Insurance for Low Mileage Maine Drivers

Many Mainers drive less than they did a year ago. By many accounts, we are logging about 30% fewer miles than this time last year. Should insurance companies reduce your car insurance rates as a result? Maybe. But it won’t happen automatically.

Here’s why.

2020 Driving Trends Affecting Car Insurance

Driving data indicates a dramatic change in behavior in Spring 2020. We all know why.

  • Fewer Miles Driven (but not by everyone).
    Many people are not working, or working from home. That means they’re driving less, and not as far. But essential workers and others continue to commute. Some people actually drive more than before, replacing lost income with new gigs.
  • What Rush Hour?
    With many offices closed, usual morning and evening congestion has almost disappeared. Those who are are driving do so at different times of day, spreading out road usage. That means less risky driving behavior such as hard stops and quick acceleration.
  • Increased Speeds
    With more open space on the road, average vehicle speed increased. Faster speeds and clearer roads can mean fewer but more serious crashes.

Is Your Car Insurance Priced Right?

You might deserve lower car insurance rates. But it won’t happen automatically.

Insurers probably won’t reduce rates across the board. That’s because they don’t know who’s driving less than before.

Car insurance often classifies usage into 3 categories:

  • Pleasure use – used around town and for personal errants. Not driven to work.
  • Commute – either short (less than 15 miles one way) or long (more than 15).
  • Business – such as a traveling sales person, trade contractor or other extensive use.

You may deserve lower car insurance rates.
But it won’t happen automatically.

Imagine two Scarborough neighbors. One commutes 7 miles on I-295 into their Portland office every day, parking on the street. The other drives 2 miles to teach at a local school, parking in the school lot. In the summer, the teacher doesn’t commute at all.

They’re rated the same, even though their drives are much different. The Portland worker pays too little, while the teacher overpays.

Customized Rating – Gaining Acceptance

New technology allow insurers to customize car insurance prices as never before. It’s called Usage Based Insurance, or UBI.

Using smartphones, customers share driving data with their insurance company. The insurer compares them to other customers. Safer drivers pay less; riskier ones might pay more. Insurance companies have their own brand for UBI: Progressive Snapshot; Safeco RightTrack; Travelers Intellidrive, and so on. Each one has slightly different features.

In prior years, consumers hesitated to share this data, often citing privacy concerns. That changed in 2020. Many are looking for ways to save money in this time of economic hardship and reduced driving. Almost 50% of people who responded to a JD Power 2020 survey were willing to try Usage Based Insurance (UBI).

Are Customized Insurance Rates Right For You?

Think you’re paying too much for Maine car insurance based on your driving? Interested in learning more about Usage Based Insurance? It’s not for everyone.

A Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent can help you decide if it’s right for you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s top auto insurers, with and without UBI. Call our team in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

How to Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Everyone seems to recommend shopping car insurance periodically. Rates do change frequently. The company that was the best value years ago might no longer be.

Car insurance is a big item in many budgets. Saving 5 or 10% can mean $100 or more. So what’s the best way to shop for car insurance?

Step 1: Gather Information from Your Policy

You’ll need:

  • Vehicle description, including VIN;
  • Driver information (dates of birth, license numbers);
  • Details about claims, accidents or violations in the last 5 years;
  • Current coverage limits and deductibles.

Step 2. Decide Where to Get Your Quotes

You have 3 basic options for insurance quotes:

  • DIY – go online or call an 800 number. You’ll get one quote at a time from a company like GEICO or Progressive. You’ll need to call a few agents to get comparison quotes.
  • A company agent, like Liberty Mutual, State Farm or Allstate. You’ll still get only one quote. That means you’ll have to call several to compare. But unlike the DIY option, an agent will be able to offer custom advice and answer your questions.
  • An independent agent, like Noyes Hall & Allen. They provide custom advice and answers like a company agent, with the added convenience of quotes from several insurers at once.

Comparing quotes from different car insurance companies isn’t easy. Each company’s presentation looks a little different. Some may not offer the coverage limits you asked for. And they may not even tell you that it’s not the same.

Step 3: Compare Car Insurance Quotes

This 6:40 video explains what to look for, and what to watch out for.

