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What is an Insurance Adjuster?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 03/14/2011

Three different types of insurance adjusters and how they are involved in the claims process.

A Collision Repair Estimate for an Insurance Adjuster

An Insurance Adjuster works off an estimate to pay for damages.

What is an insurance adjuster and what exactly do they do?

Insurance adjusters have one of the hardest jobs in the insurance industry.  They are responsible for making sure that an insurance company’s legal obligation to their insured is satisfied by paying out legitimate claims that the insured may have.

They also try to offer an acceptable offer of repair or settlement to the insured or other party and at the same time trying to keep the cost of the claim low so that the insurance company can still make a profit.

Property Damage Insurance Adjusters

An adjuster in the field of property damage views the amount of damage done to a vehicle or other property and then assigns a monetary value to it.  Most times in the case of a car accident the damage assessment is actually done by a body shop and then they submit their estimates to the adjuster for payment.  The adjuster reviews the estimate to make sure that the damage being fixed pertains to the accident, the work being done is restoring the vehicle to the condition it was in prior to the accident and not improving the vehicle and that the prices for the parts and labor are acceptable.

The assessment of damage done to a home is similar to the way damage to a vehicle is assessed and paid.  The only difference between a vehicle and home is that most of the time it is the adjuster that comes out to assess the damage to a home — not the contractor that will be doing the work.

In the case of a theft, the adjuster is given a list by the insured of what items are stolen and they are responsible to make sure that the items are covered under the policy that the theft is being claimed under.  They also research the value of each item to compile a payment that is made to the insured for the current value of the items or replacement value, depending on the type of coverage that the insured paid for with their policy.

Bodily Injury Insurance Adjusters

A Bodily Injury Adjuster is responsible for the injuries that mostly arise out of an auto accident, in some cases it can also be a homeowner’s insurance claim in the case of an injury from negligence.   They gather medical bills, assess treatment making sure that it is relevant to the injury that the insured is accused of causing and then at the end of treatment settling the claim.  They also work on the medical bills for the insured or other injured parties that were in the insured’s vehicle at the time of the accident, if the insured has the coverage.

Settlement for a bodily injury claim is not just adding up the medical bills and making payment on them.  It also includes a monetary amount for pain and suffering that was caused by the accident.  The settlement of the pain and suffering part of the claim is where there is usually the most disagreement.  The insurance company does not want to pay out more than it has too and the person that had the injury is feels that their pain and suffering is worth more than what is offered.

If the injured party and the adjuster cannot reach an agreement through their own negotiations, legal counsel is called in and the settlement is either negotiated then or it heads to court.

When to Drop Car Insurance

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Research Last Updated: 03/09/2011

How to drop car insurance, dropping a car you’re no longer driving, switching companies, and what to do if there’s a problem.

When this happens, it's time to drop your car insurance.

Much is written on how to get car insurance in the most expensive manner possible. However, little is out there on when to drop car insurance, and how to do it.

It’s a relatively simple process, but it’s not always straightforward. The most important part about dropping car insurance is to keep good records.

How to Drop Car insurance

Logically, the main reason to drop car insurance is when you’re no longer driving the car in question. This can be for any number of reasons including you’ve sold or otherwise transferred ownership of the car, if the car is no longer driveable due to a prior accident. The other reason to drop car insurance is if you’re switching companies. What you don’t want to do is simply assume your insurance will cancel itself. You have to be proactive.

Car insurance is typically paid 30 to 45 days in advance. By simply letting your coverage lapse, you’re effectively covering a car you’re not driving for that period of time. Regardless of whether you have a personal or commercial policy, you want to let your agent and company know of the change ASAP.

Dropping Insurance on a Car You’re No Longer Driving

When dropping car insurance, make sure you inform your agent of the make, model and VIN of the car in question so it matches up with his or her records. Tell them the exact date you wish to no longer cover the car as well so you can be refunded correctly. Agents add and drop vehicles all the time, so don’t feel like you’re putting them out with your request — after all, it’s their job.

