Auto Insurance

Basic Car Insurance Policy Coverage

Insurance.com recently conducted a survey that was completed by 500 drivers.  The survey was comprised of ten multiple-choice questions about coverages offered in car insurance policies.  Results showed that, on average, each respondent was only able to answer three questions correctly.

Based on the results it is highly likely that drivers are making mistakes when deciding how much coverage they want when purchasing an auto insurance policy.  Especially if they opt for policies online (which are increasing in popularity) as they may not be getting needed guidance from a miami auto insurance agent.

When they compared answers given by men and women, women answered 35% of the questions correctly while the men only answered 27% correctly.  Respondents that claimed to have read their entire policy got a score of 28% while those that say they have never read it had an average of 35%.  The lowest average score came from drivers claiming to have excellent car insurance while the highest average score of 39% came from 40+ drivers.

Two questions asked were ‘What does comprehensive coverage pay for? (check all that apply)’ and ‘What does collision coverage pay for (check all that apply)’?  Both questions had the same options to choose from for their answer:
a. Damage to my car if I crash it
b. Damage to my car if an object falls on it, like a tree
c. Damage to my car if I hit an animal, like a deer
d. Damage to my car from a flood
e. Property damage to others if I cause a crash
f. Injuries to passengers in my own car
g. Theft of my car

Only 2% answered the comprehensive coverage question correctly by answering with options b, c, d, and g.  On average, deductibles for comprehensive were $100 in 2003 and increased to an average of $126.40 in 2010, according to a study done by Mitchell International.  They have a theory that drivers may prefer to pay a little bit more for possible comprehensive claims than they would for claims filed for collision damage, which had a deductible increase of $100 to $110.25 from 2003 to 2010.

Speaking of collision damage, the question asking what does your policy pay for when it comes to collision damage, 23% answered correctly by choosing option a.  Even if there are drivers that have never been involved in an accident, nobody is immune… including our favorite celebrities, with some of them seeming to be almost accident prone.

A third question was ‘What are the typical discounts auto insurance companies will offer if you qualify? (check all that apply)’.  The options that they had to choose from were:
a. Low mileage
b. Using garage for vehicle
c. Anti-lock brakes
d. Anti-theft devices
e. “Good student” discount for a grade point average of 3.0 or higher
f.  Lane-departure warning system
g. “Mature driver” (over 55) defensive driving course

7% of the respondents answered correctly with options a, c, d, e, and g.  These are good discounts to have but there could be others.  Aside from these typical discounts, car insurance companies may have discounts you have never heard of and non-typical discounts might differ depending on your car insurance company.

A fourth question was ‘What factors can car insurance companies typically use when setting rates for full coverage? (check all that apply)’.  The options that they had to choose from were:
a. Your age
b. Your gender
c. Your address
d. The length of your daily commute
e. Your occupation
f.  Your credit history
g. Your past accidents
h. Tickets you have received
i.  The model of your car
j.  The year of your car
k. The color of your car

8% answered correctly with options a – j.  Like it or not, it seems that everything but the color of your car is taken into account when an auto insurance policy is being compiled.  On a happier note, with discounts based on car models, the 2013 Ford Edge SE was ranked by Insure.com as the cheapest vehicle to insure.  Other more affordable cars to insure are Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium, Kia Sportage, and Jeep Patriot Sport.

A fifth question was ‘What does uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pay for? (check all that apply)’.  The options given for this question were:
a. Claims you make even if you have been late paying your premium
b. Car damage to someone you hit who does not have insurance
c. Bodily injury to you and your passenger(s) if your car is hit by someone without insurance
d. Bodily injury to you and your passenger(s) if your car is hit by a hit-and-run driver

14% answered this question correctly with options c and d.  Some might want to choose option b but if the uninsured or underinsured driver is not found to be at fault for the accident, then the UM coverage does not apply.  When considering how much UM coverage to have make sure that you understand the use of that coverage.  Also, do not let the agent tell you how much coverage they think you should have as they could specify a number lower or higher than you may need.

The remaining five questions, their multiple-choice options, the answers (italicized), and the percentage of how many answered correctly are below.

6. What does auto liability insurance pay for? (check all that apply) – 26% answered correctly
a. Damage to my car if I crash it
b. Damage to my car if an object falls on it, like a tree
c. Damage to my car if I hit an animal, like a deer
d. Damage to my car from a flood
e. Property damage to others if I cause a crash
f.  Injuries to passengers in my own car
g. Theft of my car

7. What does Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments coverage pay for? (check all that apply) – 41% answered correctly
a. Damage to my car if I crash it
b. Damage to my car if an object falls on it, like a tree
c. Damage to my car if I hit an animal, like a deer
d. Damage to my car from a flood
e. Property damage to others if I cause a crash
f.  Injuries to passengers in my own car
g. Theft of my car