Help With Maine Auto Insurance Quotes

If you live in Maine or are moving to the Portland Maine area, a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent can help. We represent many of Maine’s top auto insurers. We can explain coverage and price differences to help you find the best insurance value. We’re independent and committed to you. Call us at 207-799-5541, or start an online insurance quote in 10 minutes.

Test Drive: Auto Insurance Driving Monitor

I’ve been testing Travelers’ Intellidrive mobile app. It uses my smartphone to track the quantity, quality, timing and location of my driving. Several insurance companies offer similar apps, including Progressive Snapshot, Allstate and Safeco Right Track. Most offer an up-front discount to try it. They adjust your rates after 6 months to reflect your driving safety.

Travelers allowed me to install Intellidrive without association to an insurance policy. These apps, known as telematics, are becoming more widespread. Clients ask me about them. It’s easier to explain and advise clients if I’ve tried the app myself.

The COVID effect – Are We Driving Less?

Most of us are driving less during COVID time. Insurance companies should give us a break for that, right? Many of them did, with across-the-board refunds in April and May.

But we’re not all driving less. In larger cities, mass transit reductions have forced people to find other ways to get around. Some of us are back to work. Some are working from home; or not working at all. Others are driving even more than before, delivering food or passengers to pay the bills.

The COVID disruption was so fast and intense that insurance companies don’t have a lot of data to adjust rates. That’s why they love these driving monitoring devices.

How Telematics Works

Like most insurance company telematics apps, Travelers Intellidrive monitors:

  • Time of Day
  • Number of Miles Driven
  • Location of Driving
  • Acceleration, Hard Braking and Speed
  • Distracted Driving

It’s usually smart enough to know when you’re a driver vs. a passenger (you can re-classify a trip if the app goofed).

Hit all the targets, and you can earn up to a 20% rate cut with most insurers. High-risk driving will cost you a surcharge. The average rate effect for all drivers is minus 5%. Insurers say 70% of customers get some discount.

The app reports how you’re doing. If you don’t like the early results, you can opt out within 45 days without any penalty. You just lose the up-front discount.

Humans are Bad at Estimating Risk

Telematics are a great way to accurately price insurance to risk. Good drivers pay less. Most of us think we’re good drivers. But are we?

Humans tend to underestimate risk, and over-estimate their own driving skills. Memory is fleeting but data lives forever.

I often talk to people who say they “have a completely clean record”, but reports show otherwise. They’re not trying to lie; they just don’t remember. That time your car was hit in the parking lot? When the deer ran in front of you? Or you had a minor fender-bender but no damage? Those are all “incidents” to insurance companies. Like it or not, they indicate a higher chance of future losses.

What I Like About Telematics

  • I’d probably save money. I’m a low mileage driver. I use my bike for most errands and to commute. Intellidrive allows me to pay lower insurance premiums for reduced driving.
  • It gives good feedback. Intellidrive records “events” that adversely affect my rates. Those can be my fault, like speeding or rapid starts.
    Or they could have nothing to do with how I’m driving, but when. Driving very late or during rush hour is a higher risk.
    This knowledge can be helpful if you want to improve your driving safety. A parent could use it to keep eyes on a teen driver. The app has videos and other driver training tips, too.
  • I’m a data nerd. I like to monitor my sleep and exercise with a fitness tracker. Intellidrive is like a FitBit for my driving. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll like telematics.

Downsides to an Insurance Company Monitoring App

  • It collects a lot of data – for an insurance company. It tracks where and when I drive. That’s useful in calculating a fair price for my insurance. It’s also valuable to others who might want to know about me.
    I know: my smartphone, smart speaker and my Fitbit already have a lot of data about me. I trade my privacy with those vendors in exchange for the utility of the product or service.  
  • The insurance company owns that data. I’m sure the insurance company says “we’ll never sell your data”. But they might sell anonymized data. And data can be hacked. Or used against me if I’m in a crash or legal proceeding.

The Long Term Effect of Telematics

Attitudes about trading data for discounts are changing. More people are choosing to let auto insurers monitor their driving. As insurers gather more data, I expect higher rates for drivers who don’t choose to be monitored. There are two reasons for this:

  • The risk of uncertainty. Insurers set rates based on experience. Telematics allow them to project your chances of loss, tied directly to your behavior. Without that data about you, insurers will want to charge a “risk premium.”
  • Adverse selection. Remember the “opt out” option? If your driving score projects a surcharge, you can bail out within the first 45 days, with no rate penalty. As telematics become more pervasive, underwriters may assume that people who decline monitoring are higher risk drivers – and warrant higher rates.

