Well, to put it bluntly– yes. Yes, your rates are probably going to go up after an accident. I know — you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. Anyone who tells you differently is either afraid to tell you the truth, or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
To understand why rates go up after an accident or claim, you first need to have at least a general understanding of how insurance companies determine their rates to begin with. Trust me, it’s not as cut and dry as you think.
There are multiple layers and variables that go into an insurance rate and different insurance carriers can weigh those variables differently when establishing their pricing.
Clients ask me this question all the time, and as much as it frustrates me sometimes, honestly, I can understand where the insurance company is coming from.
Insurance companies set their price based on a very particular set of facts, risks, and other circumstances at a given moment (when you initially apply for insurance)–loss history being a major one .
Once that set of circumstances or risks changes for the worse, is it not fair that the price can change too?
If you were going to rent your car to a complete stranger, wouldn’t you want to know as much as possible about them before handing over the keys? I know, you’re thinking “I wouldn’t lend my car to a complete stranger Chris”. But if you did, you would at least want to know how their driving history is.
I bet if they had accidents in their past, you’d be more cautious about letting them rent your car. You would almost certainly want to charge them more to rent it right? And if you rented it to them and they crashed it, you would probably want to charge them double the next time (if there is a next time) because now the level of risk has increased.
That’s basically what insurance companies do. They legally represent strangers. All of the risk is on them. The only thing they can set their rate off of is this set of facts and circumstances, because they don’t know much else about you. That’s the brutal truth about the situation.
So how much will my rates go up?
This depends on several things. Insurance companies generally have certain thresholds that will trigger a surcharge.
For example: if you get into an auto accident and your insurance carrier pays out more than a certain amount (in this example we’ll use $1,450) they can by terms of the policy, surcharge your policy.
Take a close look at your policy, it will tell you exactly what that threshold is, and also other information about rate penalties, so make sure you take a hard look at that. It also depends on what else you have on your loss history.
If it was your first accident or claim in a while, the insurance carrier may take it easy on you, but if you’ve had multiple claims in a short period of time (1-3 years), you can expect an increase, and possibly a big one.
The problem with this is, you could end up being stuck with that insurance company. A person’s knee jerk reaction when their rate increases is to shop around and try to change carriers to obtain a better rate. That’s not guaranteed to work though, because now, you have a “history” of losses that other insurance companies can see, and use to determine your rates too.
In other words, you can run, but you can’t hide!
As mentioned earlier, many things go into a rate but one of the most common reasons your rate might go up after an accident is that if you are accident/claim free when you start with a new company, you will get a “loss-free” discount.
If you get into an accident or file a claim, the first thing that happens is that discount will disappear when your policy renews, so your premium won’t be as low as it was before the claim. It’s not necessarily that the insurance carrier is increasing your rate, but that your losing a discount that was keeping the rate lower. Make sense?
Either way, the rate goes up, but it’s nice to understand exactly what is triggering the increase.
It’s also important to know about your loss history reports. This is huge!
For auto insurance there are two different reports–CLUE and MVR. The CLUE report shows any type of accidents and/or damage claims. The MVR shows any moving violations like speeding tickets or red light infractions.
Ideally you want these reports to be as clean as possible because anything that’s one either one, even if the accident was not your fault, is going to show up, and will almost always change the rate.
These reports function almost exactly like a credit report would. Any little thing that shows up on the report can alter your credit score, or in this case your insurance premium(s), so you have to keep it as “clean” as possible!
I counsel people all the time, that if the accident wasn’t your fault, try submitting the claim through the at-fault party’s insurance company if possible. Most of the time people get inpatient or afraid, and contact their own company to initiate repairs, not knowing that eventually it can effect their future rates, even if it wasn’t their fault.
What about accident forgiveness?
Of course, there is this thing called “accident forgiveness” which many insurance companies have made you believe is some free feature that they just give you out of the kindness of their heart. What many people don’t know is that it’s not free.
You have to pay extra for accident forgiveness (if you want it ahead of time).
