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Should Newlyweds Combine Car Insurance Policies?

Chances are, car insurance wasn’t the first thing you thought of after the proposal. In fact, you might not have thought about how marriage might affect your car insurance rates at all. But after the decorations have been cleared and honeymoon adventures logged, you’ll want to consider adding “check on combining car insurance policies” to your newlywed to-do list. Car insurance is usually cheaper for married couples — with a few important caveats.

No Matter What, You’ll Likely Save
Even if you do absolutely nothing, the sheer fact of being married is likely to have a positive impact on your rates once your policy is up for review. The Zebra, a car insurance comparison engine and digital auto insurance agency, projects a premium savings of 10-12 percent when all other factors remain the same.

Why is this the case? According to Frankie Kuo, an auto insurance specialist at Value Penguin, “Insurers find married people less likely to file a claim compared to single drivers of comparable profile, and so consider them less risky to insure.”

When Combining Policies Makes Sense
To nab an even steeper discount, consider combining your car and your beloved’s in a single policy. This makes the most sense if you both have spotless driving records and no recent gaps in insurance coverage, Esurance explains.

Remember, too, that in addition to lower rates, having two cars on the same policy can often earn you multi-car discounts from insurers. Moreover, even if your household only has one vehicle, you can still earn discounts for sharing a policy.

“Even if a family only has one car, we would still recommend a single policy that would cover both drivers, since it ensures that both drivers are insured without incurring the extra cost of a second policy,” says Eric Madia, vice president of product for Esurance.

Finally, combining your auto insurance policy with existing homeowners’ or renters’ policies from the same company could lead to even greater discounts overall.

Take a Combined Policy Test-Drive
Many factors shape one’s insurance premium, and driving is only one of them. In some states, insurance companies use credit scores as one element in determining rates. So you may have some choices to make, based on your separate driving and financial histories.

For example, what if your spouse has a decent driving record but a poor credit score? Or what if you’re a great money manager, but your lead foot has recently scored you a speeding ticket?

You should first get a quote for adding your spouse to your insurance or vice versa, says Jean-Marie Lovett, president of independent insurance agency MassDrive Insurance Group in Boston. Asking for a quote doesn’t obligate you to follow through with the change. (If your spouse is a champion speeding-ticket holder, however, you might have to list him or her as an excluded driver in your household. More on that in a moment.) Lovett says it’s a good practice to first get quotes for two drivers on one policy.

If putting the policies together does not help you save on the premium, you can just list your spouse on your policy and defer them to their own individual insurance, Lovett says.

When it comes to credit scores, one of the smartest things you can do is place the person with the best credit score as the primary named insured. “Their credit is the one that will be portrayed to the insurance company,” Lovett notes, “and will be the credit score that the insurance company will rate off of.”

Keep in mind this is only true in states where it’s legal to use credit scores as a rating factor. Some states, such as Massachusetts and California, do not permit the practice. In that case, Lovett explains, the person with the best driving record should be the primary insured.

Still unsure on whether to combine policies? It can help to know the value of your cars. “Maybe your spouse has a good driving record,” Lovett says, “but a junker of a car.”

“If you have a 1995-2005 vehicle, you should debate whether to have collision coverage, or increase the collision deductible to $1,000,” she continues. “Cars that get over the 10-year-old mark tend to take a significant drop in value, and you want to weigh the cost of the collision coverage on the vehicle versus the actual value of the vehicle.” She adds that in the event of an accident, having the $1,000 deductible “gives you the option to junk the caror make a claim while keeping your insurance premium manageable.”

When Not To Combine Policies
Though you’re now joined in holy matrimony, there are some cases in which it just doesn’t make sense to bring that partnership to your car insurance. Esurance warns that if one of you has a truly poor driving record, separate policies could end up costing you less.

“Combining a low-risk driver’s policy with a high-risk driver’s will likely increase the low-risk driver’s car insurance rates,” according to Esurance. There’s also the chance that your insurance company simply won’t insure your accident-prone partner, no matter the cost. “If one spouse has more than three accidents, your insurance carrier may not accept the spouse,” Lovett says.

Here’s where the really bad news comes in: Even if you don’t combine policies, simply living under the same roof as a high-risk driver could have a negative impact on your car insurance rates.

Esurance explains why: “Because insurance companies consider the driving histories of all family members living within the same household when underwriting policies, having a high-risk driver under your roof makes you riskier by association.” Car insurance follows the car, so your policy would have to cover the damage if your spouse caused an accident on an errand in your vehicle, for example.

There may be a way around this, though. “In most states, you are required to list all drivers in your household on your policy,” Lovett says. “However, you can ‘defer’ someone, meaning they have their own insurance policy.”

