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R&R Insurance Blog

At Fault and Out of Insurance

Posted by R&R Insurance

car accident.jpgHave you ever thought about what would happen if you exceed your liability limits?

Many people believe that they are good drivers, and therefore do not need a lot of insurance. However, we would like to point out that no driver ever thinks that they are going to have an accident. Yet, in Wisconsin alone there are consistently over 273 accidents per day, and more than one of those accidents will result in a fatality  (WI DOT).

Wisconsin law requires you to have a minimum liability coverage of 25/50/10, which means:
  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death
  • $50,000 total for injury or death to multiple people per accident
  • $10,000 for property damage to others

Though some may take this as the state saying that this level of coverage is good enough, we would never advise anyone to have liability limits so low. In fact, some quality insurance carriers will refuse to write anything lower than 100/300/100. There are many good reasons for this.

Perhaps the easiest to understand is the limit for property damage. This coverage would pay for damages to other vehicles, street lights, fences, etc. Now think about your daily commute. How many vehicles do you drive next to every day that are worth more than $10,000?  A brand new Ford F-150. A two-year-old Chevy Equinox. Any Lexus, BMW, or Acura. A limit of only $10,000 may not be enough to repair and certainly not enough to replace many of the cars on the road. But when this limit is exhausted, it is not the end of the claim.

The owner of the car is going to want the vehicle fixed or replaced, and they are not going to pay for it themselves. When the $10,000 limit is cashed, your bank account and other assets can be used to pay for damages. One way or another, someone else is going to pay for those repairs. Either the liability limits on the policy will be high enough for the insurance carrier to cover the cost, or your savings, assets, and/or future paychecks will.

What is harder to understand but is also a bigger threat to your future earnings is the limit for bodily injury. Medical attention and emergency services do not come with price tags. We have a much more difficult time wrapping our heads around how much any type of surgery or doctor’s appointment will cost. However, I can assure you that these expenses can easily exhaust a low limit.

Recently, I had a small and planned surgery. I was only under the knife for 45 minutes and only in the hospital for 3 hours. No follow up appointments were required. Want to know what the final bill was to my health insurance?  Answer:  $22,000. A surprising number, right?

Now imagine that instead of a planned surgery, there was an emergency situation – like a car accident. Instead of one person being injured, there were multiple.  Instead of a few hours at the hospital, the victims needed a few days, and everyone needed physical therapy and months of follow up appointments with specialist.

Can you see how limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident are not only inadequate, but also extremely dangerous?

Just like the owner of the brand new Ford F-150 will not want to pay for his car to be repaired if you are at fault, you can bet that the injured victims of an auto accident are not going to pay for their medical expenses if you are at fault. Once again, either the liability limits on your policy will be high enough for the insurance carrier to cover the cost, or your savings, assets, and/or future paychecks will.

For more information please contact your Knowledgebroker. Be sure to ask him or her about your liability limits and if an umbrella policy would be right for you.

Topics: Auto Insurance, Auto Accidents

Leasing a Personal Vehicle Back to a Business - Are You Covered?

Posted by Brian Bean

Bob is the owner of Giovin, Inc. He owns a car that is titled in his name only.  He also uses the car primarily for the business of Giovin, Inc.  Because of that, Bob had his insurance agent add the car to Giovin Inc.’s commercial automobile policy.  Bob even has a lease with Giovin that pays iStock_000010641551_Large.jpgBob for the use of that car.  This seems like a great deal for Bob, and in the real world, this scenario happens fairly often.

However, there is a serious coverage problem with this arrangement.  Bob may not be covered personally if there is an accident.  Here is an example of what might happen:   

Let’s say Bob is driving the car on business for Giovin Inc., when he rear ends another car, injuring the occupants.  The occupants file a lawsuit against both Bob, personally, and Giovin, Inc.

This is when Bob gets a nasty surprise.  A standard commercial automobile policy does not cover and defend Bob in this situation.  He will have to pay for his own defense in this lawsuit.  If there is a judgment or settlement, he will likely have to pay that personally as well.

This outcome could have been avoided if Bob had told Giovin’s insurance agent that he was the owner of the vehicle, not Giovin, Inc.    

This situation can be handled to make sure that Bob is covered under the policy.  There are different ways of doing that, and the first step is making your agent aware of who actually owns what vehicle.  To be sure, the insurance carrier’s underwriters will have some questions that will need to be answered.  

A good rule of thumb when it comes to commercial automobile policies:  If a vehicle is titled to someone other than the business named in the policy, you need to check with your agent to make sure that the actual owner is covered in case of an accident.      

Contact a Knowledge Broker at R&R Insurance for additional information.

Topics: Auto Insurance, Auto Accidents, auto policy

Avoid the Lines | Online Services Offered by the DMV

Posted by Tom Mack

DMV.jpgGoing to the DMV can often times feel like a chore. Whether you’re trying to squeeze it in during a lunch hour, or rush to beat the after work crowd, there’s never a good time to take care of pesky car business.

