Monthly Archives: July 2012

5 Auto Insurance Tips To Help You Save Money

1. Know Your Coverage Types

What is your car insurance actually insuring? Although you’re buying a single insurance policy covering a specific vehicle, a number of components make up the final cost:

  • Bodily injury liability: Covers injury and death claims against you, and legal costs, if your car injures or kills someone.
  • Property damage liability: Covers claims for property that your car damages in an accident. Because liability coverage protects the other party, it is required in all but three states.
  • Medical payments: Pays for injuries to yourself and to occupants of your car. This is optional in some states. In “no-fault” states, personal injury protection replaces medical payments as part of the basic coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist protection: Covers injuries caused to you or the occupants of your car by uninsured or hit-and-run drivers. “Under-insured” coverage also is available, to cover claims you may make against a driver who has inadequate insurance. In some states, as many as 30 percent of drivers are uninsured.
  • Collision coverage: Covers damage to your car up to its book value. Collision coverage carries a deductible, which is the amount per claim you have to pay before the insurance takes effect. The lower the deductible, the higher the premium. While it is legally optional, a lending institution or leasing company usually requires collision coverage.
  • Comprehensive (physical damage): Covers damage to your car from theft, vandalism, fire, wind, flood, and other non-accident causes. Comprehensive also carries a deductible.

 

2. Your Vehicle Affects Your Premium

­Y­ou might want a sports car or a fancy SUV, but your insurance company may charge you more to protect you while driving it.

Insurance premiums are based partly on the price of the vehicle, which affects the replacement cost if it is stolen or “totaled” in an accident. How expensive the vehicle is to repair — including parts and labor — can also affect the cost. In addition, surcharges may apply to vehicles that are frequently stolen or involved in accidents.

Industry-wide information on injury claims, collision repair costs, and theft rates by vehicle model is available from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). You can write them at 1005 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22201. HLDI is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

According to HLDI, the lowest injury claims are from large vehicles — cars, pickup trucks, and sport-utility vehicles. Small 2- and 4-door cars have the highest injury claims. Small cars also are among the highest in collision costs, along with sports cars.

If you have your heart set on a sporty vehicle, you’ll probably pay dearly. Insuring a high-performance car can easily cost two or three times the insurance amount for an ordinary model.

Sport-utility vehicles, the hottest market segment, often have higher insurance rates than mid- and full-size cars, but some SUV models are relatively cheap to insure. SUVs are “hot” for other reasons: They are among the most frequently stolen vehicles, and they are more expensive than most cars. Cadillac’s Escalade is currently the most popular model sought by thieves, but it’s followed by the Nissan Maxima sedan. SUVs also can cost more to fix after an accident if the 4-wheel-drive system is damaged.

However, insurance companies set rates based on their own experience. If Company A has more collision and theft claims for a particular vehicle than Company B, then A will charge more for the same coverage. It all boils down to a company’s actual experience with a particular vehicle or category of drivers. That is why it pays to shop around for insurance.

 

3. Who You Are Affects Your Premium

Factors that you can least control may have the greatest impact on your insurance costs. Your age, gender, and driving record are key factors that affect your insurance premium.

Single males under the age of 25 pay the highest rates. Statistics show they are involved in the most accidents, so insurance companies charge young men higher premiums than women of the same age. Married men, who statistically have fewer accidents, pay less than single men. A handful of states do not allow rates based on sex or age, but that prohibition has tended to result in higher rates for women, not lower rates for men.

If you are convicted of moving traffic violations or of causing an accident, your premiums will likely go up, no matter what your age. Drivers with clean records — no tickets, no accidents — pay the lowest rates.

Where you live also plays a big role in how much you pay. Urban areas, with their greater population densities and heavier traffic, get higher rates than rural areas. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average insurance expenditure in mainly urban New Jersey — traditionally the most expensive state — in 2002 was more than double that of North Dakota, a rural state with the lowest average premiums. High costs in states such as Florida, Massachusetts and New York are attributed to growth in fraud and theft.

In most states, too, insurers set rates by zip codes. If you live in a major city like Chicago or Los Angeles, you will probably pay more than if you lived in a nearby suburb.

 

4. Decide How Much Coverage You Need

While it is dangerous to be underinsured, having too much insurance can be an expensive mistake as well. Without insurance, your property is put at risk in an accident that is your fault. The minimum amount of insurance required in your state is seldom enough.

State law may require as little liability coverage as $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5000 property damage. About half of the states require $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Half of them require $10,000 in property damage coverage. If you can afford it, buy more than the minimum. After all, $10,000 for property damage may not be enough if you hit a $100,000 Mercedes-Benz.

