Monthly Archives: April 2017

Easy Tips for Repair Your Car After a Accident

You just received a check from you auto insurance company to repair minor damages to your car from a recent accident. You’re OK driving a banged up car and would rather spend the money elsewhere.

What are your options?

Several factors come into play, such as who owns the car, your insurer and the state where you you live. Cashing the check without regard to these can land you in trouble later on.


Leasing or still paying on your car limits options

Unless you own your vehicle outright there is little choice. If a leasing company or bank still holds title to the car the insurance company will either pay the repair shop directly or write the check to both you and the lien holder.

If the check is made out to both you and the lienholder you will need to get a co-signature on the check from your bank or leasing company. In the case of a leasing company you will often have to mail the check to an out of state office.

Once you have the co-signature you will need to pay the repair shop. According to experts, if the check is made out to both of you, keeping the money is not a possibility.

The lender or leasing company will want the vehicle fixed because they own it and they will want to protect their investment. All of this adds up to getting the car fixed, even if the check is made out to only you.

Cashing the check and spending the money amounts to fraud and it can end badly for you. Your loan or lease documents require you to maintain your vehicle in good working order which means getting it fixed properly if you are in an accident.

Until you make the last payment and the title is yours, the financing company calls the shots in regards to the vehicle. When you try to turn in your leased vehicle it will have to be repaired before they will accept it back so eventually you are going to cover the cost of repairs either way.


Owning you car gives greater flexibility

If you already own the vehicle and are carrying collision insurance you may be able to get paid out and keep the cash. On the other hand, your insurer might just pay the body shop instead of you.

There may be a clause in your insurance policy that requires the check to go to the repair shop to ensure the vehicle will be repaired.

The state you live in can also be a factor. Some states have regulations that dictate who gets the check in the event of a claim payout. As an example, in Massachusetts the check is made out to the claimant who then has the right to decide to get the car fixed or keep the money for themselves.

How to Get Cheap Quotes All About Your Car Insurance

Are high auto insurance premiums driving you to look for a better deal? If so, it’s quick and easy to get cheap car quotes to buy auto insurance online.

In fact, spending just 15 minutes online shopping for car insurance could save you hundreds of dollars over the next year.

Here are the steps to get cheap quotes for good coverage at the right price:

1. Assess coverage then buy auto insurance online

Before you can buy auto insurance online you need to know what coverage you want. However, many drivers don’t even know what coverage they currently have, says Jason Hoffman, president of J. Hoffman Insurance, an independent insurance agency in New York. To get the details on your current policy, find the declarations page you got from your insurance company, which will spell out how much liability insurance you have and whether you have other coverage.

Auto insurance falls into three categories:

  • Liability insurance – Each state sets minimum limits for liability insurance, which all drivers must carry. It’s smart to carry more than the state minimum. The American Institute of CPAs recommends you protect yourself financially by carrying bodily injury liability coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
  • Collision insurance – You can also buy collision insurance, which pays for repairs to your own car from a collision, which could be hitting another car or an object like a bridge or tree, according to Allstate.
  • Comprehensive insurance – Another optional coverage, comprehensive insurance pays for damage not caused by an accident – for example, from hail, a falling branch or a rock hitting your windshield. Comprehensive insurance also covers theft, for example, if a thief broke your window and stole your car stereo.


2. Get a cheap quote online

There are good and bad ways to get a cheap quote when you buy auto insurance online.

First, here’s what not to do: Don’t directly shop car insurance companies known for cheap rates by plugging your information into their websites. If you do that you may end up talking with a company representative who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, Hoffman says.

ALSO: Is the Car or Driver Insured?

Fortunately, there are ways to get cheap quotes so you get the coverage you need with no nasty surprises down the road. Here’s how:

