How Much Will My Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident?

Most insurance companies in Maine surcharge insurance rates after you’ve had an at-fault accident. That’s because people who’ve had one accident are statistically more likely to have another. So should you pay for auto damage after a small crash yourself, instead of making an insurance claim? Here are some things to consider before you decide.

Is My Auto Accident Considered “At-fault”?

In Maine, unless another party is 100% at fault you may share some fault in the crash. Some examples of 100% at fault could be:

  • running a red light or stop sign;
  • hitting you while your car was legally parked
  • changing into your lane and sideswiping you.

“At fault” doesn’t have to mean 100% at fault. Even if the other party is mostly at fault for the crash, you are still partially responsible. If your insurance company pays to fix your vehicle, and isn’t reimbursed by another insurer, they may charge you for an “at fault accident”.

Is My Accident Damage Below the Insurance Company’s Threshold?

Some insurers don’t charge for minor at-fault accidents with no injuries. Common thresholds are $1,000 and $1,500 of total damage to all vehicles. If your damage is below that amount, they’ll simply pay your claim and not surcharge your future rates.

Do I Have Accident Forgiveness?

Several insurers allow you to avoid a surcharge for your first accident. Most charge extra for that option. Every insurer uses different rules and calls this coverage something different. It’s commonly known as “accident forgiveness”. Some insurers only forgive the accident if you have no violations in the last several years. Interested in accident forgiveness? Ask your agent to compare their offerings. There are no standard terms.

How Much Will My Insurance Increase After an Accident?

If your accident is:

  • “at fault”
  • above the company’s threshold
  • and not subject to accident forgiveness

 your rates will increase at your next auto policy renewal.

How much? That depends on:

  • How much you’re already paying. Surcharges are usually a percentage of premium. So, they more you’re paying, the higher your surcharge would be.
  • How many other accidents you’ve had. Most insurers charge a higher percentage for each accident within the 5 year experience period. If this is your second, it will cost more than the first did.
  • How long the insurance company surcharges for accidents. Many surcharge for 3 or 5 years. Some charge more the first year and decrease the surcharge each year until it’s gone.

Based upon what we see, following an accident, your insurance rates can increase anywhere from 7% to 20%.

Decreased Transparency in Insurance Rates

Insurance companies used to provide rate manuals to their agents. The manuals showed accident surcharge factors and told us how they were applied. Most insurers no longer provide this information. To agents, or even to their underwriters. Rating has also become much more complex.

Insurance companies now calculate custom rates for each person, instead of grouping similar people. Your agent can no longer predict the exact effect an accident will have on your future insurance costs. Even the insurance company underwriters are in the dark. They can’t answer questions any better than agents can. It’s far from ideal.

We’re Here to Help

At Noyes Hall & Allen, we recommend that our clients buy accident forgiveness if they want maximum stability. This helps keep insurance costs predictable. Most good drivers appreciate that. For answers to your Maine auto insurance questions, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of several insurance companies, so we can help you find the best fit. We’re independent and committed to you.

What Should You Do If Your Car is Stolen?

No one wants to wake up or walk out to a parking lot after shopping and discover their car has been stolen. Unfortunately, this is a situation hundreds of thousands of people find themselves in each year. If your car has been stolen, you may find yourself wondering what to do, or what order to do things in. Here is some information from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, serving the greater Portland, ME area. 

File a Police Report

After your car has been stolen, the first thing you will want to do is file a police report. This ensures your vehicle is listed as stolen, which may help the police to locate it faster. It also helps to protect you in case the individuals who took your car causes damage to other vehicles or property with your car. 

Contact Your Insurance Company

Once your car has been reported stolen with the police, you will want to contact your insurance company. Let them know that your vehicle has been reported stolen to the property authorities, and if you have it, provide them with the police or case number. The insurance company requires you to wait a period of time before they will pay out on a stolen car claim, so starting the clock as soon as possible is essential. 

