The 10% Rule: Should You Drop Your Comprehensive & Collision Insurance?

One of the most frequently asked questions about automobile insurance for those who own an older vehicle is when is it no longer economically wise to carry comprehensive collision coverage on that vehicle. For most, the 10% rule is a reasonable guideline. Here is how it works.

The 10% Rule Defined

The 10% rule is based on the premise that you should consider dropping your collision and comprehensive automobile insurance coverage when the cost of such coverage meets or exceeds 10% of the book value of the car. It sums that the MOST you can get to repair your vehicle is its book value so paying 10% or more for that protection provides diminishing returns.

Let’s take, for example, your vehicle has a book value of $5,000. Ten percent of this value would be $500. If the premium for the comprehensive collision coverage portion of your policy exceeds $500 annually, it is probably no longer a good value to maintain that coverage. You may be better off reducing coverage to just liability. Of course, it will depend on your tolerance for risks. You my also lose some other valuable protection by eliminating comprehensive collision coverage. It is best to ask your independent insurance agent how such a reduction will impact your coverage.

Why Minimum Coverage May Not Always Be Best

Understandably, most don’t want to pay any more than they have to for automobile insurance. This, like most things in life however, doesn’t necessarily mean you should get the cheapest or least expensive plan available. Just because states have minimum standards does not mean that may be sufficient for you. You may benefit considerably through the acquisition of under or uninsured motorist insurance, a rent-a-car provision when experiencing a loss of use or even higher minimums of overall coverage. This is particularly true for those who have more financial resources at risk.

One of the best solutions when you have questions about your automobile insurance coverage is to get an auto insurance review. If you prefer, your review can also include a quote from multiple insurance companies who compete for your business. This allows you to base your choice on value, not just price. Contact one of our independent insurance agents and get started today! Get the protection you need without overpaying for your automobile insurance.

Independent Agents and Car Insurance: How They Can Save You Money

Who doesn’t want to save money? Driver’s have been known to shop for a car for weeks to save a few hundred dollars or drive miles to save a few cents per gallon on gas. We are always looking for the best price on oil changes, tires and other routine maintenance. Yet somehow that doesn’t always apply when it comes to automobile insurance. Oh, we may shop once every few years or so, especially when we experience a significant rate increase or customer service issue. But for the most part, many just continue to pay for their insurance month after month, renewal after renewal.

What is it about auto insurance that makes us reluctant to change or even compare? Perhaps we perceive it is too difficult to switch or the process is too confusing. Maybe we believe once we’ve checked for the best deal it will always be the best deal. It could be we just feel we are too busy to consider a change.

This is why working with an independent insurance agent can be so beneficial. You see an independent insurance agent is not restricted to just offering the products of once insurance company. Our independent agencies can seek quotes from multiple companies, effectively doing the shopping for you. You will be presented with a choice of options where you can select the plan best for you. One of the best aspects of working with an independent insurance agent is you can make this request to compare annually or whenever you wish. This helps ensure you are getting the most value for your auto insurance premium.

You have a choice when selecting an insurance agent. You can choose a captive agent who can only represent the policies of his own company or choose an independent agent who can seek out multiple quotes from a variety of companies. The choice is yours. Of course, we think it makes more sense to select an independent insurance agent.

Discover the difference an independent insurance agent can make when comparing automobile insurance premiums. Contact us today!

Drivers Aside, Our Highways Are Getting Safer

You may have experienced any or all of them on the roads within the past weeks. There’s “Make Up Mary” who has the tendency, if not the talent, to put on makeup while driving at 45 miles per hours. There’s Terry Texter who is so focused on what’s on his screen he has no idea there’s room enough for three cars in front of him at the red light. Perhaps you’ve met or at least seen Paula Pullout who can’t wait to get in front of you and slow down or Non-Stop Steve who believes stop signs and red lights are optional. Yes, inspite of an increasing amount of safety features and technology, drivers continue to be more distracted and quite frankly, worse than ever.

What is ironic, however, is that while these distracted and poor drivers may be aggravating, our highways are actually getting safer. Yeah, who would have thought. Not just a little bit either. In 1972, for example, 54,589 people died on the nation’s highways. That number hasn’t reached above 38,000 in over the past dozen years. That’s pretty remarkable considering the number of Makeup Mary’s, Terry Texter’s, Paul Pullout’s and Non-Stop Steve’s on the road. The difference? First, our cars are safer. The other major reason is our roads are safer.

We may not notice it because changes are often subtle, but our roadways are constantly getting better. These positive changes are making a difference, one by one. Here are some of the things you may or may not have noticed.

