Erie Insurance Accolades Speak To Company's Strength

For the sixth consecutive year, Erie Insurance received the highest ranking in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study for "Customer Satisfaction with the Auto Insurance Purchase Experience." The study measures auto insurance shopping purchase behavior and purchase experience satisfaction among customers who recently bought insurance, and Erie received the highest numerical score: 877 out of 1,000. 

This is huge for Erie because J.D. Power surveys real customers and no other carrier ranks higher.

Also on the trophy shelf, Erie earned A.M. Best's rating of A+ (Superior). While Erie Family Life Insurance earned A.M. Best's rating of A (Excellent). These accolades speak to Erie's financial strength. Customers can be sure Erie is financially sound and will be there for its customers.

For more information on Erie's awards and rankings, visit its website: erieinsurance.com/awards

Deaths From Injuries, Including Car Crashes, Rising Among Youth

CNN published an article earlier this month about the fact that after years of decline, the injury death rate among people in the United States ages 10 to 19 is rising. The CNN article was based a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report found auto injuries to be one of the leading causes of death.

Below are some highlights from the article:

  • The rise in deaths is attributable to injury-related deaths, such as traffic accident fatalities, drug overdoses, homicides and suicides, as opposed to illness.
     
  • Among 10- to 19-year-olds around the world, road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2015.
     
  • Motor vehicle traffic fatalities accounted for 62% of these unintentional injury deaths.
     
  • The new report was based on data from death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1999 and 2016.

Check out the full article for more information on the study: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/health/youth-injury-death-rate-cdc-study/index.html

We feel this study highlights the importance of practicing safe driving, as well as the need for our lawmakers to dedicate time and money to creating and enforcing legislation that will support safety on the road. Things like driver-training courses, putting down our phones while we drive, and new laws that address road safety are critical.

Car Insurance Price Comparison Sites May Share Your Personal Data

This article published on CNN Money, is an interesting read and illustrates why it's important to get insurance quotes through an agent or a reputable carrier.

The article explains, "Increasingly, sites that offer you car insurance quotes or price comparisons can snag the extensive personal information you provide and pass it on to insurance carriers, agents or industry organizations, even without your consent."

Often these comparison sites also sell your personal information to third parties; allowing them to build a customer profile of you for things beyond insurance.

Check out the full article for tips on how to avoid unknowingly sharing your personal data while obtaining an insurance quote.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/12/pf/auto-insurance-data-collection/index.html

Clearsurance Ranks Erie Among Top 10 Best Insurance Companies In 2018 For Home And Auto

Clearsurance, an independent community where insurance customers share their individual feedback on auto, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, has recently ranked Erie among the top 10 best insurance companies in 2018 for both home and auto.

Erie ranked 5th out of 10 among auto insurers, and 2nd out of 10 among the home insurers included.

Check out the full articles here: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insurance-2018https://clearsurance.com/best-home-insurance-2018.

And here are the results as displayed on Clearsurance:

Source: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insuranc...

Distracted Drivers Are Costing Insurers Big Money

By: William Forbes

CNN posted an article today on how Arity, a unit of Allstate insurance, is developing a technology to track smartphone use in cars. The hope is that Allstate will be able to tell when drivers are actively using their phones while operating a vehicle. And, at some future point, Allstate may use the information to determine car insurance rates. 

It's an interesting article, but the most shocking and fascinating points, to me, were in Arity's research. The article says, "Arity analyzed data from 160 million trips by hundreds of thousands of Allstate drivers. What it found confirmed research showing that drivers on their phones are more dangerous."

Using claims data, Arity found that distracted drivers are costing insurers 160% more than drivers focused on the road. The research confirmed that distracted drivers are more likely to get into an accident and these crashes tend to be more severe.

In fact, Arity recommends drivers put their phones into airplane mode before heading out in the car.

Distracted driving is a topic we at Forbes Insurance Agency have posted about in the past, and will continue to shout about. The effects of distracted driving and using your phone while you drive are now being studied by multiple agencies, and they are all saying the same thing - this behavior is causing more accidents, more fatalities, and more expensive claims for insurers.

Here is a link to the full CNN article, titled, "Do you text and drive? Your car insurance may go up," http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/24/technology/texting-and-driving-distracted/index.html.

