Big Boy Toys and Auto Insurance

Someone once said that boys never give up their toys when they get older. They just get bigger and more expensive! Boats, jet-skis, motorcycles, dirt bikes, and ATVs are all vehicles, but are not all treated the same way when it comes to insurance. Here is a quick rundown on what you need to know about these various “toys” and how to insure them.

Motorcycles

Motorcycles are treated much like automobiles when it comes to insurance. Every state, except New Hampshire, requires liability insurance on motorcycles driven on the highways. State minimums are stated in three numerals, for example, 25/50/10. In this example, it would reference $25,000 bodily injury protection per person, $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident and $10,000 property damage liability. Motorcycle insurance is generally much less expensive than automobile insurance especially in cold weather states where bikes may be stored seasonally. If you have a loan on your motorcycle, it is likely your lender will require full coverage.

Boats

If you have a canoe or a non-engine powered watercraft, it is likely covered by your homeowners insurance. For powered boats, however, you will want additional coverage under your homeowners’ insurance policy. At the very least, you will want sufficient protection should your boat be involved in an accident that causes injuries or property damage. If you have financed your boat, your lender may require full coverage.

Jet-Skis

Sold under brand names like WaveRunner, SeaDoo and Jet-Ski, these powered personal watercraft should be insured beyond the minimal coverage that may be provided by automobile or homeowners’ insurance. Separate coverage will help make sure you are sufficiently protected for injuries or property damage that may occur during usage.

ATVs and Dirt Bikes

Some states require insurance on these vehicles if they are used on public lands but may waive the requirement if only used on private property. Some homeowners insurance policies may also provide some minimum coverage. You should contact your insurance agent when considering the purchase of a dirt bike or ATV.

It may also be helpful to know that these vehicles may be at least partially covered by your automobile insurance while they are being towed. It is when they are independently operated you may have bigger concerns. Feel free to contact your independent insurance agent when considering adding any motorized vehicle to your garage.

Car Insurance FAQ’s

What you don’t know about auto insurance can be costly. Here are some of the questions we hear most often from those seeking coverage or comparing rates.

Am I Required to Carry Auto Insurance by Law?

Every state has some form of financial responsibility law or law that requires drivers to have automobile insurance. You are not required to have full coverage, however, each state has minimum levels of coverage that are mandated for liability coverage.

If I File a Claim on My Auto Insurance, Will My Premiums Go Up?

Not necessarily. Your premiums will likely not increase if you are not at fault or if damage is minimum. It may increase if you are cited for an at-fault accident that causes significant damage or injuries.

What is High Risk Insurance?

Sometimes referred to as “non-standard insurance” in the industry, high risk auto insurance is for drivers who have been determined to pose a higher risk of becoming involved in an automobile accident. This may be due to repeated traffic offenses, too many points on a driving record or even getting a DUI. High risk auto insurance is significantly more expenses than an average policy.

Does Auto Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?

Typically, automobile insurance follows the car not the person. This, however, may change depending on the policy and circumstances.

Does My Car Make & Model Affect Premiums?

Absolutely. Cars have different safety features, ratings, values, engines and other features that will impact rates. The cars age and likelihood of theft can also make a difference. 

Can Comparing Auto Insurance Rates Actually Save Me Money?

It may be the single best way to save on car insurance premiums. Differing companies offer rates that can vary widely. Others offer a variety of discounts. The best way to find out if you are over-spending on car insurance is to compare.

As an independent insurance agency, we have relationships with multiple companies. Our agents will go in search of the coverage you deserve at a price you can feel comfortable with. If you have any automobile insurance questions not covered here, or would like a free auto insurance review or price quote, we invite you to contact us. Let us do the shopping for you.

Seven Steps to Become a Better Driver Tomorrow

Whether we’ve been driving 5 years or fifty years, we all tend to think we are pretty good at it. After all, our family isn’t likely to be honest with us about it and the guy behind us probably has let his feelings known, we just may have missed it. The fact is, the safer we drive, the less accidents we will likely be involved in. The fewer accidents, the less we may be able to pay for our car insurance. Ready to start saving? Here are seven steps you can take today to become a better driver tomorrow.

  1. Intend to Drive Safely

We are all in such a hurry. We get in our car, check the mirror, crank it up and away we go. We never give safety a thought. Before leaving, take a few seconds and make a conscious decision to have a good, smooth and safe trip. There is nothing more important to do during your trip than paying attention to the road, other drivers and your driving.

  1. Remember, Driving is Not a Video Game

It is not about seeing how close you can get to that guy who pulled out in front of you or speeding up to stop someone from passing you. Accidents can be time consuming, costly and dangerous. If you think you are having a bad day because you got cut off, imagine how much worse it will be spending the next 90 minutes while a police report is being filled out.

