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Daniel T. Murray Blog: auto

View the latest blog posts from Daniel T. Murray.

If your husband or wife drives up with a brand new dent on the car, you might not get the truth about what happened.

Some 35% of spouses admitted to dinging the family car, then telling their loved one that someone else did it, according to a new survey by the insurance website insure.com.

Something similar occurs with traffic tickets. About a quarter of the roughly 1,000 married people surveyed said they'd gotten a traffic ticket and kept it secret from their spouse, the survey said.

Surprisingly, almost the same number kept mum about an actual car crash. These would, presumably, be relatively minor crashes, Insure.com editorial director Amy Danise said.

Husbands, meanwhile, tended to be overly suspicious of their wives when it comes to matters like this. While only 17% of wives said they'd covered up a car accident, 38% of husbands thought it possible their wives had done so, according to the survey. Similarly, only 16% of wives had kept a traffic ticket secret, but 32% of men thought their wives had.

Wives, on the other hand, trust their husband more than they should. While 31% of men said they had kept a car accident secret from their wives, only 23% of wives thought their men would ever do such a thing, the survey said. And while 34% of men kept traffic tickets secret from their wives, only 25% thought that was even possible.

Read More: Source

Posted 11:05 AM  View Comments


It’s a simple and reasonably fair concept – all else being equal, safer and more careful drivers pay less for their car insurance than do those having multiple accidents and/or moving violations. How much? Depending on the infraction one’s rates can jump by as much as a whopping 93 percent for a single ticket, according to a recent national analysis conducted in San Francisco.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is cited as being the top ticket among the most common moving violations at the aforementioned 93 percent penalty (and that’s on top of the cost of the ticket itself and any legal fees that might also be involved). Coming in a close second is reckless driving – a sort-of catch-all category used for serious infractions involving a wanton disregard for the rules of the road – which would be responsible for a still staggering 82 percent increase.

Lesser charges, from getting caught driving solo in a carpool lane to careless driving – piloting a car or truck without due caution in a manner that might cause damage or injury, from failure to yield right-of-way to talking on a cell phone while driving – will raise a drivers rates by an average of 18 to 27 percent. The most benign ticket would be a seatbelt use violation at a mere five percent upsurge in premiums. And these increases assume a hypothetical low-risk driver who otherwise boasts a clean record (see below).  Those with a history of multiple violations and/or accidents might see their rates skyrocket beyond affordability or have their policies cancelled depending on the motoring misdeed.

Here’s the list of “unlucky seven” top premium-busting traffic tickets:

1. DUI: 93 percent increase.

2. Reckless driving: 82 percent increase.

3. Careless driving — 27 percent increase.

4. Speeding 1 to 15 mph over the limit: 21 percent increase.
  • 16 to 30 mph over the limit: 28 percent increase.
  • 31+ mph over the limit: 30 percent increase.

5. Failure to stop: 19 percent increase.

6. Failure to yield to pedestrians: 19 percent increase.

7. Driving in a carpool lane: 18 percent increase.

Fortunately motorists with at least moderately good driving records can often avoid negative effects of lesser charges. Some carriers will “forgive” a minor offense for a policyholder in good standing with an otherwise pristine history, while many states offer special courses to keep many moving violations from landing on a driver’s record. “Drivers who commit moving violations can take safety classes to improve their skills and remove blemishes from their records. Many of these courses are offered online and can be completed in just a few hours. Otherwise, these infractions can lead to higher car insurance costs for up to three years.”

Since some insurance companies are more tolerant of motorists having imperfect driving records than others, those facing a steep rate increase following a traffic violation or accident would be advised to shop around among multiple carriers to find one who’s willing to offer a lower premium. Those who may not be able to find a better deal elsewhere should be sure they’re taking advantage of all available discounts to help offset all or part of a rate increase. Most insurers will, for example, offer a discount for bundling house or apartment and auto insurance, and many will grant a rate reduction to policyholders who drive only a minimal number of miles each year and/or have special monitoring systems installed on their cars.

