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Automobile insurance protects the vehicles and assets of an individual and assists in paying for bodily injury that results from operating a vehicle.
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Home insurance can help you repair or rebuild your home and replace damaged possessions if your home is damaged or destroyed.
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When business is running smoothly, owners typically don’t take time out of their hectic day to think about insurance.
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If you think about it for a minute, you insure everything that’s significant in your life; why not insure yourself?
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Get ready for bike season in five simple steps

There’s nothing like cruising down the open road on your motorcycle – the wind in your hair and a few bugs in your teeth.

Before you hit the highways and byways this season, make sure your insurance policy is up to speed so that you and your bike are protected.

Here are a few tips from the experts at J. Peter & Associates:

1. Make sure your insurance policy is still in force. Some companies have a winter layaway period when some coverages are restricted. Check with your insurance company to see if you have any type of limited coverage.

2. Update your policy. Let your insurance company know about any changes like additional riders, a new address or customized parts. A quick call to your independent agent can secure coverage that meets your needs.

3. Cover customized parts. Parts such as chrome plating, a new paint job, saddlebags or special rims usually increase the value of your bike. If you’ve added custom parts or equipment, make sure they’re protected.

4. If you don’t need it, drop it. If you own an older bike, check its value. Don’t pay for coverage that you don’t need. Consider dropping collision coverage if the premium equals 10 percent of the bike’s market value. Understand, however, that you won’t be covered if your bike overturns or collides with another object.

5. Shop around. Prices can vary from company to company, so shop around. Another tip: If you purchase comprehensive and collision coverage, consider raising your deductibles. This can lower the cost of your physical damage coverage.

Understanding Factors Affecting Your Home Insurance Premium

Homeowner’s insurance can be a confusing topic. Because of this, many homeowners don’t fully understand why insurers charge the premiums they do, and as a result, premium charges often go unquestioned by policyholders.

But when you know how insurers determine your premium, you can work with those factors to lower your premium and say goodbye to expensive home insurance rates!

How Insurers Gauge Your Risk

When an insurance company determines your rates, they’re really determining your risk. And according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), insurers consider some of the following to determine exactly that:

  • Where your home is located. Living in high risk areas like the Gulf coast or in crime-riddled neighborhoods drastically increase the chances that your home will be significantly damaged, ruined, vandalized or stolen from. It’s for this reason that you’ll pay more to insure your home in a high risk area.
  • The cost to build in your area. Some insurers will look at the construction costs in your area to see how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed. The higher the construction costs are in your area, the higher the likelihood that you’ll pay for it in your home insurance rates.
  • The materials used to construct your home. Materials like brick and other stone tend to better withstand the high winds that come with tornadoes and hurricanes. If your home is constructed (or partially constructed) from these materials, you’ll probably see a dip in your homeowner’s insurance premium.
  • Other risk factors on your property. Insurers will also want to know if you have any swimming pools, hot tubs or trampolines on your property, as well as the kind of breed the family pooch is. All of these factors increase the risk of injury on your property and insurers may increase your rates accordingly.

Saving Money on Home Insurance

With all these factors, how can you save money on homeowner’s insurance? Aren’t some of these factors out of the hands of homeowners?

Yes and no. While you may not be able to control the weather or the actions of others, you can do the following to save money:

  • Make upgrades. While you may not be able to change the location or construction of your home, you can lower your premium by upgrading plumbing and heating systems, installing sprinkler systems, additional smoke detectors and deadbolt locks. While these upgrades may take a little elbow grease and money on your part, it’ll lower the risk for insurers–and your home insurance rates.
  • Make your home safe. If you have a pool or trampoline, fencing can keep children away from these areas without your supervision. If you have a dog that fits into a “high risk” breed category (like a pit bull), there may not be a lot you can do, and some insurers won’t cover dog bite liability; ask your insurer for details regarding your pooch.
  • Insure for the replacement cost. Your home would probably cost more to rebuild or replace now that it did when you bought it. Insuring your abode for the replacement cost will help you avoid any large depreciation if you need to file a claim.
  • Review your policy annually. If you sold grandma’s expensive china last year, you no longer need coverage for it. Reviewing your policy annually will ensure that you have the coverage you need–no more and no less.

Start Saving on Home Insurance Today

While you may not be able to control how insurers determine your homeowner’s insurance rates, you can make adjustments to your home to combat premium hikes. In addition to these money-saving tips, always remember to ask your insurance agent about any discounts for which you might qualify. Doing so will get you the affordable home insurance you need to save money–without having to skimp on coverage.

Homeowners Guide to Home Insurance Discounts, Reduced Rates and Savings

In today’s economy, many homeowners are juggling higher bills on less earnings — facing tightened family budgets in the wake of rising costs, credit limits or even job loss. Yet there’s no need to struggle with the cost of home insurance. Despite industry increases, homeowners may be able to reduce their insurance rates by as much as 30 percent.

Nevertheless, many homeowners aren’t using insurance discounts to lower rates — even those who apply discounts may qualify for more savings than they’re getting. And lowered rates are still possible, even in today’s economy.

Consider the findings reported by independent insurance agent association, Trusted Choice, in a 2009 national survey:

“53 million household respondents ‘admitted they are probably not taking advantage of all homeowners insurance discounts or said that they simply didn’t know’ about policyholder discounts they likely qualify for.”

The survey also found that the largest percentage of respondents, about 26%, estimated they save 6-10% on their insurance premiums by using discounts. In fact, many insurance consumers could be saving significantly more-as much as 30%, according to independent insurance agencies, which often shop on behalf of consumers and help them find discounts and compare rates.

Homeowners are usually aware of the more common discounts — such as a multiple policy discount to insure both home and auto under one carrier. But there are other discounts and savings they miss.

How savvy are you as a homeowner and insurance consumer?