Would I Sign up for Telematics?

If I could own the data, I’d be all in. I’d like to see a driving app that I control. I want to own my driving data and decide who to share it with. I expect that would cost something. You know what they say: if it’s free, you’re the product.

If I owned the data and wanted to shop my insurance, I could export a report from my app to my agent. They could check prices and recommend coverage. The insurance companies could access my scores, but not my data. That’s the kind of telematics I would sign up for.

But I may do it anyway. Privacy is an illusion in our wired society. My smart speaker probably listens a lot more than I think it does. I share my location via smartphone for the utility of real-time maps, traffic data, and more. And auto insurance is a big-ticket item. Everyone likes to save money.

Are We At the Tipping Point?

Telematics will reach a point where the cost difference will be hard to ignore. It’s probably already there for someone who drives as little as I do. And it may be for you, too, during COVID time.

Do you live in Maine and have questions about low mileage auto insurance discounts? Want to know more about Progressive Snapshot, Travelers Intellidrive or Safeco RightTrack? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of preferred auto insurers to help you find the right fit. We’re independent and committed to you.

Doing Insurance Business Safely and Remotely

Right now, staying apart is staying safe. That includes when you buy insurance, file a claim, and repair vehicles or property.

Insurance is more necessary than ever. People value stability in uncertain times. Insurance delivers. You can do your insurance business in a low-contact, safe manner. You don’t have to sacrifice personal advice and service. Here’s how.

GET NO-TOUCH INSURANCE QUOTES

  • Get insurance quotes online. Most insurance agencies and companies offer online auto and home insurance quotes. Enter information about your vehicles and property and get quotes back. A good independent insurance agency can deliver several quotes at once. That helps you compare.
  • Get advice, not just quotes. It’s hard to know if you’re asking for the proper coverage online, or to compare the quotes you receive. That’s why most people prefer to consult an agent before they actually buy a policy. A tech-savvy insurance agent should be available by text, video or real-time chat as well as phone and email.

BUY INSURANCE REMOTELY

  • Read and sign documents electronically with e-mail, text and e-signature. These tools allow you to read and sign applications from anywhere. All you need is a computer or mobile device.
  • Use contactless payment. Most insurers accept credit cards or electronic checks using your bank account info. No need to leave home and go to the insurance office.

AVOID INSURANCE PEOPLE COMING TO YOUR HOME

Many insurers allow customers to complete a self-inspection. That usually involves answering questions about your home’s systems and emailing pictures.

In case of a claim, avoid an insurance company appraiser’s visit. Email or upload photos of your damage to the insurance adjuster.

CONTACT-FREE INSURANCE SERVICE and PAYMENTS

  • Use mobile apps. Most insurers have them. Download and use them to request changes, check on billing, make payments and file claims.
  • Don’t want to use an app? You can do many of the same things over the phone, email, video or text chat with your agent.

GET VIRTUAL INSURANCE COVERAGE REVIEWS

Modern tools allow you to meet virtually with your Insurance agent. They can even share documents with you by video. You can get personal service and answers to your questions quickly and safely, without leaving home.

DOWNLOAD INSURANCE DOCUMENTS

You don’t have to go into the insurance office to get policy documents. Here are some other ways:

  • Your insurance company’s app. Get documents on your mobile device.
  • Register for an insurance company account. Set one up and download the documents to your computer.
  • Use your agency account. Tech-forward insurance agencies offer online access. These allow you to view your policy information and download insurance documents.
  • Ask your agent to email or text your document to you.

FILE CLAIMS FROM THE SCENE

  1. Report online. Use your insurer’s mobile app to start a claim. Or register for a free account with your insurance company, and file online.
  2. Call the insurance company directly to report your claim.
  3. Call your agent who can explain your coverage, answer questions and help you file a claim.

DON’T SACRIFICE PERSONAL SERVICE

One advantage of having a local agent is that we know you and live where you do. That’s more important than ever in this era of physical separation.

Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance is a forward-thinking agency. We’ve invested in tools and ideas to provide personal advice to you easily and safely. Do you prefer text, video, phone, or a combination of all? Any way, you can get a local agent’s trusted insurance advice without venturing to our office.

Are you looking for a Maine insurance agent who can serve you safely in uncertain times? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or visit noyeshallallen.com.

Stay safe!

Is Skunk Spray Covered by Insurance?

A Portland, Maine woman recently had an unwelcome guest. A skunk snuck into her home and sprayed 4 times inside before police could remove it. What a mess! The home and everything in it must be deodorized.

Does Home Insurance Cover Skunk Spray?

Will home insurance cover the cost to remove the smell? It depends on whether you bought “off the shelf” coverage or upgraded. It also depends whether your insurance company uses the latest edition of the coverage form (spoiler alert: in this case, the latest is NOT the best).

Skunk Spray Damage Coverage in Basic Homeowners Policies

The most common home insurance form is the ISO HO 00 03. Many Maine insurance companies use it. It’s tried and tested over decades. Insurance people call it “HO-3”.

Insurance Services Office (ISO) updates the form periodically. Each insurer decides which edition to use. In Maine, some insurers still use the 1991 version. Many use the 2000 edition. A few have adopted the 2011 edition.

Before the 2011 edition, “off the shelf” HO-3 policies covered skunk spray damage to buildings. Damage to contents was not covered by the basic policy.

The 2011 edition excludes “discharge or release of secretions by any animals”. Even building damage is no longer covered for skunk spray in the 2011 form.

Which Homeowners Policy Edition do You Have?

Your insurance policy should list coverage forms. The first two letters are the coverage type – “HO” for homeowners. The next four digits are the form number. Basic homeowners are 00 03. Condo policies are 00 06. Renters policies are 00 04. The final four digits are the month and year of the edition. For example, HO 00 03 05 11 is the 2011 edition of the basic homeowners policy.

Can You Buy Extra Insurance for Skunk Damage?

We recommend “open perils” coverage for contents. That covers skunk spray damage on the pre-2011 forms. Ask your agent if you’re eligible for that.

Unfortunately, we know of no way to add skunk spray coverage to the 2011 edition of the policy. The exclusion in the 2011 form denies coverage for skunk spray to both building or contents. You can’t buy it back. That stinks (sorry, we couldn’t help it).

What if a Skunk Sprayed My Vehicle?

You may have purchased “other than collision” coverage on your auto insurance policy. Some people call this “comprehensive” coverage. Most common auto insurance policies in Maine cover damage by animals. That includes skunk spray. So, if a skunk gets into your car and sprays, you probably have coverage. As long as you purchased “other than collision” coverage.

Action Items:

  • Check your property insurance policy’s coverage form and edition date
  • Ask your agent if you have “open perils” coverage. If not, get a quote to add it if you’re eligible.
  • If you’re on the 2011 homeowners form, ask your agent for a quote with a company that uses one of the older editions.

Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Have questions about home, condo, renters or auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. One of them is likely a good fit for you.

What Happens When a Vehicle is Totaled in Maine?

When a crash or disaster seriously damages your vehicle, it’s stressful and confusing. If the damage is bad enough, an insurance company might declare your vehicle a total loss. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often to most of us. What does it really mean when your vehicle is totaled?

What Does it Mean When a Vehicle is Totaled?

A vehicle is a total loss when the cost to repair it exceeds a percentage of its value. The calculation method and ratio vary state to state. Some states use a flat percentage of the vehicle’s value as a threshold. Other states add the salvage or scrap value of the vehicle. That’s called the formula method. In general, it’s easier to total a vehicle using the formula method. That’s because the salvage value is added to the value of the vehicle before calculating the percentage.

Maine uses the formula method. Maine law considers a vehicle a total loss if the damage plus the scrap value exceeds 75% of the value.

For example:

Vehicle’s pre-loss Value Repair Cost Salvage Value Repair + SalvageTotaled?
$5280$3150$500$3650NO
$5280$3650$750$4400YES

My Car’s Worth More than the Repair Estimate. Why is it Totaled?

When an insurance company totals your car instead of paying the repair cost, they sell the salvage. The scrap value is considered part of the value of your vehicle. If it’s cheaper for the insurance company to pay you the value of your car and recover the salvage, they will. If it’s cheaper for them to repair your vehicle, they will do that.

