Posts Tagged ‘auto insurance’

Auto Insurance: Do I really need to report minor accidents?

Last month, it was bad one for my vehicles. I was involved in two accidents. Fortunately, I am ok but it is unfortunate to have accidents and none of ’em is my fault. Both times, I was actually rear ended and spared with minor damages. It is not fun to get involved in any type of accident. That’s for sure. But what can we do, even if you drive safely and careful enough other drivers tends to just find us and hit.

First, it was my Ford Truck which is already 13 years old but runs quite well so I can’t complain. It was a teanage driver who was trying to squeeze her Ford Tarus car on the left side to take left turn while I was waiting infront of the light. She hit me on corner and caused small dent with scratches on the bumper. We stopped and witnessed the damage. I decided to let her go because it wasn’t that bad and truck was already old. I didn’t bother to get it fixed. For the benefit of her, I let her go even without taking any insurance information.

Next my Honda Accord which is only 6 years old. It is in good shape and I like to keep that way because it is our family car. This time it was lady again who thought I started moving after lights change and read ended directly behind me. I felt little neck pain but not bad. We pulled out of traffic and stopped near by to assess the damages. It wasn’t too bad outside but I was worried about internal cushion/absorber damage. So I took her license information anyways but didn’t call any cop for the report and we left.  

Daunting Questions

In both the instances,  damage was minor and nobody was hurt. Like any accident, they came shocking and unexpected, bringing in some kinda of uncomfortable feeling. At that moment, one has to act fast and think what needs to be done next.  This only holds true when it’s a small/minor accident and you are in stable and consicous condition. Questions I started thinking were,

1. Do I call the insurance company and report?
2. If I want to report, do I need to call Police to get report?
3. Am I ready go through the hazzle of getting this small problem fixed?

Answers to all the above question depend on analyzing various aspects like,

I. How old is your vehicle?
II. Do you own the vehicle or lease it?
III. Are you some one who care so much about your car, even small scratch bothers you?
IV. Are you willing to go thru the hazzle of insurance calls and fixing the vehicle?
V. Are you in hurry to go somewhere?

For example, if it’s my own car, reasonably new and damage was physically visible, I would better call and report to insurance and also get  a police report if I and other party has more time.

Let me remind you one important thing. As per the insurance contract, we all are suppose to inform the insurance company of any accidents to our vehicles. But how many people do it for sake of avoiding the hazzle and insurance premium increase.There are surely Pros and Cons behind reporting.

Pros

1. Increased resale value because of dent/damage free vehicle
2. Peace of mind because your Vehicle is safe without any internal damages


Cons


1. Your future auto premium can go up according to your Insurance score were claims are part of calculation. If you make more claims whether it’s your fault or not, insurer might have unfriendly logic to quote higher premiums as per my experience.


2. Hazzle and Time Consuming process – You either have to take your vehicle to body shop or make an appointment for an appraiser to come out and get estimate. Take to body shop to get it fixed. Meanwhile you need to get rental vehicle or alternative commute arrangement to work and list goes on.


3. Vehicle might not be safe to drive with damages unless they are cosmetic.


4. Carfax report gets updated with vehicle accidents and reselling might be hard. At the same time, if you didn’t fix the damages you won’t get price for the vehicle. It’s a catch 22.

So I would like to conclude by saying, Use your own judgement. My situation and decisions might not fit everybody’s. Try to use the lists of questions mentioned above which might help you to make a sound decision. Don’t drive a unsafe vehicle just because you need to spend some time and money. That would be my personal caution.

7 Key Tests to choose right Auto Insurance Company – Final

We have already seen Tests 1 to 5 in the previous posts to check and select the insurance company. In this blog post, we will end the series with the last tests which also plays key factors in the selection criteria.

Test 6: Renewal Rate Change


Many insurance companies offer an attractive discount rate for the first premium period to get you on their books. Once you are in, many companies will try to ripe you off by increasing the premium every other renewal. There might be other factors involved in the increase of insurance but most of the time they increase without giving any reasons.


After spending lot of time researching to buy insurance, nobody wants to change just after 6months or year and do go through the same cumbersome process. So, many of us try to stick with the same company even with increase because of this reason and insurance companies take it has an advantage for them.