Here are links to some of our past blog posts on this topic:

  1. Smartphones Are Killing Americans: https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2017/11/1/smartphones-are-killing-americans
  2. Why Are Car Insurance Prices Rising? https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2017/6/7/why-are-car-insurance-prices-rising
  3. Claims Increase The Cost Of Insurance: https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2017/3/8/claims-increase-the-cost-of-insurance
  4. Pennsylvania Passes Daniel's Law - Stricter Penalties For Texting And Driving: https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2016/11/8/pennsylvania-passes-daniels-law-stricter-penalties-for-texting-and-driving

The Benefits Of Having An Insurance Agent

While purchasing insurance online can be convenient, there are true benefits to working with an agent, in-person for your insurance needs. Agents are required to have industry licenses and complete continuing education; meaning that when you need guidance and advice, they are equipped to give it. Their industry knowledge can help with everything from choosing the appropriate coverages, to navigating the claims process.

Technology is great, but sometimes having a real person to guide you is better.

Smartphones Are Killing Americans

By: Nicole Vattimo

Here is a very interesting article, originally published on Bloomberg, that discusses the surge in U.S. traffic fatalities and how they are linked to smartphone use, but are not being properly reported as such. The article, "Smartphones are killing Americans, but nobody’s counting," states that over the past two years, traffic fatalities have increased by 14.4 percent.

"In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade," the article reports.

The problem is that many of these fatalities are not being attributed to distraction or mobile-phone use. Why is that an issue? Well, because regulators are not getting an accurate picture of just how dangerous cell phones are for drivers, and how many accidents they are actually causing. Without solid evidence (think numbers and stats) to indicate how many accidents are caused by cell-phone use behind the wheel, lawmakers and regulators can not push for new and improved laws or safety features.

The article talks about how cell-phone use has changed too; how actual calls are not happening as often as texting and social media. But, I would take it one step further and suggest that using our phones for music in our cars is another distraction. My family has Apple Music, which does sync with my car's stereo, but many times to change playlists, I find I have to look at my phone.

Additionally, have you seen the technology packed into most cars today?! Most new cars have touch screens, which, in my opinion, are tricky to use while driving, that can display: music options, navigation, car diagnostics, movies, and more. It's insane how many distractions are built right into the car stereo today.

Take a read of the full article here: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/smartphones-are-killing-americans-but-nobody%E2%80%99s-counting/ar-AAtQOp7?li=BBnb7Kz

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/...

Zombies Have Bad Days Too

Check out Erie's latest blockbuster...and it's perfect for the season. Have a wonderful Fall and a Happy Halloween from all of us here at Forbes Insurance.

With all the buzz around the new season of AMC's The Walking Dead, what if a literal zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow? While it's highly unlikely that zombies will really take over, it's good to know that insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong, like a telephone pole falling on your house or your TV getting fried by an electrical surge.

Why Are Car Insurance Prices Rising?

By: William Forbes

Being an insurance agent, I get asked every day, "Why is the cost of my car insurance going up?" And, the majority of the time this question isn't even coming from one of my clients. I get asked by friends, family, my supermarket cashier...it seems to be a question on everyone's mind.

Believe it or not, there are some very specific reasons for the increased cost of auto insurance; and none of them have to do with insurance companies being out to get us (I hear this suggestion quite a bit as an agent, too).

Forbes recently published an article (link here) that does a nice job of explaining some of the reasons. As stated in the article, "the driving force in the upward march in premiums is an auto insurance industry that’s been finding it increasingly difficult to sustain healthy profit margins."

This means auto insurers are finding it difficult to make a profit off insurance premiums, when the expense of running an insurance company is considered.

The article points to a few main reasons why profits have been down for insurers:

  1. More costly accidents. Both the severity of accidents and the number of fatal car accidents have been trending upward. So, fulfilling these types of claims, particularly those that include high medical costs, is very costly.
     
  2. A decline in investment revenue. The article explains that insurance companies hold large investment portfolios, and when interest rates and investment income is lower, they can't offset losses.
     
  3. Bad weather. As comprehensive claims from bad weather (tornadoes, hail, flooding) continue to rise, so does the amount insurance companies pay out to their insureds. I would also add to this that cars are getting more expensive to repair - the cost of parts is increasing, and added technology features make what used to be simple repairs, more costly. For example, windshields now have cameras in them, and this increases the cost of replacing them.