In Maine, if the cost to repair plus the scrap value exceeds 75% of your vehicle’s value, the insurance company can total it.

Why 75%? Insurance companies know there’s often hidden damage after a serious loss. When the repair shop removes outer damaged parts, more damage is revealed. That increases the repair cost from their original estimate. So, insurance companies use 75% to provide a safety factor. That way, they’re not paying more to fix your vehicle than it’s worth.

Why Nicer Cars Are Easier to Total

High end cars cost more to fix. Their salvage value is also higher. So, the nicer your vehicle, the easier it is to reach the 75% threshold. A newer vehicle with a lot of cosmetic damage (e.g. hail) may have no mechanical issue and still be totaled. That’s because many expensive mechanical parts are still good, increasing the scrap value.

What Happens When My Vehicle is Totaled in Maine?

If your Maine vehicle is totaled, you essentially sell it to the insurance company. They pay you the pre-damage fair market value of the vehicle. You sign the title over to the insurance company. They keep the salvage value after selling it. Usually, it’s sold at auction.

Can You Keep Your Vehicle in Maine After It’s Totaled?

You can buy your unrepaired vehicle back from the insurance company for its salvage value. You still sell the vehicle to the insurance company by signing over the title. They pay you the pre-damage value of your vehicle, minus the salvage value. They sell you a Maine salvaged title for the salvage value.

Can I Drive a Vehicle With a Maine Salvaged Title?

No. Once there’s a salvage title, all of the work on the repair estimate MUST be done before you can drive the vehicle. You and the repair garage must complete and submit Form MVT-103 to Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

When the State of Maine approves your vehicle repairs, it issues a rebuilt title. A rebuilt titled vehicle is worth less than one with a regular title.

Many insurance companies will not offer comprehensive or collision coverage for a vehicle with a rebuilt title. That’s because it can be difficult to assess the fair value of the vehicle.

The Insurance Company Wants to Total My Vehicle. Do I Have to Accept That?

You have the right to get your own repair estimate and choose your own body shop. Can you find one that will repair your vehicle for less than the threshold? Your insurance company might agree and pay the repair cost. Remember: in Maine, the 75% threshold includes the scrap value of your vehicle.

Once an insurance company totals your vehicle, you have a salvage title. You must repair the vehicle to drive it.

What if the damage is mostly cosmetic, and the car drives fine? You have the option to withdraw your claim and avoid a salvage title.

An Example of Withdrawing a Claim

Assume that a hailstorm pounds your vehicle. Dozens of dents on the hood, roof and trunk; a broken windshield. But the vehicle drives fine, and the dents don’t bother you. You could withdraw your insurance claim and pay to repair your windshield “out of pocket”. Although your vehicle may not look great, you might be able to drive it for many more years.

What if you withdraw your claim and don’t repair the body damage? Your insurance company will probably remove comprehensive and collision coverage. That’s because they wouldn’t pay for future damage; they already consider it totaled. Makes sense.

If you switch insurance companies, it’s important to declare the prior damage to them. The new insurance company will likely exclude comprehensive and collision coverage, too.

Questions About Maine Auto Insurance?

Do you live in Southern Maine and have questions about your auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred auto insurance companies.

Insurance Lessons I Learned When a Motorcycle Destroyed my Car

by Kayla Bachelder, Concierge Agent, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance

A couple of years ago, my mother in law gave me her 2006 Toyota Camry. Barely 6 months later, the car met its demise. Totaled by a motorcycle. The man who hit me head-on was lucky enough to walk away with his life. His bike, and my Camry: both totaled.

Even though I work in insurance every day, I learned a lot about car insurance from my auto accident .

  • Think twice before dropping collision coverage
    As your vehicle gets older, it’s tempting to drop collision coverage to save money. I figured that if the Camry was ever totaled, I would probably just get another new vehicle instead of paying the deductible to “fix” it. 

    But keeping the collision on my older vehicle was one of my best decisions. Without collision coverage, I would have waited months for the motorcycle owner’s insurance to pay the claim. I submitted the collision claim to my insurance company. Two days later, I had the money for a new car in my bank account. This allowed me to immediately go out and shop for a car with a large down payment.

  • Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
    The night of the accident I was filled with adrenaline. I was in hysterics. I did after all just collide with a man on a motorcycle. I couldn’t comprehend at that time that he had run into me. I thought I had run into him.

    I told the police, paramedics and firefighters that I was ok. I refused an ambulance. The next morning, I woke in severe pain. I could barely turn my head from side to side. I had to have physical therapy for weeks and was out of work for a few days due to a concussion.

    Get checked out after a motor vehicle accident. You never know what may be going on with your body!
     
  • Rental vehicle coverage is a lifesaver
    After the accident, I had no car. My husband still had to go to work. I still had to go about my regular life. Being without a car for even two days was life changing!

    Some insurance companies quote $20 a day rental coverage. Maybe they think the lower price increases the likelihood of a sale. Some even quote no rental coverage at all!  Be careful. If you drive an SUV or large truck you might only be able to afford to rent a sub-compact. That too, my friends, will be life changing.

  •  Be careful who you let drive your vehicles
    The man who hit me was not driving his own motorcycle. Yes, the accident will be on the driver’s Motor Vehicle Report. But the claim was paid out by his friend’s insurance company. You can imagine what a large accident involving injuries and two totaled vehicles did to his insurance rates.

  • We are lucky that Maine requires auto insurance
    Vehicle owners are required to show proof of insurance to register a vehicle. This means that almost all vehicles on the road are insured. Of course there are a few out there that sneak around without it.

    What would have happened if the driver didn’t have any insurance? My Maine auto insurance includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Yours does, too. This helps cover you when another driver doesn’t have insurance and causes an accident. We live very close to the New Hampshire border where they don’t need to carry insurance! Scary! If an uninsured driver hits you, your UM coverage will pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and more.  

What to Do After an Accident

Here are some things you can do to help yourself, your claim adjuster and your insurance agent. If you can’t do these, don’t worry about it. The most important thing is to stay safe and healthy.

  1. Take photos of the damage if you can. The night of my accident became a blur. I couldn’t take photos, but because the police were involved, they took many photos.
  2. Get as much information as possible at the scene. Ask for the other driver’s name, address, phone number and insurance information. If police respond, get the officer’s name and the police report number. These are all helpful for your insurance company. If you can’t get all this information, don’t stress about it. Your agent can still help.
  3. Calm down before driving away. Being in an accident, even a small fender bender can really shake up your nerves. If you need to park your car and get a ride from someone else, do it.
  4. It’s OK to get damage appraised before deciding whether to make a claim. Just don’t get it fixed first! One exception: immediately report an accident in which someone is injured. Do not delay.
  5. It is never too late to call in a claim. Did you hit a pothole that was much deeper than you thought? Did you notice the damage to the side panel a week later? That’s ok, you can still call it in. Your independent agent can help you decide whether you want to make a claim.

WARNING: did you buy your policy from a company agent (who works for only one insurer)? Or from an insurer’s web site or 800 number? When you call those companies, you’re speaking directly to the insurer. As soon as you mention an accident, they make a claim record on your policy. Even if you’re only looking for advice. Even if you decide not to make a claim, it’s on your record. That can increase the price you pay for insurance in the future – even if that insurer never pays a dime. That’s a good reason to work with an independent insurance agent.

Have Questions About Maine Auto Insurance?

Live in Southern Maine? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We write policies for multiple insurance companies but represent you. That means we can give you advice that’s best for you, not the insurance company. It also means that we offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies.

Looking for Maine auto insurance quotes, but not ready to talk to an agent just yet? You can compare Maine car insurance quotes from as many as 5 insurance companies in 10 minutes on our web site.

Should You Buy Car Insurance at the Dealer?

Some new car dealers offer insurance quotes as part of the car-buying process. It seems very convenient: one-stop shopping. Sign an extra document, make another down payment, and drive away with insurance!

Is it smart to buy insurance at the same time you’re buying a new car? You’re already making financial decisions: which vehicle to buy; whether or how to finance it; whether to purchase extended warranties and other options. Why not just add insurance at the same time?

