Commercial Insurance Explained in 2018

By | Business Insurance | No Comments

Business insurance is going up and we are here to explain why and potentially how much.

“Wait till legislation lands on insurance companies and the market will turn”

“Improved auto technology and infrastructure will reduce accidents and corresponding insurance rates”

“Increased availability of medical services and cheaper commercial cars will make insurance cheaper”

These have been sentiments on one side of the spectrum for quite some time now.

We all know commercial auto insurance policies have been steadily climbing for a couple of years. And sadly, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Since consumers have been complaining, insurance providers must be having a ball, right? Indications show that they are possibly laughing all the way to the bank.

After all, we haven’t seen many claims lately, right?
Interestingly, sentiments have been the same for commercial insurance providers. They are also complaining about current premium rates.

According to a report released by Fitch Ratings Inc, the commercial auto sector has been recording losses since 2010.

2016 was particularly poor, with the worst underwriting performance since 2001. Evidently, insurance companies are not doing as well as we thought

Commercial Auto Insurance Providers’ Losses. Source: Trucks

While we acknowledge that the bulk of providers have recorded losses, we can’t deny one simple fact. Commercial vehicles are progressively becoming safer.

That is the bottom line. Elemental improvements like lap belts, padded dashboards, and breakaway steering wheels paved the way for advanced safety features.

Modern trucks are now coming with auto-braking systems, stability control, head-protecting airbags, three-point harnesses, and anti-locking brakes.

As a matter of fact, according to recent crash tests, one fleet was able to use collision-mitigation technology to reduce rear-end crashes by about 70%.

Additionally, they established that the tech further minimized the severity of the remaining 30% of crashes.

Safety Ratings of Selected Trucks. Source: TFLTruck

Well, of course, these commercial vehicles may still not be accident-proof, but crash tests have proven that they are indeed safer.

And since insurance providers have always kept a close eye to such developments, consumers continue to expect substantially lower pricing.

All things considered, there seems to be a disconnect. Commercial vehicles are now safer than ever before. But insurance pricing is still rising owing to increased losses by providers.

So, will this continue in 2018? Or will developing trends, coupled with evolving legislations make commercial insurance cheaper?
To demystify this whole issue, let’s look at the current position of the industry. Then subsequently establish factors that will be affecting pricing in 2018.

The Commercial Insurance Industry Today

The 20th Century saw increased development of road networks and overall infrastructure in the U.S.

The last quarter was particularly interesting, as it started a transportation trend that persisted for a couple of years.

Americans were making good money and buying vehicles, plus gas prices were relatively low.

Consequently, the number of miles traveled kept rising every year until 2008.
Then the great recession came with a wide range of consequences, among them reduced travel.

With funds not readily available in the economy, commercial trucks were not moving around as they previously did.

And this outlasted the recession until 2012 when mileage started rising again.
The growth has been exponential since then, and it’s seemingly not slowing down anytime soon.

Total Miles Driven in the USA. Source: Verisk

In 2016 alone, Americans drove a total of 3.1 trillion miles thanks to gas prices decrease and improved economy.

Commercial vehicles continue to contribute substantially to these figures.
Under normal circumstances, an average commercial driver moves around way more than his private counterpart.

Now review that from a provider’s perspective. More mileage translates to increased risk of accidents and mechanical failure.

Eventually, they end up offsetting this by periodically revising and increasing standard commercial premiums.

Speaking of auto accidents, it’s indeed true that manufacturers continue to produce safer commercial vehicles.

But, look at the bottom line again – With mileage still rising, it’s expected that the number of accidents will record a similar trend.

Additionally, even with current traffic legislation, Americans have never been known to be the most careful drivers.

True to this, accident frequency is currently at its highest in the U.S. In 2015 alone, there were 4,311 large trucks and bus accidents across the country.

Compared to previous years, that translates to 26% increase since 2009.

Accident Frequency. Source Verisk

According to National Safety Council estimates released in 2017, the year 2016 was the deadliest yet in a decade. As many as 40,000 people lost their lives, marking a 6% rise from 2015.

Now let’s analyze that against miles traveled. From 2014 to 2015, the number of accident fatalities per 100 million miles traveled by buses and large trucks increased by 1.7%.

It’s evident that an increase in mileage translates to a corresponding growth in the number of accidents and deaths.

All things considered- administrative expenses, property damage, medical expenses, and losses in productivity and corresponding wages- the cost of auto accidents in 2016 was $432 million.

While fatalities rose by 6% compared to the previous year, financial losses marked a double increase of 12%.

Of course, such a trend never goes down well with insurance companies. And that’s one more reason why 2017 saw an increase in auto insurance premiums across the board.

But despite that, commercial auto insurance providers have hit depths the industry hasn’t experienced in 15 years.

By the end of 2016, the commercial auto combined ratio stood at 110.4, recording a 1.6% rise from 2015.

When the industry thought things couldn’t get worse, 2016 was marked by an even lower underwriting performance.

So, considering how recent years have gone down, can we expect a bright spot for both commercial insurance providers and consumers in 2018?

Commercial Insurance Pricing Outlook in 2018

If you feel commercial insurance rates have been unfair in 2015, through 2016 and 2017, there still isn’t much good news for you in 2018.
Yeah, of course, insurance providers like to market themselves as “protectors” of liabilities.

They always seem like they are willing to sacrifice their resources for your benefit.

But, at the end of the day, they are all businesses, not charities. And the principle mantra for any business is profits.

So, unless commercial vehicles drastically reduce their travel distances and maniac drivers suddenly reform, expect to pay a little more for your commercial auto insurance over the next 12 months.

The rates all through 2018 will be determined the recent proportions of expense to revenue, commonly referred to a “combined loss ratio”. Usually, it’s all good for a company until the ratio hits 100%.

At that stage, the insurance provider is breaking even. Anything above that, therefore, signifies losses.

The company is essentially losing way more than it’s making from the premiums paid.

Let’s look at recent ratios across the top 10 auto insurance companies.

Top Insurance Companies Compressed Loss Ratios. Source: ValuePenguin

Now, please note that these are supposed to be the crème de la crème of insurance businesses.

It’s where you’d most probably place your money if you thought about investing in auto insurance.

Going by past trends, they are the most profitable in this sector.

But, surprisingly, only two of them made a profit in 2016- and just barely. Cumulatively, they all add up to an average compressed loss ratio of 107.1%.

Makes you wonder where other smaller companies lie. That’s really bad not just for auto insurance providers, but also consumers- including commercial clients.

Some people have argued that they should recover by only penalizing commercial drivers who’ve been in accidents in the past.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The situation is so dire that your rates will still go up even if you’ve never actually been a mile away from an accident.

That’s the only way they’ll be able to progressively bring their ratio back below 100%.

If the current situation was anything like how it was back in 2010, we’d be dealing with different projections. 2010 was the exact opposite.
8 of the leading auto insurance companies were operating within comfortable profit margins.

Only 2 of them recorded combined loss ratios of over 100%, consequently marking an average of 99.7%.

Recent Underwriting Profit Margins. Source: ValuePengiun

Auto-insurance companies, including commercial providers, have been recording losses for the past six years. Even more surprisingly, they’ve lost more money every time they review their rates against losses.

That said, 2018 will see commercial insurance providers not just bump their premiums up.

They’ll possibly do so with the highest margin yet. Only the long-term future could be holding promising prospects for commercial auto insurance clients.

Long-Term Commercial Insurance Outlook

It’s difficult to accurately predict the future of commercial auto insurance.

Expert projections on patterns are still a bit sketchy.

The price of oil could continue falling as more people switch to electronic commercial vehicles. The latter is especially expected to be significantly cheaper to acquire and maintain.

