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QuoteLab.com

FAQs

1. About QuoteLab

How does QuoteLab work?

What information does QuoteLab require to get me a quote?
What happens after QuoteLab matches me with agents and insurance providers?
Is QuoteLab an insurance company or agent?
Does QuoteLab charge for its service?

2. Auto Insurance Basics

What is Liability coverage?
What is Collision and Comprehensive coverage?
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical coverage?
What is Uninsured or Underinsured driver coverage?
What is Gap coverage?
What is Rental Reimbursement coverage?
What is Towing and Roadside assistance?
What is “no fault” auto insurance?
What is pay-as-you-drive auto insurance?
What is an SR-22 filing?
Do I need auto insurance for my leased vehicle?
Does my auto insurance policy cover me for rental cars?
How quickly do I need to report a new car purchase?
Do I need to pay my deductible if the other driver was at fault?
What happens if I am hit by someone driving without auto insurance?
Can I get auto insurance if I don’t own the cars I drive?
What is someone else driving my car gets into an accident?
If I’m driving someone else’s car, am I covered by my policy?
Am I covered if my car is stolen or vandalized?
What happens if my car is totaled?
Can states figure out if I’m driving without insurance?
How do I add my dependents to my auto insurance policy?
Am I covered if I drive my car to another state?
Am I covered if I drive my car to Canada or Mexico?
What happens if my son or daughter is taking a car to college?

3. Selecting the Right Coverage

How much auto insurance coverage do I need?
How much auto insurance is required by my state?
Should I get Comprehensive or Collision Coverage?
What deductible should I select?
Should I get PIP and/or MedPay?

4. Managing My Coverage

What types of claims will raise my auto insurance premiums?
What kind of cars are the most (and least) expensive to insure?
What factors determine my auto insurance rates?
How important is my credit score to my insurance rate?
How can I lower my insurance rate?
What if I miss an insurance payment?
Can I pause my insurance coverage if I won’t be driving my car for a few months?
What can you do if you’re denied car insurance?

How does QuoteLab work?
We work with leading insurance companies and service providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to help you find the best-fit provider for your insurance needs. After you complete our online form, QuoteLab instantly matches the information you provided with insurance providers offering the best, most appropriate policies your area. Several factors affect which insurance professionals are matched to you including type of insurance desired, where you live, your driving history, and, if applicable, your current insurance carrier.

What information does QuoteLab require to get me a quote?
Your current policy is the best starting point for information that you’ll need to complete the QuoteLab application. Below is the information that our partner insurance providers require for a quote:

  • General Information: Address and contact information, including email address.
  • Vehicle Information: Make and model, annual mileage and ownership.
  • Driver Information: Age, education, general credit rating and occupation for each driver in the household.
  • Incidents: Accidents, violations and claims in the last 5 years.
  • Coverages: Name of current insurance company, policy dates and amount of coverage you wish to purchase.

What happens after QuoteLab matches me with agents and insurance providers?
The agents and providers we match you with receive the information you provided in the QuoteLab application and will contact you within 48 hours of your submission of your application. They will be able to provide you with a full quote. Keep in mind that sometimes we cannot match you with any local agents or providers in your area based on the type of insurance you are looking for.

QuoteLab also provides you with the option of going directly to one of our partner insurance providers to get an online quote from their website. You can often purchase your policy online immediately after you get a quote or call one of their agents to help you complete the process. If you know what you want, this is often the best and most efficient option.

Is QuoteLab an insurance company or agent?
No. QuoteLab is not an insurance company or an agent. We are a free referral service for consumers who want to find the best quotes for auto insurance. We do not issue any insurance policies or provide support for any auto insurance policies you may purchase through one of our partner insurance providers or agents.

Does QuoteLab charge for its service?
No. Our mission is to make auto insurance shopping easier for consumers than ever before, and our services are provided to you free of charge. We make money from the insurance agents and service providers who pay us for referrals to consumers who are a good fit with the policies they provide.