8. If your car is totaled, what does gap insurance pay for? (Select One) – 55% answered correctly
a. The difference between the “actual cash value” of the vehicle and the amount owed on a car loan
b. The difference between the “actual cash value” of the vehicle and the amount you paid for the car
c. The difference between the amount owed on a car loan and the amount you paid for the car

9. If a friend told you she has liability limits of 25/50/40, what does that mean? (Select One) – 69% answered correctly
a. $25,000 for damage to her own car, $50,000 for damage to someone else’s car, $40,000 for bodily injury payments
b. $25,000 for bodily injury to one person in an accident, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, $40,000 for property damage
c. $25,000 if someone else’s car is totaled, $50,000 if her car is totaled, $40,000 for injury payments
d. $25,000 for bodily injury to her own passengers, $50,000 for damage to her car, $40,000 for damage to someone else’s car

10. If a friend borrows your car and crashes it, whose insurance pays? (Select One) – 71% answered correctly
a. Your friend’s insurance
b. Your own insurance

It is unknown how many people opt for car insurance purely because it is illegal to drive without it and do not pay enough attention to what they are, or are not, actually covered for.  The more you know about your car insurance policy, the better off you are in your ability to make decisions regarding how much coverage you have.  If you have any questions about what was asked in the survey or about your own car insurance, feel free to give us a call at 305-270-2100.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Rental Car Insurance In Miami

Making sure that a rental car is properly insured may not be an easy decision for some people.  It does not help that a lot of people arrive at the rental company before thinking about it.  Not being prepared can cause renters to get coverage they do not need or gaps in coverage.  Before renting, it is recommended that you speak with your car insurance agent and, if you pay with a credit card, your credit card company.

1. Your auto insurance agent

You need to know what coverage you have on any vehicles you own.  Many times, your coverage in your car insurance policy goes with you when you rent.  If you use the rental for business, though, that may not be the case.

If you have removed one or both of two coverages (comprehensive and collision) to help lower your auto insurance premium, then your car insurance policy will not be able to offer you any coverage if someone steals your rental or if it becomes involved in an accident.

You may also want to find out if your car insurance company helps you pay for towing charges, loss of use and/or administrative fees.  There are companies that have insurance riders available to their insureds to help them cover some of those expenses, and it can be cheaper than acquiring coverage via the rental company.  However, a lot of insurers do not cover diminished value, which happens after a vehicle is damaged in an accident and then repaired.

2. Your credit card company

Which bank you have your credit card with and/or your credit card company effect which insurance benefits are available to you.  Even your credit card level may be a factor.  A platinum level card may come with better insurance coverage than a card with a silver or gold level.

Typically, credit cards only provide coverage if a rented vehicle is lost or damaged.  There may not be any coverage available for possessions, other cars or items that belong to others.  The credit card may also lack coverage for any liability in the event that anybody gets hurt or dies.  It is possible that there could be some coverage for having your rental towed, but it is unlikely that you would have any coverage in regards to administrative fees or if the car has a diminished value.  Knowing what coverage you have through your credit card is important so that you do not accidentally assume you have more or less coverage than you actually do.

Credit cards have a toll-free number on the back that you can use to inquire about what you are covered for and how much coverage you have.  If you are thinking of depending on what you have through your credit card, it would be wise to request that they send you a printed copy of their coverage information.  Usually, any benefits available to you through your credit card would be secondary to your car insurance policy or any insurance you purchase from the rental company.

If you happen to have multiple credit cards, you could call each to find out which one offers you the best level of protection.

3. At the rental company

Insurance is regulated on a state level so your coverage and how much it costs may vary.  Renters, though, usually have the following coverages to choose from:

a. Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
Technically, this is not insurance.  It does, though, help “waive” all or some of the financial responsibility if the rental is stolen or becomes damaged.  In a lot of cases, there is coverage for “loss of use”, which is when the renter is charged by the rental company for time a damaged car cannot be used.  There also might be coverage for administrative fees and towing.

However, any waiver may be voided if speeding, driving on non-paved roads or drinking while driving led to an accident.  If your car insurance policy has coverage for comprehensive and collision, call your insurance agent to ensure you do not pay for something you already have.  LDWs tend to cost somewhere from $9 to $19 per day.

b. Liability Insurance
Rental companies are required by law to provide at least the minimum amount of insurance set by the state.  But, that amount tends to be low and provide little protection.  If your car insurance policy has a better level of protection, then you could go without.  The extra insurance may cost $7 to $14 per day.

What could be more cost-effective is an umbrella liability policy.  This coverage sits on top of your insurance for your car and/or home and provides extra protection, like when you have an accident in your car or in a rental.  This policy may cost $200 – $300 for one year of $1,000,000 of coverage.  Additional coverage is added in million dollar increments and could cost $50 to $100 for each additional million.