Also called a driver exclusion, this is an easy way to keep insurance costs low, even if your spouse is high risk. Keep in mind that exclusion truly means excluded: If your spouse borrows your vehicle and gets into an accident, you’re responsible for any and all damages.

The Bottom Line
“Nine times out of 10,” Lovett advises, “it will be beneficial to merge the insurance” for a newlywed couple. And if it doesn’t make sense right now, Kuo recommends doing what you can to mitigate your high-risk profile. Taking a certified defensive driving course may unlock an automatic discount, or at least facilitate a negotiation for lower rates.

“Having a spotty record is inconvenient, but people usually have a chance to get lower rates just by shopping around and comparing prices across companies,” Kuo adds.

Additionally, Kuo points out that minor traffic violations usually do not haunt a driver’s record for more than three years. Staying clean for that long can also remove a driver from the high-risk pool.

Even if you can’t combine policies immediately, Kuo recommends taking another look at your insurance every now and then. If couples think it makes sense to combine their policies, they can meet with their agent for a review. “Many circumstances of life could change, such as work, age and even where they live,” Kuo says. As always, obtaining quotes from multiple companies can help you get the best deal.

Personal Factors That Affect Insurance Rates

A reporter recently asked Edmunds about the kinds of personal information that can affect the cost of car insurance. She also wanted to know whether people could do anything to address personal factors that were keeping their car insurance rates high.

They’re good questions, and Edmunds was happy to help answer them. During the research it became clear that when it comes to car insurance, there’s hardly anything that isn’t personal. Here are five all-about-you factors that can affect your car insurance premium:

1) Your driving profile. Such factors as the number of miles you drive annually and your accident and ticket history are major elements in setting your insurance rate. The less you drive, the less risk of an accident and a claim. Safer driving — meaning a history free of accidents and moving violations — also points to someone who’s less likely to file a claim.

2) The car you drive. Car insurance premiums are based in part on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The cost of fixing a brand-new $225,000 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia is going to be a lot more than the repair costs for a used $17,000 Nissan Altima. The premium will reflect this.

3) Your essential personal information, including your age, occupation and where you live. Each of these things factors into the process of setting your insurance rate because insurance companies base their premiums on actuarial information about drivers. They look for patterns of claims activity among people like you. A teenage boy is likely to have a higher insurance rate than a middle-aged driver, because statistically, teenage boys have more accidents than do 40-year-olds.

Your occupation can play a role if it affects how much driving you do. Work that involves lots of miles on the road, such as an outside sales job, can affect rates. From the insurance company’s point of view, the more miles you drive means more risk of an accident.

Insurance companies also look at where you live. They track local trends of accidents, car thefts, lawsuits and the cost of medical care and car repair, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

4) The coverage you choose. The more coverage you elect and the lower the deductible you set, the more you’ll pay.

5) Your credit score. Some insurance companies use credit scores as a factor in setting rates. This practice is coming under attack, however, with seven states in 2010 passing regulations regarding the use of credit information in insurance. In 2011, several other state legislatures introduced bills to regulate the practice.

Actuarial studies show that how a person manages his or her financial affairs is an accurate predictor of the number and size of insurance claims he or she might file, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

If you want to lower your insurance costs, you can’t change your age, or easily change your job or hometown. But there are some personal changes you can make:

1) Consider pay-as-you-drive insurance. It’s a paradox, but the more personal you get, the better your rates might be. Pay-as-you-drive programs offer better rates because they’re tailored to how you personally drive — as opposed to the people who are similar to you in terms of age or other unchangeable factors.

This means that a teenager who is an excellent driver — who doesn’t speed, doesn’t drive at night and doesn’t drive many miles — can get a better rate than the average teenager, whose actuarial profile pegs him as a greater risk, based on the accident history for people his age.

Pay-as-you-drive plans have different configurations, depending on the insurance company and state. Some require that you install a telematics device that transmits information about your actual driving (such as speed, mileage and braking patterns) to the insurance company. Others, such as plans permitted in California, only are based on the number of miles you drive, not how you drive.

2) Be a calmer, more careful driver. If you’ve had speeding tickets in the past, resolve to change from being a speedy, aggressive driver to a calm one. A side benefit is that you’ll save money on gasoline. Edmunds testing has also shown that a calm driving style gets you 35 percent better fuel economy.

3) Choose a car with a lower cost of ownership. Edmunds has a True Cost to Own ® (TCO) tool that lets you size up cars when you’re shopping. It takes into account eight components — depreciation, interest on financing, taxes and fees, insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance, repairs and any federal tax credit that may be available — and tells you what your cost would be over five years. It’s a way to get a preview of what your insurance premiums might be. Also, talk to your insurance company when you’re car shopping to get a quote on how your choice will affect your insurance. If you wait until the deal is done, you’ve lost a chance to manage your costs.

