Electric Cars and Cold Temperatures Don’t Mix

April 16th, 2014

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have begun reaping the advantages of plug-in electric or electric-hybrid vehicles. They can be charged at home, eliminate the need for most or all costly gasoline fill-ups, and help the environment by refraining from spewing pollutants into the air. For many people who drive short distances in urban settings, EVs are a dream come true.

But for those who live in climate-diverse areas of the U.S., electric vehicles can present some bothersome problems.

 

Auto Coverage

 

Extreme Weather = Subpar EV Performance

For example, EV drivers in the northern and eastern states may experience substantial hardships during the winter months. That’s because recent tests conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California revealed that these electric cars severely underperform in colder temperatures. For example, the organization found that while EV batteries drove an average range of 105 miles in 75-degree weather (as is common in southern California), that distance plunged 75% to only 43 miles when the mercury read 20 degrees.

Cold isn’t the sole aggravation for EV drivers. Excessive heat can also reduce how far a plug-in vehicle can travel on a single charge, although not by as much as frigid temps. The same study found that in 95-degree weather, the average battery range was 69 miles, a drop of 33%.

 

Auto Coverage

 

The study tested three different electric vehicles: a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV, a 2013 Nissan Leaf, and a 2014 Ford Focus Electric. After being charged, the cars were driven on a dynamometer (basically, a fancy machine with rollers) in a climate-controlled space until the battery power ran out. Researchers followed the same drive cycles used by the Environmental Protection Agency that help calculate the MPG ratings seen on new vehicle window stickers.

Beware: Range Anxiety

Therefore, if you drive your EV in conditions that are far from optimum, you may not get the mileage out of a charge that you think – which could leave you stranded.

There’s even a name for the unease experienced by EV drivers relating to how far they think their vehicle will travel: range anxiety. While this concept has theoretically been around throughout the age of gas-powered vehicles, the infancy of the EV industry still means that its drivers are learning the ins and outs of owning and driving an electric vehicle. But many an EV driver has faced the fear of his or her EV exhausting its entire battery charge at a spot far away from home or any charging station. This actually happened to famed singer and noted environmentalist Neil Young, whose million-dollar modified 1959 hybrid-electric Lincoln Continental broke down on a highway near the California region of Donner Summit. When this happens, the only option is to call a mobile charging vehicle (AAA operates many of them in California).

 

Auto Coverage

 

Given these new findings, EV drivers are urged to take precautions depending on the weather conditions. Mapping out routes and knowing where public charging stations are located are also very important to prevent roadside maroonings. And always be sure to follow the manufacturers’ guidelines when charging and maintaining plug-in vehicles.

If you happen to lack auto insurance for your hybrid or all-electric vehicle, consider obtaining it from Auto Insurance Specialists. AIS has been providing drivers of all types of vehicles with ample, affordable auto coverage since long before anyone knew what EVs were. For more information, visit the AIS website or call (888)-772-4247.

Written by Chris Martin

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

Californians: Are You Protected From Earthquakes?

April 14th, 2014

While the rest of the country was recovering from harsh winter weather, California is dealing with that horrifying specter which lurks just below the surface of the state (literally): earthquakes.

On the final Friday of March, La Habra residents were jolted by a 5.1-magnitude quake which displaced dozens of people from their homes. Less than two weeks earlier, a 4.4 temblor struck the Encino area and caused minor damage. And both of these events have been accompanied by foreshocks and aftershocks, leading some Californians to speculate about whether a larger earthquake is on the way.

 

Californians are you protected from earthquakes

 

Golden State residents may also be wondering if their home is covered in the event of a major shaker. Chances are, the answer is no: only about 17% of Californians have earthquake insurance.

Myths About Earthquake Insurance

Many people believe that their homeowners’ or renters’ policies cover the damage caused by earthquakes, but that simply isn’t true. Almost every such policy specifically excludes costs related to damage and injuries from earthquakes. Some think that they’re safe since their home has survived all previous earthquakes. But this logic is faulty (and dangerous) given the random occurrence and magnitude of temblors in California.

Others think they can rely on government assistance to help them rebuild. But FEMA and other agencies only provide loans that must be paid back. A few say they would just walk away from their mortgages if their homes were damaged in a quake. Either of these options has the potential to completely wreck anyone’s financial situation and/or credit rating, leaving them buried under a mountain of debt.