What is Liability coverage?
Liability coverage offers protection for bodily injury or property damage for which the insured driver is deemed responsible. An example of property damage is where an insured driver drives into a neighbor’s fence. The liability coverage pays for the damage to the fence. An example of bodily injury is where an insured driver causes bodily harm to a third party and the insured driver is deemed responsible for the injuries.

49 of 50 states require a minimum level of liability coverage for every car or driver, with strict penalties for non-compliance. For example, California requires its drivers to carry minimum liability coverage of 15/30/5. This means that the insurance company will pay up to $30,000 for all people injured in an accident, not exceeding $15,000 on any one person and $5,000 for property damage.

What is Collision and Comprehensive coverage?
Collision coverage covers the cost of repairing your vehicle in the event of any kind of accident, whether it's with another car or an object, such as a utility pole or fire hydrant. Comprehensive insurance covers damage or loss of your vehicle in the event of theft, natural disaster or any other damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision. Unlike Liability insurance, collision and comprehensive insurance is not required by any state, but it is highly recommended for most drivers. Also, if you are leasing or borrowed money from a bank to purchase your car, your lessor or lender will likely require you to maintain collision and comprehensive coverage. The exception is if you have an older car, and the cost of repairing or replacing your car is likely more than its value. Under such circumstances, it is advisable to waive both collision and comprehensive coverage. Both collision and comprehensive coverages are subject to a deductible.

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical coverage?
PIP and Medical coverage pays for both medical expenses and lost wages to the policyholder and any passengers injured in the vehicle in the event of an accident. People with good medical and disability policies may not need to maximize PIP coverage and may be advised to elect only the lowest limit of PIP coverage required by their state. Some states, such as New Jersey, allow drivers to reject PIP entirely.

What is Uninsured or Underinsured driver coverage?
Underinsured coverage, also known as UM/UIM, provides coverage if an at-fault party either does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance. In effect, the insurance company pays the insured medical bills, then would subrogate from the at fault party. This coverage is often overlooked and very important. In some areas, it is estimated that 1 out of every 3 drivers doesn't carry insurance. Unfortunately, this number goes up significantly during recessions. Currently, 21 states require UM/UIM coverage, and usually UM/UIM limits required match the liability limits. Even in states that do not require UM/UIM coverage, insurance carriers are often required to issue you such coverage unless you explicitly reject it in writing.

What is Gap coverage?
Gap coverage for a new vehicle pays the difference between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the amount left on your car loan if your vehicle is totaled. Due to the sharp decline in the value of a car immediately after purchase, there is generally a period in which the amount owed on the car loan exceeds the value of the vehicle, which is called "upside-down" or negative equity. Thus, if the vehicle is damaged beyond economical repair at this point, the owner will still owe potentially thousands of dollars on the loan more than the reimbursable value of the car. Gap insurance does not always pay off the full loan value however. These cases include but are not limited to:

  • Any unpaid delinquent payments due at the time of loss
  • Payment deferrals or extensions (commonly called skips or skip a payment)
  • Refinancing of the vehicle loan after the policy was purchased
  • Late fees or other administrative fees assessed after loan commencement

Therefore, it is important for consumers to understand that they may still owe on the loan even though the Gap insurance policy was purchased.

What is Rental Reimbursement coverage?
Rental reimbursement pays for a rental car when your vehicle is damaged or stolen.

What is Towing and Roadside assistance?
Towing and roadside assistance coverage pays for fees due to road breakdowns.

