Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

AUTO INSURANCE | WHAT IF I HAVE AN ACCIDENT? | LIFE INSURANCE

Auto Insurance

To make sure that everyone on the road is covered in case of an accident, California drivers must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. Drivers must also have the ability to provide proof of insurance to register or renew a driver’s license. This is the case for cars, trucks, motorcycles and commercial vehicles.

Minimum Bodily Injury Liability Limits
This coverage applies to injuries that you cause to someone else.

$15,000 for the death or injury of any one person. If one person is injured in the accident, your coverage pays up to $15,000.
A total of $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in any one accident. If 2 or more people are injured, the coverage pays up to $30,000. The coverage will not pay more. The injured people share the money.

Minimum Property Damage Liability Limits
This pays for damage you cause to someone else's car, or to objects and structures that your car hits.

$5,000 for damage to the property of other people.

Each state has its own requirements for minimum liability to have an active registration. Liability coverage is coverage that will pay for damages for which you are responsible or cause. As an example, if you cause a collision and the hurt the other party, your liability insurance will pay bodily injury. If you damage a car, fence, building or other property, the liability policy will pay out property damage as defined by your policy.

It is important to state that while each state requires a minimum amount of coverage, it might be recommended for you to carry limits above what the state requires. In the event of an accident, you could be held legally liable for more damages than what is provided by your policy.

Liability coverage does not cover any damages to your own vehicle. It provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage caused to others.

While collision coverage may seem self-explanatory, comprehensive coverage is not so obvious. In an auto policy, the value of the vehicle itself is protected against fire, theft, vandalism and anything else that might diminish the value of your vehicle. It does not cover the contents of the vehicle, like a purse, briefcase or phone. (Personal items would be covered under a homeowners or renters policy as contents and personal items in the event of loss while in the vehicle.) Anything that damages the body of the vehicle is covered under comprehensive and collision coverage regardless of fault.

Comprehensive and collision coverage is not a mechanical warranty. While mechanical parts may have to be replaced due to a covered loss or accident, your mechanical warranty is a separate contract not offered by your insurance policy.

A deductible is the amount that you will pay during a comprehensive or collision claim. A deductible works like a copay and is the amount listed on your policy that you are responsible to pay before the insurance pays on the covered loss. If you have a $500 deductible, you would pay $500 to the body shop approved to complete the repairs on the vehicle for the covered loss before the vehicle is released back to you.

Typically, comprehensive and collision coverage will apply the actual cash value of your vehicle. It is important to understand that insurance companies will use Kelley Blue Book value in the event of a total loss. A stated value policy should used to establish correct rating for vehicles with special equipment, custom work or restored classic vehicles. Both stated value and custom equipment can be insured as requested with proper documentation. Please notify your agent if additional coverage is needed.

In the event of a total loss, the Kelly Blue Book value may be less than the remaining balance of a loan. In this situation, the lender is still owed the difference between the outstanding balance of the loan and the settled amount issued by the insurance company. Car dealerships and lending institutions offer gap coverage to protect against this situation. Some insurance companies offer gap coverage as well. In the event of a total loss with gap coverage, the borrower need not be worried about being up-side-down on the vehicle as the gap coverage will cover the difference in value and amount owed. This is very important to consider when financing a high amount or if the contract includes a financing rate with high APR.

Optional coverage can be added or removed at any time when requested. It is important to note that you cannot add coverage after a loss has occurred in hopes of receiving benefit.

Uninsured/Under insured Motorist protection (UM) is recommended coverage but is optional. UM will cover you if an uninsured or under insured motorist causes damage to you or your vehicle. The at fault party is responsible for damages, but if they do not have coverage or enough coverage to cover your losses, UM coverage will compensate you up to the limits defined by your policy. UM coverage provides payment for bodily injury, pain and suffering, loss of wages along with payment toward property damage. Property damage extends to $3,500 in damage or the waiver of any deductible paid for collision coverage. This coverage is very important as a protection against irresponsible drivers. UM claims do not count against the policy holder and will not cause a raise in premium. A hit and run is NOT a covered UM event unless you can get the plate number of the vehicle.

