Sunday, March 29, 2009

Keeping, Dropping or Changing Your Comprehensive or Collision Coverage

Managing the cost of your insurance car insurance northern ireland, for example) can be as simple as answering a few simple questions. Here's a short discussion that will walk you through the process of deciding to keep, drop or to change (different deductible) your comprehensive and/or collision coverages in your car insurance policy. First we need to do a very short 'inventory.'

Insurance is simply the management of risk. Owning and driving an automobile is a risk. You risk injury, loss of your vehicle, and potential liability for damage to others. The purchase of insurance is merely an agreement with the company to transfer some of your risk to them. You are saying, "I choose not to assume all of this risk myself. In exchange for my premium dollars, the insurance company will suffer some of the financial loss instead of me." With this thought in mind, you must decide how much risk to transfer and in doing so, decide how much risk you are willing to keep yourself in the from of deductibles and unpurchased coverages.
Before we can get to ways to save money on your premium, you need to take a short inventory of your financial picture. Before you get to deciding whether to take a $100 or a $500 deductible on your collision coverage you first need to decide that you can reasonably handle a $500 loss. So before we jump into any tricks of the trade, lets take a moment to diagnose your "loss threshold."
Lets say you go out and buy a $3 picture to hang in your bathroom. Are you going to insure it? Of course not! Now you go out and buy a famous $252,000 masterpiece painting. Are you going to insure it? Unless you are a multi-millionaire, you certainly will. Somewhere in between the $3 print and the $252,000 masterpiece is your loss threshold. Your loss threshold is the amount of money you can stand to lose without doing any great harm to your daily lifestyle or your peace-of-mind. In the above example, different people will have different thresholds. There is no right or wrong answer here!
In addition to settling on your personal loss threshold, it is important to consider your previous history of insurance losses. If you have had several losses in the last 10 years, you may be wise to lean more heavily on your insurance coverage. If, on the other hand, you go almost forever between losses, you will save premium dollars by assuming more of the risk yourself in the form of higher deductibles or dropped coverages. Now, if assuming this extra risk is going to give you some sleepless nights and make you a nervous wreck every time you get into your car, then don't do it! Part of what you buy in the purchase of insurance is peace of mind.
What matters most is where you are comfortable. Take a moment to apply a value to your "Loss Threshold." Try thinking in terms of $50, $100, $250, $500, and $1000. How much money can you, with peace of mind, place at risk? As you will see below, once you determine your Loss Threshold, you need only to weigh the cost of the coverage versus the potential for loss to you. Insurance can be a reasonably simple commodity to manage.


So you have been driving "Old Betsy" now ever since Noah was working on his boat. To you, its worth every bit of what you may have paid for it way back when but to another car buyer, its just an old bucket of bolts, rubber, faded upholstery. Unfortunately, the insurance company views your precious 4-wheeled family member with the same cold business approach as a prospective buyer. Its only worth...well, its worth a lot less than you would hope.
There comes a time in the life of almost every car when its value does not warrant the cost of collision coverage any longer. Collision coverage is that portion of your insurance that pays to fix damage to your car suffered by a collision. You will need this coverage for your car when you are in an accident that is your fault or if your car is the victim of a Hit & Run accident. Looking back to your Financial Picture we discussed above, compare the cost of your coverage with the potential for loss.
In discussions with your agent or by examining your renewal bill, identify the annual cost of your collision coverage. By looking in the newspaper or car-trading publications, determine the actual retail value of your car. Be careful to be objective here and remove whatever emotional attachment you may have to your car that might unrealistically increase its perceived value.

Let's say that the real value of your car is $1200 and the annual cost of just your collision coverage with a $100 deductible is $150. Now here are the Test Questions:
  1. Can I afford to withstand this loss without any help from the insurance company? (in this case $1200)
  2. Would I rather save $XX (in this case $150) every year and risk the loss of the car myself? By not getting this coverage I am saving $XX ($150) per year. I will save enough to make up the loss ($1200) in Y (8) years. (1200 ÷ 150 = 8)
  3. Does my driving and claim history lead me to believe that I might go Y (8) years without suffering that sort of loss?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then you might be well on your way to cutting your insurance costs by dropping your collision coverage. These simple Test Questions can be applied to virtually any insurance-buying decision. Take a look at the next example.


