Attending college is an exciting time for your child. Whether it’s deciding where to go, what to major in or figuring the finances, there are a lot of decisions to think about. Before your child leaves the nest, here are three things to consider when it comes to having the right insurance policy.

1.) Auto Insurance Policy

  • If they are taking their car to college, be sure to update their auto insurance policy. This can easily be taken care of by reaching out to your insurance agent! You’ll want to ensure your child is protected if they get into an accident or experience theft. If your child is attending college out of state, talk with us to see if anything changes on their auto insurance policy.
  • Not taking a car? We suggest still keeping them on your auto insurance policy if they plan to drive when they return home for a visit or in the event they need to borrow a friend’s car on campus.
  • Ask for discounts. See if your child qualifies for any additional discounts.
    • Options include:
      • Good student discount
      • Distant-student discount.
      • Pay in full discount
      • Safe driver discount
      • Data tracking discount

2.) Educate On Liability

College is an amazing social and learning experience. Be sure your child understands the serious consequences of drinking and driving, buying alcohol for kids underage or the other risks that are associated with drugs and alcohol. One poor decision could impact the rest of their life.

3.) If worried about theft while living off-campus, invest in a renters insurance policy.

  • If your child owns valuable items like laptops, televisions, printers, cameras or other expensive items, invest in a renters insurance policy.
  • Construct a full inventory of your child’s items that include model and serial numbers.
  • If your child is living with roommates, remember each child needs their own policy.
  • A renters insurance policy offers more than just covering your property. It can provide important liability coverage.

If my child experiences theft, will I be fully reimbursed?

This is where actual cash value and replacement insurance coverage comes into play. Replacement cost is very simple: It is literally the cost to replace your item with an item of similar quality. Replacement cost policies tend to be a bit more expensive since you are essential getting a brand new item for one that may have otherwise depreciated. Actual cash value is the cost to replace the item minus any depreciation. So, if your child had wear and tear on an expensive electronic device, your insurance would pay out the cost of the electronic minus the depreciation. Talk to your agent for clarification.

Whether it’s changing your child’s auto insurance or investing in renters insurance, let our local experts at George A. Bell & Son help you find the best insurance to fit your needs. For more information about George A. Bell & Son, visit our website.

For your teen, learning how to drive is one of the most exciting times of their lives. Finally, a means to freedom so they think. We all remember the excitement of getting our driver’s permit, then our driver’s license. While your teen driving has its benefits, it also comes with a great amount of responsibility. Reminding your child that driving is a privilege and not a right can help them to remain in control and not distracted while driving.

For you, it is important to understand when to add your teen driver to your insurance policy.  While each state requirements vary, in most cases your auto insurance policy will cover your permitted driver until they acquire their driver’s license. At that point, you’ll want to add them as a driver to the insurance policy even if they do not have their own vehicle.

Avoiding adding your teen driver to the policy is not only against your insurance policy language, but can lead to a dreaded claims denial if your teen is involved in an accident and it is determined you purposefully avoided adding them. Be sure to contact your agent to discuss your options and determine when the best time to add the driver to your policy is.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Some carriers offer Good Student Discounts if your student keeps their grades up.
  • If your teen child is doing delivery as a job such as pizza delivery or newspapers, this requires a special commercial policy.
  • Even if your rates go up because your child is on your insurance policy, if they have their own vehicle this could net you a multi-vehicle discount on your policy.
  • Having your teen on their own policy will likely lead to higher premiums.

Keeping your teen safe on the road is your number one priority. Keeping your family insured with the right coverage is ours. If you have a teen driver in the household, be sure to contact our agency to discuss what options might be right for your situation.

George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

We bet you’ve wondered how car insurance premiums are calculated. Do you ever have discussions with friends of similar age and driving history and find you’re all paying very different premiums for what would appear to be similar coverage?

Insurance premiums are based off of many factors, all of which play a role in your total premium for your auto insurance. A single difference of any of these can give dramatically different outcomes. Some factors insurance companies use to calculate premium can include:

  • Gender, age & marital status
  • What’s your past driving history?
  • What’s your claim history?
  • Your Zip Code where the vehicle is garaged
  • Your credit score
  • How many miles you commute
  • Will you or do you have other policies with the same insurance carrier such as home or renters insurance?
  • Are you currently insured?
  • What types of overage do you want? What limits?
  • What limits did you have on your previous insurance policy?
  • Type and age of vehicle being driven (think safety equipment)

Insurance companies do their best to determine a premium for your situation and calculate a premium that will be profitable for them. It may surprise you to know that many insurance companies try to earn just a few cents on each dollar of premium they collect.

While it is impossible to guess what you are going to be paying each year, you can improve your odds of getting a great rate and terrific coverage by calling a local independent insurance agent. George A. Bell & Son represents multiple insurance companies, so we can provide you with comparison quotes from several of the top insurance companies in your state.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

Auto Insurance in Pleasantville, NYMany of you may have noticed that the auto insurance industry seems to be continually increasing premiums. While George A. Bell & Son represents many of the top insurance companies in the country and we can quote you with several companies, the trend for premiums is up. There are many reasons why this is happening and it is important for you to understand.

