Before You Buckle Up: Insurance Tips for New Drivers

For new drivers, earning that license may seem like the biggest challenge when it comes to driving. However, obtaining the right car insurance is another obstacle many drivers don’t consider. These tips will help you keep in mind all you need to know about car insurance as a new driver.

Consider Your Car Insurance Coverage

If you are driving a car that is registered in your name, you likely need car insurance. It is the law in most states. However, there are several different types of coverage. Understanding all of the coverage types is the first step in determining the type or types of insurance that will best meet your needs.

Liability insurance is the most frequently discussed type of insurance because it is required in most states. It covers the cost of both injuries to other parties and property damage in the event of an accident. 

Personal injury protection is the car insurance that will cover the cost of your medical expenses as the driver whether you are at fault for the accident or not. This coverage will also cover your passengers. 

Uninsured motorist insurance is sometimes overlooked. While most states require insurance, in the event that you are in an accident and the driver of the other vehicle does not have insurance, this coverage can cover your medical expenses and also the cost of any vehicle repair. This insurance is sometimes required, but it can vary from state to state.

Collision and comprehensive coverage is an optional coverage because it only addresses your vehicle. Collision covers the cost of repair or replacement should an accident occur. If your vehicle is damaged through other means, such as a natural disaster or vandalism, comprehensive coverage will cover those expenses. Though these types of insurance are not required by law, if you have an auto loan, you are often required to carry these types of coverage. 

Other coverage options include towing, roadside assistance and rental car coverage. With any type of coverage, it is essential each driver read the fine print to understand what is and isn’t covered.

Determine Your Coverage Needs

Your coverage needs are determined, at least in part, by the state in which you live and whether or not you own your vehicle. Researching state-by-state requirements and understanding what those requirements mean is important. For instance, if your state requires 20/40/15 coverage, that means you have to carry an insurance policy that will cover $20,000 worth of medical expenses per person, with a total coverage payout of $40,000 in medical expenses. That coverage also requires you to have $15,000 worth of property damage coverage. In addition to state minimums, if you’re still paying off your vehicle, the loan company will likely have insurance coverage minimums for you to follow. 

Beyond those requirements, your coverage needs may also depend on your risk tolerance. Many people feel that the state minimums are not enough. You can be sued for any additional expenses not covered by your policy making additional coverage a good idea. Any damages you are held liable for can come out of your bank accounts, your assets or even your paychecks through wage garnishment. 

Combat Premium Costs

Even if you choose to carry more than the minimum coverage, there are many ways to reduce your premium cost. When you establish your insurance policy, it will come with a deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you are responsible for paying out-of-pocket before your insurance coverage begins. Based on yours savings or your current income stream, you may opt for a higher or lower deductible. If you opt for a higher deductible amount, your monthly premiums will be lower. But you will feel more of a sting should you need to use your coverage. 

In addition to adjusting your deductible, there are other steps you can take as a new driver to lower the cost of your insurance premiums.

    • Shop around. As a new driver, working with a company such as SelectQuote you can get multiple quotes with one call to (855) 777-6090.  It is great way to compare rates on the same level of coverage. And you can always start by visiting us online at Www.bondinsurancegroup.com.
    • Consider how often you pay. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who pay their insurance for the whole year in single or twice-yearly payments. 
    • Build your credit score. Your credit score impacts your premium costs. Establishing several lines of credit, paying your bills on time and keeping your overall utilization ratio low can go a long way to keep your credit score healthy.
    • Inquire about discounts. Insurance companies offer a variety of discounts based on everything from clean driving records and anti-theft devices to good grades and defensive driving courses. Ask specifically about all of the different discount options that an insurance company offers. 
    • Bundle your policies. If you find yourself in a position where you need to insure multiple cars or carry multiple types of insurance (renters, homeowners, etc.), you may be able to obtain a discount for bundling or purchasing all of your coverage from the same company. 

In the Driver’s Seat

Understanding all the requirements is a starting point for how much insurance each new driver needs. From maintaining a clean driving record to paying your bill yearly, there are  ways to make additional coverage more affordable. It’s peace of mind for your wallet and peace of mind as you get behind the wheel. 