  1. Use Your Blinkers

It really isn’t that hard. Use your blinkers when changing lanes and turning. When turning, blinkers should precede braking.

  1. Consider an Online Defensive Driving Course

We know that guy in font of you could use one. Maybe you could benefit as well.

  1. Drive Smoothly

Driving smoothly means accelerating and braking without rattling your passengers. We’ve all met that guy who couldn’t wait to get to that next light…at that next light.

  1. Put the Phone Down

Yes, its hard. Yes, there’s a million reasons you should check that text. Do what you would tell your kids to do.

  1. Obey Traffic Laws

Stop signs are not suggestions. Roundabouts have rules. Yellow lights don’t necessarily mean “hurry, hurry.” At the very least make sure that if you do get in an accident, you are not the one cited.

Besides driving safer, the first step to saving on car insurance is comparing rates. Our independent insurance agents can do the work for you. They can compare rates among multiple companies. You choose the coverage best for you. Contact us today.

How Some Famous Movie Cars Would Be Insured in Real Life

The big screen is a place where it seems almost anything can happen. Men can have superhuman powers, we can travel to the future and even come face to face with unimaginable creatures. It is also a place where some cars can have extraordinary powers. Let’s just imagine for a bit however, that some of these cars really existed. How would they be, or should they be, treated in the real world of auto insurance.

Christine

If you haven’t seen this 1983 film based on the Stephen King novel, it stars a “spirited” 1958 red Plymouth Fury. The car, in severe disrepair is purchased by Arnie, a teenager determined to fix Christine up. Because he is a teenager, insurance will be expensive, but because it is in major disrepair, it is a project car. This makes it more affordable to insure. Once restored, the game changes. Arnie’s now mint condition Fury, which he drives daily, will become much more expensive. In fact, because it is such a classic, it may have to be insured for a mutually agreeable replacement value. If you’ve seen the movie, however, you already know insurance costs are the least of Arnie’s problems.

The Love Bug

The Love Bug was a Volkswagen Beetle that starred in a series of Disney films starting in 1968. The 1963 VW, of course, should be insured as a classic, but because it is a race car, even if insurance could be acquired, the premiums could be through its cloth sunroof. Spoiler alert: Herbie finishes first AND third in the dramatic movie-closing race.

Smokey & The Bandit

Even with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field the real star of this film was the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. At the time, the Trans Am was a daily driver for tens of thousands of drivers and would likely be insured as such. An upgrade to the more powerful engine would have raised premiums a bit. Today, the car would be considered a classic, but so many were produced, they are not exceptionally valuable on the collectors market.

Back to the Future

There is no question the a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 (like used in the movie) should be insured as a classic collectable today. At the time however, it was a unique design with a rather pedestrian 2.9 liter V-6 engine that only generated 130 horsepower. Now if it could really go back to the future…

Jurassic Park

No, those aren’t Jeeps but 1992 Ford Explorers in the 1993 science fiction/adventure thriller. The issue with insuring these would be they are essentially vehicles for hire and fleet vehicles. Oh, not to mention they were driven around living, breathing dinosaurs. By the way, the vehicles appeared to be driven by automation in the film, but were actually driven from the trunk using a camera and video screen.

You may not have a movie star car but it still needs to be insured in the real world. Contact us for a no-obligation quote on your auto insurance today. Our independent agents will do the work for you!

Used Car Buying Tips

Many view buying a used or pre-owned car as a practical way to save significantly on a vehicle. Allowing someone else to “take the hit” on depreciation is one reason. Some also feel a car with a few thousand miles on it may have the bugs worked out of it. Yet others may feel that buying a used car is “buying someone else’s problems.

Either way, if you are considering buying a used car, it is worth taking several steps to ensure you limit your exposure to buying a lemon. Here are some tips to buying a used car.

Ask About Any Remaining Warranties

If you are buying a relatively new pre-owned car, it very well may have some of its original warranty remaining. This can be extremely valuable, even if only in the short term. You can always check with the manufacturer.

Check on Recalls

The manufacturer can also tell you if the particular car you are considering has had any recalls due to safety or other considerations. Oftentimes owners will not bother addressing recalls and they can remain unresolved.

Have it Inspected By a Mechanic

If you are serious about purchasing a used vehicle, take it to a mechanic, even if you have to pay for an inspection. The $50 or $100 you spend can be well worth it. You will also likely get a more thorough mechanical inspection if you are paying for it.

Get a Car History Report

A car’s history will indicate it if has been used as a fleet car, involved in an accident or even flooded. A car with a salvage title is worth considerably less than one without.

