Maine Insurance Dept.: ME Car Insurance Rates Remain Low

Maine drivers pay some of the best auto insurance rates in the U.S., according to this press release from the Maine Insurance Department. While the individual rankings seem to differ from study to study, it’s clear that Maine’s car insurance and motorcycle insurance rates are in the bottom 20%.

Why Are Maine Auto Insurance Rates Low?

A lot of factors go into the rates each of us pays for car insurance or motorcycle insurance. Your location, driving record, the type of vehicle you drive, your age and gender – even your credit score – all play a part. So, it’s impossible to generalize. But, based upon our experience as a Greater Portland Maine independent insurance agency, we have a theory why Mainers pay lower auto insurance rates. We think it has a lot to do with Maine’s culture of responsible behavior. Mainers are less litigious, and more likely to buy insurance themselves, than other Americans. That helps keep insurance rates low for all of us.

How Do Your Maine Auto Insurance Rates Compare?

Insurance companies change their rates and underwriting rules constantly. The only way to tell if you’re paying a good auto insurance rate or motorcycle insurance rate is to compare. Fortunately, we are an independent agency representing many different auto insurance companies. We also represent Progressive and Dairyland, some of the top motorcycle insurers in Maine. We do the shopping for you, and can present multiple quotes at one time. If you want to do your own research first, you can even get Maine car insurance quotes from 5 different companies at once on our web site. There’s no pressure or obligation to buy (although we’re always ready to answer any questions).

If you live in Greater Portland or elsewhere in Southern Maine and have insurance questions, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207.799.5541. An experienced local insurance agent is ready to provide personal service.

What If You Are Hit by Someone With No Insurance?

The Uninsured Motorist coverage in your Maine auto insurance policy also protects you against uninsured and underinsured drivers. If someone hits you – their fault – and they have no insurance, your policy acts as if they had the same Bodily Injury liability limits you do, and pays for your bodily injuries, and those in your vehicle. It’s the same if the at-fault driver had low liability insurance limits, and you bought higher ones.

Isn’t Insurance Mandatory in Maine?

Yes, in Maine, car insurance is mandatory – at least liability insurance. Maine DMV requires proof of insurance to register your car. So everyone’s insured, right? Not really.

An estimated 4% of Maine drivers are uninsured – and that’s the 2nd best rate in the country. The Insurance Research Council estimated that nearly 14% of U.S. drivers had no car insurance at all.

Repairing Your Car

If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you’ll have to rely on your own policy’s collision coverage to repair your vehicle. That’s assuming that you have collision coverage on your vehicle. If not, you’re on your own to repair or replace your vehicle.

But that’s only half the story: what about the people who buy state minimum liability limits? Maine’s minimum limits are only $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 property damage. Is your vehicle worth more than the $25,000 minimum limit? What if the at-fault driver hits more than one vehicle? The minimum-limits driver’s policy only pays a total of $25,000 for all damage.

Out of Staters and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Mainers are a pretty honest bunch. 96% of them carry at least minimal liability insurance. But what about people “from away”? What’s that nickname on Maine’s license plates again? Oh yeah…

Maine license plate - "Vacationland"

Most of our out-of-state visitors are from the northeast, right? Click on the map below to enlarge it, and you’ll see that of the 10 states within an easy day’s drive of Maine, 2 do not require drivers to buy insurance AT ALL. Six more require per person Bodily Injury limits of $20,000 or less.

Map of uninsured motorist laws by state

In Maine, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage limits almost always match your own liability limits. If you have less than $500,000 per person in bodily injury coverage, and your agent hasn’t recommended that you increase your limits, maybe it’s time to contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We represent several different insurance companies, and will help you find the best value for your individual situation.

Should I Drop Collision Coverage?

Is it smart to drop collision insurance on an older vehicle?  Your decision depends on your own circumstances. Here are a few things to consider.

“The 3 Rules of  Tens”

It might be helpful to consider three things when evaluating the risk you take when you remove collision coverage from your Maine auto insurance policy:

  • TEN PERCENT When collision coverage costs more than 10% of the book value of your vehicle plus your collision deductible.  For example, if the book value of your vehicle is $3,000 and your collision deductible is $500, consider removing collision coverage if it costs more than $350 per year for that vehicle.
  • TEN YEARSIf your vehicle is more than 10 years old, it may no longer have enough value to warrant insuring.
  • TEN TIMES If you have 10 times your collision premium in a “rainy day fund”, you probably have enough of a cushion to put a sizable down payment on a replacement vehicle. If you pay $350 a year for collision insurance and your “rainy day fund” has at least $3500 in it, you might reasonably risk dropping collision coverage. If you don’t have that much saved, you would probably need the insurance proceeds to help you make a down payment on another vehicle.

The Risk of Removing Collision

If another driver hits you and is at fault, their insurance should pay to fix your car – even if you don’t have collision coverage. But remember that fault can be disputed, and not everyone has insurance.

