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Motorcycle Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 03/23/2011

7 Essentials for Motorcycle Insurance: The perfect introduction for anyone considering a bike.

Ready to Ride?

Ready to Ride? Don't forget your insurance binder.

Before you get motorcycle insurance, consider this situation:

You can almost smell the open road.  That down payment is burning a hole in your pocket.  You’ve been eyeing that new soft-tail for months, and you’re ready to plunk down a wad of cash and ride into the sunset.

Before you buy that new Harley Screamin’ Eagle or Ducati 848, you need to get motorcycle insurance.  In fact, dealers won’t even let you drive your new bike off the lot until you provide them proof of your bike insurance, called a binder.

I spoke with Darla Mason at Wild West Harley-Davidson in Lubbock, Texas, about motorcycle insurance.  “You gotta have it.  Unless you’re paying cash, you’ll need a binder from a company before you can take the bike.”

Besides simply needing motorcycle insurance, what should you know?  I found 7 things riders should know when shopping for coverage.

1. Good Driving Has Its Own Rewards

All at-fault accidents and tickets count.  It doesn’t matter if you just picked up your bike, motorcycle insurance companies count every incident you’ve had (usually in a 3-year period) even if it’s in your car.  Stay clean and you’ll pay less money for your motorcycle insurance.

2.  Get Comprehensive and Collision

Every motorcycle insurance policy includes basic liability.  But unless you’re paying cash for your bike and you don’t mind losing the bike in an accident, get “full-coverage” for your new ride.  Collision covers your bike if you’re in an at-fault accident and comprehensive covers your cruiser in any incident other than collision.  Both coverages pay out minus your deductible.

3. Gap Insurance – What’s That?

Comprehensive and collision coverage in your motorcycle insurance only pay out what your bike is worth at the time of the accident.  If you total your bike and you owe more than your bike is worth, then you’ll still owe the balance on your financing.

Gap insurance is different from motorcycle insurance.  Gap insurance covers the ‘gap in coverage’ between what your bike is worth and what your insurance company pays after a total loss.  Finance companies typically offer this coverage.  Get it if you’re worried about paying extra if your bike is totaled.

4. Where Do You Ride and Where Do You Park?

You may just ride on the weekend – if so, tell the agent who gives you a quote.  Whether or not you commute to work on your bike can make a big difference for the price of your motorcycle insurance.

Same with where you park.  Additional discounts can be available whether or not you store your bike in a garage.  We all know how unattended bikes have a tendency to ride off by themselves – it makes sense for motorcycle insurance companies to give a discount to owners of garaged bikes.

One more bonus for riders in northern states.  You could be eligible for a “lay-up” policy, where most coverage is suspended during the winter months.  That translates to extra money in your pocket.

5. Motorcycles Need Chrome Coverage?

Motorcycle insurance usually does not cover additional parts like chrome air filters or saddlebags.  If you want extras like paint jobs or sidecars covered, then make sure you talk to your agent about additional equipment or optional coverage.  There’s nothing like losing your favorite custom mirrors (and then some) after laying down your bike only to find out they weren’t covered under normal comprehensive.  Make sure all your extras have coverage.

6. Get All Your Discounts!

If you’ve taken a motorcycle safety course, you could be eligible for a 10-20% discount.  When you’re getting quotes for your motorcycle insurance, ask about discounts.  That could be another $100 in your pocket at the end of the year – it’s definitely worth asking.

7. Shop Around – Big Time!

This is the most important part to getting the cheapest motorcycle insurance.  After going through this checklist and getting a quote, do it again.   The more quotes you get, the more money you’re likely to save.  Darla Mason said some of her customers save $500 after shopping their motorcycle insurance.

At the least, get 3 quotes from reputable motorcycle insurance companies.  You can also check with your current car insurance company – though they’re not always likely to have the best rates for motorcycle insurance.  Make sure each company quotes the same coverage, then go with the best.  If you want to shop online, get a quote for motorcycle insurance here.

After getting your binder, you’re ready to go.  Turn the key, hear that sweet hum of the engine, then give her some gas.  But don’t go too fast…I was an insurance agent after all.

