Whose Car Insurance Should You Use after an Accident in Maine?

You’ve been in a crash. You think it’s clearly the other driver’s fault. Should you use your own Maine auto insurance policy or go against the other driver’s insurance company? This is an issue we discuss with several clients a month. The answer and the process can be complicated.

Maine is a Modified Comparative Negligence State

Comparative negligence means your settlement in a claim can be reduced if you were partly at fault for the crash. Modified comparative negligence in Maine means that if you were less than 50% responsible for the damages, you can still recover some damages from the party that was more at fault than you. But if you were 50% or more responsible, you cannot collect damages from another party. You have to rely on your own insurance, or pay the loss yourself.

Example: You’re stopped in a line of traffic. One of your brake lights is burned out. Another driver, traveling too fast, can’t stop in time and rear-ends your vehicle. Your missing tail light could be determined to have contributed to the accident – let’s say 5%.  The other driver’s speed and inattention is determined to be 95% at fault. They cannot collect any damages from you, but you can collect 95% of any medical costs and the cost to repair your vehicle.

Who Determines Who’s at Fault in a Car Accident?

If liability isn’t completely clear, insurance company adjusters usually negotiate payment of damages. They use police reports, statements from the people involved and Maine state law to determine relative fault. If the two parties can’t agree, one or more can file a lawsuit. Liability can then be determined through the courts, if the dispute lasts that long.

Should You Use Your Own Car Insurance if You’re Not at Fault?

If you’ve bought collision coverage for your vehicle, you have the option to file a claim with your own insurer. If not, then you have no choice but to go against the other driver’s policy.

If you file a claim on your own policy, your insurance company will pay to repair or replace your car, less your deductible. If you purchased rental reimbursement, they also pay to rent another vehicle while yours is not drivable.  If the other driver is 100% at fault, their insurance pays to repair your vehicle, rent a replacement while it’s not driveable, and your related medical bills.

Now, back to the process of deciding whose insurance to use.

Using Your Insurance: PRO

  • You KNOW you have insurance. You can never be sure about the other driver, even if they presented a policy number or insurance card at the accident scene.
  • You haves some clout with your own insurer. You are their customer.
  • The process is often faster, because you’re not arguing about whose fault the accident was. You are probably able to reach a settlement faster.
  • You have an agent to help you through the process (assuming that you bought your insurance from a person and not an 800 number or web site).

Using Your Insurance: CON

  • You’ll have to pay your deductible up-front to have your vehicle fixed. There’s no guarantee you’ll get that back. If your company is successful in collecting from the other party’s insurance (a process called “subrogation“), they will refund your deductible.
  • You may not have purchased rental coverage. Even if you did, it has a daily dollar limit and a maximum dollar limit.
  • The subrogation process takes time; even if your company successfully subrogates against the other insurance company, you will probably have to wait for weeks to get your deductible back.
  • If your insurer isn’t successful in subrogation, they may count your accident against you. This could raise your rates down the road.

Using The Other Party’s Insurance: PRO

  • You collect directly from their insurance company. You do not have to pay a deductible, because you’re using their liability insurance.
  • If you need to rent a replacement vehicle while yours is unavailable, there is no daily or maximum dollar limit. As long as the vehicle is a reasonable replacement for what was damaged.
  • Your insurance company won’t count the accident against you, because it was “not-at-fault”.

Using The Other Party’s Insurance: CON

  • The other party may not have insurance – even if they presented an insurance card at the accident scene. And, even though it’s mandatory. They may have not paid their premium or canceled their policy.
  • They may not have ENOUGH insurance. Maine only requires drivers to carry $50,000 per person for injuries to other parties and $25,000 property damage. If you’re tooling around in a modest late model vehicle, $25,000 may not be enough to replace it if it’s totaled.
  • The other insurer may not readily accept liability. Some companies “play nicer” than others (we won’t name names here). Some are notorious for denying liability, no matter how clear-cut it may seem. This can drag out the whole process of getting you and your car back on the road, making it longer and more inconvenient than it needs to be.
  • A police report may be necessary to prove who’s at fault, especially if your story and the other party’s don’t match. Some police departments are very quick to prepare accident reports and make them available. Others can take several days or weeks. Meanwhile, you need to have your car fixed.
  • Your agent won’t be able to help as much as in a first party claim. They may be able to offer advice, but since they probably don’t represent the other company, they have less influence with them.