If your car is totaled in an accident it may (and should be) be dropped automatically, but don’t simply assume it is. Consult with your agent to be sure. Also make sure that any other vehicles you have stay on the policy. It’s a good idea to review your coverages periodically even if you don’t have any problems or changes.

Changing Companies

In an instance where recent car insurance advertising campaigns actually speak the whole truth, car insurance indeed does not have to be canceled at renewal. You have the right to cancel at any time for any reason or for no reason at all. To that end if you find a better deal, there’s no reason not to go for it.

Canceling mid-term can be a bit messy, however. You won’t get a refund on your unpaid premium from your old company right away, but your new company will expect its startup premium right away. Be sure you have enough to compensate for this

If You Have Problems

If you find your agent is unresponsive to your car insurance cancellation requests you can contact the company directly. If necessary you can fill out the consumer sections of an “Acord Cancellation Request/Policy Release” form and present it to the company. This form is a generic insurance cancellation form all companies and most agents are familiar with. Failing that, you should take the matter to your state insurance commission, however that should be an extremely rare occurrence.

What Makes Auto Insurance Go Up

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 03/07/2011

The drivers and vehicles listed on your policy, new driving statistics, and other things will affect your auto insurance rates.

What Makes Auto Insurance Go Up and More Money out of your Pocket

Certain changes to your auto insurance will mean more money paid by you

People already don’t like paying their insurance premium so when something happens to make that premium increase it makes it all that much worse.  There are many different things that you can do to try and keep your premiums down as low as possible, but let’s take a look at some of the things of what makes auto insurance go up in the first place.

Drivers Make Your Auto Insurance Go Up

The drivers on your policy and their driving records play a big part in the premiums that you pay for your insurance.  Any negative changes such as an at-fault accident or traffic violations added to these records can make your auto insurance go up.   Once a driver reaches a certain age (sometimes even over 50), they are considered an increased driving risk and will cause an increase in insurance premiums.

Drivers being added to your policy can also increase your premium.  Added drivers mean addition time that your vehicles will be on the road exposed to a potential accident, it also means that you will most likely be adding a new car for that new driver, which also will increase your premiums.

But, the steepest increase that you will see in your insurance premium is when you add a new teen driver.  These drivers are inexperienced and are still learning how to be a responsible adult behind the wheel.  They are also the driving group that has the highest number of accidents per year and insurance companies charge high premiums for them to try and collect as much money as possible to cover the accident that they will most likely have.

Vehicles Make Your Auto Insurance Go Up

Adding a new vehicle to your policy will increase your premiums if one of two factors exists.  One, you are adding a vehicle to your life instead of replacing an old one.  Even with a multi-car discount the premium will still increase due to the additional risk that has been added to your insurance policy.

Two, the new vehicle that you now have is newer and/or more expensive than the one you are trading in for it.  New and more expensive vehicles generally cost more to fix and the insurance company wants to make sure that the premium that they collect is appropriate compared to the cost of repair in the case of an accident.

Statistics Make Your Auto Insurance Go Up

Insurance companies are all about the statistics.  Which driving group is statistically more likely to have an accident?  What vehicle statistically causes more damage when in an accident?  So when new statistics come out that a driving group or a vehicle was a higher risk than first thought, insurance companies adjust rates.  What this means to you is that if you are one of those drivers or own one of those vehicles, you will see an increase in your premium at your next renewal.

Provisional Car Insurance for Drivers with Provisional Licenses

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

What license requires provisional car insurance, what it really is and how can you keep the rates lower for this type of coverage.

Application for a Driver's License

Applying for a provisional driver's license means you are ready to drive alone.

Provisional car insurance is a bit tricky.

Provisional insurance is not an actual insurance policy for a vehicle, it is extra coverage for a new driver that holds what could be considered a “learners license”.

The License that Requires Provisional Car Insurance

Provisional car insurance is for drivers that hold a provisional license.  A provisional license can be held by either a new teen driver or a driver that has had their unrestricted license revoked due to bad driving activity.  Because most provisional licenses are held by new teen drivers, that is the provisional license group we will concentrate on right now.