4) Change your coverage. Don’t go for every bell and whistle in an auto insurance policy. If you’re willing to pay a slightly higher deductible, you can wind up saving big on your rates. Going from a $250 to a $1,000 deductible could save you 25-40 percent on your policy. Set aside a portion of these funds to cover your costs in the event of a claim.

If you have an older car with comprehensive and collision coverage, you might find yourself paying more in insurance than the car is worth. One tip: Take your comprehensive and collision premiums and add those up. Multiply by 10. If your car is worth less than that amount, don’t buy the coverage. If you’re worried about being left overexposed, consider this: The typical policyholder makes a claim only once every 11 years, and reports a total loss only once every 50 years.

5) Explore discounts for which you might be qualified. The options available include discounts for low-mileage drivers, for seniors and for cars with anti-theft devices and certain safety devices. It’s a lengthy list — just ask your insurer about any discounts, and go from there.

6) Clean up your credit. Keep it in good shape by paying bills on time and by regularly checking that there are no items on your history that do not belong to you. You can get free annual credit report checks here.

Is there personal information that doesn’t matter? Gender, one expert told us. Insurance companies don’t care if you’re female or male as long as you’re a safe driver. And it’s a myth that red cars have higher insurance rates than those sporting more sedate shades, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Ultimately, insurance companies care about how likely it is that a particular driver would end up making or causing a pricey claim against them. Green is the only color that matters.

Car Insurance for Teenage Drivers

The statistics about teenage drivers aren’t good. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 16-year-olds get into accidents almost six times more often than drivers between the age of 30 and 59. No wonder car insurance premiums are so high for this age group.

However, not all car insurance companies take the same dim view of young drivers. And some discounts are available to help you cut costs. Remember, the higher the risk, the higher the cost of insurance premiums. Let this be your guiding principle as you shop for insurance.

Here are 10 suggestions to help lower premiums and keep your teenager’s license free of violations:

1. Help your teen learn the laws and follow them to the letter. By far, the best way to lower car insurance costs for teens is for them to keep their driving record clean. Make safe driving a family project. In some states, restrictions apply to new drivers. Parents should know what the laws are and insist that their sons and daughters follow them.

2. Set a good example. Do you break the speed limit and tailgate? Do you yell at other drivers when you’re behind the wheel? If you do these things, how can you expect your children to act differently? Start watching your own driving long before they get their license and you’ll have a much easier time convincing them to be safe drivers. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

3. Put your teenager on your policy. Rather than setting up an independent policy for your teen driver, put them on your auto insurance policy as an additional driver. In this way, all the discounts applied to your policies will be passed on to them.

4. Pay your teenager to get good grades. Here’s a creative tip — find out how much you save if your teenager gets a good grade point average and pass it on to them. Usually, having a 3.0 or higher GPA will reduce your car insurance premium by 10 percent. Figure out exactly how much this saves you and give that money to your teenager. This accomplishes two things. First, it provides a direct reward for academic performance. Secondly, it motivates them to continue getting good grades.

5. Enroll them in driver education courses. Discounts are available for teens who take recognized driving classes. But call your car insurance company to find out which schools are covered before paying big bucks.

6. Steer clear of sports cars. Don’t try to live vicariously through your teenager by giving them the hot car you couldn’t get in high school. Getting your teenager a safe car to drive, with the latest safety equipment, will lower your premiums. Not only will you save money on car insurance, but fast driving will be less of a temptation.

7. Get their support. Don’t assume that your teenager wants to vacuum clean your wallet. Ask them for help cutting costs and point out that you will share in the savings (see rule #4). Tell them how much car insurance costs and show them how this fits into the family budget. If nothing else, you will score points for treating them as adults.

8. Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. This is a tough subject to broach with teenagers, who think they have everything under control. But the consequences of saying nothing can be catastrophic. Take the time to lay down some guidelines in this important area.

9. Take traffic school to beat tickets. Once a ticket is on your teen’s license, it takes months to get the violation removed. Instead, encourage them to take traffic school if the judge allows it. A day spent thinking about the consequences of unsafe driving can bring rewards for years to come.

10. Ride with your teenager. Your teenager was a safe driver last year when he or she got a license. But what’s happened since then? Let your son or daughter take the wheel while you sit back and relax in the passenger seat. If you see them doing something that breaks rules or seems unsafe, point this out in a diplomatic way. If they are doing a good job driving, praise them for their efforts.

