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.

GEICO vs. Agent or Broker – Maine Insurance Buying Tips

You have lots of choices when buying Maine car insurance.

You can buy a policy online in a few minutes from GEICO, Progressive and others without ever talking to a human. But do you really know what you bought?

You can talk to a local insurance agent and buy from them. But, won’t they pressure you into buying something more expensive? How do you know which is better?

The GEICO Way – Buying Direct

When you purchase a GEICO, Progressive or similar policy online or on the phone, you’re buying directly from the insurance company. Service is usually via mobile app, website or call center.

PROS

  • Speed – You can usually purchase insurance in one session if you want to. You get instant proof of insurance, and you’re on your way.
  • Self-service convenience – Most direct companies have very good apps and web sites. You can make policy changes, pay bills and view insurance documents online.
  • 24/7 Access – national insurers operate call centers at all hours. You can make a policy change at 2 AM if you want.
  • National footprint – If you’re someone who moves around a lot, this may work well for you.
  • Low Cost, Bare Bones Options – If you’re looking for the absolute minimum coverage required by law, these companies often are the cheapest.

CONS

  • Lack of Choice – Direct companies only sell products from one company. To change companies, you have to start from scratch with a new insurer.
  • No Advocate – Any contact you have is with an employee of the insurance company. They’re naturally going to look out for their employer’s interest, not yours. They aren’t likely to tell you if there’s a better option for you, unless it benefits them as well.
  • Limited Advice – GEICO and other direct insurers have national call centers with thousands of agents. You’re unlikely to talk to the same person twice. Since you only speak with that person once, they don’t know your situation, preferences or challenges. They sure don’t know the difference between Dunstan Corner and Morrill’s Corner.  As a result, it’s harder for them to provide personal advice. You could end up buying much less – or more – insurance than you need.
  • Limited Products – Most national direct companies focus on a few types of insurance, with a limited appetite. If you buy a condo or a snowmobile, or start a business, they may no longer be able to help you. Then, you have to start over with a new insurance company.
  • Pressure to Buy – You might think you can avoid sales pressure by getting an online insurance quote. But, have you ever gotten a quote from a direct insurer and didn’t buy? You get BLASTED by emails for days. Buy! Buy! Buy!

 

INSURANCE AGENTS and BROKERS

You can also buy insurance from a local Maine agent or broker. Some Maine insurance agents represent only one company, like State Farm or Allstate. These are sometimes called “exclusive agents” or “captive agents”. They are a hybrid. They share some limitations and advantages of both direct companies and independent agents.  For example, because they only represent one company, they’re unlikely to advocate for you vs. the insurance company. And, they can’t offer a choice. Plus, they’re often paid on sales commission – so be prepared for lots of follow up calls and emails asking you to buy. But, once you’re a customer, it’s easier to establish a relationship with these local people than with a direct company.

Independent Agents (Trusted Choice Insurance Agents) are local business owners who represent several insurers. Insurance companies that rely on independents to sell their products don’t advertise to the public much. You may not have heard of some. That doesn’t mean that the household names are any better, though.

PROS

  • Choice – Independent agents represent many different companies. They can help you pick the best value and fit for your situation. Bundle when it makes sense, or shop a la carte when it doesn’t. Need to insure something unusual or different than your previous situation? Your independent agent can help. Want to change insurance companies? Your independent agent won’t miss a beat. You’re not starting from scratch.
  • Consistency – Most independent agencies are small local offices. You often work with the same person, year in and year out. Prefer texts to email? Move to camp every summer? Like to stop in to review your insurance in person? Your local agent gets that.
  • Advocacy – Your agent is not employed by the insurance company. They’re free to advise you what’s best for you, even if it’s not best for your insurance company. They can answer questions and advise you without raising any flags at the insurance company.
  • Personal and Local – Your agent lives and works where you do. They know what’s happening in your world. They can respond to local weather and economic events, and recommend local contractors and other businesses. You’ll never have to explain more than once where you live, or at which grocery store you had that parking lot accident.

