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.  
~ 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

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.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Why do I need Uninsured Motorist coverage on my auto insurance? Why am I paying for the other person?

Why do I need Uninsured Motorist coverage on my auto insurance?  Why am I paying for the other person?
This question, or a variation of this question, is something that we hear frequently from our insureds.  Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?  Why am I paying for the other person?

On your auto insurance policy, you might notice Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverages listed where your liability limits are listed on your auto insurance policy.  These coverages are on your policy to help you – not to pay for the other person.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage:  This coverage may cover damage costs if you are involved in a covered accident with a driver who does not have insurance, or from a hit-and-run driver.
Sometimes, Uninsured Motorist coverage is separated into two different coverages: 
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) may cover damage to your property, including the damage done to your car that you are legally entitled to recover.  (This is a coverage that is not available in Iowa, but is available in some of the other states that we work in.  This is an optional coverage for liability only vehicles.)
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) will pay for injury-related medical expenses to you or anyone in your vehicle. 
Underinsured Motorist Coverage:  This coverage may cover damages related to an accident where the other driver’s insurance policy limits are not enough to cover the damages.

A recent study by the Insurance Information Institute found that about 13% of drivers (1 in 8) don’t have auto insurance.  In Iowa, that number is a little lower with about 8% of drivers not having auto insurance.  Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects you and your family against injuries caused by a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance.    
As always, your Absolute Insurance agent can help you with any questions about coverage on your insurance policy.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Boat Insurance Spotlight - "Store your watercraft, not your coverage"

The boating season in Iowa may be coming to an end as the weather starts to cool, but that doesn't mean that your boat insurance coverage should end.  It is important that your boat is protected year-round.

One thing that you need to do is to make sure to winterize your boat.  You can pay someone to professionally winterize your boat, or you can go through the steps yourself.  Check out this Progressive "Life Lanes" blog with tips on preparing your boat for fall & winter if you want to winterize your boat yourself, or there is also a step-by-step guide from Discover Boating that might be helpful.

Why should you keep coverage on your boat when it is being stored?  Just because your boat isn't out on the water doesn't mean that it is safe from the risk of damage. 

  • Last year, we had an insured where a raccoon family "moved in" to a boat over the winter and tore up the seats.  Because they had a fitted cover on their boat, this was a total loss covered by Progressive.
  • The temperature fluctuates greatly in winter - sometimes boats will have damage from the freezing and thawing coverage.  If a boat has been winterized, this is a covered loss by Progressive.

Two key things to keep in mind to help protect your boat: 1)  You need to winterize your boat  2)  Make sure your boat has a fitted cover in place when in storage

Check our website for more information on boat insurance, or contact your Absolute Insurance agent today for a quote on your boat today!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What Can I do to Lower the Cost of My Car Insurance?

We hear this question a lot when we start working with our clients.  Each of our companies that we write for asks different questions in order to determine eligibility, find the most accurate rate, and see which discounts a customer might qualify for – this is one of the reasons that we ask so many questions when we are gathering information from current and prospective customers. 
There are some different rating factors that are automatically included in the rate: 
  • Accident-Free & Good/Safe Driver:  All auto insurance companies look at an insured’s driving record and claim history when determining the rate for auto insurance.  If you are “accident-free” or have a clean driving record for the last 3-5 years, many insurance companies apply a discount to the premium quote 
  • Vehicle Safety Features:  While most of your car’s safety features are automatically incorporated into the rate from your VIN#, it is still good practice to let your insurance agent know if you have optional safety features in case it is eligible for an additional discount.  Does your car have blind-spot detection?  Automatic braking?  Lane Departure Warning System?  Does it have an anti-theft system?  If so, let your agent know! 
  • Multiple Car Discount:  If you have more than one car insured on a policy, your policy will receive a mult-car discount 
  • Driver Age:  Some companies give an automatic discount to drivers over the age of 55  

 Companies also offer a few different discounts you might be eligible for: 
  • Usage-Based Insurance / Telematics:  This is something that is relatively new and several of our auto insurance companies offer.  Using either a device that you plug-into your car or an app on your smartphone, the program tracks your vehicle usage and driving habits.  Common things that they look for are hard braking, fast acceleration, and night-time driving (between midnight and 4am).  Some companies give a discount for enrolling in the program, and then additional discounts are available at the end of the monitoring time or at the renewal.  Each company’s program is different, so make sure that you talk with your agent to get the specific information for the company that your auto insurance is with.  
  • Bundling your auto/home insurance with the same insurance carrier:  Most of our companies offer a discount if you have your auto and home insurance insured with the same company.  Some companies also offer further discounts if other insurance policies are also written with that company as well (motorcycle, boat, RV, personal umbrella, etc.) 
    • While most companies offer a discount if your auto and home insurance are written together, this doesn’t always mean that it will be less expensive to do this.  Sometimes it is cheaper to have your auto insured with Company A, and your home insured with Company B.  As independent insurance agents, we take that into consideration when we are quoting our customers and look to see which is best for each customer 
  • Company Car:  Are you provided a company car or truck that you drive to/from work?  If so, you may be eligible for a company car discount 
  • Low Mileage:  Do you put less than 7500 miles on your car a year?  The number of annual miles varies by company for what qualifies for low miles 
  • Good Student:  Is your student is between 16-24 years old, a full-time student, and has a “B” average, they may be eligible for a good student discount.  This if for both high school and college students 
  • Distant Student:  Does one of the drivers listed on the policy go to college over 100 miles away from home and not have a car with them at school?  If so, they may be eligible for a distant-student discount 
  • EFT/Paid-in-Full:  You might be eligible for a discount if are you paying for your policy in full, or are paying up for payments automatically withdrawn from your checking/saving account.   
  • Paperless Discount:  Would you prefer to get most of your insurance documents via email instead of through the mail?  A couple of our companies offer a discount if you do! 
If you think that you might be eligible for a discount that you are not currently getting, please reach out to your Absolute Insurance agent so that we can review your policy.   

Also, let us know if you have had anything change in your life that might affect your insurance:  
  • Did you recently retire?  Will your vehicle usage and annual mileage change?  If so, let us know! 
  • Do you have a new job and now have a company car?  Let’s discuss whether the company car discount is an option for you. 
  • Do you telework from home?  We should review the current vehicle usage and mileage to see if we still have it listed correctly. 
Are you thinking of buying a new car?  Call us before you make your final decision and we can quote to see what it would be to add to your existing policy.  This is helpful if you are debating between two different vehicles – the type of vehicle and the safety features that it has can have a huge difference in the insurance rate.
At Absolute Insurance Agency, we know that getting the best coverage at the best price is important to our clients.  One benefit of being an independent insurance agency is that this allows us to quote with multiple companies to see what the best insurance policy would be for you and your family.  Interested in an insurance quote?  Click here for a quote or contact us at