Unfortunately, not every insurance policy covers your car if it is stolen. If you are looking to learn more about auto insurance, find out what coverage you have, or increase your coverage in the greater Portland, ME area, let Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance help you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your auto insurance coverage. 

Is Commercial Auto Insurance Right for Your Small Business?

Even if you just started up your small business in the Portland, ME area, it is a good idea to sit down with one of our friendly agents at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance to make sure you have the coverage you need. Maybe you are using your personal van, truck, or SUV to save on capital expenditures. If so, your personal auto insurance might not fully protect you or your business. You may need  commercial auto insurance.

Making Deliveries in Your Own Vehicle?

If you are delivering goods to clients in your vehicle and cause an accident, an injured party may go after your personal assets as well as your business. A commercial auto insurance policy would provide the liability protection your growing business needs to stay afloat.

Sending Someone for Business Errands

Do you ever send someone to get supplies, tools, or even lunch, using their own vehicle?  That’s a business use. Your business can be sued for any injuries or damage they cause. Of course, if you have employees, you need to purchase workers compensation insurance to pay their medical bills and lost time.

Driving the Crew to a Job

When you are the boss and are offering transportation in your SUV to your workers, it becomes a business vehicle. Make sure that you carry sufficient coverage for liability and medical expenses if something goes wrong.

When starting a business, it’s important to control expenses. But improper insurance takes big chances with your personal investment. By purchasing the right commercial liability, auto, and workers compensation insurance, you allow your Portland, ME business to grow instead of being bankrupted by a lawsuit or other disaster.

Give our agents a call at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance for more tips and the right coverage today.

Access Your Insurance Policy Info 24 X 7 – Noyes Hall & Allen Client Center

We have invested in a new service for our clients: 24 x 7 access to your insurance documents from the Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance Client Center. Now you can view your secure policy information, download insurance cards and other proof of insurance, and request policy changes anytime. Here’s how.

  1. Log in to the Noyes Hall & Allen Client Center from our home page. Simply enter the email address associated with your account. We will email a one-time code. Enter it in the field, and you’re in!
    Note: some mobile users may have difficulty with certain browsers. We’ve found that Google Chrome works reliably with most devices. 
  2. Select View Account to see the information you want.
  3. Select Policy to see your in-force policies and coverage info, or Documents to see or download proof of insurance, correspondence, or other information we have shared with you. Note that you can also request a change to your insurance policies from the Client Center.
  4. When you’re done, you can log out by clicking on the person icon in the upper right, or simply closing your browser. Our vendor uses the latest security technology to keep your personal information private. You can view our privacy policy here.

 

THAT’S IT! 

We hope you find the Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance Client Center useful to access your information when it’s convenient for you, whether the office is open or not.

Please note that these are very simplified views of your policy info. You may have purchased additional coverage which doesn’t show on the Client Center policy screen. Your actual insurance policy is always the definitive document of your coverage.

If you have any questions about your insurance, call a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you!

What Does an Insurance Agent Do After a Claim?

No one enjoys making an insurance claim. Something bad happened. You need it fixed. Soon. So much to do! Repair a car or building. Run a business. Get a temporary vehicle. Find a place to live or work. Heal from an injury. Replace damaged or stolen property. Deal with another party after the accident. Stress!

It’s an inconvenience you didn’t need. But, that’s why you bought insurance, right? It’s time for policy to do what it promises: fix you.

Insurance is a Two-Party Contract

Your insurance policy is a written contract between you and your insurance company. No one can change it after a claim. Your contract makes you responsible for certain things. The insurance company too. The policy specifies what’s covered, what’s not, and how losses are paid.

If you purchased your policy from an agent, they can help you through the process. But some things you have to do yourself.