If you remove collision, you’d have no coverage for things like:

  • Hitting someone when you are at fault – or partly at fault
  • Someone hits your car, and is at fault, but doesn’t have insurance
  • Someone hits your parked car and doesn’t leave a note
  • Running over debris in the road and damaging your car.

When Should You Keep Collision Coverage?

There are some times when you should definitely NOT drop collision coverage:

  • You have a loan or lease on the vehicle. Your loan or lease contract requires you to carry collision coverage for the length of the agreement.
  • You have only one vehicle. Most multi-car families can limp by on one car while one is in the body shop. But, if you’re a 1-car household, you’ll probably want coverage to rent another while yours is being repaired. Also, you’ll definitely need to buy rental car insurance on vacation if you don’t have collision coverage on at least one vehicle on your policy.
  • You’re worried about being hit by an uninsured driver.  If you have no collision coverage, someone hits you and it’s their fault, their insurance will pay. But, what if you are hit by an uninsured driver? Obviously, there’s no one else to pay; if you don’t have collision coverage, you’re on your own to repair your vehicle.  

    Maine’s ratio of uninsured drivers is 4%. That’s among the lowest in the country. But, we’re also inundated with drivers “from away” during tourist season. Other states have many more uninsured drivers.

Related Post: “Someone Hit My Parked Car!”

As you can see, there is no single answer to the question of when to insure collision or not. It depends on the vehicle, your financial situation, the cost of your coverage, and your own risk tolerance.

Questions about Maine Auto Insurance?

If you’re a client, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland for answers to your insurance questions. If you’re ready, you can request a policy change here.

If you live in Southern Maine and aren’t a client, call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s most preferred insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.


Pothole Damage
When a great car insurance quote isn't.

How Does Getting a Speeding Ticket Affect Your Insurance Rates?

Police officer with radar gun
Photo credit: NY State Police

Getting a traffic ticket is one of life’s indignities. It’s expensive, embarrassing, and – depending on who’s in the vehicle with you, or who drives by while you’re pulled over – hard to live down. It might ruin your day, but in most cases, if you stay out of further trouble, you won’t have to regret it for too long.

How long do tickets stay on your record? Most insurance companies price insurance using the last 3 years of your driving record. Some companies use a 5 year experience period.

Will my rates go up if I get one ticket?

The good news is that one ticket USUALLY isn’t going to drive your Maine Car Insurance Rates up too much. If it’s a speeding ticket, and you were going less than 20 miles over the speed limit, most insurance companies consider this a “minor violation”. Passing a stopped school bus, driving more than 20 mph over the limit, and other more serious infractions have more serious consequences on your insurance rates.

Have the insurance rules about tickets changed?

Just a few years ago, most insurance companies had 3 underwriting tiers: superior, preferred and standard (high risk drivers went to non-standard insurers). If your driving record was squeaky clean when you bought your car insurance, you got the auto insurance discounts associated with the superior rate; if you had one ticket, you were usually still “preferred”. They usually didn’t bump you from your tier if you later had one minor ticket. But, if you got 2 tickets, they would probably knock you down a tier.

Now, car insurance companies have created 50, 75, even 100 pricing tiers, based on an “insurance score” that factors information about you, your vehicle, your driving record, and more. This scoring algorithm varies by company. They consider it proprietary, and guard it closely. Consequently, agents – and customers – don’t know for sure what caused their rates to be high or low. We suspect that insurance companies do now charge for every accident or violation, although probably not a lot for the first ticket.

Should I Shop My Insurance if I have a ticket?

Every insurance company’s rates are different. If you have just one ticket, and you think you’re paying too much for car insurance, check prices. If you live in the Portland area, auto insurance agents like Noyes Hall & Allen would be happy to provide a quote. We’ve even created a way for you to get your own online Maine auto insurance quote from 5 of our companies.It doesn’t hurt to check around; the worst you’ll find is that the rate you’re paying is a good one.

What Should I Do When Someone Hit My Parked Car in Maine?


This week alone, two of my friends’ parked cars have been hit by someone else. One in Portland Maine. The other in Westbrook, Maine. A responsible person would leave their contact information for the poor victim, but that doesn’t always happen. If you can’t identify who hit your car, you have little recourse but to use your own insurance.  However, if you can identify the other party, this information may be helpful.

Flickr photo by gillicious
Flickr photo by gillicious

What To Do If Someone Hits Your Car in Maine

  • If it’s safe to do so, get the person’s name, address, phone number and insurance company information – BEFORE the police arrive!
  • Call the police if the total damage (both vehicles) appears to be more than $1,000. If there’s visible damage – even minor – it’s probably more than $1,000.
  • Give your statement to the police. Don’t admit any fault to the other driver, or argue about whose fault the accident was.
  • Report the accident to your Maine auto insurance agent.

Should I Use My Insurance or Theirs?

