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Going Long to Show Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Advertising, Research Last Updated: 08/24/2011

Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. provide a demonstration on how Nationwide’s vanishing deductible program works.



Danica: We’re here to demonstrate how vanishing deductible from Nationwide Insurance works. (Looking at Dale) Now go long.

Dale takes off in a jog for a short distance.

Danica: With vanishing deductible you get 100 dollars off your deductible for signing up.

Dale (Stops running and turns around): Good?

Danica: Keep Going.

Dale runs a little farther.

Danica: Then for every year of safe driving it gets 100 dollars smaller.

Dale (stops running): How about now?

Danica: Little bit more. Until it could vanish completely.

Camera draws back and we see that Dale has now vanished.  Danica looks around calling for him.

Scene changes to Dale driving off in a car.

Dale: Looks like her ride home vanished too.

Point of the Commercial

Nationwide gets to plug two things in this commercial. One, they are using two well-known NASCAR drivers to give you a physical demonstration of how their vanishing deductible works. The vanishing deductible program is their latest gimmick to get new customers so they want to make sure you really understand how it works.

As silly as it sounds, most people are visual learners and this commercial really does help drive the point home on how it works.

Two, Nationwide is a huge sponsor of NASCAR. With the commercial using drivers that even people who know nothing about NASCAR can recognize and also shooting the commercial on a racing track; Nationwide is plugging NASCAR also.

What the Insurance Company Wants You to Do

At the end of the commercial the screen has the company’s phone number and also the phone number is in the jingle at the end. Obviously, they want you to call them for a quote about this vanishing deductible program that they have. The phone call is the key here, there is no emphasis on a website or contacting a local agent, they want you to call them directly.

My Opinion

Even if you aren’t a fan of NASCAR, you have to admit that it is fun to watch these two drivers in this commercial together. There is a fun onscreen chemistry with them and they each get the best of each other while making the point about the vanishing deductible.

Not only is it fun, it also balances out the sexism. Since they each get the better of the other one, there is no “one sex is better than the other”. This is especially nice to see since Danica is the only female NASCAR driver at this time.

I give it a thumbs up.

What Is a Claim in Auto Insurance?

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Definitions, Research Last Updated: 08/19/2011

What an insurance claim is, the process of an auto insurance claim, and what to do if there’s a problem with your auto insurance claim.

Insurance is nothing without claims.

Much can be said about the various nuances of insurance, but ultimately it all boils down to one thing: claims. Without claims, or at least the possibility of claims, there is no point to insurance. It is therefore an exceedingly important subject to consider when discussing any insurance topic.

Property and casualty insurance companies fully expect to spend two-thirds of their revenue on claims. They are required by law to keep large amounts of money on hand in reserves for the purpose of paying claims.

Claims are a big deal for any insurance company, auto insurance or otherwise; any company that doesn’t take claims seriously should be regarded with immediate suspicion.

Simply put, a claim is a notification of loss made by an insured to the insurance company. The insurance company then investigates the claim and assuming the claim is legitimate indemnifies the insured for the loss per the terms of the policy. It’s pretty straightforward, but there are certain steps that need to be taken to get to that all-important claim check.

The Auto Insurance Claims Process

Instructions to contact your insurance company are located on your auto insurance card you should carry in your vehicle at all times. Some companies will have you contact your agent, while others provided dedicated claims phone services. Contact your company as soon as possible after an accident.

Provide all the facts you can about the accident, including time, date, what vehicles were involved, extent of damage, if there were any injuries and if any law enforcement was called on the scene. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all that, the agent or claims representative will be able to help you.

Once the claim is reported it is assigned to a claims adjuster. The adjuster is either an insurance company employee or a contractor who specializes in investigating claims. A claims adjuster is never an agent. Indeed agents often have no direct contact with the claim itself after the initial report. Keep in contact with the adjuster for up to the minute reports. In addition, some companies now offer a special service that allows you to keep track of your vehicle while it’s being repaired.

After any deductibles the claim is paid in one of two ways, either directly to you as a cash payment or in services performed by the repair or auto body shop. Either way, the payment must be approved by the adjuster before the insurance company authorizes payment. Of course, if a cash payment is made the insurance company won’t pay to have the car fixed. You’re on you’re own with that.

Handling Disputes

If you are unable to resolve disputes with your adjuster, you can hire a third party adjuster for a second opinion of the damage. Lawyering up and going to arbitration or court should only be done in extreme cases after all other avenues are exhausted.

While a claims adjuster necessarily works for the insurance company, a good adjuster will work with you to give you the best claim settlement possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and check up on the work done throughout the process.

Insurance Marketing: Getting Your Name out There

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 08/18/2011

Insurance marketing has migrated away from strictly selling through agents to marketing to the masses.

Insurance Banner to Advertise An Insurance Company

Insurance companies employ many marketing ploys to get you to remember them.

Marketing for any company is very important. If you are in a highly competitive field like insurance it is not only important, it is vital. There are so many insurance companies out there for people to choose from that if a company is not participating in insurance marketing, they will not survive.

For an insurance company to survive they have to constantly change the way they market themselves to get their name out there in front of you. Not only that, but they also have to get you to remember their name.

The Basic Premise

The base premise of insurance marketing now is to get your name out there into the public. If people don’t know who you are, they aren’t going to try and get a quote from you. No quotes mean no business.

Some insurance companies still rely heavily on independent insurance agents to sell their insurance as their only means of marketing. These are usually small insurance companies whose sales will remain small if they continue to do this.

