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The Ins and Outs of Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

Your teenager is learning to drive. It’s both exciting and scary because you want to give them freedom while also keeping them safe. And on the practical side, you now need to think about car insurance for teen drivers. 

Start your new driver’s journey the right way. Call Lake Region Insurance Agency for a free policy review and quote. Our agents in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, are happy to partner with you on this exciting next step.

How to Choose Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

Insuring new drivers can be expensive. They haven’t proven themselves yet, so insurance companies see them as a higher risk. As a result, they charge more to insure teenagers than experienced drivers. 

But rates vary from one company to the next. How do you decide which policy to buy? 

You could search online for hours, comparing policies, and landing on numerous spam email lists. This plan is a time-consuming and potentially frustrating way to get protection.

The better option is to talk with your independent insurance agent. Independent agents can search from a variety of plans and policies. They do the comparing for you, weed out the poor choices, and bring you the best options.

Your agent will help you choose the policy limits that are right for your family. Depending on your budget, you might consider increasing your deductible to lower the monthly premium. Be sure to discuss all of the possible options with your agent. In an accident, if damages exceed the value of your policy, you may be held responsible for the difference. 

You can also think about adding an umbrella insurance policy. Umbrella insurance is an all-purpose, rainy day policy. It could help cover you in the case of a lawsuit for damages beyond what your other insurance policies cover. 

It’s also an excellent idea to include your teenager in conversations with your insurance agent.  They will start to learn about the financial responsibility that goes along with driving and the repercussions for things like speeding tickets.

How to Reduce Teen Driver Insurance Rates for Your Family

There is no shortcut for gaining driving experience. It must come with time. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the expense of new driver insurance.

  • Utilize driver education. An experienced professional instructor can reduce new driver stress for your teen and you. And a certificate from a state driver education program may qualify them for a discount on their insurance. 
  • Add them to your insurance instead of getting a separate policy. Some parents want their child to have their own policies. But it is usually less expensive to add your teen to an existing plan instead.
  • Get them a safe car. Does your teen want the newest, fastest car? Of course they do! But combining a new driver with a fast car is both dangerous and expensive. Get them a safe car to drive to save your dollars.
  • Ask your insurance agent about discounts for good grades. Students who focus and learn well tend to be better drivers. And most insurance policies reward good grades with lower rates.
  • Consider some tracking. There are several devices available that will inform you if your teen starts driving dangerously. There is no need to be sneaky, so make sure to tell them about it. Knowing that someone is paying attention might keep them from driving recklessly. 
  • Make sure the policy assigns your teen to the right car. Some vehicles cost more to cover than others. If your insurance policy adds your teen to your most expensive car, your rates will be higher. But, keep in mind that your teen can only drive that specific vehicle. If they have an accident while driving a different car, your insurer might assign penalties and increase your premiums. 

Talk With Your Teen About Safe Driving.

The best insurance plan will take care of damages when they happen, but it’s better to avoid them altogether. 

Talk to your teen driver about these critical safety rules:

  • Don’t text and drive. They’ve heard it before, but keep telling them. Texting while driving causes deadly accidents. Set a good example by tucking your phone away when you’re behind the wheel.
  • Don’t drive tired. People who drive with too little sleep perform a lot like people who drive drunk. Slower reactions from sleep-deprived brains cause many accidents every year.
  • Don’t drink or use other drugs while driving. Of course, you hope your teen isn’t drinking alcohol yet. But the fact remains that many teams do. Create a plan with them to get home safely. Talk to them about choosing a designated driver. Make sure they know that you will come to pick them up at any time to keep them safe.
  • Don’t speed. Speeding is a factor in over 22% of all fatal car crashes. It accounts for more deaths than impaired driving.

Remind your teen about the common sense things they need to do each time they are behind the wheel. Safe habits might be second nature for you. But your new driver may need several reminders before crucial actions become habits. 

  • Slow down in adverse conditions. You know that feeling when your tires lose traction? Your new driver may not have experienced that yet. Talk to them about taking it easy on icy roads and what to do if they start to slide. 
  • Wear your seatbelt. Just do it. Every. Single. Time. 
  • Let faster drivers pass. Remind your teen to avoid engaging with reckless drivers. They should know to let speeders get past them and never try to race another driver.
  • Recognize when conditions are too bad for driving. Winter in Greater Minnesota can be vicious. Have you ever gone through the type of storm that makes you turn off your radio? Then you know that sometimes you just need to stay put until the clouds clear.

Remember, the best way to teach your new driver good habits is to follow them yourself. Make a contract with your teen and be clear about the consequences of breaking it.

Your child is on the road to independence, so let’s keep them covered on their journey. Make sure to call Lake Region Insurance Agency for a comprehensive review. We are experts at helping parents understand car insurance for teen drivers.