What is “no fault” auto insurance?
The term “no-fault” auto insurance is used to denote any state’s auto insurance program that allows policyholders to recover financial losses from their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the incident. No-fault insurance has the goal of lowering premium costs by avoiding expensive litigation over the causes of accidents, while providing quick payments for injuries. The victim's insurance company would pay out the victim’s claim, while the driver-at-fault's insurance company would pay out the at fault party’s claim and charge that party a higher insurance premium as they are now higher risk. While this may disadvantage the victim's insurance company, accidents happen between drivers of both insurance companies with an equal chance of drivers from both sides being at fault, so this in theory should even out. This doesn't mean motorists cannot sue each other in no-fault states. What it means is that there's a higher threshold that injured motorists have to reach before they can sue—the injury must be either quite severe or quite costly. In some states that threshold is in the form of a dollar amount. Below are the states with no-fault insurance laws:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

What is pay-as-you-drive auto insurance?
Pay-as-you-drive auto insurance offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional monthly premium-based auto insurance by allowing drivers to pay for coverage based on the number of miles they drive. Quite simply, the less you drive, the more you save vs. a standard policy. You have to report you odometer readings or have a GPS or wireless monitoring system installed in you car to participate.

The good news is that pay-as-you-drive programs save typical drivers up to $300 per year in premiums because it encourages drivers to drive less (and carpool more) – often by 10 percent to 15 percent. So if you don’t drive a lot or plan on cutting down the amount of driving you do, then pay-as-you-drive policies might be a great alternative to save money.

What is an SR-22 filing?
While many people think an SR-22 is a type of insurance they're required to purchase if they have too many tickets, moving violations or DUIs, this is not the case. An SR-22 is a simply form filed by your insurance company to your state’s DMV as proof that you've purchased liability insurance to protect others from injury, damage or harm in case you cause an accident while driving. An SR-22 filing is often required in order to reinstate someone’s driving privileges following an uninsured car accident or conviction of another serious traffic-related offense, such as a DUI. For drivers who require SR-22 documentation, but do not own vehicles, the state laws may require such drivers to obtain and provide proof of a non-owner SR-22 policy to be eligible for reinstated driving privileges. If an SR-22 should expire or be canceled, the insurance company is required to issue an SR-26 form, which certifies the cancellation of the policy.

Do I need auto insurance for my leased vehicle?
Yes. Your loan or leasing agreement should provide details on the auto insurance coverage your financial institution requires you to carry. Though each leasing agent or lender has different requirements, most will require you to buy comprehensive and collision coverage when you purchase your auto insurance policy. Many financial institutions will require liability limits that are higher than your state's minimum coverage requirements. This is done to protect their interest in your loan. If you get into an accident, the financial institution gets stuck with the unpaid portion of your loan. It's logical that they would want to protect themselves.

Does my auto insurance policy cover me for rental cars?
Typically yes. Some people need extra insurance when they rent a car while others don’t. Whether you need additional coverage or not depends on two things: your auto insurance policy coverage and your credit card.

Most auto insurance companies will extend the coverage on your personal auto policy to a rental car. The important fact is whether you have bought Comprehensive and Collision coverage on your own car. That's the coverage that pays for damages like scratches, dents and thefts. If you have this coverage on your own policy, it will transfer to a rental car.

Many credit cards will pay for damage to a rental car when you pay with that card, but the coverage will be secondary to your own policy if you have one. Your card also may pay for towing - but will never pay for damage or injury that you cause to another car or driver. That's covered by liability or personal injury protection - which is why having your own policy is so important.

Many employers have corporate coverage for employees who rent cars, so don't buy the extra coverage unless you've checked with your boss or the fleet department first. When you travel for pleasure, your rental car is considered a temporary substitute for the car you've left at home - and that's why the policy you have with your own auto insurance company may provide coverage.

If you do purchase insurance directly from the rental car company, there are advantages – e.g., no deductible, no hassle of filing a claim, etc.

How quickly do I need to report a new car purchase?
Once you buy a new car, most insurance companies give you 30 days to notify them so they can update your policy. However, this varies from one company to another.

During the 30-day period following your new car purchase, the same coverage you had on your previous car carry over to the new one. However, once the notification period has expired, your car is no longer covered by your insurance plan.

If you do not have a pre-existing auto insurance policy and are buying a new car, you will need to get a policy and show proof of insurance before you can drive the car off the lot.