For anybody that does not own a car yet frequently rents vehicles could look into getting a non-owner liability policy.  It provides liability protection when renting a vehicle or when driving a borrowed car.

c. Personal Accident Insurance
In the event of an accident and injuries occur, this offers coverage to you and any passengers for medical bills and costs for an ambulance.  Per day this could cost about $1 – $5, but if you have good health insurance or you have personal injury protection through a personal car insurance policy, you may not need it.

d. Personal Effects Coverage
This comes into play if anything you own is stolen from the rental.  This may not be needed if you have off-premises theft coverage on a home insurance policy or a renters policy that would cover costs minus your deductible.  Otherwise, this coverage could be $1 to $4 per day.

If you are a frequent traveler and take expensive items with you, look into getting a personal articles floater under the insurance policy for your home.  This floater protects valuables while at home or while traveling anywhere in the world.

4. Other things to consider

Age matters.  States have age requirements and rental companies have their own age requirement which may differ from the state.  Some rental companies may also look into your driving and/or credit history so check with them before arriving to pick up the vehicle.

If you will be leaving the country, call your car insurance agent and a travel agent (if used) to see what you need to do if not already adequately insured.  For example, rising crime rates in Mexico are a concern for rental car companies and it might be difficult to rent a car to get there.  The minimum insurance requirement for Mexico is civil liability insurance in case you cause damage or become injured.  Our liability insurance is invalid in Mexico when it comes to bodily injury, although some policies may cover physical damage.  But, do put in a call to your Miami insurance agent to confirm what coverages do and do not go with you to Mexico.  Some towns near the border offer Mexican rental car insurance in case you want to be as protected as possible.

Note: If traveling abroad and want to rent a car, some countries may require an international driver’s license.

Vehicles are rented every day whether it be for business or personal use.  When it comes to being protected, not everything may be affordable but it is important to do what you can.  In most cases the majority of people that rent a vehicle may not have any accidents, cause any property damage or have their vehicle stolen but the future is always an unknown and it is better to have insurance coverage and not need it than to need insurance coverage and not have it.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Reasons to Buy Car Insurance

Buying your first car is always a happy occasion. But if you thought that your job is done after buying the car, you are quite wrong. Immediately after buying a car, you must think of getting auto insurance. There are many reasons to buy car insurance. Car insurance is your car’s protection against any financial loss. It is an agreement between you and the insurance company that while you pay the premiums on time, they pay for all your losses, as mentioned in the policy.

Though getting car insurance should be on any car owner’s do-to-list, unfortunately not many find it important. If you are still wondering why your car needs to be insured, here are a few reasons to buy car insurance.

In case your car meets with an accident or it gets stolen, the car insurance coverage gives you all the money you need to repair or fix it.

If during an accident, you or any of the passengers gets injured, the insurance covers the medical costs for you. It must be remembered that medical costs tend to get very expensive.

Not only is an insurance a prudent financial decision, but it is also mandatory in several states.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Texting And Driving is Illegal In Florida

On October 1, 2013, Florida became the 41st state to ban texting while driving, which is distracting enough to be responsible for 18% of fatalities involving a vehicle.  Due to the new ban anyone caught texting and driving may have greater financial consequences because they will be charged with 2 moving violations and, as a result, their auto insurance premium may increase.

4 of the 41 states prohibiting texting and driving have a law that makes it a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement has to also bare witness to a different traffic infarction.  A driver pulled over for violating another traffic law and also seen texting on their cell phone, may end up with more than one ticket: the first one for the traffic violation and the second for texting.

Moving violations have varying degrees of severity and each one has a number of points.  The lowest amount of points is 3 while the highest is 6 points.  The first time a driver is caught texting and driving it counts against them as a nonmoving violation with a $30 penalty, not counting any court fees.  If there is a second occurrence of driving and texting within 5 years it is seen as a moving violation and 3 points are put on their driver’s license.  (Note: 12 points in 1 year gets a license suspended for 30 days, 24 points in 36 months will get a license suspended for a full year.)

Lynne McChristian, a representative in Florida for I.I.I. (Insurance Information Institute) says that, “Drivers who break traffic laws get ticketed for things like speeding, running red lights and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—and now texting while driving is also illegal.  It’s a cost that is easily controlled by putting the phone down, focusing on driving and following the intent of the law, which is to save lives, prevent crashes and make roads safer.”

On top of prohibiting texting and driving, the new ban puts 6 points on a driver’s license for an accident that is a direct result of using one’s cell phone while driving.  In addition, if a driver is inside a school safety zone and is caught in a moving violation, illegal use of their mobile phone will result in 2 points being added to their driver’s license plus any points from the moving violation.

A government website dedicated to distracted driving information and how to avoid it said that drivers that text while driving are at a much greater risk of getting into a car crash.  According to McChristian, “Anything that test your mind off driving, even for a few seconds, can certainly have deadly consequences.  Thinking ahead about financial consequence may be added incentive for driving to put the phone down and keep both eyes on the road.”