Find out using this quick list to explore or measure your potential for insurance discounts. It’s also the knowledge you and your insurance agent need to reduce rates for savings:

  • Dual duty — Don’t overlook the most common discount available: multiple policy discounts. When the same company insures your home and car, you can probably reduce your overall insurance costs by 10 to 15 percent.
  • New home, new homeowner? The same criteria used to qualify your home for a specific mortgage is often the same that qualifies your policy for discounts.
  • Living in a gated community? Then you may be eligible for discounts. Be sure to ask about auto insurance discounts if your car is equally ‘protected’ to boot.
  • Rooftop savings — Some insurance companies offer hail resistant roof discounts for Class 4 roofs — naturally these credits may vary with locale. Moreover, be sure to ask your insurer about potential discounts before putting a new roof on your house — you’ll probably want to capture savings if available and a flat roof without roof warranty may disqualify you from your current coverage altogether.
  • Be a new policyholder — You may find additional savings extended to new customers based on new rating models that offer a ‘sign up’ discount. If your insurer extends this discount, your insurance agent might be able to capture it by applying for a new policy with the same company.
  • Your track record counts — make sure you explore discounts for home insurance customers who have a claim-free track record… when was the last time you filed a home insurance claim? A 10-year history usually qualifies you for this discount; if you’ve never filed a claim, you may save as much as 20 percent.
  • Risk reductions – Ask your agent to identify risk reduction discounts addressing a range of interior and exterior factors: fire and smoke alarms, electrical wiring, fireplace / chimney safety, heating apparatus, burglar alarms, curb and gutter system and landscaping elements. Proximity to a fire hydrant and your community’s fire department also applies.
  • Preventive maintenance and home security – Make sure your insurance agent is aware of any alarm systems or preventive measures you take to secure property and to keep your home safe. Though discount criteria varies, you may be able to get a savings of 10 to 15 percent for a combined system that may include two or more measures: deadbolt locks, lockable garages and storage buildings, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, a burglar alarm or home security system.
  • Good breeding gone bad — Like it or not, some pets have a reputation. You may adore your family pet but if Fido is a dog breed considered bite-happy or dangerous, your insurance rating may be affected or your coverage in jeopardy. Choose your pet wisely — be aware of the little issues that can turn your insurance into a big issue.
  • Score card — Expect your credit score to impact your home insurances rates. If married, you may be able to reduce your rate by listing the top scorer as the first named on the insurer’s application. Plus, if you’ve had a less-than credit score and recently improved your numbers, let your insurance agent know. You may be able to get a policy adjustment: a lower insurance rate is still possible without the need to write a new policy.
  • Raise the limit — consider the difference a deductible makes. You can probably lower your rate by raising your deductible — $2,500 is the standard deductible and you can expect a lower rate if you raise it to $5,000.
  • Agent vs. agent and the extended marketplace – Is your insurance agent an independent who can tap a broad product range? Or an agent affiliated with a name-brand company? Know the difference. Independent agents can shop around — explore options across the marketplace. Brand agents don’t usually have the same agility — they’re usually confined to the company practice or limited to brand products. Loyalty counts. Still, if you’re committed to one company brand you may be just as limited as the insurance agent who is equally missing rate reductions, discounts and savings offered by the brand’s competition.
  • ‘Home pride’ and stewardship are vital – Even many insurance agents don’t understand the role that stewardship plays in harnessing the broadest range of discounts possible. Why? The better care you take of your home, the more attractive you’ll look to insurance carriers. And the best way to harness discounts is to identify as many discounts as possible — it stands to reason that more companies mean more potential for discounts.

So, you’ll want to make sure your home qualifies for coverage from every company that offers coverage in your locale since increased competition generally decreases rates and opens your access to discounts.

In a nutshell, homeowners applying the discounts above will soon realize the many ways they can save on their home insurance — even when times are tough.

Get started on discounts for savings….

  • Shop around to compare insurance company providers and rates — what companies provide home insurance in your community?
  • Get guidance on the details — an independent insurance agent isn’t tied to one brand, so these agents can help you see the whole marketplace and get the apples-to-apples lens you need to compare products, coverage and rates.
  • Identify discounts – make sure you identify the common discounts most homeowners hit, along with other discounts that frequently miss.
  • Do the ‘homework’ – the work at home that demonstrates stewardship makes you eligible to select from the broadest insurance product range possible.
  • Optimize selection, and then maximize discounts to benefit from reduced raters and savings.


6 Factors that Could Affect Your Auto Insurance Premium

When it comes to car insurance, many consumers have no idea what insurers look at to come up with the almighty premium amount. But believe it or not, insurers don’t pull your auto insurance rates out of thin air.

To help you secure the lowest possible insurance rate, it’s important to learn about the factors that could be affecting your premium–and how to use those factors to tip the scale in your favor!

Factor #1: Your Driving Record

It’s probably no surprise to you that insurers look at your driving record. They do so to gauge or estimate the risk to insure you. But what exactly are they looking for? Insurers will scan your driving record for at-fault accidents, traffic violations and claims made, usually within the last three to five years. If you’ve received marks against your driving record, you can bet you’ll be paying more for your auto insurance.

The good news: Marks against your driving record usually fall away in the eyes of your insurer after three years. You can avoid being penalized for a less than stellar driving record by driving as defensively as possible and avoiding filing small claims (such as those for hail damage) and paying for the repairs yourself.

Factor #2: Previous Insurance Coverage

If you’re applying for car insurance under a new insurer, your prospective agent will almost certainly look into your previous insurance coverage. He or she will want to know if you paid your premiums on time, how many claims you filed with your old insurer, as well as any other problematic behavior that would increase your risk to insure.

Any red flags in previous insurance coverage will likely result in an increased insurance rate. And unfortunately, if you’ve not been previously insured, you may pay more car insurance until you establish an insurance history.

The good news: You can avoid these penalties in the future by paying your premiums on time, avoiding filing small claims and maintaining a respectful relationship with your insurers.

Factor #3: Your Credit History

According to a recent study by insurance research firm Conning and Company, 92 percent of the nation’s 100 top insurers are factoring credit history into auto insurance premiums.

