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.

Access Your Maine Insurance Policy Info 24/7

We’re pleased to introduce a new feature for clients of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance. Now, you can access policy documents and information from our secure web site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lost your Maine auto insurance card? Want to check on your coverage at night or on the weekend?  You can log on easily and get the information you need in two minutes or less. Here’s how.

Step 1 – Visit NoyesHallAllen.com


Look for the “My Account” icon on the upper right of the page (or in the list on a mobile phone). It opens to a drop-down menu. Select an option.

 

Step 2 – Log In Using Your Email Address

You must use the email address that our agency has on file for you. This is usually the one that we have emailed correspondence to in the past. Let us know if we should use a different email address.

 

Step 3 – Log In With a Secure Verification Code 

This is sent instantly to your mobile device or your email address. This code helps keep your personal information in your hands alone. It expires after 5 minutes.

 

Step 4 – Choose the Policy or Documents You Want

The default view is “policies. This allows you to view the details of your coverage by clicking “view policy” below the snapshot.(click on the image for a larger version)

Note that there’s an option to switch to “documents” as well as the default “policies”.

 

If you want to download your insurance cards, choose “documents” click “download” on the right. You can print or save them to your device from there. By law, Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, city and town halls and law enforcement officers accept electronic proof of insurance. You aren’t required to produce a paper copy.

(click on the image for an enlarged verson)

 

We hope that you enjoy the convenience of 24/7 access to your insurance policy information.

Please note:
1) Most insurance companies share their information with us electronically in a compatible form with this feature. If your documents aren’t available, call us and we can send them to you.

2) The policy information on the Client Center is a very simplified recap of your policy. You may have purchased endorsements that the Client Center can’t show, so your coverage might be different. Your insurance policy is always the definitive document of your insurance coverage.

Are Drones Covered by Maine Homeowners or Business Insurance?

Flying Drone

Innovative Maine businesses use drones to literally get a new perspective on their operations.  Land owners survey lots and buildings. Engineers use photos from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in project work.  Photographers and videographers use drones to capture unique images and videos. Marketers use or hire them to create compelling and disruptive visual content. Even individual hobby fliers own drones now.

 

 

Drones: A Money Saving Investment

High quality drones and UAVs are not cheap. It’s easy to invest $15,000 or more in a good quality industrial setup, including cameras and software. Still, that can be a lot less expensive than renting an airplane or helicopter, and offers much more control and flexibility. It’s also safer than sending an employee up on a ladder or bucket to inspect facilities at height. The price of hobby drones has dropped a lot in the last few years. You can find them for less than $1500.

Legal Issues for Drones in Maine

The FAA requires registration of drones and UAVs weighing more than 0.55 lbs. The maximum weight permitted is 55 lbs. Permitted location and other rules vary between pleasure and business use. A remote pilot airman certificate is required as well.

Drone owners and operators face many of the same liability issues as other aircraft pilots. The low altitude operation of UAVs can also create privacy and property issues. Some examples:

  • Injuring someone, either directly, or by causing an auto accident
  • Damaging property by striking it
  • Invasion of privacy or trespass

Even if a claim against you is not valid, defending yourself can cost many thousands of dollars in legal fees in Maine.

Drones are NOT Covered by Standard Insurance Policies

Because drones are considered unmanned aircraft, and subject to FAA regulation, they are excluded from coverage on homeowners or business liability policies. The Maine Bureau of Insurance recommends that you buy separate insurance for your drone. We agree.

Up to now, few insurers have offered insurance on drones. One of our company partners, Acadia Insurance recently introduced a liability insurance plan for businesses that use drones as an incidental part of their ordinary operations.

If you or your Maine business uses a drone or other UAV, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207.799.5541. We’d love to hear how you’re using this innovative technology for fun or business. We can help you manage your risk. We’re independent and committed to you.

Rideshare Insurance for Uber & Lyft in Maine

 

Does Your Auto Insurance Protect You?

