Category Archives: Insurance

Dropping your teen from your auto insurance policy

If your child is going to college, you might plan to offset those big tuition bills by dropping your teen from your auto insurance policy.

But that could be a risky way to save money. It’s no secret that having a young driver on your policy can be expensive.

In fact, adding a daughter can increase your rates by 50 percent while a son can hike them by 100 percent, according to Insure U, a public education program from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

But if your son or daughter regularly drives your car and is currently on your auto insurance policy, or if your looking for an auto insurance policy, it’s smart to keep it that way when a child is going to college, says Sonja Larkin-Thorne, a NAIC consumer representative.

First, your college student likely will visit home over holidays and during summer vacations. During breaks, he or she probably will want to drive to the store, visit friends and get to and from a summer job. Your auto insurance should reflect this reality.

ALSO: Should You Replace a Child’s Car Seat After a Crash?

Second, if you take your child off your policy when they are going to college but your home is still listed as his or her primary residence, then your auto insurer might require you to sign an exclusion stating that your child will not have access to or be allowed to drive your vehicles, Larkin-Thorne says.

A child going to college who’s excluded from your auto insurance policy won’t be permitted to drive your car even in case of emergency – for example, if you were driving, with your kid in the passenger seat, and you had a medical crisis.

“You couldn’t put your child behind the wheel even to drive you to the hospital,” she says.


Your child going to college will affect your auto insurance

If your child will move out of your home to attend college, whether across town or out of state, notify your auto insurance agent or insurer, says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

Discuss your specific situation, your concerns and all of your options when you have a child going to college. The effect on your policy will depend on a variety of factors, including where your child is going to college, the minimum liability insurance requirements of the state where the university is located and whether your child will take a car to school.

No matter what the situation, you may need to provide the agent or auto insurer with the address of the university and proof of your child going to college, Larkin-Thorne says.

Finding the cheapest auto insurance for teens

Becoming a young adult and striking out on your own brings with it many new responsibilities, including figuring out your own auto insurance policy. That usually means finding the cheapest auto insurance for teens.

If you’ve been on your parents’ policy and they haven’t filled you in, this will be when you find out just how pricey it is to get auto insurance for teens. It will be expensive, but there are steps you can take to minimize the financial pain. Here’s a rundown.


1. Cheapest auto insurance for teens? Shop around

It might seem quickest and easiest to go with the same insurance company your parents use. After all, it’s good enough for them. You might even be familiar with that company if you’ve been on your parents’ policy. But that could be a mistake.

Auto insurance prices can vary widely among companies.

Your parents may not have comparison shopped in a while, or ever, to ensure they’re getting the best deal. Furthermore, what’s be best for them might not be for you, because your task is finding the cheapest auto insurance for teens. Each auto insurance company has a different method for determining auto insurance rates, including your age, gender, driving record, occupation, credit history and marital status, where you live, whether you own a home, what kind of vehicle you drive, what you use your car for, how much you drive and how much coverage you want.

ALSO: 6 Tips for Keeping Your Teen Driver Safe

And don’t believe insurance commercials that promise to save you money. No one company is cheapest for all people in all places. That’s why finding the chepest auto insurance for teens will save you money. Of course, it’s easier than ever these days to get auto insurance quotesfrom many companies, so you can make an informed decision.


2. Get the right and cheapest auto coverage for teens

Just as you shouldn’t use your parents’ insurance company without comparison shopping, don’t just opt for their coverage levels. There’s no one right amount of coverage to suit every person’s needs.

People who have more money and assets that could be lost in a lawsuit after an accident, for instance, need higher liability coverage levels than people who are just starting their professional lives.

People who own pricier cars have a greater need for and potential benefit from comprehensive and collision coverage than those driving older, cheaper cars. That’s because comprehensive and collision, which protect against damage from accidents and other hazards, plus theft, will never pay out more than the current value of your car.


3. Raise your insurance deductibles

If you decide you want comprehensive and collision coverage, you could consider raising your deductibles for these coverages. This would leave you paying more after an accident, other damage or theft, but would save you money on your monthly insurance bill. Finding the cheapest auto insurance for teens means looking at the total potential costs, including deductibles.


