Buying Car Insurance on the Internet

July 24th, 2009

Traditionally, to obtain automobile insurance, vehicle owners were required to walk into an insurance agency, sit down with a licensed agent, and complete a paper application. With the introduction of computers and programs created solely for insurance companies, this process was made easier and more efficient. A quote can be delivered in minutes and all information provided by the consumer can quickly be verified online. The insurance policy can be completed and delivered within the hour. Thus, the client can walk out the door, policy in hand, and immediately get behind the wheel of their vehicle. Policy changes are also an uncomplicated process to handle. Transferring insurance from one vehicle to another, adding or removing coverages, and cancelling a policy can be performed in mere minutes.

As technology improves and procedures become more efficient, more and more options are offered to those seeking to purchase items online. Consumers can purchase everything from jewellery, clothing, food, and even auto insurance on the Internet. There are a countless number of websites that are available to obtain quotes and purchase auto insurance without even leaving the comfort of your home. But are these websites really advantageous to consumers and are they a more viable option than dealing face to face with a reputable insurance agent?

When a client obtains a quote, whether it comes directly from an insurance company or through a website online, it is important to remember that it is just that – a quote. The amount isn’t necessarily guaranteed. There are a lot of influences that can increase or decrease what you will actually pay in the end. A quote usually only consists of basic information; your personal information, the type of vehicle you drive, and what coverages you require all play a part. Once you actually decide to purchase the policy, all of the information provided will be verified and could change the final rate.

Sure, shopping for insurance online can be quick and convenient, and sometimes even less expensive than obtaining it from an agency down the street, but do they necessarily offer more benefits? There are several questions you need to pose before committing yourself to a certain insurance policy.

Everyone who sells insurance is required to hold a license which allows them to perform this job. Attempting to issue an insurance policy without a license is illegal, and may result in an accident or claim not actually being adequately covered. There are many aspects involved when purchasing insurance and most consumers will have at least a page full of questions and concerns. A Website isn’t a live person and cannot always provide the answers you seek in a reasonable amount of time. A website cannot thoroughly explain all coverages available or clear up any misconceptions you may have. An insurance agent can fully explain every detail of the contract to you. If you purchase online, there may be some valuable and important information that you overlook.

In this age of technology, there is a rising concern regarding privacy issues. A licensed and reputable insurance agent is required to advise you of their privacy policy and provide you with a written copy that you must agree to and sign. This gives them permission to collect any personal information about you that pertains to obtaining insurance. There may be a portion of the website that reviews this with you, but ultimately, should it be needed for whatever reason, there will not be a hard copy that has been signed to show that you agree with the policy. There is also a risk anytime you disclose personal information over the internet. You may be privy to identity theft if your information is sent over an unsecured site.
If you have a dispute or need a problem resolved, how can you really be sure that it can be addressed properly? If you deal with a local insurance company, then you can always call them or drop by and they can certainly attempt to solve any problems on the spot. A website is a group of faceless pages that simply spit out information. You need to make sure that there is some sort of customer service department that you can write to or call. Even if there is one available, it may not be efficient and convenient.

Purchasing auto insurance on the internet may be the right course for you to take, however, before you come to that conclusion, make sure to fully research the company that you choose. This can help you save money and prevent any future problems.

Auto Insurance for Used Cars

July 24th, 2009

For people who live and work in large centres, public transportation such as busses or taxi cabs are available options to commute to work and back. Those who reside in smaller cities or towns don’t always have that choice. They will more than likely be required to drive to work. Especially in today’s economy, it may not be feasible to purchase a brand new vehicle. Some people don’t have the money for a down payment at their disposal, and many cannot afford to be locked in for years paying a monthly car payment with high interest rates tacked on. Their other option is to purchase a used vehicle. This is considerably cheaper.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to insuring a used vehicle. From the moment a vehicle is purchased it depreciates in value and continues to do so every year. If you obtain a used vehicle, the value has already depreciated substantially. If you are involved in an automobile accident in a used vehicle, the insurance company will determine if the repair costs are more than the value of the vehicle. If they deem this to be the case, they will consider your automobile to be a total loss and will only pay you what the actual cash value of the vehicle is at the time of the loss. This can amount to a very low cash settlement.