Wash It

This may seem like an odd piece of advice, but washing a car by hand on your own forces you to look closely at the car’s exterior. You may see cracks in a window you may otherwise miss or evidence of other collision damage. You’ll get a good look the the tires and have a better chance at noticing other bumps and bruises before signing on the dotted line.

It can also be a good idea to get a car insurance quote before making a decision on a car. A sporty, high-powered car may look good, but if you get sticker shock on the car insurance premiums afterward, it will diminish that joy quickly. Contact us for a no-obligation quote before you buy a new or used car.

Reasons Cars Are So Much Better Now Than Fifty Years Ago

If you’ve ever been to a car show you’ve likely heard visitors and proud owners alike exclaim ‘They don’t make them like this anymore.” That is both true and a good thing. Here are just some of the reasons cars are so much better now than 50 years ago.

Tires

Changing tires along the roadway used to be commonplace. Every adult used to have the experience of getting out the jack and attempting to get lug nuts off. Back then, spare tires were full size as well. Today, tires are so reliable they can be guaranteed up to 100,000 or more and spare tires are referred to as “donuts”.

Engine Durability

Speaking of 100,000 miles, this used to be a point of pride for car owners. Today, with some routine maintenance, car engines can easily last well beyond that. High mileage engines were often considered worn out. Not today.

Gas Mileage

Back when gasoline prices were 20 to 30 cents a gallon, no one, manufacturer or owner, cared about fuel mileage. It wasn’t uncommon for big engine cars to get mileage in the single digits. Today, mileage ratings frequently reach the 30 or even 40 mph range, with even big pick-up trucks hitting the 20 mpg range.

Safety

Have you ever really looked at the interior of a classic car? They were built like a sofa on wheels with a giant metal dashboard in front. Exteriors were all about design paying little attention to safety. For a long while, rear seats didn’t even have seat belts. “C’mon kids we’re going for a Sunday drive!”

Entertainment/Technology

Imagine packing up for a 12 hour ride on vacation and all you have for entertainment is an AM radio. You almost needed a “designated dialer” to keep a clear signal coming in as you drove. No wonder the kids kept saying “Are we there yet,? Are we there yet?”

It can be great to look back fondly on some of those old classic cars and the memories they carried, but make no mistake, cars were not better then. They may have been more stylish, distinctive and imaginative, but they were not better, and certainly not safer.

Are you aware that if you have a safe driving record it may save you on your auto insurance premiums? It is just one of the ways our independent agents have access to get you better rates. There are other discounts that may be available as well. Contact us and let us compare. After all, your current insurance may look pretty good until you go out and compare.

Your Car: When Was the Last Time You…

There are about 287 million registered vehicles in the United States. With about 300 million Americans, it gives you an idea about how prevalent access to a car is in the United States.

We used to have a much more personal connection with our cars. Many of us changed our own oil and replaced air filters. Today…not so much. So it begs the questions, when it comes to your car, when was the last time you…

Changed oil

Even if you don’t physically change your oil and filter yourself, do you remember the last time you had it changed by someone else? You should change oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Checked your tires

Your tire’s air pressure will impact tire wear and even the gas mileage your car achieves. When was the last time you checked your air pressure or even ran your hand along the side of your tires to feel for bulges. It is also a good time to check tire tread to make sure it is sufficient and even.

Cleaned Your Car’s Interior

Giving your car’s interior a good cleaning helps maintain its value and keeps you in touch with the wear and tear your car’s interior is experiencing. It could be a good time for seat covers or a good detailing.

Washed Your Car

There are a lot of benefits to washing your own car, at least once in a while. You may discover new dents or rust spots or a piece of trim came up missing. There may be no better way to keep in touch with the shape of your vehicle than with a hand wash once in a while.

Checked Your Lights

Do you really want an officer of the law to point out one of your headlights, taillights or turn signals is inoperative? Checking all of your lights may only take a minute or two but may save you an expensive citation.

The point is sometimes it doesn’t take much to keep in touch with your car to save you money. It is the reason you should have an automobile insurance review every few years, if not sooner. Getting rate quotes may save you significantly on your automobile insurance premiums. These are savings you may otherwise miss. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your automobile insurance.

What You Need to Know About Today’s Driving Schools

A generation or so ago, driving schools were much different than they are today. Courses were frequently taken in classes held at public schools or private driving academies. Today, for the most part, they are much easier and more accessible to attend. Here’s what you should know about today’s driving schools.