Should You Notify Your Insurance Company Even if You File a Claim with the Other Insurer?

This is good practice, for a few reasons:

  • If the claim with the other company doesn’t go well, you can expedite the claim with yours.
  • If the other party claims that you were at fault, your insurance company knows about the crash and is prepared to defend you.
  • Your insurer will know about the accident. When it shows up on your motor vehicle record, they won’t charge you if you’re not at fault.

What To Do?

As you can see, it’s not a simple decision, and it depends greatly on the circumstances of your individual case. That’s just one reason why buying insurance from an agent – a knowledgeable advocate – is a smart decision. If you bought your policy from an 800 number or the internet, you won’t have a trusted advisor to help you decide which way to go with your claim.

If you live in the Portland Maine area and are looking for an insurance agent who can answer auto insurance questions and help you with the process, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. We can help you find the right fit. We’re independent and committed to you.

Tips for Storing Antique & Classic Cars in Maine

If you own an antique, classic or sports car in Maine, Fall means time to take your car off the road for winter. It’s sad, we know. It’s also a bit scary to lock your baby up for the winter and hope for the best. Here are 3 tips for properly storing and winterizing your vehicle, and some good news about antique or classic car insurance.

Choose a Safe, Dry Storage Location

Moisture is your car’s enemy. Your storage place should have a concrete floor, not bare earth.  If it isn’t climate controlled, crack the vehicle’s windows to avoid interior moisture buildup. Use a tight-fitting but air permeable cover made especially for vehicle storage. If you wash your car right before putting it away, make sure that it’s completely dry before covering it.

Obviously, you want it to be secure from vandals, theft or animals, too. Rodents can create expensive damage if they chew wires or nest. Some people recommend placing a ball of steel wool in the exhaust pipe opening and air intake. Other people recommend lining moth balls around the outside of the car to deter pests.

 

Check Engine Oil and Other Fluids

It’s a good idea to check your engine oil for dirt and excessive mileage before putting your vehicle away for the winter. Changing the oil in the Fall can put you on the road faster next Spring, to take advantage of those first few glorious glimpses of warm weather.
Fill the tank with gas and add a fuel stabilizer. Distribute the stabilizer through the system by running the car for a few minutes. Make sure anti-freeze and other fluids are topped up as well.

 

Take Care of Your Tires and Battery

Proper tire inflation will help avoid flat spots. Park on a level surface. If your car has a manual transmission, leave it in neutral with the parking brake disengaged and the wheels chocked. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, it’s OK to leave it in Park.

Many antique and classic car owners pull the battery for the winter and keep it in a warm place, connected to a trickle charger or battery tender. Some newer vehicles require the battery to remain hooked up to keep continuous security and other electronic systems operation. It’s a good idea to keep a trickle charge on your battery in this case.

 

Drop or Suspend Your Car insurance for Winter

Most Maine auto insurance companies allow you to “suspend” coverage once a year while your car is off the road. That means dropping liability, collision and all other coverage except comprehensive. Your vehicle would remain insured against theft, tree or animal damage and collapse of the garage. This greatly reduces the insurance costs for the storage months.

Even if you don’t insure your car for collision or comprehensive, you can remove the vehicle completely from your policy. Whether you suspend or remove your vehicle, remember to call your insurance agent before driving it again. Otherwise it has no insurance.

Antique and classic car insurance rates in Maine contemplate our short season. The insurance premium for Maine classic and antique vehicles is very low. Therefore, they do not allow suspension of coverage. They are designed to be annual policies. The good news is that if we get a beautiful day in late Fall or early Spring, you can take your vehicle for a spin and be insured.

Have questions about Maine auto insurance? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or get a Maine car insurance quote here. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s best insurance companies. We can help you find the right fit for your needs. We’re independent and committed to you.