Over time, that translates to more commercial drivers and higher chances of accidents. As we’ve seen in the past, this could negatively affect commercial insurance pricing.

On the bright side, however, there is little doubt that the adoption of autonomous vehicles will gradually reduce the average premiums.

According to research by Stevens Institute of Technology in collaboration with Accenture, almost 10% of U.S registered vehicles will be fully autonomous by 2035.

The rest, of course, will mostly be semi-autonomous, with advanced safety features. Even the heaviest commercial vehicles will have short braking distances, and crash-avoidance artificial intelligence.

Since as many as 95% of traffic accidents are attributed to human error, such trends could trigger a major shift in the entire auto industry.

The severity of accidents will also drop, and competition between insurance providers will peak as numbers of specialized companies rise.

Ultimately, we may see a significant drop in commercial premiums, as companies begin adjusting them according to actual risks.

As a matter of fact, this may start happening as soon as 2026. That’s when large numbers of autonomous cars will begin hitting the streets.

Conclusion

To recap:
● According to a report released by Fitch Ratings Inc, the commercial auto sector has been recording losses since 2010. 2016 was particularly poor, with the worst underwriting performance since 2001.

● Commercial vehicles are progressively becoming safer. But insurance pricing is still rising owing to increased losses by providers.

● According to recent crash tests, one fleet was able to use collision-mitigation technology to reduce rear-end crashes by about 70%. They established that the tech further minimized the severity of the remaining 30% of crashes.

● The number of miles traveled kept rising every year until 2008.

● This outlasted recession until 2012 when mileage started rising again. The growth has been exponential since then.

● In 2016 alone, Americans drove a total of 3.1 trillion miles.

● With mileage still rising, it’s expected that the number of accidents will record a similar trend.

● In 2015 alone, there were 4,311 large trucks and bus accidents across the country. Compared to previous years, that translates to 26% increase since 2009.

● As many as 40,000 people lost their lives in 2016, marking a 6% rise from 2015.

● From 2014 to 2015, the number of accident fatalities per 100 million miles traveled by buses and large trucks increased by 1.7%.

● The cost of auto accidents in 2016 was $432 million.

● By the end of 2016, the commercial auto combined ratio stood at 110.4.

● Top 10 auto insurance providers added up to an average compressed loss ratio of 107.1% in 2016.

● The situation is so dire that your rates will still go up even if you’ve never actually been in an accident.

● There is little doubt that the adoption of autonomous vehicles will gradually reduce the average premiums.

● Almost 10% of U.S registered vehicles will be fully autonomous by 2035.

● Since as many as 95% of traffic accidents are attributed to human error, such trends could trigger a major shift in the entire auto industry.

● We may see a significant drop in commercial premiums, as companies begin adjusting them according to actual risks.

Going by these facts, what do you assume you’ll pay your commercial auto insurance provider over the next 12 months?

picture of signature insurance team from Warren Michigan

What Independent Insurance Agencies Really Do & How You’re Wasting Time

By | Auto Insurance | No Comments

Purchasing insurance can be a very complicated engagement. As of 2016, there were 5,977 insurance companies in the U.S, with a driving force of 2.6 million workers.

The Insurance Industry in the U.S. Source: Statista

Such a huge number of possible options should make choosing easy, right? Sadly, we can only wish it was that simple and straightforward.

Insurance is not like your typical milk and bread, which you can easily shift between brands without any repercussions. A cover is pretty much a promise of protection. It could make or break your physical and economic well-being, in case of a possible disaster.

Every company is distinctively unique, like the customers they serve. Of course, you might be tempted to go for the cheapest- because who doesn’t want to save a couple of bucks every year? After all, don’t they say the best insurance companies have the cheapest covers?

Well, cheap is good. But cheap could as well be just that when you file a claim- cheap. Therefore, considerations when purchasing insurance should extend past cost. You should be equally concerned about how the companies operate, and how you expect to be treated depending on their type.

There are two principal types of insurance companies- direct and independent.
A direct agency is run by captive agents. A captive agent is an agent who only works with one insurance company.

while an independent agency, as the name suggests, operates independently- as we’ll be looking into shortly.

The Number of people engaged in Direct and Independent Insurance Agencies. Source: Insurance Information Institute

These two are as different as summer and winter. The process of sourcing for possible insurance policies is completely different. And so is coverage management and claims.

Essentially, an independent insurance agency will handle you differently compared to a direct insurance provider.

That said, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. What is an independent insurance agency? How does it operate? What should you expect as a customer?

What Is An Independent Insurance Agency?

Traditionally, insurance providers did not sell their policies directly to consumers. Instead, they offered them through third-party agents, who had to be professionally licensed. And the agencies, in turn, earned commissions for every insurance cover sold.

Then came the proposal to cut out the “middleman”. Consumers can now directly engage insurance companies, and conveniently purchase various coverage through the internet. As a matter of fact, 71% of consumers are now using the internet to search for insurance covers.

Purchasing Insurance Directly. Source: Jago Investor

To some, cutting out the “middleman” was a long time coming. It was expected that it would ease buying and make insurance cheaper.

On the flip side, directly engaging insurance companies is not so simple anymore. Their numbers are growing and comparing policies is getting harder.

Additionally, insurance legislation is getting more complicated at both the national and state levels. 2010, for example, saw the enactment of a rather drastic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Evidently, keeping up with the dynamic insurance environment is becoming harder. So, how are you expected to have the knowledge to assess insurance companies?How will you even negotiate with seasoned sales representatives from these companies?

And that’s precisely where an independent insurance agency comes in. Instead of selling insurance from one provider, such agencies deal with a multitude of policies from different providers. Unlike captive agents, independent insurance agents are not tied to specific insurance companies.

Is there anything more valuable than an insurance expert who’s not loyal to any particular provider? That’s why it’s easy to score genuine insurance advice from independent insurance agencies. They act as intermediaries and do the hard work for you.

How an Independent Insurance Agency Operates

Think about it. One agency, multiple insurance companies, countless policy options. Seems like a lot of work. But that’s why they are not considered salesmen. They are more like advisers.

One interesting fact about an independent insurance agency is that it doesn’t actually work for the insurance company. The chief boss is you- the client.

Without the technical expertise, it would take you months to comprehensively evaluate the whole insurance industry. And that’s only if you’re doing it persistently. Compare that to simply getting in touch with an independent agent for quick advice on any type of insurance.

An independent insurance agency doesn’t just compare the costs of policies offered by various providers. Agents delve into the nitty-gritty, and advice their customers on the pros and cons of individual policies. Their familiarity with the providers’ histories and customer service is particularly handy when it comes to this.

Consider a highly ranked insurance provider, for instance. On paper, it may seem like a safe bet for all types of insurance covers. And you might commit yourself without additional research.

Even if you’re keen enough to seek more information, details could be scanty and inconclusive. An independent agent- on the other hand- would be able to identify such a company’s strong points. Plus its correspondingly weak policies right off the bat.

Sadly, working for you as opposed to the insurance company has a caveat. Independent insurance agencies cannot adjust your policy premiums. They can secure a good deal for you, but their role only ends at the negotiating table. Only insurance providers have direct control over various premium prices.

Having no direct control, however, doesn’t render them completely powerless. They engage providers to seek legitimate reasons for any premium increase.

Although some insurance premiums have appreciated exponentially over the past couple of years, the average annual growth rate in the U.S. is 3-5%. This usually caters to inflation costs and management costs.

Any increase past this standard growth curve attracts an extensive review by independent agents. Ultimately, they may advise you to switch to a cheaper, alternative plan.

Average changes in auto insurance premiums 2004-2014. Source: Quora

What To Expect From an Independent Insurance Agency

And now the big question. What should you expect from your independent insurance agency?

