3 Biggest Mistakes People Make After An Accident (and how to avoid them)

Car accidents are confusing and stressful. Learning what to do and what not to do will save you time, headaches, and money. Here are 3 of the biggest mistakes people make:

1. Admitting fault. Believe it or not, even if you feel an accident was your fault, the police and insurance companies may disagree. Unless there is really no question (hitting a parked car), you don’t do yourself any favors by admitting fault. It’s best to exchange information with the other driver, submit it to your insurance company, and let them do the investigation and hard work. Many times an accident isn’t declared 100% one person’s fault, and your DMV report will only show the accident as “at-fault” if you are determined to be 51% at fault or greater.

2. Not calling the police. Very minor fender benders may not need a police officer to come, but any time there is an injury, a dispute, or moderate (or greater) damage, you need to call the police. They prepare a police report which gives their initial opinion on who is at fault, and police can help calm down a tense situation. Any damage, location information, and injuries get logged into the police report, which helps make your case.

3. Not getting contact information from witnesses. A witness can be your best friend if there is a question to who was at fault. If you have a different version of what happened in an accident, a 3rd party can the proof you need to back your side of the story up. Insurance adjusters compare both parties’ stories, and damage to the vehicles to determine who is at fault. When that’s inconclusive, they look to anyone else who saw the accident.

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

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.

Covered California Open Enrollment 2018

Covered California open enrollment for policy renewals is beginning October 11, and new rates will be available same day. Overall, the process and coverage is going to be very similar to what you’ve experienced with prior renewals, however there are a couple important changes I want to make you aware of:

Rates are increasing for most plans, like they do every year. EMost plans should be seeing adjustments in line, or slightly more, than in years past. One exception is if you have any children under 19 enrolled in Covered California (does not apply to Medi-Cal) on your account. Currently, all children under 19 are charged the same rate regardless of age. On Dec. 31. a provision in the ACA is expiring, and each age will now have their own set of rates. Some of you will see a decrease specifically for your child, and some of you may see a significant increase.

Kaiser Permanente is looking to be a very strong option in Santa Cruz county going forward. They have facilities in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Scotts Valley, and are aggressively expanding in the area. Some of their plans are nearly 50% less expensive than the Blue Shield and Healthnet equivalent. Kaiser is an HMO, which may mean you’ll need to select a new primary case physician.

Lastly, Anthem is not going to offer individual plans in Santa Cruz County in 2018. If you have an Anthem plan, you’ll need to select a new insurance company.

Update 08/12/17: Silver tier plan rates will be increasing more than other tiers, due to the executive order signed by the president to remove cost-share subsidies.


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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Covered California

Important Covered California Information and Dates for 2015

Open enrollment for Covered CA health insurance is starting on Nov. 15, so in anticipation we wanted to get out new information and important dates for new and renewing families. If you’re currently enrolled you can go online and process your renewal now (the system is currently experiencing an error though. *See below). Please pay attention to any mail you get from your insurance carrier and CoveredCA over the next couple months, as they have important info..

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