Auto and homeowners’ insurance rates are on the rise and sadly, EVERY carrier is taking increases at this time. I’ve provided an explanation for the increases below.
RISING CAR COSTS
Cars are becoming more expensive to repair, in part because replacement parts are becoming difficult to find due to supply shortages. The lack of availability for used and new cars has also increased the typical market value for many cars, which means insurance companies are paying out higher amounts for claims across the board.
Severe storms and hurricanes cause a rise in car insurance claims from cars that are flooded, damaged, or destroyed.
RISING CONSTRUCTION COSTS
With the rise in construction costs, many carriers have increased your dwelling coverage to offset the increase, resulting in a higher premium to the homeowner.
And of course, the number one reason, inflation.
How can I save money or soften the blow???
COMPARE AUTO AND HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE QUOTES
Make sure you are matching coverage’s to your existing policy! You do not want to find out at the time of a claim that you lost coverage for a lower rate.
COMBINE YOUR HOME AND AUTO INSURANCE
When reviewing rates, always review the total package (i.e. home and auto). Often, carriers will have a better rate on one product opposed to the other. I suggest reviewing the total package to determine the best scenario. Carriers will also provide 15-25% discount per product line (i.e. 15% discount on the auto and 25% on the home) for combining.
ADJUST YOUR COVERAGE
Consider a higher deductible. Most people now have a $500 deductible on the auto and $1,000 deductible on the home. Ask to have your home’s replacement cost recalculated. Each year carriers increase the dwelling coverage to protect against inflation. This year the increases to the dwelling coverage have been significant.
LOOK FOR DISCOUNTS
Almost all auto insurance companies will provide a discount for allowing the carrier to track your driving habits. Now you can download an app on your phone. The app will track things like hard stopping, accelerating too quickly, and speeding.
Consider switching to usage-based coverage. Many auto carriers now offer plans based on the miles driven.
Many carriers offer discounts for paying in full, some as high as 18%! Carriers also provide discounts for multiple vehicles and multiple policies. If your policies are split among multiple carriers, it may be time to look at combining them all with one.
Whether we want to admit it or not, accidents do happen, and you should know what to do in the event of a claim. Many people react at the first site and immediately file the claim. Only to be aggravated later when the claim is not covered, or the claim does not outweigh the deductible. What you may not realize, once you file a claim (whether the carrier pays out or not), the claim will remain on your record for 5 years. While the impact is not huge for a $0 claim, it can affect your rate with a new carrier or the new carrier could deny coverage due to the number of $0 claims.
1. Assess the damage. Home: Walk the property and take pictures of the damage. Auto: Walk around the car, be sure to look underneath the vehicle and take pictures. It is important to take pictures of both vehicles, the location of the accident, etc. Often the police will not come out for a minor accident. You need to have evidence to determine which driver is at fault. If the police do not indicate fault on a report, it is up to the insurance carrier to determine fault. This becomes your word against the other driver!
2. Swap information *This is only related to an auto claim* Get the other driver’s name, phone number, and picture of their insurance card. This is helpful during the claims process. If the other driver is at fault, file the claim with their company. If you are not at fault and you file with your own, you will pay your deductible. You will get this back, however it can take MONTHS if the other driver has a substandard carrier.
3. Know your deductible!! It only adds more time to your repair if you file the claim, wait for the adjuster to come out and obtain your assessment only to find out the damage is less than your deductible. It also means the claim will be on your record for 5 years.
4. Contact service professionals for a bid to determine if the damage outweighs your deductible. Do your homework. If the claim is less than your deductible and the claim is filed with the carrier, it will be on your record for 5 years. I have had clients denied coverage by other carriers due to too many small claims.
5. Mitigate the damage. Once pictures have been taken it is safe to clean up the area. You want to do this so the damage does not become worse.
6. Consult your agent with any questions or issues. Many assume we are alerted every time someone files a claim, but we are NOT. Your agent can help set expectations, obtain answers, and fight if need be.
*Please note, this is only for small claims. If it is a large claim (i.e. fire, major roof damage, etc.) call immediately to get the process started. The carrier will provide you immediate relief funds to stay somewhere safe!
*Healthcare: Open Enrollment has been extended until January 15th. Current policy holders can submit changes to their existing plan or submit a NEW plan. Once the 15th has passed, you will not be able to make any plan changes. NEW policies submitted during this time will take effect February 1st.
*Medicare: Medicare Supplement policy holders ages 65-75 have the option to change to another Medicare Supplement plan without requiring underwriting approval. To qualify for the Birthday Rule, you must enroll in a plan with the same or lesser benefits. The change must be done within 45 days AFTER your birthday.
