Category Archives: Auto

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Four Questions To Get The Right Auto Insurance

Using the right tool for a job is key to success in any profession. Experts say the same principle applies when selecting an auto insurance policy. Having the right type of policy can help ensure that you, your employees and your business are all protected in the unfortunate event that one of your vehicles is involved in an accident.

 

If you’re a business owner and you or your employees use a vehicle for business-related deliveries or to carry certain materials to and from a job site, you may need a commercial auto insurance policy that’s tailored to more closely suit the needs—and risks—of a business vehicle operator.

 

Here are some questions that can help you determine if you might need a commercial auto policy instead of a personal auto policy, courtesy of Lockridge Agency:

 

• Do you need more liability coverage than your personal auto policy provides? Generally, a commercial auto policy provides higher limits of liability, but less or no coverage in areas that are typically not associated with commercial auto risks.

 

• Do you need special coverage for situations associated with con-ducting business? Commercial auto policies also usually offer certain coverages—such as hired and non-owned auto coverage and coverage for towing a trailer for business use—that are not available with personal auto policies.

 

• Do you need to list any employees as drivers? You can do this with a commercial auto insurance policy.

 

• Do you use your vehicle for business purposes? If you use your vehicle for things like pizza or newspaper delivery, catering, door-to-door consulting service, landscaping or snowplowing service, logging business, day care/church retreat van service and/or farm-to-market delivery, you might need a commercial auto policy.

 

Lockridge Agency is an independent insurance agency – trained, licensed insurance professionals who offer personal service and advice. We can help match you with the type of policy that best suits your needs and those of your company.

Seven Shopping Strategies For New Car Buyers

New car shopping can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re a car enthusiast. But others can find the experience stressful and tedious. Either way, there’s a lot to think about. According to a survey of car shoppers, overall purchase price is the most important factor when shopping for a new car (46 percent), followed by make and model (31 percent).

Safety and performance come in a distant third, tied at seven percent. But whether you’re turned on or turned off by the dizzying array of car choices, trim options, “expert” reviews, incentives and other deals, it definitely pays to approach car buying strategically.

So if you’re in the market for a new vehicle and you find yourself having trouble keeping a clear head, just keep these strategies, courtesy of Lockridge Agency, in mind:

1. Decide how much money you can spend and what type of vehicle best suits your needs. Just looking for the basic transport capability of a small or medium sedan? Or do you need the hauling capacity of a van or SUV? Something practical? Something sporty? Something in between?

2. Research crash tests and accident data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

3. Shop around for financing. If you can, apply for and get approval for a loan from a bank, credit union or other financier before you even visit the dealership. Being a “cash buyer” gives you an advantage when you do finally meet with the dealership’s financing person.

4. Test drive the car. Try to drive in conditions that will be similar to those under which you’ll drive every day.

5. Check pricing for your desired make and model at two or three dealerships and use that information to help you negotiate the best deal.

6. Get a firm quote, in writing. This should include not only the cost of the car, but any fees and the sales tax.

7. Inspect your new car carefully before driving off the lot. Make sure all the options you’ve ordered are included and that the body and paint are free of scratches or dents.

Finally, it’s important to consider the cost of auto insurance, although it seems that few people realize that what they pay for insurance can add significantly to the vehicle’s total cost.

Wise car buyers know to shop around for insurance and find out how costs compare. They also know to visit an independent insurance agency – like Lockridge Agency. We can check with several companies to find the best combination of coverage and price.

Choosing the right vehicle insurance company

Ten questions to ask your agent

 

By Ryan Furmick, business auto product manager, Progressive Commercial

Your vehicles are the backbone that keeps your business up and running. So when it comes to insurance for those vehicles, make sure that you’re covered by an insurance company that fits your business needs – because the last thing you want when you have a claim is to find out you have insufficient coverage.

When you’re working with a local agent to build your policy, make sure to ask these ten questions to help you decide which carrier is right for your business.

Coverages

1) Are all of my drivers covered, even if they’re not listed on my policy?

Ask your insurance company what their policy is for covering employees who drive your business vehicles.  Some vehicle insurance companies will only extend coverage to drivers who are specifically named on the policy. So, every time you give the keys to one of your vehicles to a new driver, you would need to call your insurer and add them to the policy or else they wouldn’t be covered in case of an accident.

Some insurers, like Progressive, allow “permissive use,” which means that all of your drivers are covered as long as they have your permission to operate the vehicle.

2) Are my employees’ personal vehicles covered if they get into an accident while running a business errand? What about rental cars?

In many cases, rental cars and employee vehicles aren’t covered under a standard commercial auto insurance policy. And if one of those vehicles is damaged in an accident, you could be liable.

If your business often uses rental vehicles, or if you send employees on business errands in their personal vehicles, consider adding Hired Auto, Non-Owned Auto or Any Auto Coverage to your policy.