The more assets and income you have, the more insurance you need. Most insurers recommend liability coverage of at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 property damage if you have assets to protect, such as a house. Some insurers also recommend a $1 million “personal liability umbrella” policy issued in conjunction with homeowner’s coverage. State Farm reports that such coverage averages $270 a year, but the amount varies significantly depending on location and other factors. An “umbrella” policy could protect a family from financial ruin in a major lawsuit.

Like buying a car, there is no single best solution when it comes to buying insurance. Rates vary widely. Surveys suggest that you could pay anywhere from $500 to $2000 annually for the same coverage from different companies. Shop for insurance by consulting two or three of the largest insurers, such as State Farm and Allstate. Then, contact one or two independent agents who can quote premiums from more than one company. In addition, there are direct-marketing companies, such as GEICO and Progressive, which do business over the phone rather than through agents and offer some of the lowest rates. Ask for an itemized list of coverages and costs.

“We’re price-competitive,” said spokesperson Dick Luedke of State Farm, whose rates dropped somewhat during 2004. But with so many factors involved in setting rates, it’s wise to check several prospects.

In 2004, the average price of auto insurance nationwide was $871, according to the Insurance Information Institute. They expected that the cost of auto insurance would rise by 3.5 percent in 2004, which would be the smallest increase in four years.

Don’t forget the Internet. Many companies now offer online quotes, and insurance shopping on the Web allows you to compare rates from multiple providers in the comfort of your own home.

 

5. You Can Reduce Your Premiums

­The biggest difference you can make is to buy a vehicle that qualifies for a discount or at least doesn’t carry a surcharge. Ask your insurance agent about the cost of insuring vehicles you are interested in before you make your purchase decision. Here are several other ways that you can save money on your car insurance:

  • Most companies give a break to those who drive less than 7500 miles a year. If you take public transportation instead of driving to work, your premium will go down. Out of the question? Try carpooling.
  • Make sure you get all the discounts you are entitled to. You might qualify if your vehicle has an alarm, for example. Discounts used to be given for such safety features as airbags, but they’re fading away as those items become more commonplace. Discounts might also be available if you insure your vehicles and your home with the same company. People who pass a defensive-driving course or don’t smoke or drink often get discounts.
  • Review the status of all the drivers in your family with your agent. Most discounts apply only to one portion of the policy, so don’t expect dramatic savings.
  • Increase your deductible for collision and comprehensive. Switching from a $100 deductible to $1000 can reduce the collision portion of your premium by 30 percent, said Luedke. You’ll still be covered for catastrophes, but you foot the bill for fender-benders. Also, think twice about filing small claims with your insurance: Why risk a premium increase?
  • Shop around. Instead of just renewing, study the fine print of your policy to see if its terms — or your situation — have changed. Another company might have better rates, but you won’t know unless you shop. Most insurers give rates over the phone and many via online computer services, making it easy to compare premiums.
  • Drop collision coverage on older cars. Claims are limited to “book” value, so you’re not likely to get much anyway if you car is more than seven years old. A good rule of thumb is to drop collision when the annual premium reaches 10 percent of your car’s value.
  • Be a good driver. Avoid accidents and traffic violations and you will be rewarded with good-driver discounts. Bad driving is expensive. The “safer you can be” on the road, Luedke said, “the lower your premiums.”
  • Drop coverage for such extras as towing costs or the expense of renting a car while yours is in the shop. The savings are probably small, but your new-car warranty’s roadside assistance provision may provide them at no cost.
  • Have your teenager share the family car instead of owning his or her own. Be sure to tell your agent if your son or daughter makes the honor roll or moves away to college. Both qualify for discounts with most companies.
  • If your group health insurance provides generous coverage, consider dropping the medical-payments portion of your policy.
  • Keep your credit rating healthy. A growing number of insurers are considering a person’s credit score when setting rates.

Auto Insurance Discounts, Tips and Facts

Posted below is some information to better prepare you in your search for lowest auto insurance rates.

Choosing an Insurance Deductible that fits you financially:

With most insurance policies, a higher deductible will indeed lower the premium rate. However, It is a good idea to choose a deductible amount you can easily have available to you in the event a claim must be made.

When Car Shopping Meets Insurance:

To make sure you can get a low cost car insurance rate on the next car you buy, compare insurance rates before making the purchase. Insurance premiums can vary by hundreds depending on the type of car you buy. Some cars are considered dangerous, unsafe while others may be known to have a higher theft risk.

Ask a local insurance company about available discounts.

For a lower rate you may also want to ask the insurance providers about driving courses you can take for additional discounts. There are a couple companies who give you the option to watch a 30 minute safety video for up to a 10% off you auto insurance premium.

The Cheapest Auto Insurance Is Paid In Full

Last but not least, try to extend your payment intervals by 6 months or even a year. Like most products and services, the more you can pay up front, the more you will be able to save.