We frequently speak with customers that are heading to the DMV for services that can be taken care of online. Here is a quick reminder about what's available from the comfort of your own home:

  • Change of address
  • Get a duplicate driver license or ID card
  • Check eligibility and reinstate a driving privilege
  • Purchase a driver or vehicle record
  • See if a license is valid
  • Manage the registrations for a fleet of vehicles

For more information on these and other online services, visit www.wisconsindmv.gov.

Topics: Auto Insurance, Personal Lines, car, DMV

5 Car Safety Features that Can Put Money Back in Your Pocket

Posted by Brandy Enger

Car-Safety-FeaturesThe advancements in car safety features over the last few years have been tremendous. From automated braking and back-up cameras, to alert systems and running lights, “car safety” has taken on a whole new meaning.

While the majority of these features can be life-saving, they also offer a great deal of cost savings as well. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers whose vehicles are equipped with certain safety features. The USAA provides insight into a few of the most common features available:

  1. Back-Up Camera. Once a luxury vehicle standard, the backup camera often displayed in the rearview mirrors or in-dash display is now a popular option on midrange cars, giving drivers assurance when backing out of a parking spot or down a driveway.
  2. Automatic braking. If the driver doesn't respond to the warning, some systems are able to brake automatically to prevent a collision or lessen the impact. Systems that combine forward-collision warning and auto-brake are the most effective.
  3. Adaptive headlights. This innovative technology, which allows drivers to see better as they round a curve, surprised researchers with how well it performed. According to Highway Loss Data Institute research, property damage liability claims fell as much as 10 percent with adaptive headlights.
  4. Sideview assist. Sensors can detect a car in your blind spot and then alert you with a light in your side mirror or with a beep if you engage your turn signal.
  5. Forward collision avoidance system. Using the same forward-looking sensors, these pre-crash warning systems alert drivers with visual or auditory cues when the vehicle is getting too close to the one in front.

To learn more about car safety features or to find out how they can positively impact your auto insurance, contact one of our knowledge brokers.

Topics: Safety, Personal Insurance, Auto Insurance, auto insurance savings

6 Tips When Buying a Used Car

Posted by Lauren Oleniczak

Used car buyingThere comes a time when we all have to buy a used car, and it seems that every used car comes with baggage. That being said, you should always thoroughly inspect a used car that you intend to buy. There are 6 major aspects of a used car that are important to inspect, both inside and outside the car.

Before you get in the car, take a look at:

1. The Tires
New tires can be expensive, so you should check to make sure that there is no unusual wear and tear on the tires. Inquire to the seller when was the last time they replaced the tires. You can also double check this by looking at the miles to see if they match the wear on the tires. For example, if the car has low miles, but the tires are very worn down, it could indicate that the tires came from another car or the odometer is incorrect. Neither of these situations is ideal.

2. The Paint Job
The main thing you should be looking for is rust. Rust is fairly easy to spot if you look closely for it. Also look for waves or ripples in the paint, this should indicate that a paint job was done on the car. Another giveaway that a paint job was done is sticky residue from paint tape where the body panels meet. If there appears to be a paint job done, you should ask the owner why there was a paint job done. The car could have been in an accident.

3. Under the Hood
There are three things under the hood that you should be checking when buying a used car. First, check the engine to make sure that there are no cracks or leaks anywhere. Next, check all fluids in the car using by checking the dipsticks. You should also ask the seller when they last refilled their fluids/got an oil change. Finally, you should check that all of the hoses and belts are in good condition. This means making sure that there are no cracks in the rubber or that the hose is not too soft.

Get behind the wheel and take a look at:

4. The Dashboard
Check over the dashboard to make sure that no engine lights or other problematic lights come on. If there are lights flashing on the dashboard, ask the seller about them. Also check out the odometer. You shouldn’t buy a used car with too many miles, or you will end up putting even more money into fixing the car. However, if you are looking for a very cheap car and there is nothing initially wrong with the car, high miles on a car may not be of concern to you.

5. The Mechanics
Make sure all the “extras” in the car work. This means checking the lights, windshield wipers, the windshield wiper fluid, air conditioning, etc. works in the car. The brake lights and head lights are especially important to check, as they could be a safety hazard if not working properly. Air conditioning and heat may not be a priority for some buyers, but you may need these things to de-fog or de-frost your windshield during those cold Wisconsin mornings. The windshield wipers and windshield fluid is very important because they are a safety hazard if they do not work. It will be difficult to drive your car through a thunderstorm without them!

6. The Brakes
This is the most important aspect about the interior of the car to check. Ask the seller if you can test drive the car to test the brakes. Chances are if they say no to a test drive, you don’t want to be buying this car anyways. Check to make sure the regular brakes and the emergency brake works also. No, this doesn’t mean you can drift a car while on a test drive. Try parking on a hill and engage the emergency brake.

If you check all 6 of these things when buying a used car you should definitely still bring the car to a mechanic to check over the vehicle. Sometimes it takes an expert’s eye to catch something that may be wrong with the car. Take the car to a mechanic that you can trust. Happy used car shopping!

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About the author: Lauren is an R&R Insurance intern learning about the insurance industry through sales and service experiences.

Topics: Personal Insurance, Auto Insurance, buying a used car, personal auto insurance