CONS

  • One location – If you move around the country frequently, a local independent agent’s value diminishes. They are typically licensed to sell insurance in one or two states.
  • Limited Access – Your agent’s office is not open 24/7 like the national call centers. Most insurance companies (direct and independent agency channels) DO have 24 hour claim reporting. Also, many independent agents are now offer 24/7 access to policy documents for after-hours viewing and questions.
  • Slower? – If you’re looking to get insurance in the next 15 minutes, and are less concerned about getting the absolute best fit, a direct insurer like GEICO or Progressive may be best for you. Because an independent agent represents several companies, it can take longer for them to quote your insurance. But, you’ll probably get 5 or more quotes, instead of just one.

Pushy Salespeople?

Insurance agents all get paid to sell insurance. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a GEICO call center agent or a local Allstate agent. But not every agent is paid the same way.

At Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, we pool our commissions and pay our agents a salary, with a small percent of their income tied to our overall results. That way, they’re free to advise you what’s best for you, even if it’s not us. We won’t pressure you to buy. Sure, we have goals, and we like to reach them. But we think if we treat people fairly and to use our insurance knowledge to help people, we’ll win more than we’ll lose in the long run. A short-term sale success is nothing compared to a long-term client.

Does it Cost More to Buy From an Insurance Agent?

No single insurance company always has the lowest price, even though their advertising might make you think so. Buying insurance direct from the company sounds like it might save money, because there’s no agent involved. But the facts aren’t so clear. GEICO spends billions a year on advertising. Independent agency companies pay commission to local agents. Both are paid by the premium you pay to the insurance company.

Don’t Forget Coverage

Insurance coverage forms vary. Some companies don’t cover you if you’re delivering pizza. Others do. Some uninsured motorist coverage can be 50% less than another company, even though the limits look very similar on paper. Which do you think costs less?

Do You Understand Your Insurance?

When you bought insurance, you made a lot of choices on the fly. Your job may have changed. You might have traded vehicles. You may have gotten married, or divorced. Do you know what coverage you have? Do you know if your policy doesn’t cover enough – or too much?

If you live in Southern Maine and have questions about your insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen independent insurance agent at 207-799-5541. We’ll help you understand what you have and decide what you need. It doesn’t cost a cent to get a second opinion from Noyes Hall & Allen. And, if you do choose to do business with us, you’ll be supporting a local business. That keeps some of your premium dollars in Greater Portland, instead of some far-off insurance company home office.

Noyes Hall & Allen is independent and committed to you.

Should I Pay a Small Insurance Claim Myself, or Report It?

 

You clip your mirror on the garage door frame. Your daughter hits a golf ball through your neighbor’s window. Your shower drain leaks, staining your kitchen ceiling.  Should I file an insurance claim, or just pay it myself? How much will my insurance rates go up if I file a claim? Clients often ask us questions like this.

The answer may depend on your individual financial circumstances, insurance policy and who else was involved.

Definitely File an Insurance Claim If:

  • There’s even a CHANCE anyone was injured. Even if someone says at the scene that they’re “fine”, they can always claim that the injury wasn’t apparent until later. Sometimes, that’s the truth; other times it’s bogus. Insurance adjusters are experienced at weeding out legitimate claims from fraudulent ones. If you delay reporting the claim to your insurance company, you may jeopardize their ability to adjust the claim. They can refuse to honor your claim or defend you in that case.
  • The other party seems antagonistic or dishonest. Difficult people are hard to satisfy; and not everyone is as honest as you are. You may think that their damage or injury is minor, and offer to pay it, only to have them increase their demands. If you promise to pay something, and then turn it over to your insurer, you’ve taken away their ability to settle properly. You may find yourself on your own to pay.

Think BEFORE Reporting an Insurance Claim

Once you report a claim, it’s on your record – even if it ends up being uncovered, below your deductible, or you end up paying it yourself. And insurers consider claims when pricing your policy. Some insurance companies even charge you more for claims when nothing was paid. 

