Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Ask Your Absolute Insurance Agent: When should my kids get their own auto insurance policy?

Q: ”When should my kids get their own auto insurance policy?”

A:  This is a question that we get often with our clients.  When children obtain their driver's license we list them as insured drivers on their parent's auto policy.  Every policy requires all licensed members of the household to be listed as an operator on the auto insurance policy.  We recommend letting us know when your children get their driver’s permit and when they get a school license, intermediate, or regular driver's license.  As kids grow up, when do they need to get their own auto insurance policy?

If your child has moved out of your house and is no longer a dependent, they need to have their own insurance policy.   Under most personal auto insurance policies, the “insured” covered by the policy includes “family members”.  Family members are limited to “a person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is a resident of your household.”  Once an adult child moves out of the household, they would no longer meet the definition of the “family member/resident relative” on your insurance policy.  We know your adult children will always be your family member, but unfortunately, they won’t be defined as an insured on your auto policy once they are no longer a resident in the household.  Why is this important?  Here are some examples to show why:

  • Your daughter Amy is excited to go to her former ISU college roommate’s destination wedding in Colorado.  She rents a car and doesn’t buy the insurance offered by the rental car company.  If she were to be in an accident, the liability and physical damage from your insurance policy will not extend to the rental car.

  • Your son Brent borrows his friend’s truck to move from an apartment in Waukee and to a new apartment in Ankeny and rear-ends another vehicle, injuring the other vehicle’s driver.  Since Brent is no longer a resident of your home, he has no liability coverage for the other driver’s bodily injury or the property damage to the other vehicle.  

  • Your child is crossing the street in Des Moines and hit by a hit-and-run driver.  There would be no medical payments or uninsured motorist’s coverage for his or her own injuries.  Same if they are riding a bicycle and struck by a vehicle that was uninsured, underinsured, or left the scene.

Without coverage from an auto insurance policy, your child will have to pay these expenses themselves. Some of our largest claims come from the uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage.  This is why we are discussing this.

Another factor of whether to keep your child on your insurance is how the vehicle is titled.  With some companies, all vehicles on an insurance policy have to be titled to the named insured.  If your son or daughter has their own car titled in their name (even if they still reside in your home), they might need to have their own insurance policy.  Some of our companies do allow vehicles to be titled in different names - this is something that you should talk to your agent about.  

Each insurance company has its own guidelines, so it is best to talk to your Absolute insurance agent about your specific details.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Ask Your Absolute Insurance Agent: Do I have to tell my Homeowners Insurance Company that I have a Dog?

One question that is on every Homeowner/Condo Owner/Renters insurance application is whether you have any dogs or other animals in the household or on the property.  If you didn’t disclose the dog on your application or didn’t disclose the breed of your dog, your insurance policy could be voided due to misrepresentation.  This means that if your dog bit someone, and the dog wasn’t mentioned on your Homeowners insurance policy, the insurance company may refuse to pay the claim and cancel your policy.


Each company has different guidelines relating to dogs, but usually, the company will ask for the breed of the dog, the bite history, and sometimes how the dog is controlled (in the house, in a fenced-in yard, etc.)  We do not have any Homeowner Insurance Company that will write a policy where a dog has a prior bite history or is a pit bull.


Did you get a new dog or pet since your application was written?  Let your agent know what type of animal/breed of dog, how the dog is controlled, and whether it has a bite history so we can note your policy.

Friday, March 6, 2020

4 Ways to Help Reduce Your Home Insurance Premium

I was recently discussing ways to reduce Home Insurance Costs with a client.  Many clients are building new homes or revamping an existing home.  Here are some ideas we discussed that can reduce your home insurance.

1.  Fire & Burglary Alarms:  There is a discount for having alarms for fire and burglary.  There are a lot of technologies out there.  Burglar and fire alarms that are monitored by a 3rd party give the bigger discount.  But even the alarms that alert your phone with video/data sharing may provide a  discount:  Blink, Ring, etc.

There are 3 other things that I would recommend considering.  With some of our carriers, these will discount your policy a little.  But more importantly, these could prevent or minimize a claim.  Avoiding a deductible, the mess, and the hassle has big value!

2.   Roofing Material:  Consider installing a roofing material that has a UL 4 Rating.  This can avoid most hail events and will also last much longer.  The newer the roof, the better the discount.  The better and newer the roof is an even better discount.

