Category Archives: Car Insurance

Celebrating Our 2016 Content This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is one filled with laughter, songs, good food and even better company. As you celebrate with family and friends, we wish you happy holidays and hope that you create wonderful memories together.

The forthcoming new year also provides all of us an opportunity to reflect back upon the highlights of the past twelve months. As we do, join us in looking back at some of our favorite blogs and a special video from 2016. Once again, happy holidays from all of us at Petschauer Insurance.

  1. Travel Insurance for your Dream Vacation
  2. What You Need To Know When Choosing A Health Insurance Plan
  3. Certificate Of Insurance 101: What Business Owners Need to Know
  4. Key Man and Buy Sell Insurance Simplified
  5. How is your car insurance rate determined?

How is your car insurance rate determined?

carHave you ever wondered what determines the price of your car insurance? How and why do your rates change? Why are you paying more (or less) than you were at this time last year? These are all questions that go through a consumer’s mind when evaluating their respective rates.

Allow us to walk you through some crucial factors that help determine your insurance premium.

° Deductibles: The higher the deductible, the lower your premium will be, and vice versa.

° Coverages: Opting for more thorough liability coverage to better protect your assets and future earnings, as well as additional coverage (such as rental, reimbursement, full glass, and roadside assistance) will, understandably so, contribute to higher rates.

° Credit Based Rating: Many companies use a credit based insurance score to determine your car insurance rates. Higher scores correlate with responsible driving habits.

° Motor Vehicle Driving Record: If you’ve received a traffic violation or had an accident within the last 3 to 5 years, most insurance companies will take that into account. The rate could subsequently increase. On the flip side, if a driver has gone a longer period of time without a violation or accident, the rate could end up being lower.

° Age: Drivers between the ages of 25-65 typically pay lower rates.

° Make and model: Vehicles that perform better in crash safety tests usually have lower rates. Vehicles with higher sticker prices usually have higher comprehensive and collision rates.

° Residence: Living in heavily populated urban areas will make your premium more expensive than living in a suburban area. Urban areas have higher rates of vandalism, theft, and accidents, all making them more expensive than rural areas and small towns.

° Mileage and Usage: The more you drive and the further you drive, the more you pay. Your reason for usage (personal, business, etc.) is a factor in the rate as well.

With so many personal factors determining your auto insurance rates, it’s easy to understand why it often varies from one person to the next. Here are some ways to lower your rates:

° Increase your deductible

° Take a defensive driving course

°  If you’re the owner of multiple cars, there’s also the possibility of receiving a multi-car discount

° Driving fewer miles

° Some companies use vehicle tracking devices (like Progressive’s “Snapshot”) that monitor driving, which can offer additional discounts

° Bundle your home, auto & umbrella policies together with the same carrier, as they may offer multi-policy discounts.

There are many factors not in the control of an individual, so it’s important to take advantage of those that are. Contact us today if you are interested in getting the best coverage for you and your vehicle.

Seniors at the Wheel – Will their auto insurance rates change?

Seniors are referred to as drivers over the age of 65—some of whom are still very active and many of whom are continuing members of the work force.  Decreases in vision, hearing, slower motor responses, and changes in cognition have been said to challenge this demographic as they grow older.

Did you ever think that with more of the population aging, they might be doing a better job of acknowledging their limitations? Some seniors I spoke with tell me that they no longer drive at night because it is harder to see and they are not as sharp as they are during the morning hours. Others tell me that they stay out of rush hour and start their days later and end them earlier so that they can avoid heavily traveled roads, especially in inclement weather. Still others advise that they stay off major thoroughfares, and instead drive on side streets and roadways they have driven on all their lives. With the baby boomers fast approaching their 70’s what can we expect?  Will their auto insurance rates go up or down?  Is it possible that seniors can be said to be driving more cautiously with fewer accidents?  Could it be safer roads, reduced speeds, traffic conditions, safer vehicles, the use of seatbelts, daytime running lights, or even the lengthening of daylight savings time in some areas of the country?  The fact is that over the past decade it is reported that fatality rates for senior drivers have come down more dramatically than for any other age group.   For this reason, auto rates for the age group of 65-75 have decreased in many states with many carriers simply due to the claim statistics.