Countless Insurance Options

With 58% of commercial lines, 35% of personal lines, and 58% of all lines, independent insurance agencies represent the biggest chunk of the insurance industry.

Insurance Available Through independent Agents vs Captive Agents. Source: The Independent Agents & Brokers of America

Thanks to this, they always have a wide range of insurance options to consider.

Well, of course, you might argue that the internet is also a great tool to research and compare rates by different companies. It should be as easy as seeking different quotes, right?

This approach may indeed give you several quotes. But, isn’t crawling through the web, filling multiple applications extremely cumbersome? Plus, insurance quotes generated online tend to be erroneous more often than not. The providers will stereotype you as the average American consumer.

Independent agents, on the other hand, will keenly review your status and conditions before offering possible covers. Your needs eventually determine the options you settle for.

So let your agents do the shopping. You worry about the saving.

Professional Advice

Insurance is a business. Every provider is trying to make an extra dollar for every possible situation. So it’s literally impossible to get unbiased professional advice from one. Try seeking and you’ll end up talking to a captive agent eager to close a deal.

Compare that to licensed experts who are not attached to any specific insurance provider. They follow recent trends and completely understand the industry inside out. Even more importantly, they know exactly what to look out for within the fine print of policy T & Cs.

After analyzing your needs and interests, they offer professional advice to help you minimize your risk levels and premium prices. And the best thing about this relationship is that it’s permanent. You can always reach out with more questions to clarify grey areas.

Assistance With Claims

Filing an insurance claim can be difficult and challenging. It could be a nightmare if it’s your first time. Insurance providers do everything within their legal capabilities to save up on claims.

In the automotive world, for instance, the average auto insurance claim is $3,160.

Average Cost Per Auto Insurance Claim. Source: Guiding Metrics

Going by average industry estimates, you’ll be filing a collision claim every 17.9 years. That translates to about 2-4 times per person in a lifetime.

Unfortunately, most insurance policies are in a complicated legal language. So it might take you some time to break it all down and file a solid claim. Overlooking the fine print could lead to an unfair compensation. To make matters worse, your premiums might also be bumped up significantly after the payout.

But working with an independent insurance agency gives you a strong advantage. They know the paperwork and all the dirty, little tricks providers use to finesse their way out of possible payouts.

Their experience in these processes is, in fact, way more critical during the initial application process. The agents will help you avoid companies that could prove to be difficult in case of a claim.

Updates on Discounts

Insurance companies are particularly fond of marketing themselves through discounts. They promise multiple deductions, only to decline applications based on “technicalities”.

Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to all providers. Genuine discounts exist. And most times, you have to meet specific criteria to qualify. That’s where independent insurance agencies come in.

Your agency understands your life and insurance variables. So they’ll update on possible discounts you could qualify for. Then guide you through the whole application process.

For example, if you have several covers from one provider, your agency could help with applying for a multiline discount. This could save you more money than cheap covers from different providers.

Conclusion

To recap:

● As of 2016, there were 5,977 insurance companies in the U.S, with a driving force of 2.6 million workers.

● There are two principal types of insurance companies- direct and independent.

● A direct agency is run by captive agents, while an independent agency, as the name suggests, operates independently.

● 71% of consumers are now using the internet to search for insurance covers.

● Instead of selling insurance from one provider, independent insurance agencies deal with a multitude of policies from different providers. Unlike captive agents, they are not tied to specific insurance companies.

● An independent insurance doesn’t actually work for the insurance company. The chief boss is you- the client.

● Independent insurance agencies cannot adjust your policy premiums. Only insurance providers have direct control over various premium prices.

● Independent agents engage providers to seek legitimate reasons for any premium increase.

● With 58% of commercial lines, 35% of personal lines, and 58% of all lines, independent insurance agencies represent the biggest chunk of the insurance industry.

● Independent agents review your status and conditions before offering possible covers. Your needs determine the options you settle for.

● Independent insurance agencies follow recent trends and completely understand the industry inside out. They know exactly what to look out for within the fine print of policy T & Cs.

● After analyzing your needs and interests, independent agents offer professional advice to help you minimize your risk levels and premium prices.

● Independent agencies know the insurance claim paperwork and all the dirty, little tricks providers use to finesse their way out of possible payouts.

● Your agency understands your life and insurance variables. So they’ll update on possible discounts you could qualify for. Then guide you through the whole application process.

Feel free to your expectations and experience with independent insurance agencies.

How Your Auto Insurance Policy is Ripping You Off – And What to Do About It Right Now.

By | Auto Insurance | No Comments

Insurance has always been one of the most controversial subjects in the auto world. Of course, we appreciate the fact that it’s compulsory in all the 50 states. Because otherwise, imagine paying your medical bills, and probably even compensating other victims after an accident.

On the flipside, it seems like players in the insurance industry are having a ball, now that it’s impossible to avoid car insurance. Even with over 4.5 million vehicle accidents resulting in property damage, 1.7 million injuries, and 32,000 annual fatalities, insurance companies are still raking in huge profits.

Number of vehicle crashes per year. Source: Statista

Between the year 2011 and 2015, companies in the auto-insurance space lost more than $145 billion, mostly due to insurance fraud. But, it barely made an impact in the industry. Insurance firms are still pouring billions of dollars every year in television ads and digital media. Everyone is loving the status quo- except you, the consumer.

Annual Costs of Insurance Fraud. Source: Ohio Insurance Institute

If you’ve had that feeling in the pit of your stomach that auto insurance companies are probably taking advantage of you, you’re right. You’re only slightly wrong on the part about auto insurance companies. Because it’s not just them. It spreads across the board.

Everyone is ripping you off- from insurance companies, to vehicle repair shops, property agents, and even medical providers. While some blatantly defraud you, most of them are ripping you off legally. They capitalize on some interesting loopholes in the current legislation.

Take Michigan Auto Insurance Policy laws, for instance. Vehicle owners in this state pay the highest premiums in the country, so medical providers can pretty much charge exorbitantly for their services.

Whichever way you look at it, that has been how the bulk of their claims have been ending up.

Because of such cases, a third of millennials and 28% of vehicle owners in the U.S. believe that they are paying way too much for their auto insurance. The insurance companies are particularly fond of leaching off high-income earners since they are not frequent complainers.

Only 24% of vehicle owners earning more than $75,000 per year are not happy with their rates. Compare that to 37% of modest income drivers with income ranging between $50,000 and $75,000 per annum.

There are many interesting facts behind the smoke and mirrors. That’s why we’ve prepared the following guide, to help you finesse your way out of possible rip offs.

How Insurance Companies Are Ripping You Off

Failing To Factor In Car Depreciation

Unless you’re rocking an exceptional classic car, the value of your vehicle is consistently losing value with time, and every mile driven.

But some insurance companies don’t see it that way. You still continue paying the same premiums, even after your car has lost half its value.

Vehicle Depreciation Rates in The U.S. Source: Automotive Fleet

Insurance agents who support this concept argue that aging and increased mileage translates to more frequent repairs, and increase the risk of accident due to mechanical failure.

Well, of course, that’s laughable because, in actual sense, repair costs decrease with increase in a car’s age. Parts become readily available and mechanics continue to familiarize themselves with engine intricacies.
The best and most efficient way to beat this system is switching to ask your insurance agent to revisit your policy. Don’t waste your time, allow an independent agent to shop for your insurance.

Your independent agent will have multiple insurance companies assess your vehicle and charge you cheaper premiums according to its age. sticking to one insurance provider could have you losing way too much in 12 months, let alone 5 or 10 years.

Dramatically Increasing Rates After Accidents

If you assumed insurance providers hate car accidents, think again. Of course, they lose money by paying out claims.

But they immediately start recovering their losses by increasing your rates. And sometimes they even make more off you after an accident.
It’s a continuous, unending cycle. Insurance firms make a lot of money off your premium payments.

