Monthly Archives: July 2012

What is no-fault insurance?

In states with no-fault insurance victims of automobile accidents are compensated by their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident.  No attempt is made to determine fault.  This is different from the traditional insurance coverage where the party at fault is primarily responsible for paying the costs of an accident, either individually or through his or her insurance company.  In certain circumstances, though, victims can sue the other party; the limitations vary among no-fault states.

No fault programs are designed to reduce the cost of auto insurance by reducing claims and litigation.  About one-half of the states have enacted some type of no fault or auto insurance reform legislation.  No-fault insurance laws vary widely, so you should check with your insurance commissioner’s office or an insurance agent for requirements in your state.  If part of your coverage is based on no-fault laws, find out if it covers you when you drive in other states.

What is auto insurance?

An auto insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurance company.  You pay a premium.  In exchange, the insurance company promises to pay for specific car-related financial losses, within the selected coverage limits, that you may have during the term of the agreement.

Most states require that you carry automobile liability insurance in certain minimum amounts.  If you are at fault in an accident the law requires that you pay the damages sustained by the person who is not at fault.  These can include property damage, which is the cost to repair or replace any property that you have damaged.  These can also include damages for personal injuries, which include not only the other person’s medical expenses and lost wages but also damages for pain and suffering, permanent injury, and loss of enjoyment of life.  These damages can come to thousands of dollars even for a minor accident.  That’s why adequate insurance is essential to your economic health.

More on SR22

An SR22 is not actually an insurance policy as it is often referred to as SR22 insurance. An SR22 is an add-on to a traditional auto insurance policy often called an SR22 form or SR22 certificate that your insurance provider will provide you with as proof of coverage that is then filed with the DMV.

An SR22 filing will be required by the DMV in order to reinstate a driver’s license that has been suspended or revoked due to a number of reasons such as DUI, DWI, being involved in an accident without proof of insurance or too many traffic violations within a certain period of time.

After your suspension period is up you will need to apply for an auto insurance policy with an SR22 form add-on. Your SR22 insurance policy provider will either give you a copy of the SR22 form to file at the DMV office when you go down to reinstate your driver’s license or they will perform the SR22 filing directly with the DMV themselves so that you don’t have to be involved in the process.

It should be noted that not every insurance company will perform SR22 filings; you may find that an insurance company that you have used for years will not provide you with coverage because of your SR22 requirement. Not to worry, we can help you find an insurance carrier who does SR22 filings.

While the laws vary from state to state regarding SR22 filings, most states will require you to carry the SR22 for three years. If at anytime during the three-year period there is a lapse in your insurance coverage, your insurance provider is required by law, due to the SR22 filing to inform the DMV of the lapse in coverage.

The DMV will then send you a letter in the mail letting you know that your driver’s license has once again been suspended. If this happens you will have to pay any outstanding premiums due to your insurance company and then you will have to go through the SR22 filing process all over again in order to reinstate your license.

What Happens to My SR22 if I Move out of State

Lets say that you currently live in Colorado where you currently have an SR22 filing and the minimum liability coverage limits are 25k/50k/15k and you are going to move to California where the minimum liability limits are 15k/30k/5k.

Even though you are moving out of Colorado, you will still be required to complete your SR22 filing period in Colorado and your new insurance policy in California must meet the Colorado minimum liability limits. Failure to meet the state minimum liability limits where your SR22 is filed will result in your license being suspended.

Can I Switch Insurance Carriers While I Have An SR22 Filing

You may switch insurance carriers during your SR22 filing period, but the important thing to remember is that if there is any lapse in your coverage, even for one day your license will be suspended.

If you want to switch insurance companies, what you’re going to want to do is to get your new insurance policy enforce and have your new insurance company complete the SR22 filing with the DMV office before you cancel your old policy.

What Happens if I Get Stopped by the Police during My SR22 Requirement Period

When the officer asks you for your driver’s license, registration and insurance, you will also need to give the officer a copy of your SR22 form. So it is important that you keep a copy of the SR22 form in your vehicle at all times during the required filing period. Failure to provide proof of your SR22 filing to the officer can result in increased fines or possibly a license suspension.

Additional SR22 Considerations

The most important thing to remember is that during your SR22 requirement period you want to avoid any lapse in your SR22 insurance policy at all costs. Causing a lapse in your coverage is just one additional headache you don’t need.

We strongly recommend trying to pay your insurance premiums every 6 months to 12 months as a way to lessen the chance of a lapse in coverage. If you are financially unable to pay for 6 to 12 months of insurance premiums in advance, you will at least want to setup some sort of a system to help you avoid causing a lapse in coverage.

Say for instance, if your premium is due on the 15th of every month, you can make sure that it is paid by the 5th of every month. Any thing you can do to avoid a lapse in coverage will help to give you the peace of mind you deserve and hopefully allow you to sleep better at night.