For a deeper dive into these three points, check out the full article on Forbes.com. And, if you have questions about your policy, always feel free to contact your agent.

(Here is the full link to the article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ccasazza/2017/05/23/why-are-car-insurance-rates-still-going-up/#3315a8cb7753)

Claims Increase the Cost of Insurance

By: William Forbes

In last week's blog, I shared a story from Crain's Chicago Business, which said State Farm has just reported its worst year ever in terms of claims reported and the amount of money it lost insuring cars. The article hit on a number of trends insurance agents are seeing across the industry - distracted driving is leading to increased claims, and the increased claims are driving the price of insurance up for all of us. Even those of us who do not report claims are feeling the effects, as insurers raise rates for everyone in an effort to maintain profitability.

And, now, on the heels of that article, NBC News 10 recently published findings from an annual study conducted by insuranceQuotes that indicates people pay more for insurance after reporting a single claim. The article says specifically, "drivers now pay an average of 44 percent more for car insurance after making a single claim of $2,000 or more." Reporting a second claim is even more costly.

I'm not writing about these articles to scare people away from reporting claims. There are times when insurance claims are necessary, and in those cases, that's why you pay for insurance. The point I would like to make, however, is that you should really have a detailed discussion with your agent before you report a claim. Having a conversation with your agent is an important part of managing your finances. The fact is, reporting claims will result in higher insurance premiums, and possible surcharges.

More broadly, the increase in claims across our state have caused insurance premiums to go up for everyone. Even if you don't report claims, your bill is being affected by these industry trends. That's why it's so important for us, as a community, to put an end to distracted, aggressive, and unsafe driving.

Check out the NBC article here: http://turnto10.com/i-team/consumer-advocate/study-looks-at-impact-of-claims-on-car-insurance-rates 

Crain's Reports State Farm Suffers Worst Car Insurance Losses Ever

By: William Forbes

Take a read of this recent article published by Crain's Chicago Business, titled, "State Farm suffers worst car insurance losses ever."

The article touches on a trend we are seeing across the insurance industry. Reported claims are on the rise, and this results in higher insurance rates for all of us. In addition, the article makes a good point that State Farm's losses are a clear sign of how distracted driving is impacting insurance companies.

Erie stands out as one of the few companies that's been able to keep its rates level over the years.

Full link to article: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170228/NEWS07/170229881/state-farm-suffers-worst-car-insurance-losses-ever 

5 Times You Must Contact Your Insurance Agent

By: William Forbes

I'd like to use today's blog to remind my clients, and anyone who has insurance, that there are a handful of times when it's absolutely necessary you pick up the phone and contact your agent. If you have made any of the changes listed below, or have been involved in a claim, it's so important to get the details to your agent. Regarding the situations below, if you don't inform your agent, you may not be covered by your insurance policy.

I can't stress enough how important it is to tell your agent about:

  1. A Change of Address - Without the proper address on file, your insurance company may be sending critical communication to the wrong location. Even if you do not receive these communications, you are still responsible for the information detailed inside. Additionally, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, you want to be sure your policy is set up to protect the correct property. Finally, counties and cities have different insurance ratings, meaning if you move and don't inform your agent, you could be missing out on savings. It's your responsibility to inform your agent of a change of address.

  2. Additional or Replacement Vehicles - When you replace one vehicle on your policy with a new one, or if you plan to add another vehicle, it is crucial that you inform your agent. Generally, in Pennsylvania, it is your responsibility to inform your agent of an additional vehicle within 14 days. While you get a bit longer to report a replacement vehicle. I tell my insureds to report either as soon as possible, to avoid issues with coverage.

    One thing to note here - many people think when they purchase a new vehicle the dealer will contact their insurance company. This does happen in some cases; but, it is the insured's responsibility alone to report new and replacement vehicles to insurance. Don't rely on your car dealer to add a vehicle to your policy.

  3. Adding or Excluding Drivers - If you have someone who is regularly driving your car, or if there is someone prohibited from driving it (called an exclusion), you need to inform your insurance agent. In the event of an accident, without the proper drivers listed on the policy, coverage may be denied.