California Auto Insurance Information

The Ryan Hayes Insurance Brokerage (RHIB) is pleased to provide auto insurance in California.  We offer low cost auto insurance online even if you have a less than perfect driving record, have never been insured before, have let your policy lapse, or have had your coverage suspended or revoked.

We’ve provided some information below that we hope will be helpful in answering some of the more common questions we’ve received from our customers.

Mandatory Minimum Level of Coverage

California’s Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law requires every driver and owner of a motor vehicle to be financially responsible for their actions.  The statutory minimum limits of liability insurance are:

Bodily Injury

- $15,000 for the death or injury of any one person, any one accident
- $30,000 for all persons in any one accident

Property Damage

- $5,000 for any one accident

Consumer Rights/Protections Related to California Auto Insurance

California Proposition 103: In November of 1988, Proposition 103 (Prop.103) was enacted into law by the voters of California.  It provides many consumer protections related to purchasing and maintaining auto insurance.

View the California Proposition 103 Fact Sheet for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding California Auto Insurance

What Happens If I Don’t Carry Auto Insurance?

In California, it’s mandatory to have Proof of Insurance at all times.  Not providing Proof of Insurance when it’s requested may result in a fine or suspended license.  The General® can provide instant Proof of Insurance for California drivers.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Liability Insurance?

Judges can impound the vehicles of frequent, flagrant violators.  If you provide false evidence of auto insurance coverage and your driver’s license is suspended, the suspension cannot be lifted until you demonstrate genuine Proof of Insurance.

When Must You Show Proof of Insurance?

The Legislature passed a law requiring motorists to produce Proof of Insurance before the Department of Motor Vehicles renews vehicle registration.  The legislation also requires motorists to display Proof of Insurance when stopped by a police officer for traffic violations.

How Do I Prove I Have Insurance?

Your insurance company will send you a Proof of Insurance card listing the covered automobiles and drivers and showing the policy number and expiration date.  Your policy or a temporary binder is also acceptable evidence of insurance.

What if you’re currently driving without coverage?

The RHIB in many cases offers almost instant proof of insurance when you buy auto insurance online at our website.

SR-22 Form Information For California

WHAT IS AN SR-22 FORM

An SR-22 form is a document that helps the DMV and the state of California ensure that motorists are financially responsible for their driving. Certain drivers are deemed to be at risk because of past violations (as listed below) and are therefore required to file an SR-22 form with their auto insurance company. The auto insurance company will keep record of the SR-22 as well as providing the motorist and the state DMV with a copy.

In the state of California there are three different types of SR 22 forms:

  1. An Operator’s Policy Certificate which covers the financial responsibility in the case the motorist does not own a vehicle.
  2. An Owner’s Policy Certificate that covers the financial responsibility for vehicles owned by the motorist.
  3. A Broad Coverage Policy Certificate covers financial responsibility for all the vehicles that are owned or not owned by the motorist.

WHEN IS AN SR 22 REQUIRED?

The SR-22 financial responsibility insurance form is required for specific drivers in California. The form(s) may be required for the following reasons:

  1. If you have any safety responsibility suspensions. For example, if you were an uninsured driver and were involved in an accident in the past but did not pay the requisite compensation.
  2. If you have any unsatisfied judgment suspensions. For example, if you, as a driver were involved in an accident in the past and then you had an unsatisfactory judgment entered against you.
  3. If you have a restricted license.
  4. If you have had your license revocated.
  5. For individuals convicted of DUI.

FILING FOR AN SR 22 FORM

  1. Contact a DMV-authorized auto insurance agency or broker to request for a SR-22 filing.
  2. Pay the correct processing fee to the agency. The fee amount may vary between agencies. You can request an insurance quote from our auto insurance page and where we offer quotes from companies who will allow you to request an SR 22 filing automatically. This can all be done online and will often allow you to save on auto insurance rates.
  3. As per the State laws of California, the minimum amount of coverage for one accident should be $15,000 for one person killed or injured, $30,000 for two or more persons killed or injured and $5,000 for property damage.
  4. Upon receiving the request from the agent the central office then sends the SR-22 directly to the DMV in about 30 days.
  5. If accepted, you will receive the SR-22 from the agency along with a letter from the DMV.
  6. The SR-22 has to be maintained for a minimum period of 36 months. If this is not done, the DMV may suspend the driving record of the motorist until the insurance is reinstated.

FOR OUT OF STATE RESIDENTS

In case you move to another state, the requirements of your new state of residence will be applicable to you. Contact your insurance company for more information.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • An amount of $35,000 in cash or as a surety bond may be deposited with the DMV in place of liability insurance.
  • DMV-approved self-insurance is also considered adequate proof of financial responsibility.

Non Standard / High Risk Auto Insurance

What is High Risk Auto Insurance?

