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.

Do Hurricanes and Wildfires In Other States Affect Maine Insurance Rates?     

 

Insurance companies pool risk. They collect money from many people to pay the losses of a few who have claims. Everyone’s rates go up or down, depending on the insurance company’s experience. More claims paid = higher rates.

 

You may be wondering:

  • How much do hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters affect insurance rates?

  • Do disasters in other states affect my insurance rates in Maine?

 

It’s helpful to understand how insurance companies price their product. Insurance rates are recommended by insurance company actuaries. They project how much money the insurance company must collect to pay claims and make a profit. This requires complex modeling and formulas. Actuaries recommend rate changes to a special committee of company executives. The committee compares the actuary’s recommendation to the company’s profitability and growth targets. They agree on a proposed rate change, and submit it to Maine insurance regulators.

The regulator’s job is to make sure that insurance rates are:

  • Adequate to pay claims
  • Not excessive
  • Not unfairly discriminatory.

Regulators may approve or deny the rate change, or ask for more information.

 

What Factors Affect Insurance Rates?

At its simplest, insurance is “money in…money out.”

Money In = Premium Collected

Cheap insurance rates may leave the insurance company with insufficient money to pay claims and make a profit. Rates that are too high may send customers fleeing to other insurers.

Money Out = Losses 

The most important determinant of insurance rates. More losses than expected puts pressure for the insurance company to raise rates. Fewer losses puts downward pressure on rates.

 

But here’s the rest of the story:

Insurance Company Financial Strength – Well-managed insurance companies keep adequate reserves to pay claims on a rainy day. Insurers with strong financials can weather a bad year without huge rate increases. Weaker ones need more frequent rate adjustments. The best way to learn the financial condition of an insurance company? A.M. Best tests the financial strength of insurers and assigns them a letter grade.

Type of Insurance Company – Mutual insurance companies are owned by their customers. After they pay claims, mutuals store their profits to pay future claims. Other insurance companies are stockholder owned. Stockholders expect a return on their investment. Investors pressure executives of publicly held companies to improve profits every quarter. This can lead to larger or more frequent rate increases to stay ahead of current losses.

Reinsurance – Almost every insurance company is also an insurance consumer. They buy insurance against “the big one”. This is called reinsurance. Most companies reinsure against annual total losses exceeding a certain amount. This dampens the impact of multiple hurricanes, fires or other disasters in one year.

Generally, larger insurers buy less reinsurance than smaller ones. Smaller insurers have less surplus, and thus are more vulnerable to catastrophic losses.

Of course, reinsurers are also insurance companies. They must collect more premium if they suffer unexpectedly large claims. Insurance companies pay different reinsurance rates based on their individual loss experience.

Do Disasters in Other States Affect My Insurance Rates?

Probably not as much as you think. Maine insurance regulators only allow insurers to file rates based upon Maine premium and losses. Claims that a company pays in California or Florida are not baked into Maine insurance rates.

But:

Insurance companies factor nationwide overhead costs into Maine rates. Cost like advertising, salaries – and reinsurance. Since events outside Maine influence reinsurance costs, they influence Maine customers’ rates. Just less than you might expect.

What to do if You Have an Accident

Car crashes can be a devastating event, leaving you feeling shocked and confused. Having the right information before you ever have an accident can give a better grip on the situation. The Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland, ME have experts that can provide you with information about auto insurance and what to do if you have an accident.

Assess Any Injuries

When you are first struck by another vehicle, you may feel a little disoriented. If the accident is a minor fender bender and you have neck or back pain, it is crucial that you don’t move until you are seen by a registered EMT or paramedic. You can cause further injury if you delay medical treatment. Check to make sure that your passengers are also uninjured.

Move Over Safely

If it is at all possible, move your vehicle to a safe location out of the way of moving traffic. If your car is too damaged, turn on your hazard lights and then call 911. If you are not injured, safely look at the damage to your car and the other vehicles involved. Many people take photos of the damage with their cellphones. This can be helpful in the claim process.

Get Information from Others

Gather your insurance card and driver’s license. Get the same information from the other drivers involved as well as their license plate numbers and type of vehicles. Try to do this before the police come, if it’s safe to do so. Although the police will gather this info and create a police report, these can take days to be available. It is essential to document everything you can. Over time, your memory from a traumatic event is less reliable than photos.

Have Enough Auto Insurance

Before you are ever in an auto accident, make sure your insurance is up to date. In Portland, ME, the professionals at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance can help you stay safe with the right kind of coverage for your vehicle. Contact us to get a quote.