And while insurers are looking directly at credit scores, they’re more interested at how you’ve used your credit in the past. Insurers will look at the length of your credit history, the amount of revolving debt you have and any collections or late payments to form an insurance score.

And while critics and consumers alike accuse insurers of using credit-based scoring as an excuse to inflate auto rates, there’s a surprising amount of statistics to back the use of insurance scoring. In fact, studies have found that consumers at the bottom of the credit pool file 40 percent more claims that consumers with good credit. Insurers also use your credit history to judge the likelihood of paying your premiums on time. It’s for these and other reasons that insurance scoring is most likely here to stay.

The good news: You can improve your insurance score by paying your bills on time, paying down high existing balances (such as those on credit cards), and having your car insurance premium automatically withdrawn from your account every month.

Bonus tip: Insurers tend to grant discounts for customers with automatic bill pay!

Factor #4: Geographic Location

Can insurers charge you more because of where you live?


Statistically speaking, metropolitan areas see greater incidents of car accidents, theft and vandalism. These factors increase the risk that an insurer takes to cover you. Thus, if you live in the city, you may pay more for car insurance than if you lived in a more rural area or suburb.

The good news: While your premiums may go up in urban areas, you can score discounts if your car is kept under a carport, garage or parking structure. Make sure your agent knows of these safety measures–including any electronic theft deterrents in your car.

Factor #5: The Car in Question

It comes as a surprise to most that a brand new car often costs more to insure than one that’s been around the block a few times.

How is this possible?

With all airbags and anti-theft devices in new cars, you’d think your premium would go down. But the fact of the matter is that newer cars can be more expensive to repair and replace–which will increase the amount you pay to cover the car.

The good news: Don’t discount discounts! If your car has multiple air bags and other safety features, make sure your agent is aware of all of them. And you can avoid premium surprises in the future by getting an estimate on your insurance before buying that luxury coupe.

Factor #6: Use of the Car

Believe it or not, your insurer cares how much you use your car and what you use it for. While this may seem relatively unimportant, to an insurer, the more you’re on the road, the greater your chances of getting into an accident–which translates to an increased risk for the insurer.

The good news: Okay, there’s not much you can do about this one. Living closer to work should save you a couple bucks, but if that’s not an option (and sometimes it isn’t), make up for any rate increase by asking about additional discounts, cash incentives and rebates. Chances are good that your insurer won’t bump your premium up much for this anyway.

An Educated Consumer is a Powerful Consumer!

While the final decision about car insurance rates ultimately lies in the hands of the insurer, using the tips above can help tilt the scales in favor of the consumer.

So get your cheapest car insurance premiums by educating yourself on the factors mentioned above. And remember, different insurers may use these factors in varying fashions–so shop around and obtain multiple quotes to find the cheap auto insurance you need!



Car Insurance Terms and Glossary

No car insurance resource would be complete without a comprehensive glossary of car insurance terms. We’ve compiled a list of terms and their definitions to better help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of insurance

Accident - This is an unexpected sudden event that causes property damage to an automobile or bodily injury to a person. The event may be an at-fault or not-at fault and it may be report or unreported. An accident involving two vehicles may be termed a collision.

Accident report form – This is the report filed by police, often called the police report, containing the important information regarding the vehicle collision. This report will include the names of all individuals involved, vehicles involved, property damaged and citations that were issued.

Adjuster - This is the person who will evaluate the actual loss reported on the policy after an accident or other incident. They will make the determination on how much will be paid on the auto insurance policy by the Insurer.

Agent – This is a licensed and trained individual who is authorized to sell and to service insurance policies for the auto insurance company.

At Fault – This is the amount that you, the policy holder, contributed or caused the auto collision. This determines which insurance agency pays which portion of the losses.

Auto Insurance Score – This is a score similar to credit score that evaluates the information in your consumer credit report. These scores are used when determining pricing for your auto insurance policy. Negative marks on your credit report can increase your auto insurance premiums. The use of this information to determine policy pricing does vary from state to state.

Automobile Insurance – This is a type of insurance policy that covers and protect against losses involving automobiles. Auto Insurance policies include a wide range of coverage’s depending on the policy holders needs. Liability for property damage and bodily injury, uninsured motorist, medical payments, comprehensive, and collision are some of the common coverage’s offered under an auto insurance policy.

Binder – This is a temporary short-term policy agreement put in place while a formal permanent policy is put into place or delivered.

Bodily Injury Liability – This is the section of an insurance policy that covers the cost to anyone you may injure. It can include lost wages and medical expenses.

Broker – This is a licensed individual who on your behalf sells and services various insurance policies.

Claim – This is a formal notice made to your insurance company that a loss has occurred which may be covered under the terms of the auto insurance policy.

Claims Adjuster – This person employed by the insurance agency will investigate and settle all claims and losses. A representative for the insurance agency to verify and ensure all parties involved with the loss, get compensated fairly and correctly.

Collision – The portion of the insurance policy that covers damage to your vehicle from hitting another object. Objects can include but are not limited to; another vehicle, a building, curbs, guard rail, tree, telephone pole or fence. A deductible will apply. Your insurance company will go after the other parties insurance policy for these cost should they be at fault.

Commission – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that is paid to the insurance agent for selling and servicing the policy on behalf of the company.

Comprehensive – This is a portion of the insurance policy that covers loss caused by anything other than a collision or running into another object. A deductible will apply. This includes but is not limited to vandalism, storm damage, fire, theft, etc.

Covered loss - This is the damage to yourself, other people or property or your vehicle that is covered under the auto insurance policy.

Declarations Page – This is the part of the insurance policy that includes the entire legal name of your insurance company, your full legal name, complete car information including vehicle identification numbers or VIN, policy information, policy number, deductible amounts. This page is usually the front page of the insurance policy.

Deductible Amount - This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that is the amount the policy holder must pay up front before the Insurance Company contributes and is required to pay any benefits. This amount can be within a wide range in price and varies from approximately $100 – $1000. The larger amount you pay in a deductible the lower your normal monthly/yearly policy will cost. This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that would be applicable only to comprehensive or collision coverage.