Many Maine drivers are thinking about making some extra cash by driving for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. They often ask us if how their personal auto insurance company would respond.

Personal Insurance Does NOT Cover Rideshare Driving

As soon as you turn on the app and make yourself available to pick up a guest, you turn OFF your Maine auto insurance policy – at least all of the policies we’re aware of. Your insurance company should deny any claim – collision, liability, uninsured motorist, medical payments, rental or towing – that occurred while you were available for hire or driving a customer.

Do Uber and Lyft Insurance Policies Protect Maine Drivers?

Knowing that personal insurance policies do not cover livery (driving for a fee), rideshare companies have obtained blanket insurance policies to cover their drivers. Most companies seem to be insured with James River Insurance, based in Richmond, VA, and rated A- by A.M. Best. These policies cover you pretty well when you’re carrying a customer – but not when you’re simply available and waiting for a customer request. This chart shows when coverage applies, and how much.

RideShare Insurance in Maine

 

What are the Risks of Being an Uber Driver?

As you can see from the chart above, the insurance provided by Uber, Lyft and similar companies leave important gaps that could cost you a lot – especially in Period One, when you have the app on and are awaiting a ride request.

DURING “PERIOD ONE”:

  • Injury from an uninsured or under-insured driver. If you are waiting for a ride request and someone rear-ends you at a stop light, their liability insurance should pay for the damage to your car, and your medical bills and lost wages. But, what if they have no insurance – or not enough? Uber and Lyft policies do not pay anything to repair your car. And, because their uninsured motorist coverage drops to state minimum limits during that time, you would have little or no coverage for your medical bills.
  • Liability to Others for Injury or Property Damage. Imagine you’re waiting for a ride request. You decide to stop for a coffee. When you pull in, you accidentally step on the gas instead of the brake, plowing into the front of the coffee shop. Your rideshare insurance will only cover state minimum liability limits for injuries to others or damage to property. Because your personal auto policy doesn’t cover you during this time, you’re out of luck if damages are higher. You’ll be responsible for paying for the damages. That could mean a lot of fares in your future just to repay the damage.
  • Damage to Your Car. Rideshare insurance policies don’t pay for damage to your car from crashes, vandalism, theft or fire. If you have a loan on your vehicle, you could find yourself making payments on a car you cannot drive. And you won’t be able to make more money via driving since your vehicle is out of commission.
  • Your Insurance Company Might Cancel Your Policy. Many drivers fail to notify their auto insurance company when they start to drive for a rideshare company. And for good reason: even  though they don’t cover your rideshare activities, insurance companies generally don’t like the idea. Your vehicle is on the road a lot more, possibly at odd hours and unfamiliar locations. Even if you’re driving a customer and have collision coverage under the Uber or Lyft insurance policy, they require you to first report it to your insurance company and be denied coverage. That can be an uncomfortable conversation, and it can attract the attention of the insurance company, which may then cancel your personal policy.

Know the Consequences Before You Become an Uber Driver in Maine

It’s tempting to make some extra money during your spare time. Just know that the opportunity comes with risks. Rideshare companies are eager to sign up new drivers, and may gloss over the risks and limitations of their insurance program. Make sure you understand them before you get behind the wheel for a rideshare company.

If you have questions about your Maine auto insurance, contact  Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

Uber Comes to Portland Maine: Are Uber Drivers Insured?

 

Rideshare service Uber began operating in Portland Maine at noon on October 2. Uber and its top competitor Lyft are innovative, efficient, popular – and controversial. uber screenshotEverywhere Uber and Lyft pop up, local lawmakers scramble to address it. Taxi operators and other livery drivers rail against it. And insurance companies caution drivers who might think about joining the Uber fleet.

Are Uber Drivers Insured?

If they have a personal auto policy, their own insurance will not cover them while they’re driving someone for a fee. Period. Every PAP excludes coverage while a vehicle is being used as a “public livery or conveyance“, which basically means driving others for hire. An Uber driver in an accident shouldn’t count on their personal insurance helping out.

