Affordable Car Insurance for Your Teen Driver

Affordable Car Insurance For Your TeenYour teenager just got his driver’s license. How exciting—and how expensive!

 

There’s no way around it. Teen drivers do cause the family’s car insurance premiums to go up, because statistically immature drivers are at higher risk for accidents. Teen drivers aged 16-19 are three times more likely to be in a crash than drivers aged 20 or older. The good news is Lakewood Financial is here to help you protect your financial assets while helping you find affordable car insurance for your teen driver.

 

Here are some ways to make adding your teen driver to your car insurance more affordable while still keeping your financial assets protected:

 

First, if you haven’t already added your teenager as a driver on your car insurance policy, now is the time to do so. If you don’t and he or she is in an accident, you may not be covered.

 

If you’re buying a car for your teen driver, choose wisely to avoid most expensive premiums. Save on premiums by choosing a safe vehicle that’s not too expensive or sporty.

 

It’s almost always more cost effective to add your teen’s car to your family’s car insurance policy so that you benefit from discounts like multi-car and homeowner’s. Another benefit is that your teen will be covered if he or she needs to drive another of the family’s vehicles.

 

Emphasize safety rules with your teen driver. The best way to keep insurance costs down is for everyone to maintain clean driving records. If your teen driver is also a safe driver, your premiums should eventually decrease.

 

Ask your insurance agent about all available discounts, including those for safety features, good student discounts, and for taking a recognized driver’s education course.

 

Make sure you have adequate liability coverage. That may seem counterintuitive, but insurance premiums are never as expensive as being sued! If your teen driver is at fault in an accident where someone is injured and your policy doesn’t have bodily injury coverage, you’ll be required to carry an SR-22. And if you only carry the state minimum, that may not be enough to protect you from a lawsuit. Depending on your assets, once your teen starts driving, you may want to carry higher liability limits, or even an umbrella policy. Your Lakewood Financial agent should be able to help you understand and adjust your needs for liability insurance.

 

Lakewood Financial is an independent insurance agency and we represent more than 40 car insurance companies. Let us find the most cost-effective car insurance policy for you and your teen driver. Call us at 941-747-4600 or email us for a free, no-obligation quote. We’ve been serving Sarasota/Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding areas since 2003, and we’d love to serve you!

 

 

Insurance and Your College Student

Congratulations—your child is going off to college! While you’re packing up your student’s belongings and offering last minute advice, take a few minutes to think about how this new adventure affects your own and your college student’s unique insurance needs.

Unique Insurance Needs

Car Insurance

Is your child taking a car to school? If you’re supporting your student financially, he or she should be covered under your existing family car insurance policy. You will want to notify your Lakewood Financial agent (give us a call at 941-747-4600), especially if the school is outside of Florida.

If your child is not taking a vehicle to school, you should still tell your agent—you may be eligible for a premium discount, especially if your child’s college is 100 miles or more from home. Also remember that you may be eligible for Good Student Discount if your child maintains a certain grade point average, usually a B average or above, whether or not he or she takes a vehicle to school.

Protecting personal property

Another concern for parents of college students is protecting their child’s personal property. About half of all campus crimes involve burglary. While college students need items such as laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, and so on, if at all possible they should leave home any non-essential and expensive items such as electronics, or luxury watches and jewelry. 

If your child lives in an on-campus dorm, his or her personal belongings are covered under your homeowners insurance policy, up to certain limits (check your insurance policy or ask your agent, and remember that your deductible still applies).

However, if your student lives off campus, he or she is not covered by your policy, and should buy a renters insurance policy. These policies are affordable, and also offer liability protection as well coverage for personal property. 

Make a detailed inventory of what your student takes to school, and update it every year. Include copies of receipts and photos. This will help you get a claim paid faster in the event of a theft.

Remind your student to take common sense precautions, including locking dorm rooms and keeping personal items like backpacks, purses, and laptops with them instead of unattended in the library, cafeteria, or common areas.

If you don’t already have one, you might consider adding a personal injury endorsement to your homeowners policy. This could come in handy if your student is sued for posting something negative on social media!