Maine Food Truck Insurance

Food trucks have roamed the streets of Portland Maine for several years.  Now they’re popping up in places from Biddeford Saco to Westbrook, Scarborough to Freeport, Sugarloaf to Sunday River. Food truck insurance can be a challenge for an inexperienced insurance agent. Insurance companies know how to insure trucks. They know how to insure restaurants. But rolling restaurants are different.

5 Types of Insurance Every Food Truck Needs

  • General Liability  Insurance

    If someone breaks a tooth in a crabmeat roll or gets food poisoning after eating your product, they’re going to come back to you. GL coverage pays for these claims, as well as slips and falls and other injuries or damage that occur at your location.

  • Business Auto Insurance

    If you get in an accident while you’re on the move, you need to have your food truck fixed and back online soon. If you’re at fault, you’ll also need protection to pay for the damage and injury you cause.

  • Workers Compensation Insurance

    By law, you’re required to provide Maine workers comp coverage for your employees. If they’re injured at work or miss time due to an on-the-job injury or illness, workers compensation insurance pays them.

  • Business Property Insurance

    You have a big investment in your inventory, fixtures and supplies, both at the commissary and on your food truck. Insurance can protect that asset against fire, theft, equipment breakdown and more.

  • Loss Of Food Truck Income

    If your food truck is down, you have no income.  What if your fryer malfunctions, causing a fire? You could be off the road for the whole summer season. Or what if your best brewery location or outdoor venue suddenly shuts down due to a fire, windstorm or some other disaster? Business income insurance for food trucks can help you replace the income you lose following property losses like these.

Get Maine Food Truck Insurance

If you have questions about insuring a food truck in Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen insurancce agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click “get a quote” above. We’ve insured food trucks since they first came to Maine. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, including the Acadia Street Eats food truck program by Acadia Insurance. We’ll help you find an insurance solution that fits your business and your budget. We’re independent and committed to you.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels in Maine?

More Maine homeowners are installing solar panels. Roof-mounted solar PV panels promise many benefits: decreased electric bills; energy independence; and a reduced carbon footprint.

 

Are Solar Panels Automatically Covered by Maine Home Insurance?

The good news: your homeowners policy covers your home’s utility fixtures, including heating and electrical systems. Damage caused by fire, wind, falling trees and lightning are all covered.

The bad news: your homeowners policy excludes coverage for some common causes of loss (perils). If squirrels or birds damage your unit, your insurance won’t pay to fix it. And, if your PV solar panels simply stop working, you’re out of luck if you have an “off the shelf” homeowners policy.

Can I Buy Special Insurance for Solar Panels?

Some insurance companies offer breakdown coverage. This covers failure of home systems such as: boilers and heat pumps; appliances; electrical panels – and solar panels. If a system fails prematurely, your insurance company will pay to replace it. But beware: if your system rusts out or simply wears out at the end of its useful life, that’s not covered.  And deductibles apply: $500 and $1000 are common.

How Expensive is Solar Panel Insurance in Maine?

Home systems breakdown insurance doesn’t cost much, even though it insures your expensive solar panel installation. It usually costs less than $50 per year, added right onto your homeowners policy.

Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Looking for solar panel insurance or equipment breakdown coverage? Call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. Several of them offer this special insurance. We can help you find the best fit for your budget and your home. We’re independent and committed to you.

Why Maine is a Great Place to do Business

Are you thinking about opening a business in Maine?

If so, you should consider doing so in Portland, ME. This city stands out as a location where entrepreneurs have access to all the resources they need to find success with their new business. In fact, Portland has been ranked as the ninth best location for women entrepreneurs and number five for starting a business overall. If you are starting a business, you need to protect it with proper commercial insurance coverage with the help of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance.

Keep reading to find more reasons why Greater Portland is such a great place to start a business.