If the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault (e.g. you were legally parked), try their insurance first.  Using their insurance avoids having to pay your collision deductible, allows you to keep your Maine car insurance discounts, and contains no daily limit on rental coverage. Of course, if  you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you have no choice but to use your own insurance. Your own local insurance agent can help you start the process.

Use their insurance if:

  • You got their insurance information at the scene, or can quickly get the Maine police report (many police reports aren’t available for several days).
  • Their insurance company accepts responsibility quickly (within 24 hours after you contact them).
  • You did not buy collision coverage on your own policy.

The Other Company Isn’t Responding After the Accident

The other insurance company must confirm liability before they accept responsibility to fix your car. They do this in one of three ways:

  • Their customer admits to them that they were clearly at fault (e.g. hit your parked car, rear-ended you at a stop light).
  • The police report says the other driver was at fault (police reports may not be available for several days).
  • After their own investigation, the insurance company determines that their customer was at fault.

If it’s taking too long for the insurance company to accept responsibility, you may choose to make a claim on your own policy.  You’ll have to pay your collision deductible, but at least you’ll get your car fixed, and get on with your life.

Will I Get My Deductible Back if My Insurance Company Collects from the Other Insurance Company?

Yes. if they collect from the other insurance company (a process called “subrogation”), your Maine insurance company will reimburse your deductible, and wipe the accident off your record.

Who Will Help Me Deal With The Other Insurance Company?

That depends on where you bought your insurance.  If you bought your car insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance from an independent local Maine insurance agent like Noyes Hall & Allen, they can help you report that claim to the other company. Your claim against the other insurance company should not affect your insurance company or your policy.

If you bought your Maine car insurance online, you’re probably on your own. One more reason to buy insurance from a local agency instead of a computer or 800 number. 

Of course, if you have no insurance at all on your vehicle, you’re really on your own.


Easy Money

Everyone’s looking to tighten up their budget these days. Many people prefer to  spread the cost of their insurance throughout the year by paying in monthly installments. But insurance companies charge an “installment charge” to cover the expense of sending those monthly bills, and to replace investment income they forgo by not collecting your premium up-front. The average “installment charge” is $5.00 per bill. That means if you pay your Maine auto insurance in monthly installments, you’re paying $50.00 or $60.00 extra a year.

Quick and Painless Savings

Instead of having the insurance company send you a bill, sign up for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) – automatic monthly withdrawal of your premium payments from your checking account. Most companies waive the installment charges completely for EFT customers. That saves you an extra $60.00, plus the cost of stamps, checks, and the time it takes to pay the bill.

Clients of our Maine insurance agency who are snowbirds or travel frequently love EFT. They don’t have to worry about bills being forwarded, or accumulating unpaid while they’re away.

One added benefit of EFT: no more risking cancellation notices by forgetting to pay your bill. Because your payments are automatically withdrawn, they arrive on time every month, without any action on your part.

For more information about insurance discountscontact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.

Joining the Scooter Parade? Check this Out

Scooter This summer, I've noticed a LOT more motorcycles, scooters and bicycles on the road. Many Greater Portlanders seem to have responded to higher gas prices by dropping from 4 wheels to two. I'm one of those human-powered commuters, at least when my schedule allows.  

One of the appealing features of scooters for many is that they don't require a special license, unlike a motorcycle. Unfortunately, because there's no license test to study for, there's also a shortage of good safety and information for scooter riders.

We recently came across this excellent booklet  from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Whether you're a rider, or just thinking about becoming one, it's worth a read.

How to Get Golf Cart Insurance in Maine

Higher fuel prices continue to inspire Americans to find another way to get from here to there. An Associated Press report in last week’s Press Herald talks about the growing use of golf carts as alternative transportation. Increased golf cart use has led to a corresponding increase in emergency room visits -12,000 a year – as energy-sipping buggies brave public roads with their larger, faster cousins.

Several Maine jurisdictions, including Chebeague Island, have passed ordinances allowing use of golf carts on some public roads, subject to restrictions. Some of our clients who live in these communities have been required to provide evidence of liability insurance in order to use their golf carts on local roads.

If it’s licensed for use on public roads, Maine Law requires the owner of any vehicle subject to registration for use on public roads to purchase liability insurance. Just one problem: homeowners policies only cover golf carts being used on your land, or when you’re actually playing golf (on a golf course!); and you can’t add a golf cart to a standard auto policy. What’s a frugal consumer to do?

Some insurers have introduced special policies, similar to motorcycle policies, for Maine golf cart insurance. They provide the liability and uninsured motorist coverage that are required by Maine Law. There have been some reports of agents issuing insurance ID cards for carts without the proper coverage. Make sure that you have a policy specifically listing your golf cart, and specifying that it covers use on public roads. Otherwise, if you become one of the 12,000, you might find your trip to the ER is even more expensive than you thought.

For more information from a Maine insurance agency about insuring a Maine golf cart, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.