Discount – This is a reduction in the overall cost of your insurance policy. Deductions can be given for a variety of different reasons including a good driving record, grades, age, marital status, specific features and safety equipment on the automobile.

Emergency Road Service – This is the part of an auto insurance policy that covers the cost of emergency services such as flat tires, keys locked in the car and towing services.

Endorsement – This is any written change that is made to the auto insurance policy that is adding or removing coverage on the policy.

Exclusion – This is the portion of the auto Insurance policy that includes any provision including people, places or things that are not covered under the insurance policy.

First Party – This is the policyholder, the insured in an insurance policy.

Gap Insurance – This is a type of auto insurance provided to people who lease or own a vehicle that is worth less than the amount of the loan. Gap auto Insurance will cover the amount between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the amount left on loan should the care be stolen or destroyed.

High-Risk Driver - If you have a variety of negative marks on your insurance record including driving under the Influences, several traffic violations, etc. you may be labeled as a risk to the insurance company. This will increase your insurance policy or may make you ineligible for coverage.

Insured - The policyholder (s) who are covered by the policy benefits in case of a loss or accident.

Insurer – Is the Auto Insurance company who promises to pay the policy holder in case of loss or accident.

Liability insurance – This part of an auto insurance policy which legally covers the damage and injuries you cause to other drivers and their vehicles when you are at fault in an accident. If you are sued and taken to court, liability coverage will apply to your legal costs that you incur. Most states will require drivers to carry some variation of liability coverage Insurance and this amount will vary state by state.

Limits – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that explains and lists the monetary limits the insurance company will pay out. In the situation you reach these limits the policy holder will be responsible for all other expenses.

Medical Payments Coverage – This is the portion of an auto insurance policy that pays for medical expenses and lost wages to you and any passengers in your vehicle after an accident. It is also known as personal injury protection or PIP.

Motor Vehicle Report – The motor vehicle report or MVR is a record issued by the state in which the policy holder resides in that will list the licensing status, any traffic violations, various suspensions and./ or refractions on your record. This is one of the tools used in determining the premium prices offered by the insurance agency. This is also used to determine the probability of you having a claim during your policy period.

No-Fault Insurance - If you reside within a state with no-fault insurance laws and regulations, your auto insurance policy pays for your injuries no matter who caused the accident. No-fault insurance states include; Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, DC..

Non-Renewal - This is the termination of an auto insurance policy on the given expiration date. All coverage will cease as of this date and insurer will be released of promised coverage.

Personal Property Liability - This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that covers any damage or loss you cause to another person’s personal property.

Personal Injury Protection or PIP – This portion of an auto insurance policy pays for any lost wages or medical expenses to you and any passengers in your vehicle following an accident. PIP is also known as medical payments coverage.

Premium – This is the amount charged to you monthly, yearly or any other duration agreed upon by insurance company and policy holder and paid directly to the auto insurance company. A premium is based on the type and amount of coverage you choose for your vehicle(s) and yourself. Other factors that will affect your insurance premium prices include your age, marital status, you’re driving and credit report, the type of car you drive and whether you live in an urban or rural area. Premiums vary by insurance company and the location you live.

Quotation – This is the amount or estimated amount the insurance will cost based on the information provided to the agent, broker or auto insurance company.

Rescission.- This is the cancellation of the insurance policy dated back to its effective date. This would result in the full premium that was charged being returned.

Rental Reimbursement – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that covers the cost of an automobile rental of similar size should the covered vehicle be in repair from a reported incident.

Replacement Cost – This is the amount of money it would cost to replace a lost or damaged item at it is actually new replacement value. This monetary amount would be based on a new identical item in the current local market.

Salvage – This is the auto insurance policy holders property that is turned over tot eh insurance agency in a loss final settlement. Insurance companies will sell the salvage property in hopes to recoup some of its monetary loss due to the loss and settlement.

Second Party – this is the actual insurance company in the auto insurance policy.

Surcharge - This is the amount added to your auto insurance policy premium after a traffic violation or an accident in which you were found to be at fault.

Third Party – This is another person other than the policy holder and auto insurance company who has faced a loss and may be able to collect and be compensated on behalf of the policy holder’s negligence.

Total Loss – This is complete destruction to the insured property of a policy holder. It has been determined that it would be a great sum of money to repair the item rather than replace the insured piece of property to its state prior to the loss.

Towing Coverage – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy that covers a specified amount for towing services and related labor costs.

Under insured Driver – This is the portion of an auto insurance policy which covers injuries to you caused by a driver without enough insurance to pay for the medical expenses you have incurred from the accident. This is portion of the policy can vary state by state as some states include damage to the car in this section.

Uninsured Driver or Motorist – This is the portion of the auto insurance policy which covers injuries to you caused by a driver who was without liability insurance at the time of the accident. Uninsured driver or motorist coverage comes in two different sections; uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage covers the injuries to you or any passenger in your vehicle when there is an accident with an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage covers the cost for the property damage to your vehicle when there is an accident with an identified uninsured driver. Uninsured driver or motorist coverage must be offered when you purchase the required liability coverage for your vehicle. You must sign a declination waiver if you decline Uninsured driver or motorist coverage. The majority of states require drivers to carry some form of uninsured motorist coverage. Some states include damages to your car in this coverage.

Vehicle Identification Number or VIN – A VIN is a 17 letter and number combination that is the identification of the specific vehicle. It will identify the make, modem and year of the automobile. This number is typically located on the driver’s side window on the dash. It can also be found on the vehicles registration and title.

Tips For Getting The Best Auto Insurance Rate Possible

If you are like most automobile owners, you have probably shopped for auto insurance at least once in your lifetime. And like most of those people, you may have wondered whether there was really anything that you can do to lower the price of your insurance. Well, the good news for you is that there are certain steps you can take to lower your auto insurance premium. Some of the information provided in this article may seem obvious or be viewed as common knowledge by some people, but we hope that you are able to take away at least a couple pieces of information that will help you lower your annual auto insurance premium. If you can, then we have accomplished our goal!