The only way to completely protect you from California earthquakes? Purchase an earthquake insurance policy

What is Earthquake Insurance?

 

Californians are you protected from earthquakes

 

Earthquake insurance is usually sold as a rider to a traditional homeowners’ policy. In many cases, the coverage offered in California is through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), a large risk pool created when many carriers stopped offering earthquake coverage of their own. In the event of a claim, you would pay a deductible (usually 10% to 15% of the total damages) above which you would be reimbursed. The components of an earthquake insurance policy include:

  • Dwelling coverage - which pays for the actual damage to your home up to the limits on your homeowners’ policy
  • Personal property coverage - which covers your belongings and possessions in your home that are damaged in a quake
  • Additional living expense coverage - which provides funds to help you defray the costs of living elsewhere while you are displaced from your home
  • Loss of use coverage - which covers you if you are prohibited from reoccupying your home due to safety concerns after an earthquake

It should be noted that earthquake insurance does not cover any damage that’s already falls under the umbrella of another policy like fire, auto, etc. Similarly, these policies don’t cover water damage from quake-related causes, like sewage backups, flooding, or a tsunami (though flood insurance will). If you rent your home, you can still purchase every type of coverage except for dwelling coverage (which will be handled by your landlord).

You Can Afford Earthquake Insurance

Contrary to popular belief, earthquake insurance is quite affordable in California (for an estimated annual premium, use this calculator). Auto Insurance Specialists also sells earthquake coverage, and AIS can help you find a reasonably-priced policy that protects you from financial ruin in the event of a serious quake. So call AIS today at 888-772-4247 or visit the AIS website to request a free quote on earthquake insurance.

Let’s face it: no one (not even geologists) know when or where the next major earthquake will strike California. When it happens, will you be protected?

 

Californians are you protected from earthquakes

 

Written by Chris Martin

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

Why You Shouldn’t Lie to Your Auto Insurer

April 12th, 2014

Almost all of us have heard it since we were kids: “Lying is wrong.”

But in reality, we all fib to some degree, even if it’s just a lie of omission. We tell our co-worker that we like her hideous dress. We tell an inquisitive stranger that we’re fine even when we’re angry. We neglect to mention to the guy at the next table that he has mustard on his face.

So it’s pretty clear that there are certain times when lying is okay (or at least not terrible). However, dishonesty is not a wise approach to take when dealing with your auto insurance company – even though quite a few people think so.

 

Auto Insurer

 

1 in 3 Drivers Lies to Auto Insurers

According to a survey of 2,000 drivers conducted last October by CarInsurance.com, fully 34% of them admitted to lying to their auto insurers, either by providing false information or omitting certain information. About 42% of men admitted to this practice compare to just 27% of women. And drivers under age 30 were about three times more likely than their over-50 counterparts to give inaccurate information to car insurance firms.

The Most Common Falsehoods in Auto Insurance

So what exactly are these fibs about? According to the study, the top four acts of misinformation were:

  • submitting incorrect annual mileage (36.3%)
  • falsely stating where vehicle is parked (32.4%)
  • omitting or falsely identifying the people who have access to the vehicle (25.1%)
  • omitting tickets or accidents on driving history (20.5%)

 

Auto Insurer

 

Between one in five and one in seven drivers also listed other responses such as omitting or lying about gaps in insurance coverage, lying about employing anti-theft devices, submitting a false education level or marital status, or fabricating dates of completion of defensive/refresher driving education courses. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one topic about which they lied.

Why Lie? Money

If you’re a savvy consumer, you probably know the main reason why some people choose to be untruthful about themselves when communicating with their auto insurance carriers: money. More specifically, people think that lying about certain data will enable them to receive a lower insurance premium. More than 63% of those surveyed cited this very reason for lying. It’s interesting to note that 28% said they lied because there was no correct answer to choose from, and that 8.7% justified their actions by claiming to have felt cheated by their insurer in the past.

Caught Lying? You’re in Trouble

However, like in many other situations, lying to your auto insurance company can have serious consequences. After all, you have to pledge in writing that your information is correct, and your auto coverage agreement is as binding as any other contract. So submitting false or inaccurate information can result in the terms of your auto insurance policy being changed or nullified.

Getting back to the study, about two out of every five people who admitted to fibbing said that they were indeed caught in the lie by their carrier. Only two percent of these individuals said that nothing happened as a result. The rest of them?

