We thought it might be helpful to assemble a list of the Home and Auto insurance agencies available to you as an insurance consumer in the Bemidji area. Obviously, we hope you will buy your insurance through us, but we also feel that you would appreciate an open and objective discussion of your options. Competition is a good thing, as it provides you the consumer the opportunity to review and decide who deserves your business. We encourage you to evaluate your options on the three aspects of good insurance value: price, coverage and relationship.
Local independent agencies
Independent insurance agencies have a great deal of flexibility in finding the best solution for your insurance needs, because we represent a number of different insurance companies. This allows the agency to deliver on price (by shopping among their carriers for you), coverage (by picking carriers and products that meet your needs) and relationship (as you can keep your current agent even if your current carrier no longer meets your needs). Pine Country Insurance is an independent insurance agency; but let’s introduce you to the others in Bemidji.
Insure Forward is one of the older and easily the largest agency in town. They were previously known as Insurance Placement Service or simply IPS until their purchase by Bank Forward approximately ten years ago. With their multitude of carrier contracts, large staff and breadth of knowledge and experience, they have much to offer, including great options for midsize to larger local businesses or insurance consumers with hard-to-place needs. They are located on Paul Bunyan Drive within the Bank Forward building and can be reached at 218-751-2330 or www.bankforward.com.
Risk Management Services of Bemidji (aka RMS) was the brain-child of local entrepreneur Matt Sparby, who hired Dan Posner as the first agent around a dozen years ago. Since then RMS has grown by leaps and bounds and gained a sizable market share in commercial insurance, as well as a decent personal lines presence. Much of this growth was organic, but it was also helped along by the acquisition of the local agency Beltrami Insurance Group a few years after their founding. Like Insure Forward, RMS has the size and scope to be able to handle nearly any type of commercial or personal insurance need. RMS is located in the Sparby Financial building across from the hospital on Anne St and can be reached at 218-759-1201 or online at www.rmsinsurancebemidji.com.
Another independent agency worthy of special note is Northway Insurance, which has been a staple on Third Street in downtown Bemidji for many years. It was started in 1985 by Steve North, and he grew it to be one of the largest agencies for his primary carrier in the state. In 2001 North added a second location in Park Rapids when he purchased a local agency there, which he later sold. Steve sold the Bemidji Northway location to two of his long-time employees one year ago. Northway of Bemidji and its three staff members offer a broad array of personal and commercial insurance products and can be reached at 218-751-0821 or online at www.northwayinsurance.com.
There are a number of other local independent agencies. Among them are older agencies (Bemidji Insurance Plus and Dale Schmidt Agency), new independent agencies with older roots (Truinsure - formerly the Ken Stone Agency, Security Insurance - formerly Insure North of Blackduck and Farmers Union Insurance – now a hybrid but formerly an exclusive agency) and new offices which have sprung up locally in recent years (Greater Midwest Insurance, Headwaters Agency and Big Horn Insurance Services).
Local exclusive agencies
An exclusive agency is different from an independent agency in that it primarily represents just one insurance company. While this obviously narrows the agency’s breadth of offerings, it also enables the agent to dig deeper and become an expert in the offerings of the company he or she represents.
Probably the best known exclusive-agency carrier is State Farm, who also happens to be the largest Home & Auto insurer in America. Approximately ten years or so ago, Sara Labraaten took over a local State Farm agency from a retiring agent and has since grown it into the second ranked State Farm agency in the country. In a recent Minnesota trade publication, Sara stated that her keys to success are simply practiced the well-known basics of hiring the best staff, marketing extensively and treating customers the way she would want to be treated. The Sara Labraaten Agency is located on Bemidji Avenue just north of Library Park and can be reached at 218-444-2400 or online at www.sarahsagency.com. The other local State Farm agents are long-time agent Mark Gazelka and newer agent Jake Blumn.
Another well-known local exclusive agency brand is American Family. Shannon Miller took over for a retiring agent several years ago, and has since built his business to the point of receiving top countrywide honors among all American Family agents countrywide two times in the past eight months. Miller & Associates is located in front of the Paul Bunyan Mall and can be reached at 218-751-5351 or online at www.agent.amfam.com/mn/bemidji/shannon-miller/. Todd Gabrelcik is the other local American Family agent.
Other exclusive agencies in Bemidji include Farmers Insurance agents Jerry Downs and Brad Caspers, Country Financial agents Chris Lehman and Scott Turn, Federated Insurance agent Mike Anderson and AAA agent John Kovach.