If you follow the above suggestions, you will find that you can make it through the teenage years safely — and without paying an arm and a leg for car insurance. It just takes cooperation and understanding from both sides of the generation gap.


Most Affordable Vehicle to Insure

Reports by renowned publications like Forbes ranks 2015 Wrangler Sports Jeep as the car with the lowest average yearly insurance rate in The United States. According to research by some online research team, the same car also ranked as the car with the cheapest insurance rate. The study conducted by Forbes was carried out on a middle-aged driver who goes on an average drive of 12 miles daily.

The annual cost was averagely about $1,135; which is about $100 monthly. This is, of course, good news for owners of this model that is fun to drive. For prospective buyers who are still contemplating whether or not to acquire the 2015 Wrangler Sports Jeep, these incredible rates are good enough to convince them to go for the brand. All over the US, Maine had the lowest prices for the brand model with an annual bill of about $700, which translates to less than $60 monthly as the premium for a new car. A lot of consumers will appreciate this rate as a result of the recent rise in insurance rates.

Jeeps like Patriots and some other brands had good scores in the research for cheap vehicle insurance rates, ranking among the ten most affordable cars to insure. Many people would wonder why it is relatively inexpensive to insure a Jeep. You may be amazed at the reason: Experts attributes the cheap cost to the engine designs; they are relatively inexpensive to repair and are easily customized, unlike other SUV. These autos are usually not severely damaged in accidents, and its drivers have recorded low mortality rates. Apply for an online quote today with any insurance company for free and find the dramatic reduction in premiums.

The safety of off-road vehicles and the likelihood of accidents are the concerns of many people. In my opinion, vehicles are like guns, and they function at the dictate of the user. A jeep, if recklessly driven can be dangerous, but when controlled by a responsible driver, it is entirely safe. A driver who drives at top speed, making sharp turns at critical angles can cause a fatal crash that may even lead to the death of passengers.

One nice thing about a jeep is its safety features like dual airbags and solid frame. Also, it can be driven on any terrain, from sand to snow, and this makes it lot safer than small cars. Just like every other car, Jeeps also have limits, and so one must take caution while driving, however, you are free to have fun with your ride. Having these low insurance rates in mind, you can go out there on some more explorations and be adventurous! For years, the producers of these famous cars, The American Motors, gave a picture of these cars as an icon of liberty, freedom, and adventure. If you own a Jeep, then try out some routine four wheeling and have that incredible aura that comes with a Jeep.

Getting Cheaper Wrangler Jeep Rates

Do you know you can get cheaper insurance rates for your Jeep? Check out these tips and save more.

· Combine all your cars

You will get as high as 10% discount for insuring all your cars with an insurance company. This saves you extra bills, making insurance a little easier. You may also want to combine your vehicle and home and save some real cash. Bundled rates are mostly cheaper than purchasing separate coverage from different insurance firms.

· Boost your Credit Rating

Improving your credit score helps you get cheaper insurance rates. Insurance providers are now emphasizing on individual credit rating in calculating insurance premiums.

· Direct Shopping with Insurance Companies Online

It’s no longer news that the web offers incredible deals; same applies to vehicle insurance. Today, virtually every individual has access to the internet, so no excuse is good enough for not shopping online. Purchasing coverage directly from providers can save you as high as between 5% to 20% less the cost from local agents or brokers.

Purchase Vehicle Insurance in 2 Easy Steps!

Finding the best insurance for your vehicle can sometimes seem overwhelming, how much cover will I actually need? Do I need a comprehensive policy that covers everything or perhaps a third-party liability cover will be enough? What does the law require for me to do in terms of vehicle insurance in my state or city? And then, how do I actually go about arranging insurance for my vehicle? Let us cover in 2 easy steps to how to find the best cover for you and how to then shop for it.

Firstly, find out how much vehicle insurance you actually need?

It is always important for drivers to be fully insured for any type of mishap that may happen whilst driving, however, depending on your location you may be required to have a certain type of vehicle insurance if you are of a certain age, driving level skill i.e. how long you have driven for, your gender and most importantly your age and the distance you travel. Are you driving long distances every day or only using your car for driving to work and back short distance? You may want to save some money by using a third-party insurance cover which covers only property damage. Are you a younger driver or a senior citizen? You may want to invest in a more comprehensive cover which will protect you from larger accidents were they to happen.

Some insurance companies will rate drivers differently according to age, gender and experience you should always have that in mind when shopping around for insurance in order to look for companies that will give you the best deal according to the consumer, you!

Now secondly, how to you go about shopping for the best deal?