Then you’d be mistaken to assume that you’ve won the battle, when you receive compensation from cumulative payments. But when that is over, they increase rates as soon as you get behind the wheel again.

All things considered, this may be fair, since it covers an insurance company’s risk of insuring accident-prone drivers. But, in some cases, rates do not climb over time.

They shoot through the roof, punishing you for the accident. It may apply even to incidents which may not even have been your fault in the first place.

Average Insurance Penalty For Not-At-Fault Accidents. Source: Consumer Federation of America

This game is especially common among insurance providers who offer very cheap rates at the beginning. And you since you’ll assume that they are still the cheapest around, you’ll stick with them despite the high rates.

The only way around this is comparing rates offered by different insurance providers. Some companies may be lenient enough to provide coverage at way cheaper rates.

While this may seem like a pretty obvious thing to do, 38% of vehicle owners have not bothered to compare their auto insurance premiums within the last 3 or more years.

That’s according to NerdWallet, a personal finance website that sampled motorists across the country. Even more surprising is the fact that 17% of these drivers have never checked at all.

As a result, they are missing out on an average of $417 of savings per year. This is silly considering an insurance agent could do the legwork for effortless savings.

Evaluating Rates According To Credit Worthiness Rather Than Driving Habits
If there’s one outrageously ridiculous thing about insurance pricing evaluation, it’s the fact that it’s partly based on credit score. This is one area that you may end up mistaking an insurance company for a bank. They act like insurance claims are loans and financial grants.

Even a good and careful driver may end up paying high rates for a poor credit score. It’s even more amusing when you discover that poor, careless drivers with good credit scores pay lower insurances rates.

And no, this doesn’t just bump the rate up by a few bucks. Going by figures published by Consumer Reports, penalties for poor credit scores are staggering.
Crunching the numbers across the top five national insurers, they established that motorists with excellent credit scores were paying an average of $1409 annually, while good credit score drivers were shelling out $1712. Individuals with the poorest credit scores were paying an astonishing $3826 every year.

Unfortunately, apart from improving your credit score, there’s no other way of finessing your way out of this. It’s almost like the United States is hell-bent on basing everything on credit score. Soon they may even start issuing driving licenses according to creditworthiness.

Rejecting Claims On Incidences Affecting Pre-Existing Injuries

The subject of pre-existing conditions and injuries is not limited to auto insurance policies. All insurance providers, across all industries, always have a clause on pre-existing conditions. No company wants to be held liable for past injuries.

In layman terms, they don’t see themselves making a profit. And that’s understandable. Because whichever way you look at it, insurance is still a business.

But, there is a rather interesting grey area in this. Imagine an accident that aggravates a past injury or condition.

Consider a person paralyzed from the waist down for instance. A car accident may snap his spine further, causing paralysis from the chest down.

Now, of course, most auto insurance firms would counter the resultant claim, citing the clause on past injuries. If he’s not keen in following up, the victim may end up with zero compensation.

Fortunately, insurance legislation addresses this, through the “Glass Plaintiff” rule. The frailty of a victim is not a defense in a claim case.

That means you are entitled to full compensation if a vehicle accident aggravates a pre-existing injury.For fair compensation in future, have your doctor comprehensively document current injuries that your insurance company is aware of. In case of an accident, your insurance provider will have a hard time rejecting a claim on grounds that pre-existing injuries were not affected.

Offering Unnecessary Coverage On Rental Cars

If you’ve rented a car before, chances are salespeople pressured you to cough up extra cash for insurance. At first, it may seem like they are trying to protect their vehicles, or they care about your safety.

Sadly, it can never be further from the truth. Rental car salespeople get commissions from insurance companies for every cover sold.

That’s why they’ll never reveal that you won’t actually benefit much from most their insurance covers.

As a matter of fact, most salespeople continue pressing, and persistently offer alternative insurance plans if you reject their propositions. In the end, you’re forced to cave in and say yes because extra cover would hurt, now would it?

Reviewing and researching on such insurance covers would ultimately reveal that you probably didn’t even need them. You would have bought useless insurance, at rates higher than standard market premiums.

If you own a car with its own insurance plan, don’t even entertain the thought of insurance for rented vehicles. You’re already adequately covered.
That’s because rental car salespeople focus on two types of insurance covers:

  • Liability Insurance at $5 to $15 a day. It should cover damages to third party vehicles and people caused by the rental car.
  • Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) at $10 to $20 a day. It should cover the damages you might cause to the rented car.

Of course, these are very much essential to rented cars. We are not suggesting that you proceed to get a rental without both. However, your car insurance plan extends to cover these two.

They come with most auto insurance plans and adequately apply to rentals.
So, to avoid paying for unnecessary coverage, check with your current policy and confirm its boundaries and exceptions before approaching a rental car company. That way, you’ll be able to discern factual information from sales jargon by the attendants.

Conclusion

We’ve discussed many critical pointers. To help you remember, here’s a breakdown of the most important ones:

  • Even with over 4.5 million vehicle accidents resulting in property damage, 1.7 million injuries, and 32,000 annual fatalities, insurance companies are still raking in huge profits.
  • Between the year 2011 and 2015, companies in the auto-insurance space lost more than $145 billion, due to insurance fraud.
  • Everyone is ripping you off- from insurance companies to vehicle repair shops, property agents, and even medical providers.
  • A third of millennials and 28% of vehicle owners in the U.S. believe that they are paying way too much for their auto insurance.
  • Only 24% of vehicle owners earning more than $75,000 per year are not happy with their rates.
  • 37% of modest income drivers making between $50,000 and $75,000 per annum complain about their insurance rates.
  • Get quotes every 6 months to a year from multiple insurance companies. Contact our independent insurance agents if you don’t have time to do it yourself.
  • Insurance companies start recovering their losses by increasing your rates immediately after compensation. And sometimes they even make more off you after an accident. Shop for a new policy or have an agent do this for you to minimize the increase in your premium.
  • 38% of vehicle owners have not bothered to compare or have an agent compare their auto insurance premiums within the last 3 or more years. As a result, they are missing out on an average of $417 of savings per year.
  • Even a good and careful driver may end up paying high rates for a poor credit score.
  • If you have bad credit, you are paying 2.7 times more than a driver with excellent credit.
  • Through the “Glass Plaintiff” rule, the frailty of a victim is not a defense in a claim case. That means you are entitled to full compensation if a vehicle accident aggravates a pre-existing injury.
  • If you own or lease a car, your insurance covers your rental.

Although we’ve covered the major rip-offs, the auto insurance industry is extensive. And so are the laws regulating it. Different stakeholders continue developing new tactics to capitalize on the loopholes. So please feel free to share the ones we’ve not mentioned.

License plate that says "home" with the outline of the state of michigan as the "O"

Michigan Auto Insurance Bill: What to Expect it to Do to Your Auto Insurance

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Michigan Auto Insurance Bill: What to Expect it to Do to Your Auto Insurance

Michigan has graced the news many times recently. Yeah, of course, the state is still considered the car capital of the world. But this time around, it continues to enjoy the limelight because of “No-fault Insurance”.

But why should it concern you?

According to Crain’s Detroit Business and Bridge Magazine analysis, the average cost of treating vehicle accident injuries has tripled between the year 2000 and 2013. Compared to the next highest state, the average cost in Michigan is now more than five times higher.

Let that sink in for a minute. That only covers the next highest state, New Jersey. Now imagine what you stand to incur in case of auto accident injuries in Michigan. Compare that to the lowest ranked states- like Utah for instance.

This cost has been increasing 90% faster than the nation’s health care inflation. If you thought that’s as bad as it gets, here’s something even more surprising. This has occurred over a period that has seen a reducing number of car accidents.