Rental car coverage is optional coverage that will provide a rental car to you at a specific amount named by the policy for a specified number of days in the event of loss. Intended use is to provide transportation while your vehicle is being repaired after a covered loss. It does not provide a rental vehicle for leisure or in the event of mechanical failure. Rental car coverage is subject to the terms of the rental car company and satisfying the terms of the rental agreement, such as meeting license and age requirements.

Glass coverage is optional coverage that will waive the cost of window, windshield and glass repair without the deductible.

Towing is optional coverage provided separately from road side assistance to provide a tow in the event of a loss. Intended use of towing coverage is triggered after a covered event of comprehensive or collision coverage. It does not provide tow in the event of mechanical failure.

Road side assistance is optional coverage that helps with mechanical issues like dead battery, flat tire, and locked keys in car. Each policy has its own terms. Be sure to read your policy and the specific page about roadside coverage to fully understand how your policy works. Some policies offer a reimbursement type of coverage, which means that you must pay for the service at the time of need and submit the receipts for reimbursement. Most people prefer on demand 24 hour roadside service that does not require any upfront out of pocket payment for service. Be sure to get clarification from your agent as to what coverage is offered and provided by the policy.

Most automobile policies provide a limited amount of medical coverage. The medical amount provided by an automobile policy is not designed to cover bodily injury. Medical coverage is designed to cover the cost of emergency care and transportation immediately after an accident. Typical medical coverage ranges from $1,000 - $5,000 and usually does not exceed $10,000. In the event of serious injury, the primary health and hospitalization would act as primary coverage until liability is established.

Assuming that no one is seriously hurt, take some pictures of the collision at the point of impact if available, get out of traffic and exchange information. Cameras make it easy to take a photo of the drivers license, registration, plate and insurance identification card. Take the name and phone number of any 3rd party witness unknown by either party.

If the other party is not cooperating, get at least the plate of the other vehicles and your may need to contact the police. Maintain safety and do not engage with a person who is belligerent or impaired. Contact emergency services if you feel your safety is in jeopardy or that the driver is impaired.

A hit and run is a crime and the police will need as much information as possible. Try to get plate number and description of driver.

If there are injuries, it is helpful to contact the police and emergency services via 9-1-1 to get immediate assistance and try to get as much information as possible.

Often there is a dispute about fault. Independent investigators will determine fault. Having witnesses will help and taking pictures of the surrounding might prove helpful in describing your point of view. Not at fault accidents will not impact your premium.

There are some milestone ages that will sometimes trigger a reduction in premium based on years of experience. Age 19, 21, 25, 30 are typical ages that see a reduction in premium. Being married also brings the rate down. Zip code has an impact on premium, so moving might cause your rate to go up or down. Multi-car policies see a decrease in rate when there is a second vehicle added to the policy. And having more than one type of policy (like a rental or home owners policy) may generate a discount as well. It is good to have an idea when points are falling off your record to see if there is a better rate available. Moving violations stay on your record for three years, and major violations will show on your record for 10 years. Major violations are not chargeable after 3 years, but may disqualify you from a good driver discount and preferred rates for up to 10 years.

An SR-22 is issued by the insurance company as a receipt of coverage provided to the DMV to satisfy the terms of reinstated license after a suspension. If your license has been suspended for having and accident without insurance, or suspended for a DUI or reckless driving, the conditional reinstatement of your licenses requires that you carry evidence of coverage for a determined amount of time, usually 3 years. During that time, if you cancel your insurance and do not replace coverage, the insurance company will rescind the SR-22 and notify the DMV that you are not in compliance with the terms of your reinstated license and the DMV can suspend your license.

An SR-22 is not required for suspensions resulting from child support or other court order not listed above and is not required for medical suspensions.

All adults in a household must be included or excluded on a policy. You cannot assume that parent, spouse or roommate is covered by your policy unless they are specifically named on the policy. Make sure to either include or exclude all people in the residence to avoid confusion or a denial of a claim. Each policy will specify permissive use or named operator. A permissive use policy will allow anyone without regular access to your car coverage with your permission. A named operator policy will only provide coverage for the listed drivers on the policy. Make sure to disclose all regular operators to your agent and ask if the policy is permissive or named operator.