Wait…I get charged extra for saving the insurance company money by paying for my own damage? Is that fair? It sure seems wrong at first thought. Insurance companies might argue you’re more likely to have a claim if you’ve already had one. And the next one might not be so small. They need to collect more premium with the expectation of that future claim. You might say “what’s the point of having insurance in the first place?”

We’re not defending the insurance companies that charge for “no payment” claims. But, as independent insurance agents, we can advise you which companies DO charge, and how reporting a claim might affect you.

Here’s the thing: if you talk to an insurance company about a claim, they have a record of it. And, it may be used against you. If you buy your insurance directly from an insurance company (instead of an agent), you’re talking to an insurance company employee EVERY TIME you call, email or go onto their web site.


RELATED POST: What is Auto Insurance Accident Forgiveness, and Is It Worth It?


 

How Much Will My Insurance Go Up After a Claim?

It really depends. An accident surcharge is a percentage of your premium. So, if you’re paying higher rates (because of expensive vehicles, young drivers, prior accidents or violations, etc.), your increase will be bigger than someone with a lower rate. Every insurance company charges a different percentage, and for differing terms. We’ve seen increases as small as 5% for 3 years, and as high as 50% for 5 years. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t publish accident surcharge info, which would allow us to quote “what if” scenarios. But, we have enough experience to know which companies surcharge the most.


RELATED POST: Can An Insurance Company Charge Me for a Not-at-Fault Accident?


 

So, Do I Pay a Small Claim Myself, or Not?

That’s an individual decision, based upon your financial situation, risk tolerance and insurance status. You and your neighbor may make very different decisions. You might even make a different decision next year than this year. Your agent can provide as much information as they’re able, but the decision is ultimately yours.

If I’m Not Going to Put in a Small Insurance Claim, Should I Increase my Deductible?

Now you’re thinking. Higher deductibles even reduce the temptation to file a smaller claim. You also save money by choosing higher deductibles. Some companies offer larger savings than others. Your insurance agent can quote “what if” scenarios for you. Obviously, you don’t want to choose a higher deductible than you’re comfortable paying “out of pocket”. But, deductibles can be a useful risk financing tool.

Live in Southern Maine and have questions about your auto or home insurance? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click the chat button below. We represent many different insurers. We’re independent and committed to you.

What are the Highest Rated Insurance Companies in Maine?

 

If we recommend an insurance company you haven’t heard of, it’s natural to ask how good they are. Noyes Hall & Allen represents many insurance companies. Some are more well-known than others.

Because our companies sell through independent agencies, they advertise very little. By contrast, Geico, Allstate and State Farm advertise nationally to create brand awareness. Geico alone spends $1 BILLION on advertising – about 1 out of every 6 insurance advertising dollars in the U.S.

Good rates are important, but that’s only one reason for choosing an insurance company. Will they pay your claims? Are they easy to work with? At Noyes Hall & Allen, we’ve curated a group of insurance companies that we can stand behind. We work closely with them on behalf of our clients.

How to Choose a Good Insurance Company

There are three important considerations when you evaluate a potential insurer:

  • Financial solvency – Can the insurance company can pay claims, even in a disaster? Fortunately, A.M. Best studies insurance companies and rates each one for you. Noyes Hall & Allen only chooses insurers rated “A-” (Excellent) or better.
  • Customer Satisfaction – Feedback from other customers is helpful when evaluating a new insurer. Any company can have complaints; but those with repeatedly good reviews are a better bet to provide good service to you.  The J.D. Power national claims satisfaction survey compiles consumer claim feedback every year. But they focus on big national insurers. That excludes many regional insurance companies, which are so important in the Maine market.The Maine Bureau of Insurance indexes home and auto complaints by insurer. It includes Maine’s most important insurance companies. The drawback: the Bureau doesn’t get many complaints each year. That small sample can skew results. The Bureau weighs the ratio of complaints against each insurer to that company’s volume. This weighting levels the playing field. An insurer with an index below 1.00 is “better than average”. Anything above 1.00 is “worse than average”. We’ve included a chart with a recap of those scores below.
  • Fit with Your Situation – If you insure your beach house with an insurance company that has great financials and terrific reviews, but that company doesn’t like property close to the coast, it’s not going to end well. Some insurers specialize. Others are generalists. Some are comfortable insuring rental properties, or snowmobiles. Others focus on high risk drivers.