Many people have less than perfect driving records. High-risk insurance, or more commonly “Non-Standard” insurance, refers to an auto insurance policy that is given to a high-risk driver. The Ryan Hayes Insurance Brokerage (RHIB) specializes in providing coverage for those drivers who are considered “high risk.”

More people today are categorized as high risk than there were just a decade ago; as a result, non-standard auto insurance policies are much more common. How do you know if you’re considered a “high risk” driver?

  1. If you’ve had your license suspended or revoked and requires an SR-22 policy for reinstatement. The Registry of Motor Vehicles in your state will notify you if you require an SR-22 policy. The RHIB can help you acquire the proper documentation for reinstatement online within minutes.
  2. If you are 70 years old or older. While some insurers view you as “high risk,” The RHIB views you as an experienced driver who deserves an affordable auto insurance policy.
  3. If you are 20 years old or younger. Again, while other insurers view you as “high risk,” The RHIB believes you deserve a fair auto insurance quote and we won’t penalize you because of your age. Instead, we’ll work to customize a policy that fits your insurance needs and your budget- low cost auto insurance made easy.
  4. If you have a history of auto accidents or violations. Other insurers may try to keep you off the road, but The RHIB can give most drivers an auto insurance policy that will keep them insured. We’ll even offer you discount points over time for keeping a clean record and being a cautious driver.

In the past, high risk auto insurance was difficult to come by and usually so costly that few drivers could afford it.  Luckily, The RHIB has helped countless drivers secure affordable high-risk auto insurance. We offer non-standard policies with the same flexible rate plans and outstanding customer service as our standard policies.

Get a free auto insurance quote in 24 hours less and let us help you get on the road, legally.

Suppose I lend my car to a friend: is he/she covered under my automobile insurance policy?

It depends on your coverage.  There are several instances where coverage would not apply to anyone else driving your car (named owner policies, restricted policies, etc).  However, most of the time when you knowingly loan your car to a friend or an associate, he or she will be covered under your automobile insurance policy.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Collision is defined as losses you incur when your automobile collides with another car or object. For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, the damages to your car will be paid under your collision coverage.

Comprehensive provides coverage for most other direct physical damage losses you could incur. For example, damage to your car from a hailstorm will be covered under your comprehensive coverage.

What should I do when renting a car?

The answer to this question is not as easy as it once was.  In the not-too-distant past, most automobile insurance policies would extend coverage to rental cars whenever you rented one.  This is not quite true anymore and coverages now vary widely from company to company and from state to state.  The best way to find out what rental car coverage you have under your automobile policy is to call your insurance company or your agent.

What is liability coverage?

Liability coverage extends to you, your spouse, and any resident family member for the ownership, maintenance, or use of any car, pickup, or van unless specifically restricted by your policy.  Most state laws require that you carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, which pays for injuries or damages you cause to someone else.  (We recommend that you carry much more than the minimum – enough to protect all your assets.)

What are the various types of auto insurance coverage?

The standard private passenger automobile insurance policy affords up to four types of coverage.  These coverages include: Liability Coverage, Medical Payments Coverage, Uninsured Motorist Coverage (Underinsured Motorist Coverage) and Coverage for Damage to Your Auto (Comprehensive and Collision).

Liability coverage protects you from property damage or personal injury claims arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered automobile.  Unless specifically restricted by your policy, you will have coverage while driving any car, pickup, or van so long as you have the owner’s permission to use the vehicle.  A person who is using your car, pickup, or van with your permission will also be covered.  At the time the policy is issued you will choose the limits of liability that you want.  The limits that you select are the most that we will pay in the event of a loss.

Medical payments coverage pays for medical expenses that you, or a family member, incur as the result of an automobile accident.  It also covers persons who are occupying a covered automobile.  At the time the policy is issued you will choose a coverage limit.  The limits that you select are the most that will be paid for each person in connection with a single accident.

Even though liability coverage is advisable and often required, there are many irresponsible people who do not buy insurance.  If an uninsured motorist causes an accident you will not be able to recover any damages that you sustain.  If you purchase uninsured motorist insurance, though, your insurance company will pay you for the property damage and bodily injury caused by an uninsured motorist.  It will cover you, any family member, and anyone occupying a covered automobile.  The limits for this coverage are usually the same limits that you selected for liability, although you can choose lower limits.

There are also times when a person who causes an accident has liability insurance but your damages exceed the limits of that person’s coverage.  In some states underinsured motorist coverage is included in your uninsured motorist coverage.  In other states, you can purchase underinsured motorist insurance which covers your excess losses up to the limit set forth in the policy.

If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, the insurance company will pay for damage to a covered automobile regardless of fault.  Most banks and finance companies require you to maintain comprehensive and collision coverage on your car if it is financed.