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Personal Automobile

You see the television commercials all of the time "15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance". Throw in some cute characters, a silly slogan, and maybe a nice little jingle. Savings on car insurance is great. But what about your coverage? If you have called a 1-800 number, did the rep ask what assets you have? Or what about how much money you make in a year? Did they give you examples of how much a bodily injury claim pays out? Let's talk about that.

At the core, your private passenger auto policy really covers a few basic items.

 

1. Liability coverage - protects against damage you cause to another party which includes bodily injury and property damage.

2. Physical damage for your own vehicle is separated into two parts. Comprehensive covers against perils like fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects, glass damage, or hitting an animal. Collision covers your vehicle from damage if it is involved in a moving accident. 

Other coverages that can be added:

  • Roadside assistance for immediate help after a breakdown and labor costs.

  • Rental reimbursement covers you for 30 days maximum at a specified value per day (30, 40, 50 dollars per day) if your car is being repaired after an accident. This does not cover leisure rentals!

  • Auto loan/lease protection will cover the gap in what you owe on a vehicle versus what you receive from the insurance company. So if the actual cash value of your vehicle after a total is $15,000 but you still owe $17,000 on a loan, you would fill the $2,000 gap.

  • Medical payments are a supplemental coverage for immediate injuries to the driver & others in your vehicle. This can be a good way to bridge a gap between a large health insurance deductible.

In Connecticut, the state minimum requirement for liability is $25,000 for each person you injure in an accident / $50,000 if you injure multiple people in an accident / and $25,000 for property damage you cause. If you put this into perspective, you are lucky to drive a new car off of a lot today for less than $25,000. So assuming you are a homeowner, what limits should you have?

Below are real life examples of losses that have happened in our own agency.

Soft tissue damage & sore back complaints: $20,000

Responsibility for causing a shattered leg in a car crash: $230,000

Hitting a pedestrian in the dark trying to cross the street, sustaining serious injury: $750,000

Incident involving a motorcycle crash, resulting in broken limbs and surgeries: $1,000,000

A death in an accident: in excess of $1,400,000

We see that many homeowner's who are shopping with us for the first time carry limits of $100,000/$300,000/$100,000.

You may even end up in a situation where the other person doesn't have insurance or not enough to cover your damages. Uninsured & underinsured motorist coverage is just as important as your liability coverage.

It is our belief that these limits are nowhere near enough. This is increasingly important for parents with young drivers on their policy who have less experience. In the event you do exceed your liability limits in a car accident and you have hard assets and a job, they will be targeted in a lawsuit. If you are a homeowner or have substantial assets, you need higher liability limits PLUS an umbrella - PERIOD!

Driving is a necessity for most of us. Some of us even enjoy driving. The biggest peace of mind you can have getting into your vehicle every day is knowing you have adequate coverage for any incident.

What Determines My Auto Insurance Price?

 

There are many misconceptions regarding what makes your auto insurance rate different from your friends, family, and neighbors. Insurance companies are more data sensitive than ever and every little factor can have an impact on what you pay for your car insurance. Below are a few factors that will have an impact on your insurance:

  • Credit score - companies in Connecticut utilize credit to determine your auto rate. If you are a person with higher credit, they will rate you much more favorably versus if you have lower credit.

  • Homeownership - generally speaking, if you are a home or condo owner, you are rated more favorably.

  • Age, Occupation, Education, and Marital Status - key demographic characteristics

  • Territory - Insurance rates will vary depending on address. You will most likely pay more if you live in a busy city versus a quiet rural town.  There are many different sub-territories within larger cities as well.

  • Length of time you stay with your insurance company - Companies reward loyalty and want retention. If you are quoting your auto insurance, you will see the longer you have been with your company, the bigger the credit is on a new quote.

  • Liability limits - Companies see you as responsible if you carry higher limits of liability over a length of time.

  • Inexperienced Drivers - If you have children on your policy or if you are looking to add a new driver, you have to market your insurance! Some carriers are great with kids. Some not as good.

  • Accidents & Violations - An insurance company loves a clean driver. Many offer loss free credits on top of having no driving activity.

  • Account Credits - Do you have other insurance policies with the same company? More policies statistically means better retention for an insurance company which is why they offer credits for pairing other policies like a home, umbrella, or recreational vehicle policy.

  • Advanced Quoting - Companies reward taking a look out for the future and shopping ahead of time instead of the last minute.

There are different marketplaces (Preferred / Standard / Non-Standard) that you will be classified in based on a combination of factors. Within those marketplaces, there may be tens to hundreds of "tiers" that you are placed in. Each of these items may have more or less of an impact depending on that specific carrier.