 

Complaint Index – 2016 – Maine Home and Auto Insurance

We compiled this table from data published by the Maine Bureau of Insurance. It shows the 2 year average of home and auto complaint indexes for the top 25 homeowners and auto insurance companies in Maine (by volume). We assigned a “green light” to the companies with ratings in the top 33%, yellow to the middle 33%, and red to the bottom third. Remember, customer satisfaction is only one way to evaluate an insurance company. The companies with the highest satisfaction may not write the kind of insurance you need.

 

source: Maine Bureau of Insurance. Compiled by Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance

How to Get Quotes from Many Insurance Companies at Once

Noyes Hall & Allen has access to the companies shaded in blue. That’s 11 out of 25, covering more than 50% of the volume in this list. The insurance companies we represent have a complaint index of 0.91 – much lower than the 1.00 average. By the way, insurance agencies have online reviews, too. We’re proud to show the reviews that our clients have left for our agency.

When you contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent, you’re checking 11 companies at once, backed by our knowledge of where each company excels. Your agent can customize advice to your situation, proposing a solution built just for you.

That’s what we mean we we say we’re “Independent and Committed to You”.  Request a Maine insurance quote today, or call us at 207-799-5541.

How Do Insurance Agents & Brokers Get Paid?

 

Insurance is a $1 trillion business in the U.S. The industry employs about 2.5 million Americans, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Life/health (L/H) insurers collect about $650B and property/casualty (P/C) insurers about $500B each year.

Noyes Hall & Allen specializes in property/casualty insurance. Before talking about how property/casualty agents are paid, let’s take a brief look at the P/C business.

Maine Property/Casualty Insurance Overview

P/C insurers provide auto, home and business insurance. There are 3 top distribution models for P/C insurance sales channels (1)insurance.

  1. Direct writers rely on advertising to generate the majority of their business.  When you call or respond to an advertising piece, you’re speaking with a company employee. They only offer products from one company. GEICO, USAA and esurance are direct writers. While they don’t pay agents to generate business, they spend a LOT of money on advertising. GEICO alone spends over $1B per year.
  2. Exclusive agents (sometimes called “captive agents”) also sell insurance only from one company. Unlike direct writers, they have local agents who sell and service their products. These companies also advertise a LOT to drive business to their retail agents. Allstate, State Farm and Liberty Mutual use the exclusive agent model.
  3. Independent agents (sometimes called IAs or Trusted Choice agents) are locally owned and operated. Each contracts with 5 to 15 insurers, thus offering their clients a choice of insurance companies. IAs can access an international network of brokers for unusual insurance needs. Insurers that contract with IAs advertise much less than other insurance companies. They are less likely to be household names. Many IA insurers specialize on one region or type of customer. Popular IA insurers in Maine include: Concord Group; Hanover Insurance; MMG Insurance and Vermont Mutual.
  4. Hybrid companies (ok, this makes 4 models, but not really). These insurers will write insurance using one or more different channels. These are usually large national insurers. Examples: Hartford; Liberty Mutual; Travelers; and Progressive.

How Maine P/C Insurance Agents Make Money

Both exclusive and IA insurance companies pay agents a percentage of the premium. Commission varies by policy type and whether the policy is new or renewal. Usually, commission is between 10 and 20 percent.

Exclusive agents often make a higher percentage commission on new business than renewals. Some exclusive companies even stop paying agents after several years. This incents the exclusive agent to focus on writing new policies.

