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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Insurance

As the year draws to a close, many people are already looking forward to the new year.  Whether you see resolutions as a dreaded chore or as an exciting fresh start, they can be helpful. This year, consider fully embracing the world of adulting by making new year’s resolutions for insurance.

Getting your insurance ducks in a row might not be the most glamorous project. But it’s crucial for your long-term financial stability.

Here at Lake Region Insurance Agency, we take insurance seriously and want to help our customers wherever we can. Don’t let anything take you by surprise in 2021. After the craziness of 2020, preparation and planning are more important than ever. 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Insurance Shouldn’t Be That Way

You probably don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about insurance plans and policies. You might prefer to avoid it all together. But the truth is, if you ignore your coverage, you could end up with significant problems.

Get ready for the upcoming year with our top new year’s resolutions for insurance. You’ll be able to rest assured that you have the coverage you need.

New year's resolutions for insurance help you start the year right.

1. Figure Out What You Already Have

For many people, one of the key priorities for next year is to declutter, streamline, and minimize. But you can’t do this until you go through everything you currently have.

Why not extend this idea to your insurance by examining your current policies? Dig out your statements and take an hour or so to clarify what coverage you have in place, making a note of premiums, limits, and deductibles. That way, if you need to shop for a new policy, you can make sure you are getting the very best deal.

Better yet, set a time to meet with your insurance agent to review everything. They will help you find redundancies and gaps so that you can adjust your policies as needed.

2. Inventory and Document

The notion of doing a full, whole-house inventory can be overwhelming. But it is a vital part of your new year’s resolutions for insurance. 

If you are a victim of a fire, flood, storm, or natural disaster, the aftermath will be stressful. The forms and paperwork that come with filing an insurance claim can feel overwhelming when you are reeling from a loss.

With an up-to-date home inventory, you can significantly reduce the stress that comes with this process. Set aside some time, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and power through this job.

Make an inventory of all your household items in case you need to file a claim.

Don’t skimp on your inventory. Include anything that you would want to cover in an insurance claim. Go room by room and create a digital document that lists all pertinent items.

Alternatively, making a video inventory is a great option. It can be a relatively quick project, and you can store a copy off-site or in the cloud. Ideally, you will have an inventory list and a video. 

Make sure you include as much detail as possible. For big-ticket items, note when you purchased them and for how much. The more work you do now, the easier it will be if you need to make a claim.

3. Change Your Habits

Most resolutions involve establishing new habits, and this can also apply to your new year’s resolutions for insurance. Many people have behaviors or practices that boost their chances of needing to make an insurance claim. 

For example, do you tend to leave the kitchen while something is on the stove? Maybe you decide to do a quick chore like moving laundry to the dryer and then get sidetracked folding clothes. Soon, something could be burning. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the top reason for home fires and injuries. Something as simple as supervising the stove could keep you safe and reduce the risk of a fire. 

Avoid kitchen fires by staying close to the stove while cooking.

Some other habits that can lead to insurance claims include:

  • Leaving keys in a vehicle
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving while impaired
  • Speeding

Working to change these dangerous habits will help you avoid an auto insurance claim or having your rates increase due to a ticket.

4. Increase Your Chances of A Deal

Your credit score can have a significant impact on your eligibility for good insurance deals and policies. With this in mind, improving your credit score should be one of your top new year’s resolutions for insurance. 

Many factors go into your credit score, and they are under your control. Some of the most critical considerations are bankruptcies, debt load, missed payments, and the length of your credit history. 

Make it a new year’s goal to get a copy of your credit report. You legally have the right to claim a report from each major reporting agency once every year. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian each have a file that contributes to your credit score. 

Take time to examine your file so that you can dispute any errors and identify areas you need to improve. Improving your credit score may have a tremendous impact on your insurance rates.

5. Consider Umbrella Insurance

Once you have taken care of your major policies – life, auto, and home – it can be a good idea to invest in an umbrella policy. This plan is sort of a ‘catch-all’ policy designed to cover a wide range of circumstances. In a sense, it offers an extra layer of protection to your existing policies.

Umbrella policies can be useful for extreme situations that exceed the limits of your other policies. For example, if your dog gets out and bites someone, the medical and legal costs could surpass your homeowners’ policy limits. An umbrella policy can cover the difference, giving you significant protection.

How Can We Help?

The team at Lake Region Insurance Agency has the experience and expertise to help you make and keep your insurance resolutions. As independent agents, we can search for the perfect policy from a variety of providers.

We take time to get to know our clients well so that we can help them find all the coverage they need to protect themselves. If you are ready for this level of service, let’s connect. We have offices in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN. Give us a call or stop in to get started.

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Will a Car Accident Raise My Insurance Rates?