4. Consider what auto coverage you don’t need

Some coverage extras might be useful, but can be jettisoned when you’re trying to save money on your auto insurance. For instance, you might be able to go without rental car reimbursement and roadside assistance.


5. Choose the right auto to insure

Several vehicle factors play into auto insurance rates, including a car’s record of accidents, injuries and thefts. So buying a car with a better safety rating and record can save you money, and could also save your life. Having a car that’s less likely to be stolen is a good thing as well.

Some insurers provide discounts for safety features and anti-theft devices, which is just one hint when finding the cheapeast auto insurance fo rteens. Allstate, for instance, provides a discount of up to 30 percent for passive restraints like airbags and motorized seatbelts, and 10 percent for antilock brakes.

The impact of the batteries used by eco-vehicles on health

Hybrid and electric vehicle owners are generally pretty proud of their contribution to easing the environmental impact on the planet’s fragile ecosystem.  But a recent report published by the EPA questions the impact of the batteries used by eco-vehicles on health and the environment.

The report highlights a study with the heady title “Application of Life-Cycle Assessment to Nanoscale Technology: Lithium-ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles.” The study was performed by the EPA in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Li-ion battery industry, and members of the academic community. The aim of the study was to identify health and ecological hazards that pertain to the batteries and to take steps to remediate those issues, if any were found.  Improving battery performance while the technology is still evolving was another focus of the research.

According to the report, the nickel and cobalt used in the lithium-ion batteries proposes a health hazard to those exposed during their production. Concerns raised in the study include the health risks of workers in the manufacturing process, who’ve been found to have an increased incidence of respiratory and pulmonary problems. Increased risk of neurological problems is also a concern for those involved in the battery’s production. Additionally, the study found that the net effect of the production of the batteries actually increases the effects of climate change. Global resource depletion is also an issue raised in the study.

Another ecological issue involves the impact of recharging plug-in batteries in parts of the U.S. – particularly the Mid-west and South, where coal-fired power plants are used to produce electricity.

Shanika Amarakoon, an Abt Associates analyst involved with the study said, “These impacts are sensitive to local and regional grid mixes. If the batteries in use are drawing power from the grids in the Midwest or South, much of the electricity will be coming from coal-fired plants. If it’s in New England or California, the grids rely more on renewables and natural gas, which emit less greenhouse gases and other toxic pollutants. However, impacts from the processing and manufacture of these batteries should not be overlooked.”

The best car for your needs and budget

Buying a car for the first time can be daunting. Even the most experienced car buyer is often filled with uncertainty and the sheer number of makes and models available in the marketplace can make finding the perfect car tough. In order to help first time car buyers we have put together a few tips to help you find the best car for your needs and budget.

Be Realistic About Your Budget – Setting a realistic budget is probably the most important decision you will make when buying a new car. It can be easy to end up in a car that you can’t really afford if you are not careful. Stick to the basics, while a sports car may be more fun to drive, a low budget sedan is more affordable. Set a monthly amount that fits into your budget. When deciding on a car payment be sure to include all costs, insurance, fuel and maintenance must be factored in to the total payment.

Decide What Kind of Car You Need – Are you heading up to the mountains every weekend or do you spend most of your time circling the block looking for a parking spot? The kind of driving that you do on a daily basis should be considered when picking a car.  A small car can be easier to park and less expensive to insurance and maintain. However if you spend a lot of time in the snow and need to haul things, a truck or SUV may be the best solution.

Make a List – It is a good idea to make a list of features that you want in a new car. Go wild when you make your list because you are then going to prioritize it. Once you have all of your dream features listed it is time to break them into must-haves, would be nice, and probably just a dream categories. Put safety issues higher on your list than convenience factors, you are better off with anti-lock brakes than heated seats. Once you have your list prioritized its time to match it up with the perfect car.

Research – You will probably be driving this first car for at least a few years so make sure that you research it thoroughly. There are tons of websites that offer reviews, and information about all the makes and models available including used vehicles. You can find pricing information as well as details on trim levels and safety features. Read reviews from both professionals and owners. Make a short list of cars you want to test drive.