Also, consider raising deductibles for the comprehensive and collision portions of your policy, which cover physical damage to your car where another driver is not at fault. According to industry sources, boosting the deductible from $250 to $500 can shave around 30 percent off those sections of your car’s coverage. If you’re driving an older car that’s worth only a few thousand dollars if totaled, you might want to roll the proverbial dice and eliminate this coverage altogether.

And if that doesn’t do the trick, consider buying a make and model that’s inherently cheaper to insure. Crossovers/SUVs and minivans tend to deliver the lowest average premiums, while luxury models and rip-roaring sports cars command the highest rates. All else being equal, costlier autos cost more to insure than cheaper models, simply because there’s more money at stake for repairs or replacement.

Another – perhaps more drastic – solution would be to move to a state where drivers are inherently charged lower insurance rates, which can be affected by the level of competition among carriers and the percentage of uninsured and underinsured motorists on the roads (see our post on this topic). City dwellers could see big reductions in their premiums if they relocate to the sleepy suburbs.

Or better yet, stay sober, slow down, pay attention, and turn off the phone whenever you’re behind the wheel to avoid being written a ticket in the first place.

Read More: Source

Posted 11:05 AM  View Comments


Did you know that taking 15 minutes to get married could save you at least 15% on your car insurance?

According to a report, a 20-year old married woman pays an average of 22% less for car insurance than her single counterpart. And a married 20-year-old man pays 20% less than his single friend of the same age.

Your gender and age also significantly affect how much you pay, the report found.

As people mature, gain experience and take on more responsibilities, they become safer drivers, Mike Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, says.

Age is the biggest factor. At age 20, a single male driver will pay 49% more than a single man who is 25. An unmarried woman will pay 39% more at age 20 than at age 25.

The lowest premiums are charged to drivers at age 60. After that, premiums start to creep up again. By the time a single man is 75, for example, he's paying 20% more than a single man at age 60.

Gender discounts are not as large, but insurers do charge women much less than men during the first years they're on the road.

A 20-year-old woman pays 19% less than a man the same age. By the time they're both 25, the gender difference drops to 4% and narrows through age 30. After that, men pay slightly lower premiums.

"Insurers price their policies to reflect the claims risk," said Barry. "They look at claims filings and arrive at conclusions as to who is likely to file more -- and more expensive -- claims."

Shopping around can help cut costs, according to Adams.

"In addition to regularly comparing at least three quotes from different insurers, consumers should review potential discounts with their current insurer," she said. "This is even more important for younger drivers because they tend to pay the highest rates."

Students who carry a "B" average or better may qualify for discounts of up to 20%, depending on their carrier, she said. They can also reduce their premiums by raising the deductible they pay.

Read More: Source

Posted 11:05 AM  View Comments


Did you know that taking 15 minutes to get married could save you at least 15% on your car insurance?

According to a report, a 20-year old married woman pays an average of 22% less for car insurance than her single counterpart. And a married 20-year-old man pays 20% less than his single friend of the same age.

Your gender and age also significantly affect how much you pay, the report found.

As people mature, gain experience and take on more responsibilities, they become safer drivers, Mike Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, says.

Age is the biggest factor. At age 20, a single male driver will pay 49% more than a single man who is 25. An unmarried woman will pay 39% more at age 20 than at age 25.

The lowest premiums are charged to drivers at age 60. After that, premiums start to creep up again. By the time a single man is 75, for example, he's paying 20% more than a single man at age 60.

Gender discounts are not as large, but insurers do charge women much less than men during the first years they're on the road.

A 20-year-old woman pays 19% less than a man the same age. By the time they're both 25, the gender difference drops to 4% and narrows through age 30. After that, men pay slightly lower premiums.

"Insurers price their policies to reflect the claims risk," said Barry. "They look at claims filings and arrive at conclusions as to who is likely to file more -- and more expensive -- claims."

Shopping around can help cut costs, according to Adams.

"In addition to regularly comparing at least three quotes from different insurers, consumers should review potential discounts with their current insurer," she said. "This is even more important for younger drivers because they tend to pay the highest rates."

Students who carry a "B" average or better may qualify for discounts of up to 20%, depending on their carrier, she said. They can also reduce their premiums by raising the deductible they pay.