Time to begin shopping! It is important to mention that with most new vehicle purchases – depending on your location – You will be required to buy full comprehensive insurance, especially if you are buying a new car, then your decision-making has just been made easier! But for those of us who couldn’t afford a brand new car – not yet anyway – here are some options to look for.

Vehicle insurance companies will vary largely, depending on your driving record, the type of vehicle you would like to insure and your credit history so it’s wise to do some research. It’s important to do a quick Google search for vehicle insurance comparison websites and take a look, you will find there are 3 main types of insurance companies such as:

1. Direct sellers – These are insurance companies which will bypass traditional insurance brokers and sell directly to you which usually mean there’s no agent to pay a commission to so the savings are passed on to you! Because of this, these sellers usually accept only the very best drivers, something to be watchful of if you have any prior driving violations.

2. Large National brands – Although their pricing may be a bit more expensive than the previously mentioned, these insurance companies are better equipped if you may have a bit of a blotchy past, they are also usually good at matching the pricing of the direct sellers.

3. Independent insurance agents – These sellers offer all kinds of insurance from different companies, good if you are trying to compare different policies from different insurers and you are finding difficulty due to perhaps a patchy record.

Remember that with whatever policy you look at, you should ask questions like, will my policy cover skip towing services as in 24 hour roadside assistance in case of a breakdown? Is glass insurance part of my comprehensive coverage and not a separate policy? Are there any special discounts you are offering to new members? Important questions that will help negotiate for a better deal.

So there you have it! Hope you find this helpful and happy motoring!

Four Steps to Switching Car Insurance

Could you save hundreds of dollars by switching your car insurance? It is a question worth asking yourself at least once a year. By doing a little research now, you may be able to find a comparable insurance plan at a better rate with another company, and save money. But you have to make sure you take the appropriate steps to switch, because you don’t want to have a lapse in coverage.

Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president at the Insurance Information Institute in New York, suggests asking yourself if you’re happy with the cost, coverage and service of your current policy each time it comes up for renewal. “If the answer is ‘yes, yes and yes,’ then stay with them. But if you’re not sure, it’s a good opportunity to shop around,” she says.

Here are four key steps to take when it comes to switching car insurance:

1. Review your current driving situation.
Take note of your driving circumstances as well as the needs of other drivers in your household. Do you have a newer model car? Do you commute several miles each week to work? Do you have recent traffic tickets?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), your potential new insurance company may ask you all of these questions as part of the underwriting process. You’ll also likely be asked about the number of drivers on the policy, your driver license information, and the insurance coverage and limits you’d like to purchase.

Take a look at your existing auto insurance policy. Knowing what you currently have will make it easier to create apples-to-apples comparisons with the rates you receive from different insurers. An easy way to do this is to study your current policy’s declarations page, says Vaughn Graham, president of Rich and Cartmill insurance company in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“The declarations page describes the insurance you have, including the amount of coverage as well as coverage limits, and the amount of your deductible,” he says. When you’re more informed about your current coverage, it can help you become a smarter shopper.

2. Shop around.
Once you’re familiar with your current policy, it’s time to look for alternatives. A good first call is to your current insurance agent or the insurance company itself (some insurers, such as Geico and Progressive don’t work with agents). Even if you’re not happy with your existing policy (if you think the premiums are too expensive, for example), ask if there are ways to lower your rate for the same amount of coverage, says Salvatore. You may be eligible to receive discounts you’re not getting.

Here’s a list of common insurance company discounts, according to the NAIC:

  • Having safety devices in the car, such as anti-theft features
  • Having a good driving record
  • Driving a low number of miles a year
  • Having multiple cars on the same policy
  • Being a student who gets good grades
  • Insuring both your home and car with the same provider

While you’re reviewing discounts, be aware that switching to a new provider could affect discounts you already have with other types of insurance. For example, if you’re already getting a homeowner’s and car-policy rate reduction from your current provider, and you then move your car insurance to a different company, you may lose the discount you receive for homeowner’s insurance. It may make more financial sense to stay where you are, or switch both policies to a new provider that will give you a rate reduction for both.

In addition to speaking to your current agent or insurance company about your options, you can look online to research potential companies and obtain quotes. It is also a good idea to get referrals from family members, colleagues and other people whom you trust, Salvatore says. If they have had to file a claim with the insurer, they could tell you in person about their customer service experience.

If you’re currently buying through an independent agent who represents multiple insurance companies, you have a few more options. “You can go to them and say ‘I’m happy working with you, but I’m not so happy with this carrier’ and explain why,” Salvatore says. “Ask if they can suggest another carrier.”

A good agent should be able to offer you customized choices to fit your needs, adds Graham. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We’re all a little different.”