If you have any questions about what is or is not covered, please give your Lakewood Financial agent a call.

What about health insurance?

Depending on your health insurance policy, your college student may be covered under your policy. If he or she is going away to school, make sure there are in-network doctors and hospitals available in the new area. You’ll pay more for out-of-network medical services, or there may be no out-of-network coverage except for emergencies.

If there are no in-network providers in your college student’s area, most colleges offer student health plans that may be just what you need.

Other insurance concerns

If your income is paying for your child’s college education, do you have enough life insurance coverage in place to complete it if something were to happen to you? In general, you’ll want enough to cover expenses until your youngest child finishes school.

What about an umbrella policy? Umbrella policies cover all household members even when they’re away at school. This provides additional liability protection for both your college student and you as their parent. 

When you wave goodbye to your budding young adult, rest easy knowing your insurance safety net will continue to protect you all. Please give us a call at 941-747-4600 if you have any questions about your insurance needs, limits, or what your policy covers. You may also contact us online by clicking here.

We’re here to help!

Coverage Options for Uber and Lyft Drivers

 

uber and lyft driversThinking of making a little side income by becoming a rideshare driver* for Uber or Lyft? Before you sign up, make sure you’ve got insurance coverage. Will your personal auto policy be enough? Or do you need a commercial auto policy?

 

A typical personal auto policy only covers you for personal use, not when you’re using your vehicle for commercial purposes, as you would as a rideshare driver. However, since you only occasionally use your vehicle for commercial purposes, you probably don’t want or need a commercial auto policy. The company you work for will likely carry some coverage, but you’ll still need to carry coverage to protect your liability and your vehicle when you’re driving for them. What should you do?

 

We’re happy to say that insurance companies have seen the need for endorsements that reflect the needs of rideshare drivers. Give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 to discuss your options.

 

Remember, if you use your vehicle for your job—if you’re a realtor, an outside salesperson, or a professional construction worker, for example—you will need a commercial auto policy. We can help with that, too! Just give us a call, or contact us online for a free, no-obligation quote.

 

*A rideshare driver is an individual who provides taxi-like services to passengers via smart phone app for a Transportation Network Company (TNC), such as Uber or Lyft. Drivers use their own personal vehicles, rather than a limousine or taxi, to carry passengers.

If My Garage Burns Down and My Classic Car Is Destroyed, Am I Covered?

Classic Car Policy

You might think that if your classic car is damaged or destroyed by fire while locked in your garage that your homeowners insurance would cover the loss.

Think again. Your homeowners insurance will not cover your classic car, because it doesn’t provide coverage for motor vehicles. The good news? It’s simple to make sure your classic car is covered in the event of a fire or other catastrophic event by purchasing a classic car insurance policy that includes comprehensive coverage.

Classic car coverage—your best option

You could simply add your classic car to your conventional car insurance, but it likely will not cover the true value of your classic car. Unlike the car you drive every day, classic cars don’t depreciate over time—often they go up in value. Conventional car insurance covers your car up to actual cash value, but classic car insurance covers your vehicle up to a guaranteed amount agreed upon by you and your classic car insurance company. This amount is determined by appraisal, documentation, and/or consultation with a collectible car value guide such as the Old Cars Report Price Guide or the value guide at www.buyclassiccars.com.

What coverage is included in a classic car policy?

While there are a few differences among insurance companies, a basic classic car policy will typically include the same coverage for liability, property damage, comprehensive and collision that a conventional policy does. However, since you don’t drive your classic car every day, you’ll probably pay less for equivalent coverage. Also, classic car policies often include coverage specific to classic cars, such as specialized repair or restoration, or special towing and spare parts. If you don’t plan to drive your classic at all, you may be able to purchase a comprehensive only classic car insurance policy.

While there is no single definition of a “classic car,” vehicles that may qualify for classic status include cars that are at least 25 to 30 years old, certain hotrods or modified vehicles, exotic luxury vehicles, muscle cars, or classic trucks. To be eligible for a classic car policy, your classic car cannot be used as a primary vehicle, and your insurance company may restrict the number of miles you can drive it each year. You must also store your classic car in a locked, covered enclosure, such as a garage or storage unit.