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Does My Car Insurance Cover Me In a Rental?

Ahhhh, vacation! You step off the plane, stretch your legs, and get ready for the fun to begin. But first, you have to get your rental car. And when you do, they’ll inevitably ask if you want car insurance for the rental.

If you’re not ready for the question, and your brain is already in vacation mode, you might not know what to say. Do you purchase unnecessary additional insurance and potentially waste valuable money? Or do you decline and risk not having coverage, hoping there’s no damage to the car? 

Avoid that uncertainty and potential extra cost. Be ready to get straight to the fun on your next holiday by contacting Lake Region Insurance Agency. We are the independent agent you need for all of your Minnesota insurance needs. We can make sure you’re covered for every step of your vacation, as well as your daily life.

Should I Pay for Rental Car Insurance from the Rental Agency?

Here’s the thing that rental companies would rather you not know: most car insurance companies cover their drivers when they are in rental cars.

Female Motorist Involved In Car Accident Calling Insurance Company Or Recovery Service

But that doesn’t mean you always have coverage in these situations, so you need to do a little research. Some details will help you decide what to do, including your current level of car insurance coverage and which credit card you use to pay for the rental car. Some credit cards offer coverage when you rent a vehicle. These pieces of information are important to know before you go to the rental agency.

Different Types of Rental Car Insurance

Before you decide whether or not to purchase rental car coverage, you should understand the different types of car insurance. Policies are not all interchangeable, so it’s essential to know what coverage you already have.

Here are some of the typical kinds of car insurance you will see:

  • Liability Protection – This is the most common form of insurance because most states require that every registered car has at least this level of protection. Liability coverage can include both bodily injury and property damage liability. It helps to cover medical or legal costs if you injure another person or damage their property while driving. Sometimes this is called Supplemental Liability Protection by rental car companies because it supplements the coverage you already have with your personal auto insurance.
  • Comprehensive and Collision Damage – This coverage kicks in if there is damage to another vehicle or a stationary object when your car is in an accident. It may also include theft and vandalism. With personal car insurance, this is optional when you own your car outright, so you may or may not have it already.
  • Personal Protection – This coverage may also be called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It covers medical costs incurred by the driver or passenger due to a car accident. Generally, this coverage is already included if you selected liability in MN, under a personal auto policy.
  • Personal Effects Coverage – This type of insurance will cover reimbursement if any of the renter’s items are stolen out of the vehicle. Many people find this coverage unnecessary because most homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies cover items stolen from a car. But again, check these details ahead of time so that you know what you want to do.

Before You Purchase Rental Car Coverage

When you need to decide if you should purchase additional rental car coverage, find out the following information. It will allow you to make the best decision for your specific situation. For each question, contact your insurance agent to verify coverage.

Do you have full coverage already?

If your personal auto policy includes both comprehensive and collision coverage, then you likely have rental protection for a variety of situations such as:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft of vehicle
  • Damaged windshield
  • Fire
  • Damage from hail or lightning
  • Collision with an animal
  • Damage from hitting another vehicle or a fixed object like a pole or a tree

Be sure to check with your agent. Even if you have full coverage on your personal car, it might not extend to rental vehicles. If this is true for you, consider purchasing the rental car company’s Collision Damage or Loss insurance.

Do you have liability coverage? How much?

If your auto policy includes liability insurance, which it must in most states, you’ll want to know its limits. This coverage kicks in to pay for the other driver’s injuries if you are at fault in an accident.

If you only carry the minimum amount of coverage required by the state, you might want to consider increasing it. Or you could purchase the supplemental liability insurance from the rental car company.

Do you have renters or homeowners insurance?

If you’re concerned about theft of your personal belongings, you don’t necessarily need to purchase the rental car company’s Personal Effects insurance. Most people already have a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Both types of insurance cover items stolen from vehicles. As long as the item stolen would be covered in your home, it likely will have coverage in the rental car. But double-check with your insurance agent before you decide about the rental company’s policy.

Sometimes You Need the Rental Agency’s Coverage

It’s a wise choice to buy rental car insurance in some instances:

  • You don’t own a vehicle, so you don’t carry car insurance.
  • Your credit card doesn’t provide any rental car coverage in its perks.
  • Convenience is worth the cost.
  • Your car insurance has low coverage limits.
  • The additional expense is worth the peace of mind it brings to you.
  • You didn’t check coverage with your insurance company before traveling.

Learn More About Car Insurance

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we are independent agents who are here to serve you. Because we can offer a wide range of products from many companies, we can find the right fit for your insurance needs. Whether you’re planning the trip of a lifetime or need some advice on day-to-day coverage, our team can help. Call or stop by our offices to learn more.