In an Insurance Claim, Only YOU Can:

  • Make a statement about what happened to insurance companies
  • Prove your loss
  • Choose a contractor or repair shop (some companies have preferred contractors or shops, but cannot force you to use them)
  • Accept or reject a settlement

 

Only YOUR ADJUSTER Can:

  • Determine whether your policy covers your loss
  • Decide who’s at fault in claims involving more than one party
  • Evaluate and pay claims

 

Some claims never involve anyone but you and the insurance company.  You report it directly to the insurance company. The claim is minor. Settlement is simple. Everything goes smoothly. Other claims are more complex.

You never know which kind of claim you will have. That’s why it’s good to have an agent on your side. Not to mention for the advice they can give you the 99.9% of the time when you’re NOT having a claim.

 

What Use Is an INSURANCE AGENT after a Claim?

A good insurance agent:

  • Helps you decide whether to make a claim at all.  Is your claim clearly not covered? If it is clearly covered, what’s your policy deductible? Is your insurance cost likely to increase if you make this claim? How much? An agent can answer these initial questions so you can decide whether you want to make a claim at all.
  • Is your insurance sherpa. There’s a lot to know and remember. Report your claim to your insurance company or someone else’s. Protect your property. Gather information you’ll need later. Find a temporary solution until the adjuster can take over. An experienced agent is your sherpa in foreign territory.
  • Is your claim cattle dog. Haven’t heard from your adjuster? Waiting for an appraisal? Having trouble preparing the reports the insurance company needs? A good agent can pull things together and herd your claim in the right direction.
  • Has clout with the insurance company. Agents help their clients to find good insurance companies. So insurers want to be on the agent’s “good list”. A trustworthy and knowledgeable agent earns the respect of the insurance company. They can use that to advocate on your behalf. An agent can’t create coverage where there isn’t, but they can influence the process.
  • Is an “insurance translator”. A good agent can explain the gobbledy-gook in that letter from your adjuster. They can tell you why the offered settlement may be different than you expected. They can explain to the adjuster, using insurance terms, it if it’s wrong. Your agent can even translate in real time, meeting with you and the adjuster face-to-face, to resolve issues.
  • Helps insurance companies get better. Want to let your insurance company know how your claim went? Compliment your adjuster? Complain about the company’s preferred service provider? Rave or rage about the service you received? Share advice for how to make it better? A good agent has a pipeline to the insurance company, and knows where to send the feedback to get the most impact.

 

If you Need Help, ASK!

Don’t assume that your agent knows how your claim is going. Insurance companies don’t routinely communicate with agents during a claim. If you need help, ask your agent. At Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, we ask our clients if they need help a week after they file a claim on their policy. Many don’t need help. But for those who do we’re able to jump in and assist where needed. We believe that helps our clients’ claims go smoother than they might otherwise.

Do you own a business or live in the Portland Maine area? Looking for an experienced agent who represents several insurance companies? An agent who can help you choose the right insurer and be available if you have a claim? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or just click “get a quote” above. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred business and personal insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

Whose Car Insurance Should You Use after an Accident in Maine?

You’ve been in a crash. You think it’s clearly the other driver’s fault. Should you use your own Maine auto insurance policy or go against the other driver’s insurance company? This is an issue we discuss with several clients a month. The answer and the process can be complicated.

Maine is a Modified Comparative Negligence State

Comparative negligence means your settlement in a claim can be reduced if you were partly at fault for the crash. Modified comparative negligence in Maine means that if you were less than 50% responsible for the damages, you can still recover some damages from the party that was more at fault than you. But if you were 50% or more responsible, you cannot collect damages from another party. You have to rely on your own insurance, or pay the loss yourself.

Example: You’re stopped in a line of traffic. One of your brake lights is burned out. Another driver, traveling too fast, can’t stop in time and rear-ends your vehicle. Your missing tail light could be determined to have contributed to the accident – let’s say 5%.  The other driver’s speed and inattention is determined to be 95% at fault. They cannot collect any damages from you, but you can collect 95% of any medical costs and the cost to repair your vehicle.

Who Determines Who’s at Fault in a Car Accident?