What’s the Cost to Add and Insure a Teenage Driver in Maine?

 

Do you need to add a new driver to your insurance policy? How much will it cost? Does Maine car insurance cost more for boys than girls? How can you reduce the auto insurance cost of a Maine teenager? These are common questions for parents of newly licensed drivers.

What Influences Teen Driver Insurance Costs?

Experience – Teenage drivers cost more to insure until they prove themselves.

Savings tip: Every year the driver remains accident-free and violation-free, the cost decreases.

Gender – Boys do cost more to insure than girls. The gap isn’t as large as it once was, but it remains. That’s because boys’ auto insurance claim experience is worse than girls.

Access to Vehicles – If the number of drivers and vehicles are equal, the insurance company assumes that your teen driver has regular access to a vehicle. That’s called a “principal operator” in insurance lingo. Insurance companies charge more for that regular access than occasional use of the vehicle. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Savings tip: If your teen driver lives at school more than 100 miles from home, without a vehicle, you’ll pay reduced insurance rates. This insurance discount is again based on limited access to vehicles.

Education – Many insurance companies offer discounted auto insurance rates to young drivers who:

  • – have passed a driver education course.
  • – are on the honor roll or dean’s list
  • – earned a high school diploma, are enrolled full-time in college, or have a college degree.

 

Vehicle Driven – Insurance companies base their rates on individual vehicle characteristics.  High performance, high value or highly damageable vehicles cost more to insure.

Savings tip: Standard vehicles with widely available and inexpensive replacement parts are cheaper to insure.

Coverage Purchased – By law, every vehicle registered in Maine must have liability, uninsured motorist and medical payments insurance. The higher the limits you buy (and, you should), the more it costs. If you choose to insure it against collision and other damage, be aware that it costs more for younger drivers.

Savings tip:  If you own a vehicle outright, you may choose not to purchase physical damage. Just make sure you can afford to pay to fix the car if it gets in a wreck.

Insurance Company Rates – Each car insurance company files its own rates with the State of Maine. The insurance company that had the best rates for 2 adults and 2 cars may not be the best value when you add a young driver. The only way to know for sure is to check rates.

Savings tip: As an independent agency, Noyes Hall & Allen can compare rates from several insurance companies at one time. That allows you to save money by changing insurers without having to start a whole new insurance relationship.

The Rest of the Family – If your policy has a surcharge for accidents, it will cost more to add a young driver. If you have a clean record and preferred rates on your current policy, young drivers often cost less to add.

 

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Teen Driver in Maine?

As you can see from the 8 factors listed above, the cost of adding a driver to your insurance in Maine varies widely. But, let’s ballpark it at $800 per year for an occasional operator with a clean record. Double that if you’re adding a vehicle with liability only, so that they’ll be a primary operator. If you add collision and comprehensive coverage, it will be even more.

Do you live in Southern Maine or the Portland Maine area, and want to compare car insurance rates to add a new driver? Click the “get a quote” button to check prices with 5 different insurance companies in 10 minutes. Prefer to work with a human? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Retirement in Maine: How to Reduce Insurance Expenses

If you’re planning to retire or recently retired, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s time to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for. Many people dream of retiring in Maine. Of course, some of us are lucky enough to already live here!

Retirement finances can be a source of anxiety. No matter how much you’ve saved for retirement, you may wonder:

  • Will I Outlive My Money?
  • How Can I Safely Reduce My Monthly Expenses?
  • Can I Reduce My Insurance Now that I’m Retired?
  • Can I Live on My Monthly Retirement Income?

retirement insurance expense reductionMaine Retirees Are:

  • House Rich – Maine condo and home values are at an all-time high. With even modest savings, you may have a lot of net worth to protect. Make sure you have enough insurance to rebuild or relocate after a disaster. Protect your assets against lawsuits from injuries or property damage you might cause.
  • Income Tight – You’re on a fixed income. Every monthly payment reduces your retirement fund. You watch expenses more closely than ever.
  • Closer to Home? – Travel is now for pleasure, not work. You may drive fewer miles than you used to. Do you plan go south in the winter? What happens to your home and your car while you’re away?
  • Uncertain About the Future – will you stay healthy enough to do the things you want to? If there’s a disaster, will you have enough money to live the life you do now? If you can’t drive, who will help you with your errands?
  • Done with Property Maintenance  – you spent years mowing, shoveling, landscaping and painting. Now someone else can climb the ladder or wrestle the snowblower. Hiring contractors can open you up to liability if they hurt someone – or themselves.

