There are many insurance companies to choose from when it comes to home and auto coverage. Some of them seem to advertise around the clock, constantly promoting special features, benefits, or discounts in an effort to attract your business. With so many commercials coming your way, how do you know which features are right for you and which ones you should avoid? In this two-part post, we’ll attempt to answer your most pressing questions about some of the most frequently advertised insurance features.
Safe Driving Bonus Check
Hard work should be acknowledged. Insurance companies have long rewarded safe drivers with special discounts, but Allstate has taken it a step further with its Safe Driving Bonus Check. Often advertised with actors bragging about what they will buy with their check, the Safe Driving Bonus Check is actually equivalent to no more than five percent of the premium paid during the previous policy period. For reference, that would be just $25 on a $500 policy.
To get the check, you must remain accident-free for the duration of each policy period. You must also enroll in the Your Choice Auto Program at an additional charge, which comes with specific eligibility requirements like good credit and a good driving history. Alternatively, you could just talk to your independent insurance agent here at Patriot Insurance to find out what types of safe-driving savings are available from other insurers. Some companies will award a safe driving history with discounted premiums, whereas others may feature programs that lower premiums or deductibles as you remain accident-free over time.
New Car Replacement
New Car Replacement is a feature that Liberty Mutual has been promoting as of late. This coverage ensures your totaled car will be replaced with another one of the same year, make and model. This is in contrast to typical insurance settlements, which only cover a vehicle for its actual cash value. Thanks to depreciation that is usually not enough to buy the same vehicle – particularly if the car is brand new or only a few years old.
If you drive a new car, Liberty Mutual is not the only insurance company willing to offer replacement coverage. Several others feature similar benefits – at an additional charge, of course. Some companies even extend coverage availability for several years of ownership – up to five years in the case of Travelers Insurance.
Another Liberty Mutual commercial touts the benefits of Roadside Assistance when you break down, run out of fuel, lock your keys in your car or have a flat tire. For an additional charge, the company offers round-the-clock assistance, giving you peace of mind that you and the other drivers on your policy are covered at your most vulnerable moments. Of course, you do not have to be insured with Liberty Mutual to benefit from Roadside Assistance. Even though the company is a primary advertiser of this coverage, nearly all insurance companies offer similar benefits. Talk to an agent here at Patriot Insurance for more information or to add this important protection to your policy.
Forgive and forget – wouldn’t it be great if insurance companies adopted that philosophy? Unfortunately, insurance rates tend to soar after a single car accident, sometimes by as much as 40 percent or more. With Accident Forgiveness, you don’t have to worry about your rates going up just because of a first-time accident.
Allstate frequently advertises Accident Forgiveness, which comes at an additional cost. Other companies like Progressive, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and The Hartford offer similar coverage – also at an additional cost. One company – Integrity Insurance – offers it for free to customers who have held policies for five years or more.
Generally, you must have a good driving record free of accidents and moving violations to qualify for Accident Forgiveness from any insurance company. Talk with an agent here at Patriot Insurance for more information about how you can add this benefit to your coverage.
We’ll start with the Discount Double-Check from State Farm. This is not coverage, but rather a name the company uses for the service it provides to its customers. With the Discount Double-Check, agents are supposed to ‘double-check’ for discounts to ensure you get all of the savings you qualify for.
In the commercials, agents find discounts that were otherwise overlooked, saving customers additional money. However, it is important to note that the discounts are only State Farm discounts – not those offered by competing insurers. On the other hand, an independent agent can do the same thing, only with multiple insurance companies at the same time.
If you’ve ever financed a new or new-to-you vehicle, you were probably offered GAP insurance. Like the name implies, GAP is designed to pay the difference between your insurance settlement and the balance of your loan when you total your car, essentially ‘filling the gap.’
You only need GAP coverage when you owe more on your car than the vehicle is actually worth, but that doesn’t stop lenders and dealers from selling you GAP protection that covers the entire life of the loan – even after you have paid down the balance. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars in upfront premiums for coverage you may not need, we recommend talking with an independent agent here at Patriot Insurance about adding GAP to your insurance policy instead. That way, you can drop GAP protection when you no longer need it, ensuring you only pay for the coverage you actually want.
Name Your Price Tool
Everyone wants to save money on car insurance. Perhaps that is why Progressive began marketing its Name Your Price Tool, which allows users to see how various policy adjustments can affect the cost of insurance. While this makes it easier to get the cost of coverage into a favorable range, it also allows users to pick and choose which coverages to reduce or eliminate, which could leave a driver dangerously under-insured.
By working with a real agent instead of a software system, you get personalized service and advice based on your individual needs and risk factors. We here at Patriot Insurance know how important it is to have the right limits, and we always work to maximize your savings by comparison shopping and applying discounts – not by jeopardizing your coverage.
Bundle and Save
Finally, we end our post with the Bundle-and-Save discount advertised by Progressive Insurance. Due to the frequency of these commercials, it would be easy for a driver to assume that Progressive is the only insurer offering bundling discounts. In reality, nearly all insurance companies offer loyalty discounts when you bundle home and auto or renters and auto. You may even qualify for additional discounts if you bundle other lines of coverage, such as motorcycle or RV insurance.
Always seek the advice of your independent agent before pursuing any particular coverage you see offered on TV. Chances are there is much more to the story than meets the eye, and our job is to help you find the whole truth – not just the part the insurance companies want you to see.