If you need a classic car policy, please give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 or contact us online. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about covering your classic vehicle. We’re a locally-owned, independent agency serving Sarasota, Bradenton, Ellenton, Lakewood Ranch, and nearby communities, and our agents are experts in finding you the best coverage at a competitive price.

If You Need an FR-44, We Can Help

FR-44

If you’re in the difficult position of putting your life back together after a DUI conviction, we can help. 

Since 2008, Florida has required that drivers who’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs carry an FR-44.

 

What is an FR-44?

An FR-44 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate, similar to an SR-22. You’ll need to carry an FR-44 if you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because of this, you’re considered a “high risk” driver and the state of Florida requires you to show financial responsibility by purchasing a car insurance policy with  high limit bodily injury and property damage liability, in this case, limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 bodily injury per person/$300,000 per accident, plus $50,000 property damage). In most cases, you must carry an FR-44 for three years.

As you can imagine, combining high limits with a driver considered high risk can make this type of coverage costly.

We can help

Lakewood Financial is an independent agency, serving Ellenton, Bradenton, Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding communities. We have many quality insurance companies to choose from, including companies who can provide you with a car insurance policy with the higher limits required for an FR-44 filing at a competitive rate. Please give us a call at 941-747-4600, or contact us for a free, no-obligation quote. We’d love to help you make a difficult situation a little easier.

 

Need Car Insurance and Have Personal Injury Protection Claims? Lakewood Financial Has You Covered!

personal injury protection

Let’s say you’ve been hurt in a car accident, and the other driver is at fault. Under current Florida requirements, all drivers must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, and even though you weren’t at fault in the accident, in order to have your injuries covered, you make a claim on your PIP. (PIP pays for your injuries if you’re hurt in an accident, no matter who is at fault.) You make the PIP claim and think no more about it.

 

But then later, you may find yourself in a predicament: your car insurance company non-renews you, and other insurance companies don’t want to insure you. If you have more than one PIP claim, you may find it nearly impossible to get car insurance.

 

Why?

 

Unfortunately, Personal Injury Protection claims are associated with insurance fraud: “While PIP premium represents roughly two percent of Florida’s collected insurance premium, this issue accounts for nearly 50 percent of fraud referrals,” according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Because of the high rate of fraud, many insurance companies now consider clients with PIP claims high risk—even if they were not at fault in an accident. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for clients with PIP claims on their records to buy car insurance.

 

Until recently, clients with one or more PIP claims have been forced to rely on the Florida Auto Joint Underwriters Association (FAJUA). We’re happy to say that Lakewood Financial now has an alternative to the high rates of the FAJUA. If you’ve had one or more PIP claims, please call us at 941-747-4600, or contact us via email for a free, no-obligation quote. We’ve been serving the Sarasota/Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch areas since 2003, and we’re here to help. 

New to Florida? Here’s What You Need to Know About Car Insurance

car insurance

If you’ve just relocated to the Sarasota/Bradenton area, welcome! We’re glad to have you here. While you’re unpacking and checking out the beaches, remember that you’ll need to purchase car insurance and tag your car in your new state—and Florida car insurance can be a little confusing. Here are some things to be mindful of:

 

Minimum requirements

Florida is currently a no-fault state, though lawmakers are attempting to change this. 

What this means for you: Your car insurance policy will need to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If you’re injured in an accident, no matter whose fault it was, the first $10,000 of medical coverage will come from your own car insurance policy.

In addition to PIP, to legally register your vehicle, you must also carry $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PD).

 

Do I need Bodily Injury Liability?

Even though you don’t have to carry Bodily Injury Liability (BI) to register your car, the Florida Financial Responsibility law “requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage.” If you are at fault in an accident, BI will help to pay for the victims’ injuries, up to the policy limit. Florida’s minimum BI limit is $10,000 per person/$20,000 per accident.

What this means for you: If you are at fault in an accident and you injure someone, you must be carrying at least $10,000 per person BI, in addition to PIP and PD coverage, at the time of the accident. If you don’t have Bodily Injury coverage, you’ll be forced to buy it, and you may have to carry an SR-22 (a certificate of financial responsibility) for three years. 

