To get the most out of your Auto or Homeowners insurance policy, it is important to understand the roles deductibles play. A deductible is the amount deducted from an insured loss. When a damage claim is filed, the deductible is the amount of money a policyholder must pay upfront. It may be a percentage of the policy's total or a set dollar amount. Larger deductibles are associated with smaller premiums. To find the verbiage concerning deductibles, consult the front page of the Auto or Homeowners policy. Deductibles are subtracted from the claim amount. For example, if a person with a $500 deductible files a claim for $10,000, that policyholder will receive a check for $9,500. However, if that individual's deductible is calculated using percentages, the amount may differ. With percentages, the variable is calculated from the total claim and then subtracted from the total.
In many areas of the United States, deductibles are increasing. This is especially true in states prone to hurricanes. Property damage deductibles work differently than those for other types of insurance. For example, a deductible applies each time a claim is filed for Auto or Homeowners insurance. However, a deductible applies only once each year for health insurance. There are some exceptions for damage-related insurance products. In some cases, hurricane coverage has a per-season deductible. The following points cover some of the most important deductible information.
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Deductibles Do Not Apply to Liability Claims. Although there is no deductible for a liability claim with a Homeowners or Auto policy, there is a deductible for property damage. Deductibles apply to claims made to the comprehensive policy. In Homeowners insurance, deductibles also apply to damaged items inside the insured structure. However, they do not apply if a homeowner is sued or if a medical claim is filed by an injured visitor.
Higher Deductibles May Save Money. One of the easiest ways to cut expenses is to raise deductibles for Homeowners and Auto insurance policies. Increasing an Auto insurance deductible from $200 to $500 reduces collision and comprehensive premium costs up to 30%. Raising the deductible to $1,000 may result in a savings of more than 40%. Remember this is the out-of-pocket amount that must be paid regardless of the amount of the claim.
Flood Insurance Deductibles Vary. Since flooding is not covered in standard Homeowners policies, it is sold by the NFIP and private insurance companies. There are several different choices of deductible amounts for these policies. Keep in mind that some mortgage companies require homeowners to keep their deductibles under a specific dollar amount. Flood coverage for vehicles can be obtained with an optional comprehensive plan.
Various States & Companies Affect Deductible Amounts. Insurance is a state-regulated product, and insurers are required to follow their state's rules. The laws affect how deductibles are worded in policies and how they are implemented. Since there are a wide range of deductibles found in each state, it is best to compare policies. Keep in mind that doubling the deductible may save more than 20% on the cost of a policy.
Percentage Deductibles Apply to Hurricanes, Hail & Earthquakes. Earthquake deductibles may be much less than 10% or as high as 20% of the structure's replacement value. Insurance rates are higher in states such as Nevada, Utah and Washington. Consumers in these states may choose higher deductibles to save money. There are special earthquake policies for California residents. To learn more about areas prone to earthquakes, discuss them with one of our agents.
There are two separate types of wind damage deductibles. The first is a hurricane deductible, which applies to wind damage sustained from hurricanes. The second type is a windstorm deductible, which applies to damages sustained from any other type of windstorm. Hurricane deductibles depend on specific triggers. These are usually designated by the National Weather Service, individual states and insurers. The triggers apply when a storm is officially deemed a tropical storm or hurricane. To learn more about how these triggers work, discuss them with us. Some states allow set deductibles. However, communities in high-risk coastal areas may have mandatory percentage deductibles.
HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE & LAWSUITS
It is common for neighbors to disagree. For example, one person might think that their outdoor dog barking at people passing by is an asset for keeping them safer from intruders. However, a neighbor who enjoys peace and quiet would think the dog is a nuisance. Another neighbor might enjoy listening to his or her music at a loud volume, but others who live in the neighborhood will likely find it annoying. Some situations might not be about noise. People who live in neighborhoods with a uniform appearance might hassle a new homeowner who decides to paint his or her house a clashing color. Whether the source of the problem is noise or something else, disagreements between neighbors can escalate into lawsuits. Before this happens, it is important to know what types of provisions a Homeowners policy provides for legal issues.
