Why Car Insurance Rates Vary From Company to Company

One of the big advantages our independent insurance agents have is they are not locked into or held captive to represent the products of only one insurance company. In fact, they can offer the products of multiple companies. In essence, this allows them to work for you, locating the best coverage at the most competitive prices. But why does this even make a difference? Why do car insurance rates vary from company to company? Shouldn’t rates be the same?

Like most businesses there are a variety of type of insurance companies. Some typical types of insurance companies include standard lines, excess lines, captives, direct sellers, domestic, alien, mutual companies, stock companies and others. Without getting into the weeds, this means they have different structures, differing priorities and philosophies. This, of course, is one way rates can be impacted.

While auto insurance companies will use some common denominators in determining rates, like automobile safety ratings, crime rates where a car is stored, driving statistics etc., they will also rely on their own experience with certain driving groups and demographics. One company may find older drivers lucrative while another may find younger drivers are more profitable. Then there are certain proprietary systems a company may use in determining profitable customers. This may include certain aspects like credit ratings. All of this, and other factors, mean that for your age, driving experience, location, credit rating and automobile choice, one company may be significantly less expensive than another. This is why comparing rates is so important. It is also why our independent agents have such an advantage.

When you connect with one of our independent agents, they will go to work finding you the most competitive rates for your specific situation. Do you have an older car? Perhaps you are only interested in liability coverage. Maybe you are an extremely safe driver. Our agents can find companies who tend to reward drivers like you with better rates. That can both save you money and provide peace of mind. No one wants to pay more than they have to for anything, including car insurance. Get the rates you deserve with a no-obligation automobile insurance quote today!

Five Driving Test Questions You May Not Know The Answer To

If you’ve been driving for any amount of time, you probably have a certain degree of confidence in your knowledge and abilities. You may even become a bit judgmental when other drivers don’t quite follow “the rules”. But how sure are you that you know them?

See how you do when it comes to these five questions that may appear on the driver’s license exams of some states.

Solid White Lines

Most know that a solid yellow line on their side of the road means that passing is prohibited. But what about solid white lines? When can you cross a solid white line?

  1. They are just for guidance.
  2. Only when you need to make a U-turn.
  3. If traffic conditions require you to.
  4. Only when making a right or left turn.

Non-Working Traffic Lights

You are driving in an area where storms have cut power to traffic lights. They are not working. How should a driver respond?

  1. Slow down and proceed cautiously
  2. Proceed as if the light were green
  3. Blow your horn and continue to move through the intersection
  4. Treat it as a four-way stop

Alcohol Consumption

Most of us know that drinking and driving is never a good idea. But just how long will it take the average person to dispose of 12 ounces of beer in their system?

  1. A Day
  2. 12 hours
  3. 4 hours
  4. 1 hour

Turn Signals When Exiting a Freeway

When should a driver turn on his turn signals indicating he will be taking an exit when driving on the freeway?

  1. Just as the exit ramp begins
  2. 100 yards prior to the exit ramp
  3. 100 feet prior to the exit ramp
  4. 50 feet before your exit

Sliding on a Slick Surface

You are driving in wet, icy or snow conditions and your vehicle begins to slide, what is you best step?

  1. Try to correct the slide by turning in the opposite direction
  2. Pressing your brakes firmly to stop as soon as possible
  3. Take your foot off the accelerator and turn in the direction of the skid
  4. Hold on tightly and prepare for a collision

Answers

The correct answer to the question about solid white lines is #3. Only when traffic conditions require you to.

When a traffic light is not working at all, the correct way to respond is #4. Treat it as a four way stop.

It takes about one hour for an average person to dispense of a small can (about 12 ounces of beer). The answer to the alcohol consumption questions is #4.

To give drivers enough notice that you will be slowing to exit a freeway you should turn on your signals 100 feet prior to the beginning of the ramp. The answer is #3.

It may seem counter-intuitive but the best way to correct a slide is #3, taking pressure off the accelerator and turning into the slide. Mild brake pressure may also help in slowing the vehicle.

Good driving habits can minimize accidents and improve your driving record. That can mean lower auto insurance premiums. Contact us to see if we can help!

Insuring a Unique Vehicle

Have you ever purchased a vehicle because you thought it was not only attractive but somewhat unique? We all want a vehicle that may stand out a bit from the crowd. No, it doesn’t have to be lime green or require a step ladder to climb into it but we certainly don’t want the same car our neighbors have. The problem is the minute we find that car or truck, we suddenly begin to see them all over the place. There’s a scientific reason for this involving the reticular activating system. It is the same reason why when you learn a new word, you suddenly start hearing it everywhere. It is an unstoppable force.