3.  Backup Sump Pump System - Municipal Water or Battery Backup:  If this is done during construction, it is a minimal cost.  I would do the municipal water backup.  No electricity = no sump pump.  When do you need a sump pump?  During a storm.  When does the power go out?  During a storm.  This is why Sump Pump backups are huge.  Plus some are a 2nd pump so even if you have power, it many be the difference-maker.

4.  Water Leak Detection Devices:  There are some new water leak detection devices our there that will alert you or turn off the water when a water leak is detected.  Your home's washing machine, dishwasher, and the water line to the fridge are your 3 leakers and can cause massive damage. Check out this page on our web page for more information on Water Loss & water leak detection systems.

~ Jeff Eastvold

Friday, January 24, 2020

Ask Your Absolute Insurance Agent: What is the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage on my auto insurance?

"What is the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage on my auto insurance?"
When you look over your auto insurance declaration page, you will notice that there are a lot of different coverages and amounts listed. If your vehicle is covered with full coverage, you will have coverage for Comprehensive Coverage and Collision Coverage, each with a deductible listed.  What is the difference between the two, and what does the deductible mean?
Collision Coverage
Collision Coverage comes into play if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle or if you hit an object such as a mailbox. Collision coverage also covers damage caused by potholes. Collision coverage will pay to repair the damages to your vehicle, minus your deductible.
  • Example:  Maria has collision coverage on her insurance policy with a $500 deductible for her Ford Explorer. An unknown driver hit her Explorer while it was parked and drove off. Maria is told that it will cost $4200 to repair her car. Her insurance company will pay $3700 to have her vehicle repaired ($4200 in damages minus her $500 deductible)
  • Example: Joe has collision coverage on his insurance policy with a $500 deductible. He is driving his minivan and backs into a cement wall behind him. The wall has no damage, but the collision with the wall has caused $2000 damage to his vehicle. His insurance company will pay $1500 to have his vehicle repaired ($2000 minus his $500 deductible)
Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive Coverage is sometimes referred to as “other than collision” coverage. This coverage can help pay for damages to your vehicle not caused by a collision, such as: accidents involving an animal, hail, fire, certain falling objects such as a tree branch, theft, and vandalism.  Comprehensive coverage will pay to repair the damages to your vehicle minus your deductible.
  • Example:  Shirley has comprehensive coverage on her insurance policy with a $250 deductible on her Toyota Camry. Shirley is driving home and hits a deer. She gets an estimate of $3000 to fix her vehicle.  Her insurance company will pay $2750 to have her vehicle repaired ($3000 minus her $250 deductible)
  • Example: James has comprehensive coverage on his insurance policy with a $500 deductible on his truck. A hail storm sweeps through James’ town and his truck suffers $2000 in hail damage. His insurance company will pay $1500 to have his truck repaired ($2000 minus $500 deductible)
Your insurance company might decide that your vehicle is “totaled” when the cost to repair the car is greater than the value of the vehicle or in some cases when it reaches a certain percentage of its value.  In that instance, your insurance company will issue payment for the Actual Cash Value of the totaled vehicle minus your comprehensive or collision deductible.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Telematics - What is it? How can it help me save money on my auto insurance?

Several of the insurance companies that we work with offer a potential discount for customers who sign-up for “usage-based insurance (UBI)” or “telematics”.  Customers can either plug a device into their vehicle or download an app to their Smartphone, and the insurance company will use data collected to offer their customers a discount based on their driving habits. 
This year, when our auto insurance policy with Safeco Insurance was renewed, our family signed up for their Telematics program called RightTrack.  Safeco’s RightTrack program gives an initial discount to all drivers who complete the 90-day review period, and the policy could receive a discount of up to 30% when the review period is over.  The discount will roll over at each renewal and stay on for the life of the policy. 
Safeco’s Right Track program looks at the information gathered by the device to calculate a discount based on your driving habits.  RightTrack looks at information including: 
  • Total number of miles driven 
  • Nighttime driving (between midnight and 4 am) 
  • Rapid Acceleration 
  • Hard Braking 
How did it work for my family to use RightTrack?   
We have 3 drivers in our household – myself, my husband, and my mother-in-law.  Once we registered for the program online, all 3 of us downloaded the apps to our smartphones using the activation code that Safeco emailed to us – this helped to connect the app to our insurance policy.   Once the app is installed, it lets you know how many days remaining in the review period, lists projected policy savings and shows your overall performance on braking, acceleration, and nighttime driving.  There is also a log of all the driver trips that you have taken.   Since the app would register any trip, you would need to go into the app within 7 days to mark any trips where you weren’t the driver.   
Overall, we found the RightTrack app easy to use – the app will automatically record a trip, so you don’t need to open the app each time you drive. The RightTrack app ranked the 3 drivers on our policy against each other so we had sort of a friendly banter going back and forth about who was the better driver.   
Currently Safeco, Progressive, and Nationwide offer a telematics program on their auto insurance policies.  Each company’s telematics program works differently so you would need to either read up on the specific program or ask your agent how your insurance company’s telematics program works, and whether the program might be a good fit for you and your family.  
You can also check out this video with more information regarding Usage-Based Insurance or Telemetrics Insurance.
~ Janna Dailey, Insurance Agent at Absolute Insurance Agency, LLC

