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Nationwide Review

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 03/18/2009

If life comes at you fast, maybe you should worry about your auto insurance. Is Nationwide a good choice?

Is Nationwide on your side?

Is Nationwide on your side?

Car Insurance can be a pretty boring topic. That’s why you gotta love Madison Avenue’s attempt to make things more interesting. Such is the case with Nationwide Insurance’s “Life Comes At You Fast” commercials. From radio to TV spots, they’re always good for a laugh. I found out later that not everyone appreciates the lighter side of insurance – more on that below.

But the more important question is: how good is Nationwide auto insurance?

About the Company

Nationwide has a good reputation in the industry. Started in 1925 as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Nationwide outgrew their home state of Ohio in a few short years.

As the name implies, Nationwide is now a big company. They currently insure cars in 50 states including the District of Columbia. They are the 4th largest auto insurance company measured by premiums collected. According to their website, they are #106 of the Fortune 500 and boast over 35,000 employees.

With all the uncertainty with financial services companies, it’s important to know how strong Nationwide is. In March of 2008, A.M. Best rated Nationwide Insurance with an A+ for financial strength – it’s their 2nd highest rating. From the looks of it, Nationwide won’t be going bust anytime soon.

Getting a Nationwide Online Quote

So with their reputation in the industry and their commercials that make me smile, I decided to get a quote from Nationwide. To save time, I recommend doing what I did. First off, I grabbed an online quote. Second, since it made sense, I called them on the phone with my online quote in hand.

To start, I grabbed my current auto insurance policy and matched coverages at their website. I input my personal info, then matched the coverages I have with my current policy.

One interesting thing: they apparently pull personal info from a state database. When I was an agent with a different company, we could grab some info from prospects, but it wasn’t as sophisticated as Nationwide’s.

Within a minute, I got back my car insurance quote. However, they did not automatically email me the quote. I guess they expect people to buy right then. Not me. I called instead.

Nationwide Call Center Quote

After waiting a few minutes, I got Jeremy on the phone. He told me he was in a call center  Amarillo, Texas. At the time of this quote, the others call centers were in Portland, Oregon, Des Moines, Iowa, San Antonio, Texas, and Lynchburg, Virginia.

My quote was not saved online, so Jeremy had to ask the same questions again. Despite the technical problems, he did a good job of not making it too painful. As he reviewed my coverages, Jeremy explained what each coverage did. In my mind, this is one of the agent’s most important jobs, so Jeremy passed that test.

Nationwide Positives: Service & Options

First off, Nationwide has both call centers and local offices to service their car insurance policies. I like that. If I want a local office, I can choose a local office. If I want extended hours with 6 days a week policy service, I can choose the call center.

Second, I like the policy options they offer. For one, they have ‘Accident Forgiveness’. In my case, it was an extra $24/term. That means they won’t raise my rates if I have an at-fault accident. Two, they have ‘Diminishing Deductible’. For another $20, I could get $100 off my deductible every year I don’t have an accident. That’s a great coverage for accident-prone customers.

Nationwide Negative: Price

Nationwide could not beat my current car insurance premiums. They were slightly higher even after they gave me a long-term credit for being with my other auto insurance company. According to my state rates, they don’t even show up in the Top-25 cheapest car insurance rates, so I’m not too surprised.

Not to say you won’t get a better rate, especially if you don’t live in Texas. As for me and my premiums, Nationwide was not on my side.

“Life Comes At You Fast” Commercials Drives Calls for Nationwide

So even though I won’t be switching to Nationwide this go around, I’m still impressed with their commercials. I even like them better than GEICO’s. Jeremy told me something interesting. He said people never call him to say they want a quote because they saw Nationwide’s commercials. But, he told me several people have called to complain about them.

I think that’s funny. I guess some people don’t have anything better to do than to harass some guy in a call center for a commercial that makes most people smile. I say, go back to your TV and stop bothering people. Such is life.

Quote Process: 8
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Price: 4
(Scale 1-10: 10=Cheapest)

Customer Service: 9
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Claims: *
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Overall Rating: 8
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Do you have your own experience with Nationwide Car Insurance? Leave a comment or write your own review.

Cheap Auto Insurance Rates in Texas (Age 35)

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Rates Last Updated: 03/18/2009

Looking for the best car insurance rates in Texas?
We compiled the cheapest rates for 35-yr olds.

State Capitol of Texas in Austin

Texas State Capitol in Austin

If you’re looking for the best auto insurance rates in Texas, you’ve come to the right place.  If you’re a male or female in your mid-30s, even better.

No doubt it would be downright painful to get quotes from 40+ car insurance companies in Texas.  But rest easy.  We’ve done the hard work for you.

