Insurance companies are constantly fighting for market share, hoping to attract your attention with funny ads and special benefits. With commercials dominating television, radio, and even Internet advertising, it can be difficult to know which insurance companies truly have the best offerings. Here at Van De Hey Insurance, we want our customers to be fully informed. In this post, we will review some of the most frequently advertised insurance features to determine which ones are truly beneficial, which ones to skip, and where you can find the features that will fit your needs.
Roadside Assistance can help you feel prepared for any problem that may come your way, from flat tires and dead batteries to lock-outs and breakdowns. Liberty Mutual is the company that is currently pushing heavy advertising for the service, which offers help around the clock. However, you do not have to change insurance companies to get Roadside Assistance. Generally, it is available as an addition to nearly any insurance policy, although exact coverage and benefits can vary from company to company.
Name Your Price Tool
Next up is the Name Your Price Tool, a feature advertised by Progressive. The commercials make it so easy to go online and name the price you want to pay for your car insurance. The problem is that many users must tremendously reduce or even eliminate certain types of coverage to achieve the price they are hoping for. At the moment, cutting coverage may seem like a good idea – especially if you’ve never needed to use it before. But it only takes one major accident to result in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal losses and liability damages.
Instead of putting your future at risk, be sure to work with a real person when assessing your individual insurance needs and risks. An independent agent here at Van De Hey Insurance can help you compare rates from multiple insurers to find an affordable premium without sacrificing your coverage.
GAP coverage is not advertised as much as other insurance features, but it is promoted by car dealers and lenders every day. The coverage pays the remaining balance of your car loan that is not covered by your collision or comprehensive insurance if you total your vehicle in an accident. Since most insurance companies only cover the depreciated value of the vehicle, GAP coverage can save thousands of dollars on an unpaid loan balance.
By selling you on the features at the time you purchase your car, the dealer or lender can collect the premium – as much as $400 or more – upfront and ‘conveniently’ add it to the balance of your car loan. The problem is the premium is calculated to cover the duration of the loan, which is typically much longer than you actually need GAP protection. Eventually, the loan balance gets paid down and falls below the value of the vehicle. If you purchase GAP protection through your independent agent instead, you can drop the coverage when you no longer need it.
Accidents can happen to anyone, including the safest drivers among us. You could go many years or decades without a collision, only to see your insurer penalize you with higher rates as soon as you cause a small collision. Recently, Allstate has been advertising an add-on feature called Accident Forgiveness. The idea is that one incident should not be used as an indication of increased risk for future claims. With Accident Forgiveness, drivers are not surcharged for a first-time accident.
What many people do not know, however, is that a variety of companies offer very similar coverage, such as The Hartford, Acuity, Nationwide, Progressive, and Travelers. Of course, the protection usually comes at an additional charge regardless of which company you use, but Integrity Insurance offers it at no additional charge for eligible customers of five years or more.
Safe Driving Bonus Check
As we begin part two of this post, we will take a look at the Safe Driving Bonus Check, an offering exclusive to Allstate customers who enroll in the Your Choice Auto Program. It costs extra to enroll in this program, and you typically need good credit and a clean driving record to qualify. Then, you must remain accident-free for the duration of your policy term to receive a credit or check worth up to five percent of your paid premiums every six months.
Other companies also reward their policy-holders for safe driving, although in different ways. For example, some insurers offer safe driving discounts that lower the upfront cost of your premiums. Others may offer diminishing premiums that get smaller the longer you go without a claim or accident.
New Car Replacement
If you buy a new car, the value of that vehicle is likely to drop as soon as you drive it off the lot. Though you may have paid for a brand new car, the insurance company is unlikely to reimburse you for the retail price even if you total it the same day you buy it. That is why New Car Replacement coverage is so appealing to drivers of new vehicles. Liberty Mutual often promotes this added protection in its commercials, promising to replace your car with a brand new one if you total it in the first year you own it or before you put 15,000 miles on the vehicle. However, many other insurance companies offer similar protections, and some even extend new or ‘better’ car replacement to used cars, as well.
If you enroll in a form of New Car Replacement, you can expect to pay extra for the benefit, regardless of which insurer you choose. If you total your car during the coverage period, the insurer will provide you with a settlement that will pay to purchase another vehicle of the same make and model – not just the depreciated value of your totaled car.
By shopping around for New Car Replacement coverage through your independent insurer, you not only ensure a competitive price, but you may also find an insurer that offers better benefits than you expected. Travelers Insurance, for example, extends New Car Replacement for up to five years of ownership in some cases.
When you trust an insurance agent with your business, you also trust that he or she is doing everything possible to secure every discount you may be eligible for. Therefore, when State Farm advertises its Discount Double-Check, you might wonder, “Isn’t this a service all insurance agents should be offering anyway?”
The truth is any agent can comb through your policies to double-check for discounts that may have otherwise been missed. However, a State Farm agent is loyal only to State Farm, meaning that is the only company the agent can double-check for discounts from. An independent agent, on the other hand, can double-check for discounts from multiple companies to ensure you are getting a good value for your coverage.
Bundle and Save
Finally, the Bundle-and-Save commercial is one we are all familiar with. In it, Progressive promises discounts if you purchase both home and auto or some other combination of coverage. However, you can find bundling discounts from nearly all insurance companies – not just Progressive. In some cases, the discounts are offered for auto combined with home or renters insurance. In other cases, additional discounts may be available for customers who also purchase coverage for things like RVs, boats, or motorcycles.
The bottom line is you should always work with an independent agent to know which insurance commercials are telling the whole truth and which ones may be omitting some important information. Here at Brian Van De Hey Insurance, we are always looking out for you, our customer. Give us a call if you have questions about advertised insurance features and what they could mean for you.