We hope that you have found this post informative and helpful in your review of your local insurance agency options. We've tried to make this list comprehensive; so please let us know if we unintentionally missed anyone. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback.
As a father of two teens currently learning to drive, I can personally attest that this process can be a little scary. But it is also quite rewarding to guide your children through the process of yet another step towards adulthood.
It probably won’t come as a surprise for me to tell you that adding a teenage driver is guaranteed to raise your rates. Insurance companies base their rates on statistical averages, and teenage drivers statistically have more accidents than older drivers. So your rates are going up; the only questions are how much and what can be done to lessen the impact on your pocketbook.
First, an idea that sounds plausible but doesn’t work. Sometimes parents ask me if it would be better to put Junior on his own policy when he gets his license. That way, they reason, Junior won’t increase the rates on their other vehicles. Unfortunately, this idea for “beating the system” usually won’t work. Insurance companies base their rates based on prior loss trends and statistics – and apparently, there are a lot more claims on young-driver-only-policies than there are on family policies. By insuring your new driver along with you, you also take advantage of many discounts that may not be available to them separately, such discounts for multiple vehicles, multiple policies, etc.
There are some things that can be done to keep your rates low, however. For example, most insurance companies provide a discount if your student is averaging a 3.0 GPA or better or is ranked in the top twenty percent of his or her class. The thinking is that good grades are a sign of responsibility that may translate over to how carefully a teen perform behind the wheel. If you have a child approaching driving age that is not quite making the GPA cut, now is the time to work with them to see if they can get over the hump, so to speak. The good news is that most carriers are willing to use either your last term GPA or your cumulative GPA, so working to qualify for that discount may not be as difficult as you may think.
Another thing that will affect your rates is the household vehicle situation. If your teen doesn’t have full-time access to a vehicle because there are fewer vehicles than drivers to drive them, you may be able to classify them under the “occasional driver” rate, which should be less expensive.
If you do plan to give your child their own vehicle to drive, you could consider an older vehicle with a value low enough that you feel comfortable not fully insuring it. The savings for assigning them to a “Liability only” vehicle are sometimes considerable and sometimes not, depending on how your carrier prices the policy. But this savings method does have its own downside: As mentioned above, your young driver is statistically more likely to get in an accident than you are, meaning the odds are higher that you might have to foot the bill for repairs or for a replacement vehicle if their car wasn’t fully insured.
So at what point in the licensing process will your insurance rates go up? The good news is that most carriers don’t raise rates when your child gets their permit. (This rule is not universal, you should confirm this with your insurance agent.) But when your child does get their license, they will have to be added to your policy immediately. Sometimes I hear from a parent that their child is getting a license now but they don’t want to insure them yet, because the plan is to wait for a few months before they are allowed to drive. If that is the plan, then I also suggest waiting before you sign off on their license, because if the state says your child is a driver, your insurance company is going to consider them to be a driver as well. Be sure to keep your insurance agent in the loop regarding the licensing progress and to let your agent know when the big day occurs.
I’m often asked whether a teenager’s vehicle should be titled to them or their parent(s). Some parents give their child a car as a graduation present, while some other teens save up and buy their own. If your child is old enough to take legal title (in Minnesota, usually 18, but 17 in some cases), the inclination may be to title the car in their name instead of yours. However, you need to understand that this could have insurance implications. Many insurance companies will only allow you to insure vehicles that are actually titled to you, based on the insurance principle of “insurable interest”. Titling the vehicle to only your teenager could result in having to buy them a separate policy, which could be up double or triple the cost of insuring them under your own policy. These rules and rates do vary from carrier to carrier; so be sure to check with your agent before you finalize the purchase of the vehicle. (Here’s an idea: Consider “co-titling” the car to both you and your child; this can be a great solution in many of these cases.)
Many parents ask how long their child can stay on the family policy. This often comes down to two issues: vehicle ownership and residency. As discussed above, your name may need to stay on the title of their car in order to keep them on your policy. But once your child moves out and onto their own, they are probably going to need their own policy. (Many carriers will require this, and even if not, it is advisable so that they keep well-rounded coverage in place, and you may wish to get off their title for liability reasons anyway.) Keep in mind, however, that going off to college is not usually the same as moving out. As long as your child doesn’t establish a permanent residence, if they lived with you before moving into temporary student housing, they are still considered a resident of your household.