  • More brilliant, visible and reflective street paint that makes lines and directional markers more visible especially at night.
  • Easy to see traffic lights that are focused to be more directional and can be seen further away.
  • Reflective markers placed into center strips.
  • Serrated pavement along the right side of the road that provide a physical and audible signal when a vehicle is leaving the road.
  • More concrete barriers designed to prevent crossovers into oncoming traffic
  • Safer barriers around bridge abutments and graduated and curved guardrail ends.
  • Breakaway road signs that also are easier to read.
  • Better highway lighting.
  • Upgraded entry/exit ramps that are less intense.

Combine these and others with upgraded in-car safety features and we are seeing the positive results.

Safer roads can lead to lower auto insurance rates but to find out you must compare. It starts with a call to one of our independent insurance agents. They can “shop around” for you, comparing rates to find you the best value. Contact us and get the auto insurance you deserve.

The Ten Most Frequent Causes of Automobile Accidents

We make choices everyday that impact our odds of making it to tomorrow. That may sound a bit dramatic, but when it comes to preventing automobile accidents, it’s true. If we could reduce or eliminate the top ten causes of traffic accidents, how much safer would we be on the highways? How many more lives could we save, and eventually, how much less would our car insurance premiums be? It’s not impossible. Here are the ten major causes of auto accidents and easy steps you can take to prevent them.

  1. Texting While Driving. It is amazing how many lives could be saved if we could just avoid using cellphones while driving. Of course, distracted driving also includes grooming, eating and singing and dancing while behind the wheel.
  2. Drunk Driving. Look, with ride sharing services, this should not be an issue but it is. If you have a few drinks let someone else drive, even if it is a stranger you pay a few bucks to. It will cost you a LOT less in the long run.
  3. Speeding. How many times has someone sped past you, only to have you catch up with them at the next traffic light? Yup, there’s some satisfaction to be found in that and hopefully some lessons to be learned.
  4. Reckless Driving. This is not Mario Kart and you’ll get no coins. More importantly, extra lives are simply not available. Obey traffic laws, use your turn signals and take a breath.
  5. Heavy Rain. No, you can’t avoid driving in the rain but become better aware of how rain can mix with spills and fluids on the roads to make them slicker. Puddles can cause your tires to lose contact with the roadway creating planing. Back ‘er down in the rain.
  6. Running Red Lights. We’ve all been there – that “go”/no go” moment. You’ll still have them, but considering it is the six major cause of accidents should give you pause to think again.
  7. Driving at Night. Driving late at night becomes more challenging especially the older we get. You also have more recreational drivers at night, who may not be paying as much attention to the road as they should. Just allow your defensive driving skills to take more control when driving at night.
  8. Tailgating. Some people tailgate as of it is going to make the driver in front move faster. It may have the opposite affect or tempt them to brake check you, none of which will be pleasant. This too, shall pass.
  9. Young Drivers. There are reasons why teen driver insurance rates are so high. Driving safely takes experience and teen drivers need to be taught enough patience to allow them to grow into being a safer drivers.
  10. Correcting Missed Turns. Should you miss a turn, don’t expect everyone around you to understand. Take responsibility for your mistake and safely proceed down the road to correct it safely and legally.

When you think about it, it shouldn’t be that difficult to improve our own safety, the safety of our families and others on the road. It just takes a little thought and consideration.

Tired of high automobile insurance rates? Allow us to compare. After all, how will you know you are paying too much if you don’t know your options? Contact us today!

How States Determine If You Have Car Insurance

Every state has some form of financial responsibility law that generally requires drivers to maintain certain minimum levels of insurance. Three states (Mississippi, Delaware, and Virginia) have slightly different options available when it comes to financial responsibility. Many drivers, seeking the lowest costs, will frequently choose their state minimums when it comes to auto insurance, which may not always be the best idea. In many cases, these miniums are so low as to provide little coverage in a real life incident. Minimum coverage also does not provide for uninsured motorist insurance, which can be invaluable.

Minimum coverage or not, how do states know that you are carrying the required levels of automobile insurance?  It may surprise you to learn that not all states are created equal when it comes to this aspect of auto insurance.

In some states, proof of insurance may be as simple as signing an affidavit that you have insurance in place. Others require on-site proof of insurance coverage when applying for a drivers license or registering a vehicle. But following that, how do states know that coverage is maintained?

In some cases, states will perform random checks, mailing our requests for proof of insurance.  If you cannot prove you had insurance on a given date, you can be cited. Department of Motor Vehicles may also be tied to a system that associates coverage with a license plate number. Insurance companies can be required to notify the DMV if coverage is dropped or a driver fails to renew. However, frequently a new underwriter is not required to report coverage when a driver switches companies. In these cases, it can appear that a driver doesn’t have insurance, when in fact they just switched providers. This can create some inconvenient issues that, however, usually can be straightened out rather quickly.

