Car Insurance Pitfalls to Avoid

Car Insurance Pitfalls to Avoid

In today’s technology driven world, you might assume that most consumers would be educated when it comes to auto insurance, but it appears that such is not the case. In fact, many consumers begin looking for product information after making this important purchase rather than before.

Liability limits

Many agents will offer reduced limits in order to offer a low price. Don’t fall for it! Bodily Injury Liability (BI) is what pays for the other driver’s injuries if you are in an at-fault accident. 25/50 won’t cut it, especially if more than one person is injured or worse yet – killed. What most consumers do not realize is the savings for these lower limits is not that significant. Every driver should carry at least 50/100 or better yet 100/300. In today’s economy it is very easy to rack up more than $25,000 in medical expenses after a visit to the emergency room or short hospital stay. When you consider all the tests you’ll be subjected to and bills from three different specialists, the final bill can become staggering. One should also consider that you could be charged with an at-fault accident when it really is not your fault – like hitting someone from behind when they slam on breaks to miss a squirrel!

Property Damage Liability

Car Insurance Pitfalls to AvoidThe same advice applies with this coverage as well. Property Damage Liability (PD) is what pays when you hit someone’s vehicle or other property. $25,000 won’t cut it! Most vehicles on the road today cost much more than $25k and what happens if you hit 3 of them? In Florida the required minimum is $10k. There are bicycles out there that cost $10k! Think about this for just a minute – you lose control of your car on a back road in Florida and take out 3 mature orange trees. That tree owner is going to want the price of replacing those trees plus the value of the oranges they would have produced over their lifetime. As another example, imagine you manage to crash into a nice lady driving an expensive rental car. Your policy has to pay to repair the damage to the car AND LOSS OF RENTAL INCOME WHILE THE CAR IS UNDER REPAIR! If you have $10k or $25k limits, you will most likely be paying out of pocket.

Uninsured/Under insured Motorist Coverage

This very important coverage happens to be an optional coverage. It will pay for injuries to you or damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured or under insured driver. When you consider the minimum limit requirement in most states, and the inability of the state to track insurance for every driver, your chances of being hit by an uninsured or under insured are a compelling reason to purchase this coverage. Also, in most cases, a personal injury attorney will not accept your case on a contingency if you do not have this coverage.

Buying insufficient insurance coverage to save a little money on your monthly payment will in most cases come back to haunt you and your family. It is every vehicle owner’s responsibility to make certain that their insurance policy will respond favorably when a simple error results in unintentional property damage and injuries. For an honest assessment of your existing auto insurance policy don’t hesitate to contact us.

What Does an Auto Insurance Policy Cover

What Does an Auto Insurance Policy Cover?

What Does an Auto Insurance Policy CoverIn every U.S. state, if you own a vehicle, you must purchase liability insurance that will pay for injury expenses and property damage expenses if you are in an at-fault accident. The state where you reside will also set minimum acceptable limits. More often than not, these minimum limits fall short of being practical and the vehicle owner can be at risk of paying out of pocket in the event of a moderate to serious loss. Personal auto insurance is written as a package policy which can be built based on the consumer’s needs.

Bodily Injury Liability

This is part of the mandatory coverage required in each state. The coverage pays for injuries caused by the at-fault driver up to the limits selected. Most states have low minimums which can fall short of being practical. The suggested amount to carry is $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The limits are listed and spoken about as 25/50, 50/100 or 100/300 as recommended.

Property Damage Liability

This is also part of a state’s mandatory coverage. Most states require only $25,000 which will fall short if your at-fault accident involves a more expensive vehicle or if the accident involves more than one vehicle. The suggested amount to carry is $100,000.
This coverage limit is the 3rd number listed such as 100/300/100.

Personal Injury Protection

This coverage is only offered in states that have some type of “No-Fault” law. It is designed to pay up to the limit of the policy for the insured’s injuries no matter who is at fault in the accident.