Many people think that a Homeowners insurance policy covers most types of lawsuits filed against them. For this reason, people are usually not as careful as they should be about preventing them. For example, consider a new homeowner who moves into a subdivision, replaces the existing fence with higher boards and paints them contrasting colors. If the subdivision has rules about the permissible colors and acceptable maximum height of fences, they will try to get the new homeowner to comply. Homeowners who refuse might find themselves facing a lawsuit for violating the subdivision's code. The courts will likely favor the subdivision's rules, and a Homeowners policy will not provide coverage for the legal battle. Therefore, it is important to understand exactly what legal issues are covered under the policy.
Loud noises, eyesores and changes are all issues that do not physically harm another person. Although they might be annoying, they are not issues that would be covered by a Homeowners policy if they escalate into a lawsuit. Always remember that a Homeowners policy offers protection for two types of liabilities: Property damage and bodily injury. If the family dog bites someone on the property, a guest falls off a broken step, or one of the kids breaks a visitor's car window, a Homeowners policy covers such issues.
Since coverage is limited to two types of physical damage, it is important to work as hard as possible to settle disputes with neighbors. For example, if neighbors complain about a barking dog, it might be best to enroll the dog in training or purchase a no-bark citronella collar. Trim overgrown shrubs or trees that neighbors complain about. Many people get angry and frustrated when a neighbor makes accusations or complains. Anger is usually what causes people to be stubborn and refuse to compromise. Always listen to what neighbors have to say, and try to understand the situation from their perspective. Use common sense to arrive at a solution that is favorable to both parties. However, the best way to avoid anger and confrontation is to fix possible nuisances before neighbors complain. For additional information about avoiding problems and lawsuits with neighbors, discuss the issues with one of our agents.
VEHICLE TYPE HAS IMPACT ON INSURANCE RATES
The costs associated with purchasing a vehicle do not end when you pay the dealer. When you own a car, you must pay for gasoline, maintenance and Auto insurance. The cost of Auto insurance usually varies based on your driving history, age and the type of car you drive. Although certain types of cars lower the cost of your insurance, others will raise it.
Car insurance companies determine the cost of your policy based on the risk of loss on insurance claims for the company. If the type of car you drive is associated with a larger number of expensive insurance claims, insurance companies will charge you a higher premium than it would charge if you were insuring a vehicle with fewer risks.
Insurance companies assess the risk associated with your vehicle by examining past information about the vehicle and about the type of person that usually drives it. If drivers of the vehicle usually make more claims, the insurance company will assign a higher premium. Cars that are often associated with more claims are usually those driven for pleasure, such as sports cars. Drivers of pleasure vehicles travel faster and might pay less attention to safety regulations. Sports cars also tend to become damaged more easily.
On the other hand, if the insurance company determines that your vehicle type does not usually result in many expensive insurance claims, it might assign a lower premium. For example, minivan drivers typically make fewer insurance claims and thus pay lower insurance premiums. This is because minivan drivers are typically carrying multiple passengers, so they drive more safely. Drivers of minivans also tend to travel less during peak traffic times.
Together with the profile of the driver and the safety of the vehicle, insurance companies also look at the cost of repairing your vehicle when determining your premiums. If repairs made to your vehicle would cost more than repairs made to most other vehicles, it is likely that your insurance premiums will be higher than the premiums associated with those other vehicles. In most cases, the more expensive the vehicle is, the more expensive the cost of repairs will be. For this reason, cars that cost more to purchase also cost more to insure, especially if the car is worth more than $60,000.
Regardless of the vehicle you drive, your age and driving history will also affect the value of your premium. If you are a young or inexperienced driver, your rates will usually be higher than the rate charged to a driver with more years of experience. Likewise, if you have a poor driving history with many insurance claims, your rate will increase.