Maine Has Great Support Network for Entrepreneurs

The history of underemployment in Maine has helped to spark several institutions that are designed to support and fund entrepreneurs. For example, The Maine Venture Fund, which was established in 1995 has currently received more than $13 million to provide startup companies. Maine Center for Economic Development, Startup Maine, Top Gun, Greenlight Maine and other resources help startup business owners to network and learn. Several Portland coworking spaces offer work and meeting rooms, including Think Tank, Cloudport, Engine Room and Peloton Labs.

Integration of  Maine Values into Business 

Another reason that Maine is such a great place to do business is the fact that this is a location where values are at the forefront of business ideas. For example, a recently opened company, American Roots, sells ethically sourced, fleece clothing made in Maine. The state is brimming with young values-based companies including GrandyOats, Heritage Seaweed and Flowfold.

As you can see, the Portland Maine area is a great place to open a business. Before you take the leap, be sure you have the proper protection for your business. The best way to do this is by purchasing a robust insurance policy from a quality insurer. Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance today. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred business insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

Buying a Condo in Portland Maine – What You Need to Know About Insurance

Are you buying your first condo? Downsizing from a single family home to a condominium? Moving to Portland Maine and buying a condo? Your insurance will be completely different in a condo. Insurance needs vary a lot from one Portland Maine condo association to another. Insuring a sleek new unit on Newbury St. is different than a historic condo in a 3 unit building in the West End. A good insurance agent knows the difference. You should, too.

Check Your Association’s Setup

What does the association’s master insurance policy cover? What are you responsible for insuring? Condominium associations’ bylaws and declarations answer these questions. Share copies of these documents with a knowledgeable insurance agent. They can help you determine what you’re responsible for insuring. Don’t rely on your neighbor’s word. Current owners can be improperly insured if their agent didn’t review the condo documents.

Some associations define a unit as “studs in.” Owners must insure subfloors and flooring, woodwork, cabinets, carpeting and other building items. Other associations are “all in”. The master policy may insure everything except your contents and improvements.

What is Your Association’s Insurance Deductible?

Many condo associations have increased property deductibles to control costs. Deductibles of $5,000 or higher are now common. Your policy should dovetail with the association’s deductible. A good insurance agent can help you decide on the right limits and deductibles.

Cover Your Own Stuff

Your Maine condo unit owners policy covers your belongings and appliances against loss or damage. It also covers your personal liability and the cost to live elsewhere if you can’t stay there after a loss. Associations may assess owners for a loss that exceeds their master policy insurance limit. Your policy can pay for some or all of that assessment. Your agent can help you choose the right limits.

Insuring Condo Improvements

Even “all in” associations may only include what was in the condominium when it was built. Did you or a prior owner upgrade countertops, flooring or fixtures? Insuring them may be your responsibility. Fortunately, upgrading your condo building insurance is easy and inexpensive. Tell your insurance agent about upgrades to your unit.

Insuring a Portland Maine Condo as Income Property

Do you own a condo and rent it to others? You’ll need a special kind of coverage. You’re still responsible for the unit like other owners, but have the added liability of a landlord.  Your insurance agent can quote the proper coverage for condos rented to others.

How to Find a Good Condo Insurance Agent in Portland Maine

If your agent doesn’t ask to see your condo association documents, find another agent. It’s impossible to know you have the right coverage without them. Look for an agent who offers a choice of several insurance companies. That way, when your insurer raises your rates you can shop without repeating the entire process.

If you’re buying a condominium in Portland Maine and are looking for condo insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. We offer a choice from Maine’s top condominium insurance companies. Unlike insurance company employees who only sell one product, we’re independent and committed to you. Click here to get a condo quote or call us at 207-799-5541.

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

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


You may be wondering:

  • How much do hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters affect insurance rates?
  • Do disasters in other states affect my insurance rates in Maine?

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

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

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

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

What Factors Affect Insurance Rates?

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

Money In = Premium Collected

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

Money Out = Losses 

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

But here’s the rest of the story:

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

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

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

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

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

Do Disasters in Other States Affect My Insurance Rates?

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

BUT…

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

Contractors Liability Insurance in Maine – What does it Cost?