  4. Structural Changes to a House - Putting an addition on your home? Installing a pool? Any structural changes to your home need to be detailed in your insurance policy. These changes can affect the value of your home, and can mean it's time for new or additional insurance coverage to protect your family.

  5. A Claim - If you've had a home or auto claim, involve your agent. Your agent is your insurance advisor and can help you through the process. Including your agent is about more than just getting your claim reported. An agent can guide you through the claims process, and can act as your advocate with the insurance company.

Insurance Concept of the Week: Subrogation

Each week we will post and define an industry term or concept for our readers.

Subrogation is the transfer of your rights to the insurance company to sue or seek recovery from a third party. For example, if you get into an auto accident and your car is damaged, your insurance company will take care of repairing your vehicle. Then, on your behalf, your insurer will collect from the at-fault party to cover the cost of the repairs, and even get your deductible back in some cases.  

Your Driving Route Could Affect Your Insurance Price

By: William Forbes

USA Today recently posted an article about insurers using predictive technology to help personalize insurance rates. Specifically, the article focuses on insurers that are looking into weighing the risk involved with different travel routes and using that information to help determine an insured's rate. The goal of this rate method would be to customize insurance rates based on an individual's personal driving habits, but also to "promote and reward customers who mitigate risk," says the article.

We've seen rate and policy customization as a major trend in the industry recently.

Check out the full article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/11/14/route-risk-patent--car-insurance-rate-price/93287372/

5 Things to Consider Before Reporting a Claim

By: William Forbes

Reporting a claim is not always as simple as calling your insurance company and receiving compensation. Claims, whether they are small or large, affect your insurance policy. Below are five things I recommend my insureds consider before reporting a claim. I point these items out because it’s important that customers understand when and why they should report a claim. Educating yourself about the claims process means being a savvier insurance consumer. 

1.       Report the claim immediately to your insurance agent or company.

The official guidelines for reporting a claim differ from company to company, so it’s important to check in with your agent or insurer to understand how quickly you need to report a claim. However, as a good rule, it’s important, whichever company you are with, to report claims as soon as they happen. This leaves less chance that details will be forgotten, and reduces the chance that there will be any questions about the claim’s authenticity from your insurance company.

2.       Is the claim cost larger than your deductible?

If the claim is not larger than your policy deductible, there is really no reason to report it. In this case, you are financially responsible for the cost of the repair, and there is no benefit to involving the insurance company. You don’t want a reported claim on your policy when you aren’t receiving any financial assistance from your insurance company.

3.       Can you handle the claim financially?

Simply put, insurance policies aren’t home- or car-maintenance accounts. Insurance is for catastrophic losses. Or, in other words, losses that create a significant financial hardship. Though insurance will pay for minor claims, you may end up hurting yourself in the long run, as multiple claims will drive up the policy premium.  This means you pay more for your insurance plan each year. Additionally, multiple claims increases the likelihood that your insurance company could cut your policy altogether.

4.       Often claims raise the annual premium of your policy.

Though many companies today have accident or claim forgiveness, which means your rate won’t increase for your first claim, it is important to understand how claims generally affect your overall policy premium.  The number of claims reported, along with the severity of each, can adversely affect the total price you pay for insurance.

5.       Claims stay on your policy record for a specified period of time.

Auto claims typically stay on your record for three years. Home claims stay on your record for five years. Having claims on your policy record can affect you when you shop for insurance. They often make it harder to receive the best possible rate, and certain companies will not accept new insureds with multiple claims.  

There is much to consider when deciding whether to report a claim. The best advice I can give is to talk to your agent about each claim. Agents are there to provide you with guidance and education, as well as help you through the claims process. Knowing all the facts can help you make a smart financial decision. 

 

Insurance Concept of the Week: Bodily Injury Liability

Each week we will post and define an industry term or concept for our readers.

Our article on the passing of Daniel's Law earlier in the week (link here) looked at new legislation that will provide stricter penalties in PA for accidents that are the result of texting while driving. Bodily injury liability is a required coverage in PA, and relates to the aforementioned blog post.

Bodily injury liability pays others when an insured is responsible for causing injuries; these can include medical, rehabilitation expenses, and non-economic damages. The state-required minimums for this coverage are $15,000 per person and $30,000 in aggregate. However, when possible, we always recommend our clients carry more than the state minimum. This is one of the most important coverages you carry to protect you and your family's personal assets.