Think about that for a second: you have to pay an insurance company an extra amount over and above your base rate so they don’t charge you extra if you get into an accident? Well of course they won’t charge you extra after an accident because they’ve already been charging you extra the whole time you’ve had accident forgiveness. Make sense?
If you have accident forgiveness, you are basically pre-paying your rate increase ahead of time.
I bet you never thought of it that way have you?
What happens if you don’t get into an accident though? You have handed over extra cash for no reason. You could say the same thing about insurance in general, and it’s true that the cost for accident forgiveness coverage isn’t substantial, but over time, just like anything else, it adds up, and if you’re not using, it’s wasteful.
Kind of like my gym membership I guess??
If however you don’t purchase accident forgiveness up front, you can still get it for free if you’re a good driver. Most insurance carriers will automatically forgive your first loss if you’ve been claims-free for 3-5 consecutive years prior to your claim. That time frame depends on the company, but it is specified in your policy if you want to take a look.
So how do you avoid your rates going up? It’s simple: be more careful driving.
Keep your loss history reports as clean as possible. Don’t file small claims–that’s not the point of insurance anyway.
It’s one thing if you total a car, or lightning hits your house, but if a piece of siding blows off your house, or you chip your windshield, you may want to think twice before calling your insurance company.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have any questions or comments so be sure to leave them below in the comment section!
Whether today, tomorrow, or in 10 years, no one has control over when the next big earthquake will strike, but we do have control of how we protect ourselves, our assets, and our future. We have found that many people still have certain misconceptions about earthquake insurance and where they can turn to for financial support in the aftermath of a destructive earthquake.
We’re here to provide information on earthquake coverage so that you can learn about what earthquake insurance can do for you and your family in the event of a potential major earthquake.
Here are the top 3 misconceptions that people still have about Earthquake Coverage and what you need to know:
#1 – My homeowners/renters/condo policy will cover the cost to repair damages and replace personal possessions.
Earthquake and flood damage are excluded under these policies unless a separate policy is purchased. If you don’t have the added protection of earthquake insurance, will you have enough to pay for repair and replacement costs out of pocket?
Think about the value of your assets and consider how you will pay to repair and replace these items if they are damaged during an earthquake.
An earthquake policy will provide coverage for:
#2 – Earthquake Insurance is too expensive so it’s not worth it for me. If there’s an earthquake, I can worry about it then.
For many years after the Northridge earthquake, earthquake policies were expensive and very inflexible. Now with additional deductible and coverage options from insurance companies, policies are more customizable than ever and can be designed to better fit your coverage and financial needs.
You may be surprised to hear that there are deductible options as low as 5% of the dwelling coverage limit, as well as options for separate personal property deductibles.
Are you most concerned about how you will pay for additional living expenses if you’re not able to live in your home or condo after an earthquake? You can focus on loss of use coverage with options from $1,500 up to $100,000.
The ability to customize earthquake policies has made earthquake insurance a valuable product that is worth the investment.
#3 – The government will provide aid if I’m affected by an earthquake so I don’t need to worry about having money to rebuild.
Yes, the government will typically offer federal aid to those affected by natural disasters. However, keep in mind that the money will be in the form of loans, which you will need to pay back.
It is risky to rely on federal aid. You must meet their qualifications to apply and there is no actual guarantee that you will receive any payout. Be prepared to wait for weeks to hear back. If you are lucky enough to receive funds, they might not cover the costs that you need to repair and replace what you have lost.
If you have earthquake coverage, you will have faster access to funds to help you back on your feet.
It’s time to get serious about preparing for a major earthquake. Having the foresight to invest in earthquake insurance will allow you the comfort of returning to normal life faster than someone without coverage.
Ask us about getting a complementary earthquake coverage assessment and we’ll help you prepare for tomorrow. Give us a call at (805) 410-4102.
Life Insurance is a scary subject. Why? Because it means we have to talk about the inevitability of death. But here’s why it’s important to talk about it.
How many times have we been invited to a plate sale to help support a family who unexpectedly lost a loved one? Seen social media posts about crowd funding funeral expenses for a friend of a friend who’s passed? Or maybe wondered how your family would cover final expenses for an elderly family member, or even you?