Do you ride?  If so, you may have some additional tips for other bike owners.
Feel free to leave a comment.

Low Cost Car Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 12/01/2010

8 Proven Tips on Lowering Your Car Insurance Costs so you don’t have to take out a second mortgage.

How can you save money on your car insurance?

How can you save money on your car insurance?

Does low cost car insurance even exist?.  Just think about what you could buy every month if you didn’t have to shell out those auto insurance bucks.  A nice steak dinner or a new gadget – but instead your making your car insurance company rich off your premium checks.

Don’t worry.  There are several things you can do you lower your car insurance costs – to get cheaper car insurance.  We’ve put together 8 proven tips to lower your auto insurance costs.  Try them out.  Forget about the 15% GEICO says they’ll save you.  These tips could save you 50% or more on your car insurance costs… and I’m no caveman.

Tip #1: Shop Around

All kidding aside, GEICO could save you 15% on your car insurance costs.  But you’ll never know unless you ask.  If you haven’t shopped your policy in 12-18 months, then you’re probably paying too much.

According to our latest research, California drivers paid +257% more for a basic liability auto insurance policy from the most expensive company versus the cheapest car insurance company.  That’s 2½ times more for auto insurance!  Need I say more?  Shop around for a better rate, and lower your costs.  If you need several prices, get some quotes here.

Tip #2: Be A Safe Driver

Take it from someone with a ‘reckless driving’ hidden in his distant past – bad driving is expensive.  Add a couple of at-fault accidents to that record and you’re looking at a towering monthly car insurance bill.  Car insurance costs are directly related to the risk the auto insurance company takes when writing a policy. If you’re a bad driver, then the company is taking a bigger risk.

Slow down.  Watch those red lights.  Drive defensively.  If you clear up your driving record, and get incident-free for three years (no tickets & no at-fault accidents), you’ll see a substantial drop in your costs.

Tip #3: Raise Your Deductibles

A deductible is your portion of the car insurance.  The lower your deductible on comprehensive and collision coverage, the higher your auto insurance costs.  In other words, if you have a $50 deductible on collision coverage (which covers your car’s physical damage in case of an at-fault accident), then you’re probably paying too much.

If you have the savings to cover your deductible, then raise your comprehensive and collision coverage to $500 or $1000.  Ask your agent about the savings and you’ll be surprised on how this money-saver will help your auto insurance costs.

Tip #4: Drop Comp and Collision on Your 10-Year Old Car

This one is related to #3.  If you drop comprehensive and collision on your car insurance, then you’re taking responsibility for physical damage to your vehicle.

This one only works if you can afford to replace the vehicle and you’re not financing it.  Ten year old cars have usually depreciated enough where many people can afford to replace it if necessary. If you’re one of those people, then dropping comp and collision will lower your auto insurance costs significantly.

Tip #5: Clear Up Your Credit

Each car insurance company handles credit differently.  Many companies don’t check it once you’re with them.  However, almost all companies check your credit when you’re shopping for auto insurance.  If you have delinquencies, and other such issues on your credit report, try to fix them.  Clearing up your credit can have a significant impact on your costs.

Tip #6: Sell Your Sports Car

Alright, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone.  But if you’re strapped for cash and that Porsche payment is eating your lunch, you might want to consider selling it and buying a more affordable car.  Auto insurance costs will go down significantly depending on the car you’re insuring.  I’m not saying ‘buy a jalopy’, but you could sell your Viper to help your cash flow.  Plus, you’ll lower your car insurance costs in the process.

Tip #7: Review Your Policy with Your Car Insurance Company

If you’ve shopped your auto insurance policy recently, it’s still good to review your costs with your car insurance company.  Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the discounts available to you like: Multi-car discount, Multi-policy discount, Driver’s Education/Defensive Driving, and even, good driver discounts.

I’m not saying your insurer is pilfering you.  But they sometimes miss these discounts when signing up people for coverage.  Make sure you’re getting all the discounts coming to you when buying auto insurance.

Tip #8: Shop Your Car Insurance… Again?