  • Their insurance claim was denied (33.5%)
  • Their premiums rose (31.5%)
  • Their policy was cancelled altogether (25%)
  • They were sued for fraud by their insurance company (7.6%)

According to the laws in almost every state, an insurer can take any one (or more) of these actions if they discover that their policyholders are lying to them. The moral of the story? People who lie to insurance companies very often get caught; and when they do, they almost always experience some financial hardship and/or hassle as a result.

 

Auto Insurer

 

AIS: The Honest Way to Save Money

Besides, there’s a much easier (and legal) way to reduce the amount of money you’re paying for auto insurance: Auto Insurance Specialists. AIS has been saving drivers money on their premiums for decades, and the savings usually add up to hundreds of dollars per year. So contact AIS today either by phone at (888) 772-4247 or by visiting their website. Not only will you keep some extra money in your pocket, your integrity will remain intact as well.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

 

How to Get Recreational Vehicle Insurance

April 9th, 2014

Quick quiz:

What’s perfect for Americans who love to travel but aren’t fond of planes or boats?

What’s ideal for travelers who enjoy exploring new places and destinations on a single trip, but despise having to pack and unpack?

What’s attractive for folks who love meeting new people when they travel but hate sharing walls with them?

Recreational Vehicle Insurance

By now you know the answer: a recreational vehicle. RVs let you bring your residence with you wherever you decide to go, without worrying about crowded hotels, airport security lines, and wasted money due to eating out all the time. But for those who want to fully embrace the RV lifestyle, they must make sure they are protected in case of an emergency or mishap. That means purchasing recreational vehicle insurance.

RV Policy ≠ Auto Policy

One common misconception about insuring recreational vehicles is that RV coverage is just like standard auto insurance. In reality, even though your current auto insurer may offer to cover your RV, the policy language may not be well-suited to the vehicle’s needs. In contrast, an RV policy not only provides more comprehensive coverage for this special class of vehicles, but it also tends to cost less than regular auto insurance.

Types of Recreational Vehicle Insurance

There are a number of specialized coverages that fall under the umbrella of recreational vehicle insurance. For example, you can purchase what’s known as purchase price coverage, which reimburses you for what you paid for your RV in the event it is totaled or stolen. In these cases, or if your RV requires significant repairs, an emergency expenses policy would cover alternate lodging. If you want to protect everything that’s inside your RV, you can purchase a personal contents policy, or full-timer’s coverage if you live in your RV on a permanent basis. Finally, campsite liability coverage pays for medical bills incurred if you or someone else is injured while on your RV campsite.

 

Recreational Vehicle Insurance

 

RV Insurance: Not Just for Motorhomes

It’s important to note that recreational vehicle insurance isn’t just for true motorhomes. If you have a travel-trailer or fifth wheel, you can purchase either an agreed value policy (which sets coverage limits at a level that you’re comfortable with) or a total loss replacement policy (which replaces a totaled travel trailer with the latest comparable model). Campsite liability and emergency expenses coverages are also available for these types of RVs. You can even purchase insurance for your converted bus – whether it’s an older model, a pre-converted bus, or even a converted school bus.

Let AIS be Your RV Insurance Provider

Auto Insurance Specialists offers a full range of recreational vehicle policies in all of the aforementioned categories. But AIS provides more for its customers than just coverage; they also are available seven days a week for RV owners who need to make a claim, change or alter their coverages, or ask a question about their policy. Finally, AIS is proud to act as an information source for RV owners, providing tips, suggestions, and the latest news about the entire recreational vehicle lifestyle.

And of course, AIS has been saving money for all types of customers for over 40 years. To find out more about any of the RV insurance policies discussed here, visit the AIS website or call 800-449-8943.

 

Recreational Vehicle Insurance

 

Written by Chris Martin

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

Homeowners Insurance Rates: Rising or Falling? (Depends on Your State)

April 5th, 2014

As the years progress, it seems like everything always gets more expensive. It’s certainly the case when you compare today’s prices against those in decades past. But the truth is, Americans have a lot more buying power than they used to. Plus, many things like gasoline, houses, and even commodities tend to vary a lot from month to month and year to year.

Is that the case with homeowners insurance as well? The answer depends on which state you call home.