When You Should Buy Insurance at the Car Dealer

You have no insurance now, and you’re driving the new one off the lot. You can’t drive off the lot without insurance. It takes time to buy insurance if you’re starting from scratch. If the dealer connects you with an agent you trust at a price you can afford, and they can insure you immediately, it makes sense.

When Not to Buy Insurance at the Car Dealer

Any other time. Here’s why: no one makes their best decisions in a hurry. And there’s really no rush.

  1. Your current insurance probably automatically covers your new vehicle. Better to get the price from your current insurer and get other prices if you want. You’re in control, and under no pressure.
  2. The car dealer’s agent will quote coverage that meet the dealer’s requirements. They want to protect the car loan. But what about your needs? Ask an agent you trust what coverage they recommend, and why. Ask follow up questions and decide at your convenience.
  3. Who will you call for insurance service or follow up questions? Is the car dealer’s insurer using a distant call center or online platform? Will you ever be able to talk to the same agent twice?

How to Compare Insurance Prices on Your New Vehicle

To find the best insurance value for your new vehicle, you have two choices:

  • Call or check various insurance companies online yourself; or
  • Contact an independent insurance agent. They represent many different insurance companies and can compare programs for you.

If you live in the Portland Maine area and recently purchased a vehicle, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of 10 of Maine’s A-rated auto insurance companies. If you’re not ready to talk to an agent, get up to 5 insurance quotes online in 10 minutes on our website.

Auto Insurance Combined Single Limit vs. Split Limits

When buying car insurance, choosing proper coverage limits is very important. Uninsured motorist and liability insurance limits are the most important of all.

Understanding Insurance Policy Liability Limits

Auto insurance policies cover bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) liability in an at-fault accident. BI reimburses others for medical treatment, missed work, pain & suffering and related expenses. PD pays to fix or replace autos, structures and other property that you damage.

In Maine, uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) is important coverage. It protects YOU and people in your household or vehicle. What if you’re in a crash where someone else is at fault? They have little or no insurance. UM pays your medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering and more. In Maine, UM limits match BI liability limits except in very rare cases.

Link to video explaining different types of Maine auto insurance liability limits - split limits vs. combined single limit.
This 4:00 video explains the different types of auto insurance liability limits.

Split Liability Limits

Split limit liability policies are easy to identify. They have separate limits for bodily injury and property damage. They also slice BI coverage into a limit per person and per incident.

If your policy limits are 100/300/100, you have a split limits policy.
In an at-fault crash, your policy will pay $100,000 max per person. It will pay $300,000 max for all injuries you cause. You have the same limits for injuries uninsured people cause to you. A 100/300/100 policy also pays $100,000 max to fix vehicles, buildings and other property you damage.

The Most Common Insurance Shopping Mistake

Many insurance shoppers think 100/300 UM limits give them $300,000 of protection. They actually have about 1/3 of that. Here’s why: most vehicles on the road have 1 person in them. If you crash into another vehicle injuring a single occupant, your policy pays only up to $100,000.

That sounds like a lot. It’s not. A few days in ICU with surgeries, CAT scans and other tests can easily cost more than $100,000. Accident victims often collect pain and suffering settlements, too. What happens if your insurance isn’t enough to pay for the injuries you’re responsible for? Your personal assets are at stake.

Remember that your UM limits are the same as your liability limits. If you’re hit by an uninsured driver an you have 100/300 limits, your medical bills may exceed your insurance.

Auto Property Damage Limits

Don’t forget that third number: 100/300/100 means you have $100,000 max of property damage coverage. That could include:

  • Vehicles (including commercial or public vehicles)
  • Buildings
  • Street signs, telephone poles and other roadside items

With the cost of vehicles, it’s easy to imagine causing more than than $100,000 damage in a multi-car accident. The cost of driving into the front of a building can easily top that.

Combined Single Limit to the Rescue

Combined single liability (CSL) is just what it sounds like. There are no sub-limits for bodily injury per person and per accident and property damage. Just a big, round number. If you buy a $300,000 combined single limit policy, you have a pool of $300,000 to pay for all the damages you cause.
It’s all available for property damage if no one’s injured. It can pay for one seriously injured person.

Even more important, $300,000 of UM coverage pays up to that amount of YOUR medical bills following a crash with an uninsured at-fault party.

Which is Cheaper: Combined Single Limit or Split Limits Auto Liability?