The insurance companies that have made their way to the Fortune 500 list with their company size and revenue are the ones that are actively advertising their presence as an insurance company. They are engaged in effective advertising campaigns so that you will remember them. They are also putting their names on sports complexes, race cars and sponsoring high profile events to get their name out there.

Insurance Mascots

Mascots for teams and other companies have been around for a very long time. They are the symbol that sticks in the heads of people (anyone remember “Avoid the Noid” from Domino’s Pizza?) to get them to remember a company.

They also create a figure that people have an easier time psychologically supporting. Just ask yourself if you see the Walt Disney Company as a huge international corporation or the makers of Mickey Mouse?

We can rally behind the company with passion and smiles when we think of Mickey and all of the other characters. But, when you start to think that it is just a huge company with the goal of separating us from our money, the good feelings start to go away.

In the field of insurance the GEICO Gecko, Flo from Progressive and Mayhem from Allstate are the top three recognized mascots in the insurance industry right now. These are figures that help people remember the insurance companies they represent.

How many of you would have been able to remember GEICO without that gecko with the accent?


Insurance agents used to be the primary insurance marketing avenue that companies took. The agents were located in local markets and it was their job to sell, sell, sell.

Today, agents still sell insurance and are a good portion of insurance marketing, but they are no longer the only source. The internet made a huge change to the way that insurance is marketed as people can now go online, get a quote and purchase their policy right from their home.

Now companies are finding themselves having to step up their own advertising to get their name out there in front of the people that are getting their own insurance without an agent.

Can I Regularly Drive another Person’s Vehicle with No Insurance?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question, Research Last Updated: 08/21/2011

If you regularly drive a vehicle that you do not own it is still in your best interest to make sure there is insurance coverage in place.

Liability insurance coverage is required to drive in every state.

For example, in the state of Texas there has to be some evidence of insurance on the vehicle to avoid penalties. With their new TexasSure program it is the owner of the vehicle that is the one responsible for providing verification of insurance coverage.   

If you are driving a vehicle on a regular basis that is owned by someone else, insurance companies require that you be listed on their policy. If you are not listed and are a regular driver, they could deny coverage in the case of an accident.

If you are driving a vehicle and the owner of the vehicle does not  list you on their policy and refuses to give you any information in regard to the insurance coverage (if any) for the vehicle it would be wise to purchase a non-owner insurance policy.

A non-owner policy provides insurance coverage for you on any vehicle that you drive. You do not have to own a vehicle to be able to get this coverage and it is usually a very cheap policy.

Even if you are not the owner of the vehicle it is prudent for you to make sure that there is insurance in place. In some states both the driver of the vehicle and the owner of the vehicle will be ticketed for no insurance if there is an accident or the driver is pulled over.

Underwriting: The Rules of Auto Insurance

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Definitions, Research Last Updated: 08/18/2011

What underwriting is, why statistics drive it, how computerized underwriting streamlines the auto insurance buying process, and why underwriting fosters auto insurance competition.

Let computers do the underwriting. Life is less stressful. Really.

As with everything else, auto insurance has rules. One has to follow those rules in order to get the right policy issued to the right driver and the right vehicle to ensure both proper coverage and to keep the insurance company in the black at the same time.

But what are the rules?

This is a question that can confound even the sharpest of minds. Fortunately there is a method to know how the game is played: underwriting.

In a general sense, underwriting refers to the qualifying and pricing rules insurance goes by. Underwriters work in all forms of insurance: homeowners insurance, life insurance, renter’s insurance, commercial general liability insurance, you name it.

For auto insurance underwriting is dependent on literally thousands of variables regarding the auto, the driver and the conditions the auto is driven under, such as miles driven to work each day. All of these factors and more can not only determine if the auto and driver qualify for a policy to begin with, but also how much the premium will be.

Statistics Rule in Underwriting

Auto insurance underwriting is driven by statistics. The basic premise behind auto insurance pricing is that groups which cause the most accidents should pay the most in premium, while safer groups should pay less.

These experiences vary from company to company, but for the most part insurance companies agree that teenage drivers cost more than their older counterparts. Also,  Women are slightly less expensive to insure than men and people with tickets and claims cost more to insure than those with clean records. Insurance companies employ actuaries to crunch the numbers and back these claims up with hard facts.

Underwriting Goes Digital

Despite often complex variables, many auto insurance carriers are moving away from human underwriters and relying more and more on automated underwriting to allow for quicker policy issuance. In the past agents temporarily bound coverage when an application was written with final approval, or policy issuance, coming only when the policy was approved by an underwriter at the home office.

Today many auto insurance companies will issue a policy on the spot thanks to computerized underwriting systems, sending an application to an underwriter at home office only if a particularly unusual circumstance is encountered.

Computerized auto insurance underwriting takes the guesswork out of auto insurance applications, which saves both insurance agents and customers a lot of grief. Customers know that their policy is issued and in force before they walk out the agent’s office, and agents don’t have to go back days or even weeks later to tell a customer their policy was turned down by underwriting, something agents dread more than just about anything in the business. If there are problems, it’s known right away.

Different Companies Use Different Underwriting

Not all insurance companies are created equal, and some companies look at the business with very different mindsets. For example, a standard insurance company will underwrite very differently than a high-risk insurance company, and a specialty car insurance company will underwrite even more differently than their mainstream counterparts.

This is why price can vary widely for the same driver and the same car from company to company; different companies consider different things in their underwriting. Because underwriting is by no means uniform across the industry, it pays to shop around.

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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.