We put together the best rates for clean, 35-year old men & women drivers according to the Texas Department of Insurance.  That means drivers who haven’t had any accidents or tickets for the past 3 years. In addition these only show prices for liability coverage.  One more thing: this is not comprehensive research, but sample rates from five different cities in the Lone Star State.

Every driver is different.  Prices listed are NOT the same as the price you will receive from these companies below, even if you just get liability coverage.  In addition, these are NOT actual quotes.  This is a general guide to help you shop for the best car insurance rates in Texas.

I hope it’s helpful to you.

Rank

Texas Auto Insurance Company

Average Premium

1

GEICO

$177.20

2

GENERAL INS COMPANY OF AMERICA

$191.20

3

USAA COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$209.00

4

SAFECO INS COMPANY OF AMERICA

$219.00

5

RESPONSE INS COMPANY

$221.60

6

UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION

$225.60

7

SAFECO LLOYDS INS COMPANY

$242.40

8

WARNER INS COMPANY

$251.20

9

SAFECO INS COMPANY OF ILLINOIS

$271.00

10

AAA TEXAS COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$290.00

11

BEACON NATIONAL INS COMPANY

$303.80

12

ALLSTATE FIRE AND CASUALTY INS COMPANY

$318.20

13

LIBERTY COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$319.80

14

AMICA MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$327.00

15

TEACHERS INS COMPANY

$352.40

16

SOUTHERN FARM BUREAU CASUALTY INS COMPANY

$364.00

17

METROPOLITAN LLOYDS INS COMPANY OF TEXAS

$375.20

18

FARMERS TEXAS COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$378.60

19

SOUTHERN COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$387.80

20

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INS COMPANY

$403.00

21

GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY

$413.20

22

PROGRESSIVE COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$417.60

23

FIDELITY NATIONAL INDEMNITY INS COMPANY

$426.00

24

CONSUMERS COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY

$434.20

25

STATE FARM COUNTY MUTUAL INS COMPANY OF TEXAS

$448.00

Rates collected in 2007-2008.

All data is courtesy of the Texas Department of Insurance.

For more information, view our Disclosure.

Motorcycle Insurance

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

7 Essentials for Motorcycle Insurance: The perfect introduction for anyone considering a bike.

Ready to Ride?

Ready to Ride? Don't forget your insurance binder.

Before you get motorcycle insurance, consider this situation:

You can almost smell the open road.  That down payment is burning a hole in your pocket.  You’ve been eyeing that new soft-tail for months, and you’re ready to plunk down a wad of cash and ride into the sunset.

Before you buy that new Harley Screamin’ Eagle or Ducati 848, you need to get motorcycle insurance.  In fact, dealers won’t even let you drive your new bike off the lot until you provide them proof of your bike insurance, called a binder.

I spoke with Darla Mason at Wild West Harley-Davidson in Lubbock, Texas, about motorcycle insurance.  “You gotta have it.  Unless you’re paying cash, you’ll need a binder from a company before you can take the bike.”

Besides simply needing motorcycle insurance, what should you know?  I found 7 things riders should know when shopping for coverage.

1. Good Driving Has Its Own Rewards

All at-fault accidents and tickets count.  It doesn’t matter if you just picked up your bike, motorcycle insurance companies count every incident you’ve had (usually in a 3-year period) even if it’s in your car.  Stay clean and you’ll pay less money for your motorcycle insurance.

2.  Get Comprehensive and Collision

Every motorcycle insurance policy includes basic liability.  But unless you’re paying cash for your bike and you don’t mind losing the bike in an accident, get “full-coverage” for your new ride.  Collision covers your bike if you’re in an at-fault accident and comprehensive covers your cruiser in any incident other than collision.  Both coverages pay out minus your deductible.

3. Gap Insurance – What’s That?

Comprehensive and collision coverage in your motorcycle insurance only pay out what your bike is worth at the time of the accident.  If you total your bike and you owe more than your bike is worth, then you’ll still owe the balance on your financing.

Gap insurance is different from motorcycle insurance.  Gap insurance covers the ‘gap in coverage’ between what your bike is worth and what your insurance company pays after a total loss.  Finance companies typically offer this coverage.  Get it if you’re worried about paying extra if your bike is totaled.

4. Where Do You Ride and Where Do You Park?

You may just ride on the weekend – if so, tell the agent who gives you a quote.  Whether or not you commute to work on your bike can make a big difference for the price of your motorcycle insurance.

Same with where you park.  Additional discounts can be available whether or not you store your bike in a garage.  We all know how unattended bikes have a tendency to ride off by themselves – it makes sense for motorcycle insurance companies to give a discount to owners of garaged bikes.