*Medicare: Medicare Advantage policy holders are currently in a second Open Enrollment period until March 31st. During this time, you can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
*Auto/Home Insurance: Many policies renew during the month of January. When reviewing rates consider these tips:
+Always review the total package (i.e. home and auto). Often, some carriers will have a better rate on the home as opposed to the auto however, the total calculation needs to be reviewed when determining the best scenario.
+Make sure you are matching coverages. Some carriers are notorious for removing full coverage to reduce the rate. Sadly, some people do not realize that until they have an accident. Full coverage means the carrier will fix your vehicle in the event of an at fault accident. On the flip side, liability only means your vehicle is NOT getting fixed in the event of an at fault accident.
*Life Insurance: With the start of the New Year, many will review their financial goals for the year and discuss any gaps. Many people will not buy Life Insurance because they overestimate the cost of a policy. Costs depend on a number of factors, including your health, age, tobacco use, and gender. As one example, a healthy 35-year-old male can expect to pay about $20 per month for $250,000 on a 30-year term.
*Business Insurance: We’ve received LOTS of calls lately regarding employees injured on the job. A workers compensation policy provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured as a result of their job. Premiums are based on the annual payroll and type of work performed.
I am a broker. This means I represent MULTIPLE carriers which allows me the opportunity to review rates with each carrier. This helps me determine which carrier is offering the best package to fit your family’s needs. There is NO additional cost associated with working with a broker.
Each year Patti and I review your renewal. If there is a $100 increase to your home or auto insurance renewal, Patti will contact you to inform you of the increase and ask if it is okay to review options. I have saved some of my own clients $800+ per year just by reviewing their renewal!
I represent A+ carriers. Some of the carriers I represent are Travelers Insurance, AAA, The Hartford, Nationwide, Progressive, etc. When classified as an A+ carrier, this means they pay claims, have a good customer service department, and billing department.
It is easier to call one person for all of your insurance needs.
I have consistently saved people money on their home and auto insurance.
Patti will be reaching out to you soon to discuss your home and auto insurance policies renew and options to combine your policies.
What You Need to Know About Auto and Home Renewals
The summer months are the time that most homeowner’s insurance policies renew. The biggest reason is that many people purchase/move during the summer months.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when reviewing your renewals.
When looking at rates, always review the total package (i.e. home and auto). Often, some carriers will have a better rate on home as opposed to auto however, the total calculation needs to be reviewed when determining the best scenario.
Consider a higher deductible. Most people now have a $500 deductible on auto and $1,000 deductible on home.
When reviewing rates, make sure to consider the wind/hail deductible. Some carriers will now require a 1% deductible for wind/hail claims. If your deductible is $1,000 and your replacement cost is $250,000, your wind/hail deductible would be $2,500. This means any claims related to wind/hail are subject to a separate, larger deductible. If your current policy has $1,000 deductible, you’ll need to get an accurate comparison.
Do NOT skimp on coverages. Dropping your liability limits saves very little in your annual premium.
If you own a rental, also assess the total package when shopping rates. Some carriers will require the primary residence in order to consider the rental property. Their rates can be ½ of what the other carriers offer by packaging your primary residence with the same carrier.
Ask to have your home’s replacement cost recalculated. Each year the carrier will increase the dwelling coverage to protect against inflation.
Make sure you are matching coverages. Some carriers are notorious for removing full coverage to reduce the rate. Sadly, some people do not realize that until they have an accident. Full coverage means the carrier will fix your vehicle in the event of an at-fault accident. On the flip side, liability only means your vehicle is NOT getting fixed in the event of an at-fault accident.
Choose your words wisely when calling other companies. If you tell an agent you want the “cheapest rate possible” or “basic coverages”, this often means the lowest possible liability limits ($25,000/$50,000) and liability-only coverage. Again, you do not save much by reducing the liability limits.
If you would like to get a free quote and find out how you can save money by about combining your insurance policies, please call Kelly or Patti at 708-444-0050. Get Ready to Save!
Insurance is there for you when you need it. It’s your the safety net. But when something happens to your house or car, it can cause a lot of stress not knowing what is covered or how to file a claim. Depending on what kind of damage you’re facing, filing an insurance claim might help relieve some of the financial problems.
What Is an Insurance Claim?
Filing an insurance claim means you’re making a formal request to your insurance company to receive funds to help you pay for repairs and other expenses caused by an event (car accident or a home burglary) that is covered by your insurance.
