone who’s paying way less, and we want to cut our own rates, too.
As independent insurance agents, we can check with multiple carriers on your behalf to find out if you may indeed be paying more than you need to. If so, we can switch you to another carrier, even in the middle of a policy term.
However, due to certain circumstances, it’s not always possible to pay less for car insurance. Here are five of them:
- You drive a high-performance or specialty vehicle. You have absolutely no interest in driving a standard sedan – boring! You want something sleek, with performance and speed, and it won’t just cost you at the dealership. It will cost you in terms of auto insurance, too. You can expect your car insurance rates to reflect the increased repair costs of a high-performance vehicle, or the rarity of a limited-production vehicle. There are ways to help bring down your insurance costs, however. One may be storing your vehicle in a secure garage when it’s not in use.
- You chose a low deductible. A low deductible seems like an attractive choice. That way, if you get into a car accident, you’re only responsible for a small amount of the repair costs. However, this can cost you more upfront. Generally speaking, deductibles and premiums have an inverse relationship. You’ll likely pay more in premium the lower your deductible is. So, you may want to choose a deductible you’ll be comfortable paying in the event of an accident rather than the lowest deductible possible.
- You are younger than 25. Sorry to be a buzzkill but that youthful optimism you feel about blazing your own trail through life doesn’t quite extend to your auto insurance premium. Drivers between the ages of 18-25 oftentimes pay more for car insurance. Why? You’ve yet to establish your own insurance history, and you don’t yet have a very robust driving record either. But, don’t fret. Stay insured, maintain a clean driving history and avoid claims, and you may see your premium start to drop over time.
- You have one or more violations on your driving record. Traffic was flowing so freely you didn’t even realize you were driving 11 miles over the speed limit. Then you saw the flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Busted. Unfortunately, you won’t just be on the hook to pay your speeding ticket. You may be on the hook to pay higher insurance premiums for a set number of years following the ticket, as well. Because drivers who collect citations like they’re going out of style can be seen as reckless and more likely to file claims.
- You require an SR-22. If those violations keep adding up or you have a more serious infraction, a judge may order you to carry an SR-22. It’s a certificate verifying your have insurance coverage that your carrier files with the court. You’ll likely incur a cost to have the SR-22 filed on your behalf, and your car insurance premium may increase as a result of all those violations. You’ll simply have to wait it out, typically for three years, until you’re able to remove the SR-22 from your policy.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, it’s true: You may be paying more for your car insurance than your friends and neighbors pay for theirs. If you’re unhappy with your auto insurance rates, reach out to an independent agent. We have a plethora of resources to help you research other carriers or possibly even discover ways to save with your current one.
Drive and Decorate Carefully to Help Avoid an Insurance Claim This Holiday Season
The holidays are a special time of the year with friends, family, loved ones and … your insurance company? Yes, your insurance company may play a role in your holiday season for a variety of reasons, and not just for winter storm claims or winter auto accident claims, either.
Here’s a look at three potential holiday claims scenarios and how your insurance may help:
- Dazzled by the Lights Distracted driving is always dangerous, and slick winter roads especially deserve your full attention. So, if you’re in the driver’s seat while your family oohs and ahhs over the local light displays, be sure your attention is on the road. If you see a particularly spectacular display, pull over to have a better look. And, watch out for other distracted drivers. If you do cause a fender bender, it’s helpful to have collision coverage and rental car coverage on your auto policy. The former helps with repairs to your own vehicle. The latter helps cover the cost of a vehicle to drive while yours is in the shop.
- Smoldering Stockings You’ve hung the stockings and garland on the mantle with care. And, now with a fire blazing in the fireplace, you risk setting it all aflame. Be sure to err on the safe side with your décor and keep all flammable objects safely away from the fire. That means you may have to make a choice: Dismantle your perfect mantle display before lighting the fire or don’t light it at all.
Should you experience smoke or fire damage due a fire in your fireplace, you will most likely receive coverage under your homeowners or condo policy to help with the recovery. For homeowners, it’s smart to have enough coverage to fully rebuild your home in case an out-of-control fire consumes it. To check whether you have the coverage you want, ask an independent agent about cost to rebuild.
- Blackout on Your Block You lost control of your vehicle on that patch of black ice and went right into an electric pole. The ensuing blackout enrages one neighbor in particular, and she later sues you for ruining her annual holiday soiree. She wants damages for her pain and suffering, as well as to recoup the costs of the carolers and caterers she had hired. As a homeowner or renter, you likely have liability coverage on your home or renters policy. This coverage may come to your defense during a lawsuit to help you cover legal fees, settlements and more.
Given the frightful weather and the fact that everyone’s rushing about trying to make the most of the holidays, incidents – and claims – are bound to occur. Be sure you have insurance in place before they do.
Of course, whether or not any claim is covered will depend on what happened and what type of coverage your policy provides. So, know your policy just as well as you know your favorite holiday tunes. You may need to rely on that policy to help you get through a holiday hurdle, but we certainly hope that’s not the case.
Enjoy the season – safely!
You know your homeowners insurance protects you if fire damages your home or burglars make off with your valuables. But, did you know the typical homeowners policy also includes liability coverage?
Depending on the specifics of your policy, liability coverage typically provides:
- Coverage against the cost of lawsuits for damages that were caused by you, by family members or by your pets.
- Assistance when you injure other people or damage their property.
- Medical coverage for visitors injured in your home.
So, how does that apply in real life? Take a look at these possible — but we hope improbable — holiday scenarios and the most likely coverage outcome for each. Of course, these are only theoretical situations. Every claim will require a full investigation, and coverage can only be determined based on the specifics of the loss.