Independent agents often make the same commission on both new and renewal policies. This allows the agent to provide  consistent customer service year after year. If you’re an existing client of an independent agent, you’re even more valuable than a new one. It takes an independent agent 3-5 years to recoup the cost of insuring a new customer.

Who Pays an Insurance Agent’s Commission?

The insurance company pays the agent’s commission out of the premium they collect. There is no specific surcharge on the premium that goes to the agent. Of course, the customer pays the agent’s commission – just not by a separate line item. Insurance premiums do not rise or fall with the agent’s commission percentage.

Can You Save on Insurance if  You “Cut Out the Middleman”?

No one sales channel is always the lowest cost. Claim costs and insurance company expenses all impact premiums. Some direct writers would have you believe that you save money by bypassing an agent. In reality, you might pay MORE without an agent to advocate for you. Of course, you could pay less, too.

Our Agents Speak English – And Insurance. If you don’t know the system, you can leave money on the table. We know to ask about certain discounts. Is your child on the honor roll or away at college without a car? Your local agent may know these things, or you might ask when you call in to do something else. If your agent is independent of the insurance company, they’re more likely to act on your behalf.

If you have a question about Maine home, auto, boat, motorcycle or business insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Geico vs. State Farm, Allstate & Progressive – Which is the best Maine car insurance for you?

Geico ad quote

State Farm, Geico, Allstate and Progressive are the largest US auto insurance companies (in order) by market share. They’re household names – thanks to the $3.5 billion they spend on advertising every year. Geico alone spends more than $1 billion, 1/6 of  all auto insurance advertising dollars.

So how do you choose the best car insurance in Maine? Could the best insurance company for you be one you’ve never heard of? It may depend on where you live, how insurance savvy you are, and what else you may have to insure.

How Insurance Savvy Are You?

Do You Speak InsuranceState Farm, Geico, Allstate and Progressive all sell directly from company to consumer via the internet and inbound call centers. If you contact them, remember that you’re talking to an insurance company employee. You’re accessing information prepared, controlled and presented by the insurance company. Expect that they will look out for their own business interests first.

You’re also giving the insurance company your phone number and email address. Be prepared for some serious email and telemarketing follow up if you don’t buy right away.

If you “speak insurance” enough to ask the right questions and advocate for your needs, call center employees will try to customize your coverage for you. Many people don’t know what questions to ask or what information to give. Too often, they end up with “off the shelf” insurance that may not fit their needs. Sadly, many don’t know what they’re missing until they’ve had a claim. We see this often when people bring us the policies they bought over the internet or the phone.

Where Do You Live?

State Farm, Allstate and Progressive sell through agents as well as directly over the phone or internet (Geico has recently started selling through employee-agents, too). State Farm and Allstate use “exclusive agents”; they only sell that one company’s products. If you live near one of these agents, it can be helpful to have a local expert to guide you through the process.

We love Portland MaineIf you buy insurance from one of these companies, their pricing and terms remain reasonable; and they don’t non-renew your policy after payment or claims trouble, you may have a long relationship with their agent. They can advise you of appropriate changes in your insurance as things change. But if anything goes wrong, or you want to shop your insurance, you’ll have to find a new agent.

Progressive is different. They also sell through Independent Agents (IAs). These are local business owners who represent more than one insurer. Most independents represent at least 4 or 5 companies (Noyes Hall & Allen represents more than a dozen insurers). If you use an Independent Agent, and your insurance company is no longer the best fit for you, an IA can help you move to another insurance company – without losing your relationship with the agent who knows you and your needs.


Related Post: When Should You Change Insurance Companies?


What Else Do You Need to Insure?

Insuring two things (home and auto, auto and boat, etc.) with the same company earns you a discount and “preferred customer” status.