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Stay Safe: Top 5 Winter Driving Tips

Snowy, wet, and icy road conditions are the leading causes of accidents during the winter. Traveling in these conditions can be nerve-wracking and stressful. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that more than 150,000 car accidents happen each year due to icy roads. Learning some winter driving tips can help you stay safe on the road.

Make sure you have the right coverage for your needs in your auto insurance policy. The team at Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you feel confident that you are well-covered.

Hit the Road With These Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving in Minnesota has its risks and concerns. But with awareness and education, you can feel ready to drive safely all year long. Take a look at these five tips.

1. Purchase Winter Tires 

There are a few different types of tires available for vehicles:

  • Summer
  • Winter
  • All-Season

Summer tires have smaller tread because the roads are generally clear and safe to drive on during the summertime. All-season tires have a thicker tread than summer tires and are suitable to use year-round in many parts of the country. 

Winter tires have the most substantial tread and provide the most traction for driving in dicey road conditions. Studded tires are a type of winter tire that has metal studs in the tread for traction on icy roads.

All-season tires have enough tread to provide an adequate grip on maintained roads. They are a safe choice if you live in an urban area where the streets are plowed regularly. 

However, on inconsistently-plowed roads, all-season tires are an unsafe option. For those who live in rural areas or small towns, winter tires are the safest choice. If you opt for studded tires, be sure to check the regulations where you live to know if and when they are legal to use.

2. Pay Attention to Windshield Wipers and Washer Fluid

Snow, ice, and road maintenance chemicals will be attacking your windshield all winter long. Not to mention the dirt, gravel, and grime that splatters up at your car as you drive. In these conditions, your visibility can disappear quickly.  

It is essential to check your windshield wipers at the beginning of the winter season. You want to ensure that they are working well and that the blades are in acceptable condition. Many Minnesota drivers replace their wiper blades each year when winter arrives.

How do you keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing? Making sure the washer fluid tank is full helps you avoid this problem. You can also choose a windshield washer fluid that is specifically for wintertime. Its formula helps prevent it from freezing.

And of course, parking your vehicle in the garage can keep fluids from freezing and help protect your car from the cold weather. Blankets placed over the hood of your vehicle can also help keep everything working correctly.

3. Have Tools for Ice and Snow Removal

Unless your garage is available for parking, winter driving in Minnesota means clearing off your car in the morning before heading to work. A combination snow brush and ice scraper is a great tool to keep in your vehicle. Having one on hand makes it easier to remove all the ice and snow from your car in the morning. 

First, you should brush the snow off all the surface areas of your car. Brush the hood, windows, and roof. Once you have cleaned much of the snow off your vehicle, you can use the ice scraper tool to remove any ice from the windows. 

It is crucial to remove the snow from your car before you start your commute. Snow left on the hood of the vehicle can blow onto the windshield, and snow from the roof can fall onto your windshield when you brake. Both of these problems limit your visibility. Take some extra time in the morning to be thorough when clearing your car.

4. Check Your Car Battery and Antifreeze

Spoiler alert – cars don’t love the cold. One way to ensure that your vehicle will get you from point A to point B all winter long is to check that your battery is in good working condition. If your battery is old, it may not make it through a Minnesota winter. 

According to AAA, your car battery loses up to 60 percent of its power as the temperature drops. Historically, car batteries have had a lifespan of about three to five years. But now, with the increasing usage of electronics in cars, the lifespan of a battery is shrinking. All that phone charging takes a toll on the strength of your battery. 

Antifreeze is vital when it comes to winter driving tips. It keeps the radiator’s water from boiling in the summer and freezing in the winter. If the antifreeze gets too low, it can cause the water in the cooling system to freeze. Once that happens, it can cause cracks in the pipes that will require costly repairs.

Be sure to check your antifreeze level regularly and top it off as needed. It is also critical to have your radiator flushed and cleaned according to your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations.

5. Keep Up with Car Maintenance

Before hitting the road during the winter, double-check that your vehicle is up-to-date on all of its maintenance. With proper upkeep, your car will experience fewer problems and keep you safer when you’re driving in snow and ice. Keep up with regular oil changes, battery checks, and other routine services.

Common sense goes a long way in making sure you have a safe winter on the road. Keep plenty of gas in the tank, make sure your windows and headlights are clean, and keep fluids topped off.

Following these winter driving tips should help you have a safe season of commuting. The more thorough you prepare, the better.

Lake Region Insurance Agency Can Help

If you need a quote on auto insurance or aren’t sure if you have adequate coverage, reach out to our Lake Region team today. We will work through every detail with you for home, auto, health, and life insurance.