Of course, most states require you to present proof of insurance when requested by a law enforcement officer. If you do not have it available, it will be required before appearing in court or when paying for a citation. While proof of insurance was usually provided through an insurance card, today just about every state and all major automobile insurance companies use an electronic proof of insurance through a smartphone app. This provides immediate up-to-date data and minimizes confusion or miscommunication.

Are you sure you are getting the best car insurance rates possible? How could you know if you don’t ask? Contact our independent insurance agents and allow them to go to work for you. You may just get improved coverage at more appealing rates!

How States Determine If You Have Car Insurance

Every state has some form of financial responsibility law that generally requires drivers to maintain certain minimum levels of insurance. Three states (Mississippi, Delaware, and Virginia) have slightly different options available when it comes to financial responsibility. Many drivers, seeking the lowest costs, will frequently choose their state minimums when it comes to auto insurance, which may not always be the best idea. In many cases, these miniums are so low as to provide little coverage in a real life incident. Minimum coverage also does not provide for uninsured motorist insurance, which can be invaluable.

Minimum coverage or not, how do states know that you are carrying the required levels of automobile insurance?  It may surprise you to learn that not all states are created equal when it comes to this aspect of auto insurance.

In some states, proof of insurance may be as simple as signing an affidavit that you have insurance in place. Others require on-site proof of insurance coverage when applying for a drivers license or registering a vehicle. But following that, how do states know that coverage is maintained?

In some cases, states will perform random checks, mailing our requests for proof of insurance.  If you cannot prove you had insurance on a given date, you can be cited. Department of Motor Vehicles may also be tied to a system that associates coverage with a license plate number. Insurance companies can be required to notify the DMV if coverage is dropped or a driver fails to renew. However, frequently a new underwriter is not required to report coverage when a driver switches companies. In these cases, it can appear that a driver doesn’t have insurance, when in fact they just switched providers. This can create some inconvenient issues that, however, usually can be straightened out rather quickly.

Of course, most states require you to present proof of insurance when requested by a law enforcement officer. If you do not have it available, it will be required before appearing in court or when paying for a citation. While proof of insurance was usually provided through an insurance card, today just about every state and all major automobile insurance companies use an electronic proof of insurance through a smartphone app. This provides immediate up-to-date data and minimizes confusion or miscommunication.

Are you sure you are getting the best car insurance rates possible? How could you know if you don’t ask? Contact our independent insurance agents and allow them to go to work for you. You may just get improved coverage at more appealing rates!

Is Your Car Insurance Company Aware You are Driving for a Food Delivery or Ride Sharing Service?

For some it is their “side hustle” or a way to make some extra money. For others, it has become their main source of income, especially in a changing economy. Working for a ride sharing company or food delivery service is big business. In fact, recent surveys indicate that 31% of Americans use a food delivery service at least twice weekly. It is not inexpensive either. When ordering food through a third-party food delivery service, 34% of customers say they spend $50 or more. Busy drivers can do well between delivery fees and tips, but if you are using your personal vehicle while driving for a food delivery or ride sharing company, you need to let your automobile insurance know.

Using your car for business changes its use. It is not simply like driving to and from work. Not only are you driving your vehicle as part of a business, you are also, in the case of ride sharing, carrying complete strangers in your vehicle. While some auto insurance policies will cover a personal vehicle when running errands for a business, like going to the bank, cars that ARE the business, like in ride sharing, are not. These third-party delivery and ride sharing companies may have their own coverage to help protect them and you, the fact is you need to let your personal car insurance company know you are using your car in this way. Some Insurance companies specifically exclude ride sharing/food delivery from personal insurance policies. Even with the third party insurance it may not be enough to cover you properly. This could be an expensive mistake if not handled correctly. An agent can detail your risks and explain additional coverage you should carry to minimize those risks.

If you are considering taking on driving for a ride sharing or delivery company, consider all the factors. You should estimate the wear and tear and repairs your car may need, fuel costs, your time, and, of course, any additional insurance costs. If you are driving for a third party company, make sure your auto insurance company is aware.

Are your car insurance rates edging upward? When you are ready to do something about it, contact us. We are independent insurance agents with relationships with a variety of insurance companies. We can “shop” these companies for you, seeking the most competitive rates. There’s absolutely no-obligation and the decision remains yours! Contact us today to get more for your automobile insurance dollar.

What You Should Know About High-Risk Car Insurance

High-risk automobile insurance, or what is known as “non-standard automobile insurance” in the industry, is insurance coverage you may be forced to buy if it is determined you are more likely to get into an accident and file a claim than other drivers. There are a variety of reasons you may be required to obtain high-risk auto insurance. These can include multiple at fault accidents, multiple speeding or reckless operation citations and/or driving under the influence convictions.

There are two ways to comply with the need for high-risk insurance. You may be able to purchase insurance through a traditional car insurance company, but at higher rates. If that is not possible, you may have to get a non-standard policy which may have coverage or driving limitations. Either way you should be prepared to pay more.