 

Homeowners Insurance Rates

 

Perr&Knight

Let’s look at a couple of different studies. One was conducted by Perr&Knight and measured the change in insurance premiums for homeowners, renters, and condominium coverage between 2012 and 2013. The Perr&Knight research indicates that on a national basis, homeowners insurance rose by 5.1%. Renters and condo insurance also rose year-over-year, but at a much smaller rate – 2.6% and 2.9%, respectively. All three measures fell near the low end of the average annual rate hikes in their respective categories.

While domicile insurance appears to be rising across the country, the view changes when you look at a state-by-state basis. For instance, North Carolina’s insurance rates jumped drastically from 2012 to 2013, with homeowners insurance rising by 10.1% and both condo and renters insurance surging by a whopping 18.7%. In addition, four other states saw double-digit percentage increases in homeowners premiums: Oklahoma (12.1%), Florida (11%), Kentucky (10.9%), and Kansas (10.3%).

In contrast, two states saw their residential insurance rates go down over that period, with Hawaii’s average homeowners insurance premiums slipped .7%. But another state saw rates drop across the board: California. The Golden State’s homeowners policy rates plunged 3.4%, renters rates fell 1.8%, and condominium rates slid 1.4% last year.

 

Homeowners Insurance Rates

 

HomeInsurance.com

Another study was conducted by HomeInsurance.com, and although its data is more recent, it only chronicles a month-over-month change and does not measure renters or condo insurance. Between January and February of 2014, overall annual homeowners coverage rates slipped just .2%.

But again, the picture is different when you look at particular states. For instance, the five states which revealed the steepest price drops in homeowners insurance were Montana (4.6%), Louisiana (4.4%), New York (4.3%), New Hampshire (3.8%), and New Mexico (2.7%). On the other side of the spectrum, Wisconsin’s homeowners premiums jumped by 4.4% between January and February, which was significantly more than the second-highest rise of 3.4% by Oklahoma. Rounding out the top five in this category were Illinois (2.1%), Alabama (1.7%), and Missouri (1.4%).

It’s Possible To Decrease Your Homeowners Insurance Premium

No matter what state you live in, there are a few ways to reduce how much you pay for homeowners insurance. You can bundle your policy with your auto or life insurance, or you can raise your deductible. Depending on your insurer, you might qualify for discounts if your home has deadbolt locks, smoke detectors, an alarm, or remote monitoring systems.

Another way to minimize your homeowners premium is to contact Auto Insurance Specialists. Not only does AIS help drivers with their car insurance, but they also assist homeowners by finding suitable, affordable policies to help them stay protected against unforeseen calamities. AIS also offers renters and condominium insurance as well. So if you want to lower your homeowners premium without moving to another state, call AIS today at (877) 772-4247 or visit their website at www.AISInsurance.com.

 

Homeowners Insurance Rates

 

Written by Chris Martin

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

Which City Has the Worst Traffic? (Hint: It’s in California)

April 3rd, 2014

People who drive a passenger vehicle in a big city (or even its suburbs), usually have to concern themselves with the scourge of traffic congestion. And if you have ever been in a heavy traffic jam where there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight, it always seems like its the worst traffic in recorded history.

A city in California has the worse traffic.But unless drivers frequently travel throughout the country by car, they probably don’t have much of a sense about where traffic is heavier or lighter than anywhere else. Is there a way to determine which city has the worst traffic conditions?

One company does exactly that – and the top city on their most-congested list probably won’t surprise you.

And the “Worst U.S. Traffic Award Goes to…”

INRIX is a company that focuses on traffic patterns in congestion in all major cities in North America and Europe. Its Traffic Data Archive actually analyzes and interprets real-time traffic data for all urban areas in every quarter hour of every day all year long. The firm then expresses its findings through an INRIX Index which represents more congestion based on how large the number is.

When INRIX analyzed all urban areas in the U.S., the city with the most traffic congestion for 2013 was – you guessed it – Los Angeles.

The City of Angels beat out all other American cities with an INRIX Index of 31.3. LA overtook Honolulu, the second-most congested urban area on the list, to gain the top spot back in May of 2012. Honolulu’s 30.6 index is about 15% higher than San Francisco’s index of 26.6, which is good for the third on the list. Then there’s another large dropoff to the number 4 spot, where Austin comes in with an index of 22.5; followed by a tie between New York and Bridgeport at 20.8. Rounding out the top 10 most congested cities: San Jose (19.4), Seattle (18.8), Boston (17.9), and Washington (16.2).

Is L.A. Traffic the Heaviest in the World?