I said it before, but it’s worth repeating.  There’s no easier way to get shave car insurance costs than to get several quotes.  Even if you ignore the other tips, don’t ignore this one.  No need to pay extra money for the same coverage.  Take the time and save some money.  Once again, get some quotes here.

Then have a steak dinner on me.
Can you think of anything else that can save others money?
Leave a comment for other drivers.

Compare Car Insurance and Win

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/13/2017


4 Secrets to Finding the Best Auto Insurance for the Best Price Every Time

Comparing Car Insurance

Comparing Car Insurance

Before you compare car insurance put down that phone.

It’s 2008.  You don’t have to call every car insurance company in the phone book.  The internet has revolutionized the way we buy things, especially car insurance. Want to compare companies?  It’s never been easier.

No more visiting dingy offices only to be pressured to sign a policy you don’t need.  If you want to compare insurers – you’re in the driver’s seat today.

Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you can’t mess up.  You need to know a few things about the process while getting quotes.  These four secrets will help you make a smart decision as you compare car insurance quotes.

1.  Where Do I Start?  – Pick a Few Good Companies

The first step to getting the best car insurance at the best price is to find some good auto insurance companies to compare.  Many states have over 50 companies doing business there.  How do you choose which ones to compare?

I recommend finding 3-7 auto insurance companies that advertise.  Why?

Companies that advertise are interested in growing their business.  That’s important since they typically believe retaining current customers is good for business.  That’s why they usually treat you well when you have a claim – when it counts.  If you’ve heard of the company, then they’ve spent money on advertising.  That means they’re a good company to compare.

(If you want more direction, check out our Car Insurance Rates to compare prices for the cheapest companies.)

2.  Get Quotes: Grab Several-Printed Car Insurance Quotes Online

Now you have a several companies (3-7) to compare, it’s time to get some quotes.  If you want to do that online, get your quote here.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  Make sure you’re comparing the same quotes.  Determine what kind of coverage you want – state-minimum liability, comprehensive, collision, or whatever.  If you need some help with the details, ask the first company you talk to.  Then, whatever, the first company quotes you…

*Get the same quote from every other car insurance company.*

This is very important.  You’re trying to compare prices for the same thing.  If you compare the same quotes, it’s like going to one grocery story and asking for a price on Gala apples, then going to another store and asking for a price on navel oranges – you can’t accurately compare prices that way.  If other companies won’t meet your quote specifications, they probably don’t want your business.

One word of caution:

A company may quote you the minimum liability coverage, but your car finance company probably requires comprehensive and collision coverage.  Obviously, that quote won’t work in your situation.  Get the right coverage, especially if you’re financing or leasing your car.


3.  What About Complaints: Do People Like a Car Insurance Company?

No company is perfect.  But there are several ways to see if a car insurance company is better than others.  For one, check out Our Reviews.  We periodically review auto insurance companies so you can know whether to compare them with others.

Second, check out our Customer Reviews.  Many consumers just like you have left comments on our forum that describe their experiences with other companies.  That’s a great way to compare auto insurance companies.

A final way to review a company is by their complaint ratio.  State Departments of Insurance usually post complaint ratios on their website for every insurance company doing business in their state.  To research a company’s complaint ratio, look them up at your Insurance Department’s website.

4.  The Intangibles: What Really Matters In a Car Insurance Company?

Now it’s time to decide which quote to go with.  Here’s two final things to consider:

Location? Do you want a 1-800 to call every time you have a problem with your auto insurance?  Some consumers like having a local office to visit – others don’t care.  In the same way, do you want to be able to call the same person every time you have a car insurance question?  Consider the relationship factor when you compare auto insurance companies.

Easy Quote? Did you have a good experience when getting your car insurance quote?  If it was painless, that may be a good sign to consider that company – even if the price is slightly higher.  Service counts.  You don’t want problems if you ever have a claim.  Go with the quick, pain-free quote, over the “hold on, let me ask my manager” quote every time.

In the End, You Could Save a Few Hundred Bucks

Follow these steps, and you’re sure to find a company that will save you money.  Plus, the experience you gain will give you a new perspective on your auto insurance.  It will take some time to compare companies.  But you’ll get compensated once you write that first month’s premium check.