Read More: Source

Posted 10:15 AM  View Comments


You buy insurance to protect your home and car from damage, but when an accident happens, is it in your best interest to file a claim? It seems like the answer should be a resounding "yes," but a middling "maybe" is a far better response. Why the ambiguity? The decision to file a claim can have a major impact on your insurance rates, even if the accident was minor or was not your fault.

The Claim Game
Regardless of the scope of the accident or who was at fault, the number of insurance claims you file has a direct impact on your rates. The greater the number of claims filed, the greater the likelihood of a rate hike. File too many claims and the insurance company may not renew your policy. Similarly, if the claim is being filed based on damage that you caused, your rates will almost surely rise.

On the other hand, if you aren't at fault, your rates may or may not remain unchanged. Getting hit from behind when your car is parked or having siding blow off of your house during a storm are clearly not your fault and may not result in rate hikes, but this isn't always the case. Mitigating circumstances, such as the number of previous claims you have filed, the number of speeding tickets you have received, the frequency of natural disasters in your area (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods) and even a low credit rating can all cause your rates to go up even if the latest claim was made for damage that you did not cause.

Most/Least Damaging Claims
When it comes to rate hikes, not all claims are created equal. Dog bites, slip-and-fall personal injury claims, water damage and mold are red flag items to insurers. These items tend to have a negative impact on your rates and on your insurer's willingness to continue providing coverage.

On the other hand, the much dreaded speeding ticket may not cause a rate hike at all. Many companies forgive the first ticket. The same goes for a minor automobile accident or a small claim against your homeowner's insurance policy.

Rate Hikes
Filing a claim often results in a rate hike that could be in the 20-40% range. The increased rates stay in effect for years, although the size and longevity of the hike can vary widely from insurer to insurer. At some firms the increase lasts just two years, while at others it may last for five. If your insurer drops your coverage, you may be forced to purchase high-risk insurance, which can come with extraordinarily expensive premiums.

To File or Not to File?
There are no hard-and-fast rules around rate hikes. What one company forgives, another won't forget. Because any claim at all may pose a risk to your rates, understanding your policy is the first step toward protecting your wallet. If you know that your first accident is forgiven or that a previously filed claim won't count against you after a certain number of years, the decision of whether or not to file a claim can be made with advance knowledge of the impact it will or won't have on your rates. Talking to your agent about the insurance company's policies long before you need to file a claim is also important. Some agents are obligated to report you to the company if you even discuss a potential claim and choose not to file. For this reason, you also don't want to wait until you need to file a claim to inquire about your insurer's policy regarding consultation with your agent.

Regardless of your situation, minimizing the number of claims you file is the key to protecting your insurance rates from a substantial increase. A good rule to follow is to only file a claim in the event of catastrophic loss. If your car gets a dent on the bumper or a few shingles blow off of the roof on your house, you may be better off if you take care of the expense on your own.

If you car is totaled in an accident or the entire roof of your house caves in, filing a claim becomes a much more economically feasible exercise. Just keep in mind that even though you have coverage and have paid your premiums on time for years, your insurance company may decline to renew your coverage when your policy expires.

A Strategy to Save on the Cost of Your Policy
Understanding the logic behind filing a claim only in the event of a large loss also provides insight into how to save a few dollars on your insurance premiums. Because you aren't going to file a claim in the event of a minor loss, having a low deductible on your policy makes no financial sense. If you already plan to pay for the first $500 or $1,000 dollars worth of damage out of your own pocket, set aside that amount in an interest-bearing savings account and raise your insurance deductible to match the number. Increasing your deductible will result in lower insurance rates, and the cash in the bank will cover your out-of-pocket costs in the event of an accident.

The Bottom Line
When you pay your insurance premiums regularly and on time, it may seem like you should be able to file as many legitimate claims as you want. Unfortunately, the industry doesn't work this way. Filing too many claims or certain kinds of claims can have an adverse effect on your insurance rates or even get your policy canceled altogether after the claim has been paid. To avoid unfair rate hikes and unpleasant financial surprises, do your homework and learn about your particular insurer's policies and industry practices long before you ever need to file a claim.

Read More: Source

Posted 1:21 PM  View Comments


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