Here are 10 tips to avoid getting distracted while driving
1. Turn the phone off or turn the volume all the way down before getting in your vehicle.  You could also place it somewhere, like the glove box, to remove easy access to the device.
2. Use a recorded message saying you are driving and will call them back when you are not driving, or sign up for a service with a feature that will do the same.
3. If you are driving and you need to make a call that can’t wait, safely pull off the road and then make the call.
4. If there are passengers in your car, ask them to please make a call for you or respond to a received text.
5. Please refrain from texting, using the Internet or reading e-mail on your phone while driving.  Even using voice-to-text comes with its share of risks.
6. Stay up-to-date with local and state laws before getting behind the wheel.  Talking on a cell phone may also be prohibited in your state or a state where you may be vacationing.
7. Should you need to use a GPS device, please provide your destination before you start driving.  Or, if you will be using a map or written directions, familiarize yourself with them ahead of time.  Unless you have someone with you in the car for help, please pull off the road if you need to check your GPS or map/directions.
8. Pets can be a distraction so make sure they are secured in your vehicle.
9. In the event that you have kids with you and there is a situation you need to address, please pull over first.
10. Trying to do more than just driving while behind the wheel is not safe.  Please refrain from drinking, grooming, eating, smoking, reading, and anything else that takes your full attention away from the road.

Whether speaking with a friend, family member or business client, a lot of people may be on the phone for a good portion of the day.  With the continued (and growing) use of the phone, that time has spilled over into the time we are behind the wheel of a car.  It is not easy to admit it, but no individual can be on the phone and not be dividing their attention between driving and the subject of their conversation.  There are so many accidents and fatalities on the road that we ask you to please be as safe as possible while on the road.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Cell Phone Use While Driving

AAA conducted a study that found it is more distracting to use voice-to-text messaging in your car than it is to make a call on your handheld cell phone.  Different activities were tested to find out how much mental distraction each one has.  Listening to music or a book on tape was “small”, talking with a passenger or someone over the phone was “medium” and texting someone verbally while driving was “large”.

You can see in car commercials that voice-based messaging is being advertised as safer than the alternative and millions of cars worldwide are being shipped with that technology… but it may create a scenario where one problem is solved while another one is created.

The technology may have its advantages but AAA’s study results are fueling Deborah Hersman’s, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), call to have any phone conversation (hands-free or not) banned while behind the wheel.  Ray LaHood, Outgoing Transportation Secretary, is asking drivers to place their phones in the glove box while operating a vehicle but has not commented on systems like Sync and Entune, which accept verbal commands from drivers.

In the study AAA had drivers, most of them 20 – 39, partake in activities such as talking on a phone and listening to music.  They started off by doing the tasks in a lab, then in a simulator and then finally while driving on a residential street.  To find what was most distracting, their reaction times and brainwave activity were recorded with special caps they wore on their heads and measured by researchers.

When being tested on the road, the study participants drove a Subaru Outback that was decked out with a back seat researcher to record response times, computers and cameras.  For tests involving a cell phone they had a phone from Samsung but a hands-free device was used instead of a voice activated system in the car.

The participants were unaware but a possible variable was controlled by the researchers.  They had the drivers text manually instead of verbally.  This was done so that no voice recognition software error could cause an additional distraction of corrections needing to be made by the driver.

Our state, Florida, became the 41st to ban driving with a handheld phone.  So far, though, none of the states have looked at distractions from voice controls and U.S. regulators are not asking them to.  The NTSB is able to give recommendations for safety changes but they do not have any regulatory power.

The department Lahood works in issued non-binding guidelines in April of this year requesting that car makers block the ability to browse the Internet or use social media sites through a vehicle’s infotainment system while the car is not parked.

Car manufacturers have also been urged to create screen-based infotainment systems so that a driver does not need to look away from the road for more than 2 seconds when making a selection, or for a total of 12 seconds when doing something like inputting an address.

AAA’s research results were released earlier this month but there was another study, with results released in April, that found texting manually on a cell phone to be just as distracting as hands-free texting.  In this study conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute the drivers, while on a closed course, would send texts manually and hands-free with either Siri on an Apple phone or Vlingo on an Android phone.

Whether manually or verbally, reaction times while texting were almost twice as slow when not texting and verbal texts actually took longer to complete than those that were manually typed in.

It has been said by automakers that if infotainment systems are limited then it may cause drivers to go back to using their handheld device.  Whether this is true or not, AAA is asking car manufacturers and suppliers of electronics to work with the technology and assess its distractions.

Compared to how long cars have been around, voice- and touch- activated systems are new.  There is a lot that can be done with them but there must be a happy medium allowing drivers to have all of the features while still being safe on the road with good reaction times.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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