Do You Need Less Insurance in Retirement?

As you prepare for retirement in Maine, you may be eager to reduce your insurance costs. You want to keep monthly expenses down because you’re on a limited income. But you also want to protect the assets you’ve spent your life accumulating. A good insurance agent can help you pick the coverage you need within your budget.

5 Retirement Planning Insurance Value Tips

  1. Buy enough liability insurance – and not too much. Your auto and homeowners liability insurance limits should at least equal your net worth. If your total assets exceed $500,000, keep your umbrella policy (or buy one). Umbrella policies are one of the best insurance buys; $1 million coverage often costs less than $200 a year.
  2. Watch Your Maximum Out of Pocket – How much are you comfortable paying if something bad happens? Choose your home and auto insurance deductibles with that in mind. Larger deductibles reduce your monthly insurance costs.
  3. Compare Insurance Prices –  Because you’ll drive differently, and won’t be working any longer, your underwriting profile changes. Your current insurance company may still be the best value. Or maybe not. A Maine independent insurance agency like Noyes Hall & Allen can compare prices and coverage among several insurance companies with one phone call.
  4. Keep Maintaining Your Property – Regular maintenance helps you budget your expenses and maximize your insurance options real estate value. If you want to change insurers, your new insurance company will inspect your home. Even if you don’t change companies,  your insurer may inspect from time to time. If they find something that they’re concerned about, they will require you to repair it. It’s better to keep up with repairs and maintenance on your own timetable.
  5. Choose Contractors Wisely – Hire reputable and trustworthy people to work in and on your property. Ask them for proof of insurance. If they hurt someone or damage their property, or injure themselves, they should be responsible – not you. When hiring cleaning people, home health care or similar service providers, ask if they are bonded.  Bonding protects you against theft by someone you’ve let into your home.

Want a Pre-Retirement Insurance Review?

If you’re thinking about retirement in southern Maine, call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or, get several insurance quotes online from our website. We can help you check your current insurance, and let you know if it’s the best value. We can also give you cost-effective advice to customize your insurance to your exciting new life. If you’re moving to Maine in retirement, and looking for a new insurance agent, we’re happy to help. We offer a choice of several of Maine’s top insurers and can do the comparing for you. We can even introduce you to some wonderful local realtors and financial planners.

Either way, you’ll know that your insurance is solid and the cost is reasonable as you head into retirement. At Noyes Hall & Allen, we’re independent and committed to you.

The Most Important Insurance for Maine Cyclists

If you know me, you know that I like to bike year-round. Not every day, but most. I’m not alone. Two of our current staff of 10 regularly bikes to work.

bike commuter insurance guysWe’re lucky to live and work in the Portland area. Maine is ranked #17 most bike-friendly state by the League of American Cyclists. The Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Facebook group has more than 650 members (including me).

As a bike commuting insurance agent, it’s about time I wrote to explain how common insurance policies can protect cyclists, and suggest the best insurance coverage for Maine cyclists. The good news: many cyclists already have the basic coverage; they may just need to adjust their policies to get the best protection.

Car Insurance for Bicycles?

Most cyclists are also drivers, so they have car insurance. They’re probably unaware that their auto policy protects them when they’re cycling.  One part, Uninsured Motorist Coverage, is especially critical when you’re riding your bike:

Uninsured Motorist coverage protects you against injury

  • caused by an accident that’s someone else’s fault
  • if that person had no insurance or insufficient insurance

 

UM coverage can pay:

  • hospital and medical care
  • prescriptions and therapy
  • lost wages
  • pain & suffering

How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works

UM covers the difference between the limit you purchased and what the responsible party bought. An example: someone with Maine state minimum limits ($50,000 per person) hits you. Your medical bills, lost wages and pain & suffering total $100,000. Your UM policy will pay $50,000 if you purchased at least $100,000 of coverage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy as much UM coverage as you can. For most Maine auto policies that’s $500,000.
  • Some umbrella policies allow you to include UM up to an additional $1 million.
  • Even if you don’t own a car, you can buy a “named non-owner” policy, including UM coverage.

 

Bicycle Coverage on Home, Condo or Renters Insurance

The most common Maine property insurance policies cover:

  • Your bike and accessories against 16 “named perils”, including theft and vehicle damage.
  • Injuries or Property damage you cause to others while cycling
  • Legal defense against lawsuits for injuries or property damage.