 

This is why it is important to get rates from multiple companies when you are shopping, because one may work our great based on you as an individual while another may see you as less favorable. Also, consider the fact that you may have accidents or violations that are getting older. Not every company has the same look back period. While certain companies will look back 3 years, some look back 5. This can have a huge impact!

  • I am closing on a new house, what do I need?"
    We do new home closings all of the time! We will contact your closing attorney and your lender to provide them with two items. 1. A temporary proof of insurance called a binder 2. a receipt showing you have paid us the full annual cost of the home insurance OR an invoice to pay at closing. Closing dates change often. We constantly stay in contact with everyone to make sure the policy is issued for the correct date. Your lender will also inform us if the homeowner's insurance will be paid by your lender in the future years. If it is, your insurance company will send the bill to your lender at renewal. The annual term will then be paid out of your escrow account. We promise to make buying insurance the easiest part of your closing!
  • My mortgage company pays my home insurance. How do I switch?
    If you want to switch your homeowner's insurance and your mortgage company pays your home insurance bill, we contact the bank for you. We provide them with all of the new policy information and inform them you are moving your insurance. Once they receive the bill they will make the payment out of your escrow account. We recommend you always take any refund money from your old policy if it is being canceled mid-term and place it back into your account to pay towards the new insurance.
  • Can I reduce the replacement cost amount on my home policy?
    In most cases, no. We perform detailed cost estimators on every new quote to determine the true rebuilding value of your house. A replacement cost policy requires you insure the dwelling to 100% of its true replacement value. If an agent issues a policy at a suppressed rebuilding cost, at the time of inspection a certified inspector will do their own cost estimator and compare their work with the agent's. If the two values do not match, the insurance company will force you to insure the property correctly.
  • When does a company perform inspections?
    If you issue a new homeowner's policy, carriers will perform an exterior inspection of your house to check for pride in home ownership. They will make sure your roof is in tact without misplaced and cracked shingles, level walkways, proper drainage, no moss on the siding, no loose debris in the yard, etc. Make your house look like something the company wants to insure! In some instances, a company will order an interior inspection. They may do this if your house is older than 75 years of age to check for updates or if you have a high value home. There could be other reasons as well. Insurance companies over time also have the right to re-inspect your property as a policy ages.
  • I live within 2,600 feet of the water and I thought I couldn't switch my insurance?"
    In CT prior to October of 2014, preferred carriers would not write homeowner's insurance if your house was located a half of a mile or less from the coast without hurricane mitigation (hurricane straps, shutters, hurricane rated glass). You would of been forced to seek out specialty carriers that would write your house. Being a coastal agency, we dealt with this a lot. After October of 2014, the State of CT required all insurance carriers in the preferred market to accept homeowner's insurance up to the coast. They considered not doing so redlining. Today as a coastal homeowner, you will have no issues re-quoting your insurance in a variety of markets.
  • I no longer live in my house, do I have to notify my agent?"
    If you were at one point living in your house and it is now vacant, rented out (even to family members...), or under renovation, you need to notify your agent IMMEDIATELY. A standard home insurance policy assumes the owner named on the deed or a spouse is occupying it. If you are renting a house, it needs to be written as a rental. If it is vacant it needs to be written as vacant. If you have a claim and a policy is written with the wrong occupancy, the company can deny your claim.
  • Do CAT Claims affect my insurance?
    CAT claims stand for catastrophic claims. This means you have experienced some sort of loss from a widespread incident that affected many claimants. Companies are not supposed to hold individuals responsible for these sorts of events.
  • When do I need Lead Certificates?
    Many carriers in the preferred market require lead certificates if you are renting out a home or individual unit built prior to1978. Some carriers will require lead free or lead safe certificates certifying there is no lead risk before they will accept the risk. We offer various markets that will not require lead certificates in these situations.
  • I have an adverse claims history and nobody wants to insure me - now what?
    You will most likely have to go to an excess and surplus lines company. Due to the strict guidelines in a preferred market, if you have certain types of claims such as a large liability loss or multiple incidents within a short period of time, you may not be eligible. We have access to many specialty markets to find you a quote in these situations. They will price accordingly!
  • Dogs - Are They a Problem?
    Having a dog is not an issue in itself. However, most carriers have restrictions on a number of breeds. Pit bulls, rottweilers, ridgebacks, akitas, dobermans, chows to name a few will give you trouble when trying to get homeowner's insurance. In some cases you may have to go to an excess and surplus market to find house insurance and they will apply an animal liability exclusion on the policy. If you have an animal liability exclusion on youer policy, this means when your pup bites someone (or another dog) and causes injury, there is no coverage.
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