Uninsured/Under insured Liability

This is an optional coverage offered to protect the not at-fault driver if the at-fault driver is uninsured or under insured (carries a lower limit policy). In many states it can be purchased for bodily injury and property damage.

Medical Payments

What Does an Auto Insurance Policy CoverThis is also an optional coverage but should be purchased by every driver. This coverage acts as an “accident insurance policy” that pays up to the limit if you or any other occupant of your car is injured in an accident. The limit applies per person, not per accident. It is often used to fill the gaps created by deductibles and copays.

Comprehensive & Collision Coverage

Although considered optional, if your vehicle is financed, the lender will require this coverage since it is designed to cover the vehicle which is used as collateral for the loan. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that was caused by an event other than a crash such as theft, vandalism or hitting an animal. Collision coverage pays for the cost of repairs as a result of an accident with another vehicle.

Other Optional Coverages

Other optional coverages to consider are roadside service reimbursement and rental reimbursement.

When considering your purchase of an auto insurance package that is right for you, ask the agent as many “what-if” questions as you can think of to give yourself the opportunity to protect yourself and your vehicle adequately. We will be glad to assist you in analyzing your auto insurance coverage and see if it is covering all the “what ifs” adequately.

How can I save on Auto Insurance?

5 Ways to Save on Car Insurance

animaatjes-mini-cooper-69825There are television ads everywhere that proclaim if you give them 15 minutes, you can save $300 (or whatever) on your car insurance. Maybe they will or maybe the won’t. Insurance rates do not change very frequently but discount programs do, and this is a very good reason to shop your business yearly. The following is a list of some tips to help you take advantage of discounts and thereby lower your auto insurance premium:

Defensive Driver Course – If this is an option we recommend taking the course. It will teach you some good driving habits and save you on your premium expense.

Collision Deductible – purchase the $1,000 deductible level and you will save about $50 to $60 per vehicle. Raising the comprehensive deductible will save money as well but it is not recommended because this coverage pays for damage other than accident like broken windshield, hail damage, hitting an animal or having your car ”keyed”.

Rental reimbursement – decline this coverage if you own more than one vehicle. If you are hit by another vehicle, the at-fault driver’s insurance must reimburse you for car rental.

Bundle your Business – many of the major carriers will offer substantial discounts when you have multiple policies such as auto & home, auto & renters or auto and life. Always take advantage of these discounts as they are usually substantial.

Pay in Full – This discount, usually around 10% is very significant. One of the major expenses for an insurance company is sending out monthly statements, cancel notices for late payments, and reinstatement notices after a payment is received. By paying in full, the company will reward you with this substantial discount.

Liability coverage – this is probably the one area you don’t want to be “cheap” — especially if you own a home and or have valuable assets. If you end up getting sued and you have inadequate liability coverage, I guarantee you that their lawyer will go after every single asset you and your family owns.

Beware – many times the savings you see is because the coverage amounts for certain “insurable events” are lower than recommended. Insurance is designed to help you keep your savings and paycheck when something bad happens, i.e. an accident. If $300/year ends up costing you THOUSANDS because of the “limitations” that the $300 in savings earned you, is it really a savings? NuAlliance Insurance Group will be glad to give you an honest assessment of your current auto insurance policy so you can make an informed educated decision.

What are Insurance Companies Doing to Transfer More Costs to the Homeowner?

How homeowners insurance policies make you pay more upfront before they ever pay a claim.

Have you noticed lately that cartons of ice cream or frozen yogurt have gotten a little smaller? This is a marketing trick that many manufacturers are using to help keep the retail prices down. Give them less for the same price, who’s the wiser? You may be interested to know that many insurance companies are using the same method to keep their rates competitive and affordable. This little known stunt is becoming especially popular in coastal states because of the exposure to windstorms. You will also find it getting popular in areas that suffer severe hailstorms. The insurance companies are actually using two different (and sometimes combined) methods for reducing their risk.

wind damage to roof wind deductiblesWind & Hail Deductibles – In areas where windstorm and hail is the norm, you will most likely be presented with a higher deductible for these perils. This is usually listed on your policy as a percentage of the dwelling coverage. For example, having a 1% deductible seems negligent at first, but if the dwelling amount is $350,000, that will translate to a $3,500 deductible on your wind or hail claim. That is a substantial out of pocket burden to carry. I find it interesting that this is not very conspicuous on your quote or declarations page. Protect yourself by asking about the deductibles before committing to a purchase.