Also, keep in mind that is you are leasing or financing a car, the leasing or financing bank will almost always require that you have not just liability but collision and comprehensive coverage for the car.

Do I need to pay my deductible if the other driver was at fault?
p>No. If you are not at fault, you can file your claim with the at-fault party's insurance company and you won't pay your deductible. If you file with your insurance company, you must pay the deductible and your insurance company will work to recover damages (including the deductible) from the at-fault party's insurance company. This is called subrogation.

Most policies have a subrogation clause that enables your insurance company to obtain reimbursement from the at-fault party's insurance company for the cost of repairing your vehicle. This is the amount your insurance company actually paid out plus your deductible amount.

What happens if I am hit by someone driving without auto insurance?
It depends on what type of coverage you have. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, this is exactly the type of situation that this coverage is meant for. Up to 16% of drivers are driving without insurance – so it's prudent to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of your car insurance policy, even if your state doesn’t require this.

If you don’t have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it gets a bit more complex.

If you live in a state with no-fault auto insurance, you have to file a claim for your medical expenses with your own car insurance company regardless of who is to blame for an accident. In this case you would file a claim on your medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which pays for the treatment of injuries you and the passengers of your car suffer. PIP also covers lost wages.

To pay for repairs to your vehicle, you can file for a claim on your collision coverage. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle from a collision with another car or object or as a result of flipping over. You'll still need to pay the deductible if you file a claim on collision coverage (even though you weren’t at fault), but your insurance company may try to recoup the costs, including a refund of the deductible, from the at-fault driver.

If you have no collision coverage, you may have to resort to suing the uninsured or underinsured driver who was at fault. However, the likelihood of being able to recover your costs from such drivers are low since they probably don’t have a lot of money to be able to pay for your claim.

Can I get auto insurance if I don’t own the cars I drive?
Yes. You can buy something called a non-owners car insurance policy. As its name implies, this is designed for people who don't own cars. However, you can't get quotes for this type of insurance online. You'll need to work directly with an insurance agent.

Non-owners car insurance is a good idea if you frequently rent vehicles or borrow cars from friends and relatives. When you borrow a vehicle from a friend, their insurance policy would cover the car. However, your assets are still at risk in that situation. Why? If your friend's liability limits were low and you caused a bad accident with expensive damage and injuries, then other injured parties could come after your personal assets, such as your home, to recover expenses that went beyond your friend's liability limits.

If you frequently do business with rental car companies, you can buy insurance each time you rent a vehicle, but it might be more cost-effective to buy your own non-owners policy.

The purpose of a non-owners policy is liability protection. Comprehensive, collision, towing reimbursement, rental reimbursement and other optional types of coverage are not usually available for these types of policies. Generally there are no deductibles, unless your state requires uninsured/underinsured property-damage coverage.

What is someone else driving my car gets into an accident?
Your car insurance policy insures your vehicle plus "you, any relative, and anyone else using your car if the use is (or reasonably believed to be) with your permission." But, loaning a car to an uninsured friend is never a good idea. If your uninsured friend caused a terrible accident and the damages and injuries exceeded your insurance liability limits, other drivers could then sue you for property damage and medical expenses.

If I’m driving someone else’s car, am I covered by my policy?
The car owner’s liability and collision policies should cover any damages resulting from any such accidents. The only exception is if you live in the same house as the other person and are directly related. If so, the car owner’s insurer likely requires you to be listed on the policy in order to provide coverage. Check with your insurance company to find out more.

If you cause an accident that results in damages and injuries that exceed you’re the car owner’s liability limits, however, and you have your own car insurance - you and the car owner’s insurance companies may share the costs in what's known as a "pro rata" case. His insurance would likely pay the full cost of the accident, and then go to your insurance company to get your share of the costs. If you don’t have your own insurance, then the car owner will be on the hook for any amounts exceeding his or her coverage, so, it’s always advisable to have your own insurance policy to cover you even when you are driving someone else’s car.

