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How to Handle a Minor Accident

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 06/21/2011

A minor car accident may seem to have only caused a small amount damage, but protect yourself from additional financial costs and possible scams by still calling 911 at the time of the accident.

Crime Scene Report

Filing a police report even for a minor accident is a good idea.

Not all accidents are destructive enough that an ambulance and a tow truck are needed to assist. Some accidents create minor damages to property and are really more of an inconvenience to deal with than anything else.

But, if no rescue teams are needed what is a good way in how to handle a minor car accident?

Assess Any Minor Accident Damage

With any car accident, no matter how minor, always check to see if anyone is injured. Attend to any injuries first and then check the damages that were caused from the accident. In this case you are looking to make sure that you are still able to drive your vehicle away from the scene of the accident legally and do not need a tow truck.

Keep in mind that while the damages done by a car accident may seem minor, sometimes there are underlying things that you cannot see. These damages, such as broken brackets and damage to the frame of the vehicle, are usually only found by a mechanic while they are fixing the visible damages.

In the case of an injury, the adrenaline surge and swelling that happens after an accident covers up any injury that may have happened. These injuries can remain hidden for 48 to 72 hours after the accident and need to be treated when they appear.

So never assume the damages are only minor until they can be assessed later.

Call the Authorities for a Minor Accident

No matter how minor the accident may seem it is best to call 911 for assistance, especially if you are not at fault. Calling 911 and having a police officer come out will provide you with an official record of the accident in the form of a police report. This will prevent anyone from being able to change their story later on down the road.

A police report also gives you a more accurate record of the other party’s personal information so that you can contact their insurance company if needed. People are less likely to give false information to a police officer than they are to a regular person.

Never Agree to Pay for Minor Accident Damages Out of Pocket

If the minor accident is your fault, never agree to pay out of pocket for damages just to keep the insurance company out of it, even if the damages seem minor. As said before there can be underlying property damages that you cannot see or injuries that may present later. Also unscrupulous people can take advantage of the situation by providing you with a bill for the repairs of what they claim were damages from the accident, when the bill actually includes old damages that you did not cause.

Fake injuries are also a possibility in the form of “soft tissue” injuries. These injuries are hard to document and are usually based on the injured person claiming pain in a certain area. This is not to say that they are not real injuries, they are just a type of injury that is frequently claimed by those seeking to take monetary advantage of a situation.

To protect yourself, have a police report filed and report it to your insurance company. Let the insurance company handle it as they know what they are doing and what type of injuries and property damage should occur with the type of accident that you had. Also if the person still tries to pull a scam, they can at least be charged with insurance fraud at this point.

How To Change State Farm Agents

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 12/29/2014

Switching State Farm Agents: You have 3 options to let your old agent know you are leaving and start with a new agent. Get the details now.

If you’re not happy with your agent or insurance company, you can call around for insurance quotes directly from insurance companies. You can also reach out to other agents that may not write for the same insurance company.

But, what if you are not happy with your State Farm agent who writes exclusively for just one insurance company and you still want to stay with that company. This is a situation that some State Farm clients find themselves in, they want to stay with State Farm, but they no longer want to do business with their State Farm agent or they have moved away from the area.

Here’s how to change State Farm Agents…

Step 1: Find A New State Farm Agent

The first step that you need to take is to find a new State Farm agent in your area. You can do this by looking in your local phone book under insurance or you can go to and do an agent find on their website. The information in the phone book is relatively easy to find as State Farm usually takes out a large ad in the phone book that highlights all of the agents in your calling area.

But, the State Farm website is going to have the most current information available to you and if you are looking for a new agent in the area that you are moving to, this may be a better option as you most likely do not have a phone book from that area yet.

Step 2: Requesting to Change Your State Farm Agent

As each insurance company is different in the process that they require to be able to switch agents, I called a State Farm agent directly and asked him what the current process is to switch State Farm agents. He advised that the person that was looking to switch needed to go to their old agent and asked that a request be sent to the new agent to transfer their insurance policy to the new agent.