If you’re a contractor or subcontractor in Greater Portland Maine, you will have to show proof of liability insurance to get preferred jobs. Whether you’re a Maine carpenter, plumber, electrician or other trade contractor, people or businesses who hire you want to know that you’ll be able to pay for any damage or injury caused by your work. A certificate of insurance shows proof of liability insurance.

 

How Much Does Contractors Liability Insurance Cost in Maine?

The cost of your insurance depends on several factors:

  • What kind of work you do (type, number and size of jobs)
  • How much experience you have
  • How much liability insurance you buy
  • Whether you’re insured now, and how long you’ve been insured
  • Your insurance claims experience

 

My Job Requires $1 Million of Contractors General Liability Insurance. Isn’t That Too Much?

One million is a common requirement, even for smaller jobs. It seems like a lot of money, but it’s not when you consider how much damage or injury you could cause in a worst-case scenario. Many contracts for larger jobs require even higher limits. Fortunately, insurance companies readily provide these limits. The prices are probably lower than you think.

 

Can I Get Contractors Liability Insurance Today?

If you currently have insurance, have a proven track record of work and few or no claims, many insurance companies want your business. You can get insurance right away. If you’re new in business, or have never had insurance, it may take longer.

 

I’m Starting a Maine Contracting Business. Can I Get Insurance?

Congratulations on your big leap! Do you have lots of experience as a supervisor? Are you going out on your own after years of working for someone else? Many insurance companies will take you on as a new business with that kind of experience.

 

How Long Does it Take to Get Proof of Insurance in Maine?

Once your coverage is bound, your insurance agent can send insurance certificates to anyone who’s requesting one.

 

Do I Need to Get Certificates of Insurance from Maine Subcontractors?

Yes! Without proof that your subs have their own insurance, you may be responsible for injuries to them or damage they cause. Always collect and keep certificates of insurance from subs you hire. Otherwise, your insurance company will increase your rates at the end of your policy for your added responsibility.

 

What Other Insurance Does a Maine Contractor Need?

In addition to general liability, you may want to protect your tools and equipment against theft or damage. If you have a business vehicle, you’ll need commercial vehicle insurance. And if you hire employees, you must provide workers compensation insurance. Fortunately, insurance companies can bundle some of these with your general liability policy. This reduces cost and confusion from multiple bills and policies.

 

How to Get Maine Contractors General Liability Insurance

If you have a contracting business in Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook or elsewhere in Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click the “get a quote” button below. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, including MMG Insurance, Concord Group, Hanover, Liberty Mutual, Acadia Insurance and more. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

What to do if You Have an Accident

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

Assess Any Injuries

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

Move Over Safely

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

Get Information from Others

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

Have Enough Auto Insurance

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

Maine Drone Insurance

Maine businesses are using drones to create unique video, capture aerial shots, and check locations that would otherwise be hazardous or difficult to access. Photographers and videographers capture unique images and videos. Marketers use drones to create compelling and  content. Real estate agents and developers use drones to show the attractiveness and potential of properties.

New Drone Insurance Program in Maine

Acadia Insurance Drone coverageWe were excited to learn today about Acadia Insurance‘s new drone insurance program.  Until today, our clients have had to insure their drones in Maine with specialty insurance programs. That meant separate billing, coverage and claims. Sometimes, it’s even meant that they had to work directly with the insurance company, with no agent to help. Insurance company financial stability isn’t a given for these programs.

The Acadia program allows Maine businesses to insure their drone with the rest of their property and liability. One bill, one claim adjuster, one agent. Acadia is based in Westbrook, Maine and already insures thousands of Maine businesses. They’ve introduced special programs inspired by iconic and growing Maine businesses, from breweries to artisans and contractors.


related post: Are Drones Covered by Maine Homeowners or Business Insurance?


Do you use a drone in your Maine business? Have you bought insurance from a specialty program or an insurance company you’ve never heard of? Do you wonder if they’ll be able to pay claims? Do you struggle to speak to a human at your insurance company? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re eager to see if Acadia Insurance can help Maine businesses insure their drones with a Maine insurance company.