  • Start online to find an agent. Instead of going directly to a company to try to find a bargain, look for an insurance shopping website that allows you to plug in your information, which gets passed on to a handful of agents who can look for the best policy for your needs at the lowest price. Check out any agent you’re considering by visiting their website and looking at online reviews, Hoffman recommends.
  • Scout out discounts. The agents you speak with should know the ins and outs of the many discounts offered by auto insurers. Finding multiple discounts increases your chances of getting a cheap quote when you buy auto insurance online. For example, if you’re a student up to age 25 who makes As or Bs, a good student discount could cut the cost of your premium by as much as 25 percent. If you have a good driving record with no accidents or tickets, that could save you as much as 20 percent. You may also be able to get a substantial discount if you’re willing to put a monitoring device in your car and it shows that you drive safely. For example, Nationwide’s has a program that offers savings up to 40 percent based on your driving.
  • Get multiple quotes. Get quotes from multiple insurance companies to get the cheapest policy that offers the coverage you need. You can either get quotes from several agents, or find one independent agent who represents 10 or more companies and can shop all those insurers for you. Rates may vary widely from one insurer to the next, so get at least three quotes.
  • Quote bundled insurance. If you also own a home, you’ll likely get your best deal by getting your home and car insurance from the same insurer. For example, State Farm offers up to 22 percent off auto insurance to policyholders who also have home, condo, renters or life insurance with the company. It’s definitely worth getting quotes for bundled policies to see how much you could save by going this route. When quoting bundled insurance, look at your home insurance declarations page and make sure any home policy you’re considering provides comparable or better coverage.
  • Check premiums with different deductibles. One way to save big is to increase your deductible, says Keith Balsiger, president of Balsiger Insurance, an insurance agency with three locations in Nevada. Ask for quotes at different deductible levels — $250, $500 and $1,000 – to see how much raising your deductible can slice off your premium when you plan to buy auto insurance online, he says.


3. Consider other ways to save

If you find the quotes you’re getting are still too high, you may have other options. Some consumers who drive older cars choose to save by carrying only liability insurance.

How do you decide if liability only is right for you? It may make financial sense if your car is fully paid off and eight years or older, according to personal finance expert Clark Howard. He recommends calculating your total yearly cost for collision and comprehensive insurance, the two types that are optional. If the yearly cost is more than 10 percent of your car’s total value, consider going with only liability coverage, he recommends.

Before you go that route when you buy auto insurance online, it’s smart to make sure you have enough money saved to pay for your own repairs or buy a new car if you get in a wreck.

Great Tips to Get Cheap Rates

There’s no getting around the fact that you need auto insurance for teens. The key is to get cheap rates for the best quality coverage.

Insurers base rates on risk and, mile-for-mile, teens are the riskiest drivers on the road. The fatal crash rate per mile driven for U.S. 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly three times the rate for older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The risk peaks for 16- and 17-year-olds, whose fatal crash rate is nearly twice that of 18- and 19-year-olds.

That said, there are things you can do to lower the prices for auto insurance for teens. Here’s a rundown to get cheap rates.


1. Add your teen to your auto insurance policy

Adding your teen to your policy will generally be cheaper than buying a separate policy. For one thing, your teen will benefit from factors that lower your rates, such as owning a home, being married, having established credit and having a safe driving record.

ALSO: Should You Let Your Teen Drive Their Friends

In addition, you might get discounts for adding a driver to your policy and having multiple cars on your policy.

One exception might be if you have a vehicle that’s expensive to insure, such as a sports car or a luxury car, because you might have to insure your teen for access to all vehicles on your policy. If you opt not to include your teen driver on your policy, you may have to specifically exclude your him or her from the policy.


2. Auto insurance for teens — choose the right car

Buying a car with a better safety rating will not only protect your young driver, it could also save you money when shopping auto insurance for teens. Better safety ratings and records generally translate into fewer accidents and injuries, meaning fewer and lower payouts for insurers. Some companies even provide discounts for safety features.

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. Geico will discount rates up to 25 percent on injury coverage for driver-side airbags or 40 percent for full-frontal airbags, 5 percent on collision coverage for antilock brakes and 1 percent on some coverages for daytime running lights.

This is a good place to mention that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says teens are safest in larger, heavier cars that do not have high horsepower, are equipped with electronic stability control and earn high safety ratings. The IIHS maintains a list of recommended cars for teens. Picking on these cars should hep you get cheap rates when searching for auto insurance for teens.

ALSO: The Utlimate Cheap Insurance Guide for Teens

One caveat here is that the safest cars tend to be larger (as mentioned above) and newer, because they have the latest safety features. But bigger, newer cars also tend to cost more, and that can translate to higher insurance rates.

Insurers also consider other vehicle factors, such as the frequency of theft and engine size. An anti-theft system could save you 10 percent with Allstate and 25 percent on your comprehensive coverage with Geico.

3. Have your teen take a driver training course

Signing your teen up for a driving course is a smart safety move before shopping for auto insurance for teens, and your insurance company may also reward you with lower rates. Contact your insurance company to find out how much of a discount you can get and which courses qualify. In addition, Liberty Mutual provides a discount for teens who sign a teen driving contract.

College Affect for My Auto Insurance

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.