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Most of all, it is reported that older drivers actually drive fewer miles per year than their younger counterparts.  Some insurance carriers also take this into consideration when calculating rates for the senior demographics.  Of course, we haven’t yet gotten to the point where the “baby boomers” are over 75 years of age. That will take a few more years and it should be interesting to watch the results in insurance rates for this demographic.

It is important that seniors realize their driving ability can change as they age even though they may have been driving their entire life with an excellent safety record.  In order to continue to drive safely, it is crucial for seniors to recognize that changes can happen and to regularly assess their driving skills.

 

By Karen Skolar, CPCU

Which Insurance Policies Get Triggered In The Event Of A Flood?

During a recent rain storm in New York, some portions of Suffolk County received up to 13 inches in a very short time when a weather system stalled. The results: road closures, sink holes, flooded businesses, basements and cars.

How can insurance policies be expected to respond to such damages?

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AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE:

Comprehensively, a physical damage coverage can provide some relief if your vehicle is damaged by flood. However, there are limitations depending on the type of coverage purchased, the proximate cause of a loss, and the steps you take to safeguard the vehicle afterwards.

 

PROPERTY POLICIES:

Usually for property and business owners flood coverage is not provided under Homeowner’s, Businessowner’s or Package policies. Should Flood coverage be included, it is usually for limited amounts or in the form of a Water Back Up Endorsement.

FLOOD INSURANCE-Your best form of protection:

Flood insurance is the best safeguard against damages and destruction caused by:

  • overflow of navigable waters
  • mud slides
  • unusual and rapid accumulation of surface water
  • runoff water
  • collapse and subsidence caused by erosion
  • Super Storms such as “Sandy”

As with any exposure to loss, we strongly urge you to discuss your concerns with your agent or broker before something happens and find out the best way to protect your assets and your family.

By: Karen Skoler, CPCU

How Much Do Moving Violations Actually Cost You?

movingAs a driver, I’m sure you know that getting tickets can be an expensive proposition. The cost of the ticket, plus any applicable surcharge or court appearances, is just the beginning. Just what will tickets do to your car insurance premiums?

In recent years, credit scores showing how much debt you carry and how responsible you are in paying your bills, have become a factor in determining the cost of your insurance premiums. At present, more and more insurance carriers are now looking at the correlations between your driving record and the type of risk you present to determine the cost of your insurance coverage.

For instance, a violation for driving while impaired can cost you big time. Some studies show a probable increase of over 90% in your actual premiums and, in some states, the violation stays on your record for ten years.

Reckless or careless driving is another area that can have a huge effect on insurance premiums with possible increases of over 80%. Also tickets for failure to stop, failure to yield and not providing pedestrians with the right of way or failure to stop for a school bus are other serious tickets for which companies surcharge greatly.

Then, of course, there are always the penalties for speeding tickets. Increases range from 20% to 30% depending upon how many miles over the posted speed limit you are driving and whether or not you have been given this type of a ticket on a prior occasion. Not only are you jeopardizing your arrival at your destination, but rather the arrival of everyone else on the road as well. In addition, it is sure to be a mighty expensive trip for you!

Also, keep in mind, that texting or talking on your cell phone while driving are also considered moving violations. At this point most carriers consider these actions to be serious and result in major premium increases as well.

So the next time you get in your car, stay present and aware and follow ALL the rules of the road. It not only is safer – it will also keep your insurance premiums more affordable.

Karen Skoler, CPCU

Do You Want To Buy Auto Insurance In The Supermarket?

insurance-grocery-storeNews flash! We hear that Wal-Mart has decided to go into the auto insurance market. Well, I sure hope that they know what they are undertaking. Years ago, Sears had booths in their retail stores in which they, too, tried to sell car insurance. Do these retailers really believe that they can bring the same value and expertise to the insurance buying public as tried and true agents?

Most consumers eventually come to the conclusion that with direct companies there is no personal relationship, no guidance and no assistance in time of trouble. Sometimes it takes a lot of negative experience to make a customer realize just what they give up when they purchase insurance “ on the cheap.”