One more bonus for riders in northern states.  You could be eligible for a “lay-up” policy, where most coverage is suspended during the winter months.  That translates to extra money in your pocket.

5. Motorcycles Need Chrome Coverage?

Motorcycle insurance usually does not cover additional parts like chrome air filters or saddlebags.  If you want extras like paint jobs or sidecars covered, then make sure you talk to your agent about additional equipment or optional coverage.  There’s nothing like losing your favorite custom mirrors (and then some) after laying down your bike only to find out they weren’t covered under normal comprehensive.  Make sure all your extras have coverage.

6. Get All Your Discounts!

If you’ve taken a motorcycle safety course, you could be eligible for a 10-20% discount.  When you’re getting quotes for your motorcycle insurance, ask about discounts.  That could be another $100 in your pocket at the end of the year – it’s definitely worth asking.

7. Shop Around – Big Time!

This is the most important part to getting the cheapest motorcycle insurance.  After going through this checklist and getting a quote, do it again.   The more quotes you get, the more money you’re likely to save.  Darla Mason said some of her customers save $500 after shopping their motorcycle insurance.

At the least, get 3 quotes from reputable motorcycle insurance companies.  You can also check with your current car insurance company – though they’re not always likely to have the best rates for motorcycle insurance.  Make sure each company quotes the same coverage, then go with the best.  If you want to shop online, get a quote for motorcycle insurance here.

After getting your binder, you’re ready to go.  Turn the key, hear that sweet hum of the engine, then give her some gas.  But don’t go too fast…I was an insurance agent after all.

Do you ride?  If so, you may have some additional tips for other bike owners.
Feel free to leave a comment.

Low Cost Car Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 12/01/2010

8 Proven Tips on Lowering Your Car Insurance Costs so you don’t have to take out a second mortgage.

How can you save money on your car insurance?

How can you save money on your car insurance?

Does low cost car insurance even exist?.  Just think about what you could buy every month if you didn’t have to shell out those auto insurance bucks.  A nice steak dinner or a new gadget – but instead your making your car insurance company rich off your premium checks.

Don’t worry.  There are several things you can do you lower your car insurance costs – to get cheaper car insurance.  We’ve put together 8 proven tips to lower your auto insurance costs.  Try them out.  Forget about the 15% GEICO says they’ll save you.  These tips could save you 50% or more on your car insurance costs… and I’m no caveman.

Tip #1: Shop Around

All kidding aside, GEICO could save you 15% on your car insurance costs.  But you’ll never know unless you ask.  If you haven’t shopped your policy in 12-18 months, then you’re probably paying too much.

According to our latest research, California drivers paid +257% more for a basic liability auto insurance policy from the most expensive company versus the cheapest car insurance company.  That’s 2½ times more for auto insurance!  Need I say more?  Shop around for a better rate, and lower your costs.  If you need several prices, get some quotes here.

Tip #2: Be A Safe Driver

Take it from someone with a ‘reckless driving’ hidden in his distant past – bad driving is expensive.  Add a couple of at-fault accidents to that record and you’re looking at a towering monthly car insurance bill.  Car insurance costs are directly related to the risk the auto insurance company takes when writing a policy. If you’re a bad driver, then the company is taking a bigger risk.

Slow down.  Watch those red lights.  Drive defensively.  If you clear up your driving record, and get incident-free for three years (no tickets & no at-fault accidents), you’ll see a substantial drop in your costs.

Tip #3: Raise Your Deductibles

A deductible is your portion of the car insurance.  The lower your deductible on comprehensive and collision coverage, the higher your auto insurance costs.  In other words, if you have a $50 deductible on collision coverage (which covers your car’s physical damage in case of an at-fault accident), then you’re probably paying too much.

If you have the savings to cover your deductible, then raise your comprehensive and collision coverage to $500 or $1000.  Ask your agent about the savings and you’ll be surprised on how this money-saver will help your auto insurance costs.

Tip #4: Drop Comp and Collision on Your 10-Year Old Car

This one is related to #3.  If you drop comprehensive and collision on your car insurance, then you’re taking responsibility for physical damage to your vehicle.

This one only works if you can afford to replace the vehicle and you’re not financing it.  Ten year old cars have usually depreciated enough where many people can afford to replace it if necessary. If you’re one of those people, then dropping comp and collision will lower your auto insurance costs significantly.

Tip #5: Clear Up Your Credit

Each car insurance company handles credit differently.  Many companies don’t check it once you’re with them.  However, almost all companies check your credit when you’re shopping for auto insurance.  If you have delinquencies, and other such issues on your credit report, try to fix them.  Clearing up your credit can have a significant impact on your costs.

