If you feel ambushed by insurance commercials every time you turn on the TV or radio, you aren’t alone. Insurance companies spend billions of dollars on advertising every year, most of them hoping to entertain you with over-the-top personalities or mascots designed to attract your attention. At the core of these commercials, however, are the features each company advertises – some of which may be much more complex or even widely available than is initially let on. In this post, we’ll explore advertised insurance features and what they mean for you.
We’ll start off our post with an advertised feature called the Discount Double-Check. Advertised by State Farm, this is a service – not a particular type of coverage or benefit. State Farm claims that its agents could save you up to 40 percent just by double-checking for discounts. They offer many of the same discounts other insurance companies do, from good student discounts to safe vehicle discounts. The only difference is they claim to ‘double-check’ to make sure you get all the discounts you deserve.
In reality, any agent could do the same thing whether he or she works for State Farm or not. A real advantage comes when it is an independent agent who is doing the double-checking – not a captive agent. An independent agent can search and compare various discounts from multiple insurers to determine which ones result in the greatest value for your coverage.
Next, we have GAP coverage which is designed to pay off any loan balance you have after insurance reimburses you for the cash value of your totaled car. Generally, lienholders require full payment of your loan if the collateral for that loan (your car) is destroyed. If your insurance settlement is not enough to cover the balance, GAP protection can fill in the difference. Without it, you could be stuck paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars out of pocket.
If you plan to finance a vehicle without a big down-payment, you probably need GAP insurance. You could purchase it from a dealer or lender, who will usually want several years of premiums upfront, or you could add it to your car insurance and pay for it only as long as you actually need it.
Bundle and Save
Bundle your coverage and save money. That’s just one of the messages Progressive spends millions of dollars wanting you to see. If you already have auto insurance with the company, you could qualify for additional discounts by also purchasing home, condo, townhome or renters coverage with them, too. What the commercials conveniently omit, however, is that most other insurance companies offer bundling discounts, also. In fact, some may even extend discounts to recreational vehicles like RVs and motorcycles.
If you do happen to have an accident despite practicing safe driving habits, why should you have to pay higher car insurance premiums? After all, isn’t that what insurance is for? In reality, insurance companies have the right to overlook years of safe driving, taking a single accident as an indication of your risk of filing future claims. With Accident Forgiveness, however, your insurance rates will not go up just because of a first-time accident.
Allstate is the primary advertiser of Accident Forgiveness, but there are actually several different insurance companies that provide similar benefits. The Hartford, Acuity, Progressive, and Liberty Mutual are just a few examples, as well as Integrity Insurance, which provides accident forgiveness to some drivers free of charge after five years.
Few things leave you more vulnerable than a flat tire or a breakdown on the side of the road. For some drivers, these experiences can be downright scary. Liberty Mutual caters to this need by advertising its optional Roadside Assistance coverage, which provides help for things like dead batteries and lock-outs any time of the day or night. Here at the Andreotti Agency, we typically recommend Roadside Assistance to customers who want peace of mind knowing they or the other drivers on their policies have access to help when they need it most. Though Liberty Mutual is the primary advertiser of this coverage, nearly all insurance companies offer it as an add-on.
Safe Driving Bonus Check
Allstate advertises many different features, one of which is the exclusive Safe Driving Bonus Check. The commercials usually show drivers practicing safe behavior behind the wheel and talking about what they plan to do with their Safe Driving Bonus Checks. So what are these checks?
Put simply; the check is a reimbursement of up to five percent of the premiums paid for car insurance at the conclusion of each six-month policy period. For a $500 policy, that equates to about $25. To qualify, drivers must enroll in the Your Choice Auto Program. Allstate charges extra for enrollment and also requires the drivers have a good driving record and good credit. Then, drivers must remain accident-free for the duration of each policy or else risk forfeiting the bonus. Drivers who successfully qualify for a bonus can elect to apply as a credit toward future premiums or receive a personal check (so long as the bonus exceeds the payment threshold).
While the Safe Driving Bonus Check can provide a small reward for safe driving, several other insurance companies also offer benefits of their own. From safe driving discounts to gradually diminishing premiums and deductibles, an agent here at the Andreotti Agency can help you determine which insurer’s safe driving program is right for you.
Name Your Price Tool
The Name Your Price Tool may be the first thing you think of when you think about Progressive. After all, Flo has been selling drivers on it for years in the company’s witty commercials. It works by quoting a price for insurance coverage and then allowing drivers to lower that price by making adjustments to various types of coverage and limits. The problem is when a user reduces or eliminates coverage that he or she needs, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Without the help of a real agent, it can be difficult for some drivers to assess actual risk vulnerabilities accurately.
Instead of reducing coverage to achieve a better price, let your independent agent shop and compare rates from multiple insurers on your behalf – all while leaving the coverage you need most intact.
New Car Replacement
Finally, we wrap things up with New Car Replacement, a feature advertised by Liberty Mutual. Since insurance settlements for totaled vehicles are usually less than what was paid for the car, you might find yourself digging deeper into your pockets to purchase a replacement. With New Car Replacement coverage, the insurance company pays to replace your totaled vehicle with another one just like it.
To be eligible for New Car Replacement from Liberty Mutual, a vehicle must be less than a year old and have fewer than 15,000 miles on it. However, some other insurance companies extend new car protection much longer. In the case of Travelers Insurance, for example, you can get replacement coverage for up to five years of ownership. A few companies offer replacement coverage for used cars, too, in some cases replacing the vehicle with one that is a full year newer.
As we come to the end of this post, we hope you better understand the fine print behind some of the most frequently advertised insurance features and can make a more informed decision as to whether they may be right for you. Contact an agent here at the Andreotti Agency for more information or to explore options for any of the coverages and discounts mentioned in this post.