TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2018
You’ve bumped into a pole; there’s a little damage but nothing too bad. Should you even call your insurance company?
That is a question faced by countless drivers every day and the answer is not always so straightforward. The short of it is yes, there are situations where it is ok, and even more beneficial, to not call your insurance company after damaging your car. What are some of those situations?
The Types of Accidents You Can Pay For Out of Pocket
Filing too many claims through your insurer can cause your rates to soar; costing you hundreds if not thousands over the coming years. If you find yourself in the following situations, think twice before calling them up.
An Inexpensive One Car Accident
Bumping into a pole, your kid’s baseball putting a dent in the side: these are situations that cause some damage, but nothing that’s too expensive to fix. Damage you inflict to your own car is always handled through your collision or comprehensive insurance. Both coverages come with deductibles that usually range from $50 all the way up to $2,000. If you estimate the damage inflicted to your car to be below your deductible, or even slightly above it, you should just handle the repairs out of pocket. If the damages are $300, but the deductible is $200, you would save $100 by filing a claim, but your company may decide to raise your rates, costing you more money in the long run.
The only thing we would advise in this situation is to make sure your estimate of the damage is accurate. Insurance companies expect claims to be submitted in a timely manner. If you wait too long, your claim may not be accepted. If the damage turns out to cost more than your initial estimates, you may be stuck paying for it. If you have a local auto body shop, check with them to be sure the damage will be inexpensive to fix.
If you are injured in a one car accident, so long as you can afford the medical bills either out of pocket or through your health insurance, you do not need to report it. If you hit a pedestrian however, that always needs to be reported.
A Very Minor Two Car Accident
In an accident with no more than two drivers where neither is injured and the damage minimal, you can both agree to not call the insurance company. The benefits of not calling your insurance company are the same as in the situation above. Admittedly however, it is a bit trickier with an extra driver. We would advise you only do this if you trust the other driver.
The reason being, the other driver can at any time renege on their agreement to not involve the insurance companies. It may not be wholeheartedly , but say the damage to their car turns out to be more costly than originally thought, or their neck starts to hurt a few hours later. The intent could be malicious as well, where they try to take advantage of the agreement by blaming you for damage to their car you didn’t even cause.
It will be disadvantageous if it comes down to them having their insurance company behind them, and you by yourself. So, unless you know or really trust the other driver, we would not recommend you not call your insurance company even in the most minor of two car accidents. If the other driver is trustworthy however, then this situation would be ok.
The Types of Accidents Where You Should Always Report it
There are a few accidents where no matter what you need to report to your insurance company. What are they?
Accidents Where Someone Else is Injured
If another driver involved in your accident is injured, even if its minor, it needs to be reported. Medical expenses are costly no matter where you go in the U.S. If they need to get themselves checked out due to injury, most likely they will come after you to pay the bills.
How much you need to pay depends on how much at fault you were, and that depends on which state you live in. For example, If you live in a state like Missouri, the amount you pay is proportional to the amount you were at fault. For car insurance in New Jersey on the other hand, if you are found less than 50% at fault, you do not have to pay anything.
What does this all mean? It means you do not want to be defending yourself on your own. You spent a lot of time and money finding the best car insurance company, so you will want them behind you to insure the other driver’s company is not taking advantage of you.
Accidents Where the Damage is Costly
Whether it's a one or multi-car accident, if the damage is large, you must report it. Your car may even be relatively unscathed but if you caused a lot of damage, you need to report it as well. Odds are, in such a large accident, even if no one is injured, someone is going to seek recompense from you. You will want your insurance company on your side for the same reasons you want them if someone else was injured. Your insurer doesn't want to pay out such a large claim either, so they're going to use their resources to fight and reduce your exposure.
Content courtesy of Value Penquin.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015
How to Drive in Winter Weather
Blowing snow. Low visibility. Icy conditions. Winter calls on drivers to use skills that just aren’t needed throughout the rest of the year. So, brush up on yours with these tactics and tips. Because, even if you're an expert winter driver, plenty of other people out there are not.
- Don’t just jump in the car and go. First things first, make sure you and your car are ready for the conditions ahead. You should be well-rested and focused. Your car (preferably front-wheel or four-wheel drive) should have a full tank of gas, working windshield wipers, the right tires and the necessary emergency supplies. Completely clean off and defrost the windshield and windows, turn on your lights for visibility and buckle up.
- Do start, stop and steer steadily. Flooring it, slamming on the brakes and jerking the steering wheel wildly can all lead to trouble. Instead, do everything gradually. Accelerate slowly so your wheels don’t spin out. Brake early and gently to maintain control of the vehicle. Finally, make slow, moderate adjustments to the steering wheel when you need to change lanes or make a turn.
- Don’t use the cruise control. Even if your car is skidding, your cruise control may attempt to maintain a constant speed, potentially accelerating the vehicle and spinning the wheels as you’re trying to regain control. Hitting the brakes to deactivate the cruise control could cause further harm.