The new agent would then accept or deny the request and the process could take up to 10 days. He stated that this was the best and actually the fastest way for a policy to be transferred to a new agent.

If you are not on good terms with your agent, a signed written request can also be sent to the old agent asking them to transfer your policy to your new agent.

Step 3: Switching State Farm Agents Through State Farm

State Farm also has one last way that you can request to switch agents and that is directly through them. If you go to the “Contact Us” from their homepage and type in “switch agents” on the next page, it will pull up a link to their email where you can request a change in agents.

What to do after a motorcycle skid accident?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 06/15/2011

How a motorcycle skid accident is handled depends on the severity of the skid and the presence of any injuries.

Any accidents that  involve a motorcycle have to be handled with care as these types of accidents have a higher likelihood of an injury. For a motorcycle skid accident with no injuries, what to do next depends on the seriousness of the accident.

If the accident is minor, for example the motorcycle in front of you stops suddenly and you hit their back tire sending them into a skid at a low speed.  Exchange insurance information and go your own way, if both vehicles are drivable.  You are going to want to report this to your insurance company so that they can have a claim started for when the motorcyclist or their insurance turns in a claim to them, because unless the motorcycle rider pulled out in front of you; you are at fault for following to close (depending on your state laws).

If the vehicle is more serious and additional assistance is needed to clean up fuel or tow a vehicle away, call the authorities for assistance and file a police report.  Having a police report filed for a low speed accident is also a good idea, but unless the area you live in requires on to be filed, may not be necessary.


Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 08/18/2012

A SAFECO Review – After 88 years SAFECO insurance is still top of its class in Customer Service, but is it enough to get new insurance customers?

Safeco Insurance LogoSAFECO insurance is one of those insurance companies that is large, but very few people have heard of them. This makes our SAFECO review all the more important.

Their decision to purchase the name for the Seattle Mariners ballpark was a brilliant decision on the part of management as it took a virtually unknown company and made them known by their company’s name being repeated over and over across the nation during the baseball season.

But, even with a great marketing move like that, you still have to be able to attract and keep you insurance customers so how is SAFECO doing in that part?

About the Company

Seattle based SAFECO Insurance was founded in 1923 by Hawthorne K. Dent originally under the name The General Insurance Company of America Corporation. It wasn’t until 1953 that the name SAFECO (Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America) came about as a new line of business for the company. Eventually the company as a whole was renamed SAFECO.

Over the years SAFECO grew and eventually acquired American States Financial Corporation to increase its book of business and insurance lines that it wrote. In 1998, the name SAFECO became known around the nation when it purchased the naming rights to the Seattle Mariners new ballpark, now known as SAFECO Field.

After a number of up and down years fiscally, SAFECO was purchased by another company in 2008 and is now part of the Liberty Mutual Group.

Quote Process

Getting a quote from SAFECO was an interesting process. The preferred method by SAFECO to obtain a quote is to go through an independent insurance agent that writes SAFECO insurance. I decided to bypass this as getting a quote from an agency would be more of me reviewing the agency and how they handle the quote process and not how SAFECO handles it.

Being of the internet generation I went straight to to get a quote online. The system walked me through step by step and got my information and then came up with a figure at the end. The amount was higher than what I pay for insurance with my current company even after I manually figured in a homeowners discount and the longevity discount we get. I was also concerned about how far off this quote was because I never put in my Social Security Number, the VIN number to my vehicles or my driver’s license number.

Two days later I called SAFECO at their call center (1-800-4SAFECO) to get a new quote, curious if this one would be the exact same. The person I talked to pulled up the quote that I got online just by using my name. Not only did he give me a better rate, he also gave me quotes with and without the homeowner’s discount, with and without an advanced quote discount and talked to me about a number of different discounts. He was very thorough with the rates and the discounts, but not with the coverages.