Auto insurance companies generally take into account several factors when determining your rate, such as driving record, geographical location, vehicle model, coverage limits, vehicle safety features/anti-theft devices, operator discounts, prior insurance, and age. (And in some states and with some companies–sex, marital status, where the vehicle is kept at night, and credit score are also factors) While many of these factors are difficult, if not impossible, to change, there are still some relatively simply steps you can take to save money.

The 11 steps you can take to lower your auto insurance premium are:

(Note: we have tried to list the steps from the most obvious to the least obvious)

1.) Needless to say, try to avoid being involved in accidents or receiving moving violations by driving defensively and obeying all traffic laws–This is by far the most important way to reduce your auto insurance premium (plus it is safe and smart!).

2.) If you already own a registered vehicle, make sure to keep your insurance current, without a lapse in coverage, since many insurance companies provide much better rates to individuals who already have current insurance and have an established history of insurance coverage. Note: If you have had a lapse in insurance on a registered vehicle, we recommend getting insurance coverage as soon as possible and THEN do more shopping for better rates. Since you will have re-established your insurance, you will now be (PRESTO!) an insured motorist and most likely able to secure a better insurance rate immediately with another company.

3.) If you have an anti-theft device on your vehicle, make sure to let your insurance company know about it. If you do not have an anti-theft device already installed, consider adding one if you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. Insurance companies generally offer discounts for anti-theft devices from 5% to 20%, or more, of your comprehensive coverage premium, depending on the type of anti-theft device. Vehicle recovery devices (e.g., Lo-Jack or On-Star) generally provide the biggest discount, with automatic anti-theft devices (i.e., those that arm themselves) probably being second on the list, and passive anti-theft devices (i.e., those that you must arm) and window glass etching or ignition shut-off mechanisms probably providing less of a discount. Of course, before installing an anti-theft device you will probably want to compare the savings you will receive by adding it to the total cost of installation. Depending on the cost of installation, it may not be cost-effective to install it.

4.) Check with your insurer to find out whether they offer discounts for attending a defensive driving course. These courses may normally be taken by drivers of all ages. Discounts vary by state and from company to company, but by paying a small fee and spending a few hours of your time for a defensive driving course, you may be able to save yourself approximately 5% to 10% or 15% of your TOTAL insurance premium. Note: If you are over age 55, ask about a special “Mature Driving Course” or “55-Alive Driving Course” discount. Also, if there are multiple drivers on your policy, ask whether you can receive a larger discount if all of you take the course–some companies will offer larger discounts, some won’t, but if you ask, you can at least decide which driver/s on your policy should take the course to maximize your discount.

5.) For youthful operators (generally considered to be drivers under the age of 25), make sure you ask the insurer what discounts they may be eligible for. This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many people miss out on significant savings because they forget to ask about specific discounts for younger drivers. Driver’s Ed or Driver’s Training and Good Student discounts are the most common types of discounts for youthful operators, but always ask if other discounts may apply.

6.) Always notify your insurance company when you have changes that may be beneficial to you. For instance, if you were single and are now married, make sure to let the insurer know. If you used to commute a far distance to work, but now have a shorter commute or work out of your home or are retired, you will most likely be eligible for a lower rate. If you used to park your car in your driveway or on the street and now park it in an enclosed or covered garage or shed, you may get a lower rate. As a basic rule of thumb, if it seems to you that you are less of a risk due to some change in your life, chances are your insurance company will think the same thing and give you a lower rate.

7.) Check rates for higher Bodily Injury (BI) limits. That’s right, HIGHER limits! Believe it or not, it may be substantially cheaper for you to have limits for BI coverage of 50/100 or 100/300 than it is to have the state minimum coverage. One of the reasons for this odd phenomenon is that insurance companies consider you to be less of a risk if you are the type of individual who would be conscientious enough to have higher limits of BI coverage. Insurance companies have shown statistically that drivers who have higher BI limits are, overall, better risks and less likely to be involved in accidents or losses. Therefore, you can insert yourself into this group of drivers that is viewed more favorably by your company by carrying higher BI limits. Note: If you currently carry lower BI limits, your insurance company may not immediately rate for the change–you may have to wait until the next renewal to see a price change, or, in some cases, you may have to increase your BI limits and then shop for other insurance so that companies give you “credit” for your higher limits.

8.) Consider taking full coverage off of that older vehicle that is paid for. Many, many people carry full coverage on an older-model vehicle they own that may only be worth a couple thousand dollars. Even if they have a total loss of their vehicle, they may only receive a small amount of money for their vehicle after the deductible is taken into account. Yet, they may be paying several hundreds of dollars extra every year for full coverage. To save money, compare what you would receive for your vehicle if you had a total loss to what it costs to carry full coverage, and then make an educated decision. Note: Taking full coverage off of an older vehicle probably makes the most sense when the drivers of the vehicle have a good driving record, since they are even less likely than the average person to have an accident and file a claim.

9.) If your credit score has recently improved, contact your insurance company to find out whether they will re-run your credit score to possibly give you a lower rate. Most auto insurance companies now use credit in one form or another to accurately rate a policy. Whatever your personal opinion is of this practice, it is the standard method of operation for most auto insurance companies. (Note: There are states that have made laws against use of credit for auto insurance rating purposes. In these states, this step will not help you.) Because your credit score is a MAJOR factor with some companies, an improvement in your credit may save you a LOT of money, but only if you request that they re-check it).

10.) Check on how much it would cost to add comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, or both to your vehicle. Surprisingly, some companies actually offer lower rates if you have comprehensive, collision, or both, than they do for liability-only policies. This is definitely counter-intuitve, but it is based on the same principle mentioned above regarding higher BI limits–the insurance company may view you more favorably (as far as risk is concerned) if you are an individual who would at least carry more than the basic coverage on your automobile. So, when you shop for quotes on a vehicle, you may want to check what the difference in price would be between liaiblity coverage, liability plus comprehensive coverage, and liability plus comprehensive and collision coverage.