SR22 Insurance

An SR-22 Filing is a document or electronic certification issued by an auto insurance company that verifies to the state that you have an auto insurance policy with the state minimum liability limits.  If you are required to maintain this filing, you will be notified by the state.

An SR-22 is a financial responsibility certification that is sometimes required for high risk auto insurance customers by the state Department of Motor Vehicles or Public Safety after you have been involved in an accident with no auto insurance, or if an accident is due to excessive driving violations on your part.

The Ryan Hayes Insurance Brokerage (RHIB) can help you:

  • Obtain the proper documentation
  • Purchase an affordable auto insurance policy
  • Get back out on the road

How long are SR-22 Filings Required?

This can vary by state and by severity of the offense.  The typical requirement is three years.  If you cancel your policy prior to the termination date, the Insurance Company is obligated to file an SR-26 notifying the state that you no longer have insurance.

SR-22 Filings from RHIB

We provide SR-22 Filings in most states.  Simply indicate that an SR-22 Filing is needed while getting your free quote.  The SR-22 insurance form will be included with your policy documents after you have applied for and purchased your auto insurance policy online.  You can literally have your SR-22 form in a matter of minutes.

** Please note that RHIB can only file an SR-22 in the state where your auto insurance policy has been issued.

Boating Safety

Some people assume their homeowner’s policy is all they need to protect their boat. Not true.

Own a Boat? Get Insured.

Typically, homeowner’s policies have limited coverage for boats and may not cover injuries or accidents while you’re on the water. To make sure you’re covered for boat injuries, theft and damage, buy a boat insurance policy.

Boats Need TLC, Too

Tune-ups aren’t just for cars. When you’re out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a fire extinguisher and keep it charged. Have your boat’s operating systems checked at least once a year by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.

Are You Experienced?

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 90% of reported fatalities in 2008 happened on boats where the driver had not received boating safety training. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You also can save up to 15 percent on your Safeco boat policy by completing a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.

Life Preservers Aren’t Just for Kids

Hundreds of people drown in boating accidents every year—and nearly all of them were not wearing a life jacket. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board—you must wear them. In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to adults, not just children: more people in their 30s die in boating accidents than any other age group. New lighter, more comfortable and attractive life jackets are available today, making it even easier to get passengers to suit up.

Carbon Monoxide Kills in Minutes

Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Turn off your engine when there are people in the water, and don’t let passengers “ski” by holding on to the back of the boat. You also can install a carbon monoxide detector for your boat for less than $100.

Protect Against Identity Theft

Your Identity Belongs to You. Protect It, Too.

One smart way to protect yourself against identity theft is to prevent it. If your identity is stolen, you’ll be able to lessen problems by acting quickly.

Start with Good Habits

  • Print out the .pdf of this information, and store in a convenient place
  • Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place
  • Shred papers with personal information
  • Reduce your credit card accounts, and carry only the cards you need
  • Write checks with a permanent pen, and mail from a secure place
  • Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store safely

Watch Your Accounts Closely

  • Review balances and transactions often by phone or online
  • Make sure every transaction on your credit card statements is accurate
  • Take advantage of free credit reports (see sidebar) and watch for unusual activity
  • Sign up with Experian, Transunion, and Equifax and stagger your requests to get a free credit report every four months or sign up for credit watch services which will report directly to you for a fee

Fill Out the FTC Affidavit Quickly

  • The FTC Theft Affidavit supplies proof that you didn’t authorize any accounts opened or debts run up by the identity thief
  • New accounts need this FTC affidavit form to investigate the fraud and process your claim
  • Call your existing accounts for instructions on disputing unauthorized charges as other forms may be needed
  • Keep originals of the affidavit, and all supporting materials such as driver’s license or police report. Send copies only.
  • Send quickly—many creditors request that you send the affidavit within two weeks

Keep This Information Handy

Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Line and websites: 1-877-438-4338

Social Security Administration Fraud Line: 1-800-269-0271

Credit Reporting Agencies Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian: 1-888-397-3742

Transunion: 1-800-680-7289

Identity Theft Plan

  1. Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
  2. Call and report to the police. Make several copies of police report.
  3. Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (see contact information above to request these forms).
  4. Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number and Social Security Number, and freeze your account.
  5. Call fraud units of credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Recreational Vehicle Safety Tips

Avoid any delays and unexpected problems when you take your recreational vehicle out for what should be a relaxing trip. Follow some of our suggestions below, and consider investing in some maintenance and safety classes to help ensure happy travels.

Take Care of Your Tires

  • When you’re not traveling, keep tires covered to protect them from the sun and weather.
  • Make sure you check your tire pressure before setting out on the road, especially when they’re cold.
  • Consult the owner’s manual for proper inflation, and never exceed the maximum pressure indicated on the tire’s sidewalls.

