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.