Florida’s minimum limits are low, considering how much you could be liable for in an accident with serious injuries, or if more than one other vehicle is involved. When the liability limits are reached, you and your assets may be at risk if the injured party chooses to sue for the remainder of the damages. In general, the insurance industry recommends coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident for BI, and at least $50,000 for Property Damage Liability.

 

What about Uninsured Motorist coverage?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) covers your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after your $10,000 PIP coverage is used up. Even then, it only pays after the other driver has been declared at fault in the accident and it has been determined they are uninsured or underinsured. UM doesn’t pay to have your car fixed. The catch: you can’t buy UM unless you buy BI coverage, and only up to the same policy limits.

What this means for you: You may want to consider UM coverage since unfortunately, many people in Florida are not adequately insured. (In fact, Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the country—26.7 percent—according to the latest data available from the Insurance Research Council.)

 

Though some people look for the bare minimum of coverage they must carry to drive legally, that’s not usually a good idea. The purpose of car insurance is to protect you, your assets, and your liability. At Lakewood Financial, we represent more than 40 car insurance companies, and we’ll be happy to help you look at your personal situation and find the best coverage at the best rate. Give us a call at 941-747-4600 or contact us. We’d love to help you—and welcome to the neighborhood!

 

For more information:

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Five Simple Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Bill

car insurance bill

Money is always tight, especially during the holiday season. The last thing you want is to spend any more than you have to on your car insurance. Aside from the obvious thing—maintaining a clean driving record—is there anything else you can do to lower your car insurance bill without skimping on coverage?

 

Yes, there is! Here are five things you can do to make sure your car insurance bill is the lowest it can be:

1. Keep your credit record spotless. Why does your insurance company care about your credit rating? Because according the Insurance Information Institute (III), research shows that people who effectively manage their credit have fewer claims—something insurance companies love!

If your credit rating could use some improvement, make it better by paying all your bills on time, and reducing the overall amount you owe. (Click here for more tips on improving your credit score.) 

2. Choose your vehicle wisely. If you’re in the market for a new car—or even just one that’s new to you—check with your insurance agent before you sign on the dotted line. Some of our clients have been unpleasantly surprised at how much insurance for their new ride cost them. Car insurance premiums are calculated by using a number of factors, including how safe a vehicle is, how much it costs to repair it, and how likely it is to be stolen.

3. Ask about discounts. Be sure to ask your Lakewood Financial agent about all applicable discounts. In addition to discounts for safety features like anti-lock brakes and air bags, some companies offer discounts if you’ve taken a defensive driving course, if you drive a lower number of miles than average per year, or if your teen driver is a good student or has taken a driver’s education course. Every little bit helps.

4. Consider raising your deductibles. If you have a claim, your deductible is what you pay before your insurance policy does. Raising your deductibles can reduce the cost of your comprehensive and collision coverage, but you’ll want to be sure you have enough money saved to pay that higher deductible if you have a claim.

5. Shop around. This is where an independent agency like Lakewood Financial really shines. We represent more than 40 car insurance companies, we’ve served the Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and Sarasota communities for 14 years, and we’re committed to finding the best deal for your situation. Give us a call at (941) 747-4600, or email us for a free, no obligation quote.

P.S. Click here for even more tips on lowering your car insurance bills. 

 

Prevent Accidents With Basic Car Maintenance

basic car maintenance

Whether you do it yourself or hire a trusted mechanic, regular basic car maintenance not only keeps your vehicle running well and safely, it also may prevent an accident. Since every vehicle is different, be sure to read your owner’s manual for information specific to your make and model. (If you don’t have an owner’s manual, you may be able to find one online.)

If you’re in the market for car insurance,

be sure to call us at 941-747-4600 for a free,

no obligation auto insurance quote.

 

Here are five car maintenance basics that will help you stay safer on the road:

Where the rubber meets the road

The condition of your tires affects how your car handles and how well it stops. According to one estimate, there are 33,000 tire-related crashes in the U.S. every year. Once a month, before you drive somewhere and your tires are cool, check their air pressure (don’t forget the spare tire). Also examine the condition of your tires, looking for any cuts, bulges, or uneven wear, and checking tread depth.  Rotate your tires about twice a year and have your wheels aligned as needed so your tires will wear evenly.