Weigh Your RV and Tow Vehicle

To know if weight is properly distributed and that you are within legal weight, be sure to find a certified platform scale and get weighed. Have the vehicle fully loaded with passengers, cargo, fuel, personal belongings, full fresh water and propane tanks to get an accurate weight.

Understand Propane and Gas Systems

Have the propane and gas systems inspected every spring for leaks and proper appliance operating pressure. Be sure you know how your RV alerts you to leaks, and know what to do if one occurs. Here’s some easy things to do if you smell gas/propane:

  1. Extinguish any open flames and pilot lights.
  2. Do not touch electrical switches.
  3. Shut off gas supply at the tank valve(s) or gas supply connection.
  4. Open the doors and windows and leave until the smell clears.
  5. Have the gas system checked and repaired by a qualified technician before using again.

Use the Onboard Generator Sparingly

The onboard generator gives you extra power when there’s no shore power available, but be wary of carbon monoxide.

  • Never sleep with the generator running, and before you start the generator inspect the exhaust system.
  • Test the carbon monoxide detector, and know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning so you can watch out for it.

Lowering the Cost of RV Insurance

Insurance might be a necessity, but spending lots of money on it isn’t. We know that you’d rather be mapping out your next destination instead of worrying about your bank balance, so read our recommendations below and start saving.

Splurge on Souvenirs Instead of Insurance

  • Safety saves Not only is it smart, but a clean, safe driving record can also lower your rates. The safety equipment you choose for a vehicle may mean discounts. Ask your agent about other ways to be rewarded for safe driving and vehicle protection (such as off-street parking, anti-theft devices and more). In addition, taking a driver-training or accident-prevention course may qualify you for additional discounts.
  • One company + combined policies = lower costThe more policies you have with a company (car, home, etc.), the more substantial the savings. Talk to an agent about combining your insurance policies.
  • More expensive recreational vehicle = more expensive insurance Before you buy a recreational vehicle, motorhome, fifth-wheel or pop-up camper, check with your agent to see what it will cost to insure it. Expensive vehicles cost more to repair, maintain and insure.
  • Increase your deductible By raising the amount you pay out-of-pocket for losses, you can save more on your policy. Contact us to explain the trade-offs.

Lowering the Cost of Motorcycle Insurance

Simple steps can lead to savings. Spending less money is much easier than perfecting your tight turns at high speeds on a gravel road. Take a look at our suggestions below for simple ways to lower your motorcycle insurance costs.

Ride More. Worry Less.

  • More expensive motorcycle = more expensive insurance
    Before you buy a motorcycle, check with your agent to see what it will cost to insure it. Expensive bikes cost more to repair, maintain and insure. The safety equipment you select may also save you money.
  • Increase your deductible
    By raising the amount you pay out-of-pocket for losses, you can save more on your motorcycle insurance policy. Ask your agent to explain the trade-offs.
  • One company + combined policies = lower cost
    The more policies you have with a company (car, home, etc.), the more substantial the savings. Learn more about your motorcycle insurance coverage options.
  • Safety saves
    You may be able to save money on your premium if your motorcycle is stored in a garage, if you belong to certain rider groups, or if you’ve taken a safe rider course sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Motorcycle Safety

You’re no kid and that’s no 10-speed. To stay safe, you need complete command of your machine and the best safety gear you can get. We also have some helpful tips to keep in mind as you’re heading for the highway.

Be Prepared and Protected

  • New Gear? Update Your Policy
    Your Safeco motorcycle policy covers up to $3,000 in custom parts and equipment—but you have to make sure each piece of equipment is listed on your policy. Any time you buy new leathers or safety equipment or customize your bike, update our customer care professionals before you head out on the highway.
  • Training saves
    One out of four motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006 were driving with invalid licenses.* Safeco offers discounts to riders who attend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’ssafe riding courses or are active in one of 10 approved groups that promote safe riding. Do both those things and you can reduce your premium by up to 10 percent.
  • No one’s too old to wear a helmet
    A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is forty percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury in a crash than a rider without a helmet.* A National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationstudy reports that “helmets saved 1,658 motorcyclists’ lives in 2006, and that 752 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”* Buy a full-face helmet for the best protection for your head and eyes. Wear other protective gear as well: heavy leather or synthetic gloves, long pants and jacket, and over-the-ankle leather boots.
  • In a crash, the SUV wins
    When cars and motorcycles collide, it’s usually because the driver of the car failed to see the cyclist. With more SUVs on the road, it’s even more critical to take extra steps to become more visible. Use your headlamps—both night and day—and wear yellow, red or orange jackets to make yourself easy to see. Make a point of positioning yourself in your lane for visibility.
  • Ride sober
    Driving impaired is more deadly for cyclers than other drivers. In fact, more than half of all motorcycle deaths occur when the rider has been drinking.*

* Source: NHTSA’s 2008 Traffic Safety report on Motorcycles.