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Auto Insurance is one of the most important responsibilities a car owner has to protect themselves from risk factors as well as comply with laws and regulations. Having auto insurance protects you from financial loss in case you get into an accident. By having a contract between you and an insurer, you agree to pay a premium and the insurance company pays your losses as defined according to your policy. Trusting your auto carrier will ensure peace of mind for you and your family.
There are more people on the road than ever before, so having the right coverage for your needs is important. Liability coverage protects your assists. If you own a home, you don’t want to have minimum limits. Your future earnings can be attached, and you need to make sure you have enough to protect your assets. Having higher deductible amount of the policy would lower the premium rates. But one must decide this amount very judiciously, in order to avoid forking out a huge sum of money is and when a claim is filed.
In order to rip the maximum benefit from the competitiveness of the market for auto insurance, gather quotes and collect references and/or recommendations from trusted friends and neighbors on multiple insurers in that locality. Then only the policy owner would have a comprehensive knowledge of the available options and make an informed decision. At the same time, after selecting a certain plan, one should carefully read the entire policy document to make sure that all the terms, clauses and conditions are clearly mentioned in the document, as discussed and agreed before with the agent/insurer.
Carry the Proof of Insurance at all times on road. Most states that require auto insurance also require that a proof of the insurance policy (like an ID card issued by the insurer) is always present in the car or with the driver at all times. Penalty could be severe if the same is not presented when requested by a traffic patrol officer or the police on road.
At Hardenbergh, we have advisors that can give you personalized attention to help you understand your insurance needs and provide you the best protection based on those needs. We provide insight and guidance into your options through our trusted partners. By working with Hardenbergh, you will have 24/7 protection to ensure your time on the road is covered.
There are two factors that determine what you pay for auto insurance. They are Underwriting and Rating. These factors analyze your personal characteristics as well as driving history to determine the rate for your coverage. Statistically, men show higher accident tendencies than women. Also, drivers belonging to certain age groups tend to have more claims than others. Married people typically show lower rates of claims. Generally, urban areas tend to have more claims filed than in rural areas. Insurance pricing through Underwriting and Rating is similar to other types of insurance. Auto insurance policies go through the process at the insurer’s office.
One of the most misunderstood parts of an auto insurance policy is underwriting. By understanding what underwriting is, you will have a better understanding of auto insurance as a whole. Underwriters determine the risks of potential clients. Without underwriting, auto insurance prices would be exorbitantly higher. Underwriting determines the insurability of the car based on the driver’s profile which may include your age, sex, past driving records, claims history, make and model of your car, etc. Policy prices and coverage are shaped by backing up the insurance company with the power of their investments. Because underwriters inherit assigned risk of the auto insurance policy, they have a large say in what is approved or not approved through specific insurance carriers.
After underwriting is the rating process. The insurer places the insured in groups that have similar risk patterns to determine the exact rate of the premium to carry out the risk. When calculating premiums, almost every insurer uses a different formula beyond the required minimum standard of the law. Because of this, rates may vary by insurer. The biggest influence on the rating process is the amount of claims filed. People in high-claim groups will be charged more for insurance coverage, and at the same time, people with characteristics of a low-claim group will be charged lower rates. Your vehicle itself may also be a factor. A higher annual mileage translates to a higher cost of maintenance in general and may result in higher category of risk. Cars under the banner of luxury and sports cars are always considered as bigger liabilities from insurance perspective as they mostly advocate a higher number of claims on costly repairs and accidents.
Records of rejection(s) by other insurers for previous coverage are considered as almost sure shots for greater risks associated with the driver or the car and hence an obvious higher rate may get triggered. Failing to provide accurate or honest information, a criminal record involving the vehicle etc. are potential reasons of such rejection. Getting a new policy after the previous one got lapsed or reinstating it may impact the rates unfavorably to the policy owner. It is a good practice to review the policy coverages with time. As the car gets older, the requirements and the market changes. Also, there may be new rules/regulations issued to alter current coverage. So, keeping up with the current situation may directly result into some happy savings.