Comprehensive coverage like collision coverage is designed to protect your car from loss. Much of the same logic that we applied to collision coverage can be used to decide on the fate of your comprehensive coverage. There are, however some important considerations to weigh in your analysis.
Comprehensive coverage covers almost anything that happens to your car except collision. The most commonly submitted claims are broken windshields, stolen hub caps, stolen stereos, vandalism and theft of the entire vehicle. Note here that many of these losses produce the same amount of financial loss regardless of the value of the car. It costs virtually the same to replace a windshield in a 75 Ford as it does in an 85 Ford. Consider also that the cost of comprehensive coverage is much less than collision coverage. The ratio between money saved and dollars put at risk is smaller and therefore you may be less eager to drop this coverage. Ask yourself the Test Questions that we did for collision coverage and make an informed decision.
If your vehicle is financed or leased, always remember to check with your financial institution before changing these coverages. Your loan contract may have certain requirements and deductible limitations that somewhat restrict your options.


If deleting collision and comprehensive coverage puts you at greater risk than you are willing to assume at this time, you may want to consider increasing your deductibles as a compromise. As you increase your deductibles you decrease your premium. The insurance company is going to give you a break on your premium here for two reasons. First, when you have a loss, the insurance company will pay you less money when you have a higher deductible. Secondly, with a higher deductible, you will have fewer claims that are presented to the insurance company in excess of your deductible.
When you take a higher deductible you are saying that you, for the consideration of a lower premium are willing to assume a greater portion of the loss yourself. You trade the certainty of a lower premium for the uncertainty of more loss to you should a claim occur.
If you have decided in your Financial Picture that you are comfortable with a $500 loss (and the premium savings is enough) and you own a car worth $3000 then you probably do not want to drop your collision coverage completely. But you can increase your $100 collision deductible to $500 and your zero comprehensive deductible to $100. Let's examine the numbers. If you save $30 per year on your comprehensive coverage and $65 per year on your collision deductible you realize a $95 per year savings the first year and every year thereafter. You are only increasing your risk by $100 on the comprehensive coverage and by $400 on the collision coverage. Remember you already had a $100 deductible on collision and increasing it to $500 changes your participation in the loss by $400. Again, ask yourself the same questions.
  1. Can I afford to withstand this loss (the bigger deductible) without any help from the insurance company?
  2. Would I rather save this money ($95) and risk the larger deductible loss myself? By taking this bigger deductible I am saving $95 per year. I will save enough money to make up the loss in one year for a comprehensive loss and in just over four years for a collision loss.
  3. Does my driving and claim history lead me to believe that I might go one or five years without this sort of loss?
If the answers are primarily yes then most likely an increase in deductibles is right for you.

It's a Good Life !

Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10791 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121
Websites: Company Site:

This post contains only a general description of coverages and is not your insurance contract. Details of coverage or limits can vary. All coverages are determined by the terms, provisions, exclusions and conditions of your policy along with any endorsements.

How to Review Your Auto Insurance Renewal Statement

You can save TONS OF MONEY by just taking a few minutes to look over that annoying little renewal statement that has your insurance bill attached to it.

We sure get a lot of paper these days. Seems that in this paper-LESS society, we shouldn't have quite as much paper as we do. True... we can scan it, archive it, or just throw it away. There is one piece of paper that you'll want to pay attention to -- Its your Auto Insurance Renewal Statement. You'll get these once or twice a year depending on how often your auto insurance renews. You'll probably also get one whenever you adjust your coverage or change vehicles.

One of the reasons the insurance company sends these statements out to you is to give you an opportunity to pause and determine if those coverages and limits and deductibles you started with so long ago still apply to you. Things change and so should your insurance policy. Sometimes people keep up with it; sometimes they don't. By not paying attention to these renewal statements, you could be spending needless premium on coverage you no longer need or want, or you could be setting yourself for an uninsured or underinsured loss by having limits that are too low or thinking you have coverage that you really DON'T have.

Here's a few steps to help you quickly and systematically look over that statement in just a few minutes.

1. Quickly review all the basic information: Name, address, vehicle description. OK there?

2. Next take a look at the rating information. You might need a little help from your company or agent on this one. Companies apply different rating factors for different driving characteristics Thes can include how many miles you drive, your age, your years of driving experience, ticket, accidents, etc. A quick call to your company or agent and they can walk you through these in just a couple minutes.

3. Check your LIABILITY LIMITS. This is usually the first coverage listed. This is probably the most important coverage to examine. This is the coverage that stands between some accident that you may cause and everything that you own.