3. Don’t skimp on coverage.
As you receive quotes, make sure the insurance coverage and deductibles mentioned are satisfactory. Just because a rate quote may be lower than what you’re currently paying, it doesn’t mean it’s a better deal if the coverage is lacking, Graham says. If you’re not sure how much coverage you need, discuss your needs with insurance company representatives, and ask for guidance.

For example, if you have significant assets, you may need more than just the state minimum for bodily injury liability insurance. The same is true for property damage coverage. The retail price for an average new vehicle could easily top $30,000, but in many states, the minimum property damage coverage required is only $25,000. If you were responsible for a loss and did not have enough insurance coverage, you’d likely be on the hook for the difference. “Many of those limits are often inadequate and not near enough to meet today’s exposures to price of vehicles,” Graham says.

Though it’s important to have ample liability coverage, if you drive an older model vehicle that is paid for, you may choose to opt out of some optional types of coverage, such as collision and comprehensive insurance, in order to keep premiums low.

Collision insurance pays for the physical damage your vehicle receives if it collides with another object, such as a tree or another car. Comprehensive insurance pays for damage to your car from causes other than a collision. This could include vandalism, broken glass, fire and theft. If this coverage is more than your vehicle is worth, you could skip it to lower your rates. Just understand that you would then be paying for these losses out of your own funds if such damage did occur. People who live in areas prone to such natural disasters as floods, high winds and earthquakes might want to think about retaining their comprehensive coverage, experts say.

Another way to get a lower premium is to ask for a higher deductible. If you are willing to pay $1,000 out of pocket for a claim instead of $250, you could lower your rates. But make sure you can afford the higher deductible in the event that you suffer an insurable loss.

4. Notify your old and new providers.
After conducting all your research (and with a bit of luck), you may well find a company that offers good coverage at a lower rate. You may be willing to switch, but before you sign a new agreement, call your state’s department of insurance to learn if the company is permitted to do business in your state. You can also check out business-rating companies A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s to check out the company’s financial stability. (Standard & Poor’s requires free registration before you can see company ratings.) It’s worth the extra time to spend before you agree to pay hundreds of dollars on a new policy.

Once you’ve verified that the new provider can do business in your state and appears financially stable, it’s time to make the switch. “When you are ready to cancel your current policy, let all parties know in writing, so that there is no gap in coverage,” Salvatore says.

If you end your existing auto insurance policy before it expires, you may receive a partial premium refund, depending on the terms of your agreement. However, you should continue paying for your old policy until the new coverage is confirmed in writing. Otherwise, the old policy could be dropped for non-payment before the new policy starts. And in most states, driving without proper car insurance coverage is against the law. “It may be easier to wait and have your new policy start when the old one expires,” Salvatore says.

Make it a priority to review your insurance policies on a regular basis. Household driving situations change often, and so do state laws that could affect the price of your premiums. By taking some time each year to do some car insurance research, you can make better decisions and pay the best possible prices for the best amounts of car insurance coverage.

How to Drive Safe in the Rain and Avoid Insurance Liability

“Rain, rain, go away; come back another day!” “April showers bring May flowers.”

Some people love the rain, while some folks just can’t seem to come to terms with it. Whether you appreciate the rain or not, rainfalls are something that any car, truck or motorcycle driver has to contend with – especially during this particular juncture of the year. Not just something sent down from the heavens to challenge you with an inconvenience, the rain places you at risk for an accident. Regardless of whether you are the one responsible for liability or not, an auto collision is far from a pleasant experience whether it’s only a matter of submitting a claim for standard damage coverage or dealing with serious consequences of related injury (or even death) and lawsuits.

Follow these tips from the leading insurance companies to safely drive your way through the wildest of raindrops and wet inclement weather.

• Prior to setting out on your commute from home or business, confirm that your vehicle registration as well as auto insurance is not expired. It’s a good idea to also review your policy with an experienced independent agent to see if you have tailored protection for your needs.

• While your automobile is in motion, keep your hands firmly upon the steering wheel in the ten and twelve positions.

• Holding onto a cell phone or any other device while driving is a big safety hazard anytime, all the more so when driving under adverse weather conditions.

• Make sure your windshield window is clear and that your driving vision is as clear as possible.

• Consider the other driver’s safe vision by keeping your car’s headlights turned on.

• Always keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you by following the five car or one second driving distance rule so as to minimize the chances of a collision due to the front car’s sudden or abrupt stop.

• In the event your windshield window gets enveloped in a veil of fog, turn on your car’s defogging function.

• Always maintain the posted speed limit. Drive under the speed limit if you need to for safety’s sake.