  • They are available online. Online courses are available making taking classes convenient. In fact, most courses can be completed at your own pace. You can set a pace that is appropriate for you.
  • Choose from a selection of available courses. Online driving courses are available to help you pass your initial written exam or to help you improve your defensive driving skills. Choose from the course that will benefit you most.
  • Online courses are affordable. For the most part, taking an online driving course is extremely affordable today. Costs should not be a barrier.
  • They can save you money. Online driving courses can save you money in one of several ways. Some insurance companies may offer discounts to drivers who take refresher defensive driving courses and the successful completion of an online driving course can also lead to a point reduction on your driving record. This can prevent automobile insurance rates from rising. Check with your independent insurance agent to see if a driving course can lead to discounts in your situation. .

Are you paying too much for your auto insurance? If you are unsure, contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no-obligation review and quote. As independent agents, they can compare rates from a variety of insurance companies, finding the coverage at a price you can feel comfortable with. Contact us and answer just a few simple questions. We”ll explore the potential discounts you may qualify for. You may even decide on taking a offensive driving course to improve your skills.

One of the best ways to get better rates on your automobile insurance is to build a safer driving record. Get started today!

The Info You’ll Need to File an Automobile Insurance Claim

Filing an automobile insurance claim is rarely an enjoyable process. You’ve just been through an incident, may have incurred an injury or car damage, and now must deal with resolving the issue to your satisfaction. While it may not be your favorite way to spend your free time, there are things you can do to help facilitate the process.In general, the more details and data you have, the more efficient the process may be. Here is some of the info you will likely need to file an insurance claim.

  1. Incident basics. This includes day, date and time of incident, where it happened, vehicle and drivers involved and the police agency that responded to the incident and filled out the accident report. It can also be beneficial to have the name and badge number of the reporting officer.
  2. Your personal information. Be prepared to provide your personal information including drivers license number.
  3. Insurance providers. Knowing the insurance companies involved and policy numbers can prove to be helpful.
  4. The police report number. It is likely the insurance company will want to acquire a copy of the police accident report. You can help by providing them the reporting agency, incident report number and contact information for the reporting agency.
  5. Any citations issued. The police report will usually indicate if any citations were issued in the incident.This will indicate who is at fault.
  6. VIN numbers and automobile descriptions. The make, model and year of the vehicles involved along with their VIN numbers are usually required.
  7. Damage descriptions. Even in an initial report, an insurance company may want a general description of the damaged areas of an involved vehicle and how extensive that damage may be.
  8. If there were any injuries. One of the key components to reporting an automobile accident is that if there were any injuries. Be cautious about minimizing any personal injury descriptions you have sustained, especially when talking with an insurance company representing the other driver.

It can be helpful to acquire an estimate to repair your damaged vehicle quickly after an incident, so at least you have a baseline for your expectations for a claim. A claims adjuster will be assigned to your case, however, you’ll want to be assured any settlement claim is reasonable.

An insurance claim is a detailed process that can take time and patience. When filing any type of a claim, this is the time you will be glad you have an Insurance agent. Agents are always there to assist in these situations. Being prepared can help facilitate a smoother claim.

What You Should Know About Your Driving Record

When in school, you may have been threatened that any poor grades or misbehavior may be noted on your “permanent record.” It was a record that would stay with you throughout your school years. If you are a licensed driver, the fact is you already have such a record. It is known as your driving record, DMV record, or driver’s report.

What all is included in your driving record and who has access to it? How does your driving record impact you in your daily life and how long do incidents stay on that report? Here’s what you should know about about your driving record.

What Information is included in Your Driving Record?

Your driving record will include your name and other personal information, including any restrictions on your driving record. Your driving record may also include:

  • Any moving violations
  • Accidents that resulted in a citation
  • License suspensions
  • Traffic school attendance
  • Accumulated points

Who has Access to Your Driving Record?

The Department of Motor Vehicles has access to your driving record as do law enforcement. This means your driving record will likely be quickly reviewed when stopped for a potential traffic citation. Other parties with a legal interest can view your driving record and those with your permission may do so as well. Of course, you have access to your own driving record and you should review it occasionally to ensure its accuracy.

How Does Your Driving Record Affect You on a Daily Basis?

The most direct impact your driving record has on your daily life is likely in what you pay for automobile insurance coverage. Your driving record is a key component in determining insurance costs and significant violations can negatively impact your rates. On the other hand, as older, more serious violations fall off your record, your auto insurance rates may actually go down.

How Long do Incidents Remain on My Driving Record?

Depending on the severity of the incident, items will generally stay on a driving record from three to five years. Some states will record more serious incidents even longer, up to eight years or more. These serious incidents may include DUIs, reckless operation or DUIs with injuries.

An evolving driving record is just one reason you should have your automobile insurance policy reviewed. Our independent insurance agents will be glad to review your policy and provide a no-obligation quote. Contact us to get started today.