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Cheap Van Insurance For Your Van

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/18/2010

How van insurance is different from normal auto insurance, getting the extras covered, and how RV insurance may make more sense

yellow delivery van

Good, cheap van coverage is easier than you think.

Getting cheap van insurance is very similar to getting cheap car insurance. After all, a personal van policy is no different from a personal auto policy – but that’s different from commercial van insurance.

If you’re trying to keep your premiums low, treat it the same way you would normal car insurance. For inexpensive van insurance, you’ll want to go with the lowest liability limits and highest full coverage deductibles to limit costs. Just make sure you’re getting adequate coverage in the process.

Shopping around doesn’t hurt either. Different companies look at different things when calculating premiums so rates can vary dramatically.

However, there are other things one should consider when insuring a van. There are a lot of extras generally not found in the run-of-the-mill sedan. Cheap van insurance isn’t just about getting the best price.

Additional Coverage for Van Extras

But a standard auto policy won’t always cover a van’s extra stuff. Vans often come with extra items – these items can usually cover with an ‘inland marine’ rider. The term ‘inland marine’ is a quaint 19th Century throwback, originally referring to insurance for items transported along canals. Today it refers to coverage for items not covered by the standard auto insurance.

Extra items on vans include third-party installed car stereos and other valuable aftermarket items. Agents or brokers may forget to tell you that if an item is not factory installed, it may not be covered on a standard automobile policy for theft or vandalism. The inland marine rider fills that gap by covering those items separately.

In addition, most inland marine coverage is based on stated value. In other words you tell the agent how much it is worth and it’s covered for that amount less any deductible – though that amount may diminish over time due to depreciation. Bear in mind, this coverage isn’t just for vans. Any vehicle with aftermarket upgrades installed would benefit from inland marine coverage.

RV Insurance for Really Big ‘Vans’

The cheapest van insurance may not be “van insurance” at all. If your van qualifies, you may want to consider insuring it as a recreational vehicle instead of as a personal automobile.

In addition to liability and material damage coverage, RV insurance often comes with extras such as coverage for personal property, liability coverage at vacation sites, emergency expense coverage (such as for a hotel room if the RV breaks down), and other enhanced benefits not found in a typical personal auto policy.

Check with your agent or broker to see if your van qualifies for RV insurance.

How Much Does Insurance Go Up After An Accident?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 03/17/2015

*Please note: We cannot tell you if your car insurance will go up after an accident or if you will lose your license.  Only your insurance company can advise you of any increases to your personal insurance policy and only your local authorities or state DMV can offer advice on your driver’s license.

blue car hit utility pole

How much will this driver’s insurance go up?

How much does insurance go up after an accident?

It depends. Largely on the nature of the accident and how your insurance company views it.

Sometimes your rates are unchanged. In another situation, your policy will be dropped from the company – a bad situation. Oftentimes, the answer is somewhere in between. That’s why it’s often hard to answer how much insurance goes up after an accident.

Before delving into specifics on whether post-accident insurance increases, you should understand one of the immutable laws of auto insurance:

Drivers with Incidents (Accidents/Tickets) Pay More

In general, people who have tickets pay more than people who don’t have tickets. In addition, people who make claims pay more as well. On the other hand, safe drivers with no tickets or accidents pay the lowest premiums.

That’s just how it works in Insurance Land.

How Insurance Companies Rate An Accident

So if you have an at-fault accident and there’s a large claim, the rule is you will pay more for your insurance premium. If the accident involves gross negligence (think DWI), your insurance policy could even be canceled. Ultimately, that means you will pay more for your insurance since you’ll need high risk insurance.

So how much more will you pay?

Assuming you don’t get canceled, you may get a surcharge on your policy. These surcharges can be 10% or more. They’re also stackable – meaning you can have more than one surcharge if you have more than one accident.

Surcharges are also different from company to company and usually last 3 years. If you get one, plan to pay an increased rate for awhile. Bottom line, if you have an at-fault accident with a big claim, your insurance will go up.

But there are exceptions to the rule of increased premiums after an accident.

Some companies overlook a minor accident. If the company pays out a small claim, (a few hundred dollars) rates may be unchanged. In addition, claims under the comprehensive (i.e. “other than collision”) portion of your insurance generally do not affect your rates either, regardless of how large or frequent they are. In other words, fixing the ding in your windshield should not affect your insurance premiums.

It’s also possible to have a bad accident and not have your insurance rates go up at all. The important factors are if you got a ticket and if your insurance company had to pay a claim.  For instance, if you’re in an accident, are not found at fault and don’t make a collision claim, chances are your insurance company won’t even know it happened. In that case, your rates will be unchanged.

Your At-Fault Accidents Will (Probably) Be Discovered

If you’re concerned about increased premiums after an accident, you may be thinking about trying to hide the incident. Bear in mind, it’s hard to hide accidents – especially if you’re shopping for a new auto policy.