These are all valid questions. There is nothing like seeing friends and family come together to support each other in a difficult time. It’s great to see that technology can be used for good, but what if?
What if our family and friends didn’t have to worry about fundraising and instead could focus on caring for and loving on those left behind? What if we didn’t have to worry about how we’re going to continue the same standard of living without that person’s income? What if we didn’t have to worry about the care our children would get if something unexpectedly happened to me?
Nothing can replace a loved one who’s passed. It’s difficult to face a reality without them. And the answers to any of the questions above are not easy to face. But a good place to start is with Life Insurance.
Life Insurance ensures that your family doesn’t have to worry about how to replace your income when you’re gone. It can help to ensure your family’s financial stability. So, the house and car continue to get paid. The lights and water stay on. Your family doesn’t have to wonder how they’re going to pay for the mounting final expenses or rely on the financial support of others to care for them.
Life Insurance fosters your legacy. We all dream of seeing our children grow up and have kids of their own that we can spoil, and even watch them grow up to live the life we always dreamed about. We pray that for you too. Your children, their kids are your legacy. Life insurance can help to financially ensure that dream for you.
The subject of life insurance doesn’t have to be about death. It can come from a place of love and compassion for those who will be left behind.
September is #LifeInsuranceAwarenessMonth. Talk about it with your loved ones today.
Need a quote? Want help to figure out how much coverage you need?
Call 805.410.4102 OR click www.oaksinsurancegroup.com today .
How insurance companies handle claim payments varies. While individual states have their own requirements for how companies must respond to claims, different insurers also have their own guidelines for processing claims. But it may help to have a contractor present when the insurance company sends a claims adjuster to your home to inspect damage. That way, the contractor and adjuster can discuss estimates to repair the damage. Sometimes a contractor has to negotiate the cost of repairs with the insurance company.
Although some insurance companies allow homeowners who file claims to choose their own licensed contractors to repair damages, others give you a list of approved contractors from which you must choose. These are normally contractors with whom the insurance company has worked before. But even a contractor referred by the insurance company still must submit a written bid for approval. Usually, an insurance company will guarantee a contractor’s work if it made the referral, says website Insurance-claim-contractor.com.
In some cases, an insurance company will pay the contractor if you request it. The general contractor you hire may ask you to sign a permission form when you sign the contractor agreement. The form allows the contractor to bill your insurance company directly. If your homeowner’s insurance agrees to pay the contractor instead of you, check the work and make sure you are completely satisfied with the job when it's completed. Resolve any problems before giving your insurance company the go-ahead to make the final payment to the contractor, the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association advises. The general contractor is responsible for paying any subcontractors for the work they do.
The claim-filing process varies depending on an insurance company’s claim procedure. Some insurers will issue the claim check to the homeowner rather than to the contractor. It is then the homeowner’s responsibility to see that the contractor is paid. If the insurance company determines that the damage to your home is covered under your policy, it will pay to repair your property up to the policy limits. Review your policy to find out if it includes deductibles or other payment provisions.
Paying Mortgage Lender
If you have a mortgage on your home, your homeowner’s insurance may name both you and your mortgage lender on the settlement check, especially if you file a large claim. Even though your name is on the check, your lender likely will hold some or all of the insurance proceeds in an escrow account until releasing the money for you to pay the contractor, says United Policyholders, an information resource for insurance consumers. Usually, a lender issues funds from an insurance settlement payable to you and your contractor in more than one distribution. You will get a portion of the funds to start the repairs, another payment when the job is 50 percent completed and the remainder when the repairs are fully completed.
Contrary to popular belief, cutting out the middleman is not always a good thing!
In this day and age, there are many direct insurance companies who sell their services directly to you. These companies cut out the middle man and choose to cut out the insurance agent. The thinking behind this is that because you’re eliminating an extra person, the price will go down. However, that isn’t always the case. By dealing directly with the insurance company, a consumer may take on tasks that they may not realize even exist!
Why Use an Insurance Agent?