Here’s another interesting question: how does Los Angeles traffic stack up against major European cities?

The city that has the worst traffic is in California.It turns out that LA is more congested than all European urban areas as well, except for two. Brussels, Belgium notched a 2013 INRIX Index of 33.4; while Milan, Italy was a close second at 33.1. In fact, LA just nudged out another Belgian city, Antwerp (31.3) for the number three spot on the list, followed by Honolulu in fifth place. The last five spots in the Top Ten are: London, England (29.7); San Francisco; Manchester, England (25.5); Paris, France (24.4); and Rotterdam, Netherlands (23.2).

More Traffic = Higher Car Insurance Costs

Not surprisingly, drivers who live in heavily-congested cities tend to pay more for auto insurance. That’s because the more vehicles there are in a given space, the higher the likelihood of collisions. And when the risk of collisions is high, insurers will charge drivers more for their car insurance policies.

Auto Insurance Specialists can help you keep auto insurance costs down by providing you with multiple rate quotes, thereby making insurers compete for your business. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to obtain these quotes, and you can do everything from the comfort of your home computer, telephone or mobile phone.

The city that has the worst traffic is in California.AIS Can Help

So if you think you’re paying too much for auto insurance, consider switching to AIS. It won’t make your daily commute any shorter, but at least you can savor the fact that you’re saving money while you’re stopped in freeway traffic.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implie

Drivers Beware: Texting While Walking Accidents On the Rise

March 30th, 2014

In recent years, people have been bombarded with messages about the dangers of texting while driving. Studies have shown that auto accident risks increase exponentially when a driver tries to use a handheld device to text, surf the web, or perform similar tasks. In fact, such behavior has now been outlawed in 42 states.

But one thing that’s still legal is texting while walking. And believe it or not, this combination is starting to cause problems across the nation.

Beware texting while walking accidents on the rise.21st Century Danger: Texting While Walking

According to research from Ohio State University, from 2004 to 2010 the number of pedestrian injuries that involved mobile phones tripled, even while all pedestrian injuries decreased during the same period. A separate study indicates that out of the 41,000 annual pedestrian injuries that require visits to emergency rooms, some 15% of them involve cellphones. Many of these injuries are caused by a motor vehicle striking a texting pedestrian who isn’t paying attention.

Historically, most pedestrian injuries were concentrated in the elderly, child, and intoxicated populations. But with the advent of mobile phones, the demographics of pedestrian injury victims are changing; with many people between the ages of 16 and 25 years of age reporting pedestrian injuries. What’s more, some experts believe that these figures are underreported, since texting while walking can lead to an injury which many people find embarrassing.

The few attempts across the country to outlaw texting while walking have been met with resistance; and practically speaking, it would probably be a difficult law to enforce. Therefore, many safety advocates are finally beginning to raise awareness about this issue. They are encouraging pedestrians to stop walking while sending or reading texts, or to use voice commands to operate their smartphones. There are even some digital apps that can lower the odds of injuries while texting and walking, such as one which utilizes smartphone cameras to help pedestrian watch for obstacles in front of them.

Texting while walking accidents are on the rise.Why Drivers Should Care About Pedestrians Texting While Walking

So if you’re a driver, what does this rise in texting while walking accidents mean to you?

The most important thing is to be extra cautious when driving in areas where there are a lot of pedestrians. This is especially true near schools, on college campuses, and in entertainment districts that cater to young adults; these areas tend to have higher concentrations of walkers who are more at risk for texting while walking accidents.

However, such pedestrian behavior may also have an effect on your auto insurance. If someone is paying attention to their phone and not where they are walking, they could walk out in front of your moving vehicle. In some cases, the collision may obviously be the pedestrian’s fault (such as crossing against the light at an intersection). But many other times, it may not be apparent (or provable in court) that the pedestrian was solely to blame.

As a result, your insurance company may be required to pay for some (or even all) of the medical bills associated with injuries to pedestrians. That’s largely because texting while walking is not illegal, and courts often tend to side with a person who has been injured by a moving vehicle. And if your insurer has to pay an injury claim, your future premiums could go up.

Beware Drivers, texting while walking accidents are on the rise.To minimize the risk of striking an oblivious pedestrian holding a cellphone, keep scanning the sidewalks for wayward pedestrians, use your horn to alert them if necessary, and lower your speed to give you more time to react if one should step out in front of you. As for lowering your auto insurance rate (for any reason), check out Auto Insurance Specialists to compare rate quotes. AIS has years of experience in saving drivers hundreds of dollars per year on their auto insurance.