In actual figures, the average medical cost is now north of $75,000. Medical providers can pretty much charge anything they think they can get away with. And it’s all because of the current no-fault insurance law, plus a 2010 Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

That’s unfair not only to drivers, but also insurance companies.

Even when the state forces you to pay for injury protection, insurance providers are not raking in the dough. Only medical providers have been making a killing.

As a matter of fact, the average profits for auto insurance providers over the same period has been -2.09%.

Current Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Legislation

The state of Michigan takes auto insurance very seriously. To qualify for license plates, you need to have certain essential coverages. Among them is No-fault insurance. And that’s where the problem lies.

But, what does it entail? What are its limits?

The best thing about this type of insurance is that it takes care of several expenses. Besides to third party property damage, replacement and wage loss, it settles medical bills.

You’ll pretty much not be liable to victim compensation even when you take the blame for the accident. Your insurance provider will handle it all.

Sadly, that’s where it all ends. Despite an average annual premium of $2,484 per vehicle, Michigan drivers do not qualify for vehicle repairs. That’s a separate coverage altogether.

So, what exactly do you get as a driver?

The basic No-fault policy only addresses three elements:
● Residual Liability Insurance- Injury and Property Damage

The legislation protects you from legal action for causing a car accident. Unfortunately, it does not apply to all situations. There are specific unique circumstances that leave you vulnerable to litigation.

If the accident, for instance, results in someone being permanently disfigured, severely injured, or killed, you may be in for some legal trouble.

It will also not apply if other parties involved are non-residents of Michigan, or were driving a car not registered in the state. And this, unfortunately, also extends accidents that occur past the state’s borders.

You can also be sued for up to $1000 if an accident results in damages to an uninsured third party vehicle, in a situation where you are at least 50% at fault.

● Property Protection (PPI)

Your insurance provider is expected to pay up to $1 million for damages your car causes to other appropriately parked vehicles, and property like fences and buildings.

● Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Although the insurance company will not repair your vehicle, it should take care of all your medical expenses. You also deserve compensation of up to 85% of your standard income for three years. And that’s only if the consequent injury affects your ability to work.

As with all insurance policies, there’s a caveat. Effective 1st January 2017, the largest amount an insurance company can pay you on a monthly basis is $5,541. That’s the precise amount your family is also entitled to on a monthly basis if you’re killed in a road accident.

To cater for regular household services like yard work and housekeeping, you would also be eligible for a stipend of up to $20, subject to severity of the injury.

Proposed Changes To Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Legislation

Of course you’d expect the proposed bill to improve current legislation. The reality, unfortunately, is that it’s rather a cocktail of both positives and negatives.

One of the most outstanding unfavorable clauses applies to Personal Injury Protection. House Bill No. 4488 seeks to do away with insurance companies paying full medical expenses.

PIP is the most critical element of the current law. It benefits Michigan drivers through life benefits, and uncapped medical payouts. But the new bill’s proponents thought they should give insurance providers a break. So they suggested limiting payment of medical expenses at $250,000, 500,000, and 1,000,000.

Another prominent change is the introduction of a limit of 56 hours per week on the time family members and friends of injured victims are entitled to payment for attendant care. Currently, there is no limitation on this. And that makes sense, because some injuries may need full time care.

Insurance companies like the fact that these two changes complement each other. The medial expense cap would force you to turn to friends and family for nursing. And that’s right where insurance providers would want you to be. The 56-hour attendant care limitation, in the end, would further reduce their payouts.

As if that’s not enough, the bill further proposes the creation of a “Fraud and Theft Prevention Authority”. It’s supposed to have 15 members. 9 of whom should be insurance company representatives, 2 law enforcement agents, 1 prosecuting attorney representative, and 1 general public representative. Pretty much a recipe for a committee controlled by insurance companies.

The authority would fight insurance fraud committed by policyholders and other stakeholders. Well, that’s arguably noble, since the biggest auto insurances fraud cases involve No-fault insurance- at least according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

In 2012 for instance, federal law enforcement agents took in more than three dozen fraudsters suspected of making away with more than $280 million from fake claims.

So on paper, the authority looks like a much needed body. Well, at least until you review the fine print.

That committee would be multi-faceted. It would not only reign down on fraudsters, but also enact new rules and regulations. One can only imagine the ultimate result- more restrictions on filed claims.

On the flip side, you’d expect the Fraud Authority proposal to cut both ways. But, it’s skewed against policyholders. Claimants will not have a right to sue insurance providers for fraud against them.

That, and the fact that we already have the National Insurance Crime Bureau, plus federal law enforcement agencies, beats the whole purpose of forming such a committee. It doesn’t make any logical sense.

Looking at these proposed changes, you’d expect a clause on reduced insurance premiums. It would possibly mitigate potential outcomes of all the other provisions favorable to insurance companies.

Strangely, and rather surprisingly, the bill contains nothing that guarantees reduced insurance premiums for Michigan drivers.

It’s pretty much a bill by insurance companies, and for insurance companies, triggered by the ever rising claim payouts. According to data obtained from the Michigan Insurance Coalition, No-Fault claim payouts more than tripled between the year 2000 and 2012.

Status of The Michigan Auto Insurance Bill

After years of attempting to change Michigan auto insurance legislation, the latest efforts crashed and burned. The House voted down the No-fault bill on Thursday, the 2nd of November 2017.

It fell short of the required support to pass the floor. It could not survive, even after 41 republicans and 4 democrats voted for it,

According to a disappointed Michigan representative Tom Barrett, there was persistent pressure on democrats to reject the proposed bill. Singh, the minority leader, had reportedly issued a myriad of threats to sway the vote.

Barrett felt that pressure was coming from institutions that enjoy status quo. He insisted that hospitals were chief lobbyists. Proposed changes would only hurt their bottom lines.

Michigan Health and Hospital Association’s Chris Mitchell, on the other hand, stated that the bill collapsed because it is entirely flawed. It has loopholes that insurers would capitalize on to avoid providing rate relief.

Another party that opposed the amendments is the Coalition to Protect Auto No-fault (CPAN). According to Steve Sinas, a member, insurance companies would win court cases. They would then deny individuals their benefits, and sue them for refund of attorney fees.

All things considered, the bill collapsed, but the debate is far from over. Legislators are still getting opinions from Michigan residents and other industry stakeholders.

The bill could come up for another vote soon. We can only hope that it’ll be multi-dynamic, and inclusive of all the concerns raised by medics, insurance providers, and policyholders.

Conclusion
To recap:
● The average cost of treating injuries caused by vehicle accidents has tripled between the year 2000 and 2013

● Compared to the next highest state, the average cost in Michigan is now more than five times higher.

● Medical providers can pretty much charge anything they think they can get away with. And it’s all because of current no-fault insurance, plus a 2010 Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

● In a bid to resolve all this mess, a republican legislator introduced House Bill No. 4488 in April 19, 2017, aimed at changing the current No-fault policy.

● Despite an average annual premium of $2,484 per vehicle, Michigan drivers do not qualify for vehicle repairs. That’s a separate coverage altogether.

● Residual Liability legislation protects you from legal action for causing a car accident. But there are specific unique circumstances that leave you vulnerable to litigation.

● Under Property Protection (PPI), your insurance provider is expected to pay up to $1 million for damages your car causes to other appropriately parked vehicles, and property like fences and buildings.

● Personal Injury Protection (PIP) should take care of all your medical expenses. You also deserve compensation of up to 85% of your standard income for three years. And that’s only if the consequent injury affects your ability to work.

● One of the most outstanding unfavorable clauses applies to Personal Injury Protection. House Bill No. 4488 seeks to do away with insurance companies paying full medical expenses.

