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Who Sells Gap Insurance?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 04/26/2011

Gap insurance covers the difference in the value of the vehicle and the balance of the car loan; it can be purchased from car dealers, auto financing companies and your insurance agent.

Gap Insurance protects your finances if your new vehicle is a total loss.

Gap insurance is a special insurance coverage that is available for your new vehicle to protect you from financial hardship in the event of your vehicle being a total loss in an accident.

It is a coverage that is only offered in certain circumstances and can vary in price depending on who sells gap insurance. If your new vehicle qualifies for Gap coverage it is best to shop around for the coverage and not accept the first offer.

What is Gap Insurance?

If you were to get into a car accident and the damages to your vehicle exceed a certain percentage of the value of the vehicle (usually 80%) the insurance company will total out your vehicle and pay you for the value of the vehicle instead of fixing it.

Sometimes though the amount that they pay your does not meet the amount that you may still owe on your car loan. For example, the insurance company may pay you $8,000 for your vehicle, but you still owe the bank $10,000. This $2,000 dollar gap is exactly where gap insurance comes in handy.

If you purchased gap Insurance on your new vehicle, it would step in and pay for that $2,000 left over on your car loan so that you were not still paying on the loan even after you no longer had the car. Gap can only be purchased on new vehicles and certain used vehicles depending on the insurance company and the coverage always has to be purchased within a certain frame right after buying the new vehicle.

Car Dealers Sell Gap Insurance

When you purchase a vehicle from a car dealer and sign the finance papers with them, one thing that they will offer to you is gap insurance. It is part of the paperwork that they go through with you when they are trying to get you to add warranties, extra interior packages and whatever else they may be able to throw in to increase the price of the vehicle.

If you add gap coverage at this time it will be added into the total amount of your vehicle that you are going to finance. Even though the gap coverage does not seem like a lot when you break it down into your monthly car payments, the total amount that you are paying is quite high and you could possibly get gap insurance cheaper from other sources.

Finance Companies Sell Gap Insurance

Just like when the dealership sets up the financing with you and offers gap insurance so do auto loan financing companies. If you plan on getting a loan through your bank or other source and purchasing your vehicle that way, they too are going to offer you gap insurance when you sign the loan papers. Again, just like with the car dealerships the price that they offer their gap insurance for could probably be found at a lower price elsewhere.

Insurance Companies Sell Gap Insurance

The least expensive way to purchase gap insurance is to purchase it through your insurance agent. The gap coverage can be added to your current insurance policy when you add your new vehicle to the policy. The cost to do this is considerably less expensive than adding it to your car loan. For more information and to find out the requirements to have this coverage, contact your insurance agent.

Cameras on Traffic Lights

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 04/18/2011

How cameras on traffic lights work, what happens if one catches you, and the impact it will have on your insurance.

Sign Advising of Camera on Traffic Light

Sign giving fair warning to would be red-light runners that they are being watched.

No matter how much of a hurry you are in or how impatient you are, running a red light is dangerous. Per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light runners cause 22 percent of all traffic accidents in the country.

Because of this and the increase in the amount of red-light violations that are ticketed by police officers, cities have started putting cameras on traffic lights to catch and hopefully deter red light runners from continuing this behavior.

How Cameras on Traffic Lights Work

Cameras on traffic lights are mounted high above the intersection so that they have a clean view of the vehicles going through the intersection. You can usually spot them mounted on a street light or even on the traffic light itself and are usually placed in intersections that are the busiest or have the highest percentage of red-light runners.

There are four per intersection and each single camera is set up to view one of the four directions that come through the intersection. When a person runs a red light a sensor is triggered and the camera takes a picture of your license plate.

What Happens if You get Caught on Camera?

If you run a red light and the camera gets your license plate, the police can gather all of the information that they need from these cameras to issue you a red-light violation ticket. After they have processed all the evidence, you will receive a ticket and even a picture of you committing the violation in the mail a month or two after you ran the red light.

What Happens to Your Insurance if a Traffic Camera Catches You?

Getting caught by a camera on a traffic light has the same negative effect as any other ticket on your insurance. The points added against your driving record are no more and no less than if you were to have been caught running a red light by a police officer. Because there is no difference, the amount that you insurance premium may increase will be just the same.

Why are Cameras on Traffic Lights Needed?

Cameras prevent cities from having to post a police office at an intersection at all times to catch red light runners to keep other drivers safe. This makes it so that the officers can be used in other needed areas that require a police presence rather than a camera.

Other Devices on Traffic Lights

Not all devices above traffic lights are camera’s that are taking pictures of red light runners. Some devices are simply sensors that gather data of traffic flow through a certain intersection and others are sensors that tell the traffic light to change when there is someone waiting for a green light. But, if you just make it a habit not to run red lights, you won’t have to be concerned as to which one is a camera and which one is not.

For more information on red light cameras visit the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

Getting GEICO Insurance Cards for My Vehicle Inspection

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 11/26/2009

How GEICO customer service impressed me with their phone tree.

The GEICO phone tree impressed this policyholder.

The GEICO phone tree impressed this policyholder.

A few days ago, I had the annual pleasure of taking our Hyundai Sante Fe in for the state inspection. The time had come to spend $29 to get a sticker on my windshield that says my car is safe to drive on Texas roads. Granted, at least I’m not paying the exorbitant fees of some other states, but it was money out of my pocket at a not-so-convenient time.