You can’t blame insurance companies for that. If you’re driving for Uber, you’re probably driving more miles and hours than you otherwise would. You might be in areas unfamiliar to you, under time constraints, and at hours with higher congestion or impaired operators on the road. All of those increase the likelihood you could have an accident.

The Good News
Uber’s web site says that the service provides a commercial insurance policy with a $1 million limit per incident, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. That’s more than 90% of drivers in Maine have. It also provides $50,000 of “contingent comprehensive and collision insurance”, which should pay for repairs to an Uber driver’s vehicle as a result of an accident during an Uber trip.

Not So Good News
Uber’s insurance drops to to $50,000 per person for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage “between trips” – the absolute minimum limits allowed in Maine. That’s inadequate for most people who want to protect their assets or future earnings from an expensive lawsuit.

Uber says that most auto insurance policies will provide coverage during the time that the driver is logged on available for hire  but between trips. Talk is cheap. Don’t count on an insurance company seeing it the same way. When presented with a claim, expect an insurance company to say you were engaged in livery, just not actively driving someone – and deny your claim.

What Kind of Insurance Should an Uber Driver Have?
The only type guaranteed to cover you is a business auto policy, rated as livery use. If you insure your car with Maine commercial vehicle insurance  and are upfront about your Uber driving, you should be covered.

 Is Uber Rideshare Service Safe to Use?
If you’re thinking of taking a ride from Uber, you can expect that the driver has insurance while you’re in the vehicle. That includes if you’re hit by someone with no insurance. If you have a personal auto policy, you also have Medical Payments coverage (usually $5,000 or less) for minor medical expenses.

If you have questions about Portland Maine auto insurance or Maine business insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Data Breach! Protect Your Maine Business With Cyber Liability Insurance

 

Every week we hear news of another household brand name suffering a data breach. Hannaford, Target, TJ Maxx, Shaw’s, Home Depot…the list goes on.

But local businesses are not immune from hacking. Many Maine small businesses – and their customers – were shocked recently to hear about a breach at two Portland, Maine locations of Otto Pizza, a local favorite.

Otto Pizza responded to the breach candidly, and with personal comments that struck at the heart of any local business owner:

Quote from Otto Pizza about theft of their customers' data

Cyber attacks are a constant threat to your Maine office, retail store or professional practice. You no longer have to be a “big fish” to be a target. Hackers, phishers and the like are always looking for low-hanging fruit in the form of networks with poor security. After beefing up your security, you should insure your Maine business against data breach in case it does happen.

How Do Data Breaches Happen?

Some common scenarios that can lead to data breach in your business or professional practice:

  • Unauthorized access – hackers gain access to your POS system or computer network.
  • Theft of Computers – Someone steals your laptop, backup data or server that holds customer or employee personal information.
  • Improper Disposal of client or patient records.
  • Human Error – your bookkeeper mixes up 1099 forms and mails them in the wrong envelopes, exposing personal information to others.

 

Sobering Data Breach Statistics

 

infographic: Statistics about business data breaches

 

 

 What Does Data Breach Cyber Liability Insurance Pay For?

What does Cyber Liability Insurance pay for?

Cost of Maine Cyber Liability Insurance

Data breach protection is a surprisingly affordable addition to most Maine small business insurance portfolios. Coverage for basic limits such as $10,000 first party and $25,000 third party are available for premiums as low as $150 per year.

What to Do in Case of a Data Breach at Your Business

  1. Notify the police immediately
  2. Report the breach to your business insurance agent or company
  3. Take all steps to protect any confidential data remaining in your control.
  4. Preserve all evidence of the breach itself.

For answers to your Maine business insurance questions, including data breach and cyber liability insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We represent many insurance companies so we can help you find the best insurance fit for your business and budget. We’re independent and committed to you.

FMI:

Payment Card Security Standards

CyberRisk 2014 White Paper by Insurance Information Institute

Can I Replace Building Materials With Green Ones After an Insurance Claim?

