Entries in Car Insurance (6)


Traffic Tickets Often Don't Raise Insurance Costs, Survey Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Contrary to what many drivers believe, getting a ticket doesn't automatically lead to hefty car insurance premium increases.

In fact, only 31 percent of drivers ticketed in the past five years paid an increase, according to a survey just released by comparison-shopping site

"It's a myth that insurance companies are constantly checking your record, and that if you get ticketed you'll be noticed right away," says Laura Adams, the site's senior insurance analyst.  "It might be the case if you're a younger driver.  But for the majority of drivers, it's not."

If you're between the ages of 18 and 25, she says, your insurer probably is pulling up your Motor Vehicle Report (the document that keeps tabs on any tickets that you have gotten) once every six months.  Because insurers view young drivers as risky, they monitor their records more closely.

"But if you're an older driver," Adams says, "and you've got a good record -- if you've gone 10 years, say, without a ticket -- then they're not going to be pulling it often, if at all."

The reason is cost.  Pulling the report is expensive for insurers.

Some 41 percent of young drivers who got ticketed said they saw their premiums increase, compared with 32 percent of drivers aged 30 to 49 and 15 percent of drivers aged 50 or older.  The most common increase was $100 a year or less, according to the survey.

Some kinds of tickets, of course, invite more scrutiny -- and are costlier -- than others.

Of the 1,000 respondents in the survey, most (62 percent) were ticketed for speeding.  The next biggest group (19 percent) had run a stop sign or red light.  Seven percent were ticketed for careless driving, 3 percent for driving while telecommunicating, and another 3 percent for driving drunk.  

Some 58 percent said they had gotten only one ticket in the past five years; 25 percent got two and 9 percent got four or more.

Whenever possible, says Adams, you should try to have a ticket expunged from your record, since a repaired record reduces the odds you'll pay more for insurance.  Tickets for minor infractions are easily expunged in many states by attending traffic safety school.

Getting a second ticket, regardless of type, within six to 24 months of your first is such a red flag in the eyes of an insurer that you may lose coverage altogether.

Adams recommends that drivers with serious and/or multiple infractions consult an attorney.  The laws of every state differ, she says, when it comes to ticketing and penalties.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Price Is Top Issue for Car Insurance Shoppers, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- We’ve all seen those TV commercials and online ads from unnamed companies that say, "Act now and save X percent on your car insurance."

But is it really possible to save on your car insurance? That’s something many people would like to know.  In fact, according to a study released on Monday by, a Bankrate company, 81 percent of Americans who switched car insurance carriers over the past year were motivated by price.

“Consumers don’t care as much about customer service or reputation,” John Egan, the managing editor of, told ABC News.  “They want to know who’s going to save them the most money.”

According to Egan, the answer depends on your own particular circumstance.

“Those are legitimate savings that people can get, but not every customer is the same,” he said.

Factors include your age, annual mileage, amount of coverage, deductible, whether or not you bundle other insurance policies with the same carrier, and even credit score.

“If you’ve got a bad driving record, you probably won’t qualify for the best savings that an auto insurance has to offer,” he said.  “It’s like when you see ads on TV for interest rates when you buy a new car.  Those interests rates are for the top notch customers.  So while the auto insurance companies are advertising that you can save X amount of money, that’s not going to be the experience for every single customer.”

Egan suggested consumers not only look at price, but also the type of coverage they really need.  He suggested talking to an insurance agent or even doing online research to determine what kind of coverage makes the most sense.

“What you, as a customer, need to keep in mind is: What’s the best option for me?” he said.  “You can cut corners too sharply with your car insurance and end up paying more in the end when you have to file a claim.”

“The last thing you want to do is end up in a wreck and find out that you don’t have enough coverage and are stuck with a $6,000 repair bill,” Egan added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Insurance Company Progressive Defend Policyholder's Killer?

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The brother of a woman who was killed in car accident is accusing her insurance company of defending the person he said is her killer in an insurance legal dispute, including calling a witness to the stand against her.