If liability isn’t completely clear, insurance company adjusters usually negotiate payment of damages. They use police reports, statements from the people involved and Maine state law to determine relative fault. If the two parties can’t agree, one or more can file a lawsuit. Liability can then be determined through the courts, if the dispute lasts that long.

Your Insurance or Theirs?

If you’ve bought collision coverage for your vehicle, you have the option to file a claim with your own insurer. If not, then you have no choice but to go against the other driver’s policy.

If you file a claim on your own policy, your insurance company will pay to repair or replace your car, less your deductible. If you purchased rental reimbursement, they also pay to rent another vehicle while yours is not drivable.  If the other driver is 100% at fault, their insurance pays to repair your vehicle, rent a replacement while it’s not driveable, and your related medical bills.

Now, back to the process of deciding whose insurance to use.

Using Your Insurance: PRO

  • You KNOW you have insurance. You can never be sure about the other driver, even if they presented a policy number or insurance card at the accident scene.
  • You haves some clout with your own insurer. You are their customer.
  • The process is often faster, because you’re not arguing about whose fault the accident was. You are probably able to reach a settlement faster.
  • You have an agent to help you through the process (assuming that you bought your insurance from a person and not an 800 number or web site).

Using Your Insurance: CON

  • You’ll have to pay your deductible up-front to have your vehicle fixed. There’s no guarantee you’ll get that back. If your company is successful in collecting from the other party’s insurance (a process called “subrogation“), they will refund your deductible.
  • You may not have purchased rental coverage. Even if you did, it has a daily dollar limit and a maximum dollar limit.
  • The subrogation process takes time; even if your company successfully subrogates against the other insurance company, you will probably have to wait for weeks to get your deductible back.
  • If your insurer isn’t successful in subrogation, they may count your accident against you. This could raise your rates down the road.

Using The Other Party’s Insurance: PRO

  • You collect directly from their insurance company. You do not have to pay a deductible, because you’re using their liability insurance.
  • If you need to rent a replacement vehicle while yours is unavailable, there is no daily or maximum dollar limit. As long as the vehicle is a reasonable replacement for what was damaged.
  • Your insurance company won’t count the accident against you, because it was “not-at-fault”.

Using The Other Party’s Insurance: CON

  • The other party may not have insurance – even if they presented an insurance card at the accident scene. And, even though it’s mandatory. They may have not paid their premium or canceled their policy.
  • They may not have ENOUGH insurance. Maine only requires drivers to carry $50,000 per person for injuries to other parties and $25,000 property damage. If you’re tooling around in a modest late model vehicle, $25,000 may not be enough to replace it if it’s totaled.
  • The other insurer may not readily accept liability. Some companies “play nicer” than others (we won’t name names here). Some are notorious for denying liability, no matter how clear-cut it may seem. This can drag out the whole process of getting you and your car back on the road, making it longer and more inconvenient than it needs to be.
  • A police report may be necessary to prove who’s at fault, especially if your story and the other party’s don’t match. Some police departments are very quick to prepare accident reports and make them available. Others can take several days or weeks. Meanwhile, you need to have your car fixed.
  • Your agent won’t be able to help as much as in a first party claim. They may be able to offer advice, but since they probably don’t represent the other company, they have less influence with them.

Should You Notify Your Insurance Company Even if You File a Claim with the Other Insurer?

This is good practice, for a few reasons:

  • If the claim with the other company doesn’t go well, you can expedite the claim with yours.
  • If the other party claims that you were at fault, your insurance company knows about the crash and is prepared to defend you.
  • Your insurer will know about the accident. When it shows up on your motor vehicle record, they won’t charge you if you’re not at fault.

What To Do?

As you can see, it’s not a simple decision, and it depends greatly on the circumstances of your individual case. That’s just one reason why buying insurance from an agent – a knowledgeable advocate – is a smart decision. If you bought your policy from an 800 number or the internet, you won’t have a trusted advisor to help you decide which way to go with your claim.

