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Do Car Insurance Rates Go up for First Speeding Ticket?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question, Research Last Updated: 09/16/2011

Your first speeding ticket can increase your car insurance rates depending on two important factors.

Yes, your insurance could very well go up after your first speeding ticket. Whether or not it does depends on a number of different factors though.

First, it all depends on your insurance company. Some companies forgive the first speeding ticket that you receive, others don’t. The only way you will know is if you ask your insurance company or if you wait for your insurance company to find the speeding ticket on your driving record.

Second, the type of speeding ticket that you receive will also determine if it is counted. Did you drive 38 mph in a 35 mph zone? If this is the case, your insurance company may be more forgiving than if you were doing 60 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Insurance to Protect Your New Car’s Value

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 09/15/2011

You placed insurance on your new vehicle to protect it, but don’t forget the insurance to protect its value also.

Woman Hugging Her Brand New Car

If you love you car this much, don't forget to put both physical and value insurance on it.

Buying a new vehicle is always exciting. You get to drive something that is shiny, smells new inside and is most likely an upgrade from what you had previously. You are also the first owner of the vehicle so you aren’t inheriting any damages that are going to need to be repaired. If you are lucky there is no maintenance in sight for at least 6 months.

But, what happens if you were to get into a car accident after you drive your brand new vehicle off the lot? What if it was a bad accident and your new vehicle is now a total loss? Did you buy insurance to protect your new car’s value?

Vehicle Value

The amount that you paid for your new vehicle is only what the vehicle is worth while it is sitting at the car lot. Once you purchase the vehicle and drive it out of the lot the value starts to drop. New cars have their biggest price depreciation within the first two years of use.

If you were to get into an accident and took out a loan or a lease on a new vehicle, there could be a problem. The comprehensive and collision insurance coverage on your vehicle will only pay up to the value of the vehicle.

If the vehicle is a total loss and the value is determined to be less than what is still owed on the loan or lease, you have to make up the difference.

Gap Coverage

To make sure that you don’t find yourself still making car payments for a new vehicle that has been totaled, look into Gap coverage. Gap coverage is just like it sounds; it is insurance coverage that pays the monetary gap between what the vehicle is worth and what you owe on it.

Gap coverage is available through both your insurance company and also the car dealership. But, it is best to purchase the Gap coverage from your insurance company for two reasons.

One, the insurance coverage is cheaper through your insurance company. Two, if you purchase Gap insurance through the car dealer it is added to your total purchase price and makes your monthly payments go up. So even after you can no longer use the Gap coverage (usually only effective for 1st year) you are still paying for it. If you purchase the coverage from your insurance company you can remove the coverage any time you wish and not have to pay for it any longer.

Met Life Full Replacement

Met Life auto insurance has introduced a program that will protect your new vehicle even more than Gap insurance will. If your new vehicle is in an accident that renders it a total loss, Met Life will replace your totaled vehicle with a brand new one. All you are responsible for is paying your deductible.

However, this full replacement coverage is not available in every state so it is best to check with a Met Life agent in your area to see if it is offered where you live. The coverage is only good for the first 12 months that you have the vehicle or the first 15,000 miles that you drive it (whichever expires first). The coverage is also not available for leased vehicles or non-owned vehicles.

Natural Disasters and Your Car Insurance

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/31/2011

When people think of claims they think the standard car accident and windshield claims, but don’t forget natural disasters also damage vehicles.

Car Damaged from a Tornado

Natural disasters sometimes hit without warning. All you can do is be prepared ahead of time.

With the recent fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes visiting our shores there has no doubt been many natural disaster car insurance claims being filed. Claims for trees falling on vehicles, flooding and vehicle fires all usually accompany these natural disasters.

If you have a vehicle and it has been damaged after your area is hit with a natural disaster, do you know what to do?

What Coverage?

Depending on how your vehicle was damaged during the natural disaster will determine whether the claim will fall under comprehensive or collision coverage. If another driver crashed into your car because the rain was so heavy they couldn’t see, it would be collision coverage. For broken windshields, flood damage and fires, the damage would be fixed by your comprehensive coverage.

Also depending on the type of natural disaster, you may not have coverage at all. In all cases, it is best to read your policy.

Best Way to File Your Claim

If you are used to talking to your Agent when you file a claim, keep in mind that they may be taking care of their own property or be swapped with other clients.  Don’t wait around for your agent to help you. Instead call your insurance company directly to speed up the process.