 

Portland, Maine is a hotbed of green living. Maybe its our proximity to the sea and mountains. Or the people we attract from around the USA and the world. Whatever the reason, many Portlanders care about the environment, and make lifestyle choices accordingly.

Our farm-to-table game is strong. The cool kids here buy local, with Portland Buy Local and South Portland Cape Elizabeth Buy Local leading the charge. The cities of Portland and South Portland are converting landfills to solar farms. We have an award-winning private community composting service, Garbage to Garden. We even discuss green living over beer at Portland Greendrinks.

It’s only natural that many locals choose to repair or replace any damage to their home with “green” materials and technology. Now, they may be able to get help from their insurance companies. “Off the shelf” home or condo insurance won’t pay to replace your old oil boiler with super-efficient heat pumps. Or replace your water heater with a solar setup after a fire. Fortunately, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance represents  insurance companies that will.

Going Beyond What You Lost

Traditional homeowners or condo insurance is designed to put you in the same condition after a loss that you were before (“indemnity”, in legalese). Your insurance company promises to replace the items you lost with “like kind and quality”. If your home had green materials, the insurance company will replace them. If you didn’t have them before, you can upgrade at your own additional cost.

Upgrade to Green Materials After Your Home is Damaged

Say your home had traditional materials and technology, and you suffered a fire. You want to replace what you lost with greener options, like bamboo flooring, solar and geothermal heating, low-VOC paints, and high efficiency insulation. Some of these may save money in the long run, but initially cost more than their traditional counterparts. Basic insurance policies only pay to replace what you lost with “like kind and quality”. But there are options.

Two Insurers that Pay for Green Upgrades

In response to customer demand, Concord Group and Travelers, have introduced “green home insurance endorsements”. These provide an additional amount of coverage to replace with environmentally-friendly, non-toxic or energy efficient options. Usually, there is a maximum amount of additional coverage as well.

These endorsements are inexpensive – often $2-3 a month. 

Would You Choose to Rebuild or Repair “Green”?

We can help. For Greater Portland Maine home, condo or vacation home insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. Because we’re a locally-owned Trusted Choice Independent Insurance agency, we offer choice among many insurance companies.

We’ll help you find the best value for your individual circumstance. Of course, we also offer Maine auto, motorcycle and boat insurance and insurance for Maine businesses as well. We’re always happy to answer your insurance questions.

Contact your Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent  at 207-799-5541 for details. We’re independent and committed to you.

Does a Maine College Student Need Their Own Insurance?

 

If you’re preparing to send a student off to college, your household is buzzing with activity. If your student is a freshman, there’s the added anxiety (for parents AND students) of doing it for the first time.

Many clients ask our Maine insurance agency these questions about insurance for college students:

Does homeowners insurance cover college students’ computers?

Generally, yes. If they’re living in college housing, they’re still considered part of your household. Your homeowners policy covers their books, clothes, jewelry, electronics and other property. What if you have a condo or renters insurance policy? Still covered. Remember, the same coverage limitations apply to property such as jewelry and money.

If your student does not live in college housing, be sure to consult your agent. Coverage can vary greatly in these situations.

Does homeowners insurance cover a “semester abroad”?

If your student is still a household member, your policy covers their belongings anywhere. If they accidentally damage property or injure someone, your homeowners policy defends any suit brought in the U.S.

Need broader protection? Some personal umbrella policies will also defend against worldwide liability suits. This is another great reason to buy Maine personal umbrella insurance.

Remember, NO auto policies cover outside of the US, its territories and Canada. If your student is driving in a foreign country, make other insurance arrangements there.

My child is not taking their car to school. Can I get a discount on my auto insurance?

You bet! There are a few restrictions: The school must be more than 100 miles away from your home, and the student should not have the car on campus. Don’t forget to ask your agent about the “good student discount” on auto insurance and other car insurance discounts.

Should I buy the medical insurance the college sells?

Our agency does not sell medical insurance, so we are not experts on this topic. Ask your medical insurance provider for their advice. If your family has no insurance coverage, then it may be a good idea to buy the college’s plan.