Because of this reason, you need to determine what insurance coverages are more beneficial and feasible to add on. Liability is always a mandatory coverage. This will protect a driver against any damages or injuries that result from an accident that is determined to be their fault. Bodily injury will cover any injuries sustained in a collision, and property damage will cover any damages to another party’s vehicle. If your used vehicle is worth less than $2000, then you are better off just purchasing liability insurance. Liability limits are the same regardless of whether you driver a new or used vehicle. Either one has the potential to cause the same amount of injuries or damages.

Another coverage which is not always mandatory, but is certainly highly recommended, is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. There is a percentage of motorists who choose to not put adequate liability coverage on their vehicle and some just flat out neglect to purchase insurance at all. If you happen to be involved in an accident with one of these drivers, this coverage will protect you against any financial losses you may be subject to.

If your automobile is used, but still worth more than $2000, you can consider adding on additional optional insurance coverages. Collision covers any damages to your vehicle should you hit another vehicle or object. Comprehensive will protect you from financial losses incurred as a result of fire, theft, vandalism, hit and run, and animal collisions. Each of these coverages involves a deductible, which is the amount you are required to pay out of pocket before your insurance company will pay for damages. If you have a small claim, you may want to consider not claiming through your insurance company and just pay for the damages yourself. If you increase the amount of your deductible, your rates will be reduced, but you should keep in mind that the deductible chosen must be feasible for you to pay. It won’t benefit you if you choose a higher deductible to lower your rates and then find that you can’t afford to pay it.

Glass coverage is also something that should be considered when insuring a used car. Glass is usually covered under comprehensive insurance. If you desire to have all of your windows covered for any type of damage, then the premiums will be substantially higher. You can opt for limited glass coverage which will still cover your windows in certain situations but not in others. If you are involved in an accident or an animal collision, you will be able to have your glass damage repaired. However, in the case of vandalism or rock chips, there may be limitations and conditions that will determine if the damage will be insured. By adding this endorsement onto your policy, your premiums will be reduced.

You will still be responsible for paying the deductible, so you should compare the deductible and the extra cost of insurance to the expense of paying for a new windshield yourself. For a basic windshield, you would more likely be better of just buying it yourself.

Mediate Your Car Insurance Claim Dispute

July 24th, 2009

No one expects to be involved in an automobile accident or find themselves the victim of vandalism or theft, but unfortunately, with the ever growing population, these situations are commonplace. The usual procedure if one of these instances should occur, is of course to call the police and file a police report, and then to inform your insurance company. An adjuster will be dispatched to assess the claim and determine the amount of damage. The adjuster will then either approve the go ahead to get repairs completed or if your vehicle is deemed a total loss, you will be paid a cash amount. Usually this payment is determined by the actual cash value of your vehicle at the time the loss occurred. The agreed deductible is subtracted from this amount to give you your final payment.

Sometimes, a consumer may not agree with the decision that the adjuster has come to. They may believe that their vehicle is worth more than determined. If the cost to repair the vehicle is greater than the actual cash value, then the adjuster will not approve repairs. Some car owners cannot accept the fact that their vehicle is not worth repairing. They may dispute the verdict. If this is the case, their first course of action is to discuss concerns with their agent. If this doesn’t solve their problems, then they may escalate the matter to a superior agent or customer service department. It is a client’s best interest to always inform the insurance company of any concerns, actions, or intentions in writing. This will provide a paper trail and record should such proof be required at a later date.

In rare cases the customer just cannot be appeased. If the situation intensifies to such a point, it may be time for more drastic action. There are two ways to attempt a resolution. This can be done through either mediation or arbitration.

Mediation is perhaps the more logical path to choose. This is mainly because it is a lot less expensive then going to court, and it is usually more civil and informal. Both parties must agree to take part in the mediation. An unbiased third party will act as a mediator. He or she will act on behalf of both parties and help all of those involved to come to an agreeable and satisfactory decision.

The insurance company and the insured will both present their information and arguments and then the mediator will review all facts. The most important thing to remember about mediation is that the mediator is there to make suggestions only. Neither party is obligated to accept any of these suggestions; however it is in their best interest to do so. The mediator does not represent either party and their decision will be based on what they deem to be the best solution for all involved.