Test Drive Your Short List – Get out to your local dealer and test drive the cars on your list. The test drive is key and will probably be one of the biggest factors in your decision. Drive each car you are considering for a reasonable amount of time, get out on the highway, and drive in the city in order to get a real feel for the car. Pay attention to the layout of the controls and visibility. This is a big purchase so make sure you take the time to drive the car.

What You Do After An Accident

Being in a car accident is never fun, after the initial shock of the crash you will have to deal with the repairs of your vehicle as well as the insurance claim. While you will probably be a bit confused or frustrated after the accident there are a few actions that can actually make matters worse so follow these tips to make sure your accident goes as smoothly as possible.

Its Not Just a Fender Bender – While it might look like a minor fender-bender, the costs could end up being significant. There is the possibility that the frame is bent, the axle damaged, or other structural damage. Even a damaged bumper that is filled with sensors and crumple zones can be a very expensive fix. No matter how minor the damage, you should get all of the other drivers contact information, including their insurance ID number. This will come in handy if you need to make a claim later.

Never Apologize – Even if you think the accident might be your fault, don’t apologize or admit fault, it may be used against you later in a lawsuit. Simply exchange information with the other driver and let the insurance companies determine fault and settle the claims. Admitting guilt can result in a claim against you and a possible lawsuit if the accident is severe enough, for that reason, let the adjusters work it out.

Document the Scene – Many people think that if it is just a minor accident there is no need to take photos or call the police. Again, regardless of how minor an accident you should take photos of the scene as well as the damage to your vehicle, and that of the other person. Insurance experts recommended calling the police and getting a police report which can help determine fault. It is possible that the police will refuse to come out for a small incident but you can at least tell your insurer that you tried.

Consider Paying for Towing – If your car needs to be towed and you have roadside assistance on your policy you might want to cover the cost yourself. While roadside assistance is usually a low cost add-on, if you use it frequently it could result in a premium increase. Each tow or jumpstart ends up on your policy record and could drive your rates higher at renewal time.

Don’t Delay Filing a Claim – It is best to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. They will advise you how to proceed and in many cases will direct you to an approved repair center to get your car checked out. The adjusters will also get started on their investigation to determine fault and settle any claims.

Don’t Choose a Deductible You Can’t Afford – While it may seem like a good idea to raise your deductible to lower your insurance payment, if you don’t have enough money to cover the deductible you may find yourself unable to get your car repaired. It is best to keep your deductible in a range that you can easily afford, even if it results in a higher monthly payment.

Find a Lawyer – If you are involved in a serious accident and have sustained injuries it is best to speak with an attorney. A lawyer can help explain your options in regards to lawsuits as well as dealing with your insurance company if you are unhappy with their offer or claim service. Look for a lawyer that has experience in the type of accident that you were involved in.

A Teens Auto Insurance Rates

Letting a teenager drive is scary enough for any parent. Add in the parents’ car that the teen is driving on the family’s auto insurance policy, and you might not get any sleep at night. Throw in a DUI, and it’s a nightmare.

A DUI or DWI — police terms for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated — is a “scarlet letter” to auto insurers, says Troy Thompson, owner of Pinnacle Insurance Agency in Coon Rapids, Minn. Half of the companies Thompson works with will drop an entire family if their teen has a DUI, he says.

“They don’t want to be anywhere near someone in a household with a DUI,” Thompson says.

If an insurer does keep the family policy, parents with such a teen will likely see their rates double or triple, he says.

Two types of policies

A teen’s auto insurance rate depends on whose policy they’re on — their own or their parents — and if the teen owns a car. Using a parent’s car on a family auto insurance policy is a lot cheaper than doing it on your own.

A family policy can cost about $100 per month and will rise to $200 after a DUI, while a teen with their own policy will pay up to $500 per month and could see their rate go up to $800 per month, Thompson says. “No policy is cheap when you have a 16-year-old,” he says.

When the teen turns 18, they can stay on the parents’ policy as long as they live in the house, he says. But after moving out or having a vehicle in their name, they must have their own insurance, he says.