Letting AIS lower your auto insurance costs is a smart thing to do – unlike texting and walking.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

How Insurers Estimate Auto Repair Costs

March 26th, 2014

Auto accidents are a part of the practice of driving. Even the most careful drivers can make a mistake, or simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time when someone else strikes their vehicle. Damages can range anywhere from a dented fender to a totaled car.

That’s why smart drivers always carry ample auto insurance. If they cause an accident, the insurer will pick up the tab for repairs to the victimized vehicle (or property). If their own vehicle is damaged and they’ve purchased the right coverage , their policy will cover repair costs.

How Insurers estimate auto repair costs.

This begs the question: how exactly do auto insurance companies determine the amount of money to pay out for vehicle repairs?

What Happens When You File an Insurance Claim?

While the specifics of the process can vary from insurer to insurer, the basic procedure is usually the same. The insurance company determines what parts and components need to be repaired or replaced, and then it arrives at a figure which is designed to cover the necessary costs. Then the insurer makes arrangements with a repair facility to carry out the required work, and either pays the shop directly or issues a check to the policyholder (minus the deductible, of course).

How do insurers figure out what repair or replacement work needs to be done? Many companies employ appraisers to go out and look at the specific vehicles. Often, they’ll allow repair facilities to handle that function. In some cases, photos submitted by the vehicle owner will suffice.

Insurance Repair Cost Estimates

As far as assigning dollar amounts to parts or repairs, these particular methods differ by company. Some utilize what is known as a Mitchell Manual to estimate the costs of new parts and components. A Mitchell Manual (which used to be a fat catalog, but is now an electronic file) contains the exact cost of every object that goes in or on every kind of vehicle in use today. The document also has information on the type and amount of labor needed to repair or replace a given part.

After estimating labor costs per hour and any other related fees, the insurer arrives at a total amount of money which it will pay out to have a vehicle restored to its original condition before the collision (or as close as is practical). Of course, an insurance firm won’t pay out more than the monetary limits stipulated in the owner’s policy.

What Does “Totaling” Mean?

Sometimes, an insurance company will “total” a vehicle if it has been seriously damaged in a collision. Totaling a vehicle simply means that the insurer’s cost estimates to fix a damaged vehicle exceed the current market value (or a predetermined percentage of that value) of the vehicle itself. For example, if a ten-year old sedan with a Kelly Blue Book value of $4,000 will require $5,000 worth of replacement parts, the insurance company will elect to total the car. When this happens, the owner receives an amount equal to the value of the vehicle prior to the accident.

Ask Your Insurer

If you have any questions about how your insurer estimates repair costs, ask your agent or insurance company representative. It’s also wise to check with these individuals before you make any major changes to your auto insurance policy. If you aren’t satisfied with your current auto insurer for any reason, Auto Insurance Specialists can help you find a suitable, affordable policy that fits your needs and desires. Just call AIS today at 888-772-4247 or visit our website to get a rate quote within minutes.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

7 Tips on Getting High-Risk Auto Insurance in California

March 23rd, 2014

America is a place where people are encouraged to take chances. Maybe you’re one of these intrepid individuals who starts their own business, tries an exotic food, or faces their fear by doing something daring.

Defining a high risk driver in CaliforniaTaking risks is part of what being an American is all about. But being a high-risk driver isn’t. Not only does it put your safety and that of others in jeopardy, but it also makes getting auto insurance pretty expensive — or even nearly impossible.

Defining a High-Risk Driver in California

What exactly is a high-risk driver? In California, this term tends to describe people who have several of the following factors:

  • been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • just started driving (like teenagers)
  • modified their vehicles for improved performance
  • purchased a rare or very fast vehicle
  • received multiple moving violations
  • been involved in multiple collisions
  • filed multiple insurance claims

When auto insurance companies see these red flags pop up, what typically follows in a higher auto insurance premium, sometimes by a factor of two or three. And on occasion, your insurance company might even cancel your coverage altogether.

High-Risk Auto Insurance Is Within Your Reach

If you fall under the category of "high risk driver" you still may be able to reduce your auto insurance rate.So what should you do if you fall under the category of “high-risk driver?” First, don’t let the label get to you, because you still may be able to reduce your auto insurance rates. Here are eight suggestions:

1. Scour the marketplace. Don’t assume that your current insurer will give you the best rate. Shop around and ask different insurers for coverage quotes. Many auto insurance companies specialize in covering high-risk drivers, so they might be able to give you a reasonable premium.