While writing new business auto insurance companies check your record against a shared database which includes your motor vehicle and auto insurance claim record. If the agent doesn’t do it, the underwriter at the main office will. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of this report as errors can and do occur.

In addition, your current company will sometimes run internal audits on existing customers. It’s best to be up front with your agent or broker so they know what’s going on.

Accidents Are Usually Forgotten – In Time

One nice thing about accidents they don’t stay on your record forever. For underwriting purposes, most companies disregard anything that happened more than five years ago, no matter how serious.

Some companies overlook accidents at the three-year mark. Rates can also go down at renewal on existing policies as accidents drop off in time. Keeping track of when your accidents drop off can save you money, especially if you’re currently in a high-risk company and can qualify to go back to lower standard company rates.

When Will Rates Increase After An Accident?

Another thing to consider is that an insurance company cannot change your rates mid-term for any reason. Any rate increase must come at your next renewal. Therefore several months may pass between an accident and any corresponding rate increase.

This can give you time to find a less expensive insurance company. However, that company will see your accident and rate you accordingly right away – they sometimes even change your rate later if you hid an incident during underwriting. Just be honest with the new company if you’re shopping because of a pending cancellation.


High Risk Insurance for New or Bad Drivers

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

Why you may need high risk can insurance, what are the options, and how long do you have to carry the policy

red car upside down after accident

This car's driver may need high risk insurance pretty soon.

High risk insurance is not a pleasant experience. When insurance companies deem drivers ‘risky’, they send them to a special division (company) or refuse to write a policy altogether.

High risk auto insurance is not cheap. It’s not pretty. But the good news is it’s also not permanent.

Drivers with spotless driving records are typically placed in a ‘standard’ auto insurance company. These are companies that advertise on TV. Most people can stay in a standard company if they have a minor accident or a single ticket, but after that they’re forced to insure with a high risk company.

High Risk Insurance For Two Types of Drivers

High risk companies can be affiliated with the higher-profile standard companies or operate separately. Naturally, they are more expensive. High risk insurance companies to two types of drivers:

  • People with no (or recent) driving records.
  • People with less-than-perfect driving records.

Drivers With No Driving Record

Insurance companies typically define ‘no driving record’ as not having driven for the past 3-5 years. These drivers are often put in high risk insurance companies to establish their auto insurance history. These drivers tend to be genuinely new drivers who just got their license, or perhaps those who were licensed in the past but haven’t driven recently.

The potential of getting stuck with high risk insurance is yet another good reason to keep continuous coverage on your auto insurance.

Most people in this category can move to the standard companies in 6-12 months provided they maintain a clean driving record – though each company is different on when you can move.

Drivers With Bad Driving Records

Drivers with bad records are usually consigned to the high risk insurance companies for a longer period of time. If you have a driving violation that requires you to file an SR-22, which is basically a proof of minimum liability insurance coverage sent to the state, you’re almost certainly going to a high risk company for your auto insurance needs.

Don’t worry about the SR-22 itself though. High risk insurance companies are all quite familiar with them and will file them on your behalf for a nominal fee, or perhaps no fee at all. Just make sure to tell them you need it.

There’s one final thing to remember about high risk insurance companies. There’s no need to stay in them if you don’t have to. If you’ve been continuously insured and haven’t had an accident or claim in a few years, you don’t need to be there. A good insurance agent or broker will review your coverage periodically and let you know when it’s time to go back to the standard company. If you don’t have a good agent, it’s time to shop around.

Assigned Risk: Can’t Get High Risk Insurance?

But what happens when not even high risk insurance companies will insure you?

If you can’t get insurance with an insurance company, you have to get it from the state – also called the assigned risk pool. Since even the worst drivers are required to carry automobile liability insurance in all 50 states, it follows that they have the right to obtain that coverage.

Assigned risk means the state government takes the driver and assigns him to an insurance company that does business in that state. That company is then legally required to write a policy on that driver.

The state in turn subsidizes the program and sets the premium, which protects both the insurance company and driver to a certain degree. This allows even the worst drivers to legally stay on the road, at least until their driver’s license is revoked. Assigned risk is also expensive, and the coverage available is sparse, but for some drivers it’s the only option.

One nice thing about auto insurance is that nothing is forever. Most insurance companies only consider the last three to five years of a driving record. This means even the worst driver who has no hope of obtaining insurance outside the high risk pool today can eventually repair his or her record and go back to the standard company and its cushy safe driver discounts.

Business Car Insurance for Your Vehicle

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/08/2010

When you need a business auto policy, what’s the difference between personal and commercial policies, and other things to consider

young business man smiling in a car

When do you need a business auto insurance policy?

Auto insurance isn’t just for your personal vehicle – companies need car insurance for the same reasons. Whether you need business car insurance or fleet car insurance, the need is the same – coverage for company cars.

There are more applications to business car insurance that may not be readily apparent. Indeed commercial car insurance may be ideal for just one person.