Every dollar counts. Discounts are available for those who are considered a “better risk” depending on your state. If you can show that you are low risk, auto insurers will usually lower your premiums. This is because low risk drivers file fewer claims. Some ways of receiving discounts include automatic payments, bundling insurance policies, and paying for six months to a year’s worth of payments at once. Insurance companies are also deeply involved in their surrounding communities. If you are student with top grades or a member of certain clubs, you may be eligible for a discount as a way for the insurer to promote their presence within the community.
Insurance companies often extend promotional offers and discounts depending on the market competitiveness and the drivers’ statistics. Reach out to the insurance agents for finding out more about such possibilities before signing up for the policy and/or during its renewals. Also, keep an eye open for employer sponsored plans, if applicable, to get the extra benefits (corporate discounts, loyalty benefits etc.) too.
One of the easiest ways to save money is by bundling insurance coverage. If you own multiple vehicles, you may receive a better rate if you put them all on the same policy. You can also add your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to your auto insurance and possibly receive a discount on both. If you have life insurance, you should think about bundling your auto insurance through your insurance provider to save money. Applying for a combination of insurances from the same insurer may give the policy owner some brownie points and may result in lower premium rates.
The make and model of your vehicle has a large impact on your rate. Insurance companies prefer certain vehicles over others, because they are considered safer on the road and involved in fewer accidents. One example is eco-friendly vehicles that use alternative fuel. Some companies offer discounts for brand new vehicles. Other cars include economy cars because they are easier to fix, utility vehicles used for work transportation purposes, and farm vehicles because they typically don’t get into accidents.
Many companies offer discounts for anti-theft devices that help deter theft and vandalism for your vehicle. By having these devices, it lowers the risk of you filing a stolen vehicle claim, which some insurance companies will reward you by giving a lower rate. Vehicles with safety devices like air bags, automatic seat belts, and antilock brakes can lessen the severity of accidents, and as a result, lower insurers’ costs.
If you are receiving your Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degrees, you may be eligible for a discount on your auto insurance. Keep your grades up and your rates will go down. College students who live over 100 miles away from home may also be eligible for lower rates. This may also apply for engineers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other such professionals. Graduating from Defensive Driving Courses may also result in a discount in your policy.
If you have a perfect driving record, insurance companies will love you. Being accident-free means you will pay less. Staying loyal to one company can also allow you to request for a discount.
Most insurance companies offer a wide range of optional auto insurance coverages at an additional cost. They may come out handy in times of need, but will increase the base premium rate. There are many forms of coverage outside of the typical state mandated liability insurance.
This form of coverage protects the car from the damages incurred in an accident, even if you are the one at fault. Collision insurance also covers repairs regardless of severity, however there are limits to the amount of repairs. Your insurance company is only required to pay the difference between the salvage value and the pre-accident value of your car. There is also an optional “replacement cost coverage” that provides the cost for a replacement of a new or vintage car.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP”, covers the insured along with members of the household for medical expenses sustained in an auto accident up to three years after the date of the incident. PIP can also cover lost wages, funeral expenses, and loss of services. Similar to MedPay, PIP cover your medical expenses regardless of driver fault.
Your insurer protects your car from damages caused by other misfortunes such as theft, fire, flood, windstorm, glass breakage, vandalism, hitting or being hit by an animal, or by falling or flying objects. The insurer will pay you for damage of all causes other than collision. Generally, you will not be paid more than the actual cash value of your car at the time of an accident, which takes depreciation into account.
Medical Payments Insurance
Medical Payments Insurance, also referred to as “MedPay”, pays for medical bills regardless of fault for you or anyone else up to a certain amount from the use of your vehicle. The coverage extends to your immediate family members while they are passengers in another person's car and would cover medical expenses regardless of the other driver's insurance policy.