Am I covered if my car is stolen or vandalized?
This type of damage or loss is exactly what Comprehensive coverage covers.

If your car is stolen, comprehensive coverage covers the actual cash value of a stolen vehicle after you pay your deductible. So let's say you have comprehensive coverage with a $500 deductible and you leave work one evening to find that your car was stolen. You have a vehicle that, after depreciation and wear and tear, is worth $12,000. After paying your $500 deductible, your insurance company then will give you a check for the remaining $11,500.

What about items stolen from inside your car? Most policies cover only items that are part of the car and that are permanently attached, such as sound systems (except when the entire system can be removed) and rims. Things not permanently attached to your vehicle, such as purses, wallets, laptops and cell phones, usually are covered by home or renter's insurance policies.

What happens if my car is totaled?
According to Edmunds.com, an auto insurance company will declare a car a “total loss” if the cost of repairing it would be more than just giving you enough money to cover its cash value and then selling it to a salvage yard. Upon major damage to your car, your insurance company will assess your vehicle's actual cash value, using sources like Kelley Blue Book or its own database. This value then will be adjusted based on your car's condition before the accident; if your vehicle was dented, warped, rusty and leaking before the crash, its value will be lower. Other factors contributing to your vehicle's value include mileage, customizations and enhancements.

Once your insurance company has figured out what your car is worth, it will subtract other costs, like the estimated repair costs and the salvage value of the vehicle. If the actual cash value exceeds your repair and salvage costs, the vehicle won't be considered totaled. But if it does, then you'll have a total loss on your hands, and the insurance company will write you a check for the actual cash value of the car minus your deductible and other fees. If you lease the vehicle, the insurer will pay that same amount to the leaseholder. If you finance, the financing company gets the money first; if that amount is more that what you owe, you'll get the balance.

Keep in mind that if you lease or finance your vehicle, there's a chance your insurer could decide that your car is worth less than the amount you owe to the leasing or financing company. For instance, the auto insurance company might write a check $21,000. But you might still owe $24,000 on your lease. You'll have to cover that $3,000 difference out of your pocket unless you have Gap insurance.

Can states figure out if I’m driving without insurance?
Maybe not. It's difficult for states to know how many drivers are out there without car insurance, but states do try to find out. Some use random sampling. They send a list of vehicles to car insurance companies and ask if they are insured. Other states require insurance companies to submit their lists of current customers. Still others use databases updated weekly or monthly with customer lists from insurance companies. About half of states do not use an electronic reporting system to track which drivers are uninsured. So whether your state knows you are forgoing an auto policy depends a lot on where you live. Penalties for driving without insurance vary from small fines to jail time, depending on the state, so you do not want to risk driving uninsured. Besides getting you in legal trouble, driving without insurance is dangerous financially. You'll be on the hook for damages if you cause an accident. Also, when you do decide to get auto insurance, you likely will face higher rates because of your lapse in coverage.

How do I add my dependents to my auto insurance policy?
It depends on whether he or she is a licensed driver. In some states he may be covered automatically if he has only a learner's permit. However, once your dependent has his or her license, then you need to add them to your policy no matter where you live.

Insurers in some states can require you to list a teen with a driving permit on your car insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, those states include:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Unfortunately, when your dependent does get a license and you need to add them to your policy, your rates will almost certainly go up. As an age group, teens are the riskiest drivers on the road -- largely because of inexperience. The crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds is four times the risk for older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

To mitigate the higher premiums, ask your insurance company about discounts to reduce your premiums. Many insurers offer discounts for good grades in school and for completion of driver training courses.

Am I covered if I drive my car to another state?
Absolutely. All policies will cover you for incidents occurring in other states.

