FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
A number of factors can affect the cost of your automobile insurance - some of which you can control and some which are beyond your control. The type of car you drive, the purpose the car serves, your driving record, and where your vehicle is garaged can all affect how much your automobile insurance will cost you. Even your marital status can affect your cost of insurance. Statistics show that married people tend to have fewer and less costly accidents than do single people.
There are a number of things you can do to lower the cost of your car or auto insurance. The easiest thing to do is to shop around. It is not surprising to find quotes on automobile insurance that can vary by hundreds of dollars for the same coverage on the same car. When you shop, be careful to make sure each insurer is quoting the same coverage. Many insurers use ISO (Insurance Services Office) policy forms, but this is not always the case. Another way to lower the cost of your automobile insurance is to look for any discounts that you may qualify for. For example, many insurers will offer you a discount if you insure multiple cars under the same policy, or if you have had a driver education class in the last five years. Be sure to ask your agent or your company about their discount plans. Another easy way to lower the cost of your automobile insurance is to increase the deductible. Simply raising your deductible from $250 to $500 can lower your premium sometimes by as much as five or ten percent. However, you should be careful to make sure that you have the financial resources necessary to handle the larger deductible.
Most states have enacted compulsory insurance laws that require drivers to have at least some automobile liability insurance, Part A. These laws were enacted to ensure that victims of automobile accidents receive compensation when their losses are caused by the actions of another individual who was negligent. Except for the minimum liability coverages that you may be required to purchase, many people with older cars decide not to purchase any of the physical damage coverages. It is often the case that the cost of repairing the damages to an older car is greater than its value. In these cases, your insurer will usually just "total" the car and give you a check for the car's market value less the deductible. Many people forgo the Part D coverages because of the relatively low values of their vehicles.
Whenever you knowingly loan your car to a friend or an associate, they may be protected for a covered loss under the terms of your policy. Remember that insurance follows the “vehicle”, not the driver. If someone you are not related to lives in your household and frequently borrows your vehicle, you may need to add them to your policy. Contact your agent for additional details.
The answer to this question is not as easy as it once was. In the not-too-distant past, most automobile insurance policies would extend coverage to rental cars whenever you rented one. This is not quite true anymore. In most cases, your personal automobile insurance policy will extend coverage to the rental car if it is considered a “temporary vehicle” under the terms of your policy. Many insurance companies no longer extend personal automobile insurance coverage when you are traveling on business. The best way to find out what rental car coverage you have under your automobile policy is to contact your agent.
Both collision and comprehensive are Part D coverages. Collision is defined as losses you incur when your automobile collides with another car or object. For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, the damages to your car will be paid if it is a covered loss under your collision coverage. Comprehensive provides coverage for most other direct physical damage losses you may incur for non-collision accidents. For example, damage to your car from a hailstorm, or from hitting a deer may be covered under your comprehensive coverage. Glass breakage may fall under this coverage as well, but varies by state. It is important to know the differences between the collision and comprehensive coverages for a couple of reasons. First, in order to make an informed purchasing decision about these optional coverages, you need to know the difference between them. Second, the deductibles under the collision and comprehensive coverages are often different in amount.
The duties you need to perform after you have an accident are prescribed both by state law and by the terms of your policy contract. The first thing you should do is to make sure everyone is all right and call an ambulance if one is needed. Second, for most accidents in most states, the police should be notified. Third, you should give the other driver(s) involved in the accident your name, address, telephone number, and the name of your insurance company and/or your insurance agent. You also need to get this same information from the other driver(s). Fourth, at the first opportunity, you should contact your agent or your insurance company to notify them that you have been involved in an accident. Finally, there are a number of conditions in the insurance contract that you must satisfy in order to receive compensation from your insurer. For example, you need to cooperate with your insurer during any investigation undertaken during the claims settlement process. Failure to complete any of these actions can, and sometimes does, result in non-payment by your insurance company for losses that otherwise would have been covered.