They do NOT cover:

  • Collisions or dumping
  • Road damage such as potholes
  • Falling off a vehicle rack, driving into the garage with the bike on the roof rack, etc.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy “replacement cost” coverage to avoid depreciation.
  • Buy “open perils” (sometimes called HO-5) homeowners coverage. This greatly expands the 16 named perils described above.
  • Your deductible will apply. Keep the value of your bike in mind when you choose deductibles.
  • Some insurance companies allow you to “schedule” your bike, which provides better (“open perils”) coverage, often at no deductible.

 

How Are Scooters, Mopeds or E-Bikes Insured?

Scooters, mopeds and similar self-propelled vehicles are considered “motor vehicles” by insurance policies. They should be insured on an auto or motorcycle policy. Maine State Law requires proof of auto insurance to register them. The insurance isn’t very expensive.

E-bikes are unique. They’re not considered to be “motor vehicles” by most auto insurance. But they ARE defined as motor vehicles on most homeowners policies, and thus EXCLUDED. That means no property OR liability coverage for e-bikes.

A few specialty e-bike insurance programs exist. For now, we recommend that you buy coverage from them to protect yourself against liability, theft and more. At this time, Noyes Hall & Allen does not sell any policy that can adequately protect e-bike owners.

If you’re a cyclist in Maine, and have questions about insuring yourself or your bike, call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We understand cyclists and insurance. We’d be happy to help you protect yourself better. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies, and know how to advocate for our clients. We’re independent and committed to you.


Resources:

Maine’s data card from League of American Cyclists (.pdf)

Bicycle Coalition of Maine website

Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Facebook Group

 

How to Compare Insurance Prices

There are lots of ways to compare auto, home, condo or renters insurance prices. Most people prefer to save time and work by getting several quotes at the same time. Two common methods: contact a local independent agent; or get multiple quotes from an app or web site. Businesses that produce these quote sites are called “aggregators”.

Aggregators: slick apps, relentless solicitation

Online apps are usually well-designed, easy and convenient to use. Most don’t sound anything like an insurance company. They often named after a food or an animal, for some reason. Or they sound like tech companies. That’s because most of them are not insurance companies. Although they promise insurance quotes, aggregators rarely present firm numbers. Instead, they sell your information to insurance agents and companies. It’s up to those agents to try to close the sale.

And they’re relentless.

I tried getting quotes recently. I’d barely clicked “submit” when my phone started ringing. It didn’t stop for 2 days. My voice mail clearly says I’m an insurance agent. You’d think they would quickly figure out that I wasn’t going to buy from them. But they kept calling back. And the emails! I gave them credit for persistence even as I cursed their repeated interruptions.

Think that’s unusual? Google insurance quote scams.

Of course, not all insurance quote sites are the same. Some provide an estimated price at the end of your session. But most of those still need more information from you to produce a policy. That can change the price.

Independent Agents: good insurance takes time

IA’s also offer several insurance options at the same time. They are locally owned businesses – about 35,000 in the US. Call or visit an independent agent and you’ll spend 10 minutes answering the questions they need to quote. Then, the agent compares rates and coverage and presents a recommendation. Instead of just taking your order, they use their local market and insurance knowledge to recommend the right solution. It may take a bit more time than the aggregator’s app, but that can be a great investment if  it helps you avoid an expensive mistake.

Some independent agents are more aggressive than others. Some even buy leads from aggregators. A few (like us) offer online insurance quotes 24/7 on their website. Most don’t share your personal information with anyone else.

It’s smart to shop around

Savvy consumers know to compare insurance prices. You can call several “one company stores”; give your information to an online aggregator; or choose a local independent agent that you trust. If you’re in Southern Maine, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance might be the agent you trust. Find out. Call us at 207-799-5541, get insurance quotes online, or stop by our South Portland office. We’re independent and committed to you.

How to Evaluate Auto Insurance Quotes

You know you need auto insurance. You know it’s smart to get more than one quote. But do you know how to compare car insurance quotes. To help you sift through that information, here are some guidelines, courtesy of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance serving Portland, ME.

Cost

You want the lowest price possible. Who doesn’t? Just remember that the cheapest isn’t always the one to go with. For one, you may not be comparing the same coverage. Plus, companies have different levels of billing, policy maintenance and claims service. An independent agent like Noyes Hall & Allen represents several insurance companies. They can compare rates, saving you lots of shopping time and hassle.

Deductibles

Higher deductibles mean lower prices. They also mean you’ll have to pay more out of pocket. Be honest with yourself about your financial position and risk tolerance. Make sure you choose deductibles that are in line with your budget and lifestyle. Ask questions if you’re not sure what you’re buying.