Am I covered if I drive my car to Canada or Mexico?
For Mexico, typically neither U.S. liability insurance nor comprehensive coverage is valid in Mexico. In some case, your auto insurance provider may give you limited coverage when you cross the border. Some policies, for example, will cover you if you remain within 75 miles of the border, and each trip can be up to 10 days. Beyond this, or if your carrier does not cover you in Mexico, you would need separate coverage to continue driving in Mexico. Fortunately, you can buy Mexican auto insurance in most cities and towns on both sides of the border. But keep in mind -- if you get in an accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurance will be considered invalid.

Mexican law enforcement officials take auto insurance very seriously. If you're involved in an accident and cannot prove that you have Mexican liability insurance, you'll be taken into custody until liability (and your ability to pay) can be proven. This holds true even if you require immediate medical attention, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Canada, on the other hand, does not require you to purchase a separate policy. Most major insurers will cover you throughout all Canadian provinces and territories. In addition to your standard proof of insurance, you may need a Canadian insurance card that you can get from your insurance company in advance of your trip.

What happens if my son or daughter is taking a car to college?
If you child owns the car, then the insurance policy must be in the child's name as well. If the child is borrowing a car from you to take to college, the child must be listed on the insurance policy as a dependent. Some insurance companies may require the child to be listed as the primary operator, since the car is in the child's possession and not the parents'. You will not need to get separate coverage in a new state if your child is attending an out-of-state school.

How much auto insurance coverage do I need?
When it comes to auto insurance, more is less: the more coverage you have, the less it will cost you if you get in an accident. While there’s no hard and fast rule about the amount of auto insurance coverage you should have, the one clear thing is that most states require that you carry only a minimum level of liability auto insurance coverage.

However, most experts advise against carrying only your state’s minimum auto insurance requirements. Why? State automobile insurance minimums have not kept up with the increasing costs of repairing or replacing new vehicles and the skyrocketing cost of medical care. If you’re involved in a serious accident, the costs can quickly and significantly exceed your state’s minimum auto insurance coverage— making you liable for thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. Even if your own car is not worth a lot, you may be liable for damage to other people’s vehicles and property, as well as for injury sustained by others, and the amounts can add up quickly.

So, how much auto insurance coverage is adequate? The amount of auto insurance coverage you need depends on a variety of factors. Some factors you should consider when you buy auto insurance coverage include:

  • Risk appetite — If you don’t like taking risks, your auto insurance coverage should reflect that with high coverage limits and low auto insurance deductibles.
  • Where you live — Do you live among wildlife, or are fender benders a common occurrence where you live? If so, beef up on your coverage.
  • What car you drive — If you have a brand new vehicle, you may want to increase your auto insurance coverage to protect your investment in the event you’re involved in an accident.
  • How much assets you have —The more assets you have, the more auto insurance coverage you need to protect them.
  • Your passengers — Do you regularly have young passengers in your vehicle? If so, get auto insurance coverage to protect them should you be involved in an accident.

How much auto insurance is required by my state?
The amount of coverage required (a fixed dollar amount) vary from state to state. These requirements are typically listed as a series of three numbers that define how much, in thousands of dollars, the policy will cover in the event of an accident. For example, California requires its drivers to carry minimum liability coverage of 15/30/5. This means that the insurance company will pay up to $30,000 for all people injured in an accident, not exceeding $15,000 on any one person and $5,000 for property damage.

Should I get Comprehensive or Collision Coverage?
It is advisable for most people. The only situation when you might want to consider not getting such coverage is if the value of the car you are insuring is quite low – i.e., when fixing the car will often cost more than the car itself.

What deductible should I select?
The higher the deductible for your Comprehensive and Collision coverage, the lower your monthly premiums will be. It depends on how safe of a driver you think you are and whether you have the fund to be able to cover a high deductible should an accident occur. The standard deductibles for both coverages are $500, but if you want to take on a bit more risk and can afford a higher deductible if you do get into an accident, then you may want to consider higher deductibles.

Should I get PIP and/or MedPay?
If you live in a "no-fault" state, you are required to buy either personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) coverage in order to drive. PIP and MedPay cover your medical bills and those of your passengers after a car accident, regardless of who's at fault.

