THE AUTO INSURANCE GAME: PART I
My Auto Insurance Rate Escalator!
I was in for a shock when I moved to the country and started to update my change of address for all of my services like the one for my Auto Insurance carrier. The billing rates for me had doubled in the past year and were now taking an oversized chunk out of my budget. The coverages for my vehicles were a target that I had to focus on first to keep my expenses from going into the red. I thought that maybe our moving out of a city environment was my best hope of accomplishing that feat.
The problem facing this necessary fix was a series of recent mishaps that threatened my planning efforts. Prior to moving, I had a really bad year with accidents. I had gone through an extensive period in time whereby there were no infractions on my record, but then suddenly everything changed.
Fast Lane Fiasco!
Leaving Miami one afternoon, I was driving in a designated fast lane sectioned off by orange traffic poles when a violently irritated female crashed through them and almost hit me before speeding ahead. As I followed her at a distance, she then managed to get tangled up with a group of tightly packed cars, did some type of irresponsible maneuver, and caused a chain reaction pileup of nearby vehicles.
There were 2 lanes to choose from and the lady in front of me swerved into my lane to avoid crashing into the cars hitting each other up ahead of her. I was slowing down, but she moved so quickly that I wound up smashing into her rear bumper first, and then careened off into a retaining wall in the center of the interstate. The moronic and reckless female driver got away without being identified, but hapless behavior left about 6 damaged vehicles in her wake.
I did not feel I was responsible for the ticket the highway patrol officer gave me for rear ending the SUV, but that was the legal requirement as per state law. I later went to court and had the citation removed, but it was too late. The insurance company for the lady I ran into had already initiated a payout from my insurance carrier. My monthly premium increased as a result of that event.
The Illegal Two-Fer
Later in the year, I was returning from picking up supplies at a Home Depot center when a black female driver ran a stop sign right in front of me. It happens so fast that I barely touched the brake pedal when I hit her. To my chagrin, I watched as the policeman who responded to the incident put her in handcuffs and escorted her to the back of his vehicle.
After things settled down and he came over and gave me the accident identification number, I asked him why he arrested her. You probably guessed it! I got the double whammy. She had an expired license and no auto insurance!
Since these two infractions by her were a crime in Florida, I had planned to file a suit against her in small claims court, but would have had to post $200. upfront in court fees to proceed. Also, the notices I sent to her “supposed” address via certified mail, came back as undeliverable. I decided against wasting the fee money, realizing she would not show up in court. Also, asking the State for actions against her until she covered my deductible would not have worked. Since having already transgressed the law, she could only be stopped by her being sentenced to prison. So, I made a claim against my own insurance company for monies to repair my vehicle. My premiums did not accelerate with this incident, but I knew I was destined for another increase sometime in a future billing update when my policy renewed.
The Backup Blunder!
Finally, working in Key Biscayne outside of Miami, I wound up backing into a supervisors truck that I could not see in the dark. He decided for the first time to pull into an area he had never parked before, and I was trying to maneuver in a tight parking lot when I heard that awful banging-into-metal sound. Admittedly, even though carrying a coworker who was supposed to watch for me, that mishap was my fault and my insurance rates shot up again after letting him contact my insurance carrier for the release of funds to cover the repairs to his vehicle. This time the raise in premiums was significant!
I went from a decent rate for 2 vehicles to over $200. per month. I then started to scramble for long-term solutions to my budget crunching dilemma.
Can I Get My Auto Insurance Rate Within Budget?
I first went online and sought a reduction in coverages where possible. I got rid of stacked coverage for uninsured motorists, something that I still don’t fully understand the workings of, but costs more when included. Then I discontinued comprehensive coverage for one of my vehicles which means it was not covered if the accident was my fault.
Next, my wife and I took a defensive driving course online, but, to my dismay, the effect on my monthly payment had minimal effect. My current list of discounts as listed by my insurance company are:
- Multi-Car Discount
- Passive Restraint
- Defensive Driver
- Anti-Lock Brakes
- Seatbelt Discount
- Anti-Theft Device
These items listed resulted in a monthly savings of about 25% of the maxed-out premium. But I needed more reductions to fit my new restricted budget. Closer to 50% in lower premiums!