Types of Insurance

Auto policies can contain – or omit – several coverage types: collision, liability, uninsured motorist, roadside assistance, lease gap and many more. Know what you’re buying and why. This is where an agent can be helpful in guiding you to exactly what you need, and away from what you don’t. Ask your insurance agent as many questions as you need to understand what you’re buying.

Medical Expenses

After an accident, you or others in your vehicle may need medical attention. Even if someone else is at fault, it’s faster and simpler to use your own Medical Payments coverage to get the care you need. That way you’re not out of pocket waiting for the other insurance company to reimburse you. Even if you have great medical insurance, do you know what kind of insurance your passengers have? Probably not. You want to be sure you have adequate coverage that is also affordable. An informed insurance agent can provide quality advice about choosing Medical Payments limits.

Uninsured Motorists

Unfortunately, some people drive without auto insurance or adequate coverage. So you need to protect yourself, and you need to evaluate that coverage when assessing each auto insurance quote you obtain. Beware of “per person” limits on uninsured motorist policies. One quote might say “$100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident” and another “$300,000 combined single limit”. You may think they’re comparable. They’re not. One has potentially 3X more coverage. Learn how to compare them.

Is DIY Insurance Cheaper?

Not always. Sometimes, an agent-serviced policy costs the same – or even less – that one that requires you to be your own expert and do all the work yourself. A good agent knows which discounts are available. And, when you have claims or billing questions, or forget your insurance card while you’re in line at BMV, a professional insurance agent can be worth their weight in gold.

Auto insurance doesn’t have to be confusing. Get plenty of quotes, and evaluate them using these tips. Then you can be confident in the auto insurance policy you choose. If you need additional information about Maine auto insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland, ME. If you want to see several quotes at once, click on the “Get a Quote” button above.

2017 Auto Insurance Winners & Losers – and Why it May Not Matter

 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) released its annual market share report last week. It ranks US insurance companies by total sales. Some household names grew substantially. Other familiar brands lost big. Should Maine insurance consumers care? Should it affect your buying decision?

US Auto Insurance – a $230 Billion Industry

There’s plenty of competition for your insurance dollars. That’s why GEICO spends more than $1 billion a year on advertising, more than any other auto insurer. Was their big spending worth it? GEICO grew by more than $2 billion in premium last year. That’s more than twice the industry’s 2.5% growth in 2017.

Which Car Insurers Won and Lost in 2017?

Besides GEICO, Progressive grew by more than $1 billion in auto premium. USAA, Auto-owners and AAA rounded out the top 5. Allstate was the biggest loser. They shed almost $1 billion in auto insurance sales. Nationwide and Farmers weren’t far behind (ahead?). State Farm and Hartford rounded out the bottom 5, each losing almost $400 million of auto insurance premium.

Does it Matter Who Won?

Yes, and no. Growing companies can invest in new systems and even more advertising. Shrinking ones must cut costs. They might lay off claims adjusters or close offices to reduce expenses.

The winners and losers in the NAIC report have one thing in common. They’re all large insurers that write business countrywide. But many Maine consumers prefer to insure with smaller, regional insurers. Companies like Concord Group, Hanover and MMG Insurance have big market shares in Maine. New England insurers like these offer local claims and underwriting. They sell through local agents who provide advice and advocacy to their clients. They fly beneath the NAIC’s national radar.


Related: GEICO vs. Agent or Broker – Insurance Buying Tips


When Too Much Growth is Bad

Growth is good. But if an insurer grows too fast, bad things can happen:

  • Bad Service – an insurance company adding lots of new customers usually hires lots of sales people. If they don’t increase their claims and service staff by the same percentage, customer service can deteriorate. That can mean slower claim settlements, longer telephone hold times and inexperienced agents to give you advice.
  • Rate Increases – There are 2 easy ways to sell more insurance in the short run: sell it cheaper than the next guy; or relax standards to let more business in. Then it catches up. Pretty soon, they realize they haven’t charged enough premium to pay claims and expenses. They have to increase everyone’s rates to pay claims.

Is the Best Insurance Company One You’ve Never Heard Of? 

In Maine, many dependable, financially sound insurance companies don’t advertise. They have competitive rates. Their premiums don’t rise and fall dramatically. They settle claims fast and fairly using local adjusters.

How do you find these insurance companies? Contact a local independent agent like Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland. We offer a choice from several top insurers and help you find the best fit and value. Want to get insurance quotes yourself? Get up to 5 Maine auto insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our web site. If you live outside southern Maine, look in your area for an independent agent like us. We’re independent and committed to you.