So I thumbed through my glove box for my insurance cards and sure enough, I hadn’t replaced my old cards when my renewal came in the mail. Having worked in a few insurance offices, I know a lost insurance card is the most common reason customers call an agent’s office or insurance company. So I didn’t feel so bad NOT having it handy. (I’m just glad I didn’t discover it when a cop pulled me over.) But I still needed an updated card for the inspection.

I called the GEICO number listed on my expired insurance cards. Listening to the phone tree, I navigated pressing 3 or 4 options to get a replacement insurance card. They asked for my email address or fax number. Since I’m not the best at texting, I opted for the garage’s handy fax number. Within 3 minutes, GEICO had faxed my updated insurance cards to the garage. And I never spoke with anyone at GEICO.

I know some people are more comfortable talking with a live person to get a new insurance card. Had that been my option, I would have gladly taken it. But in most cases, it would have taken longer for a customer to get new insurance cards after talking with a customer service rep. People get busy, fax machines jam, and other things tend to delay a simple fax. To me, the phone tree is the most efficient use of my time – and the company’s time. I’m just glad the options were easy to understand and it worked.

Kudos to GEICO on getting me an insurance card in a timely manner. I don’t call them often, but when I do, they seem to be able to handle things well.

Lost Car Insurance Card?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 08/21/2012

Coping with a lost car insurance card, things to consider, and how to get a new insurance ID card. Get the skinny from a non-agent now.

What to do when you lose your insurance ID card.

When you lose your insurance ID card…

Ever dealt with a lost car insurance card?

It’s the one you get in the mail every 6 months or so with your policy. Most of us have misplaced our insurance ID card – also known as ‘proof of insurance.’ It’s not uncommon. Reality is, most of us don’t think about our ID card until a police officer stops us and we’re thumbing through the glove box.

Getting A Replacement for a Lost Insurance Card

It’s not the end of the world if you lose your insurance ID card. You get it directly from your insurance company and there’s usually no hassle. It’s easy to get a new ID cards.

First off, call your insurance company. You can get their phone number online or on your policy. Some companies provide this service on the internet. However, you will need your policy information to login to their online system.

Second, once you get a customer service representative on the phone, just ask them for it. Since it is a service request, you don’t even need a licensed agent to send you your ID card. These days, cards can be emailed, faxed, or snail-mailed to customers.

One caveat to this process – some companies may charge you for replacement ID cards. It’s usually just a nominal fee. In my opinion, this is an unnecessary charge. Such nickel-and-dime operations cause the insurance company to lose more goodwill than what they gain from a $5 service charge. If you’re with one of those companies, it’s probably time to shop around. You don’t want a company that sticks it to you every chance they get.

My Experience with ID Cards

When I was an insurance agent, I took many phone calls where my customers probably threw away their policy (and ID cards) before looking in the envelope. It happens. In fact, that was the main reason people customers called our office – a lost insurance card. Whatever happened to it, it got lost in the shuffle and the customer needed a replacement.

I recently called my current insurance company, GEICO, for a new set of ID cards. The representative was very polite and said she could send them out, no problem. That’s exactly the service I expect. Don’t make me feel bad because I misplaced something – just put it in the mail and be done with it. The next time I lose my ID card, that’s the treatment I’ll expect.

Most Stolen Cars

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 05/09/2009

Do You Own One of the Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles in the Country?

Did this thief find one of the most stolen cars?

Did this thief find one of the most stolen cars?

Is your car one of the most stolen cars in America?

Every year, over 1.3 million cars are reported stolen. According the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB), many of the same cars rise to the top in their annual list. Surprisingly, the most stolen cars are usually the most common on the road. Every 24 seconds another car is stolen – will yours be next?

Thieves Prefer Common, Japanese Cars

You may be shocked to discover Porches and BMWs don’t top the list. No Lexus is in the top ten. Evidently, thieves aren’t looking for cars with the most prestige. Most likely they want the more available cars. Simply put, there are more Honda Civics on the road than Lotus Elises.

Moreover, thieves don’t prefer American-made vehicles. In fact, the three most stolen vehicles in the United States aren’t made by US companies. Reviewing the Top 10 most stolen cars, this particular crime of opportunity lends itself more to Japanese-made automobiles than those made in Detroit.

Coverage for Stolen Cars

In case you’re wondering, comprehensive insurance usually covers a stolen car. If it ever happens to you, contact your insurance company. Your adjuster should be able to take care of the loss, minus your deductible in a timely fashion. If not, you can always leave a review for how they treated you: Customer Reviews

Check out the list. If your car is listed below, you might want take extra precautions to keep it safe. Otherwise, you could be looking for a new ride sooner than you’d like.


Most Stolen Cars In 2007


Honda Civic (2005)


Honda Accord (1991)


Toyota Camry (1989)


Ford F-150 (1997)


Chevrolet C/K 1500 (1994)


Acura Integra (1994)


Dodge Ram Pickup (2004)


Nissan Sentra (1994)


Toyota Pickup (1988)


Toyota Corolla (2007)

*The NCIB publishes the most stolen cars list. According to their website, the NICB “is the nation’s leading non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through information analysis, investigations, training and public awareness.”

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