If you live in the Portland Maine area and are looking for an insurance agent who can answer auto insurance questions and help you with the process, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. We can help you find the right fit. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

Tips for Storing Antique & Classic Cars in Maine

If you own an antique, classic or sports car in Maine, Fall means time to take your car off the road for winter. It’s sad, we know. It’s also a bit scary to lock your baby up for the winter and hope for the best. Here are 3 tips for properly storing and winterizing your vehicle, and some good news about antique or classic car insurance.

Choose a Safe, Dry Storage Location

Moisture is your car’s enemy. Your storage place should have a concrete floor, not bare earth.  If it isn’t climate controlled, crack the vehicle’s windows to avoid interior moisture buildup. Use a tight-fitting but air permeable cover made especially for vehicle storage. If you wash your car right before putting it away, make sure that it’s completely dry before covering it.

Obviously, you want it to be secure from vandals, theft or animals, too. Rodents can create expensive damage if they chew wires or nest. Some people recommend placing a ball of steel wool in the exhaust pipe opening and air intake. Other people recommend lining moth balls around the outside of the car to deter pests.

 

Check Engine Oil and Other Fluids

It’s a good idea to check your engine oil for dirt and excessive mileage before putting your vehicle away for the winter. Changing the oil in the Fall can put you on the road faster next Spring, to take advantage of those first few glorious glimpses of warm weather.
Fill the tank with gas and add a fuel stabilizer. Distribute the stabilizer through the system by running the car for a few minutes. Make sure anti-freeze and other fluids are topped up as well.

 

Take Care of Your Tires and Battery

Proper tire inflation will help avoid flat spots. Park on a level surface. If your car has a manual transmission, leave it in neutral with the parking brake disengaged and the wheels chocked. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, it’s OK to leave it in Park.

Many antique and classic car owners pull the battery for the winter and keep it in a warm place, connected to a trickle charger or battery tender. Some newer vehicles require the battery to remain hooked up to keep continuous security and other electronic systems operation. It’s a good idea to keep a trickle charge on your battery in this case.

 

Drop or Suspend Your Car insurance for Winter

Most Maine auto insurance companies allow you to “suspend” coverage once a year while your car is off the road. That means dropping liability, collision and all other coverage except comprehensive. Your vehicle would remain insured against theft, tree or animal damage and collapse of the garage. This greatly reduces the insurance costs for the storage months.

Even if you don’t insure your car for collision or comprehensive, you can remove the vehicle completely from your policy. Whether you suspend or remove your vehicle, remember to call your insurance agent before driving it again. Otherwise it has no insurance.

Antique and classic car insurance rates in Maine contemplate our short season. The insurance premium for Maine classic and antique vehicles is very low. Therefore, they do not allow suspension of coverage. They are designed to be annual policies. The good news is that if we get a beautiful day in late Fall or early Spring, you can take your vehicle for a spin and be insured.

Have questions about Maine auto insurance? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or get a Maine car insurance quote here. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s best insurance companies. We can help you find the right fit for your needs. We’re independent and committed to you.

Maine Food Truck Insurance

Food trucks have roamed the streets of Portland Maine for several years.  Now they’re popping up in places from Biddeford Saco to Westbrook, Scarborough to Freeport, Sugarloaf to Sunday River. Food truck insurance can be a challenge for an inexperienced insurance agent. Insurance companies know how to insure trucks. They know how to insure restaurants. But rolling restaurants are different.