 

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Home Sweet Homeowners Insurance: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Covered

There’s no place like home. That’s why it’s so important to protect your home with homeowners insurance. While the paperwork can sometimes seem overwhelming, there’s nothing more rewarding than the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the right amount of homeowners insurance. If you’re ready to get a better understanding of how your coverage works and to see if you need to make any updates to your policy, these tips can get the job done faster than you imagine. 

Homeowners Insurance Requirements

First things first. For most of us, homeowners insurance isn’t optional. Why? We don’t actually own our homes. Banks do. 

Until your mortgage is paid, your bank or mortgage company is going to require you to carry homeowners insurance. They want their investment protected. The exact specifications can vary, but generally, your lender will want you to have coverage at least up to your outstanding mortgage amount. Each lender will specify the exact amount of coverage you need, plus the different hazards that your policy must guard against. In most cases the lender will want you to protect yourself and them with “replacement” cost.

What’s In My Policy

If your mortgage happens to be paid off or you simply want to double check your coverage needs, there are a few different considerations to make when calculating how much homeowners insurance you need.

Homeowners insurance isn’t just about guarding against the loss of your home. In fact, there are four different parts that come with most policies. You will want to evaluate the amount of coverage in each of these areas. 

Dwelling Coverage

This portion of your policy defines the amount of coverage available to repair or rebuild your home, based on the type of policy.  Many “replacement” cost policies will include calculations factoring in attached structures like garages and decks. You may also have other structures coverage, which will cover sheds or even detached garages on the property in case of loss.

Personal Property Coverage

Personal property coverage protects the value of items in your home. This generally covers items like furniture and clothing. If you have expensive enough itemssuch as an engagement ring, for exampleit may also be worth adding a jewelry rider, sometimes called “a floater,” to your homeowners policy. 

Liability Coverage

Should someone be injured on your property or in your home, liability coverage is the part of your insurance policy that kicks in. Personal liability covers bodily injury to others as well as property damage. Plus, some policies also have a separate section for medical payments to others. In the event of a lawsuit, you will be relieved to have good coverage here. 

Additional Living Expenses

Should your home be damaged and become unlivable, this portion of your policy covers any costs related to loss of use or access to your dwelling. This could be everything from staying in a motel to getting food or even a toothbrush. If the truly unthinkable happens, it’s likely that you’ll be left with nothing. Additional living expenses coverage can help you get back on your feet.

How to Determine Your Needs

Now that you understand the types of coverage that typically come with a policy, it’s time to determine if you have enough coverage. Two of the biggest reasons why you want to have ample coverage is to make sure that you can pay to have your home rebuilt in case something happens to it or that you are protected in the event of a lawsuit if someone is injured at your house. 

So how do you know if you have enough coverage? Using these methods will help.

Understand the Real Cost

When the real estate market takes a dive, people tend to think their homeowners insurance is too expensive. But it’s important to understand exactly what your insurance covers. Your insurance isn’t based on the current value of your home or your mortgage. It’s based on what it costs to recreate your homefrom materials to workmanshipin the event of a disaster. 

If the unthinkable happens to your home, you do not want to find yourself in a position where you realize that you can only afford to rebuild 80 percent of your home. And yet, many homeowners find themselves underinsured. Construction costs and other expenses are on the rise, which means that building a new home, even in the same space, can cost more than you might imagine. 

You may even be able to request a reconstruction valuation from your insurance company. When considering the cost of your policy and the amount of coverage you hold, it’s important to remember that your homeowners insurance is based on building cost, not market value.

Take Inventory

In terms of your personal property coverage, one of the best ways to determine if you have enough insurance is to take an inventory of everything in your home. You can create a catalog by going room to room and estimating costs of furniture, decor, clothing, electronics. Then, you want to compare this estimate to the amount of coverage in your current policy. 

How to Update Your Coverage

Even if you aren’t thinking of updating your coverage immediately, you will want to at least review your policy if you find yourself in one of these situations:

  • Buying a new property or a second property
  • Renting out your property
  • Remodeling 
  • Buying one or more big-ticket items
  • Adding security features 
  • Adjusting the amount or type of pets you own

If you decide to adjust the amount of coverage you carry, you can do this in a few simple steps. Gather your current insurance paperwork and contact your insurance company. Clarify the parts of your policy that you want adjusted. You can then request a quote to see how those adjustments will impact your premium. 

If you decide to move forward with the updated coverage, you will either have to pay an additional amount or you may be entitled to a refund. Make sure you get a copy of your adjusted policy in writing and that you are clear on both the start and end dates. By double checking these dates, you can ensure that there are no gaps in coverage.