The turnaround time to hear back from an adjuster may be a little longer due to the widespread damage so be patient. While you are waiting to hear for a call back try and prevent any additional damage from happening.

For example, if a flying object shattered your windshield cover the area so that the interior of the vehicle does not get also damaged by any coming rain. On the other hand, if your vehicle is a total loss leave it alone until you are told to do something with it.


Don’t bother trying to get insurance coverage just before a hurricane or other natural disaster hits your area.  Insurance companies watch the weather and news very carefully and will put moratoriums on areas that are about to get hit with a natural disaster. 

Moratoriums are when an insurance company makes the decision to stop all changes to current insurance policies and to deny any new applications. The companies do this to limit their claim exposure to the people that purchased insurance with them prior to a natural disaster threatening an area.

If insurance companies allowed people to purchase insurance right before they needed it, the companies would go out of business. You can’t run an insurance business if you are paying out more claims then you are collecting in premium. This is exactly what happens when a person starts an insurance policy and pays the minimum they can and then files a claim shortly after.

Protect Yourself and Loved Ones First. 

Your vehicle is replaceable, lives are not. If your area is hit with a natural disaster do not do anything foolish to protect your vehicle from damage. Think first of getting yourself and your loved ones to safety.

If you are concerned for you vehicle and you have warning of an oncoming natural disaster, protect you vehicle as soon as you know something is coming. Never leave this preparation to the last minute when it is too late.

Will Teen Driving Restrictions Change Premium Rates?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 09/01/2011

Driving restrictions on teens are showing positive signs of decreased accident activity which should start leading to decreased insurance premiums.

Teen Taking One Step at a Time to Get License

If a new Federal Act passes, all teens will have to go through an even more steps to get their driver's license.

 Teens have the highest insurance rates of any other driving group and there is good reason. Teens also have the highest accident rates of any other group. Now, this is not to say that all teen drivers are bad. They just do not have the experience and maturity level that is learned with experience and this leads to more accidents.

To try and keep our teen drivers safe (and the rest of us) a new law is making its way through congress that would impose teen driving restrictions for drivers under the age of 18.

Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act

 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York has submitted a proposal to the Senate that would set getting a driver’s license into a multi-tier process rather than the two steps it is today.

The act would have the first level stay the same with the new teen driver being issued a permit. The only difference is that it would be illegal for permit drivers to text or talk on a cell phone while driving.

The second level is a restricted license at age 16. The driver would be restricted from driving at night and also from texting and talking on a cell phone while driving. An unrestricted license would not be issued until age 18, different from the unrestricted license that is now issued at age 16.

My State Already Restrict Teen Drivers

Driver’s licensing is similar to insurance; it can vary from state to state. Some states have very loose rules such as a driver can be issued a permit at age 14 and a license at age 15. Other states already adopt a graduated licensing approach like the one that is trying to make its way through the Senate.

The difference is that if the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act is passed and put into effect that this would be a federal law. Meaning that each state will have to adopt this law instead of the licensing laws being different from one state to another.

What it May Mean for Your Insurance Premium

Because drivers that are age 16-17 will be restricted from driving at night their driving exposure is cut to half of what it was previously. Also, with restrictions on cell phone usage while driving, one would reason that there should be a decrease in insurance premium for their teen driver.

Of course, this all will depend on the insurance company. If your teen has restrictions on their license right now ask you agent how it makes a difference on your insurance premium. Also if your insurance company offers any discounts for a restricted teen license.

Also as more and more statistics are being released to confirm that restricting teen driving time does decrease teen accidents we may see insurance rates start to be more reasonable for this group.

Car Theft Protection

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 09/10/2011

Car theft is something that no one is safe from, but there are ways to protect yourself and decrease the odds of it happening.

An Empty Space from a Stolen Car

No one is safe from finding that empty parking spot where you car was until it was stolen.

You walk out of the store only to find that your vehicle is not where you parked it. In fact it is nowhere to be found. It has been stolen.

What do you do now?

First, call the police to report the car theft. Second, if you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle call your insurance company to report the theft. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, then you are left with just the first step and no vehicle.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage on your policy covers for all “other than collision” claims. These are claims to fix or replace your windshield, vehicle fires and also theft claims. Theft claims can be someone stealing something that was attached to your vehicle or up to the whole vehicle being taken.