Kaitlynn Fisher, who had engineering degrees from Johns Hopkins University, died in a car accident on June 19, 2010 in Baltimore after another driver ran a red light.  She was 24.

On Monday, Matthew Fisher, 33, her brother and a comedian based in Brooklyn, published a blog post, saying the insurance company Progressive "refused to pay the policy to my sister's estate."

Fisher wrote that "someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive's bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money."

Chris Wolf, a claims general manager with Progressive, offered a statement to ABC News, saying, "foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to Kaitlynn Fisher's family."

"To be very clear, Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case.  He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide," Wolf said in the statement.  "There was a question as to who was at fault, and a jury decided in the Fisher family's favor just last week.  We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution."

A spokesman for Progressive declined to comment further.

Fisher fired back against Progressive's statement in another blog post Tuesday night, saying Progressive's attorney not only sat next to the other driver during the trial, but conferred with the defendant "in and out of the courtroom."

"He gave an opening statement to the jury, in which he proposed the idea that the defendant should not be found negligent in the case.  He cross-examined all of the plaintiff's witnesses," Fisher said in a statement Tuesday evening.  "On direct examination, he questioned all of the defense's witnesses.  He made objections on behalf of the defendant, and he was a party to the argument of all of the objections heard in the case.  After all of the witnesses had been called, he stood before the jury and gave a closing argument, in which he argued that my sister was responsible for the accident that killed her, and that the jury should not decide that the defendant was negligent."

"I am comfortable characterizing this as a legal defense," he continued.

In his blog post, Fisher said that he doesn't "discount the possibility that Katie was at fault in the accident, but it never really looked that way."  He said a witness stated that "Katie had the light."

The jury awarded the Fishers $760,000 and Progressive will have to pay at minimum $100,000, the amount on Kaitlynn's policy, within 30 days.

Fisher and a family spokeswoman directed ABC News to their attorney, Allen W. Cohen.

Cohen said while Progressive's claim is technically correct that they did not serve as an attorney for the defendant, "Progressive did everything in their power to show that their own insured did something wrong.  They were fighting against the person who paid them premiums."

That included calling a witness to the stand who claimed that Kaitlynn ran a red light.

"Maryland law requires that an insurance company act in good faith as it works with its own insured," Cohen said, but "we question the good faith behavior of Progressive."

Because of that question of "good faith," Cohen said the family is exploring avenues of additional damages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seven Ways to Cut Your Car Insurance

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Let’s say you live in Michigan, where the typical household shells out a whopping eight percent of its annual income on car insurance.  Or maybe you live someplace where the rates are cheaper -- like Colorado or Massachusetts -- but would like to save some cash.  Is there any way to reduce your yearly payments?

Absolutely, says John Egan, the managing editor of, which recently released a state-by-state breakdown of car insurance costs in all 50 states.

“While you’re probably not going to move to a new state just because of car insurance costs, the most important thing to remember is that,  regardless of where you live, you can get a better deal than the Average Joe by shopping around,” says Egan.

Here are some more of his tips.

1. Don’t pay for more coverage than you need.
If your car is over, say, 10 years old, and you’re carrying collision and comprehensive coverage, you may want to look at dropping that coverage.  State laws don’t require that type of coverage, but most states do require basic liability coverage.  You may cut your premium by 20 percent or more by doing this.

2. Bundle your policies.
Many insurers offer discounts if you buy at least two policies from them.  A typical combination is car and home insurance policies.  Discounts can be substantial.  For instance, Nationwide customers in some states receive as much as a 25 percent discount for bundling.

3. Ask for discounts.
You may be eligible for discounts based on age, driving record, memberships or other considerations.  For example, drivers who are 55 and older typically qualify for a senior discount.  If your household includes teen drivers, they may qualify for “good student” discounts.  Online defensive driver courses may reduce your premium too.

4. Ensure your rates are based on accurate information.
Your car insurance company will determine your rates based on factors such as your age, driving record, geographic location and driving habits.  But if something has changed that could reduce your rates, you’ll want to make sure your car insurance company knows about it.

