Hindsight is 20/20—but when it comes to an insurance claim, most of us would rather not have to learn a painful lesson in the first place.
That’s why some of our staff would like to share their personal experiences and expert advice with you so that you can be prepared when the unexpected happens…and hopefully avoid an unwelcome surprise.
Consider adding rental car reimbursement to your auto policy.
We’ve talked with many people after they had an auto insurance claim who say, “I wish I had added rental car reimbursement coverage.”
This is especially important considering the current supply chain backlog on car parts, overbooked repair places, technician shortages, and vehicle pricing inflation. Being in a car accident is stressful enough, but if you have to wait weeks to get your car repaired or replaced, it makes matters worse if you now have to figure out how to get to work, get the kids to school, run errands, etc., without a vehicle.
Rental car reimbursement coverage through Member Benefits reimburses you for the cost of renting a car when your vehicle is disabled for more than 24 hours due to an accident. This coverage, which must be purchased as an addition to your policy, provides a per-day and total maximum benefit based on the option you select.
Amy: I took my daughter and her friends to see some Halloween lights this year. We were parked along a street with other cars happily enjoying the light display when a person drove around the corner and smashed into the side of my vehicle. He proceeded to drive his Jeep Cherokee into and all along the driver side of my van. We were shaken up but fortunately OK. However, my van was totaled.
I filed a claim with my insurance company and realized I did not have rental car reimbursement coverage on my auto policy. My insurer told me that because I was not at fault I could try to ask the at fault driver’s insurance company to cover the cost of my rental car, but it was no guarantee.
My only viable option was to pay out of pocket for a rental car until I could purchase a new vehicle—which with supply chain issues and high demand, could be weeks.
Even with the discount from my auto insurer, the cost of renting a small car was over $50 per day. I was looking at a cost of well over $1,000 out of pocket to simply rent a car for the next three weeks. It was very challenging and stressful to be without a second vehicle for the next several weeks while we shopped for a replacement—under the current circumstances, car buying was a lengthy and expensive process.
Bottom line: I wish I would have paid the extra few dollars to add the rental car reimbursement coverage to my auto insurance policy. Even though I was not at fault, I was still on the hook for a rental car.
Understand your deductible(s).
Did you know some insurance companies have a split deductible? That means the deductible you choose applies to most claims, but a different deductible or percentage may apply to more expensive claims (sometimes referred to as “disaster deductibles”). Some carriers offer a higher deductible option for perils like wind and hail, but others do not give you a choice and apply it at renewal. Member Benefits does not use split deductibles nor percentage deductibles on home policies.
For auto insurance, your collision coverage (pays for the damage to the policyholder’s car resulting from a collision with another vehicle or object) and your comprehensive coverage (pays for the damage to the policyholder’s car resulting from incidents other than collision) are treated independently of one another, so you can choose the same or different deductibles for each. Consider your budget and the actual cash value of your car when deciding on these deductibles. Talk to one of our Personal Insurance Consultants to help you make a decision that best meets your needs.
It’s also important to consider that, while increasing your deductible may save you money, you could be in a bind if you have a claim and can’t afford it. Make sure the amount you would owe will fit within your budget.
Bob: My wife and I had been with the same national company for over 25 years, insuring our homes and cars and providing our personal liability (umbrella) coverage. After 20 years, the local agent convinced me to raise the deductible on my home from $100 to $1,000. By “self-insuring” with a higher amount, I saw a decrease in my premiums.
After four and a half years in our home, we had a storm blow through that caused a lot of hail damage. I submitted the bid to repair it to the national insurance company. The check had an $8,000 deductible listed that I had to pay out-of-pocket! The claims person on the phone explained that my deductible for “most” claims was still $1000, but the roof had a deductible of 2% of the insured value of the home.
I went to see my agent and was upset that I had never been notified of the policy change. I was told that I had been notified by mail three years earlier. This was in spite of the fact that I had actually been in his office at least 15 times in those three years dropping off checks, my kid’s grades, and to sign things. I reminded him that he had multiple opportunities to bring this up. He shrugged and said, “It’s our policy to notify our customers of changes by mail.”