Many strive to make their vehicles their own and will go through great lengths to do it. Some will choose a classic car and meticulously restore it. Others may choose a large pick-up truck and make something resembling a Transformer out of it. Others will upgrade a Jeep or add custom wheels to a car. Frequently, big boy sound systems will be a part of the upgrade.

What, however, does an automobile insurance company think about this?

It is important to note that if you have one of these exceptional, unique vehicles, you have to take additional steps when it comes to properly insuring that vehicle. This means contacting your insurance company and letting them know of the upgrades and the time, effort and expense that went into improving it. This is a critical step in making sure that should there be an accident or incident involving the vehicle, you will have sufficient coverage.

Keep in mind, not every automobile insurance company offers specialized coverage on these unique vehicles. Our independent insurance agents, however, have contacts with multiple companies that do. They can not only help find you appropriate coverage, but can locate coverage that is priced competitively. After all, you would probably rather put more money into that vehicle than spending it on insurance.

We understand how important our vehicles can be. Contact us today and get the protection you and your special vehicle deserves.

Why Credit Scores Impact Auto Insurance Rates

Determining individual auto insurance rates are more complex than some people believe. It is why rates can vary so dramatically between age groups, companies and make and models. Factors that affect rates include your driving record, where you live, annual amount of miles driven and, of course, your age and sex. The make, model and year of the car will greatly impact rates as will the coverage amounts, provisions, and deductibles. There is another factor that impacts the auto insurance rates you pay that may seem a bit puzzling. Your credit history and rating may affect the price you pay for auto insurance.

Why would your credit rating make a difference in what a car insurance company will charge you for coverage? The main reason is pretty straight-forward. Through years of insuring consumers, insurance companies have found that drivers with good credit ratings tend to file less claims and are therefore better customers.

There are other likely reasons as well. Client turnover can be costly for automobile insurance companies. It takes time to prepare a quote, collect the initial binder or premium, and issue a policy. When consumers routinely allow these policies to lapse due to non-payment, it can be more costly for a car insurance company. Clients with good credit scores are more likely to maintain their coverage for an extended period, thus becoming more profitable. This is also the reason many companies provide an additional discount for customers who make premium payments through an auto-pay option.

Improving your credit score can help you get a better car loan rate, better mortgage rate and even better car insurance premiums. That being said, there are also other ways to save. Insurance companies may also offer discounts for bundling, safe driving, good grades, raising deductibles and making annual payments. You can also save by dealing with an independent insurance agent who works to find you the best protection at a competitive price.

Since automobile rates vary so widely from company to company, it is a good idea to compare. Our independent insurance agents make the process easy by doing the work for you. You simply make the final decision.

If you’ve been subject to higher auto insurance rates because of some credit mistakes, contact us. Let our agents go to work for you in securing the better rates. We look forward to helping you get the rates you deserve.

Who Covers You When Renting a Car?

If you don’t frequently rent a car, you should be aware of the multitude of decisions the process can have. You’ll have to select a car rental company and a pick up and drop off location. You will need to choose the type of vehicle you wish to rent and for how long. The driver or drivers of the car will have to be noted and you may be able to choose from limited or unlimited miles. Most car rental companies will only accept credit cards but some make accommodations for debit cards. At some point, the clerk will ask you, in one way or another, how you wish to insure the rental car. This can stop some people cold in their tracks. The clerk may then go on to describe the benefits of “their” coverage in the hope you will pay for this add-on. But is it necessary?

Before renting a car, it is prudent to do a little homework to discover your options for car rental insurance. This may preclude you from buying expensive or unnecessary coverage from the rental car company. Here are some of the ways your rental car may already be covered from damage.

Your Personal Car Insurance

The great majority of personal car insurance policies will transfer coverage to a rental car. Keep in mind, only the coverage you carry will be transferred. That means if you just have liability insurance, it may not be sufficient. Of course, this may depend on where else you have coverage available.

Credit Cards

Check your credit cards to see if the issuing company offers protection. Some credit cards will offer car rental insurance protection when you pay for your rental using that particular card. Knowing this in advance may help you determine which credit card to use for maximum protection.

Automobile Club or Other Organization

If you are a member of an automobile club, fraternal group or even a bulk shopping club, they too, may offer coverage or discounts when renting a car. Check ahead of time to make the best decision at the rental counter.

Buying car rental insurance from the rental car company can be very expensive, sometimes exceeding the rental costs themselves. Do your homework ahead of time, contact your own insurance agent to verify coverage and check with your credit card issuers. The savings on coverage can be significant.