Actuaries and statisticians who have studied the claim frequency of people involved in accidents have long known that people who have either had an accident or received a ticket recently are more likely to have another accident in the next couple of years than people whose recent driving record has been incident free. Insurance companies use this information not to punish people who have had an accident, but to charge them the premium that most accurately reflects their likelihood of having an accident. People who are more likely to have accidents should reasonably be expected to pay higher premiums.
Location – Each home location is different and in most cases homes in a similar location will start at a similar base price for the county, city and zip code. The distance to a fire hydrant and fire station are factors within this section as well. Rebuilding Costs – The Coverage A policy limit affects the premium and is used as a benchmark for the additional coverages within your policy. Should your home have more custom features, the rebuilding cost will increase and therefore you will require more coverage resulting in higher premiums. Newer construction can save you on your insurance if properly documented as the current building codes are safer than older outdated ones. Risk Mitigation – Protective devices such as fire extinguishers, burglar alarms, dead-bolts, sprinklers and fire resistant roofs all bring down the likelihood of a loss and therefore have lower premiums. Prior Claims – Your prior history at that home is a fairly good predictor of the frequency and severity of the claims the insurance company could expect to pay out in the future. The more claims you have reported, the higher your premiums will be because the carrier expects to pay more claims from your policy. Personal circumstances – Non-smokers and good credit scores can assist you with lower rates in some states. As well as professional association discounts for CPAs, Policemen, Firefighters, Doctors and Teachers
Most mortgage companies require home insurance to protect their interest in your home since you are still paying down your loan. However after your loan is fully paid off, there is no requirement to have it. There are a few exceptions for Flood insurance and condominium insurance if required by the local authority or HOA. Since each circumstance varies, it is best to speak with a licensed professional insurance agent.
The amount of coverage you need varies based on the location of the home, year it was built, the contents and construction type. One key point to understand is that your coverage may not equal the amount you paid for your home. The difference is the value of the land it sits on. Should your home be burned to the ground, you still own the ground. Example. $450,000 home in San Diego, CA may have coverage of $300,000 based on its location, type of construction, upgrades and interior work. That does not mean your home is worth only $300,000, but that if it had to be rebuilt from the ground up, it is estimated it would cost no more than $300,000. Check with your insurance agent to determine if you are under-insured or over-insured for your home. Another example: A custom home in San Francisco may have a market value of $750,000, but cost over $1M to rebuild, due to custom features and extra cost for building to current code standards. Please also know that you are required by your homeowners insurance policy to carry a minimum amount (called co-insurance, check your policy for details), but it is typically at least 90% of the estimated replacement cost to rebuild. Insurance policies have this clause in place to protect the homeowner in the event of a total loss and there is not enough coverage to rebuild.
When it comes to paying the claim on your personal possessions in the home at the time of a claim it can be hard to remember all the items you owned. Many people remember what was on their countertops but not the extent of what was in the cabinets or that box you haven’t opened since you moved. It is wise to do a home inventory at least once per year. Take a video with your phone, camcorder or just take pictures of everything as it is in your home. Then place the video or photos in a safe location that so they won’t be destroyed if you home is damaged. Ideal places are safe deposit boxes, fire-proof safes and online back sites. Should you ever need the video it is there for your reference, and it will make filling out those contents forms all the easier.
Send a signed request stating the name(s) to be added, removed or changed with policy number to our mailing address of 24 Executive Park, Suite 250, Attn: Customer Service, Irvine, CA 92614 or fax to (949) 863-9762. In some cases where the insured is deceased, a copy of the death certificate may be required.
Have your loan processor fax request for evidence to: (949) 863-9762, Attn: Evidence. For follow-up, please call Customer Service (877) 713-7555
First American does not provide actual “CLUE Reports,” but we will provide a “Letter of Experience” or “Loss History Letter” on existing policies. Call Customer Service to request loss history on your policy. If you have had no losses, they will provide a letter indicating no losses.