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.

Is Water Damage Covered Under My Homeowners Insurance?

The answer is yes…and no. It’s going to depend on what causes the water damage and where it comes from. We’re going to dive into a standard California homeowners policy to answer this. Your policy covers a “sudden and accidental discharge of water”. Here are a couple examples that would fall into that category:

  • A pipe bursts in your wall
  • Dishwasher hookup breaks off and pours water all over your kitchen
  • Washing machine pipe bursts

You can also get coverage for water backup (sometimes called sewer and drain backup). This won’t come standard on your policy, and must be added. It protects you if a toilet overflows while you’re on vacation, or if a sewer or drain backs up. You should add this coverage to your policy 100% of the time!

The key with these is that they happen suddenly, and they’re not a wear and tear issue. Which brings us to what’s not covered:

  • Wear and tear
  • Gradual leaks
  • Leaky faucets

All of these fall into the same bucket of being maintenance or wear and tear problems, and are not covered under your insurance. If your plumbing system is getting up there in age (15 years or more), make sure you have it checked regularly, and fix or replace any problems. Water damage can be dramatically expensive if not fixed quickly. We’re talking thousands or tens of thousands of dollars!

Damage from a flood is also not covered, but can be insured under a separate flood insurance policy. A flood is water that enters your house from the outside, unless related to a burst pipe.

Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover a Mudslide?


Mudslide, mudflow, and earth movement are excluded on just about every homeowners insurance policy in California. Very rarely, an insurance company will offer optional coverage for mudslides, but it’s generally unavailable.

Mudflow is different than a mudslide, and the difference can often times be murky. According to FEMA, Mudflow is defined (in part) as “A river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water.”. The difference is a mudslide is more of a dramatic collapse of earth down a mountain side, and mudflows often occur with other flooding conditions. To help protect your home against mudslides, make sure any retaining walls are adequately maintained, and there is plenty of vegetation on nearby hills. Having a healthy amount of tree and plant roots is one of the best ways to keep the soil surrounding your home sturdy and in place.

While there are very few options to insure against mudslides, the good news is you can purchase coverage for mudflow and earth movement. Flood insurance has coverage for mudflow, and earthquake insurance has forms of coverage for earth movement. Policies for each generally start at around $100/yr., and will vary based on your home’s location and specifics.

Water

Difference Between Water Damage And Flood Damage, And Are You Covered?

The simple answer is a flood is from water that originates outside the home, and water damage comes from inside.

Water damage typically comes from an overflowed toilet, sink, or a burst pipe. Is water damage covered under your home or renters policy? It depends, and is often tricky. First off, you need to check with your insurance carrier to see if they offer any coverage for water damage under your policy.

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Bag

Are Your Personal Belongings Covered While In Your Car?

Depends on the insurance policies you have. Full coverage car insurance covers your car, and depending on your policy, you may have limited coverage for permanently installed after-market parts (sound system, in-dash navigation, nicer wheels and tires, etc.). There is no coverage for your personal belongings under your car insurance policy though.

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Damaged Roof

What’s The Difference between Replacement Cost and ACV?

Replacement Cost and ACV are the two coverage options for insurance policies that include personal property or building coverage on your homeowners, renters, or business insurance. They dictate how your property is valued for a claim payout, and work very differently.

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