If you live in a state without no-fault insurance, and have MedPay or PIP on your auto policy, always use it first to pay for medical expenses related to car accidents. Your health insurer may deny coverage until you have exhausted MedPay or PIP benefits. If you have good health insurance, you may not need MedPay or PIP coverage. But, if you have a high deductible on your health insurance, MedPay or PIP coverage can cover you from “dollar-one”, so you won’t have to be out of pocket for any injuries you suffer as a result of an accident.

In many situations, having both MedPay and PIP is duplicate coverage. But there are certain situations in which MedPay can be valuable. MedPay can help offset the deductible that comes with PIP or health insurance. Also, PIP coverage in some states will not pay for medical expenses if you are injured while driving intoxicated.

Lastly, PIP and MedPay are no substitutes for broader health insurance. Few companies are willing to sell more than $25,000 worth of PIP or MedPay coverage. Common MedPay limits are $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000.

What types of claims will raise my auto insurance premiums?
Not every claim will result in higher premiums. In most cases, small claims filed under your comprehensive coverage will not result in higher premiums. (Replacing a windshield or repairing damages caused by vandals, for example.)
 However, claims in which you were at fault in some way may result in a higher premium. Insurers call these “chargeable claims.” However, some states have laws governing when and why auto insurers can increase policyholders' premiums. Often, insurers are not allowed to raise your rates after one speeding ticket or moving violation. So if it was your first ticket, you may not see any change in your rates.

If you have received speeding tickets in the past, insurance companies have varied practices when it comes to raising premiums. Some will consider the severity of your violation and raise your rates accordingly. Others will raise rates a specific amount per violation.

What kind of cars are the most (and least) expensive to insure?
In general, the more expensive the car, the more it costs to insure it. This is because any claims you file on an expensive vehicle will cost your insurer more than average, and it has to pass on that expense to its customers. In addition, more expensive cars are also more likely to be stolen, so your insurer also takes on higher-than-average risk insuring them for this reason. Larger cars are sometimes associated with lower rates since they tend to be safer in collisions. Then, lower-priced sedans normally cost less to repair and to replace, which leads to somewhat lower rates for their owners as well.

Sportier cars, or those that attract a lot of young people, also tend to cost more than average to insure. Young drivers tend to drive faster and take more risks than the average person, so buying a car that attracts that type of person will also cost you more than average.

What factors determine my auto insurance rates?
All insurance companies use different factors to determine your insurance rates. The major factors that insurance companies take into account are listed below:

  • Demographic factors such as age, sex and marital status
  • Driving record and record of prior claims
  • Car make and model
  • Use of your car (commute vs. leisure; annual mileage)
  • Geography

Insurance companies base their rates levels on years of statistical research, taking into account recent changes as well. For example, according to statistical data, single males under 25 years of age belong to the highest risk group. The lowest risk group comprises married, middle-aged, non-smoking females.

Statistics also show that drivers with previous serious traffic violations are much more likely to have recurring accidents than drivers with an accident-free record. Consequently, your bad driving record will dramatically impact your auto insurance premiums rates. For drivers with a clean driving record most Insurance companies will offer special safe driver discounts.

Many insurance companies now use their statistical claims data on car makes and models in order to determine not only Collision coverage rates, but also Liability and Medical Payments coverage premiums. Cars with a high frequency of claims, such as sport utility cars and luxury and sports car models usually involve higher premiums. Larger cars are sometimes associated with lower rates since they tend to be safer in collisions. Then, lower-priced sedans normally cost less to repair and to replace, which leads to somewhat lower rates for their owners as well.

Restraint systems such as seat belts and airbags, now standard on all new car makes and models, tend to reduce the risk of injury, and are also regarded as one of the important factors in determining future premiums, for example Medical Payments coverage.