Using an independent insurance agent definitely has more pros than it has cons. From understanding your insurance policy down to the letter, to finding costs at prices you thought were impossible, independent agents are here for you. Contact the independent insurance professionals at Oaks Insurance Group, for all of your many insurance coverage needs
Talking to Your Teen About Safe Driving
When teens begin to drive, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council, the sobering statistics start to pile up:
You can help your young driver make better decisions behind the wheel, however. Start by setting a good example yourself. And set time aside to have a serious discussion about the following issues, all of which have a large impact on the safety of teen drivers:
Of course, any driver needs to have a good grasp on the laws and rules of the road, and, because teens don’t have much experience, it’s important to have regular conversations about safe driving. How teens drive doesn’t just depend on them. It depends on you, too!
We typically purchase homeowners insurance to protect our largest investment – our home. But homeowners, and often condo and renters insurance too, includes many other items besides your home. Let’s take a look at just a few items that might be covered by your homeowners insurance carrier.
While some premier insurance home insurance companies automatically include some of these, others may be available by endorsement. It’s best to talk to us about your policy and what coverage is included.
Personal Property Replacement
Your home insurance will typically provide insurance protection for up to 50 to 70% of the replacement cost of the structure. For instance, if your replacement cost of the home is $150,000, your policy would include $75,000 for your personal possessions such as clothing, computers and such. Keep in mind, jewelry, art and furs would require a special endorsement.
If you own an animal, it is possible that animal could cause harm to someone visiting your home or while you’re away at a park. Regardless of where the bite occurs, your home insurance policy can provide you with liability insurance coverage to help cover the injured party medical bills as well as any settlement or attorney’s fees.
Identity theft is a growing problem in the United States. Typically an endorsement, this coverage would help with expenses you incur trying to get your stolen identity back in order and your credit ironed out.
Theft of Items from a car while in transport
If you’re transporting a home item such as a television or even an expensive purse in your car and it is stolen, your auto insurance policy won’t cover it. A home insurance policy can, however. Consider carefully whether or not it would be worth turning in a claim, however, as a deductible and claim on your record could make it a wash, or put you in a worse situation come renewal time.
Additional Living Expenses
If your home is damaged by a covered loss and is unlivable some insurance companies will pay for your room & board while the home is being repaired.
Extra Coverage Availability
By purchasing a high limit home insurance & auto insurance policy together, you become eligible for an umbrella insurance policy. These policies offer additional liability protection if your home or auto insurance policy is exhausted. They’re typically inexpensive and quotes take just a couple minutes.
The coverages above may not be available from all insurance companies and options vary by state. To find out if your home insurance company offers the above benefits, you should talk your agent at Oaks Insurance Group. Click here for a quote today.
You depend on your vehicle to get you from point A to point B safely and soundly, even when dealing with the hazards winter weather brings. From the moment your vehicle is in motion, winter driving demands your full attention.
With rainstorms, black ice, slush, or a whiteout wall of snow, you are at higher risk of a collision or breakdown. While having auto insurance helps protect you and your vehicle from the financial damage from the accidents caused by winter weather, there are several precautions you can take to make sure you are prepared over the winter season. Follow these basic tips to keep you and your loved ones safe:
Your Tires Matter.
Check your tires before venturing out in winter weather conditions. Wet, icy, or snowy road surfaces are slick and dangerous, and having the right winter tires with plenty of tread is a basic – but critical – part of staying safe. Extreme cold weather shrinks the compressed molecules of air within tires, often giving them an underinflated appearance. This is especially true during periods of intense cold passing through your area. Even so, check tire air pressure before venturing out on a longer trip. Take note that your car will run better, safer, and more efficiently if warmed up for 10 to 15 minutes.
Prepare for the Unexpected.
Pack a sheet of cardboard, shovel, and a supply of cat litter or sand. These items can help you if you get stuck. With a shovel to dig out of a pile of snow you’ve become caught in, and a good-sized piece of cardboard with sand and cat litter for traction, you can get your vehicle back on the road. During heavy weather, it could take hours to get help – and remote areas may not have good cell service, so be prepared before you venture out.