I was at the mercy of the current insurance company. They were the cheapest one for me and had already taken care of 2 cracked windshields without any hassle. Quotes from competitors were always higher because of my recent record.
The Country Homestead Change Of Address Cure
So moving to a home in the country, or at least away from an expensive big city environment, was my next viable option. I knew from my research that having your primary residence in a small town resulted in lower rates. Car theft, vandalism, and accident events were minimal in these areas and almost non-existent in some small communities.
After I deciding to look for, find, purchase, and claim my new “out-of-the-big-city” house as our personal residence, I needed to update all my contact information as soon as I started living there. In the process, I was able to get an updated vehicle “auto-quote” from the insurer.
To my utter surprise, the monthly cost of auto insurance had dropped to half, and it was less than the pre-accident premium I had in place while still living in Ft. Lauderdale. The exhilaration I felt was evident the moment I started jumping up and down. This was the first real savings that I encountered as a result of my move to the country.
Unfortunately, when renewal time approached, the insurer decided to override the auto-quote system on their website and raised my upcoming premium about 20%. However, it was still far lower than the rate I was paying before moving. As of my next follow-up quote, the billing has been reduced another 6%. My goal is to get the cost down to under $100. Perfect for my budgeted lifestyle.
NOTEWORTHY TIP: When you retire, and don’t have to put a lot of mileage on your vehicles driving to work, the miles-driven-per-year statement on your insurer’s questionnaire can greatly impact your premium. If you plan ahead, try to kill many birds with one stone and make your shopping trips count towards multiple purchases. Sounds like silly advice, but people who get bored easily, make excuses to ramp up the mileage and shop-till-they-drop. If that is your case, don’t move 30 to 60 miles from your suppliers.
So now the revised dollar amounts required to pay my bills each month are starting to take me away from negative cash flow into positive territory. Thus far I have dealt with Homeowners Insurance, Property Taxes, and Automobile Coverages (We have a truck and an SUV).
In my next blog, I want to deal with saving monthly costs to providers who keep your electronic gadgets running.
Update To This Post
March 5, 2019
I have left GEICO since this post was published in June of 2018. My goal was to get the monthly premium below $100. I had previously heard about the Farm Bureau and their insurance affiliate Farm Bureau Insurance. My brother-in-law, Wayne, was using them (in Louisiana) and told me to give them a call way back when. But I did not follow up his suggestion and now I wish I had.
The local Farm Bureau Office (called the Farm Bureau of Florida) was readily available in my town of Defuniak Springs. I thought I would give them a try to see if I could get a quote for my homeowners policy. It was running over $1,600. a year.
I stopped by one day with copies of my policy documents in hand and was able to meet with an agent right away. After providing my information, the agent entered all the data into the computer and I got feedback within minutes.
Unfortunately, their quote was only slightly better than my current policy, so I decided not to make a change. But I did not want to make a wasted trip, so I asked for a quote to compare against my auto policy with GEICO. I was informed immediately that the Bureau does not insure everybody, but I was told they were willing to cover me. I went online with my iPhone and pulled up the details on my coverages. I showed them to the agent and she again entered the data into the computer.
I was SHOCKED by the reply. I was afraid the quote would penalize me for my recent accident history, but NO! With full coverage on both vehicles (I had no collision coverage with GEICO on my truck), my quote was $63. per month, almost half of what I was currently paying out.
Needless to say, I applied to the Bureau and was accepted. The only downside to the whole deal was the fact that you have to become a member which costs $40.00 per year up front (which figures in at $3.33 per month added to my overall cost).
I had good service with GEICO which paid out for the accidents and several windshield repairs. I hope not to use the Farm Bureau policy for repairs, but it is there just the same. If I do make a claim in the future, I will provide another update as to the quality of their service.
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!