After mediation has been concluded and all suggestions put forward, there is still a possibility that one or both of the parties involved will still not settle on an agreement. If this is the case, then there is one more step to contemplate. The matter can then be brought to arbitration. Arbitration is really a last resort. It is much like going to court and can be quite costly to all involved.

Both the insured and the insurance company should have their lawyer present through all proceedings and must inform each other of all happenings and intentions. Before proceeding this far, the client should first make sure that they are familiar with their insurance policy. This contract should be reviewed thoroughly just in case some point has been overlooked. It is possible that the whole matter of arbitration can be avoided, thus saving time and money.

As in a formal court hearing, the insured will state their case, providing any evidence and proof of their claim, as well as calling any revalent witnesses. The insurance company in turn will do the same. After all evidence is presented and reviewed, a decision will be made. The most important difference between arbitration and mediation is that any decision that is made in arbitration is final. There are no suggestions or proposals. If the decision is in favour of the insured, they may be entitled to a payment; however, this amount cannot be greater than stated on the insurance policy.

Arbitration is not always the best answer to resolve a dispute. Mediation is a much easier way for both parties to come to an agreement that benefits both and still maintain a good working relationship.

Steps to Take After an Auto Accident

July 24th, 2009

Automobile accidents are a common occurrence every day on busy roads and highways throughout the country. There are several factors that can result in a minor fender bender or a serious and life threatening collision. Driver error accounts for a majority of these motor vehicle accidents. Just glancing away from the road for a few seconds, talking on a cell phone, or not obeying traffic laws can all have disastrous results. Should you become involved in an accident, there are several steps that you should follow.

Most motorists don’t even want to imagine that this can happen to them, but the probability can be very high depending when and where you are driving. The single most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Whether or not the accident is your fault, it benefits no one if you become agitated, angry and confrontational with the other driver involved. Yelling or swearing at the other person may make you feel better at that instant, but it can cause more problems in the long run. Angry feelings may escalate to physical violence and then that is just one more problem you must contend with. No one wants to be fined or jailed for an impulsive act that can affect their record for several years. So, remaining as calm and relaxed is essential, no matter how difficult it may seem.

After you have taken a deep breath, the first thing to do is to determine if there are any injuries and if so, call for medical assistance immediately. The severity of an injury may not be apparent right away, so the sooner an ambulance is dispatched, the sooner the injured can be treated. A few minutes and even a few seconds can be the difference between permanent injury, or life and death. Once medical assistance has been requested, immediately contact the police so that they may attend the scene. Both of these steps can be completed with one call to 911, rather than calling each department separately.

Exchange information with the other motorist. Collect their full name, address, phone number, and insurance information. More than likely, if the police attend the scene, all of this information will be included on the accident report, but it doesn’t hurt to collect it personally. Always ensure that you request a copy of the report for your records as well as for your insurance company. This is a huge factor in determining who is at fault, and whether or not your insurance premiums will increase.

Once the police arrive, always co-operate fully with them. They are there to assist you and it will not benefit anyone if your actions and behaviour hinder the investigation. The police are trained to handle these situations and they can determine who is at fault, and if any charges are to be laid. Law enforcement officers attend the scene well after the accident has occurred, so they do not initially know all of the facts. You should write every detail down regarding the accident, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Even the smallest issue may be the final determining factor in the decision of who is to be held responsible.

Insurance policies are designed to cover damages sustained in an auto accident. If your car is damaged, it is important to determine if it is still drivable. It is your responsibility, as the vehicle owner, to make sure that you prevent any further damage from occurring. If you decide to drive your vehicle after an accident has occurred, you run the risk of causing more damage and increasing the cost of pending repairs. If this is the case, you will be responsible for paying those damages over and above the ones resulting from the accident. Your insurance company will not cover these expenses. It is in your best interest to have your vehicle towed if possible to a garage so that there will be no possibility of additional damages.