Anything I missed? Leave a comment to help other people shopping for comparing auto insurance companies?

Car Insurance For Teens

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 10/30/2008

Essential checklist when buying auto insurance for your teenager

A new chapter in your teen's life.

A new chapter in your teen's life.

Ahhh, teen drivers and their car insurance.

It wasn’t so long ago you were in the same seat, ready to show off your new wheels to friends.  But before getting too nostalgic and hand off the keys, you need to get some your teen insured.  Don’t get caught without a policy when they take to the streets.

Buying auto insurance for your teen is not much different from buying it for yourself.  Basics such as picking a reputable company and getting enough coverage to cover your situation still apply when choosing a company.  But there are some essentials you should consider before signing a policy.

Teen Drivers Are Dangerous?

I know, I know…your teenager is a very safe driver.  But I’m not talking about your teenager.  I’m talking about all the other dangerous, young, hormone-driven motorists on the road.

Fact is, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 16-year-olds are nearly six times more likely to get into accidents than drivers aged 30-59.  To a car insurance company that translates into one thing: higher premiums.  Know that you will pay more for the teen driver in your household.  But that’s only part of the story.

Help Your Teen on the Road to Success

The scary part is that auto insurance rates can go up from there.  One at-fault accident and your perfect angel’s rates could jump 10%…or more!   That’s why it’s important to help your young driver get experience.

Take frequent trips with them at the wheel.  The more they drive with you, the more comfortable they will be at the wheel.  This will help them, but it will also help you when you’re mailing in your premium check.

On the flip side: if your teenager bucks the trend keeps a clean record (no accidents & no tickets), many companies offer additional discounts.  Make sure you ask about them when getting quotes.  It never hurts to ask.

Submit Grades for Better Car Insurance Rates

Auto insurance for teenagers is high enough.  Any discount will help lower the burden on your wallet.  That’s why it’s important to submit your teenager’s grades to the company.

Most companies give a good student discount for premiums.  Having your teen maintain a 3.0 GPA or better will help lessen the strain on your checkbook.  Maybe you could pass on some of the savings to your teen – the discount will be more than enough to pay for a movie every policy renewal.  It’s a friendly reminder for them to keep up their grades.

Higher Deductibles Can Save Money for Teen Drivers

If you’re getting full coverage (comprehensive and collision) for your teenager’s car insurance, then you know about deductibles: the higher your deductible, the lower your premium.  In other words, the more financial responsibility you assume for teenage driver, the less you will pay to the car insurance company.

That’s why you should consider upping the deductible on the comprehensive and collision portion of your teenager’s auto insurance.  Instead of a $100 deductibles, consider going to $250 or $500.  Sure, it’s more responsibility for your family – but it could pay for itself in a year.  Put the savings in the bank in case something happens.

Can I Just Add Them To My Policy?

Before collecting auto insurance quotes, ask your current insurer if you can add your teen to your policy.  Some states allow this, while others do not.  Either way, most agents will be able to advise accordingly.

A note of caution: if your teen has a driver’s license, they must be insured on some vehicle.  If your car insurance company doesn’t know about your teen driver, your company could drop your policy – whether or not anything happens.  And you thought it was expensive before, you were cancelled – it’s downright depressing afterward!  If possible, just add your teen driver to your policy when they’re licensed.  It’s the safest, and ultimately cheapest bet.

Before You Hand off the Keys

After you pick up car insurance for your teen driver, they’re almost ready to hit the road.  Help them with the basics behind the wheel – if they get a ticket, make sure they take defensive driving, and if you want to help their sense of responsibility, make them pay some of the premium with a part-time job.  All these things will help you feel more comfortable guiding your teen through their first years of driving.

Now, where are those keys?
Did I miss anything? If you have something to add for other parents, just a leave a comment to help them out.

DUI/DWI Car Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions, Research Last Updated: 03/23/2011

3 Things to Know About Your Auto Insurance When You’re Ticketed For Drunk Driving

Car Insurance after a DUI Can Be Tough

Car Insurance after a DUI Can Be Tough

Car Insurance cancelled after a DUI or DWI? It could never happen to you, right?