Before I close out this post, I’d like to take a moment to talk “big picture”. The big picture is that your teenager learning to drive is another milestone in their journey towards the responsibilities of adulthood. As parents, it is our role to teach them what these responsibilities mean. When I started driving, my parents required that I first have a job and reimburse them for their increased insurance costs. I knew that if I got in an accident or received a ticket, I’d have to pay even more. Conversely, if I kept my grades up, I knew I’d pay less. I suppose that this approach might seem harsh to some, but for me it was an important lesson in learning how life works. While you’ll need to personalize your own game plan with your teen driver, I encourage you look for opportunities to weave the valuable lessons of responsibility into it.
One question clients frequently ask me is what will happen if they buy a vehicle on the weekend and get in an accident on the way home – before they are able to reach me to add the vehicle to their insurance policy.
There is much confusion on this point. Some people have heard that you have ten days of free coverage or that you have a thirty-day window to call and add your vehicle. Neither of these are necessarily correct.
Most Personal Auto insurance policies do have a “newly acquired vehicle” provision. This provision provides a window of time after you buy a vehicle to report it and be covered as of the date you purchased it. However, there are several points of caution I’d like to share with you.
First caution tip: You need to have an existing policy in place. Once I had a prospective client come in. He had recently purchased a vehicle and been told by the dealer he had “thirty days to get it insured”. The problem was that he did not have an existing Auto insurance policy; so there was no policy to provide him a window to report the vehicle for retroactive coverage. If you are buying a vehicle and don’t already have Personal Auto insurance, you shouldn’t drive the vehicle off the lot.
Second caution tip: If you are the one buying the vehicle, you must have an insurance policy in your name. Let’s say Junior has been covered as a driver on Mom and Dad’s insurance for two years since he got his license. Now that he is 18, he goes out on a Saturday and buys a vehicle in his own name. Unfortunately, he gets into a wreck on Sunday evening. On Monday, Dad calls to report the vehicle and the accident and Junior and his parents confront an unwelcome surprise: The policy was in Dad and Mom’s name. Junior was just a driver. There was no reporting window to report the vehicle purchase, because Mom or Dad didn’t buy the vehicle. Junior needed to have arranged for coverage before he drove off the lot. (Similar issues can arise when buying a vehicle in the name of a trust or a business.)
Thirdly, there is no standard for how long you have to report your new vehicle. Different insurance companies set different time limits for different situations. Depending on your insurance carrier, whether it is an additional or replacement vehicle, what coverages you currently carry on other vehicles, what coverage you expect to receive on this vehicle and even where you are in your policy period, you may have as little as less than a day or as long as 364 days to report your vehicle for retroactive coverage. While most policies will provide at least 3-4 days in most situations and often you may have a couple weeks, there are exceptions. Some policies even include a stipulation that to have any reporting window at all, you must insure all autos that you own with them – a problem if you own an uninsured parked vehicle or maybe a collector vehicle on its own special policy.
Fourth, you don’t have any reporting period at all under your Personal Auto policy when you buy a boat, four-wheeler, snowmobile, motorhome, camper or even a motorcycle. This reporting period provided in your Auto policy typically applies to private passenger automobiles only – meaning cars, SUVs, light vans and light trucks (up to one ton, usually). Of course, if you already have a Motorcycle policy in force, it may give you some kind of a reporting period for buying a second motorcycle. But if it is your first bike, you definitely aren’t covered if you just drive it off the lot.
Finally, this reporting period is not free coverage. When you call to add your vehicle effective the purchase date, you will have to pay for coverage back to the purchase date, assuming your request falls within the terms of your policy.
At this point hopefully you can understand why I’m saying that the issue of “coverage to drive off the lot” is not always as simple as many people think. That’s why I encourage you to call your personal insurance agent before you make a vehicle purchase to discuss your situation and confirm how much time you have to report your vehicle after you buy it. If you don’t have a relationship with a personal agent to get answers to these kinds of questions, then maybe we should talk.
If you buy a brand new vehicle, you probably want to make sure that it is well insured. And while traditional “full coverage” will protect your vehicle, you might not be content with only being covered up to the depreciated value if your new vehicle is totaled in an accident or other loss.
Depending on what your insurance company offers, you likely have one, and possibly two, options to enhance this coverage on your new vehicle. Most companies offer Loan or Lease Gap coverage and a number of companies are beginning to offer New Car Replacement coverage as well. So which is better, or do you need either?
