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Accident Surcharges: Paying More Premiums for Bad Driving

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 06/22/2011

Accident surcharges are added on to your policy so that your insurance company can make up the money it had to pay out for your claim and future claims.

Increasing numbers from accident surcharges

Every accident you have is assigned a point value to determine how much your accident surcharge will be for your insurance premium.

No one likes to pay for insurance, but it is something that everyone has to have if they want to drive. To keep your insurance premiums down so that paying them is less painful, stay away from premium surcharges, sometimes called accident surcharges.

How can you do this? Don’t cause an accident.

Minor accident

Insurance companies assigned a certain amount of points to each accident type and then apply your surcharges per how many points you have.

A minor accident has the least amount of points charged and will have the smallest impact to your premiums. A minor accident is classified as an accident that caused less than $2000 in damages. The amount of points and damage cost allowed to be classified as a minor accident depends on the insurance company that you are currently with and also the state you are living in.

Major Accident

Major accidents are the accidents where the damage cost is beyond what would classify as a minor accident. Again how it is classified will depend on your insurance company and state. These accidents carry a heavier point value and you will see a steeper increase in your insurance premiums if you have a major accident.

DUI/DWI Accident

If you are dumb enough to be driving behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you deserve every single penny in surcharges that you will see if you cause a DUI/ DWI accident. You will not only see major accident surcharges,  you will also get the surcharge of the DUI/DWI traffic violation and also the SR-22 filing surcharge that you will now be required to have on your insurance policy. All of which will make you an honorary member of the high risk insurance pool.

Members of high risk insurance get to enjoy monthly premiums that are high enough to rival what you are making for a car payment all the way up to what you are paying a month in rent or for your mortgage.

Driver’s Safety Courses

Even if you have managed to rack up the points for accidents (and even traffic violations), there is hope for you and your insurance premium. If offered in your area, take a driver’s safety course. This course can help erase points from your driving record and help to decrease your insurance premium. In some cases, you will be given the chance to take a driver’s safety course after an accident or traffic violation in exchange for not having the points land on your driving record.

However, if your insurance company has to pay out damages for an accident that you have been in, regardless of taking this course, you will still see an accident surcharge. These courses are designed to get the points off of or prevent points from being put on your driving record only. In the end though, the lower points on your driving record will still help to decrease your insurance premium.

Starting Car Insurance

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 06/22/2011

Starting car insurance on yourself or a new vehicle is not hard, but still requires time and effort like other major purchases.

A sign showing you where to start your insurance

At some point in every driver's life they have to start their own car insurance.

Anyone that drives a vehicle has to go through the process of starting car insurance. This can happen when you first get your license, when you leave your parent’s house and start living on your own or even when it is time to buy a new vehicle.

The process is not hard, but to find a good price with a good company will take some of your time, but it is worth it in the end.

Starting Car Insurance for a New Driver

When you are a new driver you are usually 16 and still living with your parents.  Being added to insurance at first is something that your parents take care of for you. But, what about those that are starting their car insurance when they are adults? There is a long list of reasons that they waited to get their license or were not allowed to get their license until after they were 18.

No matter the reason, starting car insurance always starts with calling around to agents and insurance companies for quotes.  Make sure that you are getting quotes for the same coverages and limits so that you can compare the quotes to see who offers the best price. If you are getting quotes for different coverages, you won’t know who really has the best prices as you are not getting a good comparison of what you need to buy.

Also as a new driver, expect to be paying a higher amount of insurance than those of your same age group that have been driving. New drivers with no driving experience are usually placed in a high risk insurance group with higher premiums due to the higher chance of an accident happening from the lack of driving experience.

Out On Your Own For the First Time

Once you have moved out of your parent’s house you are no longer allowed to be on their insurance policy. It is time to start looking for your own insurance. To start, you may look at staying with the insurance company that your parents are with and just having them split you off onto your own policy. This is the simplest way to start car insurance for yourself when you are just starting out on your own in life.

If you would rather find your own insurance or want to see if another company can offer you a better rate, it is time to shop around. If your parents have an insurance agent, contact that agent and have them quote other insurance companies for you. If you find a premium that you like, purchase the policy and you have started your car insurance. If you are still not happy with the premiums quoted, go online and get quotes directly from insurance companies or through insurance websites like ours.

Starting Car Insurance for a New Car

Starting car insurance for your new vehicle if you already have car insurance is very simple. All you have to do is call your current insurance company or agent and let them know that you have a new car and they will put it on your current policy. This may also be a good time to start shopping around for quotes from other insurance companies and agencies to see if you can get better insurance rates on your vehicles than what your current insurance is offering.

How to Get a New Insurance Card

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 06/22/2011

Because you must prove you are carrying insurance (by law), knowing how to get a new insurance card is pretty important.

Auto Insurance Documents

If you have lost your insurance card from your auto documents, get it replaced as soon as you can.

Insurance, specifically liability insurance, is required to be able to drive in all states. If you were to ever get pulled over for any reason, one of the things that the police officer will ask you for is proof of insurance.

This proof of insurance is the insurance card that your insurance company provides for you when you first get your insurance and also at each renewal. It provides your basic insurance information and the dates of your current insurance term to show that you purchased insurance for a certain time period. So if you have lost your insurance card you need to find out how to get a new insurance card.

Ask for a New Card

If at any time you have lost or misplaced your insurance card you can contact your insurance company or agent to get a new insurance card. Depending on the procedures of the company there are three ways that you will be getting a replacement card. First, your agent may make you a temporary card that has your information typed into a pre-set form.

Second, the insurance company will mail you a replacement card via snail mail. Third, if you are registered with your insurance company through their website that allows you to access all of your policy information, there should be an option to print out a replacement verification of insurance from here.

Use Your Declarations Page Instead

An insurance card is not the only way to provide proof of insurance so if you can’t figure out how to get a new insurance card from your insurance company or agent, use your declarations page from your insurance policy instead. This has all of the information that you would need to provide anyone that requires proof that you have insurance. In fact, it provides much more information than your insurance card does and actually much more than anyone would need to know.

Because of the large amount of information that is on your declarations page, do not under any circumstances allow anyone that you have been in an accident with see your declarations page. This information will provide them with your limits of liability and if they or their attorney try to sue you, they will know how much they can go up to for your insurance to cover it.

If you are in an accident and you only have your declarations page as your proof of insurance, you can write down or tell the other person the basic information (your policy number, name, insurance company and the insurance company’s phone number) as this is really the only information that they need to know.

What Happens If I Don’t Have My Insurance Card?

If you have not replaced your insurance card and are pulled over by a police officer, you will be cited for not having proof of insurance or not having insurance (depending on your state). Don’t just pay the fine, you can go to court and if you provide proof that you had insurance at the time that you were pulled over usually the ticket is dropped.  Again, the process depends on the state, but it is just best to always have that proof of insurance with you.

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.

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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.