● Another prominent change is the introduction of a 56-hour-per-week limit on attendant care.

● The bill further proposes the creation of a “Fraud and Theft Prevention Authority”. It’s supposed to have 15 members.

● The bill contains nothing that guarantees reduced insurance premiums for Michigan drivers.

● No-fault bill rejected on Thursday, the 2nd of November 2017.

Taking all these into consideration, the Michigan Auto Insurance bill has undoubtedly attracted mixed feelings from all stakeholders. But one thing remains constant- the current legislation is extensively flawed, and desperately needs an overhaul.

So what do you think? And what amendments would you propose for the next debate

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3 Myths About Auto Insurance BUSTED

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3 Myths About Auto Insurance BUSTED

You probably rarely ever think of auto insurance. Of course, that is until you see those flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror. Or some idiot sideswipes you on the interstate.

Suddenly, your car insurance dominates your mind. That’s when the questions start circling.

Did I renew my auto insurance?
Am I adequately covered?
What is my auto insurance deductible?
How quick will they process my claim?
Will my car insurance premiums go up?

Fact is, most people don’t have a clear picture when it comes to their auto insurance. They are fuzzy about what their insurance covers. They don’t know their deductible. And they certainly have little knowledge about how they can save on their auto insurance.

That’s why we’re happy to present this blog post. In it, we will separate FACT from FICTION when it comes to your car insurance questions. Plus, you may even discover a few ways you can save when it comes to your automobile insurance premiums.

Let’s start here:

MYTH # 1: Men and Women Have the Same Auto Insurance Rates

In an age where men and women are considered equal, you would think our premiums should be equal as well. Well, that’s often not the case.

Now, the age old debate of “Which sex is the better driver?” has been answered by the insurance industry. And the winner is…

The Ladies!

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes glance at how insurance companies operate. They have a bunch of PhD’s that examine every possible factor that might result in paying out a claim.

One major factor is gender, especially when you’re a young driver. They examine everything top to bottom, including:

· Types of cars driven by men and women — Men tend to drive sportier and faster cars while women often drive safer vehicles.
· Statistics about risky driving behavior — That’s another ding for you men. More women drive more conservatively than men. Men are 3x more likely to get ticketed for reckless driving compared to women!
· Frequency of accidents — Men, guess what… yes, you’re simply losing this battle. When comparing the accidents the ratio is 12 to 5 in favor of the fairer sex.
· Average number of miles driven per year — Yes, men simply drive more often and more miles. Although the number of drivers is about equal (up from 40% females), men still account for 59% of miles driven on the road.

Let’s dig even deeper at the men drivers vs. women drivers debate and look at some statistics.

Let’s dig even deeper at the men drivers vs. women drivers debate and look at some statistics.

· In 2012, 71% of all car accident-related deaths were men according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
· In 2008, the number of drivers who died in a fatal car crash was 50% higher for men than women.
· Men are more likely to be under the influence of alcohol than women — 38% for males compared to just 20% for females.

Theories and stereotypes can’t compare to hard cold facts. And the facts all point to the fact that men are a greater risk behind the wheel then women.

As a result, it stands to reason that under many auto insurance policies, women get more of a break than men. Find out for yourself. Get a quick auto insurance quote today, and see how much you can save.

MYTH # 2: What You Do for a Living Has Nothing to Do With How Much You Pay for Car Insurance.

While it may seem like “big brother” is watching over you, the auto insurance industry makes an effort to know its client base so it can better assess its risks.

Therefore, they want to know quite a bit about you, including:
· Your driving history
· Your age
· Your gender
· Your driving habits

Plus, many car insurance providers are even taking a close look at your occupation and education. Yes, your education level as well as what you do for a living are factors that could determine just how much you pay for car insurance.

There are certain occupations that put you at a greater risk to drive a car, truck or SUV. As a result, you may be more likely to get into an accident and file a claim.

There are certain occupations that put you at a greater risk to drive a car, truck or SUV. As a result, you may be more likely to get into an accident and file a claim.

Some of those risks include:
· Greater stress levels
· Likelihood of overtime
· Lack of sleep
· Amount of time behind the wheel

So, what are these high-risk occupations? Well, the list varies from one insurance provider to another, but here are among the most common:
· Doctors
· Salespeople
· Lawyers
· Real estate agents
· Business owners and executives
· Architects

I bet you’re wanting to know the other side of the coin: The safest occupations. Jobs that tend to show statistically low risk of accidents among drivers in those professions are the following:
· Scientists
· Nurses and first responders
· Pilots
· Teachers
· Accountants
· Artists

You might be wondering WHY?

Well, these professions typically require someone who is detail-oriented and very stable. Therefore, they’re less likely to be involved in an accident.

If you’re not on the high-risk list, rest assured that your occupation should have little to no effect on your insurance risks and auto insurance premiums.

If so, feel free to check with us today to see if you are subject to a slightly lower premium based on your job field.

MYTH # 3: It Makes No Difference Where I Live. It’s All About How I Drive.

When we think of auto insurance, we typically ONLY think of accidents, tickets and our driving history. After all, if you’ve never been in an accident, had only had a couple of minor traffic citations and have a spotless driving history, you should be good… RIGHT?

If that describes you, then yes, your auto insurance premium should be among the lowest in an average field.

However, you can’t simply ignore the possibility of car theft. Yes, in the insurance world, car theft is even worse than an accident because the insurance company is on the hook for the ENTIRE vehicle replacement.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of today’s sobering car theft statistics.

First, where you live DOES matter. There are many cities where car theft is on the rise. Here are the top 10 cities for vehicle theft:
· #10 – Seattle, Washington
· #9 – San Jose, CA
· #8 – Spokane, Washington
· #7 – Fresno, CA
· #6 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin – This is the only metro area that’s NOT in the western half of the US
· #5 – Stockton, CA – Are you sensing a trend? Don’t move to California.
· #4 – Bakersfield, CA
· #3 – San Francisco, CA
· #2 – Modesto, California – Yes, this list features a bunch of cities from Cali.
· #1 – Albuquerque, New Mexico – Car thieves tend to take the stolen vehicles across the border to sell them

Of course, if you think you’re in the clear by living in Michigan, think again. Car theft has always been a problem throughout Michigan, especially in metro areas. In 2016 Detroit reported 8,500 auto thefts, which is 23 cars day.

Not only does it matter where you live… where you park is also a big concern. Think about it. Many vehicle thefts don’t occur in your driveway. They occur in parking lots, in parking garages and at your workplace.

If you tend to park your car in a zip code that’s known for auto theft, you might just find that your auto insurance quote goes up a bit.

But if you live in a suburban area with few car thefts… if you work in an office park with lots of security cameras and few (if any) vehicle break-ins… if you are always cautious of where you park your car, you may just enjoy a little break on your auto insurance.

Plus, if you have a car alarm, let your insurance provider know. Some providers offer a discount simply for deterring theft.

Most people think that only a few factors matter with their auto insurance policy. Their accident history, their vehicle, the number of citations they’ve accumulated and how well they tend to drive.

Conclusion

Now you know the FACTS. You know there are a few factors outside of your control:

– Your sex
– What you do for a living
– Where you live

These factors can either help or hurt you when getting a price quote for your car insurance.

Regardless of all the factors that go into car insurance quotes, we always strive to present the greatest possible coverage at the least possible price.

Find out for yourself: Get a free, no-obligation quote in just minutes — Yes, right now! You’ll be surprised just how fast we respond.

Home cutout rubber banded to money.

7 Little Known Ways to Save Up to 40% More on Your Michigan Homeowners Insurance

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7 Little Known Ways to Save Up to 40% More on Your Michigan Homeowners Insurance

It’s something most of us don’t even value until we absolutely need it. When there’s an unexpected fire. Or damaging winds. Or a hail storm that leaves your roof in shambles.