If you find yourself missing part of or even your whole vehicle due to a theft, your comprehensive coverage is what will get back to where you were prior to the theft. This means that if your whole vehicle is stolen, the insurance company is going to pay the current value of your vehicle (minus deductible). They will not be buying you a new vehicle.

The insurance companies use a formula of what a value guide (usually the NADA Blue Book) states the value of your stolen vehicle to be at and also the sales prices of other similar vehicles in your area. Once they have these numbers calculated they contact you with an offer of what they are willing to pay for your vehicle.

Discounts, Alarms and Tracking Devices

Some new cars come with tracking devices such as On*Star which uses satellite technology to track down the location of your stolen vehicle. You would think by having a device like this you would qualify for an insurance discount, but most insurance companies don’t offer this.

Because the tracking device does not deter the theft from happening in the first place, insurance companies don’t see it as a measure to prevent a loss. Most insurance companies will waive your comprehensive deductible though if you have a theft loss and there was a tracking device in the vehicle.

A car alarm is considered a theft deterrent and not only discourages someone from stealing your vehicle, could also get you a discount on your comprehensive coverage.

Are any Vehicles Safer from Theft Than Others?

Yes, some vehicles act like magnets to car thieves and others they pass on by. If you are in the market for a new vehicle and theft is a concern for you below is a list of the vehicles to buy and not to buy.

Vehicles with the Lowest Theft Rates

  1. Audi A6 4WD
  2. Mercury Mariner (2009-10)
  3. Chevrolet Equinox (2010)
  4. Volkswagen CC (2009-10)
  5. Chevrolet Equinox 4WD (2010)
  6. Lexus RX 350 (2010)
  7. Saturn VUE
  8. Chevrolet Aveo (2009-10)
  9. BMW 5 series 4WD
  10. Mini Cooper Clubman

(2008-2010 analysis of insurance claims data from the Highway Loss Data Institute)

Vehicles with Highest Theft Rates

  1. Cadillac Escalade (4 versions)
  2. Ford F-250 crew 4WD
  3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew
  4. Ford F-450 crew 4WD
  5. GMC Sierra 1500 crew
  6. Chrysler 300
  7. Ford F-350 crew 4WD
  8. Chevrolet Avalanche 1500
  9. GMC Yukon
  10. Chrysler 300 HEMI

(2008-2010 analysis of insurance claims data from the Highway Loss Data Institute)

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Car Insurance Guidebook Unravels the Car Insurance Mystery

Unless you work in the car insurance industry, the topic is probably a mystery to you. The words deductible, comprehensive, collision, liability, premium, loss of use and bodily injury are all gibberish when they reach your ears.

Unfortunately, insurance is something that you are required to have by law if you want to drive. Because of how confusing it is many people go around in almost an insurance daze while they get car insurance quotes from the auto insurance companies that they have heard of. In reality, they are completely lost as to what they are actually buying.

Instead of looking at what each insurance company offers in the terms of protection for both themselves and their car, they are instead looking for cheap car insurance. Finding the cheapest car insurance coverage makes having to buy the required product all that much less painful, but misses the whole point of having insurance.

Learning about insurance through your insurance agent or websites like Car Insurance Guidebook will give you the upper hand when you looking for car insurance. You can take your knowledge and not only find the best price for insurance, you can use it to find really great insurance to protect you and your assets. Then you aren’t stuck settling for just average car insurance that can hurt you financially if you ever need it because there isn’t enough protection.

For example, when looking for insurance the car insurance rates are just the first of many factors that need to be taken into account when you are shopping around for car insurance. You also need to take into account the type of vehicle that you are driving. Many people don’t know this.

Are you driving around a vehicle that is a new sedan and can be protected under any blanket insurance policy? Or do you have an old car that you fixed up that needs special protection and could be better covered under classic car insurance?

Don’t just assume that when you compare car insurance that it will be a one-size-fits-all policy. This is where the insurance knowledge will come in handy; you will know what you need to protect yourself and your vehicle.

You will understand what your insurance agent is talking about when they use insurance terms and you will actually be able to make an informed decision. This is much better for you instead of the “nod and smile” approach people take in their insurance agent’s office.

Also just like your life changes your insurance needs will change. This year you may just need to learn about the best deductible to have. Next year you may need to educate yourself on car insurance for young drivers. As the years pass, motorcycle insurance may be something you will need to know.

Many wise people say that you never stop learning, so take their advice and educate yourself on the insurance that you spend a lot of money on and can’t get away with not having.