What do I do if I have an accident?

If you are looking to have your vehicle repaired after an accident, it is important that you submit a claim as quickly as possible. Reporting the claim is important particularly when there are multiple vehicles involved or anyone is injured. We are here to protect your interests and help you when involved in a collision. This is important whether you think you are at fault or not. This will allow the claims adjuster to investigate the matter and be able to provide you with the best protection under your policy.

The appraisal process can differ depending on the damage to your vehicle. After reporting your claim an adjuster will be assigned to assist you. If your vehicle is drivable, the adjuster will call or send a text message to you so you can photo document the damage to your vehicle. The adjuster will direct an appraiser to complete an estimate for all visible damage and return an estimate to you. If your vehicle is not drivable, your adjuster will refer a local repair facility to have the vehicle moved for a detailed estimate to be completed.

The decision to have your vehicle repaired and where to have it repaired it entirely up to you. *Some policies are written with a PREFERRED PROVIDER specification and must be taken to reputable and contracted body shop. You will provide the company estimate to the repair facility prior to the start of any repairs. There is no need for you to go to multiple repair facilities and obtain estimates on your own. The repair facility will review the estimate we have completed for your vehicle. In the event they identify additional damage, upon removal of damaged parts, they will contact our appraiser to ensure all accident related damage is addressed and included on your estimate.

Only when the repairs to your vehicle are completed to your satisfaction should you pay the repair facility. If you are having issues with the facility, contact your adjuster and they will assist resolving problems you face.

We offer rental coverage at the time you purchased your policy. If you chose to purchase that additional coverage, we will pay for the daily rate and coverage maximum limit necessary and available. In the event you do not have this additional coverage, your adjuster can refer to your replacement rental vendors to assist your specific needs.

Your adjuster will complete a thorough investigation into what happened in the incident. This will include talking to parties involved, witnesses, review of incident reports. They can utilize the physical damage on vehicles and evidence at the scene as necessary. Upon conclusion of their investigation the will base their decision on the laws of the state where the incident took place.

Depending on your states laws your vehicle will be declared a total loss when the cost of repairs exceeds the value of your vehicle prior to the accident. Your adjuster will complete a market survey to determine the value of your vehicle and present you with that value. We will contact your lien holder (as appropriate) to make arrangements to pay them directly and you will receive the amount remaining after paying off the lien. At the time of settlement, the adjuster will have you complete a bill of sale to transfer vehicle title out of your name and into the company. The company will assume the responsibility to dispose of the damaged vehicle on your behalf.

In preparation for the settlement of your vehicle you will need:

  • Lender information and account number
  • If you do not have a lien on the vehicle, locate the title
  • Remove all your personal belonging from the vehicle

Life Insurance

There really is not a better day than today because no one knows what tomorrow will bring. You want to buy life insurance at the best age and in the best health. You are the youngest you will ever be right now and unforeseen future medical diagnosis can make you ineligible if you do not secure a locked in rate. The times that trigger the need for life insurance include the stages of life when you get married, purchase a home, need a co-signer for a loan, have a child, retire from work.

Term life insurance expires, which means at the end of the set term, there is no longer a benefit provided by the policy. A permanent policy will not expire. A term policy offers lower premiums, but the permanent life policy provides benefits through typically age 100.

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance coverage designed to provide protection for your family by locking in benefits that can help pay for end-of-life expenses, as well as cash value that can be accessed in an emergency. Whole life is available for people aged 45-85.

Best for:
1. Need coverage that doesn’t require a medical exam or health questions
2. Have a tight budget or fixed income and need a premium that won’t increase
3. Need coverage for burial, funeral, or other final expenses, or to pay off debts
4.Would like to supplement existing insurance coverage
5. Want to build cash value and have access to funds in an emergency

Term Life Insurance is affordable, simple coverage helps protect your family by replacing your lost income in the event of a death for a specified number of years. Term life lasts for a specific amount of time and its payments will never increase.