Every situation is different, and as an Independent Agent, I can help you outline the specifics and assist in filing a claim. Below, I have provided common questions and answers to help you understand filing insurance claims forhome or auto insurance.
Q. What I am in a car accident and not at fault?
Be sure to obtain the other person’s insurance card. Taking a picture with your phone is the easiest and most acceptable.
File the claim with the other party’s insurance carrier. If you file it with your own, you will be obligated to pay your deductible (typically $500). Your carrier will fight to get this back, however depending on the other party’s carrier (i.e. substandard) this could take months to get your money back. Once the money is returned to the carrier, they will send it back to you. This is often referred to as subrogation.
If you file with the claim with other party, you will be able to obtain a rental car at the expense of the other insurance carrier.
Do NOT wait for the other driver to file the claim. If you want to get the ball rolling, use the information from the ID card they provided to file the claim. The carrier will require a statement from you and the other driver.
Q. What if I am in a car accident and at fault?
Provide the other party with your ID card. If your car is damaged and you want it fixed, contact your carrier. If not, you can choose to pay the damages out of pocket or file it with your insurance carrier. I recommend NOT providing your ID card if you plan on paying it out of pocket. Any time you contact the carrier direct to ask about a claim or file the claim, only to pay it out of pocket, the claim will be on your record for 5 years.
If you are at fault, rental car reimbursement is only provided if you have rental reimbursement on your policy. Many people with liability only coverage or more vehicles than drivers do NOT have rental reimbursement. If this is important to you, may sure your policy covers it. The additional is cost is normally $30 per year per vehicle.
Q. What if I need rental car coverage?
Rental car reimbursement only provides coverage when your vehicle is damaged due to an accident. It does NOT provide coverage due to your vehicle breaking down.
The car rental company will ask if you want to purchase their insurance coverage. Please note, your policy will provide coverage to the rental vehicle. If you had to file a claim, the claim will be listed on your record and may affect your rate in the future.
Q. What if I am injured in a auto accident?
If you are injured in an auto mobile accident, the carrier (yours or the other party’s, depending who is at fault), will pay for medical damages, lost wages, etc. I recommend contacting an attorney to help you through the process. If you do not have an attorney, I am happy to recommend one as I work with multiple.
If the other party’s coverage does not provide enough coverage, your policy will cover for any additional expenses, under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Q. What if I have water damage?
If the damage is caused by water, take many pictures, and get the water out ASAP. The longer the water sits, the more damage will incur, and many policies have a limit on water damage (i.e. $5,000 or $10,000).
The carrier will provide you a check for the initial damages, less depreciation. Once the damages have been repaired you must show proof to receive 100% of the payout. Receipts or construction contracts will work as proof.
Q. What if I have a claim on a rental property?
If the claim is on a rental property, the carrier will ask for proof that the property was/is occupied. If the property is insured as tenant occupied and is actually vacant, they will deny coverage. Call me if your property is vacant as we will adjust coverage immediately.
Q. What if someone is injured on my property?
If someone is injured on your property, they will receive payout from your medical coverages (typically $5,000 max) if it is worse than that they will sue you for the limit of your liability coverage/umbrella. This limit is typically $300,000 for a single-family residence and an additional $1 million with the umbrella.
Liability coverage protects you in the event anyone is injured on your property. Invited or not, you can and will be sued due to an injury.
Q. What if I have fire damage?
In the event of a fire loss, the carrier will ask for a list of ALL of your personal possessions. If it is not a total loss, they will be able to obtain pictures of the remaining items, but I ALWAYS recommend taking pictures/videos of your personal possessions; open drawers, closets, under beds, etc. You will NEVER remember everything you own without some sort of documentation.
Q. What if I need replacement costs for personal possessions?
I write ALL of my home/renters’ policies to include replacement cost of your personal possessions. This means the carrier will provide you the full value to replace your personal effects.
Q. What if my dog bites someone?
Your home/renter’s policy does provide coverage for dog bites. Depending on the severity of the dog bite, the medical portion will pay out first (typically $5,000 limit) followed by your liability (typically $300,000) and umbrella (if you have one). However, depending on the type of dog you own (Pit Bull, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, etc.) the carrier may deny coverage.
If you have questions about how to file a claim or wonder if you should file a claim feel free to call me at 708-444-0050. I normally recommend you obtain quotes for the damage(s) before you decide whether to file. It does not make sense to file a claim if the damages are less than or just over your deductible.
NOTE: The questions asked to me will not go on your record.
As a reminder, all home claims and at fault accidents are subject to the deductible. This means the carrier will collect the deductible before anything is paid out.