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Changing Your State Farm Agent

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 04/30/2017

Q: The directions you have provided to change State Farm Agents no longer work as of 4/23/17.

A: Thank you for advising.  The directions that this reader is talking about can be found here.

This was written 6 years ago, so I have no doubt that the information may be out of date.  However, steps one and two are still valid and work for changing agents with any company, not just with State Farm .  Insurance agents are supposed to be on your side and go to battle for you whenever you things go wrong or when things need to be taken care of.  Whenever you feel that your agent no longer has your back, it is always recommended that you find a new agent. Insurance is a big deal and you need to have an insurance advisor that you can trust. So, if you are ready to look for a new agent that will work out better for you:

  1. Talk to your friends and ask who their State Farm agent is and how they feel about them
  2. Look at online reviews of local State Farm agents
  3. Choose an agent to go visit and interview them. Seriously, interview them and see what kind of feeling you get from them.
  4. Advise the new State Farm agent that you choose that you want to move your State Farm policies to them.
  5. Let your new agent do their job and get your policy switched over to their office, all you have to do is sign the papers.

It’s time-consuming but simple.  In the long run, you will be a lot happier also with your new State Farm agent.



Increasing Car Insurance Premium After Small Accident?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question, Research Last Updated: 04/30/2017

Q: I was charged for failing to yield making right turn on red after I made complete stop and check did see not car approach. Believe driver made illegal u turn. She had witness in car or following her. Once police arrived he was called to side they talked privately. He refused to listen to me and was very rude. I did report him later. Anyway this happen 2014 now 2016 Dec my rates went from 140 to 262. monthly after reporting Kroger employee pushing cart tore off my review mirror. Even though Kroger was responsible. I live on fixed income. According to them they forgave my first and only accident .


A: Unfortunately, it feels like there is something else going on here.  I am not saying that your accidents aren’t playing a part in the increase in your rate, but a $1,464 annual increase is not something that I have ever seen for a side-view mirror claim. There are two other things that come to mind right now. First, almost every insurance company increased their rates in 2016. I fielded these calls everyday for the insurance company I work for and also had feedback from agents that we weren’t the only ones doing so.  I would definitely talk to your car insurance agent or car insurance company and see if they did have a rate increase in their car insurance product in your state.

Second, you mentioned “fixed income”. I may be wrong, but that usually indicates that you are of retirement age. After a certain age, car insurance premiums go up and the older you get the higher they increase.  I know this doesn’t work well because that’s when you are usually on a fixed income, but car insurance companies do it because older drivers, while they do have more experience, start becoming more of a risk because of slower reaction times and a decrease in eyesight.

All in all, contact your insurance agent to have them go over your policy to explain what is going on with your rates. If you don’t like what you hear, start shopping around for a company that can give you a better car insurance premium.


Can Lemonade ‘Revolutionize’ Car Insurance?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 03/07/2017

Lemonade has already upset the traditional insurance model with its ‘Giveback’ to charitable causes and record-setting speed for paying claims. Can the VC-backed startup revolutionize the way car insurance works?


Lemonade made quite a splash when it debuted its homeowners’ and renters’ insurance for New York residents in September, 2016. Since then, the radically transparent, upstart “B-corp” has expanded to a nearly nationwide presence, and the firm will soon be offering auto insurance, as well.


Can Lemonade auto insurance live up to the hype? And what’s all the hype actually about, anyway?


What Makes Lemonade Special?


Most insurance companies make their profits by taking more from customers in premiums than they pay out in claims. This creates an adversarial relationship between the company and its customers, and some big insurers have been charged with an unscrupulous strategy of Delay, Deny, and Defend (the “three D’s”).


Customers expecting to get the runaround from their insurers are more likely to exaggerate their claims, and insurers anticipating this from their customers become even more obstinate. Lemonade seeks to break this cycle of distrust by better aligning the incentives of everyone involved.


How can Lemonade do this?


  1. Instead of relying on unpaid claims as the source of company profits, Lemonade takes a flat 20% fee – that’s it.
  2. Individuals insured through Lemonade select a charitable cause for the company’s “Giveback” program. All customers pledging to a particular cause become part of a “peer group.”
  3. Premiums collected above Lemonade’s 20% fee are pooled to pay claims – and whatever money’s left over at the end of the year goes to a charitable cause, not Lemonade’s bottom line.


Lemonade is banking on the idea that its customers will be less likely to cheat a good cause than a soulless corporation. That makes sense.