• When in contact with moisture, vehicle tires do lose their traction and may hydroplane. If and when this happens, keep your cool and let up on the gas pedal while driving in a straight direction. Try not to make any sudden driving moves.

• Avoid floods and water-filled potholes.

• Park on the side of the road if the winds and rain becomes severe. Wait out the conditions until you can safely continue your drive.

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The Proper Way to Save Money on Auto Insurance

Saving money on your auto insurance and getting a good value for your premium dollar is not the same as getting “cheap” insurance. Believe me, there are differences between insurance carriers and there is plenty of “cheap” insurance out there. That does not mean you will have the coverage you expect when the worst happens and you need it most! There are however several ways to reduce your premiums. Let’s explore a few that might be beneficial to you:

Take physical damage coverage off your older vehicle. If you carry “Comprehensive” and “Collision” coverage on a vehicle that is over 10 years old, go to the websites for NADA or Kelly Blue Book and check out the vehicles current market value. You may be surprised to learn that you’re spending hundreds of dollars per year for coverage on a vehicle where the return on a total loss may not be a cost- effective investment. Be sure to add however a coverage called “UMPD” that will give you coverage for the market value of your vehicle if it becomes a total loss when in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist.

Increase your physical damage deductibles. The amount that you are responsible to pay when you have been in an accident that causes damage to your vehicle or when your car is stolen or any other covered cause of loss should probably be increased. On average, if you are a good driver, you will probably have a covered loss once in seven years or less so you may be spending hundreds of dollars per year for coverage used infrequently. Get the best value by increasing your physical damage deductibles to at least $1,000.

Insure multiple policies with one carrier. If you decide it is time to “shop” your auto insurance, you should be shopping both your auto and homeowners insurance. Carriers offer significant discounts on both the auto and home policies if they are with the same company. These discounts can be up to 25%. With the cost of insurance these days, that can be enough to pay for that tenants policy that you should have and maybe don’t or the cost of an extra million dollars of liability that you need to properly protect your assets.

Add “towing” coverage on your auto policy. Many carriers offer “towing” coverage that includes key lock out and delivering gasoline if you run out of gas, etc. for far less that purchasing the coverage separately through a “club.”

Having “proper” insurance is so much more cost- effective than not being insured properly, but if you follow some of these tips, you can make sure you have the coverage that makes “cents” for you over many years.

Traffic Tickets Affect Insurance Rates

To keep the premium rates affordable, you must focus on safe driving

Insurance companies want to provide coverage because they basically think you are worth protecting. For them, there are generally two types of customers: safe-driver (which is the preferred class) and high-risk driver. Each type receives different treatments as the former has the bigger advantages such as discounts and generally cheaper rates. On the other hand, providing coverage for high-risk drivers is quite risky; insurers think that those drivers have tendencies to get involved in accidents. Based on this assumption, high-risk drivers will have to pay more without discounts and other good benefits. You are categorized as either safe or high risk type based on DMV’s data concerning driving records. Traffic offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, or driving while intoxicated are some of most important violations which will adversely affect your premium. Not wearing seat-belt is probably a minor one, which can be dismissed from the record after paying fines, will probably never affect anything. You can actually figure out whether you are in the “safe-driver” or “high-risk” category by using car insurance estimator; this tool provides a simple way to use some of your personal data to determine the cost.

Why Traffic Tickets Increase Your Premium Rate

Traffic laws are written to keep everybody who uses the roads safe. Hundreds of different routes have distinguishing features, for example speed limit, number of lanes, signals, road signs, etc. When obeyed properly by everyone, there is almost no possibility of accidents. Failure to comply with all the rules put everybody to risk of fatal injuries due to road accidents. You are not allowed to keep on going at red lights, speeding at school area, or driving to the wrong direction on certain lanes. Even if those offenses do not end up in accidents, you will be pulled over if you commit any of them. You will receive a fine for those violations. The fine are documented by DMV, attached to your records, and eventually will be checked by your insurers. If any important violation appears on the records, your company can simply transfer you from safe-driver category to the high-risk one, meaning you need to pay higher for the coverage. In worst case, your policies will be cancelled. When your policies are cancelled, it can be very difficult to get full coverage insurance, unless you purchase the policies from new insurers who accept high-risk drivers as customers.

A different traffic ticket affects the rate differently as well; some will only increase the premium slightly, while others can break the bank. Parking fines will not affect premium no matter how many you have collected. The biggest problem they can cause is vehicle registration renewal difficulties, but they will never increase your rate. A DUI (Driving under Influence), however, can be quite a problem. There are some types of citations including minor, major, and criminal. More severe offense means greater consequences. Some of the most common citations that will simply increase are excessive speeding, driving while intoxicated, careless or reckless driving, and driving without insurance. Each of them is considered major violation simply because it increases the likelihood of fatal accidents which end up in heavy injuries.