2. Check your driving record. Make sure that there’s nothing on there that is hurting you because it isn’t resolved. This means paying outstanding tickets and confirming that everything is accurate and up to date.

3. Review your coverage. One way to trim costs is to review your insurance coverages with your agent.  Just be sure you fully understand the coverage.

4. Raise your deductible. If you’re willing to pay more each time you file a claim, your insurance company will respond by lowering your premiums. So consider a deductible of $500 or $1,000 instead of $250 or $100.

5. Add a driver to your policy. Partner up with relatives in your household with good driving records by adding them and their vehicles. You’ll benefit by paying a lower rate on a combined policy.

6. Change your vehicle. If possible, choose a different (and safer) vehicle to drive. Or you can remove or reverse any vehicle modifications you made that are designed to make your car faster or more “tricked out.”

7. Search for other discounts. Insurers offer discounts for everything from belonging to a trade group to being in school to banking at a certain institution. So ask us to see if you qualify for any of these price breaks.

Ready to start comparing auto insurance rates? The best place to start is with Auto Insurance Specialists. We partner with dozens of carriers in California and can quickly provide you with multiple quotes for auto coverage — even high-risk auto insurance. Contact AIS today. It’s the least risky way to shop for auto insurance.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

10 Things That Could Make Your California Auto Insurance Plan Invalid

March 20th, 2014

Auto Insurance Companies Can Choose Whether or not They Wish to Insure YouThese days, drivers in California have more options than ever before when it comes to auto insurance. Not only are there over a hundred companies from which auto insurance can be purchased, but finding insurers, comparing rates and coverage, and signing up for insurance is easier than ever before with rate comparison websites such as AISInsurance.com.

But this “culture of choices” goes both ways. In other words, auto insurance companies can choose whether or not they wish to insure you. Moreover, these insurers can elect to declare your policy null and void under certain conditions — which can sometimes leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

Here are ten actions that can cause an auto insurer to invalidate or cancel your policy.

1. Nonpayment of premiums. California doesn’t mess around with people who don’t pay their premiums. Under state law, auto insurers need only provide ten days notice before cancelling a policy for nonpayment of insurance premiums.

2. Personal vs. business use. Standard auto insurance policies cover you if you drive for pleasure, errands, trips, and work commutes. But if you’re actually using your vehicle as part of your business (making sales calls doesn’t count), then you need to inform your insurer.

3. Lying about your address. It’s not uncommon for people to claim they live in a different zip code or at a phony address (in safer areas of town, usually) in order to qualify for a lower rate.

4. Fibbing about where you park at night. If you park on the street or in a parking lot but tell your insurance company that your car stays safely in a locked garage overnight, you may put your coverage at risk if your car is stolen.

5. Fraud. This comes in many forms, like reporting your car as stolen or setting it on fire to collect the insurance money. Not only will an insurer refuse to pay fraudulent claims, but you could also face criminal charges as well.

6. Lying about a vehicle’s “main driver.” An example is if parents buy a car for their teen driver and say it’s actually driven primarily by one or both parents. This helps lower premiums for the teen driver, but it also puts the coverage in jeopardy of being cancelled.

7. Intentionally damaging your vehicle. This seems intuitive: if you crash your car on purpose and file a claim on your collision policy, it’s fraud. But this rule can also apply to damages related to certain criminal charges, like reckless driving, or sometimes even road rage.

8. Making modifications to your vehicle. If you plan on tricking out your car’s engine, adding high-performance wheels, or putting in a turbo charger, talk to your insurance agent first. Otherwise, you could find your coverage voided if you get into a wreck.

9. Driving impaired. Your liability policy will cover damage or medical costs to people you injured while driving under the influence. But your collision claim can be denied if you’re convicted of DUI in connection with a crash.

10. Leaving your keys in the ignition or your vehicle unlocked. Many policies include language which invalidates your policy if your car is stolen under these circumstances. So lock your doors and take your keys every time.

A good way to be sure you understand the conditions of your insurance policy is to work with a reputable insurance agent like Auto Insurance Specialists. We have plenty of experience in answering questions about the conditions of auto insurance policies, as well as finding affordable rates for all types of California drivers.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.