Insurance coverage is a powerful tool when consumers face devastating losses. Being smart about how you buy and use insurance can help you get the most for your money. The following tips can help.
- Think twice before filing small claims. Submitting claims that exceed the deductible by only a few hundred dollars may increase your premiums down the road and ultimately cost more than the repair would have cost out of pocket.
- Buy the right amount of coverage. Be sure your coverage is adequate, but not excessive. Insurance policy limits should be revisited every year. You may need to update your homeowners coverage whenever you make major purchases or remodel your home. On the other hand, some of your personal belongings may decrease in value over time, requiring less coverage. It's a good idea to update your home inventory annually and check for possible savings. With auto insurance, consider dropping collision or comprehensive coverage on older cars if their decreased value makes the coverage no longer cost-effective.
- Increase the deductible. Raising the deductible by a few hundred dollars can result in a significant decrease in your premium. Deductibles often start at $250. By raising the deductible to $1,000, you may save nearly 25% on homeowners premiums and 40% on collision and comprehensive coverage for your car.*
- Look for safety discounts. You may be able to lower your homeowners premium if your home has safety features such as dead-bolt locks, smoke detectors, an alarm system, storm shutters or fire retardant roofing material. You may qualify for discounts on auto insurance if your car has features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and anti-theft devices.
- Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer. Some companies offer a discount for multiple policies.
- Maintain a good credit rating. California state law does not permit the use of credit score at this time, however if rules change in the future, paying bills on time can impact your insurance rates.
- Don't smoke. Cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire death across the country and property losses total millions of dollars each year.** Because of this, insurers often charge lower premiums to smoke-free households.
- Don't use your cell phone while driving. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash while using a cell phone. This number is increasing as texting is becoming more popular with younger drivers.
Studies are showing that there is no difference between the cognitive distraction between hand-held and hands-free devices and that 80% of crashes are related to driver inattention.
Cell phone driving laws vary state-to-state. The Governors Highway Safety Association's website can provide you the details for each state's driving law: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html
- Be loyal. Some companies reduce premiums for long-time policyholders.
- Ask about discounts. Many insurance companies offer discounts, but the types of discounts vary. An insurance representative can help you find the ones that apply in your situation – and even suggest steps you might take to qualify for further reductions.
- Attend traffic school. A single traffic violation can add and average of $1,800 over three (3) years to a typical insurance policy. If you receive a violation, a court may refer you to a Traffic Violator School. However, California Vehicle Code Section 1808.7 mandates that only one citation in an eighteen (18) month period be masked from public view on your driving record.
- Turn to a trusted partner. Choose an insurance company you trust to help you get the coverage you need without paying more than you have to. Rely on their expert knowledge to help guide you to insurance coverage that fits your family's situation and provides peace of mind when the unexpected occurs.
CTA Auto and Home Insurance Program
It's good to shop around for auto insurance. CTA’s auto and home insurance program is offered through California Casualty. This program offers many exclusive benefits for CTA members.
- Auto coverage included a zero deductible for physical damage if your car has been vandalized, but now includes a zero deductible if someone hits your parked car at school, school administrative office, or an education association office.
- Homeowners coverage includes $0 deductible protection for your personal property used in the classroom and any fund raising money or goods while in your care at school. The program also builds in Educators Excess Liability Coverage to give you an extra layer of classroom liability protection.
- Convenient payment plan options include, credit card, and summer and holiday payment skip options to help with budgeting.
For a quote or more information, call 1-866-680-5142 or visit www.calcas.com/cta.
* Source: Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org.
**Source: Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, www.firesafecigarettes.org.