Gear Up with an Emergency Kit.
Purchase or put together an emergency kit. Keep your safety kit in the trunk with a heavy blanket or two, extra clothes (consider the likelihood you’ll be traveling with passengers, and pack accordingly), and a case of bottled water. Basic kits can be purchased ready-made, but be sure to sort through the kit and customize it, adding any missing items. To create your own safety kit, ensure you include:
If you’re trapped, or the weather conditions remain severe, stay inside your car. Run the engine in increments of 10 minutes per hour to keep the vehicle cab warm, and conserve gas. Ensure you have completely removed snow from around the exhaust pipe, and recheck it frequently to protect against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Auto Insurance: Are Your Costs Covered?
Some of us are expert winter drivers, and know how to navigate slippery road surfaces – but not everyone you share the roadways with has those skills. Even the best drivers can find themselves in trouble when conditions are bad. It is very important that you have the right auto insurance policy in place. Every year, have your auto insurance policy reviewed – there may be a better policy with lower premiums available. At Oaks Insurance Group in Thousand Oaks, California we are always happy to help the people in our local community find the best auto insurance protection at the lowest price. Call us anytime for more information.
Business owners make choices every day to protect the interests of their business. Ensuring that they are covered by the right types of commercial insurance is key in protecting the business when the unexpected occurs.
If your business regularly uses vehicles for deliveries, passenger pickups, or other work-related operations, then you may be vulnerable to lawsuits or costly repairs if something goes wrong. Choosing the commercial auto insurance that is appropriate is a critical point in protecting the financial health of your business.
Minimum coverage requirements for commercial vehicle insurance are set by individual state laws, and are typically more extensive than the requirements for personal vehicle insurance. It may seem obvious that you need commercial auto insurance for a vehicle used exclusively for business purposes, but what about a personal vehicle that may be used in the operation of your business? If you are driving a personal vehicle for commercial reasons and are in an accident, you may be shocked to discover your personal auto insurance will not cover the damages.
Factors Affecting What Type of Insurance You Need
Every business has unique needs for all types of commercial insurance, and car insurance is no exception. Only an agent who is well-versed in this type of insurance can sit down with you and help you determine which coverage will best suit the needs of your business, but these are some factors to keep in mind:
At Oaks Insurance Group, we understand the complexity of commercial liability insurance, and we are determined to help our clients fully understand their options so that they can make the choice that is right for them and their business. We know how much your business matters to you, and we want to help protect you from the unexpected. We proudly serve business owners throughout the Thousand Oaks, California area, and are happy to set up a consultation at a time that is convenient for you. Contact us today!
The winter months are upon us, bringing cold temperatures and adverse weather conditions. You may already be prepared for winter, and purchased a new pair of rain boots or a heavy coat, but have you thought about preparing your home?
The rain, snow, and ice that are synonymous with winter can cause serious damage to your home, resulting in costly repairs. The unnecessary costs and stress can be avoided by preparing your home in advance to make sure you don’t fall victim to damage to your home and the need to pay for costly repairs.
Planning Ahead For Winter
There are a few simple actions to take to protect your home during the winter, which will result in more efficient heating and prevent any unnecessary homeowners’ insurance claims. The following are some of the tasks that will protect your assets (and your wallet) this winter:
The winter months are filled with joy surrounding the holiday season, so don’t let the colder temperatures and threatening weather conditions get in the way. For any questions regarding winterizing your home or to review your current homeowners’ insurance policy, contact us at Oaks Insurance Group in Thousand Oaks, California so one of our friendly agents can assist you to have the right coverage to protect your home – at the right price.
There are many insurance programs available from different companies, and we can evaluate your current policy to find out if a better program is how available, to lower your premiums, and provide a higher levels of protection. As we are a local agency, and our staff all live and work in the Thousand Oaks area, we are interested in helping the people in our community to avoid unwanted insurance claims, and have the homeowners’ insurance protection that makes sense.
Our local agents can meet with you during regular business hours, or on evenings and weekends for your convenience. Call now!