How to Adjust Your Deductible

Often times, people feel that their homeowners insurance is too costly. If you are someone who is fortunate enough to have never filed a claim, it’s easy to fall into the trap that you’re paying for nothing. Rather than skimping on coverage to save yourself some money, a better strategy involves adjusting your deductible. 

By electing a higher deductible, your premiums will often be reduced considerably. You can use an online calculator or work with your insurance provider to get different quotes based on various deductible amounts. The most important part to remember, though, is that your deductible has to be met when you file a claim. Don’t set a deductible higher than what you have stashed in your emergency fund or savings account. 

The Real Value of Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance can seem complicated. But the simple truth is it’s peace of mind and protection against the unthinkable. Understanding the different parts of your policy and the amount of coverage you have in each area is a fundamental part of making sure you aren’t underinsured. Knowing how to adjust your coverage and your deductible can keep you protected while paying a reasonable rate. 

9 Reasons Homeowners Insurance Claims Are Denied

Year after year, you send that premium payment for your homeowners policy. When accidents happen, you expect the insurance company to cut a check for the full extent of the damage to your home, no matter the amount or what caused it.

It doesn’t always work that way. What you think you’re entitled to under your policy and what the carrier believes they owe you are often two very different dollar figures.

Don’t take it personally. Remember, carriers have to price your coverage based on statistics, probability and risk. They can only pay to the extent a claim is based in cold, hard facts, policy language and evidence. 

If your claim falls under one or more of the criteria below, there’s a good chance it will be reduced or denied altogether. But alas, insurance companies don’t take claims personally, either. We’ll follow with ways to ensure your property is covered properly and recovered adequately.

Why Are Homeowners Insurance Claims Denied?

  • Not Enough Information

  • As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to file and prove your claim. Insufficient documentation of damage to your property won’t help your case. Neither will a lack of a complete inventory of valuables on or in your property prior to the loss.

  • Taking Too Long to File

  • If you take too long to file the claim, your chances of a satisfactory payment go way down. Policies typically contain time-sensitive requirements for filing the claim and documenting damage.

  • Late Payments

  • If your premium payments are late and result in any lapses in coverage, you run the risk of property damage occurring when your policy is exempt due to non-payment.

  • Threat of Fraud

  • Unfortunately, insurance fraud is a predictable reality. Therefore, your carrier will send their own claims adjuster to investigate almost every claim. Anything that raises questions—whether in the claim or in your initial application—could be game over. If your losses are serious, particularly if the policy covers your business, consider hiring an independent adjuster. 

  • Claim Type Not Included in Coverage

  • No homeowners policy covers the entire house and everything in it, nor does it cover against every possible source of damage or loss. Common policy “exclusions” include earthquakes, floods and water/sewage backup, or other regional risks. 

  • Loss is Close to Your Deductible

  • A typical homeowners policy deductible—the amount you pay before the claim kicks in—is $1,000. If the estimated loss is close enough to your deductible level, carriers will deny the claim, though in that scenario you wouldn’t want to file one. 

  • Perilous Claims May Not Be Covered

  • In insurance speak, “perils” refer to things like fire, theft, lightning and hail. “Occurrences” speak to the actual losses, such as a destroyed kitchen, or soaked carpet and furniture. Lower-end policies only cover a certain number of perils, others cover all of them. 

  • Somebody (or Something Else’s) Fault

  • If it was your contractor’s negligence that collapsed the foundation or your neighbor’s tree that totaled your SUV, your insurance company isn’t responsible—and your policy doesn’t apply. 

  • Excessive Wear

  • Imagine an insurance carrier paying to fix a rusted-out car bumper after an accident. Doesn’t happen. Same goes for an old roof full of worn shingles and leaks. If a claims adjuster finds evidence of poor maintenance or excessive wear-and-tear of your property, chances are the claim will be denied. 

Avoid the Dreaded Denial

  • Document all damage and file a detailed itemized claim to your insurance
  • Notify your carrier as soon as possible (even if in the middle of the night) of any loss and know the time limits for filing a claim
  • Don’t miss a premium payment
  • Know what your policy covers and excludes; obtain adequate coverage for more “perils” if available
  • Do everything possible to maintain the property before an event, and to mitigate the damage until an adjuster assesses the damage