While the insured’s car insurance or credit card may pay for damages to a rental car, the one thing most credit card or car insurance companies do not cover is LOSS OF USE. This is the downtime when the rental car is being fixed before it can be re-rented. For example, if the damaged rental car will take 8 weeks to be fixed and it rented at $50 per day, that would be a $2800 charge to the insured that would come out of their pocket. This is one reason to take the rental car companies insurance. When the insurance is purchased from the rental car company and the car is damaged from a ding to a total loss, it is usually a walk-away situation. This will not only prevent additional costs but may prevent  hours of paperwork and potentially missing a flight home.

If you are unsure of your present automobile insurance coverage or if it has been a while since you have compared rates, contact our independent insurance agents for a review and rate comparison. Let us do the shopping for you!

Are My Expensive Chrome Wheels Covered?

America’s love affair with its cars is over a century old. From the very beginning, there’s always been those willing to customize their automobiles in a variety of ways. From the hot rods of the fifties to the low riders of the 1970s, cars have been a way to express ourselves. Today, that expression is most likely to be made in extraordinarily large chrome rims, thumping sound systems, raised truck bodies and specialized paint jobs. The question is, are those expensive chrome wheels and other after-market add-ons covered by your present auto insurance?

Unless you’ve notified your insurance company, the answer is, no, not likely.

Oops.

Your car insurance and its premiums are largely based on the make model and year of the vehicle, along with its standard features. When these features are upgraded through a premium stereo system, high-value chrome wheels or custom paint job, it changes the value of the vehicle beyond what your insurance will provide coverage for. This is why if you have made a significant custom change to your car or truck, you should contact your insurance agent.

Your insurance policy usually will require a rider or an addendum to account for this added value to your car or truck, especially since it may be at more risk. An automobile with expensive rims or an expansive audio system may be more of a target to thieves. It therefore requires additional coverage. While this may lead to slightly higher costs, that cost can be offset with additional security features added to the vehicle. Your independent insurance agent can help you maneuver through the process.

If you or someone you know has upgraded a vehicle through oversized chrome wheels, tires, lighting, premium sound or other features, make sure the vehicle is fully covered. Contact us for a quote today. We work with companies who specialize in covering such features to minimize the financial impact on your budget. We look forward to assisting you.

Will a Traffic Ticket Result in Higher Car Insurance Premiums?

One of the biggest concerns some drivers have is wondering if getting a traffic ticket will likely lead to an automobile insurance rate increase. The good news is that no, not every citation will result in a higher premium. The reality is, traffic tickets are treated differently depending on their severity. It is much like how the state or locality you live in treats citations.

For example, what are referred to as non-moving violations (like parking tickets) are minor and will rarely, if ever, result in higher car insurance premiums. These are usually inexpensive to resolve and are inconsequential when it comes to auto insurance rates.

Moving violations are another story. Relatively minor infractions like minimal speeding infractions or not fully stopping at a stop sign may not immediately impact rates. However, when they build points on your driving record, it could eventually lead to higher auto insurance premiums. Speeding, especially when excessive, can lead to a charge of reckless operation, and now you are heading into higher insurance premium territory. There is a big difference, for example, between a citation for going 41 in a 35 mph zone and getting a ticket for going 82 in a 55 mph zone.

Now,  where you are getting into an area where higher insurance rates are likely is in instances where you are cited in an at-fault accident, especially if there were injuries involved. If alcohol is involved and injuries occur, higher insurance rates may be the least of your problems. Injury accidents involving an impaired driver may lead to license suspension, large fines, and even result in jail time.

Like many things in life, auto insurance rate increases are relative to the situation involved. There is no need to fear a minor issue, but be prepared for the consequences of more serious violations. It is hard to argue the logic behind the thinking.

If you feel your auto insurance rates are getting a bit too high, especially if there doesn’t appear to be a logical reason for the increase, contact us. As independent insurance agents, we are qualified to research multiple companies in search of auto insurance rates you can afford, without increasing risks unnecessarily. Contact us to get the help you need today!

Your Car Was Damaged While Shopping. Now What?

You take a trip to your nearest Big Box store, anticipating the normal pleasant shopping experience. After the joy of traversing miles of aisles, you found what you needed and find your way back to the sprawling parking lot. After signaling your horn so you can find your car you discover it is not as you left it. In fact, someone has banged, dinged or otherwise damaged it and, of course, forgot to leave a note. Now what? What should you do when discovering your car was damaged while you were inside saving money?

The good news is that your insurance will probably cover the damage. The bad news is that frequently damage doesn’t meet deductible levels. It can be frustrating and even aggravating, but when you have such an experience, there are certain steps you should take.

1.) When you discover the damage, make note of when and where it occurred.

2.) Document the damage by taking pictures of it.

3.) If damage is severe enough, contact the store manager to see if there may be video surveillance of the parking lot at the time when the event occurred.

4.) Contact your insurance agent. Armed with your evidence you are prepared to let your insurance company know of the damage. They will direct you to the next steps, which will likely include getting estimates on the needed repairs.