First, Gap coverage is designed to pay off the loan or lease on your vehicle if you owe more than the current value at the time of a total loss. If you didn’t make a large down-payment or receive much in the way of trade-in credit when you bought your vehicle, you could find yourself becoming “upside down” on your loan shortly after your new vehicle is purchased, due to the initial depreciation that often occurs when you drive it off the lot.
New Car Replacement coverage, however, is designed to pay what it will cost to replace your used vehicle with a new, current model year vehicle of the same make, model and options. Assuming that your loan balance is not more than the cost of a new vehicle, New Car Replacement will pay more for a total loss than Gap will.
Let’s say you bought a new Ford Escape nine months ago for $27,000. You paid $1000 down and financed the rest over six years. You added it to your insurance with a $500 deductible. Last week you were broadsided by another vehicle and your Escape was totaled. At this point, you still owe $23,000. Meanwhile, a new 2017 Ford Escape will cost $28,000. The insurance company appraises your vehicle at $21,000.
If you only chose basic “full coverage” for your vehicle, all you would get in this case is $20,500 (the appraised value minus your deductible), and you'll have to come up with $2500 out of pocket to payoff your loan. Or you may be able to roll this shortfall into a loan on your next vehicle, making you start even further “upside down” on your new loan.
If you chose Gap coverage, your insurance claim would pay $22,500 (the balance of your loan minus your deductible), leaving you only your deductible out of pocket to pay off your loan.
However, if you purchased New Car Replacement coverage and it is still in effect, your policy will pay $27,500 (the cost of current year's model minus your deductible). You’ll pay off your loan balance and still have around $4500 left as a down-payment on your next vehicle. If you do want a new Escape, you’ll be back in the position you started (minus your deductible) with a loan balance around $23,500.
Let’s take this same example and say that either you had paid cash for your 2015 Escape or you have already paid off the loan on it when your accident occurred. In that case, obviously Gap coverage would provide you no benefit at all, while New Car Replacement coverage will put you right back in the position that you started – with a brand new vehicle and no loan on it, after writing a check to the dealer for the amount of your deductible.
As you can see, New Car Replacement coverage will almost always pay better than Gap coverage. It might also cost a little more. Check with your insurance company, but on average, you might pay $2 to $5 per month for Gap, versus $4 to $8 a month for New Car Replacement.
With some carriers, you may be able to buy both Gap and Replacement together. This might be important, depending on how long your carrier allows you to keep New Car Replacement on your policy, which can vary from one to five years.
Since New Car Replacement is not yet a standardized coverage, there may be significant differences in how the coverage works between one carrier and the next; coverage may even vary from what is described here. Also, there can be restrictions on how much Gap coverage may pay as well. You should ask your insurance agent for specific information about what your carrier offers and read your policy contract carefully.
For simplicity of understanding, the settlement examples in this post do not mention the tax, title and license fees that your insurance company will add to the amount they pay you for your total loss settlement. This additional payment is intended to reimburse you for the fees you'll pay when you replace the vehicle.
When you are shopping for Auto insurance, it is likely that you will be asked who else lives in your household, in addition to you and anyone else you plan to allow to drive your vehicle. Often people wonder why this would make a difference and many ask why this should affect their rate.
Insurance carriers set rates based on actual claim statistics. Teenage drivers pay more than adults because claim statistics say they are more likely to get in an accident in the future. People with prior tickets or accidents on their record pay more for the same reason.
These same claim statistics are the reason that insurance companies want to know about everyone of driving age who lives in your household. Insurance companies are concerned by the frequency of cases where an undisclosed driver was behind the wheel when an accident occurred.
Another issue is that Minnesota Auto policies are required to cover all relatives that live in your household. So if you live with a brother who never drives your vehicle but brother borrows a friend’s vehicle and gets in an accident, your insurance could be legally required to pay for that accident if his friend’s vehicle wasn’t sufficiently insured.
In order to price its policies and determine who to accept as a customer, an insurance company needs to be able to develop of a full picture of what level of risk a given potential new policyholder poses. Perhaps someone else living in the household is little or no additional risk at all, but the insurance company can’t make that analysis until they know that this person exists.
For these reasons, most insurance carriers will ask you to disclose everyone age 15 and older who lives with you. These individuals may then be categorized into different groups: a) other regular drivers of your vehicle; b) licensed residents who don’t have their own insurance; c) household members who do have other insurance; and d) residents who aren’t licensed. Often people falling under a) and b) will have to be rated as drivers on your policy, while c) and d) may not.