Tip #6: Sell Your Sports Car

Alright, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone.  But if you’re strapped for cash and that Porsche payment is eating your lunch, you might want to consider selling it and buying a more affordable car.  Auto insurance costs will go down significantly depending on the car you’re insuring.  I’m not saying ‘buy a jalopy’, but you could sell your Viper to help your cash flow.  Plus, you’ll lower your car insurance costs in the process.

Tip #7: Review Your Policy with Your Car Insurance Company

If you’ve shopped your auto insurance policy recently, it’s still good to review your costs with your car insurance company.  Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the discounts available to you like: Multi-car discount, Multi-policy discount, Driver’s Education/Defensive Driving, and even, good driver discounts.

I’m not saying your insurer is pilfering you.  But they sometimes miss these discounts when signing up people for coverage.  Make sure you’re getting all the discounts coming to you when buying auto insurance.

Tip #8: Shop Your Car Insurance… Again?

I said it before, but it’s worth repeating.  There’s no easier way to get shave car insurance costs than to get several quotes.  Even if you ignore the other tips, don’t ignore this one.  No need to pay extra money for the same coverage.  Take the time and save some money.  Once again, get some quotes here.

Then have a steak dinner on me.
Can you think of anything else that can save others money?
Leave a comment for other drivers.

Full Coverage Auto Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 10/14/2011

Answering 4 questions about full coverage auto insurance: What it is – What it’s not – How to use it – and Do you really need it?

If you backed into something would full coverage auto insurance cover it?

If you backed into something, would it be covered by comprehensive or collision?

A lot of people throw around the term full coverage auto insurance. A friend, a family member, or even your insurance agent may have said it before. Technically-speaking, full coverage auto insurance doesn’t exist. But it’s important to know what it means to most people.

One of my insurance trainers drilled into my head “there’s no such thing as full coverage auto insurance – there’s no such thing as full coverage auto insurance”. Still, consumers everywhere use the term “full coverage auto insurance”. So my purpose is to help you understand what full coverage auto insurance really is, what it’s not, what it does, and whether you need it.

Question #1: What is Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

Full coverage auto insurance refers to your auto policy when it has both liability coverage and physical damage coverage. Physical damage coverage is usually referred to as comprehensive (comp) and collision.

Collision covers the physical damage to your vehicle in an at-fault accident. That means, if you run a red light and cause an accident, collision covers the busted headlight on your car – minus your deductible.

Comprehensive (comp) covers physical damage to your car from acts of God and other such incidents. If you’re using comprehensive coverage, the damage to your vehicle cannot be your fault. For instance, if you’re driving down the road and a rock hits your windshield causing a crack, your comprehensive would cover the loss – minus your deductible.

Question#2: Why Isn’t It ReallyFull Coverage Auto Insurance”?

As you can probably tell, it’s not exactly ‘full coverage auto insurance’. You still have to pay your deductible to use comp and collision. Sometimes your deductible is $50 and sometimes it’s $1000 – whatever it is, your ‘full coverage auto insurance’ won’t cover the deductible. You have to write the check for your deductible.

Also, you can’t intentionally wreck your car. In fact, there’s nothing that will cover that type of damage. So in case you’re standing at the edge of a cliff ready to send your old beater to its final resting place, you can back up now. There’s no auto insurance for intentional damage – maybe jail – but no coverage.

Question #3: How Do You Use Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

Hopefully you’ll never have to use your car insurance, but you might. If a tree ever falls on your car, or you sideswipe another car, then you want to notify your insurance company. This information is your proof of insurance in the glove box (you do keep a copy in your car, right?). Your insurer will help you through the process

Call them up and explain the physical damage situation to your vehicle. If another driver was not involved in the incident and you were not at fault, then it’s probably a comprehensive claim. If you were at-fault in the incident, then it’s probably a collision claim, Your auto insurance company will help you at that point. As always, claims are subject to policy guidelines.

Question #4: Do You Really Need a form of Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

That depends. Auto insurance companies usually recommend you carry comprehensive and collision coverage if you have a newer car. You might also consider getting full coverage if you can’t afford to replace the vehicle with cash. Finally, your bank requires you to maintain comp and collision on the policy if you’re financing the car. Banks like to be paid if you ever total your car.

If you have a later model vehicle, it may be time to drop your comp and collision. If you can handle the risk of a car worth a few thousand dollars, it could be worth it to drop full coverage to save some premium dollars.

Your insurance company should be able to guide you in such a case and advise you if having what everyone else calls “full coverage auto insurance” is in your best interest.

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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.