State Farm and Allstate are top-10 home insurers of homes as well as autos. Geico and Progressive are not. If you get a home insurance quote from Geico, it’s underwritten by a non-affiliated company like American Modern, Foremost or Travelers. That dilutes the benefits of insuring two things with one company. Progressive recently purchased ASI, a Florida-based home insurance company (ASI doesn’t currently do business in Maine).

Even jumbo insurers like State Farm and Allstate can’t handle every type of property. If you find yourself with a square peg insurance situation that doesn’t fit the round hole, you’ll need to find a new agent – probably an Independent Agent. That agent can almost always find the best deal if they have all your insurance – the round peg, to go with the square – to tempt an insurance company.

Maybe An Insurance Company You’ve Never Heard Of is Better?

Let’s face it: the Maine market is a drop in the bucket for these insurance giants. But there are lots of New England based insurance companies that only write policies in our corner of the country. Sometimes, a smaller regional insurer is better at understanding Maine’s quirks. They’re more willing to be flexible on insuring coastal property or a home heated with wood; or a “beater” truck that you drive only in the winter, when you mothball your “summer ride”. Many people prefer the service of a regional insurer over the jumbo national outfits.

Some of the best insurance companies in America are ones you’ve never heard of.

Why have you never heard of them? Because instead of spending billions on TV advertising and sports sponsorships, they rely on local Independent Agents to recommend them to their clients. Companies like MMG, Hanover, Concord Group, Vermont Mutual and Cambridge Mutual are not household names. But, they’re cult favorites in northern New England.

Let Us Help You Decide

As an Independent Agent, Noyes Hall & Allen offers a choice or many top insurers and personalized service from a trusted advisor. We live and work where you do, and we know the Greater Portland Maine insurance market. We’re locally owned and part of the community. It costs no more to work with an Independent Agent than a call center or the internet. And, we have access to flexible options you may need throughout your life.

For more information, call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207.799.5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

How to Choose Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Limits in Maine

Uninsured_drivers_by_state
Click to enlarge

Almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to have car insurance. Like every other law, there are always some people who choose to ignore or disobey it.

The good news: if you are in a crash in Maine, the other driver probably has insurance. Maine is in the Top 10 states for percentage of insured drivers.

The bad news: many Maine drivers carry very low liability limits – as low as $50,000 per person. After an accident, your medical expenses can easily exceed that.

What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance to Pay My Damages?

It’s great if the at-fault driver has insurance. Do they have enough insurance to pay your damages? Who knows? At 50/100/25, Maine’s minimum auto liability insurance limits are among the highest in the country. But if you drive a late-model car, $25,000 isn’t going to replace it. If you are badly injured, you can accumulate $50,000 in medical bills in one day. You need to protect yourself.

What Happens if Someone Hits Me and They Don’t Have Insurance?

If an uninsured driver hits you, you have to rely on your own Maine auto insurance. Your collision coverage (if you purchased that option) will pay to repair your vehicle. If you don’t carry collision insurance, you’ll have to deal with the damages on your own. Some other states offer “uninsured motorist physical damage” coverage. Maine does not.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)?

In Maine, Uninsured Motorist coverage is bodily injury coverage only. It protects you and the people in your vehicle by acting as if the person who hit you had the same liability limits you have. UM limits always match your policy’s liability limits. That’s another reason we say don’t cheap out when you choose your liability insurance limit.

Let’s say you’re driving in Portland, Maine. You have Uninsured Motorist coverage with Maine state minimum liability limits of $50/$100. Someone runs a red light and broadsides you. Your daughter goes to the hospital with broken bones and internal injuries. You were not injured as badly. After an ambulance ride, the hospital releases you with minor injuries. Your daughter’s medical expenses are $75,000, and yours are $2,500. In this scenario, you would have to pay $25,000 of your daughter’s medical bills ($75,000 – $50,000) out of pocket. If you had chosen a $300,000 combined single limit, all medical expenses would have been covered 100%.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)?