If you’ve been in a fender bender or other collision, you may wonder, “Does a car accident raise my insurance rates?” While it’s possible that a serious accident could increase your costs, not every incident will do so.

Lake Region Insurance Agency is ready to help you secure the best insurance policies at prices that fit your budget. 

Our independent agents in New London, Cokato, and Wilmar, MN, offer high-end service and small-town values. Contact us today to enjoy a free policy review, and we’ll make sure to find the coverage that’s right for you.

How Do Companies Determine Auto Premiums?

As with any coverage, car insurance rates revolve around risk. The more risk an insurance company takes on, the higher the premiums rise. 

Several factors go into setting your auto insurance rates. Some are under your control, and others are not. The top rate influencers include:

  • Value of Your Car The age, condition, make, and model of your car impact its value. And the value helps determine the cost to insure the vehicle. Something with a higher value to replace or repair will carry a higher premium.
  • Policy Type – Every state requires vehicle owners to carry a liability policy. It helps to protect you if there is a car accident where you are at fault. If you add comprehensive coverage, you’ll pay a higher rate. This insurance covers your repairs, property damage, and medical expenses you incur, regardless of who was at fault. It also kicks in if someone steals your car or if it sustains damage due to fire, vandalism, or natural disasters. If you owe on a car loan, your lender will require you to carry comprehensive insurance.

Your type of policy helps determine your premium.

  • Deductible – The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance carrier pays your claim. Lower deductibles lead to higher premiums and vice versa.
  • Location – If you’re insuring a car in a place with high crime rates, hazardous roads, or icy weather, you may have to pay higher premiums. The same is true of densely-populated areas.
  • Driving record – If you’ve had previous accidents or moving violations, you probably will pay higher premiums than someone with a squeaky clean driving record. Speeding tickets can impact your insurance rates if you’ve gotten several within three years.
  • Age A driver’s age is one of the most significant factors in determining auto insurance rates. Young drivers require the highest premiums of any age group. People ages 16 to 25 can pay up to four times as much for insurance than their more mature counterparts.
  • Gender Teenage boys and young men are, statistically, riskier drivers. Because of this fact, insurance companies mitigate their risks by charging these drivers significantly higher premiums. Once a man turns 25, his premiums will drop if he has kept a clean driving record.

With so many factors in the mix, it’s no wonder there is confusion about how much an accident can impact your costs.

Do Car Accidents Raise My Insurance Rates? 

Car accidents don't always make your rates go up.

Not all car accidents are created equal. Obviously, a bumper tap in a parking lot does less costly damage than a head-on collision.

If you bump another car from behind, or you lightly scratch an adjacent vehicle in the parking lot, take a deep breath. You may be in the clear for insurance rate hikes if your accident claim is minor. 

When you know that you’ve damaged another car, make every effort to contact the other driver. You’ll need to exchange insurance information and get repair estimates. If the repair costs come in below your deductible amount, it might make sense to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket rather than filing a claim.

In more severe collisions, the insurance companies will view the police report and any related evidence, like videos, photos, or witness statements. They’ll determine fault, which could include more than one driver, and look at all the costs incurred because of the accident.

The insurance carrier will decide whether your rates will increase after processing your claim.

Your Driving Record Matters

If you are filing your first-ever claim, the carrier may not give you a higher premium. Remember, they set these based on risk. 

If you have a stellar driving record otherwise, a first claim may not impact your rates. Again, the severity of the accident will also be a factor. Any accident claims that you file stay on your record for three years, even if you were not at fault.

Reduce the likelihood of another costly incident by remembering to:

  • Observe the Speed Limit
  • Drive Defensively
  • Always Wear Your Seatbelt
  • Never Drive Distracted

Distracted driving is treacherous.

Accident Forgiveness and No-Fault Insurance

Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness or no-fault insurance. A no-fault policy covers medical expenses incurred by either party, no matter who is at fault. Your premiums may still increase after an accident, depending on the size and scope of the claim.

You also might be eligible for an accident forgiveness policy for your vehicle. You’ll likely pay a higher premium or extra fee for this coverage. But your rates won’t elevate if you file an accident claim, no matter who’s at fault.

It’s smart to look into all your policy options when insuring your car. If you’ve had a prior accident, you may save money in the long run by purchasing an accident forgiveness policy.

Let’s Save You Some Money

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know that the worst can happen no matter how careful or cautious you are. Trust our independent agents to help you shop the market for the best rates possible. We serve our customers, not the insurance companies.

Our clients are also our neighbors, so we serve Greater Minnesota with pride and care. We’ve been a trusted insurance partner for decades, and our values guide all of our interactions with clients.

Call or stop in for a free coverage review and a quote for the policies that meet your needs. Our team is eager to help.

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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.