Most discount insurers sell split limit policies. Because they have “gotcha” sub-limits, the insurance company can charge lower premiums. They know that they are unlikely to pay the high “per accident” limit on the policy.

In the real world, most split limits policies have MUCH less coverage than a combined single limit policy. Very rarely, you see generous split limits like 500/500/250. A policy like that would be even better than a $300,000 CSL policy. Most split limits policies have MUCH lower limits. Unsuspecting buyers, lulled into complacency by the “per accident” limit, think they’re fine.

A Good Insurance Agent Can Help

If you’re shopping for Maine car insurance and confused by all the options, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. We can compare price and coverage to find the best value. Best of all, we provide personalized professional advice, at no extra charge! Call us at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

How to Reduce Car Insurance Costs for Maine Teen Drivers

Car insurance is expensive for teenagers in Maine and everywhere else. Parents worry about their kids’ driving. So do insurance companies. For good reason.

Statistics show that new drivers are the most likely to have an accident. Experience matters. Newly licensed teenagers often need more driving time to learn to anticipate and avoid hazards. Even after they gain experience, teens judge risk differently than adults.

Will my teenager be a good driver?

Some drivers are better than others. It’s hard to predict. Even responsible teens and honor roll students can be terrible drivers. We all know that being tentative on the road can be almost as dangerous as aggressive driving.

We know these factors increase the likelihood of crashes for all drivers:

  • distracted or tired driving; 
  • alcohol or drug use; 
  • late night driving; 
  • traveling in unfamiliar areas; 
  • quick stops and starts. 

How much will it cost to insure my teen driver?

Modern auto insurance pricing is sophisticated and secretive. You and your neighbor may be the same age. You may drive identical vehicles. Have similar commutes and accident records. You could still pay very different prices for car insurance. How much insurance you buy obviously affects the price you pay.

So do;

  • credit scores;
  • how long you’ve been a customer of that insurance company;
  • how long you’ve lived in your home;
  • whether you bundle your home and auto insurance.

Rate complexity makes it almost impossible to predict exactly how much your new driver will add to your insurance costs. Years ago, agents could easily do “what if” quotes. No longer. Today, they need detailed information about each driver and vehicle. Your agent may be able to estimate the cost close to the time you’re adding a new driver.

How can I tell if my teenager is driving safely?

A generation ago, parents relied on neighbors and friends to report if their teen drove recklessly around town. Now, mobile apps can track where, when and how your teen drives.

Your teen probably won’t be pleased to know that you monitor them. But driving data can also bring peace of mind to teens and parents. Because they track location, mobile apps can request roadside assistance or direct tow trucks or first responders.

Many telematics apps feature a scorecard so teens can compare their driving to their peers and improve. Some parents use these scorecards to coach their teens.

Can I assign drivers to certain vehicles on my car insurance?

Some insurance companies consider your teen to be a principal operator if you have a vehicle for every driver. If you have more drivers than cars, many insurers allow you to name one driver as an occasional operator. Principal drivers cost more than occasional ones. Makes sense. 

Some insurance companies let you assign drivers to vehicles. Others use a “blended rate” method. In a blended rate scenario, you can’t assign your 2018 Mercedes to you and your 2000 Honda to your child.

Whether your insurance company uses blended rates or not, more vehicles mean higher premiums.

Recently, a top Maine insurer introduced a new way for parents to save money on teenage car insurance. They let you designate vehicles that your child never drives. You pay a lower rate to insure those vehicles. But, if your child does drive one, you’ll pay a big deductible in case of a crash.

How can I reduce the cost of insuring my teenage driver?

Check with your agent. Each insurance company files their own rates with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. Some insurers charge more than others for young drivers. Some use blended rates, others assign vehicles. 

Discounts vary by insurer, too. Maine auto insurance companies commonly offer discounts for:

  • Honor roll or dean’s list students
  • Driver training classes
  • Students living away at school without a vehicle.
  • Monitoring via mobile app
  • Specialized online driving courses for teen drivers

Get Auto Insurance Quotes for Your Teenage Driver in Maine

Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland offers a choice of many insurance companies. Get several quotes with one phone call to 207-799-5541. Or request a Maine auto insurance quote online. We can help you find the best value and fit for your family. We’re independent and committed to you.