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Auto Insurance - FAQ

Q: How can I save money when my child starts to drive?

A: There are many factors that affect the rates charged for youthful operators. If you have only two cars and two adult drivers, try to avoid adding the third car. If you have three cars and three drivers, the child normally must be assigned as a principal driver, regardless of the actual usage. Also, if you add a car for the child, consider one with a low enough value that you do not need to add physical damage coverage. If you must purchase comprehensive and collision coverage, consider selecting higher deductibles. When selecting a vehicle for a child, consider a "basic" car, rather than something very expensive or sporty. Also discounts are generally available for good grades and behind-the-wheel driver training. When your child goes off to college, if they are 100 or miles away from home without a car, you receive a significant discount on the car they would normally drive. If they do take a car, it will be rated based upon the school's territory factor, which can be much higher than the rates for our area of Pennsylvania.

Q: Does Uninsured Motorist coverage pay for my car if I am the victim of a hit & run?

A: No. That coverage is payable under Collision, and subject to the deductible. Uninsured (and Underinsured) Motorist coverage is optional, and is available to pay lawsuit awards to you, if an offending party has no insurance or inadequate bodily injury liability limits.

Q: Should I just buy the "minimum coverage" that I hear about in advertisements?

A: You can legally insure a car in Pennsylvania with state minimums, but must be aware that such coverage does not provide much protection if you cause significant damage to another vehicle or cause injuries. You are better off purchasing high liability limits and passing on optional coverages and consider taking higher deductibles.

Q: If I have an accident, will my rates increase?

A: You may see a rate increase at the renewal following an accident in which you were determined to be at fault. You may, however, have earned accident forgiveness on your policy. Ask your agent to check for you. Also, if the amount paid out is low, the accident may not cause a surcharge.

Q: My car was damaged while it was parked. Am I covered?

A: If you have physical damage coverage on the vehicle, you would be compensated for the amount above the applicable deductible. If it was vandalism, the Comprehensive deductible would apply. If it was struck by another vehicle (like a hit & run driver or a dent from a car door striking it), the Collision deductible would apply.

Q: Must I contact my agent as soon as I buy a new car?

A: Your current policy automatically covers a private passenger vehicle purchase for a limited number of days, but you should call (or have the salesperson call) your agent with specific information about the vehicle and any pertinent financing information and to confirm whether or not you want full (physical damage) coverage.

Q: What is the difference between Full Tort and Limited Tort?

A: The tort option relates to the ability of an insured to sue an offending driver for Pain & Suffering. Under Limited Tort, there must be serious injuries (as described in the policy language) or the party being sued must have committed a serious violation of the vehicle or criminal code. There are no such limitations if you have a Full Tort policy. Also, Limited Tort restrictions do not apply if you are suing an offending out-of-state drivers. Your tort option can also impact how much you might be able to collect under your own Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage.

Q: My car has all sorts of safety devices and an alarm. Why isn't it a lot less expensive to insure?

A: Airbags only affect the price for First Party benefits (medical, income loss, accidental death). Alarms and disabling devices only affect Comprehensive. Both of these are relatively minor components of your total insurance cost.

Q: Why is my $35,000 SUV cheaper to insure than my 2-door hatchback?

A: The relative cost for Comprehensive and Collision is determined by many factors, and is fairly standardized, by use of a numeric symbol. The symbol is based upon the average cost/type of accident and typical driver profile that fits a vehicle. SUVs and minivans are generally family cars operated by adult drivers. Small cars are frequently operated by youthful drivers, and are often the subject of significant incidents.

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