Best for:
1. Require coverage for a certain period of time, such as until your children are grown
2. Want to help your family maintain their lifestyle or stay in their current home if you’re no longer around
3.Need to make sure debts, such as a car loan or credit card, are paid off
4. Are just entering your prime earning years and need an affordable premium.

Term insurance offers the greatest amount of coverage for the lowest initial cost (premium), making it a good choice for young families or people on a tight budget. But it only pays a benefit if you die during that term. It does not offer any potential internal cash value build up like you could get with a Permanent policy.

You have bought and received the company's guarantee that if you die during the term of the policy, it will pay a death benefit to your beneficiary. Many term policies offer living benefits as well and can possibly be converted to a permanent policy.

Does that mean I've wasted my money if I don't die?

No more than you have wasted money by buying car insurance but never having an accident. You've purchased peace of mind. With term life insurance, if you die during the term, you know the company will pay your beneficiaries. Alternately, you may opt for a term policy that offer a Return of Premium.

The return of premium options means that at the end of your term, you are entitled to 100% of your premiums paid throughout the term. There is no catch and it is not taxable. Premiums for ROP policies are higher than regular term policies because you are guaranteeing yourself a payback in the end if you are still alive. Some people like the idea of the ROP because it is acting like a savings account.

Another options for the ROP policies is declining the return of premium in exchange for accepting a smaller amount of permanent insured as paid in full. What that means is that you have already paid the premium and they will not ask for any additional premium and will still pay to your beneficiary an agreed on smaller amount for the rest of your life beyond the term.

Do I need another policy if my work already offers me life insurance a benefit?
It’s true that many employers offer life insurance as part of their benefits package at no cost. It’s usually a “term policy” (more on that above) that’s equal to one or two times your annual salary. This is called group insurance and it’s a really nice benefit to have. But it’s typically not enough to meet most peoples’ needs — especially if you have or plan on starting a family.

Since you are unlikely to be at that job for the rest of your life, it is often a good idea to have something that you control and is not part of benefits package tied to your work. Having an independent policy protects you in the event that you do not maintain your good health year down the road or that you choose to leave your job.

Insurance rates (premiums) are based primarily on life expectancy. And there are a lot of factors that go into figuring that out. These include your gender, current age, health and health history, as well as lifestyle (smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.). That’s why it’s a good idea to buy life insurance as early as possible. The longer you wait, the more rates will increase based solely on your age.

Consider the following:

  1. How much of the family income do I provide?
  2. If I were to die, how would my survivors, especially my children, get by?
  3. Does anyone else depend on me financially, such as a parent, grandparent, brother or sister?
  4. Do I have children for whom I would like to set aside money to finish their education in the event of my death?
  5. How will my family pay final expenses and repay debts after my death?
  6. Do I have family members or organizations to whom I would like to leave money?
  7. Will there be estate taxes to pay after my death?
  8. How will inflation affect future needs?

Some insurance experts suggest that you purchase five to eight times your current income. However, it is better to go through the above questions to figure a more accurate amount.

Most policies include a LIVING BENEFIT to help you in the event of major diagnosis. Upon diagnosis, you are entitled to 75%-85% of the death benefit while you are still alive to help settle your affairs, handle hospital bills, seek additional treatment or spend as you wish. These benefits are not taxable. Very important for people with family to support, small business owners and anyone who still depends on their income.

Some higher valued policies require full medical underwriting with medical exam to qualify. For policies less than $300,000 in benefit, there are many simplified issued policies that only rely on a few medical questions. For those who have a medical condition that prevents traditional or simplified underwriting, there is guaranteed issued policies.

Some policies accrue a cash value in the form of interest or dividends. You can view your cash value on your recent statements for your whole life, universal life, or indexed universal life.

The beneficiary is the person or entity that you have designated to receive the death benefit upon your death.

No. If you buy a policy on your own life, you become the owner of the policy. As the owner, you can name anyone as beneficiary, even a stranger!