Will a Car Crash With an Animal Raise My Insurance Rates?


If a deer jumps out from the side of the road and you crash into it, does that count as an at fault accident and will it raise your rates? The short answer is no, but there’s an asterisk. Your insurance company and DMV knows that often there isn’t much you can do about an animal running in front of your car, and it’s not your fault that they did! It’s considered a “comprehensive” claim, which are not at fault in almost all cases. If you have comprehensive coverage on your car then you’ll have to pay your deductible, and your car will get fixed right up. If you don’t have comp., then unfortunately you’ll have to pay for the repairs out of pocket, because that critter you hit probably doesn’t have enough cash to get it fixed for you.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

So what about the asterisk? If you swerve or try to maneuver away from the animal and run into something else, then it turns into an at fault accident. Once you turn the wheel and try to correct, then you’ve taken an active role in the accident. So as heartless as it sounds, if little Bambi jumps in front of you, you’re better off not trying to avoid it. Swerving away can make a bad situation even worse if you lose control of your car or get into a head on collision.

Which Tickets Increase My Insurance Rates?

Not all tickets go onto your DMV report, and not all tickets on your DMV report will impact your rates. So which will? Anything considered a moving violation is going to get you points on your license, and increase your insurance rate. That includes speeding tickets, failure to yield, red light and stop sign violations, DUI’s, reckless driving, and more. The minor citations stay on your record for 3 years, and majors like a DUI will stay on for 5 years. DUI’s also remove your California good driver discount (20%) for 10 years!

So which tickets won’t bump up my rates? Fix it tickets, seatbelt tickets, parking tickets, and surprisingly cell phone tickets don’t for most companies. Cell phone tickets are still recorded on your license and show up on your report, but they don’t actually count as a chargeable moving violation fortunately.

What can you do if you get a ticket? If you haven’t done so in the past 18 months, the DMV lets you go to traffic school to remove 1 minor violation. You can take a course online and submit it to the DMV, but keep in mind that you have limited time to complete it. Check the back of your ticket, and it should say that you have a 90 day window to take traffic school. It’s worth it every time, because even 1 ticket could cost you a thousand dollars or more over 3 years in increased insurance costs!

How to Make Your Insurance Claim Go Smooth As Butter


Insurance claims suck! They’re stressful, slow, confusing, and worst of all you’re filing one because something bad happened. After being part of hundreds of claims, I wanted to put together some of the best practices that we and our clients have used to make them a LOT less painful for everyone.
Probably the biggest time saver of us all is utilizing your insurance company’s in-network companies. Whether that’s an approved auto body shop they work with, a restoration company for your home, or a physician network for workers comp., this is going to save massive time and headaches. Most policies allow you to fix your car or repair your house from whomever you choose, as long as your adjuster approves of the repairs. It can take a week or longer for that negotiation between the adjuster and body shop to get an approval. And that’s before the repairs can even start! When you go with a body shop in their network, the body shop acts as your adjuster, and can start repairs immediately. You’ve saved yourself a week +, and the work is now probably guaranteed for the life of you owning the car. Win-win.

Be flexible for your adjuster. Unless you’re doing something that can’t wait, pick up the phone if they call. They’re probably working on dozens of other claims besides yours, and getting them on the phone is usually pretty tough. They return calls when they have time, and 9/10 times you’re going to get their voicemail if you call them. If you miss their call it coule be hours or a day before you can get back in touch.

To piggyback on the last point; be organized. Have all your questions written down, and go into calls assuming this is your one chance for the day to speak with the adjuster. It might be hours or the next day before the adjuster can get back to you.

5 Car Insurance Discounts Most People Don’t Know About

I’ve spoken with several people recently who are either unaware of car insurance discounts they already qualify for (and aren’t receiving), or their current agent never bothered mentioning to them. This list isn’t comprehensive, and can vary from company to company, but here are some pretty neat discounts that can save you a bunch!

1. Occupation, college degree, and alumni discounts. Let your agent or broker know what you do for work, where you went to college, and what your degree is in. More insurance companies are offering double digit discounts for college educated drivers than ever before. Even if you don’t have a degree, a surprising number of occupations make you eligible for additional discounts. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

2. Senior Defensive Driving and Inexperienced Driver discounts. Drivers over 55 are eligible to take a senior defensive driving course through a number of different vendors such as AARP (just do a search online). The course is usually very inexpensive ($30-ish), takes about an hour, and earns you a certificate valid for 3 years. Discounts can be up to 10% depending on insurance company. Similarly, many insurers offer inexperienced driver discounts for young drivers who take a safety course from the insurance company. These are offered by the individual companies and can be massive; up to 25% for your kids.

3. Multi-Policy. The more policies you add to your account with one company, the more discounts you’re going to receive. Not every company offers auto, home, motorcycle, RV, boat, and business insurance. The more you consolidate, the more you save though, and the difference can be up to 65% in discounts if you bundle. In addition to the savings, it’s much simpler to have a single agent or broker be the point of contact for as much of your insurance as possible.

4. Good Student. Your children can usually qualify for these up to age 25, and for a young driver, this discount will save several hundred per year. Typically a double digit discount, and your son or daughter needs to maintain a 3.0 GPA or equivalent.

5. Hybrid and electric car discount. If you car is a hybrid, let your broker know. Hybrid and electric car discounts can be 3-5%, and every bit counts!

Paul Nelson Insurance Services is an all-lines insurance brokerage. We have relationships with dozens of insurance companies, which allows us to shop for premier coverage at amazing rates from some of the top insurance companies in California. Our specialties are auto, home, and business insurance. Give us a call at 831-426-9900


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