11.) Lastly, periodically contact your insurance company to see whether they may be able to place you with one of their underwriting companies that is designed for “better” drivers (“better” according to your insurer’s rating factors–they are not judging your “goodness” or “character” for this!). Normally, insurance companies (particularly the larger companies) have multiple underwriting companies (subsidiary companies) that specialize in underwriting different categories of drivers based on the company’s risk assessment of you. If you are not in the insurer’s “best” underwriting company (reserved for their “best” risks), you always have room for improvement with that company, and by simply asking to be considered to be placed in one of the underwriting companies for “better” drivers, you may be able to save yourself a LOT of money over the years. Note: You may only have a real chance of being placed in a better underwriting company if your driving record has improved dramatically over the last couple or several years or if, in the states where credit may be used, your credit score has improved. Either or both of these improvements may give you leverage with the insurance company to request that their underwriters review your policy for placement with a better underwriting company.

21+ Useful Insurance Terms You Should Know

INSURED – A person or a corporation who contracts for an insurance policy that indemnifies (protects) him against loss or damage to property or, in the case of a liability policy, defend him against a claim from a third party.

NAMED INSURED – Any person, firm or corporation specifically designated by name as an insured(s) in a policy as distinguished from others who, though unnamed, are protected under some circumstances. For example, a common application of this latter principle is in auto liability policies wherein by a definition of “insured”, coverage is extended to other drivers using the car with the permission of the named insured. Other parties can also be afforded protection of an insurance policy by being named an “additional insured” in the policy or endorsement.

ADDITIONAL INSURED – An individual or entity that is not automatically included as an insured under the policy of another, but for whom the named insureds policy provides a certain degree of protection. An endorsement is typically required to effect additional insured status. The named insureds impetus for providing additional insured status to others may be a desire to protect the other party because of a close relationship with that party (e.g., employees or members of an insured club) or to comply with a contractual agreement requiring the named insured to do so (e.g., customers or owners of property leased by the named insured).

CO-INSURANCE - The sharing of one insurance policy or risk between two or more insurance companies. This usually entails each insurer paying directly to the insured their respective share of the loss. Co-insurance can also be the arrangement by which the insured, in consideration of a reduced rate, agrees to carry an amount of insurance equal to a percentage of the total value of the property insured. An example is if you have guaranteed to carry insurance up to 80% or 90% of the value of your building and/or contents, whatever the case may be. If you don’t, the company pays claims only in proportion to the amount of coverage you do carry.

The following equation is used to determine what amount may be collected for partial loss:

Amount of Insurance Carried x Loss

Amount of Insurance that = Payment

Should be Carried

Example A Mr. Right has an 80% co-insurance clause and the following situation:

$100,000 building value

$ 80,000 insurance carried

$ 10,000 building loss

By applying the equation for determining payment for partial loss, the following amount may be collected:

$80,000 x $10,000 = $10,000


Mr. Right recovers the full amount of his loss because he carried the coverage specified in his co-insurance clause.

Example B Mr. Wrong has an 80% co-insurance clause and the following situation:

$100,000 building value

$ 70,000 insurance carried

$ 10,000 building loss

By applying the equation for determining payment for partial loss, the following amount may be collected:

$70,000 x $10,000 = $8,750


Mr. Wrong’s loss of $10,000 is greater than the company’s limit of liability under his co-insurance clause. Therefore, Mr. Wrong becomes a self-insurer for the balance of the loss– $1,250.

PREMIUM – The amount of money paid by an insured to an insurer for insurance coverage.

DEDUCTIBLE – The first dollar amount of a loss for which the insured is responsible before benefits are paid by the insurer; similar to a self-insured retention (SIR). The insurer’s liability begins when the deductible is exhausted.

SELF INSURED RETENTION - Acts the same way as a deductible but the insured is responsible for all legal fees incurred in relation to the amount of the SIR.

POLICY LIMIT - The maximum monetary amount an insurance company is responsible for to the insured under its policy of insurance.

FIRST PARTY INSURANCE - Insurance that applies to coverage for an insureds own property or a person. Traditionally it covers damage to insureds property from whatever causes are covered in the policy. It is property insurance coverage. An example of first party insurance is BUILDERS RISK INSURANCE which is insurance against loss to the rigs or vessels in the course of their construction. It only involves the insurance company and the owner of the rig and/or the contractor who has a financial interest in the rig.

THIRD PARTY INSURANCE - Liability insurance covering the negligent acts of the insured against claims from a third party (i.e., not the insured or the insurance company – a third party to the insurance policy). An example of this insurance would be SHIP REPAIRER’S LEGAL LIABILITY (SRLL) – provides protection for contractors repairing or altering a customer’s vessel at their shipyard, other locations or at sea; also covers the insured while the customer’s property is under the “Care, Custody and Control” of the insured. A Commercial General Liability policy is needed for other coverages, such as slip-and-fall situations.

INSURABLE INTEREST - Any interest in something that is the subject of an insurance policy or any legal relationship to that subject that will trigger a certain event causing monetary loss to the insured. Example of insurable interest – ownership of a piece of property or an interest in that piece of property, e.g., a shipyard constructing a rig or vessel. (See BUILDERS RISK above)

LIABILITY INSURANCE - Insurance coverage that protects an insured against claims made by third parties for damage to their property or person. These losses usually come about as a result of negligence of the insured. In marine construction this policy is referred to an MGL, marine general liability policy. In non marine circumstances the policy is referred to as a CGL, commercial general liability policy. Insurance policies can be divided into two broad categories:

  • First party insurance covers the property of the person who purchases the insurance policy. For example, a home owner’s policy promising to pay for fire damage to the home owner’s home is a first party policy. Liability insurance, sometimes called third party insurance, covers the policy holder’s liability to other people. For example, a homeowners’ policy might cover liability if someone trips and falls on the home owner’s property. Sometimes one policy, such as in these examples, may have both first and third party coverage.
  • Liability insurance provides two separate benefits. First, the policy will cover the damage incurred by the third party. Sometimes this is called providing “indemnity” for the loss. Second, most liability policies provide a duty to defend. The duty to defend requires the insurance company to pay for lawyers, expert witnesses, and court costs to defend the third party’s claim. These costs can sometimes be substantial and should not be ignored when facing a liability claim.