If the teen has their own insurance policy because they own a car that’s in their name, then they’ll face an “astronomical” rate increase after a DUI, Thompson says. Families and insurance agents don’t always put a car that’s in a kid’s name on the kid’s insurance policy, he says, but it should be.

“You can’t insure somebody else’s vehicle if you don’t have any skin in the game with that vehicle,” Thompson says, meaning your name on the title.

Know About Car Insurance Deductibles

Car insurance can be tricky. Knowing which coverages to carry is important but it can be confusing. While having the proper coverages is key, having the right deductible is also necessary. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about car insurance deductibles:


What is a deductible?

A deductible is the dollar amount that you agree to pay out of your pocket before your car insurance starts paying the bills after you have filed a claim. After your deductible is paid your insurer should cover the rest of the bills related to your claim, up to the limits of your policy coverage.

Deductibles vary by the type of coverage you are talking about, and some coverages have a zero deductible. As an example, liability coverages do not have a deductible while coverages such as personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorist may have a deductible depending on the state you live in and the insurer you are covered by. On the other hand, coverages that handle physical damage such as comprehensive and collision will always have a deductible. It is possible to set your deductible at zero but it will bump your premium up significantly.


How a Deductible Works

When a physical damage policy is first written you will the option of several deductible amounts. These amounts can vary from zero to a whopping $2500 if you really want to keep your premium payment low. The most common and popular deductible amounts are $250, $500 or $1,000.

What all of this means is that if you are in an accident and file a claim for $4000 in damages and you have a deductible of $250 you will need to pay the repair shop that first $250 and your insurer will cut a check for $3750 to the repair shop to cover the rest of the bill.

The deductible takes on a different meaning if your vehicle is totaled or deemed a total loss. In the above example, if your car is only worth $4000 your insurer will total the car and your insurance company will pay out the claim instead of repairing the vehicle. In this case you would receive a check for $3750 which is the $4000 value of our vehicle minus your $250 deductible.

Your deductible will also factor into when you will make a claim. If you are in a small accident and the damage amounts to $150 there is no need to make a claim as the damage amount is less then your deductible. This is not a big deal if you are carrying a small deductible but if you are carrying a deductible of $1000 that can amount to a lot of damage that will not be fixed unless you write the check.

In the majority of cases, the deductible is due regardless of whether you are at fault or not in the accident. One exception is for a windshield claim, this only applies in some states and with some insurers so be sure to check with your insurance company. If you are not at fault and do not want to pay your deductible its possible to go after the at fault party’s insurer by making a claim with them.

Leasing Your New Ride

Thinking of trading in your old ride for a new one? If you are, you might want to consider leasing instead of buying. This is especially true if you’re someone who likes to drive a new car every year or two.  If you are considering leasing, what follows are some tips to make your lease work in your favor…

The first step is to do your research when deciding on what car you want to lease and how much you can afford to spend on monthly payments.  Be sure to check on auto insurance, so you can factor that amount into your monthly budget.

According to Edmunds, it’s a wiser move financially to get a lease with no down payment, even if it means making higher monthly payments. This is because if you crash the car soon after you get into the lease, your insurance won’t reimburse you for your down payment, which is also called a cap reduction.  That means you’ll have to forfeit that money. Edmunds suggests that if you need to get a lower payment to meet your budget, it’s better to take the funds and set them aside to be put towards your monthly payments than to use them as a down payment.

It’s important to research incentives on lease deals to find the best one for your needs. Make sure you uncover any fees that might be hidden in the agreement that will end up driving up the price of your lease. Also, make sure that the vehicle in the lease deal has all of the options you want.  If it doesn’t, adding them on can add a significant amount to your contract.  Be sure to get multiple quotes to ensure you get the best lease contract.

Once you agree on a lease, review the contract carefully before signing.  Be sure to note the length of the lease (Edmunds recommends 36 months) and the stated amount of cash due upon signing, if any.  The number of payments is another thing to verify, as well as the monthly payment amount and gap insurance.  GAP is an acronym for Guaranteed Auto Protection. It’s a must when leasing because you don’t own the car outright.  In the event of an accident, your insurance company will reimburse you for the current value of the car, but the amount you owe on your lease could be more than that. GAP insurance will cover you for the difference so you don’t have to end up paying it to the leasing company out of pocket.