5. Shop around for a better deal.
If you think you can get better coverage for the same amount or less with another insurance company, obtain quotes online and talk with several insurers.  Many consumers fail to look around for lower car insurance rates and could be paying higher premiums as a result.  If you’re displeased with your current insurer, tell the company that you’re considering a switch.  The insurer may want to give you a price break to hang on to your business.

6. Guard Your Driving Record.
Points on your license mean higher insurance rates.  It’s worth your while to go to court to get points reduced on infractions.  In addition, many states allow you and drivers in your family to complete courses to reduce those points.

7. Raise Your Deductibles.
Deductibles as low $100 on your collision or comprehensive insurance raise your premium.  Consider a $500 or $1,000 deductible -- that’s the amount you must pay when there’s claim -- and you may save hundreds.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michigan Most Expensive State for Car Insurance, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to car insurance rates, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Mississippi are at the top of the heap for the amount paid compared to residents’ incomes.

According to a new study released on Monday by, those are the five most expensive states for car insurance, with Michigan in the number one position.  

On average, the typical Michigan household pays a hefty 8 percent of its annual income for car insurance.  By contrast, the typical Massachusetts household dedicates a mere 1.43 percent of its annual income to car insurance.  North Carolina (1.6 percent), Hawaii (1.6 percent), Alaska (1.75 percent) and Oregon (1.95 percent) are among the most affordable states.

“We wanted to warn consumers about how much car insurance costs as a percentage of their income in the state,” said John Egan, the managing editor of  “It also serves as a reminder that people really need to pay attention to how much they’re paying and be their own best friend when it comes to getting the best deal they can get.”

Most states require drivers to have some degree of car insurance, which is regulated at the state level.  Part of the reason Michigan is so expensive is because it’s the only state that guarantees unlimited personal injury protection, or PIP.  That covers the policyholders’ medical costs in case of an accident, no matter who’s at fault, said Egan.  Michigan is also the only state where coverage includes unlimited lifetime medical and rehabilitation benefits.

“So, if you’re injured and paralyzed and need physical therapy or medical equipment for the rest of your life, that all gets covered by your car insurance policy,” said Egan.

Whether this is good or bad depends on one’s perspective.

“If you’re an accident victim, that will pretty much save you from going bankrupt,” he said.  “But opponents of the system say it jacks up the car insurance premiums for everybody. So you’ve got two sides of the issue there.”

Population size also has an impact on rates. Alaska and Hawaii, for example, have fewer accidents because they simply have fewer people on the road. Consequently, “There are fewer opportunities to have incidents that result in car accident claims,” said Egan.

The number of injury claims also factors into the equation. For instance, Louisiana -- where a typical household shells out 5.5 percent of its annual income for car insurance -- has a fairly large number of injury claims.

“This has an effect on everybody’s rates no matter what state you live in, and that’s one of the things people really need to keep in mind,” said Egan.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the car insurance costs in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, click here. You can also enter your zip code and compare quotes at

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Most Drivers Seem Content with Their Auto Insurance Plans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A certain insurance company with a gecko as a spokesman boasts that just 15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on your car insurance...but that's provided you want to make the switch.

As it turns out, according to market research company J.D. Power and Associates, most people seem content with the insurance company they've already got.

Overall, just 25 percent of car owners looked around for a new insurer in 2011, down from one in three the year before.

Of those who shopped around, 43 percent actually made the switch to a new company, up slightly from 2010. Approximately a third who looked for a new insurer said they got quotes online with the same percentage saying they preferred to buy insurance on the Internet.

The survey did not ask why motorists looked for a different insurance company although paying less for policies must have factored in some of their decisions.

Ironically, Allstate and Progressive, the second-and-fourth-largest U.S. auto insurers by premiums written, were ranked in the bottom five of customer satisfaction among the 24 insurers ranked.

Just as oddly, Hartford Finanical, number one in customer satisfaction, was not in the top ten of premiums written.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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