Rental Reimbursement Coverage
Rental Reimbursement Coverage helps pay for renting a car while your car is being repaired after an accident. Depending on your insurer, it may also cover other transportation costs like cab fare and public transit expenses. Rental reimbursement insurance generally has no deductible. Usually, you can only purchase rental reimbursement insurance if you also have collision and comprehensive coverage on your policy. Your policy will have a limit on how much it will pay per day and how much total it will pay per claim. This could be in the form of a dollar amount or maximum days covered.
Property Damage Liability
Many cars today are worth more than the required third party Property Damage Liability coverage. You can purchase Property Damage Liability higher than the required minimum for an additional premium. Property Damage Liability coverage helps pay for damage to someone else’s car or other property due to an accident you caused, up to the policy’s limits. It will also cover damage you may cause to structures and stationary objects, including houses, stores, offices, trees, fences, guardrails, lamp posts, telephone poles, and more. However, it does not cover damages to your own car.
Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance
Your liability insurance policy will most likely not provide any liability coverage when the injured passenger is your spouse. Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance covers the liability of an insured because of the death of or injury to his or her spouse for the liability insurance limits provided under the policy. You must request this additional coverage from your insurer and pay an additional premium for it unless your company is providing this coverage at no charge.
Gap Insurance pays for the difference between what you owe on a vehicle, and what the insurance company claims your car is worth. Gap Insurance is typically unavailable for older cars and not offered by all insurance companies.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists’ Coverage
This coverage provides protection for when the other party involved in collision does not have adequate insurance coverage to take care of the damages. If you are involved in a fender-bender with an uninsured motorist, it is highly unlikely you will receive any payment for damages to you or your vehicle if the other driver is at fault and uninsured or underinsured.
When accidents happen in NJ, the law requires that you report it if it involves injury, death, or over $500 worth of damage to vehicles or property. Be sure to exchange information with all parties involved, including names, addresses, phone numbers, driver's license numbers, car tag numbers, vehicle descriptions, and insurance information. If there were any witnesses, get their information as well.
In NJ and PA, we have a threshold and a limited and unlimited right to sue in every policy. There are two systems: Tort system OR No-fault system. Every state operates on either a tort system or is using a no-fault system. The system implemented by a state where the car got damaged would determine the kind of insurance required and available. There are three basic coverages required to be sold under the tort system – physical injury liability insurance, uninsured or underinsured motorists’ coverage and property damage liability insurance. Whereas, in a no-fault state, the applicable coverages will vary. Point to note is that, under a no-fault system the victim driver’s insurance company has to pay the person directly for the losses incurred as injuries sustained in accidents, without any consideration for who was at fault. Full tort says you can sue no matter what the injury but can be expensive. Limited tort gives you the right to sue but is limited to specific criteria.
If you drive a vehicle for work purposes, a commercial policy is what you need. Even if you do not own your own business, a commercial policy may still apply. If you are unsure of whether you need personal or commercial auto insurance policy, here are a few things to consider when deciding what kind of insurance policy you need.
Owner and Driver of Vehicle
If the vehicle is owned by a business, then you are eligible for commercial auto insurance. If you are the sole proprietor of your car, and use it specifically for work, you may still be able to receive commercial auto insurance.
Use of Vehicle
There is a fine line between personal and commercial coverage. It’s not about where you drive, but more so the purpose. Some examples include delivering pizzas to paying customers, being an Uber or Lyft driver, regularly driving long distances to meet with clients, or hauling tools to construction sites.
Type and Weight of Vehicle
If your vehicle weighs more than the average pickup or SUV, you may be eligible for commercial auto insurance. This may include garbage trucks, tow trucks, or commercial trailers.
Business Liability Limits
If your business vehicle requires higher liability limits, you will probably need a commercial auto insurance policy, because it typically offer higher limits than personal auto insurance policies.
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