One frustrating scenario is the case where there is someone living with you who has a suspended or revoked license. Most preferred carriers feel that this household member poses an unacceptably high level of risk to your insurance; therefore, many companies don’t want to write a policy if this is the case.
We consider it our mission to explain insurance in a way that our clients can understand it. We hope this post helps. As an independent agency, we represent a number of different companies with different rules and procedures. If you let us know your situation, we will work with you to find the best available solution for your insurance needs.
Buying a new or newer car is a major investment. If you’re like most people, you’ll be very careful to make sure you have your investment fully insured. But did you know that even with full insurance coverage you could still end up with a financial problem if your vehicle is damaged to the point of a total loss?
If your vehicle is totaled due an accident, fire, theft or other covered cause, most insurance policies cover the vehicle’s current “Actual Cash Value”. This means that your insurer will complete a market appraisal of your vehicle – factoring in its age, pre-loss condition, mileage, options, etc. The idea is that the carrier will pay you the average price that your vehicle would have sold for in the local area.
A problem arises if this appraised “Actual Cash Value” is less than what you owe on the vehicle. This can often happen if you purchased a brand new vehicle without a large down-payment or trade-in credit. Vehicle depreciate most rapidly right after they are purchased new, meaning that if you financed all or most of the purchase price, you could almost immediately find yourself “upside down” – owing more than what the vehicle is worth. This same scenario can come into play with leased vehicles.
If you are in fact “upside down” at the time of a total vehicle loss, a normal policy will only pay the depreciated value, leaving you on your own to pay the difference to the bank. However, if you purchased Gap coverage, it will pay off this difference (i.e.,“gap”) for you. We should note that some insurance companies may limit how much Gap can pay – for example, maybe an additional 25 percent of the vehicle’s value. Also be aware that you will still be responsible for paying your deductible.
Most insurance companies offer Gap coverage when you add a brand new vehicle to your policy; a few carriers also offer it on used vehicles. Once on your policy, it typically remains until you notify your carrier that the car is paid off (unless you request that it be removed earlier).
When you are signing your vehicle purchase or lease agreement, your dealer will often offer you Gap coverage. If you buy it from your dealer, you will prepay for the entire term of your loan, typically adding several hundred dollars to the purchase or lease price. Buying Gap coverage on your Auto insurance will likely save you quite a bit of money. While rates can vary, we often see Gap coverage priced at only $3 to $5 per month on an Auto policy.
If you need your vehicle towed or other roadside service, there are several places to turn for coverage. If your vehicles is under warranty, many warranties include Roadside Assistance. If you have a AAA membership, this also includes Roadside coverage. Even cell phone carriers are getting into the act, offering optional add-on services which include Roadside assistance among other features.
If you don't get Roadside Assistance coverage through any of these sources, you may wish to add coverage to your Auto policy. There are basically two different types of Roadside coverage offered under Auto policies:
Traditionally, insurance companies have offered Towing and Labor coverage, which reimburses you for roadside service you have already obtained. If you have this coverage, your will have to find service, pay for it and then submit your receipt for reimbursement. Coverage is usually limited to a certain dollar amount - $50, $75, $100, $150 and $200 are common limit options.
Sign & Drive Roadside Assistance
More recently a number of insurance companies have began offering true Roadside Assistance. If you need a tow or other service, you would call your insurance company for assistance. They then dispatch a service provider to your location. Coverage is most often limited to towing a certain distance, which may vary from 15 to 100 miles. You won't need to pay anything at the scene, unless your service exceeds the limits included with the coverage.
Regardless of which option is offered by your carrier, it should cover the following basic services:
• Jump starting a dead battery
• Opening your door if you are locked out
• Changing a flat tire
• Fuel delivery if you run out of gas (you will still have to pay for the cost of the gasoline.)
Our agency represents a number of different companies, some of which offer Sign & Drive assistance and others which cover towing on a reimbursement basis. Ask us for more information on the options available to you.
Whether you are on the road, on the water or riding down a trail, one of the risks that you face 'behind the wheel" is being injured in an accident caused by a irresponsible driver, boater or rider. Let's face it - someone who operates their vehicle irresponsibly is unfortunately also less likely to be adequately insured.