In the past it used to be that a new driver went straight from a learner’s permit to a driver’s license once they had reached a certain age or successfully completed driver’s education.  Today, a number of states require a new driver to earn a provisional driver’s license.

A provisional license adds a restricted step in between a permit and the freedom of a driver’s license.  It requires that the new driver gain additional experience behind the wheel without having to have a licensed driver in the vehicle like a permit, but with added rules that are not required with a regular driver’s license.  These can include rules such as: a driving curfew, driving during daylight only, or restrictions on who will be allowed to be in the car with the provisional licensed driver.

What Provisional Car Insurance Really Is

As we already discussed, provisional car insurance is not a policy in itself, it is just the insurance coverage that is available for a new driver with a provisional license.  It is needed because the driver with the provisional insurance is an increased risk for your policy and the insurance company wants to make sure that they are collecting the extra premium needed to cover the increased chance that one of your vehicles will now be in a car accident due to this driver.

Not all insurance companies have specific provisional insurance available to add, to find out how your insurance company will handle a new driver with a provisional license in your household contact your insurance agent.

Keeping the Rates Lower for Provisional Car Insurance

Adding a new driver to your insurance policy is expensive whether it is for provisional coverage or as a regular driver.  As new drivers are usually teens here are some tips on how to keep the rates down on your new driver.

  • Make sure that your new driver keeps their grades up to earn a good grade discount.
  • Enroll your new driver in an accredited driving course.
  • Notify your insurance company that your new driver has a provisional license and not a full privilege license.
  • If your insurance company insists on placing the provisional driver as a rated driver on one of your vehicles, have your new driver driving your oldest and least expensive vehicle – if the company will allow it.
  • Check to see if you can cover your new driver with non-owner coverage.  This coverage is for drivers that do not have their own vehicle and rarely drive your vehicle.

Learner Driver Insurance and the New Driver

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

Learner driver insurance for the permit drivers, the provisional drivers and newly-licensed drivers.

A Student Driver Vehicle

Every driver has to start at the beginning.

Very few people are automatically good at something when they first start learning how to do it; this is no different when you learn how to drive.

Learning to drive a machine that is capable of doing serious damage or even killing someone takes a good deal of time in class and being behind the wheel before you get the hang of it.

In addition to learning how to control the vehicle, you also have more laws than you can count to try and remember (not to mention laws from different states if you live near a state line).  This is why there are different levels of learning for the new driver and each new level brings a different learner driver insurance to work with.

Learner Driver Insurance For Permit Drivers

Does a permit driver have to have learner driver insurance?  This question is asked by parents around the country every year.  To tell you the truth, there is no one correct blanket answer to this question.

Whether a permit driver has to be added to an insurance policy depends on the insurance laws and regulations in your state and also your insurance company.  Some insurance companies do not require that your permit driver be added to your insurance policy until they are actually licensed, other companies want them added to increase your premium to cover the higher chance of an accident happening to your vehicle now.

Like most questionable situations in insurance, consult your agent for your answer.

Learner Driver Insurance for Provisional License Drivers

Provisional drivers are not found in every state, but they do make up enough of a population to take note.  They are new drivers that have graduated from the learner’s permit, but have not quite earned the freedom and responsibility of having a regular driver’s license.  The difference between a provisional license and a regular license is that there are restrictions on the provisional license like; driving curfews and who is allowed to be in the vehicle with you while you are driving.

Provisional drivers, as a general rule, are expected to be added to your insurance policy once they have their provisional license.  Contact your insurance company or agent as to what needs to be done in your situation.

Learner Driver Insurance for Newly-Licensed Drivers

Learner driver insurance for a new driver that has earned their regular driving license doesn’t really fall into the category that most people think of as a learner driver.  But, these drivers are still learning even though they do have their license.

These new drivers are also the most expensive to insure because of their lack of experience behind the wheel. Sometimes they lack a sense of responsibility and the fact that they are still learning how to control the vehicle in different situations.    Even though you may not want to, you have to add these drivers to your insurance policy once they have their license – despite what your checking account is telling you.

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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.