Statistics shows that high annual mileage means greater chances of being involved in a car accident. Many insurance companies use 12,000 miles per year as the average mileage, and higher rates conduce to higher premiums. It refers to vehicles used for business and cars driven to and from work on a daily basis. These cars are more likely to get in crashes than those driven occasionally for pleasure, since they face heavier traffic conditions.

Statistical data also shows that over 80% of traffic accidents occurred within 25 miles of drivers' residence area. Road conditions, traffic patterns, traffic law enforcement, local costs of auto repairs, hospital and medical services, - all these factors are taken into account by Insurance companies when compiling claims record. Insurance companies can have many rating territories across the state and different rates for each city of a county.

How important is my credit score to my insurance rate?
In states where it's allowed, most insurers collect information from consumer reporting agencies about your driving record, claims experience and credit history in order to offer you a rate that matches your experience. Research shows that drivers with better insurance scores have fewer losses, so their rates are lower. But, keep in mind that this is only one of more than 50 variables that are considered by companies when offering you a quote.

How can I lower my insurance rate?
A clean driving record means lower risks and fewer claims does wonders for your insurance rate; it is a common practice to reward safe drivers for their excellent driving habits. Driving safely also means driving a "safe" car. Purchasing a vehicle that is officially recognized as safe and uses air bags, safety-harnesses, seatbelts, anti-lock brakes and running lights can make your premiums lower. Owners of cars with low theft loss and accident history can expect a discount, as can drivers who install anti-theft protection on their cars.

The less you drive, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident. Limiting the number of miles you drive can lead to a discount from some insurers.

You can increase your deductible, the dollar amount you pay before the insurance company starts paying your claim and/or reduce the limits of your liability coverage. By doing this, you run risk of a large loss, these changes will result in rates reductions.

You may get loyalty discounts if you purchase Home and Auto Insurance from the same company. Insurance companies would like you to make your payments on time; therefore your credit worthiness is an important issue they would worry about. In order to get a lower rate from your insurer, you should show yourself as a credit worthy candidate. Such things as maintaining a good credit score and clearing up any errors on your credit will be rather helpful.

Lastly, check your health insurance coverage and the value of your car. You may not need much Collision or Comprehensive coverage, or any at all, if your medical expenses are covered by your health insurance and the value of your car isn’t that high.

What if I miss an insurance payment?
Each state has its own rules governing the cancellation of automobile insurance policies. You should check your personal auto policy for information about when, how, and for what reasons coverage can be terminated.

If you fail to pay your premium on time, your insurance company has the right to cancel the policy, but this is only after sufficient notice has been given to you. Some companies may send an overdue notice, asking you to pay the past-due premium plus a late fee. Other companies may send a cancellation notice, stating that if payment is received prior to the effective cancellation date, your coverage will be considered "reinstated" and will remain in-force. If you are sent a notice of cancellation, it will inform you of the date and time the cancellation will take effect.

Can I pause my insurance coverage if I won’t be driving my car for a few months?
Most states require that all registered vehicles carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage, so suspending your coverage may also mean suspending or canceling your registration for when you are gone. Even if the state does have a system that allows this, your insurance company may or may not be willing to allow you to suspend part of your coverage temporarily. You’ll need to contact your insurance company and ask. One more important consideration: if you have an outstanding car loan on your vehicle (or the car is leased), the terms of the loan or the lease probably require that you keep the car fully insured with comprehensive and collision coverage. Check your loan or lease documentation carefully before you take steps to suspend your insurance coverage.

Also, don’t let the insurer cancel your policy while you are gone. If you purchase a new policy when you return, it will almost certainly end up costing you more since car insurance companies consider this a lapse in coverage (and they hate seeing lapses in coverage).

What can you do if you’re denied car insurance?
If one company turns you down for auto insurance, keep shopping. Even if one company turns you down, another may be willing to sell you a policy. You can always be insured through your state’s assigned high risk pool. But, the percentage of drivers assigned to these state-mandated pools has dwindled as more and more auto insurance companies have focused their efforts on providing coverage for high-risk drivers.