If you seriously hurt in an accident, this could have serious financial affects going forward. While I hope that you have good health insurance to cover your resulting medical bills, that won't cover your lost income if you can't work or the special care or assistance you could need if permanently disabled.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you financially if you are injured in an accident caused by someone without any insurance (Uninsured Motorist coverage) or someone with low limits insufficient to fully compensate you for the financial effects of your injury (Underinsured Motorist coverage). Another risk that you face is an accident caused by a hit and run driver; if that driver can't ever be identified, they are "uninsured" for all practical purposes, as you aren't going to be able to collect under their Liability coverage.
Whether you carry this coverage (and how high of limits you carry) could have a serious impact on both your financial future and your quality of life after a serious accident for which someone else is at fault. This coverage is often overlooked but is quite important.
Here's some information on how this coverage works for different types of insurance policies:
On your Auto policy
Minnesota Auto policies are required to include both Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage, at no less than limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. However, most policies are written with higher Uninsured/Underinsured limits equal to your Bodily Injury Liability coverage, which is usually a very small percentage of your overall policy premium.
On your watercraft policy
Unlike Auto policies, watercraft policies don't always include this valuable coverage, even though there are many, many boats out on the water without any insurance at all. Protecting yourself against uninsured boaters is quite inexpensive - maybe $10 or $20 dollars a year on average. Therefore, we usually include it as a standard coverage included on watercraft policies we quote. However, we see many boat policies purchased elsewhere that don't include this valuable protection.
On your motorcycle, ATV or snowmobile policy
Powersports policies also aren't required to carry this protection. Unlike Auto and Watercraft policies, there is a much higher risk of being injured on a bike, sled or four wheeler; so Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist becomes a more expensive option. But for the same reasons, it is protection you should seriously consider paying for. Because of the added expense, we offer this as optional and encourage our clients to seriously consider adding this protection to their powersports policy.
On your Personal Umbrella policy
Personal Umbrella policies provide an additional layer of Liability coverage if you are sued for more than the limits on your Auto, residential, boat or powersports policy. Many Umbrella policies also offer the option to add Excess Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, which broadens your additional layer of protection, so that it covers not only your risk of being sued if the car accident is your fault to also your risk of financial loss as the victim.
Regardless what we include on our initial quote, we give our clients the final choice on what optional coverages are included in their policies.
We are pleased to bring the IMT Group on board at Pine Country Insurance. As an independent insurance agency, we choose to partner with a number of quality insurance companies who we believe will bring value to our current and prospective clients. IMT is a great regional insurance company who will strengthen the insurance options we can offer.
IMT provides value-driven Home & Auto bundles. For homes built in the last 50 years, they offer their signature GEM policy, which adds a variety of coverage features and enhancements to stand out from the average Homeowners policy. On their Auto policy, they add value with Identity Recovery, New Car Replacement coverage, coverage for a rental car during your claim, pet injury coverage and more. IMT also insures off road and recreational vehicles and watercraft, and they offer Personal Umbrella liability protection.
Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, IMT's motto is "Be Worry Free with IMT". They write insurance products in Iowa, Minnesota and four other midwestern states. The IMT Group is rated "A" (Excellent) by AM Best, for its financial strength.
IMT was founded in 1883 in West Union, Iowa, then known as Iowa Mutual Tornado. IMT began by providing tornado insurance, growing to be the world's largest cooperative association in 1927. In the 1960s they began writing Homeowners and Auto insurance, shortening their name to IMT in 1970. They have a long and storied history of providing valuable insurance protection.
We hope you will not find yourself numbered among the nearly ten million car accidents occurring on our nation’s roads each year. But if you are, the experts at the Insurance Information Institute recommend you take at least the following four steps:
1. Assess the damage: Is anyone injured? Can you pull the car off the road to avoid further risk?
2. Call the police or highway patrol. This will hasten proper medical response as well as assistance in protecting the accident site and vehicles. It will also help to document what happened, protecting you against other parties "changing stories" after the accident.
3. Collect as much information as possible. Names and contact information of everyone involved—drivers, passengers and witnesses—are needed. Get the other driver’s license information, auto registration and insurance ID card. Note the location, time of day and weather. Smartphones make an ideal recording device, so be sure to take photos. Keep to fact gathering; this is not the time to admit—or ask the other driver to admit—fault.
4. Notify us as soon as possible. The sooner you get the claims process started, the easier it will be to remember the details of the accident. Acting quickly will also help expedite repairs, medical payments and other covered compensation. Click here for options to report your claim.
Includes content reprinted by permission, The Mines Press, Inc. March 2015
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.