That’s when you appreciate the value of homeowner’s insurance. That’s when you receive a much-needed check rather than dipping into your emergency fund or retirement.

That’s when you are thankful you chose a great insurance provider that is responsive and does what they always said they would do.

But like with any insurance, you hope you NEVER have to use it. You hope you never have that fire, that destructive wind or that hail storm that destroys your roof.

Instead, you would be content simply paying the premiums year after year after year.

Well, how would you like to keep those premiums as low as humanly possible? Not just saving 5 or 10%, but serious savings, such as 20%, 30% or even 40%!

We’re not talking about the discounts most everybody knows about. Like featuring a home security system. Or living right near a fire station. There are “hidden discounts” that most people don’t know about and rarely take advantage of.

Here’s the catch: It’s the old 80/20 Principle. Also called the Pareto Principle. While only 20% of people will seek out these little known ways to reduce their homeowner’s insurance, 80% of people will simply not take action.

Therefore, the large majority of people will save little to nothing on their homeowners insurance.

Curious what the top home insurance claims are? Maybe you can impress your friends with this awesome knowledge. Here they are:

· Exterior wind damage — 25% of all losses
· Water damage from plumbing or appliances — 19%
· Hail — 15%
· Weather-related water damage (rain, ice, snow) – 11%
· Theft – 6%

Read through the following suggestions… take ACTION… and watch your homeowner’s insurance premiums go down.

Homeowners Insurance Savings #1: Consider Your Roof

Hail damage that is the #1 reason roofs are repaired or replaced.

I’ll give you one guess as to the most susceptible roofs. That’s right, older roofs! Older roofs leak more often and lose shingles more often.

Therefore, getting a new roof can reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium quite a bit. Even as much as 20%!

Even better, consider an impact-resistant roof. These quality roofs feature materials that stand up to hail even better than non-impact materials.

Michigan certainly sees its share of hail storms. So, it might be worth considering upgrading your roof to be prepared for the next onslaught of hail.

Homeowners Insurance Savings #2: Your Credit Score Matters

I know what you’re thinking: How can my credit score affect my homeowners insurance premiums? Fact is, it’s all about risk assessment.

If you pay your bills on time, you probably have a great credit score. If you have racked up a number of high-balance credit cards, you may have less than great credit.

People with higher credit scores may notice a little break on their insurance premiums. Again, ask your insurance agent, or connect with us to learn more about this area of potential savings.

Homeowners Insurance Savings #3: Your Age

While you can’t do much about your age, it can affect just how much you pay for your home insurance.

Some insurance providers offer a discount simply based on your age. Retirees and senior citizens are usually the first age group to receive a small discount. Why?

This age group is considered more responsible and less of a risk. Plus, they tend to spend more time at home, reducing risks of fires and thefts.

Whether it helps yourself or your parents, ask your insurance provider about reducing your premiums based on your age.

Homeowners Insurance Savings #4: Go Green

Ready for TRIPLE saving? It happens when you decide to “Go Green.” Unlike just a few years back, it’s easy nowadays to outfit your home with energy-efficient materials.

These “green” materials include solar panels, Earth-friendly plumbing systems, electrical equipment, windows and even energy-efficient light bulbs. Once you install these energy-efficient options, you can see savings in 2 areas!

First, over time you’ll experience savings simply by using them. An energy-efficient light bulb, for example, can save you up to 90%! “Green” windows can save you as much as 75%!

Second, because the government wants to encourage saving energy, the federal and state governments offer grants as well as tax write-offs. The more you use, the more savings you enjoy.

Finally, Michigan Home Insurance companies are working on creating a savings for when you do capitalize on these eco friendly options. I’m not sure when it’s happening but you can believe that you can hear about it here first!

Homeowners Insurance Savings #5: Remove Old Structures

Have a run-down shed on your property or similar structure? The odds are that your insurance provider views that structure as an “add-on” to your house.

Even if you simply use that shed or building as a place for tools, it might just be costing you extra dollars on your home insurance policy. What can you do? If you rarely use this extra structure, consider knocking it down or having it hauled away.

Of course, if you have multiple buildings on your property, your insurance premiums may be considerably higher than they need to be.

Homeowners Insurance Savings #6: Removing Brush and Trim Trees

Brush, trim, trees, as well as dead or dying trees, are more susceptible to catching fire. These natural combustibles can turn an under-control fire into a serious risk.

By removing these fire risks, you may also reduce your home insurance premiums by a little as well. If you have these fire risks around your home, you should consider removing them even if they don’t affect your insurance premiums.

Homeowners Insurance Savings #7: Choosing Your Dog Breed

Yes, it’s true. Your dog breed could result in a higher homeowners insurance premium.

Some insurance policies have a list of dangerous dog breeds that could increase your insurance. Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Pit Bulls tend to be on these lists.

While your Pit Bull or Rottweiler may be the most friendly dog around, you may still be penalized. The fear is that those breeds are more likely to attack.

Insurance companies prefer dog breeds that are docile and family-friendly. Poodles, Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels. They all tend to be friendly dogs who rarely bite or attack.

Also, if you are considering an exotic pet, such as a snake or spider, make sure those don’t cause your homeowner’s insurance to skyrocket.

Conclusion: Putting it all together

Remember the 80/20 Principle? Well, less than 5% of people will consider many of these home insurance savings and bundle them all into a massive savings by:

1. Replacing your roof
2. Check your credit score
3. Check if your age has discounts
4. Go Green (save money in bills and possibly on your insurance in the future)
5. Removing Brush and Trim Trees
6. Remove Old Structures
7. Choosing Your Dog Breed

Will it be you? Speak with one of our insurance representatives today to learn more about how you can save big on your homeowners insurance.

Person holding a phone using a ride share app

How These 4 Rideshare Insurance Mistakes Are Hitting Uber and Lyft Drivers in Their Wallets

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How These 4 Rideshare Insurance Mistakes Are Hitting Uber and Lyft Drivers in Their Wallets

It was an idea that quickly caught fire in 2009. Allow anybody to use his or her own car as a taxi. Then riders can “hail that taxi” using their smartphone. Genius!

Suddenly rideshare was born. Uber became an overnight sensation. Then Lyft soon followed.

Good riddance taxis. Hello opportunity, extra money, faster pick-ups (and no more sticky seats and weird smells).

Is there a better side business (side hustle) out there? Heck, all you need is a driver’s license, a car and a little free time. Right?

WRONG.

Rideshare drivers across the nation are forgetting about one important piece to this great opportunity. Rideshare insurance.

That’s right. In a recent poll of 1,000 rideshare drivers, a full 77% did not have adequate insurance. Perhaps even you.

In other words, with every pickup, you’re putting your money at SERIOUS risk.

Let’s take a closer look at these 4 insurance mistakes. With each one, ask yourself if you are putting yourself at risk.

Rideshare Insurance Mistake #1: LYING to Your Insurance Provider

Did you know that you’re supposed to let your auto insurance provider know whenever there’s a significant change involving your vehicles or your driving habits.

Like when you get a new car. Or if you have an accident. Or if your teenager turns 16 and is ready to terrorize the city on wheels.

Turning your car into a job also qualifies.

Think about it: You’re exponentially increasing the number of miles you drive. Which means you’re significantly increasing your risk for an accident.

Not to mention, you’re carrying precious cargo — Other people!

So, by failing to mention to your insurance carrier that you drive for Lyft or Uber, you are essentially lying.

It’s akin to not disclosing your history of heart problems to your health insurance provider.

“But everybody ‘forgets’ to tell their auto insurance provider, right?”

Yes, many do. Which may be a short-term win. Unfortunately, if you have an accident (and remember, your odds of an accident while being a rideshare driver just shot up) three things may happen.