The Truth About Dishonesty


Lemonade also requires its customers to sign an Honesty Pledge. This may sound trivial, but Lemonade’s Chief Behavioral Officer Dan Ariely, best known for his Ted Talks and the CNBC documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies, has conducted experiments in which he reduced cheating to zero by simply asking folks to recall the Ten Commandments. Since none of the participants could actually name all ten, it’s unlikely they were an overly religious group – and yet, even being asked to think about morality caused them to act more morally.


Dishonesty is a big problem for the insurance industry – on both the customer and the corporate ends. Significantly reducing fraud, even if it can’t be eliminated, would allow insurers to offer much more attractive rates to their customers, and/or pay out legitimate claims with much less hassle. Lemonade has already set an (unofficial) world record by paying a customer’s claim in three seconds.


Will Lemonade’s Model Work for Auto Insurance?


Lemonade’s homeowners’ and renters’ insurance has been on the market for just over 100 days, but all indications are that the VC-backed firm is in excellent financial health. Nevertheless, selling auto-insurance could present challenges not evident in Lemonade’s existing markets.


For instance, 87% of Lemonade’s customers are first-time buyers of homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. This shows the company is reaching a market that traditional insurers have been unable to reach. But everyone has to buy auto insurance, making the market much larger – and more inclusive of “poor risks.” These poor risks may be more willing to exaggerate their claims, even if doing so takes away from a cause. Of course, Lemonade reserves the right to deny coverage to poor risks – and doing so should keep premiums low for the rest of its customers.


When Will Lemonade Offer Auto Insurance?


We don’t have a specific answer to this question yet, but Lemonade auto insurance should be coming soon – to at least some states.  Insurance is regulated at the state level in the U.S., and this means Lemonade will probably target a few states to begin with, just like they did with their homeowners’ and renters’ insurance.


The traditional insurance model has long been in need of a serious shake-up, and Lemonade is at the vanguard of reforming and improving the industry. It’s safe to assume that Lemonade’s auto product will have the same “Giveback” feature as its homeowners’ and renters’ packages, and a flat 20% fee to ensure the company will pay claims on the basis of merit, rather than Delaying, Denying, and Defending.


Once Lemonade auto is available, be sure to try out the comparison form available at the top of this page. When you do, be sure to consider more than just the monthly premiums: You may pay less with other insurers, but will they be as quick to pay out claims when they retain, as corporate profits, whatever they don’t pay?


Car Insurance Rates After an Accident

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 04/04/2017

Q: Was hit at a traffic light by a woman making an illegal left turn in a no-fault state. Had the right-away- will the insurance rates increase?

A: Every claim you file on your insurance policy has the potential to raise your rates, regardless of fault. A not-at-fault accident will have considerably less impact than an at-fault but still, will have the potential to impact.

There are a lot of factors that come into play when an accident goes on your car insurance policy and how an insurance company ultimately will rate for them. They look at who is at fault for the accident, what kind of accident it was, and how much is paid out. How much an accident will affect your rate will also depend on your age, your credit/insurance score, and what type of vehicle your drive.

Insurance is not an easy market to predict increases in because of how many factors go into determining how much you should pay for your car insurance. For example, a 20-year-old driver and a 40 year-old-driver could be in the exact same type of accident and drive the exact same vehicle, however, the 20-year-old will see a much larger increase than the 40-year-old. The reason for the difference is because of a formula that the insurance companies use to determine who or what is a higher risk and will have the most likelihood of the insurance company having to pay out a claim for them. They then charge the higher risk higher car insurance rates.

Another factor as to if your car insurance rates will increase is if your company offers an accident forgiveness program.

Your Car Insurance in Canada

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 04/04/2017

Q: Hello, I was wondering do you ha e to have full coverage insurance to drive thru Canada or can you have liability?? I heard you gotta have a thousand dollars on you to drive thru Canada is this true??


A: Well, not sure where you heard that you have to carry that much cash in Canada, but I am pretty sure that much is not true.  I have yet to be asked how much cash I have on me by the border guards as I am making my way across into Canada. I would be curious as to where you heard this and the rationale behind it.

As for your insurance, you have to have car insurance in Canada just like here in the U.S.. However, you DON’T have to have “full coverage”, you only need the required liability insurance.

In the past you used to need special car insurance cards to be able to drive in Canada, today all you need is your American car insurance cards. If you have any additional questions, best to ask your car insurance agent.

Now, if you were visiting our neighbors to the south (Mexico) that’s a different story. In Mexico, you have to have car insurance sold in Mexico. Your American car insurance will work for a certain number of miles in Mexico, but if anything happens it is really up to the Mexican authorities whether or not they are going to accept your car insurance, even if your car insurance company says they would cover you.

If they refuse to accept your car insurance, you could do jail time.

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