Which means bent rims and a torn-up suspension are on you

Hitting a pothole can mean taking a hit to your pocketbook since insurers don’t always cover the damages. Most insurers look at pothole damage as an at-fault damage claim, which means bent rims and a torn-up suspension are on you.

If you don’t want to foot the bill for a torn-up suspension or a bent rim, you might try hitting up the city, county or state agency that’s responsible for maintaining the roadways.

This isn’t always an easy process, and lots of cities pass the buck on to motorists and insurance companies. But if you’re lucky, some state and local governments will willingly pay for the damages that potholes cause to vehicles.

It just might take a little patience, and some work.

Compared to other cities, Chicago appears to be one of the more forthcoming municipalities when it comes to paying out pothole claims. The Chicago Office of the City Clerk processes damage claims of up to $2,000 before passing them along to the City Council’s Finance Committee.

In 2013, the city paid off 754 claims, at an average of $240 per claim, according to a report by Chicago Magazine.

“It’s a nice customer service,” says Pat Corcoran, spokesman for the Office of the City Clerk.

The catch is that the city usually pays half the cost, with the idea that motorists are partly at fault for hitting the pothole. And filing claims can be a tedious process that can take several months.

“We find that people are initially frustrated with the realization that it’s going to take time, and it’s not going to be a full reimbursement,” Corcoran says. “However, people are generally pleased when that check finally arrives.”

The best piece of advice, Corcoran says, it to have the claim forms filled out completely and accurately before they’re submitted, since having errors in the damage claim can lead to further holdups.

It’s also best not to delay submitting the claim, since the City Council meets only once a month to review them. “Get those receipts to us as quickly as possible to expedite what’s going to be a longish process,” he says.

Grand Rapids, Mich., is another city where residents have had some luck getting their money back, 1 in 7 residents paid in 2013, according to a report by MLive. That included nine pothole damage claims approved for payment, for a total of $4,185; 55 claims were rejected, in most cases because the city claimed no prior knowledge of the pothole.

Cities reluctant to loosen purse strings

Other cities appear to be less forthcoming with payouts. The city of Dallas is less forthcoming with payouts. The Dallas Morning News

reports that 217 people filed pothole-related claims between February and July, but 200 of those claims were denied. As of July, the other 17 claims remained under investigation.

In New Orleans, a city notorious for its pockmarked roadways, potholes have become such an issue for motorists that one resident formed an advocacy group known as Fix My Streets to get the attention of public officials.

A modern daredevil today to drive in Mexico

You must be a modern daredevil today to drive in Mexico. Perhaps the tight streets of the northeastern United States are not enough. You, my friend, enjoy the element of danger. Don’t be a fool. The idea of getting Mexican insurance must be a priority. The potential for a problem is high.

I’ve had firsthand experience watching a drunken man sideswipe cars in an older Lincoln Continental. It was like he was in a NASCAR race trying to nudge everyone else out for the win. Given the scenario, I expected to see a matadore with his muleta outstretched and waving the man onward.

Mexico is not all that barbaric, but some of it can be. So, it is best to do a quick search-and-grab for insurance coverage. After all, insurance from a Mexican company is required by Mexican law in an accident even if you are not at fault. Like your coverage at home, a Mexican insurance policy can provide coverage for damage to your vehicle or its total loss.

Driving into the southern and eastern areas of Mexico can be a real treat. It is a tremendous expanse of land with some of the most amazing views and roadside interests. But don’t be surprised if you find a few rocks in the road. In fact, it’s kind of just a common problem. The torrential rains not only bring rock and debris, but a group of stacked rocks usually is a warning for problems ahead. Having Mexican insurance is simply the smart move. A Mexican Insurance policy greatly reduces the financial burden you might come by when a road itself is hazardous.

And remember, Mexican laws are designed to infuriate the people. In Mexico, you are dealing with a system that used to view a traffic accident as a criminal offense. Fortunately that is no longer the case. Yet, when breaking a Mexican law there is always the threat of jail. Having Mexican Insurance can actually reduce jail time resulting from a traffic accident.