You can check the renewal rate change rating in the above mentioned state websites which gives another clue about the insurance company. Try to score your insurance company according to their rate change ratings.


Test 7: Recommendations from your friends, local body shops


“Word of mouth” is a powerful marketing tool. It works well in almost all cases. Check with your friends and relatives or others that you can trust. See which companies they would recommend. Ask about their experience and get their perspective. You can even contact the local body shops or auto repair shops you always use and get their view point. They usually recommend insurance companies which encourages using OEM (manufacture parts) instead of aftermarket part. That’s another important factor to consider as you want your vehicle to be fixed with original parts instead of aftermarket parts.  Score the companies with the feedback from your friends and trust worthy person.


Finally, tally up the score for all the insurance companies in the list from each test criteria and you should have your own ranking for each of them. That surely would have narrowed down your list one or two companies which you can use.  Once you decide on which company you want to go, just go to their website to finalize your quote.


Conclusion


As it was bluntly mentioned at usnews.com, Car insurance is like betting against the odd. You pay a monthly fee to an insurance company.  They’re hoping that you won’t get into an accident. You’re hoping that you won’t, but betting that you will. If you “win,” the insurance company will pay your accident costs. If you’re not in an accident, the insurance company wins because they get to keep your money. Losing this bet isn’t bad, though. You won’t have to deal with being in an accident, and the longer you lose the bet by not getting into a wreck, the less you’ll have to pay the insurance company. But, the day you’re in an accident, you’ll be glad you’re covered by good insurance company.


Photo source: i-ehow.com
Sources: edmunds.com

7 Key Tests to choose right Auto Insurance Company – Part II

In the last blog post, we discussed the first two tests, Cost comparison check and Compliant index check to start. This post, we will continue with 3 more tests which can be performed against the insurance companies.

Test 3: Ratings and Reviews


These days any type of consumer product or service gets rated and reviewed. There are only few reputed rating companies rating branded products giving guidance to the consumer. A well known name is J.D. Power and Associates’ which rates auto insurance taking lot of criteria’s into consideration.  You can find thee ratings for any auto insurance at jdpower.com

There are other third party websites which also gather the reviews of the insurance companies from the consumer. For example, this website http://www.automobileinsurancereview.com has the reviews for most well know insurance companies. But these reviews are more personal from the consumers and difficult to know the actual cause for the complaints so use them with your own discretion.


After checking the ratings and reviews, give scores to your list companies according to their ratings.


Test 4: Financial Strength


Many of the publically traded insurance companies are rated on their financial strength. A.M. Best and Standard&Poor’s, both of these companies publish financial strength ratings for all insurance companies — they measures insurance company’s ability to pay out claims. The A.M. Best rating is expressed as a letter grade from A++ (the highest) to D. Some companies may be assigned ratings of E (indicating regulatory action regarding the company’s solvency), F (in liquidation) and S (suspended). In any case, you should only work with companies that have at least a B+ rating.


The Standard&Poor’s ratings range from AAA (the highest) to CC. Some companies receive ratings of R (under regulatory supervision) and NR, which means ‘not rated’. The letter grades might be modified by a + or – mark. Consider only those companies that have at least a BBB rating. Insurance companies often provide this information on their Web sites, but if not, you can run a search at the A.M. Best and Standard&Poor’s sites or this site insure.com.


Keep in mind that these ratings have nothing to do with the way an insurance company treats its customers. It is only the rating of their financial strength. Give scores for your list companies accordingly.


Test 5: Customer Service&Support


A very important criterion to judge a company is by their customer service and support. These days many companies have website support. You can request quote, chat with the customer service personnel online and clarify your downs, maintain your account online, make changes, start a claim, make payments and renew your insurance. It’s all done without even talking to a person. It has become so easy after Internet revolution except their website should be fast and reliable enough to handle the customer traffic.


Check whether your insurance companies have fully organized website with support 24/7 and how fast they respond to your queries. It is very important to have faster response when you are in emergency situation. Give score to your list of companies by calling them or visiting their website.

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