Brakes

Beware of noise when braking—it could indicate worn brake pads. Worn pads can damage rotors, which can be expensive to repair, and if neglected long enough can lead to brake failure. If you hear grinding, scraping or squeaking sounds, have your brakes inspected as soon as possible.

Keep it clean

When you’re driving, you want to be able to see well and to be seen, so keep your windshield, mirrors and lights clean and free of stuck-on debris such as love bugs. Don’t forget to clean the inside of your windows—they can get grimy, too, making it harder to see.  Clean your wiper blades to remove buildup of dirt, and replace them when they fail to easily sweep your windshield clean.

And speaking of lights…

Make sure all your lights and turn signals work. Are you headlights aligned? If they’re not, you may have trouble seeing the road at night.

Fluids

Fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid keep your vehicle running smoothly. Check oil level once a month, and change it regularly (again referring to your owner’s manual for frequency). Flush and replace fluids according to your vehicle manufacturer’s schedule. Watch for telltale puddles beneath your vehicle—you might have a fluid leak.

A well-maintained vehicle is not only a safer vehicle, it will last longer and run better, saving you money in the long run. We hope you’ll never be in a car accident, but if you are, rest assured Lakewood Financial will be here for you. Please call us at 941-747-4600 if you have any questions about your car insurance policy, or if you need a quote. We’re here to serve you.

Safe Driving Tips for Rainy Days

driving tipsIn the South, over 90 percent of weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement, according to the Federal Highway Administration. We here in Bradenton and Sarasota are certainly familiar with navigating frequent summer storms, so Lakewood Financial would like to offer a few driving tips to keep you safe when it’s raining or the roads are wet. 

  • Rain makes it harder to see and be seen, and it makes the road slippery, so keep your windshield wipers, tires, and lights (headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals) in good repair.
  • Turn on your headlights when it’s raining. This is the law, but it’s also common sense. Your headlights not only help you see, they help other drivers see you. Even though many cars have daytime running lights, turning on your headlights also turns on your taillights, so drivers behind you will be able to see you better. Don’t turn on your high beams, however, as they can cause distracting and dangerous reflections.

Did you know—it’s illegal to drive with your emergency flashers on? Flashers are to be used only when a vehicle is stopped or disabled. If you feel the visibility is so poor you need to turn on your flashers to be seen, you should safely pull off the road as far as you can, and wait out the storm. (And yes, now you can turn on your emergency flashers.)

 
  • Don’t use cruise control. Under slippery circumstances, you want to be completely focused on your driving. Plus, if you need to slow down quickly, you can ease your foot off the gas, which is safer in wet conditions than braking. Since cruise control aims to keep your vehicle traveling at a set speed, it might even accelerate at a time you should be slowing down.
  • Slow down and allow more space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. It takes longer to stop in wet weather, so allow yourself the time and space to react to the unexpected. Also give yourself extra time to get to your destination when it’s raining or conditions are wet so you won’t be tempted to drive too fast. Remember, all it takes is 1/12th of an inch of water and a speed of at least 35 MPH to be at risk for hydroplaning (when a layer of water builds up between the tires of your vehicle and the road, leading to loss of traction).
  • Steer and brake gently. If you start to skid, ease off the gas pedal and gently steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.
  • Don’t drive through large puddles or standing water. If water is deeper than the bottom of your door, you could seriously damage your car.  And never drive through moving water unless you can easily see the ground through it. Your car—and you—could be swept away.
  • Take extra care on wet days that follow a dry spell. Oil and grime deposits on the road can mix with the rain to make things extra slick for the first few hours after rain begins falling again.

We likely have at least a few more weeks of wet driving conditions, so please stay safe out there!

FYI, for information on safe driving, consider taking the National Safety Council’s defensive driving course. You may be eligible for a discount on your car insurance. Be sure to check with your Lakewood Financial agent at 941-747-4600 to see if you qualify.