You never drive after 2 drinks.  You always call a cab instead of getting behind the wheel.  But for whatever reason, things were different this time.  You picked up the keys and drove yourself home.  Before you knew it, you saw the flashing lights.  Against all odds, you have a DUI.

Whatever they call it in your state (DUI, DWI, OWI, or OVI) it all amounts to a similar thing.  Problems.  If you’re convicted of drunk driving, estimates suggest you’ll pay over $10,000 for attorney’s fees, car insurance premium increases, court costs, and related items.  It’s a serious matter.  Wherever you are on the road to DUI recovery, these three steps will help you get back on track with your auto insurance.

Step 1: Get Legal Counsel

I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.  It’s just suggestions to help with your car insurance in a DUI situation.  Before talking to the court about your ticket, get an attorney.  Now is not the time to be the Lone Ranger in front of a judge.  There’s just no substitute for a good lawyer in a DUI situation, especially as it relates to your auto insurance.

For one, experienced attorneys will give you perspective.  You’re not the first person they’ve coached through a DUI or DWI, nor will you be the last.  Second, they will help you with all the little steps like filing necessary documents, to helping you show remorse in front of the judge (that high school drama class will finally come in handy).  Third, a good lawyer should help you get a lesser sentence if you’re convicted.  That alone will be worth the fees they charge, especially since you’ll be able to keep your car insurance.

One last thing relates to your car insurance: If you don’t have a driver’s license, you don’t have insurance.  If an attorney can save your license, then it’s worth every penny you pay them.  Who knows?  They may even be able to get you out of a conviction.  If so, then you’ll get to keep your policy with the same rates.

Step 2: Handling Your Car Insurance Policy

If you’re convicted of a DUI or DWI and you get to keep your driver’s license, you’ll probably need an SR-22 filing.  That means your state must obtain proof of liability coverage from an car insurance company for you to maintain your license.

Not all companies provide SR-22 insurance.  If you have auto insurance with a preferred company, they’ll either cancel your policy or non-renew it once it comes up for renewal.  A DUI and DWI are a big pain in this regard.  If you’re cancelled by your auto insurance company, you have some shopping to do.

At this point, you’ll need quotes for non-standard car insurance.  Either get a quote here or call up some local insurers for some quotes.  Either way, don’t wait until your auto policy is cancelled from your DUI or DWI.  Getting auto insurance afterwards will be even more expensive, if they can even write the policy.

Don’t forget.  When you’re talking with these car insurance companies or filling out online forms, be honest.  Being up front about a DUI or DWI will save you time and frustration when talking with an agent.  If they can’t help you, they’ll let you know, and probably get you in touch with someone who can.  The more open you are about your DUI situation, the easier it will be to get auto insurance.

Step 3: Drive Safely

I’m not gonna lie to you – you will pay more for non-standard (not preferred) auto insurance.  Such is the cost of a DWI.  But rest assured, DUI and DWI pricing is not forever.  As bad as it may seem right now, a conviction usually falls off your driving record within 10 years (sometimes sooner).  But, that doesn’t mean you’ll be hosed by your auto insurance company that long.

Typically, preferred companies want to see continuous coverage for 3 years with no SR-22 filings, even after a DUI.  Once you get 24-36 months under your belt with a non-standard policy and the state drops the SR-22 requirement, give some of the standby car insurance companies a call.  They may be more than happy to quote you again.  If they write your policy, even with a DUI 3 years ago, chances are you’ll save 25-65% on your car insurance.

Lastly, I can’t stress this one enough: drive safely.  Whatever caused your DUI or DWI, don’t let it happen again.  As bad as this situation is, it will be worse with a second DUI conviction, where jail time is often mandated.  If necessary, get involved in an AA class, or another related program.

Whatever you do, don’t drink and drive again.  You know how much a DUI costs – you don’t want to pay a steeper price with another one.  By driving safely, society and your family will enjoy the benefits and you’ll get it all back from your car insurance savings.

Have some good advice about Auto Insurance after a DUI or DWI?
Leave a Comment to help out other people.

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