- Negligent Nephew - As a responsible host, you keep an eye on who dips into the eggnog at your party. But you miss your 22-year-old nephew’s second and then third visits to the punchbowl. At the end of the night, as he backs out of your driveway, he injures a passing caroler. That caroler later sues you as a responsible party. In this case, the liability coverage on your homeowners policy would likely provide a defense for you, but probably not the nephew. After all, he’s not a member of your household or under your legal guardianship.
- Clumsy Daughter - Your young daughter is fascinated by the glass sculpture at your boss’s holiday get-together. She wonders what it feels like … oops! Crash! Your daughter may not be negligent, due to her age, but you could be. In that case, the damage may be covered under Property Damage to Others, if you have that on your policy.
- Aggressive Shopper - You’re normally calm and courteous, but that changes when you see there’s only one video game system left at 75 percent off. You don’t remember throwing that elbow, but the store’s security cameras see it differently. Now you’re being sued for the broken arm the other shopper sustained in her fall. This could be seen as an intentional act and therefore may not be covered. Liability coverage, after all, is for accidents.
- Decorating Dynamo - You’ve designed a rooftop lighting display that will be the envy of the whole neighborhood. But, while carrying Santa up to the top, you slip off the ladder and break your leg. Don’t expect your homeowners policy to cover injuries to you. Your liability coverage is for injuries to others. This accident falls to your health insurance.
- Auntie’s Ankle - Finally, your Aunt Marge visits your home for the holidays. In the excitement of her arrival, the rug in the entryway gets rumpled. Aunt Marge stumbles and breaks her ankle. It’s likely your liability coverage would go toward her medical expenses. However, say Aunt Marge tripped on a rug in a banquet hall you rented instead. In that case, her medical expenses are more likely to be covered by the banquet hall’s policy, not yours.
Now it’s time to review your own policy. You might be covered for $100,000 in liability costs, a fairly standard amount. Or perhaps you’re covered for $500,000. How much is enough?
The Insurance Information Institute recommends having enough liability insurance to help protect your assets. Is the liability limit on your policy more than the combined value of your property, investments and savings? If not, you may want to increase it. Talk to an independent insurance agent to better understand your options.
The 2016 holiday season is upon us and as we enter this time of holiday cheer focused on family and great food, we want to give you a quick reminder to stay safe while you are out shopping for the holidays. The National Crime Prevention Council has great tips to help you shop safely while getting those great holiday bargains on Black Friday. Here are some savvy safety tips to remember:
Shopping in Stores
- Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or asking a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
- Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
- Don’t flash the cash. Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, including at online stores.
- Wait until asked by a cashier before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
Walking to and From Your Car
- Be informed about your surroundings. Use the free mobile app available from AlertID™ to receive alerts about registered sex offenders living and working in the vicinity of your shopping venue.
- Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
- Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
- Do not leave packages visible in your car. Lock them in the trunk, or if possible, take them directly home.
Shopping With Small Children
- If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
- Select a central meeting place.
- Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
- Have them memorize or keep your cell phone number handy.
- Keep up-to-date photos and accurate descriptions of each child electronically with AlertID’s My Family Wallet™. Should they go missing, this information can be sent quickly to law enforcement when every moment counts.
- Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
- Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
- Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
- To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to buy for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and subtle or obvious changes to a company logo.
Help Minimize the Need for Costly Auto Repairs Simply by the Way You Drive
No matter how safe you are behind the wheel, you’ve probably done things like:
- Shift into drive while the car is still rolling backward.
- Ride the brakes on steep hills.
- Roll into the gas station on empty.
Guilty? If so, you may not have even realized you were doing anything wrong. After all, most everybody has a bad driving habit or two. But, most everybody doesn’t have to pay for your auto repairs. You do.
So, take a look at these seven driving habits that are bad for your car and learn why you should avoid them. It may be time to change the way you drive!
- Running on empty. You might enjoy living on the edge, but driving around without much gas can put your car’s fuel pump on edge, too. That won’t necessarily ruin your car, but having to replace your fuel pump probably will hurt your checkbook. Keep your tank at least a quarter full.
- Shifting too soon. If you have an automatic transmission, it’s easy to pop the car into drive while it’s still rolling in reverse. Don’t! Unless you want to put additional stress on your transmission, that is. Come to a stop, then shift.
- Braking too much. Following other cars too closely can wear your brakes and rotors out more quickly, because you’ll probably have to use them more than other drivers. (Of course, you should maintain an adequate following distance for safety reasons, too.) But, even in situations where braking seems unavoidable, such as going down a steep hill, you have another option: Shifting into a lower gear will slow you down without riding the brakes.
- Gunning it. Maybe you drive a fast car. Or, maybe you want to feel like you drive a fast car. Whatever kind of car you have, punching the gas from a stop can be hard on it, even more so if the car is cold and the oil hasn’t fully dispersed throughout the engine. Those fast starts can mean faster wear on your tires, too.
- Forgetting the parking brake. Do you know what holds your car in park? One small piece of metal in the transmission. Not using the parking brake puts more stress on that bit of metal. So, use it.
- Packing on the pounds. Just like with your body, extra weight puts stress on several different areas of your car. So, clean out that trunk and remove unnecessary items from the interior. Your suspension, brakes and transmission will thank you. Thanks to better gas mileage, your bank account will, too.
- Holding down the clutch. Have a manual transmission? Keep the car in neutral at intersections so you don’t need to press the clutch until you’re ready to roll. Riding the clutch is a great way to burn it out eventually.
Even if you don’t do anything on this list, you’re still not out of the woods. (But you’re probably closer than most of us.) Keep your ears and eyes open for strange noises, warning lights or anything out of the ordinary — and don’t ignore them. Inspect the issue, or get your car to a mechanic, before it becomes a bigger problem.