UMBRELLA LIABILITY COVERAGE - This type of liability insurance provides excess liability protection. Your business needs this coverage for the following three reasons:

  • It provides excess coverage over the “underlying” liability insurance you carry.
  • It provides coverage for all other liability exposures, excepting a few specifically excluded exposures. This subject to a large deductible of about $10,000 to $25,000.
  • It provides automatic replacement coverage for underlying policies that have been reduced or exhausted by loss.

NEGLIGENCE – The failure to use reasonable care. The doing of something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do under like circumstances. Negligence is a ‘legal cause’ of damage if it directly and in natural and continuous sequence produces or contributes substantially to producing such damage, so it can reasonably be said that if not for the negligence, the loss, injury or damage would not have occurred.

GROSS NEGLIGENCE - A carelessness and reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be almost a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety. It is more than simple negligence, but it is just short of being willful misconduct. If gross negligence is found by the trier of fact (judge or jury), it can result in the award of punitive damages on top of general and special damages, in certain jurisdictions.

WILLFUL MISCONDUCT – An intentional action with knowledge of its potential to cause serious injury or with a reckless disregard for the consequences of such act.

PRODUCT LIABILITY – Liability which results when a product is negligently manufactured and sent into the stream of commence. A liability that arises from the failure of a manufacturer to properly manufacture, test or warn about a manufactured object.

MANUFACTURING DEFECTS – When the product departs from its intended design, even if all possible care was exercised.

DESIGN DEFECTS – When the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the adoption of a reasonable alternative design, and failure to use the alternative design renders the product not reasonably safe.

INADEQUATE INSTRUCTIONS OR WARNINGS DEFECTS – When the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by reasonable instructions or warnings, and their omission renders the product not reasonably safe.

PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE – Liability insurance to indemnify professionals, (doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, etc.,) for loss or expense which the insured professional shall become legally obliged to pay as damages arising out of any professional negligent act, error or omission in rendering or failing to render professional services by the insured. Same as malpractice insurance.

Professional Liability has expanded over the years to include those occupations in which special knowledge, skills and close client relationships are paramount. More and more occupations are considered professional occupations, as the trend in business continues to grow from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-oriented economy. Coupled with the litigious nature of our society, the companies and staff in the service economy are subject to greater exposure to malpractice claims than ever before.

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS – Same as malpractice or professional liability insurance.

HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENT - A contractual arrangement whereby one party assumes the liability inherent in the situation, thereby relieving the other party of responsibility. For example, a lease of premises may provide that the lessee must “hold harmless” the lessor for any liability from accidents arising out of the premises.

INDEMNIFY – To restore the victim of a loss, in whole or in part, by payment, repair, or replacement.

INDEMNITY AGREEMENTS – Contract clauses that identify who is to be responsible if liabilities arise and often transfer one party’s liability for his or her wrongful acts to the other party.

WARRANTY – An agreement between a buyer and a seller of goods or services detailing the conditions under which the seller will make repairs or fix problems without cost to the buyer.

Warranties can be either expressed or implied. An EXPRESS WARRANTY is a guarantee made by the seller of the goods which expressly states one of the conditions attached to the sale e.g.,”This item is guaranteed against defects in construction for one year”.

An IMPLIED WARRANTY is usual in common law jurisdictions and attached to the sale of goods by operation of law made on behalf of the manufacturer. These warranties are not usually in writing. Common implied warranties are a warranty of fitness for use (implied by law that if a seller knows the particular purpose for which the item is purchased certain guarantees are implied) and a warranty of merchantability (a warranty implied by law that the goods are reasonably fit for the general purpose for which they are sold).

DAMAGES OR LOSS – The monetary consequence which results from injury to a thing or a person.

CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES – As opposed to direct loss or damage — is indirect loss or damage resulting from loss or damage caused by a covered peril, such as fire or windstorm. In the case of loss caused where windstorm is a covered peril, if a tree is blown down and cuts electricity used to power a freezer and the food in the freezer spoils, if the insurance policy extends coverage for consequential loss or damage then the food spoilage would be a covered loss. Business Interruption insurance, extends consequential loss or damage coverage for such items as extra expenses, rental value, profits and commissions, etc.

LIQUIDATED DAMAGES – Are a payment agreed to by the parties of a contract to satisfy portions of the agreement which were not performed. In some cases liquidated damages may be the forfeiture of a deposit or a down payment, or liquidated damages may be a percentage of the value of the contract, based on the percentage of work uncompleted. Liquidated damages are often paid in lieu of a lawsuit, although court action may be required in many cases where liquidated damages are sought. Liquidated damages, as opposed to a penalty, are sometimes paid when there is uncertainty as to the actual monetary loss involved. The payment of liquidated damages relieves the party in breech of a contract of the obligation to perform the balance of the contract.

SUBROGATION – “To stand in the place of” Usually found in property policies (first party) when an insurance company pays a loss to an insured or damaged to the insureds property, the insurer stands in the shoes of the insured and may pursue any third party who might be responsible for the loss. For example, if a defective component is sold to a manufacturer to be used in his product and that product is damaged due to the defective component. The insurance company who pays the loss to the manufacturer of the product may sue the manufacturer of the defective component.