3) I’m a seasonal business and don’t need full coverage in my off months.  Can I move to a Comprehensive-only policy in slow months?

Absolutely. A Comprehensive-only policy provides coverage for businesses that don’t need liability coverage during certain months, but want basic protection against incidents, such as vandalism, theft, falling tree branches, hail, etc. This is ideal for vehicles that sit for long periods during off-season.

Plus, a Comprehensive-only policy provides continuous insurance. If you were to drop your insurance completely, you might pay significantly more to purchase a new policy when your peak season rolls around because most insurance companies want to see proof of continuous coverage.

4) What can you recommend to increase the safety of my drivers and to lower my premiums?

Many larger independent agents that specialize in fleets can recommend driver training programs specifically designed for your industry.  These programs can help increase the safety of your drivers and, in some cases, lower your insurance premium.

Claims

5) What kind of service can I expect if I have a claim?

Find out how quickly, on average, your insurer resolves claims. The faster they take care of your claim, the faster you can get your vehicle back to work.

One thing that can affect turnaround time is whether your insurer uses full-, part-time or contract claims adjusters. Some companies use part-time or contract adjusters to handle commercial vehicle claims, which can slow down the process.

Progressive handles 100 percent of commercial vehicle insurance claims, even heavy trucks, with its own staff of in-house commercial insurance experts, making sure claims are processed faster than other insurers that outsource this work.

6) When I have a claim, is there anything I can do to get my vehicle back on the road quickly?

Even if the accident isn’t your fault, report the claim to your insurance company as soon as possible. They can work with the insurance company of the at-fault driver to help resolve the claim and get your vehicles repaired quickly.

Additionally, carry an accident information kit in each of your vehicles to make it easy for your drivers to capture insurance, driver and witness information following an accident. Most fleet safety companies and local agents have these readily available.

Customer Service

7) Do you provide help with state and federal filings?

Some commercial auto insurers won’t cover vehicles that require filings, while others simply don’t have the capability to help you get the filings your business needs.

Insurers like Progressive can leverage their truck insurance expertise to provide customers with filings assistance, which can save you time.

8) Do you offer 24/7 service?

Many insurance companies are only available during regular office hours, which can make filing a claim, adding a vehicle to your policy, and paying bills inconvenient. Before you buy, check with your insurance company to make sure they’re available when you need them.

9) Will you shop my policy on a regular basis?

Although it’s easier to stay with the same insurance company than shop around for new coverages, ask your agent to regularly quote your policy with other carriers to make sure that you’re getting the best deal.

In addition to vehicle insurance, you may need a wider range of additional coverages to protect your business, from general liability to workers’ compensation. While it might be easier to buy all of these products from the same company, you could save big bucks by buying your policies from separate providers.

10) What are my payment plan options? Do I have to pay my entire premium up front?

Some insurers have significant finance charges associated with their bill plans or don’t offer flexible payment schedules. Look for companies that offer flexible pay plans, including low initial payments and no finance charges. For example, Progressive offers plans that start with as little as 8.3 percent down.

Have a few questions of your own? Call the Lockridge Agency. We can provide the answers and help you determine which insurer and which coverages are right for your business.

Ryan Furmick is a business auto product manager for Progressive.  Progressive, in business since 1937, is a market leader in commercial auto insurance. 

Using your personal vehicle for business?

Not all auto insurance is the same. A personal auto insurance policy generally won’t cover damage to your car if you’re using it for business purposes.

Even if your personal policy has “business-use” coverage, you may find yourself at a loss when an accident happens, especially if your liability limits are not high enough to cover the damage. Make sure you’re protected.

Call your insurance company or independent agent and ask these questions:

  • How do you define “commercial use?” Some insurers may simply define it as transporting goods for compensation or a fee. That could include services like:
    • pizza and newspaper delivery;
    • catering;
    • door-to-door consulting services;
    • landscaping or snowplowing services; or
    • day care/church van services.

Even real estate agents may qualify. Fall in to one of these categories? Consider a commercial vehicle policy.

Here are some questions to ask to determine if commercial auto insurance is right for you.

  • What are my liability limits? In general,a commercial auto policy can offer higher liability limits. Larger vehicles, like delivery vans, can cause more damage than passenger cars.
  • Does my personal policy cover me for issues specific to my business? For example, if you have a trailer that damages another vehicle while on a job, a personal liability policy may not cover the repairs. A commercial policy will.
  • Do I have employees who drive my vehicles? In general, if other people drive your vehicles for work, you need a commercial auto policy.

You also a need commercial auto policy if your vehicle hauls tools or equipment weighing more than 500 pounds, makes deliveries, or requires filings for interstate for for-hire trucking businesses.

We can help you better understand business needs and put together a package that meets your needs.  Call Us!