SAFECO Positives: Customer Service

Customer service in an insurance company encompasses all departments and not just the department that I ended up in to get my insurance quote. But, as far as the customer service that I had contact with during my quote process, I was very pleased. The Customer Service Agent that I spoke with was friendly and engaged in small talk while working on my quote. He explained to me what he was doing and explained how he was able to get driving and claim records by my name and address when he did not ask for Social Security Numbers, VIN numbers or my husband’s driver’s license. He also answered my many questions without making me feel like I was being a bother to him.

SAFECO Negatives: Online Pre-quotes

The premium that I was quoted online ended up being about 150.00 higher than the options that the Customer Service Agent offered me when I called in for a quote. This is not a good thing for SAFECO or the person seeking the quote. After I received the online quote I logged off the online quoting system and would never have given SAFECO a second thought.

This means that I would have missed out on an insurance policy that was actually cheaper than what I am paying now with my current carrier and SAFECO could have lost a potential client.


Other than working in the claims department for SAFECO prior to it being acquired by Liberty Mutual, I have had no claims experience with this company. J.D. Power and Associates has SAFECO ranked as only “about average” when compared to other insurance companies.


When I got my online quote switching to SAFECO was the last thing on my mind. The rates I was quoted online were higher than what I am paying now for my auto insurance with my current carrier and from my previous working experience with SAFECO this sounded right from what I remembered about their rates. I never would have called the contact center for an additional quote if I was not creating a review for SAFECO.

At this time, I am still up in the air about SAFECO and if we will make the switch or not.

Quote Process: 5

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Price: 8

(Scale 1-10: 10=the cheapest)

Customer Service: 10

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Claims: *no rating

Overall Rating: 7

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 05/27/2011

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible program offers you a chance to pay less money out of your pocket at the time of a claim as a reward for previous good driving.

Pile of Money Getting Smaller with Vanishing Deductible

Nationwide's Vanishing Deductible decreases your deductible in exchange for good driving.

Every insurance company tries to offer a special program to draw new customers into their insurance family. It could be a discount for your expensive student if they keep up their grades or it could be a premium refund for every year you don’t file an insurance claim. In the case of Nationwide Insurance – it’s their Vanishing Deductible program.

The information that Nationwide offers on their website gives the basics of the program, but leaves one asking a lot of questions.

To get more information, I called the Nationwide’s Insurance Call Center at 877-669-6877 and the representative there was able to offer more of the details of the Nationwide Vanishing Deductible program.

What is Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible?

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible program is a basically a safe driver reward program that will save you money on your deductible if you should ever have a claim. If you sign up for this particular Nationwide program and chose a $500 deductible with your coverage, they automatically knock $100 off of your deductible just for signing up; making your $500 deductible $400 from the start.

Then for each year that you are a safe driver and do not file a claim with Nationwide they will knock off an additional $100 (up to $500).

If you do have a claim you will only have to pay out of pocket what your current deductible is at the time of the accident.  For example, you choose a $500 deductible and you are a safe driver for 2 years and get 2 of the $100 deductible drops. If you have an accident your deductible will only be $200 for that accident ($500 starting deductible – $100 sign up bonus – $200 for two years of safe driving = $200 left of your vanishing deductible).

What Deductibles Does it Cover?

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible decreases all of your deductibles that you have on your policy, not just your collision coverage deductible. This means your comprehensive deductible, your uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage and your collision deductible.

What if the Accident is not my Fault?

If you have an accident that is not your fault, then you shouldn’t be penalized for it under this program, right? The answer to that question is….sort of.

Per the call center employee, if Nationwide has to pay for the damages from the accident you can use the lowered deductible for this claim, but you start back to your full deductible again after the accident.

So if your deductible has been lowered to $300 from $500 through the Vanishing Deductible program, your deductible for this accident will be $300. But, then you go back to the $500 deductible after that and have to start working toward claim free years again to start getting it lowered back down.

The only exceptions to this is if the other party’s insurance pays for the damages to your vehicle, if you have a rock chip in your windshield that can be repaired without the windshield being replaced and if you total your vehicle. The last one is a bit tricky though.

If you total out your vehicle Nationwide will waive your full deductible for you with this claim, but your claim free period is erased and you start back over at your full deductible again.

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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.