Roof Surface Endorsement – this is something that raised its ugly head in 2012. A few of the major insurance companies are placing an endorsement (coverage change) on their policies that reduce the valuation of a wind or hail claim on the roof surface by using a depreciation scale. If, for example, your 10 year old roof needs replacing after a wind or hail storm, the insurance company is going to pay the value of a 10 year old roof, not a new roof. This is referred to as “actual cash value” and could leave you paying thousands of dollars to have your roof replaced. And remember, that 1 or 2% deductible comes right off the top before they depreciate the value of your roof.

It is very interesting that lenders are not screaming about this issue. They are lending money on a very expensive asset that is not being insured to value. It surprises me that they are not demanding a 100% replacement cost policy.

Have these been sneaked into your policy? Have you had the coverage for years? I HIGHLY recommend you look at your most recent policy that was mailed to you and see what riders and exemptions exist. If you need help with that, contact us. We will be glad to let you know what homeowners insurance coverage you actually have.

The Most Important Coverages for your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy to Contain

Most homeowner’s insurance policies are written as a package policy. By this I mean, there is a specific amount of coverage for the dwelling (house) and all other coverage is a percentage of that amount.

In other words, if the dwelling amount (coverage A) is $300,000, the contents are usually 50% or $150,000 and other structures is 10% or $30,000. There are however, three important topics that you want to consider when purchasing a homeowner’s hazard insurance policy.

Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value

How the structure or contents are valued is a key part of the policy. Replacement cost valuation means that you would receive new for old. If your home or personal belongings are damaged as the result of a covered peril (fire, wind, hail or burglary) then you would be reimbursed for what it would cost to replace or repair those items at today’s cost. Actual Cash Value valuation means that for the same type of claim you would be reimbursed for the depreciated cost of the items. For example, if your air conditioning unit were damaged due to a lightning strike, you would want the unit to be replaced with a new one, not a used one that is the age of the damaged unit. Many insurance agents today, who are trying to offer the lowest price, will quote a policy with an “Actual Cash Value” valuation on contents since the rate is lower. This should be avoided since you are unlikely to be happy getting reimbursed for anything at the depreciated value. You are not likely going to want a used air conditioner if yours is damaged by a lightning strike. The same thing goes for the roof of your home down to your clothes.

Wind and Hail Deductible

wind deductable homeowners insurance coverageMost insurance companies today have a separate deductible amount for wind and hail than for all other perils. This can be confusing to the buyer since the wind/hail deductible is usually stated as a percentage of the dwelling amount. So then, if your home is insured for $300,000 and you have a 1% deductible, then the first $3,000 of the wind/hail claim is coming out of your pocket. Many insurance agents skim over this quickly when discussing coverages as this is what is normal in the market place in many states. In Florida for example, the wind/hail deductible may be quoted as high as 5% to get the rate down but this would be ridiculous in a state that sees few hurricanes or hail storms each year. Make sure you ask about this since it is the last thing you want is to find out about it when you are getting your roof repaired.

Water Backup

Another coverage that is overlooked by the consumer is water backup. Most policies do not contain this coverage and it must be endorsed onto the policy. Water backup coverage responds when water backs up into your home as the result of the city’s water or sewer lines failing. This is usually more common in older neighborhoods where the infrastructure is out dated. It can be a very messy and expensive situation which would be covered by your insurance if you paid an extra $50 or $75 per year for the coverage.

Your home is usually the most expensive purchase in your lifetime. It doesn’t make sense not to take the time to be informed when insuring it. So when getting quotes for homeowners insurance ask the right questions and don’t be focused on just the cost — focus on truly replacing your home for just about any contingency.