Shedding Light On Car Insurance Savings

It can be easier than you think to put the brakes on high auto insurance rates – as an independent agency, can help! We can review your policy and possibly help you find a variety of illuminating ways to save money. Here are some things you may want to consider:

• Ask us to check several companies’ rates. This is the single most important thing you can do to get the best possible rate—and we can do it for you quickly and easily. The difference between the highest and lowest rate available to you from different companies could vary by hundreds of dollars.

• Reduce or drop physical damage coverage on an older car. Depending on your car’s age and where you live, comprehensive and collision coverage may not be worth keeping. We can give you advice on whether it makes sense to reduce or drop this coverage altogether.

• Raise your deductible. According to the Insurance Information Institute, raising your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive cost by 15 to 30 percent. In addition, because the average driver files a collision claim only once every ten years, odds are that over the lifetime of your car, a higher deductible will save you money. We can show you how raising your deductible will lower your premium.

• Look for discounts. Many insurance companies reduce premiums for certain driver traits or car features. For example: being a homeowner for more than three years, nonsmoker, nondrinker, students with good grades, senior citizens who have taken an approved defensive driving course, people who only drive for pleasure, cars kept in garages, antilock brakes, antitheft devices, air bags, etc. Ask us to check.

• Don’t assume having your car and home insured by the same company is the best option. Because auto insurance rates vary so much from company to company, it may make sense for you to have your car and home insured by separate companies. Let’s talk about it.

To learn more about all an independent agency can offer you, call Lockridge Agency.

Posted in Auto, Car, Insurance | Leave a comment
Time is money: Save both
Saving 5 cents a gallon on gas is great. But, if you have to drive 20 minutes to get to the station, is it really a savings? If a deal costs you valuable time, it’s not a deal at all. The same holds true with auto insurance.

Bargain-basement policies can gobble up your time if you have to file a claim. You can spend up to four days calling repair shops, getting estimates and arranging for a rental car.

Remember, insurance isn’t just about price. It’s about service, too. The concierge level of claims service offered by Progressive can cut the claims/repair process from four days to only 15 minutes.

“You may think the most stressful part of being involved in an accident is the crash itself. But, that’s just the beginning,” said Craig Moore with Progressive. “We’ve come up with an easy, time-saving way to manage repairs.”

Simply drop off the damaged vehicle at a service center and a claims representative handles the entire claims/repair process for you. Repairs are guaranteed for as long as you own or lease your vehicle.

Here’s how the concierge level of claims service works:

• Report the claim. Call or go online to report the claim. A claims rep will schedule a time to bring your vehicle to the service center.

• Drop off and go. In about 15 minutes, you can be on your way in a rental car. Your rep prepares an estimate and then contacts a repair shop. When the work is finished, the vehicle is returned to the service center.

• Pick up your vehicle. You’re contacted when the vehicle is ready. You inspect the repairs and leave with a written guarantee on the work.

Think about all aspects of insurance before you buy, especially the time you’ll spend if you have a claim.

Posted in Business Insurance, Insurance | Leave a comment
Seven Shopping Strategies For New Car Buyers
New car shopping can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re a car enthusiast. But others can find the experience stressful and tedious. Either way, there’s a lot to think about. According to a survey of car shoppers, overall purchase price is the most important factor when shopping for a new car (46 percent), followed by make and model (31 percent).

Safety and performance come in a distant third, tied at seven percent. But whether you’re turned on or turned off by the dizzying array of car choices, trim options, “expert” reviews, incentives and other deals, it definitely pays to approach car buying strategically.

So if you’re in the market for a new vehicle and you find yourself having trouble keeping a clear head, just keep these strategies, courtesy of Lockridge Agency, in mind:

1. Decide how much money you can spend and what type of vehicle best suits your needs. Just looking for the basic transport capability of a small or medium sedan? Or do you need the hauling capacity of a van or SUV? Something practical? Something sporty? Something in between?

2. Research crash tests and accident data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

3. Shop around for financing. If you can, apply for and get approval for a loan from a bank, credit union or other financier before you even visit the dealership. Being a “cash buyer” gives you an advantage when you do finally meet with the dealership’s financing person.

4. Test drive the car. Try to drive in conditions that will be similar to those under which you’ll drive every day.

5. Check pricing for your desired make and model at two or three dealerships and use that information to help you negotiate the best deal.

6. Get a firm quote, in writing. This should include not only the cost of the car, but any fees and the sales tax.

7. Inspect your new car carefully before driving off the lot. Make sure all the options you’ve ordered are included and that the body and paint are free of scratches or dents.

Finally, it’s important to consider the cost of auto insurance, although it seems that few people realize that what they pay for insurance can add significantly to the vehicle’s total cost.

Wise car buyers know to shop around for insurance and find out how costs compare. They also know to visit an independent insurance agency – like Lockridge Agency. We can check with several companies to find the best combination of coverage and price.

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