Hit-and-run accidents are a criminal offense, and if damage is severe, police should be contacted and a report filed. This too, will substantiate your insurance claim.

Damage to your vehicle can happen almost anywhere at anytime. The best thing you can do is document the damage and if necessary, file a police report. A hit-and-run on private property is slightly different from one that occurs on public spaces. Knowing the appropriate steps to take can help speed the resolution process.

Auto insurance is designed to help protect you and your car whether you are driving, it is parked in your garage or it is on location. Where the damage occurs does make a difference.

Should you have any questions about your current automobile insurance or if it is adequate, we encourage you to contact us. Our independent agents can review your current policy and make valuable recommendations. They may even be able to save you on your automobile insurance coverage. Contact us today.

Why Changing Jobs May Change Your Car Insurance Rates

Changing jobs, especially for a better opportunity, can be exciting. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and perhaps even increase your income. Changing jobs can impact a variety of areas of your life, including your driving habits and automobile use. This is why when you are changing jobs, you may want to contact your auto insurance agent to see if it may impact your car insurance rates.

Why would changing jobs impact your insurance premiums? Here are just some examples.

  • Your commute distance changes dramatically. A part of your car insurance premium is based on the amount of miles you drive annually. If your commute is significantly shorter or longer, it could impact your car insurance premiums.
  • You begin to work from home. Obviously if you are working from home you are probably driving your car less. This can help save you on your auto insurance especially if you previously had a significant commute.
  • You switch to public transportation. Changing jobs may create an opportunity for you to take advantage of public transportation. Again, this would mean less frequent use of your car translating to fewer miles.
  • You switch to a job that utilizes your car. Many people are moving to contact labor jobs that involve the use of their private vehicles. This can range from ride-sharing to food delivery services. While many of these services provide a layer of coverage for their drivers, check with your auto insurance agent to make sure you have appropriate coverage. This can prevent a costly problem should an accident occur. The same would apply should you accept a position like outside sales where you may use your own car in the process.

Changing jobs may also precipitate a new car purchase or encourage you to increase or add coverage to your present automobile insurance policy. We invite you to contact our independent insurance agents should you consider making a change. Our independent agents are not tied to just one company. They actually have access to multiple insurance companies. They can shop around for you, comparing rates and coverages. You, of course, have the final decision but many of our clients have discovered we can not only improve their coverage, but in many cases, save them money.

If you have, or will be, changing jobs in the near future, contact us regarding your auto insurance. We would be glad to assist you.

When, How and Why Auto Insurance Takes Effect

Unless you keep the same car covered by the same insurance company for an extended period of time, you will be faced with questions surrounding your auto insurance coverage. How much coverage should you carry? Should you purchase uninsured motorist insurance and should you just carry liability or comprehensive coverage? To prevent any gaps in coverage, you will also want to know your automobile insurance is in place when you take delivery of your new vehicle.

So when, how and why does auto insurance take effect? Here are some common questions and answers.

Can I get auto insurance that is predated?

No. Predating insurance prior to its actual activation is illegal. This is why you need to keep coverage in force. You simply can’t wait until you are involved in an accident or need proof of insurance to acquire it.

Can I get auto insurance coverage immediately?

Yes. While auto insurance can’t be predated, coverage can take effect immediately after application and initial payment.

Can I schedule auto insurance coverage to start at some future date and time?

Yes. If you are planning to take possession of a vehicle in the near future, you can schedule coverage to take effect up to 30 days in advance. Of course, you will need to provide your information and the vehicle details including the VIN number.

Do I have to pay a premium for auto insurance to go into effect?

Yes. Your initial premium serves as a binder that locks in coverage at the time of payment, or within 30 days of the initial payment if you are purchasing it in advance.

If I am switching auto insurance providers, what do I need to know about canceling my previous auto insurance?

There are several factors to consider. Most auto insurance policies are in effect for six months. While most insurance companies will cancel a policy at any time and refund any unused premiums, some may require a pre-specified notice. Some high-risk still use what are called “unearned premiums” This is a predetermined amount of money that is owed the insurance company upon initial sign up. Some companies could have as much as a 3-month earned premium. This means that even if you cancel the policy one day after it was started, you would owe 3 months of earned premium regardless. Typically, after that 3 month period, the rest would be refunded back without any penalty.

Should I shop around for auto insurance?

Absolutely. When you buy a vehicle, it can seem easier to just roll over coverage to your current company. This can be costly, however. Our independent insurance agents can do the shopping for you. They have access to a variety of companies and, armed with your basic information, can do the comparisons. You have the final choice of your insurance company.

If you anticipate purchasing a vehicle, take appropriate steps to prevent any gaps or lapses in coverage. Knowing how, when and why coverage takes effect can help.