Have questions about Maine auto insurance, personal umbrella insurance or homeowners insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. As a locally owned Trusted Choice independent insurance agency, We represent many of Maine’s best insurance companies. We offer choice as well as professional advice. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

WreckCheck App Review: What do Do After an Auto Accident?

 

We recently tried WreckCheck, a new free app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)  that promises help reporting an auto accident to your insurance company.  In our opinion,  it’s the best auto-accident app we’ve seen yet.

WreckCheck allows you to enter your insurance policy information ahead of time, so you’ll have it handy in case of accident (Make sure you your insurance card is also in the glove box , in case your phone is missing or damaged).

What to Do After an Auto Accident

Even the most level-headed person can be flustered after an accident. What to do first? What information do I need? That’s where WreckCheck comes in. Just open the app and follow the prompts. The screens are simple and easy to use.

WreckCheck's Checklist Screen
The opening screen is simple and easy to use.

First, WreckCheck has a big red button to call 911. After you’ve reported the accident, if you’re safe and well enough, the app really becomes useful.

WreckCheck captures the accident’s location using your phone’s GPS, and prompts you to record the scene using your smartphone camera and microphone. There’s also a free-form text box to explain what happened. Finally, there’s a simple form prompting you for  information about the other vehicle, driver and passengers, including their insurance info. You can even record information about the responding police officer.

Once you’re done, email the whole report to your Maine auto insurance agent with the push of a button. WreckCheck is available in Apple iOS and Google Android format.

We like WreckCheck for several reasons:

  • It’s thorough. The app prompts you to gather all of the information your insurance company would need to start a claim.
  • It’s easy. The user interface is clean, and you can enter information by photo, voice or text.
  • It’s flexible. Many insurance companies have their own apps, which is great until you decide to shop for auto insurance and switch companies. With WreckCheck, you simply update your policy data and your insurance contact information. Even better, if you use a Maine Trusted Choice agent – who represents several insurance companies, all you have to do is change your company and policy number in the app. It can even be used to report commercial vehicle insurance claims.
  • It’s FREE!

 If you are looking for a locally-owned tech-savvy Portland Maine area insurance agency that offers a choice of many preferred insurance companies to protect your home, autos, toys or business, you should contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance. We’re independent and committed to you.

Should You Share Your Car? Think Twice!

 

Car sharing services like Zipcar and U Car Share have grown in popularity, as more city dwellers eschew car ownership, preferring to rent a vehicle when they need one. This seems to be an innovative, cost-effective and sensible way to solve personal transportation needs for many Americans.

We have followed this trend for several years, providing insurance advice about using a car share service, and cautioning our clients to protect themselves first. After all, when you’re sharing a vehicle, you could potentially be sharing something much more important: liability.

The car sharing idea has evolved even further. Now, private vehicle owners can offer their vehicles for rent through peer-to-peer car sharing services like RelayRides. It’s sort of like Zipcar in reverse: you can rent your idle vehicle to someone who needs it temporarily. Realizing that insurance companies would not approve of (or cover) this kind of use, RelayRides offers a $1 million liability policy. That’s more liability coverage than most people have on their own personal auto policies. But believe it or not, it may not be enough.

Take the case of Massachusetts resident Liz Fong-Jones, a 24-year-old MIT grad and Google alum. Ms. Fong-Jones shared her car through RelayRides. The driver was killed in a tragic accident, and 3 passengers were critically injured. Suddenly, $1 million may not be enough insurance. If the accident damages exceed that, who will be responsible? Probably not Ms. Fong-Jones’ insurer; personal auto policies exclude such behavior.

Will that leave Ms. Fong-Jones’ assets and future earnings vulnerable to lawsuit? That remains to be seen. But, it is another cautionary tale about using car share services. This is just the scenario we were worried about with our original posts 3 years ago.

If you have questions about insurance for renting a car for business or personal use, or would like to know more about how car sharing affects your Maine auto insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541.