- Do let off the accelerator if your car starts to skid. We know it’s easy to panic, but try to remain calm and, once you feel your tires regain traction, slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. Be prepared to counter-steer and stay off both the gas and the brake until you have control of the vehicle again.
- Don’t follow too closely. Increase the space you leave between you and other vehicles both when following another car and pulling over in front of one after passing it, especially snowplows or large trucks. You also need more lead time when pulling out in front of a car.
- Do consider the terrain. When driving in winter weather, certain areas signal the need for greater caution. These include bridges and overpasses, which can freeze over before other parts of the road, freeway on- and off-ramps that snowplows may have skipped and any area that doesn’t receive direct sunlight and may have black ice.
Above all, remember the most basic tenet of driving in any type of inclement weather: Give yourself ample time to respond. So, slow down. Or, just stay home, if you can. Because, even with careful driving and these tips, something could still happen. And, staying home sure beats being stuck in a snowy ditch!
Your Car Insurance Helps Protect You in All Types of Weather
Having the auto insurance coverage you want can help keep you on solid ground, even in slippery conditions. So, regularly review your policy with your independent insurance agent to ensure you’re happy with your deductible, your coverage levels and your options, such as roadside assistance. Feel free to contact us here at PMA Insurance Services at (703) 449-1327 so we can assist you and to get started building your auto policy.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 25, 2015
Reassess your homeowner’s policy on an annual basis with these five steps.
Reviewing your homeowners policy may not rank high on your annual home-maintenance checklist. Yet following the five steps below will save you big bucks now and a lot of grief down the road. After the recent slew of natural disasters, average annual premiums are expected to surpass $1,000, with some owners likely to see double-digit rate hikes. Haven’t taken a close look at your policy lately? Then dust it off and make insurance your next project.
Measure How Much Coverage You Need
Your No. 1 priority must be the house itself. “Possessions, living expenses, and liability should all be secondary,” says Amy Bach of United Policyholders, an insurance advocate group.
Don’t base your coverage level, though, on the home’s appraised value, which includes land costs. Instead, says Kevin McCarty, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, use the recent per-square-foot replacement costs in your area, available from your local homebuilders association. The difference can be sizable. In New York state, land makes up 9% of the average home’s value, according to the Lincoln Institute. In Hawaii, it represents more than half.
Is your area prone to natural disasters? Price out extended or guaranteed replacement policies, which protect you from inflated labor and material costs following such catastrophes.
Inspect What’s Not Covered
Don’t assume that all “perils” are covered. As homeowners learned the hard way after Hurricane Irene last August, standard policies exclude damage from flooding, not to mention earthquakes and landslides. “Most people aren’t aware of what their policy does and doesn’t cover until they file a claim,” says Deeia Beck, executive director of the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, a state consumer agency in Texas.
If you live in a high-risk area for floods, you may be required to add supplemental coverage, which can cost $1,700 to $3,300 on a $150,000 building and $50,000 worth of contents.
Also, take note of common exclusions, such as those on mold and even broken pipes owing to lack of routine maintenance. You know which nuisances your home is susceptible to. Use that knowledge to beef up coverage by adding so-called endorsements. Been a victim of sewage backups, which aren’t covered by most standard policies? Insure against them for anywhere from about $100 to $250 a year.
Recheck the Deductible
It may not be the same as it was a year ago. Many insurers are retooling deductibles from set dollar amounts to percentages, which can often represent a substantial change.
In general, you want to go for the highest deductible you can afford to lower your premiums. Beware, though, that not all insurers that are making this switch from dollars to percentages are cutting premiums at the same time. Also, be mindful that these deductibles are a percentage of the insured value of your entire home, not of what needs to be fixed. So if you have a $400,000 home, even a 5% deductible may be too steep a price to pay, and a reason to shop around.
Hammer Away at Your Premium
Insurers don’t always spell out how much your rates shot up on renewals. So dig out last year’s documents and compare for yourself. If your rates rose 5% or more, make sure to call the company for an explanation.
Knowing whether the increase resulted from changes in your risk profile or from broad-based increases in the marketplace will help you negotiate and comparison-shop—which you should do at every renewal or at least every couple of years.
In addition to bumping up your deductible, you can lower your premium by bundling together your home and auto insurance, which can shave off from 5% to 15%. Also, installing security systems, storm shutters, or a new roof can chip away another 15%. Before you make that commitment, though, check with your insurer to see if your installation qualifies, says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute.
Clean Up Your Work Area
Finish your project by getting all your documents in place. If you haven’t already done so, conduct a home inventory (contact PMA Insurance Services for a worksheet). Pair that with receipts, photos, or videos and then store all your paperwork—along with a complete copy of your insurance policy—in a fireproof box.
For extra protection, scan and store all of that information digitally on a flash drive, and remember to keep that off-site, says Bach. If disaster strikes, you don’t want this critical information to be at risk too.
At PMA Insurance Services, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable.
Just give us a call at (703) 449-1327 or send us a note at email@example.com . We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!
Content provided by This Old House.
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