The potential for having to purchase high-risk insurance is one of the reasons it is important to develop safe driving habits and to keep track of any points on your driving record. Even so-called “normal” drivers can fall into a high-risk category if points get away from them, if they get a speeding ticket that may fall into the “reckless driving” category or if they have one too many cocktails at the office party. It can become very expensive.

The good news is that even if you fall into a high-risk or non-standard category, you can still have auto insurance companies compete for your business. Since our independent insurance agents represent the products of a variety of companies, we can seek out the best coverage and rates for your particular circumstance. There is no cost or obligation to get a quote so call us today.

Focus on your defensive driving skills, don’t drive while distracted and try to obey all traffic laws. Of course, never drive while impaired. It just may pay dividends in lower automobile insurance rates for you and your family. There are likely better things you can do with your money! Contact us to compare.

Unusual DUI Cases That May Leave You Shaking Your Head

Make no mistake about, drinking and driving is serious business. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 1.5 million arrests are made annually for DUI. That translates into about one in every 120 licensed drivers in the country. Next to distracted driving, drunk driving is the most frequent cause of car accidents in America.

Every once in awhile, there will be a story in the news, however, about drug and alcohol use involving some other mode of transportation beyond your everyday car or truck. Here are a few that may leave you shaking your head.

in 2019, a 68 year old Haines City Florida man was arrested for DUI while operating a riding lawnmower. Why and how did police catch him? He apparently he ran into a parked police car while the officer was in a local business. The story doesn’t end there. The man finally admitted to the crime, saying “#%&@ it.  I’m drunk. Take me to jail.” There, his blood alcohol level was measured at .241, about three times the legal limit in Florida. Tests also revealed he had cocaine in his system, which he said got there when police tried to poison him.

In 2017, a Lakeland, Florida woman was arrested for DUI after drivers saw her riding a horse on a highway looking confused. She had apparently been on the horse for a 10 or 15 mile jaunt before being stopped. Police say she smelled of alcohol and staggered when dismounting. They also say it was their first case of DUI while riding a horse.

It is illegal to operate a bicycle while under the influence in all but a handful of states. In 2010, a 63 year old man was pulled over in Southwest Florida on his bicycle after seen weaving in and out of traffic. After failing field sobriety tests, police arrested the man stating he was “Dead drunk”. The man permanently lost his drivers license over a decade earlier after receiving four previous DUIs.

A serious driving infraction like a DUI can create a myriad of problems, including necessitating expensive high risk automobile insurance. If your driving record is creating increasingly expensive auto insurance rates, we may be able to help. Contact our independent insurance agents and have them go shopping for you. It’s a no-cost , no-obligation way to see if there are better options for you available.

Some Eye Opening Auto Accident Statistics

If you’ve ever complained or wondered about car insurance rates, you should know that automobile insurance, like other forms of insurance, are largely statistics-based. There’s a cause and effect with statistics and car insurance. Here are some eye-opening auto accident statistics that may help improve the appreciation and importance of this loss prevention product.

  • There are some 6 million car accidents per year in the United States. That breaks down to a half-million accidents per month and over 115,000 per week. That’s about 16,500 per day, 685 per hour, and just over 11 per minute.
  • There are about 227 million licensed drivers in the country. Since there are an estimated 6 million accidents anticipated, a licensed driver has about a 1 in 20 chance of being a driver in an auto accident. When taking a 1,000 mile trip, the chances of being in an accident are one in 366.
  • There are over 35,000 annual deaths related to vehicle accidents. Over the last five years between 35,000 and 40,000 have lost their lives in vehicle-related crashes yearly. That averages out to about 95 deaths each and every day.
  • What are the major causes of car accidents? Statistics show that distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents followed by speeding and drunk driving. Those are followed by reckless driving and weather conditions such as rain.
  • Youngest, newest drivers are at the highest risk. While this may not be surprising, how dramatic the difference is may be. For example, a 16 year old driver is 1.5 times more likely to get into a car accident than even drivers in the 18-19 age group. This stresses the important role experience plays in safe driving.
  • Afternoon rush hour is the most dangerous time to drive. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, more accidents occur between 3-6pm in the afternoon, Monday through Friday. The most dangerous day to drive is Saturday, due to recreational travel and drunk driving.

The above statistics aren’t meant to frighten drivers but to improve a healthier respect for the activity. Cars that weigh 3 to 4 thousand pounds traveling at 55 miles per hour or more can create a great deal of havoc quickly. Drive defensively, and avoid driving while distracted.

If you would like to see how your current car insurance rates compare with those of other companies, contact one of our independent insurance agents. We’ll do the shopping for you! Contact us today for a no obligation quote.