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Do all household members need to be listed on my auto insurance policy?

Two of the questions that we ask when working on an auto insurance quote is what other licensed/permitted drivers live in the household and are there any other drivers of the vehicle(s).   
You might also have to list anyone who co-signed the loan for your car or who is also registered on the vehicle.   
Each company handles these additional drivers differently, so it is important that we know all of the household members and other drivers when we are quoting your auto insurance so that we can give you an accurate rate.  Depending on the company, these additional drivers could be listed as: 
  • Rated Driver:  A rated driver is covered to drive your vehicle(s); most of the drivers on your policy would fall under this category 
  • Excluded Driver: An excluded driver would not be covered to drive any of the vehicle(s) on the policy 
  • Non-rated Driver: – Some companies list household members who have their own vehicles and own insurance as non-rated drivers 
Not every company allows licensed drivers to be listed as non-rated drivers or to exclude drivers, so it is important that we know all licensed and permitted drivers in the household or additional drivers of your vehicle(s) when we are working on your insurance rate so we find the best insurance company for you initially.  If you have any questions on whether someone should be listed on your auto insurance plan, speak with your agent. 
As always, your Absolute Insurance agent can help you with any questions about coverage on your insurance policy.

Do you have an insurance-related question or an insurance topic that you would like to see covered in an upcoming newsletter or blog post?  Send us your ideas to newsletter@insaia.com.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Creating a Home Inventory

Included in most Homeowners, Condo-Owners, and Renters policies is coverage for the contents of your home.  Do you know how much coverage you need if you had to replace everything in your house?  Would you know what you had in each room of your home in the event of a claim?

Keeping an inventory is helpful to know how much coverage you need, and to have a list of your contents in the event of a claim such as a break-in, a fire claim, or other claim.

There are several different ways to create an inventory – pick a method that works best for you.  Keep a copy of the inventory someplace other than your home.  It is recommended that your attorney or executor of your estate have a copy as well.  You can also leave a copy with a trusted family member or emergency contact.

Ways to keep an inventory:

  • Written List  
  • Digital List (Online with a Google Doc or Excel Spreadsheet) 
  • Pictures/Videos - this is especially recommended for more valuable items.  If you are taking a video, audibly describe items as you move through your home. 
  • Combination of above 

It is recommended that you take inventory by room within your house.  Make sure to take photos from different angles and in a well-lit room.  You can also use sticky notes to label certain items.  Keep receipts or appraisals of higher-priced items.  For electronics and appliances, it is recommended to also include the model number and serial numbers of each item.  Don’t forget to include your garage, shed, deck, and basement when you are completing your inventory. 

One example of how you could set-up your inventory digitally would be to use Google Docs.  Create a folder called “Home Inventory”.  Within the folder, you could upload photos/videos of each room.  An inventory would be created with either Google Docs or Google Sheets (similar to Excel); create a separate page for each room. If you are working on the inventory with another household member such as a spouse, you could share the folder and give them editing rights so that they can also modify the inventory.  You could also share the folder with your attorney, executor, or emergency contact with viewing rights so that they have a copy as well, or you could give them a hard copy to keep as a back-up for you.

A few times a year, review your inventory to add new items or remove items that you have gotten rid of.  Make it a habit to update your inventory when you add new purchases to your home.

As you are doing an inventory of your house and come across special or high-value items such as jewelry, art, cameras or coin collections, you might want to talk with your agent about insuring these items as Scheduled Personal Property (SPP) on your policy.  Here is a blog giving more information about SPP, but you can also reach out to your agent for more specific information.