The fact is that when you deal with your agent, it is he or she that provides a quote, explains the meaning and importance of certain limits and coverages, answers your questions, takes your last minute payment, adds or deletes a vehicle, guides you through the claims process and intervenes with the company when a problem arises. There is no substitute for loyal customer service and personal relationships.

The scuttlebutt is that Wal-Mart has partnered with AutoInsurance.com. My take is that both of them obviously needed a boost in revenue and they undoubtedly believe that auto insurance sales are the answer. However, buying insurance online, via Wal-Mart, doesn’t really consider the needs of the consumer, in my opinion. What about the consumer who recognizes the value that comes from agents/brokers who have made the business of insurance their livelihood? Surely, if you have come to depend on your agent to help you navigate the waters of insurance, now is not the time to abandon ship!

By Karen Skoler, CPCU

What is Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

un-insured-motorist-picture4Two drivers get into an accident and one is at fault. The problem is that the one who is at fault may not have insurance. If that is the case than that operator now becomes an uninsured motorist. What if that operator is YOU? So how can you get compensated for your loss? That is where Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Coverage (a/k/a UM/UIM) from your automobile policy becomes very important. Uninsured Motorist can provide you with coverage for any bodily injuries you suffer in this accident.

Now let’s say that the other driver has some insurance; however, they only carry minimum liability limits. In this case, your UM/UIM coverage can provide the difference between your actual injury expenses and the other driver’s coverage up to the limits provided under YOUR own policy. Of course, this is only if you are carrying higher UM/UIM limits that the other driver. Keep in mind that the minimum UM/IUM liability limits vary from state to state and in NYS those limits are only $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence no matter how many people are injured in an accident.

What is most important to understand about UM/IUM coverages is that it only applies when you are involved in an accident and, the person causing the accident, doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your bodily injuries. The coverage also applies when you are the victim of a hit and run accident, a pedestrian knock down or a bicycle knock down accident. In such cases, you can file an “uninsured motorist” claim with your own auto insurance carrier, under your own coverage.

Do you know what your limits are? Have you reviewed these limits with your insurance agent?
You may believe that such occurrences are not common; however, insurance information sources indicate that up to one (1) out of every seven (7) drivers is uninsured and of those who are insured, many carry only minimum limits. In some states these limits might be as low as $10,000 for each person injured, and $20,000 regardless of how many are injured in one accident. This is not all that surprising given our current economic climate where many people are trying to reduce costs whenever and wherever possible. Even radio and television advertisements seem to be more interested in the cost of insurance rather than in the actual product(s) or coverages being provided. As the economy struggles toward recovery, we urge you not to sacrifice necessary and important coverage for reduced premiums. It could mean your hard earn assets could be wiped out if your limits are not enough to cover your injuries and the necessary expenses related to your recovery.

If you have any doubts about what coverages you should have in place, do not hesitate to contact your insurance agent today.

Are you aware that your Umbrella Policy may or may not offer some additional UM/IUM protection for you and your family? This is what your insurance agent is there for—-to educate and consult with you, as the consumer, so that you can make good choices on what assets and property you want to protect.

By Karen Skoler, CPCU

Ask Sherri – Animal Vehicle Damage

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Dear Sherri: If an animal you have causes damage to your vehicle, will the collision cover it? If so, is it a chargeable accident?— Pestered in New York

Dear Pestered in New York: Great question! In New York, damages caused to your vehicle by an animal would be covered, but not under the collision coverage of your policy, but under the comprehensive coverage subject to your deductible. If your best friend, Fido, decides to chew on your new Corinthian leather seats like last week’s newspaper, you can make a claim. Comprehensive auto coverage also provides benefits when you have a collision with a deer or other animal. Also, if you have a picnic basket in your car Yogi Bear breaks and totally destroys the interior; your policy will cover that as well.

In response to the second part of your question; Comprehensive claims are not chargeable, however most companies are now tiered so depending on the number of incidents you have, your company could change your tier, which could result in a higher premium.

So while these things are covered by your insurance, Ask Sherri recommends you keep Fido under control, buy him his own chew-toy, and take the picnic basket with you!