When to Cover Business Vehicles

The most important thing to understand about business car insurance is when you need it. If you’re an employee somewhere and use your car to drive to work, a standard personal auto insurance policy works just fine. You’re in the clear.

However, if you’re self-employed or you’re an independent contractor and use your car for business purposes, a personal policy doesn’t adequately cover you. In these cases a commercial policy is the way to go.

The main reason insurance companies make a distinction between personal and commercial auto insurance is because vehicles used for commercial purposes tend to be driven more than vehicles intended for personal use. In many cases, they’re driven a lot more.

Since they’re on the road more, insurance companies want to insure for the extra risk. Even many insurance agents who are self-employed have commercial policies on their own vehicles. Rest assured, experienced agents or brokers are familiar with business auto policies.

Differences Between Business and Personal Policies

On the surface there isn’t that much difference between a commercial auto policy and a personal auto policy. Both have liability limits, uninsured and underinsured coverage, medical payments coverage (unless you’re in a “no-fault” state), and optional collision and comprehensive coverage.

However there are some important differences between business auto insurance and personal auto insurance. For one, commercial insurance policies require a set list of drivers. Personal policies require this too, but they often provide coverage in an accident in which someone not on the policy is driving (this is called “non-owned” coverage).

Not so with commercial policies. You’re either on or you’re not. If you’re not, you’re not covered.

Commercial auto policies also tend to be a bit more on the no-frills side, offering fewer options than its personal counterparts. Commercial policies often offer higher deductibles for full coverage. While most personal auto insurance policies don’t offer comprehensive or collision deductibles over $1,000, deductibles of $5,000 or even higher may be available on commercial auto policies. Also, many commercial insurance policies will not take drivers under 25 or over 74 at all, regardless of driving history.

Other Items Related to Business Auto Insurance

Ironically, assuming they meet the minimum requirements, drivers on commercial policies tend to go through less underwriting than drivers on personal policies. This is despite the increased mileage associated with commercial autos. While there are differences between insurance companies, many insurers find that drivers on commercial polices tend to be safer overall then drivers on personal auto policies.

One final item related to your driver license: unless the insured vehicle has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 26,000 pounds or is designed to carry 16 or more passengers, a CDL or other type of commercial license isn’t usually needed for commercial insurance. Therefore if you need a commercial policy to cover a car or even a light delivery van or truck, your standard driver’s license will suffice.

Young Drivers Car Insurance For Starting Off

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/06/2010

How good grades, marriage, and fewer accidents lessens auto insurance premiums for younger drivers

young woman holding car keys

What she needs to know about auto insurance before she gets behind the wheel.

There are two absolutely inescapable factors to consider when dealing with young drivers car insurance.

First, it’s required. Every state requires at least some sort of liability coverage regardless of how old a driver is. In addition, if payments are still being made the lien holder will require full coverage.

Second, it’s expensive. Insurance is a business of statistics. Statistically younger drivers are responsible for more accidents and more insurance claim payouts than older drivers. That’s why car insurance for teens is more expensive.

This is true for all single drivers until they turn 25. That’s when most insurance companies back off on their premiums.

Accident-Free and Married Young Drivers Pay Less

There’s not much you can do about your age. However, there are some ways to minimize costs.

The single best thing a young driver can do to contain auto insurance costs is to staying out of accidents. If your record is clean, insurance companies will reward you with discounts and lower rates. However, one incident can kill a decent rate. That’s why it’s important to keep your driving record clean.

Another bonus goes to married drivers. Young drivers usually catch a break once they get married – whether or not they’re 25. We don’t recommend getting married just to save on auto insurance, but it is something to look forward to if your wedding day is approaching.

Insurance Less for Drivers With Cheaper Cars

Another tip is to drive a vehicle that is cheaper to insure. That means getting an older, paid-for vehicle and a liability-only policy. If a young driver is still on their parents’ policy, this doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is stuck strictly driving that car.

In most cases any driver is allowed to drive any car on a given policy. But make sure you don’t run afoul of underwriting requirements. Some companies insist on putting the highest-risk driver on the most expensive car to insure. Some agents and brokers can be sticklers about that one – just check with your insurance company to be sure.

A young driver should also stay on a parent’s policy as long as possible. At the very least insuring separately usually means the loss of any multi-car and longevity discounts. Many companies will allow a child to stay on a parent’s policy until college graduation, marriage or age 23, whichever comes first. These rules vary widely from company to company, so check with your company to be sure.

Good Grades Lower Rates for Young Drivers

Another benefit auto insurance companies offers are good grade discounts. Most insurance carriers offer student discounts to high school and younger college students. The good news is you don’t need to attend Harvard to get the discount. Documented proof of a 2.0 GPA or higher from a school transcripts should be sufficient to qualify for the discount.

How is this possible?

Insurance companies figure that young drivers in school with good grades get into fewer accidents than young drivers with bad grades or not in school at all. It’s all in the statistics – that’s why they reward good grades and good driving with better insurance rates.

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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.