Make sure to inform your insurance company as soon as possible of an accident. Disclose all details such as the time, date, and location that the accident occurred. Advise them of exactly what happened. Never withhold information as this could lead to your claim being denied. They will contact the other insurance company involved and work behind the scenes to finalize the claim. Ask your insurance agent if they offer an optional coverage to cover the use of a rental car should your vehicle be out of service for some time to be repaired. If the accident is deemed to be your fault, your rates will more than likely increase. Another important insurance to add is accident forgiveness. This coverage ‘forgives’ your first at fault accident so that your insurance company will not surcharge your policy. Keep on top of your claim by contacting your insurance company for regular status updates.

What affects Car Insurance Premiums

July 24th, 2009

There is a common misconception among consumers that everyone should pay the exact same rate for automobile insurance. When shopping around for quotes, often motorists are aghast at the wide spectrum of variations between what they pay and what their buddy from down the block is charged. In reality, there are numerous factors that influence the amount of premium that is charged for auto insurance. These reasons usually fall into three main categories.
The first determining factor is directly related to the type of vehicle that a person drives. Each individual car, truck, van, and SUV is assigned into a vehicle rate group. Simply put, the higher number of the rate group, the higher premiums that will be charged. These rate groups are determined by several features of the vehicle. For example, sports cars are usually more expensive to insure than family sedans because parts or repairs are more costly, they may be at greater risk for theft or vandalism, and they may be involved more often in motor vehicle accidents.

Brand new vehicles are often allocated a set rate, and then after a period of time; perhaps a year or two, the vehicle is reviewed to see how well it performs in each category. If it seems that this type of automobile is involved in substantially more accidents than experts at first estimated, the rate, and thus the premium will be increased.This is a rating method that is not widely known among the public. A consumer may own a certain brand of vehicle and then trade it for one that is similar. When they visit their insurance agent to transfer the insurance, they are shocked to learn that their newly acquired vehicle costs hundreds of dollars more than their old one.

Each individual driver impacts the rate that they are charged for insurance. Again, no two people necessarily pay the same for their insurance policy. Some aspects can be changed; however, there are a few that you can do absolutely nothing about.
The age, sex, and marital status play a role in working out the final cost. Very young drivers who have just obtained their license and very elderly drivers who may not possess the necessary reflexes and reaction times that they once did, will be charged more than middle aged driver. It has been statistically proven that males are a higher risk behind the wheel than their female counterparts. Men are more likely to drive recklessly, speed, and be involved in more severe accidents than women. More men than women tend to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While this may not always be the truth, unfortunately this is how society is viewed in terms of car insurance.

There are some factors that an individual can change if they desire to pay lower insurance premiums. If a motorist resides in a big city centre that is privy to a high congestion rate, then this will most likely cause their yearly rates to increase. A large city means more drivers on the road and a higher risk of collisions or accidents. This can be remedied by moving to a different town, city, or even state; not necessarily the best resolution. It’s not easy for a person to pack up and move halfway across the country to save a few dollars on car insurance. The distance driven on an annual basis combined with the use of the vehicle can alter the premium for a motorist. Commuting over a long distance to work exposes drivers to a higher chance of an auto claim or accident. Using a vehicle for running the odd errand across town will be cheaper.

Perhaps the most influential reason for higher insurance rates is the driving habits of the individual motorist. Each ticket, driving infraction, suspension, or claim can be the difference between what one person pays and what another is charged. If you have several speeding tickets, have been charged with a DUI, or deemed at fault for an accident, your insurance policy will be surcharged and the rates could skyrocket. All of these infractions reflect on the habits of the driver and the probability that they will have a claim detrimental to their insurance company. This is why it is so important to obey all traffic laws and to always drive attentively. Tickets and accidents can affect your driving record for several years and it will take time to see a decrease, as long as you keep driving safely. The more experience you have driving, the more your rates will be lowered. If you have been driving for 30 years without a single ticket or accident, you will benefit from your safe driving.

Many insurance companies offer discounts that can drastically improve the premium that you pay for your auto policy. Such discounts are offered if you have multiple vehicles on a policy or if you place your home or life insurance with the came company. Good driver and good student discounts are also offered. By purchasing a vehicle equipped with an anti-theft device, you can lower your premiums as well. Your automobile is less likely to become a target of thieves and vandals. Before obtaining your driver’s license, you may want to consider enrolling in a driver’s training course. This can also help to lower your premiums.