Note that accidents are not the only variables on driving records. There are many other things that they use to determine rates. It means even if you are never involved and at-fault in accidents, any fine will be enough for insurers to charge you more for the coverage. If you think the increase is too much, you can always find new less expensive insurer as long as you meet the minimum coverage requirement in your state. Some websites provide car insurance calculator services for not cost at all, meaning you can estimate the cost before even asking for the quotes. If you properly enter personal data, kind of car, and driving records, the results of the calculation will be accurate.

How Much Will My Rates Increase?

It is difficult to determine the actual amount of the increase. There are some important factors playing their roles such as the specific laws in your state and contractual agreement. A single auto fine for a minor infraction may not increase the rate at all. Your insurer will also consider your previous driving record. If this is your first offense and you have been good customer so far, you will probably be able to discuss the issue and ask them to ignore it. However, a DUI ticket is very serious and there is very little chance that you can get away with it without paying more for the coverage. Your driver license can be suspended for this offense as well. Also, repeated offense is often a reason that insurer cancels your policy. Some companies will not give coverage to high-risk driver, meaning you need to find new insurer before you can reinstate driver license. There are some big firms providing coverage for high-risk drivers; most even give free auto insurance quotes to potential customers. You can compare the quotes to find one that is suitable for your circumstances before deciding to make a purchase.

Please put in mind that any increase in the premium will only occur during renewal. You will probably not realize the increase months after the offense is committed. Bottom line, the best way to avoid any increase is to drive safely obeying any law and road sign you see while you are driving. If you stay on the safe side, your insurer has almost no reason to ask for more money to provide coverage for you. If you drive safe, any increase should be normal or caused by certain circumstances such as changing address to a more crowded area or bad credit score.

A different firm has different rules. You need to consult insurance agents or call your insurers for the details. Some of them simply cannot afford to provide coverage for high-risk driver, and they will cancel your policy due to any major infraction you commit. Luckily, you can find new insurer easily via Internet; you can access almost any company’s official website to get quick car insurance quote. It eliminates the hassles of making appointments with agents or making phone calls to all companies in your state. This is probably the quickest way to get back insured after policy cancellation.

About Parking Tickets

As previously mentioned, parking fines are highly unlikely to increase estimates. Other violations including Driving while intoxicated and speeding have clear correlations with the likelihood of accidents, but that almost has nothing to do with it. Parking tickets are non-moving violation, meaning the offense is committed while the vehicle is not moving. You will receive this fine if you park in the wrong place, such as fire zone or handicap park area. Furthermore, it does not demonstrate any lack of skill as driver. A parked vehicle is not liable for accident; even when the parked auto is involved in an accident, the fault rest on the moving vehicle that crashes into it. A driver must avoid fixed object of any kind including parked auto. When the vehicle is parked (even in the wrong place), it does not pose risk to insurer and will not affect your rates.

The problem is that being not-at-fault does not always mean that your company will pay for the repair. It certainly depends on the coverage you have. There are various types of coverage including comprehensive, liability, collision, medical payment, etc. A minimum requirement may not cover hit-and-run cases, for example when your parked auto is hit by another driver in a moving vehicle.

Parking tickets cause driver license suspension

While parking fines will not directly affect rates, they can unfortunately cause driver license suspension. It will only occur if you get too many tickets and you fail to pay the fines in time. A fine in a parking lot is considerably cheap, but many of them can be very expensive. Suspended driver license means you are not allowed to drive anymore, or you cannot legally drive your car anywhere. The companies will only want to provide coverage for legal drivers, and suspended license can cause policy cancellation. In such case, you need to re-apply for insurance as soon as your license in reissued. A suspended license due to parking fines is not major violation, so you can apply to new company easily. Some major companies give free quotes to potential customers. Just because you ask for the quotes, it does not mean you must purchase it. You can use it merely for comparison before you finally decide to make a purchase.

Fines from another state

In the past, you could get away with speeding fine issued in another state. You did not even have to pay it because the information concerning such issue would never reach your actual local DMV. Nowadays, information is sent electronically in an instant, and DMVs can access central database to all drivers. The database, popularly known as DLC (Driver License Compact), makes information available and easily accessible by almost all DMVs in the country. Therefore, fines from another state will affect insurance as well. All states are member of DLC except Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Georgia. Unless traffic offenses are committed in those states, it is almost impossible to avoid an increase in your premium rates. There is also another database known as National Driver Register which keeps all suspension records and reports them. In case your driver license is suspended, you cannot simply apply for a new one in another state.