Needless to say, we changed to a new company as quickly as possible.
Anna: Two years ago, my home and car insurance was coming due and I wanted to get a second opinion on it. Steve at Member Benefits told me that he’d be happy to review my current coverages. My husband and I learned through our previous carrier that we had a ‘split deductible’, meaning that one deductible would apply to only certain events and the second deductible would apply for everything else. Steve said this type of deductible didn’t make sense for our needs. In the end, we not only saved money by switching to Member Benefits, but we also got an umbrella policy plus overall better coverage. Whenever a member asks about my experience with Member Benefits’ insurance, I always tell them what a great experience I had with Steve!
Know the importance of umbrella insurance on protecting your assets.
Auto and home policies, on their own, can still leave you financially vulnerable. No one expects to be sued for a catastrophic event such as a car accident—but no one is perfect, either. Without umbrella coverage, everything you’ve worked hard for—your assets, your college fund, your nest egg, your retirement savings—could be at risk if you are found liable for personal injury to others, damage to other people’s property, and a variety of other claims.
For example, under Wisconsin law, a “wrongful death” occurs when the death of an innocent person is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another person. The maximum wrongful death award is $350,000 for an adult and $500,000 for a minor child. Even if you already carry the highest liability limits on your auto and home insurance, you are now exposed to a possible loss that may exceed the liability limits of your policy.
If you don’t carry umbrella insurance, you may be surprised at how affordable it is for the protection it provides.
Julie: Before I started working at Member Benefits some years ago, I had never heard of umbrella (personal liability) insurance. Once I understood how much it could save my assets if the worst happened, and how affordable it is, I purchased it. Fortunately I have not had to use it (yet), but I’ve known others who have and it made all the difference in protecting their finances. To me, it’s worth the cost and the peace of mind—you never know what’s going to happen in your life.
Keep an inventory of your stuff.
Beth at Member Benefits says, “After recently dealing with someone who had a detached garage fire claim, I want to remind people how helpful it can be to either create a home inventory or take video of what is in your home and garage. I know I wouldn’t be able to remember everything in my house, and it will help you if you ever have a claim. Keep your video or list somewhere other than your property. That way, it doesn’t burn up in the fire.”
Get started by downloading a free Personal Property Home Inventory eBook.
Be smart about submitting claims.
Making multiple claims in a short period may trigger a rate increase or even cause an insurer not to renew your policy. For example, making three claims in two years may cause an insurer to think you have a proclivity for claims.
It’s generally best to avoid making claims of just a few hundred dollars above the deductible. Doing so might erase discounts you’re getting for remaining claim-free.
Keep your contact information up to date.
Make sure address and phone are correct so that your insurance company can reach you in a timely manner. This can be critical if you ever have a claim or if we need to get important information to you. If you have insurance with us, you can update your information through your online account through yourINSURANCE.
Reevaluate your insurance at least annually.
Not only will the value of your car change over time (larger economic factors can affect your costs and the value of your car positively or negatively), but your personal financial situation may have changed due to marriage, divorce, job change, home renovations, etc. It’s a good idea to review your insurance on a regular basis to make sure your coverages are still meeting your needs. You may also learn something from this article that you want to follow up on. Contact a Personal Insurance Consultant to help you evaluate your insurance needs.
Ben: Prior to Member Benefits, I had no insurance knowledge other than what I learned the hard way. We had a different insurance carrier where we bought a policy online, without speaking to anyone, for what their computer algorithm said was good coverage for our family. As it turns out, we were severely underinsured for our auto insurance liability and didn’t know it until it was too late and we needed it. It was a hard life lesson but one worthwhile if I can help others avoid my mistake.
Work with a company you can trust.
It makes a difference when you have access to people who can talk you through the process of making the best insurance decisions for you and your family. Having a conversation with a Personal Insurance Consultant can be very valuable to you because they can guide you on coverages available, what they mean, and how your choices could impact you later with a claim.
We have decades of experience with insurance, and we want to help you become a better insurance consumer. Give us a call or set up a consultation.Schedule a consult