Underinsured motorist coverage applies when someone has insurance, but not enough to pay for your injuries. Like Uninsured Motorist coverage, it pretends that the person who hit you had the same limits as you do.

Let’s assume the same accident scenario as above, except the at-fault driver did have insurance with Maine minimum limits of $50/$100. Their insurance wouldn’t be sufficient to pay for your daughter’s medical bills.

If you also had $50/$100 limits, you would still be out of luck. You didn’t buy any more insurance than the person who hit you did. But, if you had chosen a $300,000 limit, your UIM coverage would pay up to $250,000 per person, the difference between your insurance limit and theirs.

Danger: Uninsured Drivers in Vacationland

Although most Maine drivers are insured, remember that tourism is Maine’s largest industry. Visitors from other states are constantly driving among us. They’re in unfamiliar territory, and distracted by Maine’s natural beauty. They’re trying to follow GPS directions. Perfect scenario for an accident, right? Depending on the state they’re from, there’s almost a 25% chance that they have no insurance. So, pay attention to your Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage limit.

What Liability and Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Limit Should You Choose?

Everyone’s situation is unique. We recommend discussing your situation with a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent. If you live in Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541 for a custom review of your insurance and your options. We represent most of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, and can help you choose the one that best meets your needs.

How to Winterize Your Motorcycle

 

You’ve seen them out there: hard-core Maine riders who hop on their motorcycles in the rain and the cold and hit the road late into the season. Plenty of others limit their road time to warmer weather. After all, riding is about enjoying yourself.

motorcycle rider from Safeco TV commercial

Eventually, a Maine winter forces even the hardiest riders to put their bikes up for the season. These tips will help ensure your ride is ready to go when our days get longer and the weather warms up.

 

Keep it Covered

If you can’t store your motorcycle in a garage or shed, make sure you protect it properly from the elements.

DO: use a breathable cover designed for motorcycles .

DON’T: use a tarp or a cotton sheet; they trap moisture, which can lead to mildew or rust.

 Check the Fluids

The American Motorcyclist Association recommends that you:

  • Top off the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer, then run the engine for a few minutes to spread the stabilizer through the system.
  • Check your coolant to ensure your bike is protected against freezing weather.
  • Change the engine oil either before you put the bike away, or before you take your first ride in the spring.

Power Up

If your motorcycle has an alarm system or other features that can drain the battery, invest in a charger to keep the battery alive. Otherwise, the AMA says, make sure it has a full charge when you put it away and recharge it once a month. You can also maintain a trickle current to keep the battery charged.

Keep it Clean

Both Honda and the AMA say you should clean your motorcycle thoroughly before putting it into storage. Special treatments are available to help avoid oxidation, fading and keep your bike looking sharp.

Honda recommends that you:

  • Change your brake and clutch fluids every couple years;
  • Clean the area around the outside of the spark plugs to ensure debris does not get into the cylinders.

A little preparation before and during storage will ensure that when it’s time to ride in the spring, you won’t have anything to worry about – except where to go! How about the Lakes Region or the White Mountains? Spring can’t get here soon enough, can it?

Tune Up Your Insurance

While you’re taking a break from riding this fall and winter, why not come in to Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance and talk about your Maine motorcycle insurance coverage options? If it’s been a while since we’ve done a review for you, let’s talk about how we can help you performance-tune your motorcycle insurance – and Maine home and auto insurance, too. Just contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

(Thanks to our friends at Safeco Insurance for providing some of this content.)

 

Who Is Liable for Pothole Damage to Your Car in Maine?

 

pothole

Potholes can cause hundreds to thousands of dollars of damage to your vehicle, including flat tires, bent rims, misaligned steering and underside  damage. They can even cause an accident if you lose control of your vehicle or swerve suddenly to avoid one.

 

What should you do after you hit a pothole? Clients of our South Portland Maine insurance agency commonly ask three questions after they hit a pothole:

Who Pays for Pothole Damage to My Car?