Individual state laws mandate different minimums. California minimums are 15/30/5. Others are listed here. This means the insurance company will pay up to $15,000 for the injuries you cause to any one person, up to $30,000 for the injuries you cause in any one accident, and up to $5,000 for any property damage you may do (the car, house, light post, whatever you happen to hit). While these limits may seem like lots of money, they can evaporate very quickly. Consider a recent client of mine who sustained injuries in an accident and spent over $14,000 before ever even leaving the emergency room.

My recommendation is to think in terms of at least 100/300/50 instead of whatever your state minimum might be. Consider more if you own a home or have appreciable assets. Cut and slice and minimize on other coverages, but this one is where you protect everything you own against the possibility of a large liability lawsuit.

4. Check your Medical Payments. This is usually listed second. It's the coverage that provides (depending on your state insurance laws) coverage for injuries to you and other pople in your vehicle. There's some overlap here with your health insurance. This can be used to pay deductibles, copayment and other portions of your medical bills that may not be covered by your health insurance.

5. Check the coverage on your vehicle -- Specifically Comprehensive and Collision coverage. Collision coverage pays for your car when you sustain damage from a collision. Comprehensive covers (almost) everything else. Decide if the annual cost of these individual coverages makes sense compared to the value of your car. Check here for a more detailed discussion of this process.

6. Don't neglect Uninsured and/or Under Insuraced Motorist Coverage. There's LOTS of uninsured drivers on the road these days. Some surveys estimate as high as 25%. That means one out of every 4 drivers on the road can be uninsured. This is the coverage that for just a few dollars a year 'constructively' gives all those drivers insurance coverage to pay you if they cause an accident with you. You should consider having limits at least equal to your liability limits (#3 above.)

6. Make sure you're receiving ALL the discounts you can get. Here's where that phone call can pay some dividends. There are many discounts available. There are discounts related to your car: Airbags, alarm system, theft tracker systems and others. There are also other discounts. One of the biggest can be the Multi-Line Discount. This is where you save even more on your auto insurance if you have other policies such as homeowners or life insurance with the same company. Also remember to check for short mileage, good student, mature driver, defensive driving class, loyalty (with the same company for a long time). Just call the company and ask them to list all of the possible discounts to see for which ones you can qualify.

This process might take you a little longer the first time you do it. I suggest you make some notes right on your renewal notice and file it for next time. Then when you get your next renewal, you can get your first one out and compare and use the notes you make to ask more questions that will either save you money or better protect your hard-earned assets.

Till next time...


Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10783 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121 - Cell (619) 339-1339

This post contains only a general description of coverages and is not your insurance contract. Details of coverage or limits can vary. All coverages are determined by the terms, provisions, exclusions and conditions of your policy along with any endorsements.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Current State Minimum Auto Insurance Liability Limits

  • Alaska 50/100/25
  • Alabama 20/40/10
  • Arkansas 25/50/15
  • Arizona 15/30/10
  • California 15/30/5
  • Colorado 25/50/15
  • Connecticut 20/40/10
  • Delaware 15/30/5
  • Florida 10/20/10
  • Georgia 15/30/10
  • Hawaii 20/40/10
  • Idaho 20/50/15
  • Illinois 20/40/15
  • Indiana 25/50/10
  • Iowa 20/40/15
  • Kansas 25/50/10
  • Kentucky 25/50/10
  • Louisiana 10/20/10
  • Maine 50/100/25
  • Maryland 20/40/10
  • Massachusetts 20/40/5
  • Michigan 20/40/10
  • Minnesota 30/60/10
  • Mississippi 25/50/25
  • Missouri 25/50/10
  • Montana 25/50/10
  • Nebraska 25/50/25
  • New Hampshire 25/50/25
  • New Jersey 15/30/5
  • New Mexico 25/50/10
  • Nevada 15/30/10
  • New York 25/50/10
  • North Carolina 30/60/25
  • North Dakota 25/50/25
  • Ohio 12.5/25/7.5
  • Oklahoma 10/20/10
  • Oregon 25/50/10
  • Pennsylvania 15/30/5
  • Rhode Island 25/50/25
  • South Carolina 15/30/10
  • South Dakota 25/50/25
  • Tennessee 25/50/10
  • Texas 20/40/15
  • Utah 25/65/15
  • Virginia 25/50/20
  • Vermont 25/50/10
  • Washington 25/50/10
  • Wisconsin 25/50/10
  • West Virginia 20/40/10
  • Wyoming 25/50/20