Subrogation has a number of sub-principles namely:

  • The insurer cannot be subrogated to the insureds right of action until it has paid the insured and made good the loss.
  • The insurer can be subrogated only to actions which the insured would have brought himself.
  • The insured must not prejudice the insurer’s right of subrogation. Thus, the insured may not compromise or renounce any right of action he has against the third party if by doing so he could diminish the insurer’s right of recovery.
  • Subrogation against the insurer. Just as the insured cannot profit from his loss the insurer may not make a profit from the subrogation rights. The insurer is only entitled to recover the exact amount they paid as indemnity, and nothing more. If they recover more, the balance should be given to the insured.
  • Subrogation gives the insurer the right of salvage.

The History and Principles of Insurance

Insurance as we know it today could be traced to the Great Fire of London, that in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. After this disaster Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680 he established England’s 1st fire insurance company, “The Fire Office”, to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance firm in the United States provided fire insurance was formed in Charles Town (modern day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin founded the Philadelphia Aid for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. It refused to insure some buildings in which the risk of fire was too great, like 100% wooden buildings.

The Principles of Insurance:

The exact time or occurrence of the loss need to be uncertain. The value of losses ought to be relatively unsurprising. In order to determine premiums or in other words to calculate price levels, insurers must be able to estimate them. Insurers require to know the price it would be called upon to pay once the insured event occurs. Most types of insurance have maximal levels of payouts, with several exceptions such as health insurance.

The loss should be significant: The legal principle of De minimis (From Latin:about minimal things) dictates that negligible matters are not covered.The payment paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is known as the ‘premium’.

Potential causes of chance that may give rise to insurance claims are named “perils”. Examples of perils might be fire, theft, earthquake, hurricane and numbers of additional possible risks. An insurance policy will set out in details which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. The damage must not be a catastrophic in scale, If the insurer is insolvent, it will be unable to pay the insured. In the United States, there are Guaranty Funds to reimburse insured victims whose insurance companies are bankrupt. This program is managed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Indemnification (compensation)

Anyone wishing to transport risk (an individual, corporation, or organization of any type) becomes the ‘insured’ party once risk is assumed by an ‘insurer’, the insuring party, by means of a contract, defined as an insurance ‘policy’. This legal agreement sets out terms specifying the total of coverage (reimbursement) to be rendered to the insured, by the insurer upon assumption of risk, in the event of a loss, and 100% the specific perils covered against (indemnified), for the duration of the contract.

When insured parties experience a loss, for a specified peril, the coverage allows the policyholder to produce a ‘claim’ against the insurer for the amount of damage when specified by the policy contract.

Financial viability of insurance companies

Financial stability and posture of the insurance company need to be a major factor When purchasing an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for damges which can arise few years in the future. Due to that, the financial strength of the insurance carrier is most significant. In the past few years, a few of insurance companies became unable to pay, neglecting their policyholders with out coverage (or coverage merely from a government backed insurance pool with less the Priciples and History of InsuranceS-favorable payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, like Best’s, provide facts and rate the financial strength of insurance firms.

Risks Assessment

The insurer uses actuarial science to quantify the risk they are prepared to consider. Information is gathered to approximate future insurance claims, ordinarily with reasonable accuracy. Actuarial science employs statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are utilized by insurers, in combination with other factors, to decide rate composition.

The Gambling Analogy

Certain people erroneously assume insurance a type of wager (particularly as associated with moral hazard) which executes over the policy period of time. The insurance company bets that you or your property will not suffer a damage while you put money on the opposite outcome. Virtually all house owner’s insurance does not cover floods. Using insurance, you are managing risk that you may not otherwise prevent, and that does not lend itself the chance of benefit (pure risk). In other words, gambling isn’t an insurable risk.

The “insurance” of Social Solidarity

A few of religious groups among them the Amish and Muslims refrain from insurance and instead depend on support provided by their society when disasters strike. This could be thought of as “social insurance”, as the risk of any given person is assumed collectively by the community who will completely bear the cost of reconstruction. In closed, mutual help communities in which other people might actually step in to rebuild total lost property, this arrangement could function. The majority of societies could not effectively support this type of models and it will not function for catastrophic risks.

MBA – International Trade & Finance – Heriot-Watt University. Bsc. Computers and Information Systems – Long Island University – C.W Post Campus. Hobby: Photography. Married with two Children.

Seven Shopping Strategies For New Car Buyers

New car shopping can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re a car enthusiast. But others can find the experience stressful and tedious. Either way, there’s a lot to think about. According to a survey of car shoppers, overall purchase price is the most important factor when shopping for a new car (46 percent), followed by make and model (31 percent).

Safety and performance come in a distant third, tied at seven percent. But whether you’re turned on or turned off by the dizzying array of car choices, trim options, “expert” reviews, incentives and other deals, it definitely pays to approach car buying strategically.

So if you’re in the market for a new vehicle and you find yourself having trouble keeping a clear head, just keep these strategies, courtesy of J. Peter & Associates in mind:

1. Decide how much money you can spend and what type of vehicle best suits your needs. Just looking for the basic transport capability of a small or medium sedan? Or do you need the hauling capacity of a van or SUV? Something practical? Something sporty? Something in between?

2. Research crash tests and accident data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

3. Shop around for financing. If you can, apply for and get approval for a loan from a bank, credit union or other financier before you even visit the dealership. Being a “cash buyer” gives you an advantage when you do finally meet with the dealership’s financing person.

4. Test drive the car. Try to drive in conditions that will be similar to those under which you’ll drive every day.

5. Check pricing for your desired make and model at two or three dealerships and use that information to help you negotiate the best deal.

6. Get a firm quote, in writing. This should include not only the cost of the car, but any fees and the sales tax.

7. Inspect your new car carefully before driving off the lot. Make sure all the options you’ve ordered are included and that the body and paint are free of scratches or dents.

Finally, it’s important to consider the cost of auto insurance, although it seems that few people realize that what they pay for insurance can add significantly to the vehicle’s total cost.

Wise car buyers know to shop around for insurance and find out how costs compare. They also know to visit an independent insurance agency – like J. Peter & Associates .We can check with several companies to find the best combination of coverage and price.