Potholes can appear quickly, and can reappear even after they have been filled repeatedly. Maine law absolves municipalities from liability for damage caused by potholes unless the pothole was reported more than 24 hours before your accident, and untreated.  This is difficult to prove, which means you’re usually not going to get help from city or town hall. Maine State Law is even more lenient with state-owned roads: the state of Maine is never liable for damage caused by potholes.

 

 

Is Pothole Damage to My Vehicle Covered by Insurance?

Hitting a pothole, or any other hazard in the road (other than live animals) is covered by the collision section of your Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance policy. If you purchased collision coverage, your collision deductible will apply. If it is a single-car incident, it’s considered “at fault”, and therefore may increase your auto insurance rates. Your Maine insurance agent can help you decide whether or not you want to file an auto insurance claim for pothole damage.

Will Anyone Else Pay for Pothole Damage?

New car dealers sell a product called “road hazard warranty”. It typically covers road damage to tires and rims, with a small deductible. Check to see if you purchased this warranty when you bought or leased your vehicle. If so, you may be in luck.

"Fix It! Portland." web page.
“Fix It! Portland.”

What to Do if Your Vehicle is Damaged by a Pothole

  1. Pull off the road as soon as it’s safe. Is your vehicle is still OK to drive? If not, call a tow truck. 
  2. Note the date and time of the accident. Take a photo of the pothole and report it. If it’s a town road, report it to your municipality’s Public Works Department. If it’s a state route, report it to MDOT (207-885-7000 in Southern Maine).  The City of Portland has a web page: FixIt! Portland. They also have a mobile app.
  3. If you’re not sure your vehicle is OK, have a repair garage check it.
  4. Call your insurance agent if you’re considering whether to report an insurance claim.

 

Have questions about Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance? Want to compare Maine car insurance quotes in 10 minutes? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

“Can I Take My Spouse Off My Insurance?” How Divorce Affects Your Maine Insurance Policies

Divorce is a major life-change. It’s a complicated and emotional process that takes time to work through. It’s not surprising that it also can have a great effect on your personal insurance coverage. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about how divorce affects your auto and home insurance. You should discuss your individual situation with your agent and your attorney.

I Want to Take my Spouse Off My Auto Insurance

Until your divorce is final, your insurance agent should not remove anyone’s name from the policy without their written consent. An insurance policy is a contract. Your agent is responsible to BOTH parties to the contract. Each has the same rights under the policy. A professional agent will not only want to make sure that both parties remain covered; they are obligated to honor each person’s policy rights.

I Own One Vehicle, and My Spouse the Other; Can’t We Get Separate Insurance?

Maybe, but you should consult your attorney first. Maine “joint property” laws may render the registration immaterial. If the property is considered “joint property”, you both should maintain one policy until the divorce is final, and the property is separately owned. Your attorney can help you with this issue.

The Insurance Bills Go to My Spouse. Will My Policy Cancel if They Aren’t Paid? 

Yes. That’s why it’s important that your agent knows how to reach BOTH of you; you need to keep them updated. If payment of bills is a problem, discuss this with your attorney; they may be able to arrange for timely payment.

My Spouse Isn’t Reimbursing Me for Their Share of the Insurance. Why Should I Pay Their Part?

It’s important to keep your coverage in force. The best way to do that is to pay the premium that you are billed. Otherwise your policy could cancel – and you would both lose coverage. Don’t “cut off your nose to spite your face”. Talk to your attorney about evening out the financial details.

I’ve Moved Out. Does Our Homeowners Policy Still Cover My Stuff? 

It depends. It is very important that you contact your agent to discuss your individual situation.

My Spouse and I Can’t Seem to Agree on Anything.

Sometimes, it is best to let your attorney and theirs deal with these insurance issues. Have them contact your agent, and give your agent permission to talk with them.

If you are looking for a Greater Portland Maine insurance agency that understands how divorce affects your insurance, and can help you protect your assets going forward, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. Our agency represents several insurance companies, so we can offer one-stop insurance shopping.