5 Types of Insurance Every Food Truck Needs

  • General Liability  Insurance – if someone breaks a tooth in a crabmeat roll or gets food poisoning after eating your product, they’re going to come back to you. GL coverage pays for these claims, as well as slips and falls and other injuries or damage that occur at your location.
  • Business Auto Insurance – If you get in an accident while you’re on the move, you need to have your food truck fixed and back online soon. If you’re at fault, you’ll also need protection to pay for the damage and injury you cause.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance – By law, you’re required to provide Maine workers comp coverage for your employees. If they’re injured at work or miss time due to an on-the-job injury or illness, workers compensation insurance pays them.
  • Property Insurance – You have a big investment in your inventory, fixtures and supplies, both at the commissary and on your food truck. Insurance can protect that asset against fire, theft, equipment breakdown and more.
  • Loss Of Income – If your food truck is down, you have no income.  What if your fryer malfunctions, causing a fire? You could be off the road for the whole summer season. Or what if your best brewery location or outdoor venue suddenly shuts down due to a fire, windstorm or some other disaster? Business income insurance for food trucks can help you replace the income you lose following property losses like these.

If you have questions about insuring a food truck in Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen insurancce agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click “get a quote” above. We’ve insured food trucks since they first came to Maine. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, including Acadia Insurance’s Acadia Street Eats food truck program. We’ll help you find an insurance solution that fits your business and your budget. We’re independent and committed to you.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels in Maine?

More Maine homeowners are installing solar panels. Roof-mounted solar PV panels promise many benefits: decreased electric bills; energy independence; and a reduced carbon footprint.

 

Are Solar Panels Automatically Covered by Maine Home Insurance?

The good news: your homeowners policy covers your home’s utility fixtures, including heating and electrical systems. Damage caused by fire, wind, falling trees and lightning are all covered.

The bad news: your homeowners policy excludes coverage for some common causes of loss (perils). If squirrels or birds damage your unit, your insurance won’t pay to fix it. And, if your PV solar panels simply stop working, you’re out of luck if you have an “off the shelf” homeowners policy.

Can I Buy Special Insurance for Solar Panels?

Some insurance companies offer breakdown coverage. This covers failure of home systems such as: boilers and heat pumps; appliances; electrical panels – and solar panels. If a system fails prematurely, your insurance company will pay to replace it. But beware: if your system rusts out or simply wears out at the end of its useful life, that’s not covered.  And deductibles apply: $500 and $1000 are common.

How Expensive is Solar Panel Insurance in Maine?

Home systems breakdown insurance doesn’t cost much, even though it insures your expensive solar panel installation. It usually costs less than $50 per year, added right onto your homeowners policy.

Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Looking for solar panel insurance or equipment breakdown coverage? Call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. Several of them offer this special insurance. We can help you find the best fit for your budget and your home. We’re independent and committed to you.

Why Maine is a Great Place to do Business

Are you thinking about opening a business in Maine?

If so, you should consider doing so in Portland, ME. This city stands out as a location where entrepreneurs have access to all the resources they need to find success with their new business. In fact, Portland has been ranked as the ninth best location for women entrepreneurs and number five for starting a business overall. If you are starting a business, you need to protect it with proper commercial insurance coverage with the help of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance.

Keep reading to find more reasons why Greater Portland is such a great place to start a business.

Maine Has Great Support Network for Entrepreneurs

The history of underemployment in Maine has helped to spark several institutions that are designed to support and fund entrepreneurs. For example, The Maine Venture Fund, which was established in 1995 has currently received more than $13 million to provide startup companies. Maine Center for Economic Development, Startup Maine, Top Gun, Greenlight Maine and other resources help startup business owners to network and learn. Several Portland coworking spaces offer work and meeting rooms, including Think Tank, Cloudport, Engine Room and Peloton Labs.

Integration of  Maine Values into Business 

Another reason that Maine is such a great place to do business is the fact that this is a location where values are at the forefront of business ideas. For example, a recently opened company, American Roots, sells ethically sourced, fleece clothing made in Maine. The state is brimming with young values-based companies including GrandyOats, Heritage Seaweed and Flowfold.

As you can see, the Portland Maine area is a great place to open a business. Before you take the leap, be sure you have the proper protection for your business. The best way to do this is by purchasing a robust insurance policy from a quality insurer. Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance today. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred business insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.