First, you may have to pay a major chunk of that bill. That’s money for the repairs, money for injuries and any traffic citations, of course.

Second, your rates may climb significantly.

Third, your insurance carrier is likely to DROP you.

(Just like your significant other might drop you if you lied to him or her)

So, let’s be honest from the start.

Talk with your auto insurance provider about options for rideshare coverage.

Or you’re welcome to speak with us. Takes just minutes. And our rideshare coverage plans are surprisingly affordable.

On to mistake #2…

Rideshare Insurance Mistake #2: Assuming Uber or Lyft Has Your Back

You might be thinking…

“But my rideshare company ensured me I was covered through THEM. What gives?”

Yes you ARE covered. Somewhat.

But, you’re still exposing yourself to significant risk. (And by risk, I mean money, debt… you get the ugly picture).

It’s a little complicated. But we’re here to simplify it.

There are 3 different periods of rideshare insurance. Think of periods as “phases” as a rideshare driver.

  • Period 1 — Online and WITHOUT a ride request. You’re just cruising around with nobody in the car and no pickup requests.
  • Period 2 — Online and WITH a ride request. You could be en route to a rider or even parked and waiting for a rider.
  • Period 3 — Online with a RIDER in your car. Woo-hoo, You’re making money!

Here’s the problem. Uber and Lyft’s rideshare insurance only covers drivers during Periods 2 and 3…

But they leave you high and dry throughout Period 1!

If you get into any type of accident during Period 1, you may end up paying through the teeth. Seriously.

You won’t have any collision coverage from your rideshare company. Plus, your personal insurer likely won’t cover you either. (Especially if you “lied” to them and didn’t tell them you were a rideshare driver).

And it can add up fast! Repairs. Injuries. Even lawsuits.

Suddenly your side hustle is looking more like a side nuisance.

Don’t worry. While Uber or Lyft might not have your back, we will. Ask us about adding a simple policy to help protect you throughout Period 1… and anytime you’re working your side gig.

Now let’s tackle mistake #3…

Rideshare Insurance Mistake #3: Accepting “NO” From Your Auto Insurance Provider

So, you’re ready to come clean and march down to your insurance company and tell them you are a rideshare driver.

But, to your shock, they tell you one of two things:

One, they say, “Sorry, we don’t offer rideshare insurance policies.”

Or two, “Sure thing. You’ll need to buy one of our commercial auto policy to be properly insured.”

Are you kidding! You just laid your soul on their desk and told the truth because you wanted to protect your wallet. You did what’s right… and they feed you these lines?

Fact is, there are still MANY auto insurance providers that are behind the times.

(Remember, Uber started in 2009) But some insurance companies don’t want to deal with the increased risk.

At Signature Insurance, we see it differently. Because it’s your job, you’re more likely to drive safely and responsibly.

That’s why we proudly carry rideshare insurance policy options. Plus, you’ll find our policies to be very competitive. Very affordable.

Also, don’t fall for it if your current auto insurance provider requires you to purchase a commercial policy. That should send shivers down your spine.

Commercial policies are very costly. So much so that the premiums may eat into your rideshare revenue.

We don’t play those games. We use common sense.

Just because you have a rideshare business doesn’t mean you belong in a high-premium commercial policy.

Therefore, we will go out of our way to find you the policy that provides the coverage you need at a reasonable rate.

Now for our final often-made rideshare mistake…

Rideshare Insurance Mistake #4: Treating Your Business Like a Hobby

You may have a full time job. You may have another part-time job.

But make no mistake, as a rideshare driver, you are a BUSINESS. You’re not simply a driver delivering pizzas for Pizza Hut or Papa John’s.

You’re running your own part-time business.

And any business — including rideshare drivers — should be set up as an LLC.

Why? It’s an added layer of protection.

Protection against lawsuits. Protection against insurance claims. Protection for your personal income.

By becoming an LLC, it’s also a big help at tax time. It helps keep your business expenses and personal income separate.

It’s pretty quick and easy to set up an LLC for your rideshare business. The minute you do, you may see advantages in your auto insurance coverage.

Conclusion: Protect Your Business. Protect Your Bank Account.

Insurance companies are designed to manage risk.

If you’re self-employed and work from home, there’s much less risk of an accident.

If you’re commuting daily for an hour or two in aggressive, bumper-to-bumper traffic, you assume a greater risk.

As a rideshare driver, you must understand that you fall into a high-risk category. The odds of getting into an accident, having bodily injuries and getting sued is probably 5 – 10X higher than your average driver.

Most rideshare drivers would rather ignore insurance matters and focus on getting more riders and getting more money.

Everyone likes to ignore insurance… until they need it.

Because the second that driver nails you at an intersection, it’s one of the first things that crosses your mind.

Hey, we’re here to help. We’ve helped many rideshare drivers protect their families, their business and their assets by providing better coverage.

Now they’re able to focus on earning more and worrying less.

Uber’s motto is “Evolving the way the world moves.”

We just want to help you and all of your riders to move without unnecessary risks.

Just as you can help us out by driving us to a concert, dinner or the airport…

Let us help you out by giving you the peace of mind and confidence that you’re 100% covered every time you get behind that wheel.

If you or someone you know drives for Uber or Lyft, you’re welcome to call us for a free review of your policy. We’ll be honest and let you know if you’re good-to-go or if you need a bit more coverage for your rideshare business.

57 Chevy and 69 Camaro with their hoods open

Signature Insurance at Motors at the Market

By | Community | No Comments

Signature Insurance was happy to be a part of Motors at the Market and around a lot of awe-inspiring classic vehicles with their owners.

The event was fantastically organized with lots of local vendors, craft pour over coffee, flowers, and food trucks all draped with tunes of live music to accompany the classic cars. Below are some of our pictures that we would like to share but if you want to see more check out the official gallery.

Do you own a classic car? When’s the last time you checked if you’re getting the most value for your auto insurance? Get a free quote within 24 hours by filling out our contact form or giving us a call today (586) 274-9600.

Desk with stick notes, scissors, iPhone, and pencils

Insuring your business and it’s vehicles.

By | Auto Insurance, Business Insurance

Whether you run a small business out of your home or you are a partner in a larger corporation, understanding the importance of both business and commercial auto insurance is essential. Many entrepreneurs sell household and beauty products through home sales and parties using their vehicles. Large numbers of handymen work as independent contractors building decks, fixing plumbing and HVAC, and even detailing cars. Each of these people have one important aspect in common – the need for good insurance on their transport vehicles.


Business Insurance Coverage

If you transport products or equipment for your business in a vehicle used mainly for this purpose – you need to have adequate business auto coverage. If you or one of your employees were involved in an accident and the products or equipment were damaged – your personal auto insurance would not cover the claim. When you are comparing quotes for business insurance, you need to think about what would happen if the products you sell, or the tools you use in your trade were damaged or stolen. How would this affect your business and your ability to pay the bills? A Business insurance plan will take care of these losses and take care of lost income while you are replacing items.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Automobiles used to transport items, equipment, or people for a business need special insurance. Businesses incur a larger liability in the event of an accident, and a personal auto policy would not be enough to take care of expenses. When talking with an agent about the different types of commercial auto coverage for your transport cars, think about how many different people drive the vehicles. How many miles are driven and in what type of traffic and weather conditions? What is the value of the goods and equipment being transported? When choosing coverage, you need to make sure you have enough protection to take care of fixing the vehicle, medical expenses for the driver and passengers, and replacement of business items in the car or truck.

Smart business owners will speak with a knowledgeable insurance agent about both business and commercial auto insurance needs. Understanding the differences and making sure you have enough coverage will ensure your business stays on track even if an accident occurs. Speak with one of our agents today.