  • There are more new cars on the market that are expensive to repair.
  • The technology in vehicles today is much more expensive to replace than it used to be.
  • More people are driving. In 2015, miles driven increased 3.5% which is the most annual increase in 25 years.
  • Drivers are increasingly distracted. One out of four car crashes involve cell phone use.
  • Medical payments are increasing due to the complexity of the health insurance industry.
  • Claims severity (payments) overall is increasing.

Is there anything that you can do to control your costs?

Yes, contact us so we can shop for you!

Unfortunately insurance premiums are pooled. The premiums are calculated off of risks and data from other drivers just like you. Age, gender, zip code, vehicle driven and driving history are just some of the factors that determine your premium. Here are some things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best rates.

  • Review your coverage and determine if it is the correct coverage for your current situation
  • Review discounts you may be eligible for with your current carrier
  • If it isn’t already, consider bundling your insurance coverage (home, auto, specialty insurance)

If you have specific questions about your auto insurance coverage, remember to reach out to our agency. As an independent insurance agent, we can review your coverage and ensure you’re current carrier is still the best carrier for your situation.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds in the United States. Having your vehicle stolen is not only a huge inconvenience, but it is also frightening and violating experience that can sometimes be avoided by taking certain precautions.

5 Tips to Avoid Your Car from Being Stolen:

  • At nighttime, always park your vehicle in well-lit areas. Thieves thrive in dark places where they can easily be hidden.
  • Keep the inside of your car clean and avoid leaving valuables exposed. Use your trunk if you are transporting valuables.
  • Always lock your car door and windows. The most basic tip of them all. Many people feel comfortable leaving their car unlocked while it’s parked at their home or other safe areas. Get in the habit of always locking your car to avoid any unexpected surprises.
  • Keep your spare key in your home, not under your car. Thieves tend to check for spare keys in common areas like under the car.
  • Invest in an alarm system or anti-theft device. The simplest form of protection is an anti-theft device like an alarm or a wheel locking device such as “The Club.”

While these tips can’t guarantee your car will never be stolen, protecting your assets in the event of a car theft can be as simple as having the right insurance policy. Investing in comprehensive coverage will cover the loss of car theft. Contact your licensed insurance agent at George A. Bell & Son to make sure you have this coverage is on your insurance policy.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

As with many industries, it feels like ours as independent insurance agents is constantly under attack, especially by new technology. It feels like no matter what you’re listening to or watching, you are going to be faced with many commercials about insurance, many of which are companies that tell you to do it yourself. Basically, eliminate the agent and come to us.

Recently, one very high profile company decided to get into the insurance business, Google, with a service called Google Compare. You may not have heard about it, because it didn’t last very long. But their quick departure from the business, especially for a company as large as they are with the data they have, really highlights just how tough this business is, and why it’s so important to have an independent insurance agent, like us, on your side.

1. What Was Google Compare?

Simply put, Google Compare was a comparison shopping site for personal auto insurance. You could go to the site, enter your information, and get rate comparisons from multiple companies. They were also trying to do this with credit cards and mortgages as well. Their plan was to use their enormous reach in the marketplace as a way to provide consumers with niche shopping services and financial-services tools.

2. Why Did It Fail?

Google doesn’t fail at much, but in this case, they basically bit off more than they could chew. Google had expected to be in 24 states by now, but after a year they’ve only managed to be in four. According to most publications and sources, the complexity of auto insurance, the fact that auto insurance requires state-by-state approval, and the fact that they couldn’t convince many big insurers to be part of Google Compare, led to limited choices for consumers and very little traffic to their site. So after roughly a year, they decided to pull the plug.

3. What Does It Mean For Agents?Trust

As an independent agent that represents multiple companies, we can already give you what they were trying to provide, a comparison of rate and coverage from multiple highly rated companies. But what we also give that they didn’t is advice and guidance, and a person to talk to.

What you’re getting with us is a trusted advisor. And in fact, despite all the money that companies like Progressive and GEICO spend on telling you to go to their site to get quotes, Progressive still invests heavily in independent insurance agencies (we represent them) with the agent distribution channel representing half of the company’s production and revenue. And GEICO has begun to open up agencies where you can go in and talk to people for guidance. This, in part, is being driven by the fact that millennials, defined as a person reaching adulthood around the year 2000, are the least likely segment of U.S. adults to buy insurance without an agent.

4. What Does It Mean For You?

Lucky for you, you’re already working with the best way to get your insurance! As agents, we strive to create relationships with our clients that breed trust on both sides. Of course we will have to adapt, just like any other industry. Ultimately, we’ve already been around for 136 years, and we plan to be around for 136 more. And we will do this by continuing to invest in one of our most important assets, you, our customers.

But if he is hit by a civil lawsuit relating to the crash on February 7, he could face losing millions of dollars – and may even experience financial ruin due to his ‘low’ insurance coverage, it is claimed.”

The quote above is from a U.K. Daily Mail article referring to a famous, multi-millionaire celebrity who caused a car accident earlier this year. The “low” coverage that he had on his policy was a cap of $250,000 for injury caused in any one accident. That may seem like a lot, and statistics show that most car accidents are settled for far less than this, but unfortunately in this circumstance someone was killed.

The celebrity being referred to? Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner.

Don’t Skimp on Your Auto Insurance Liability Limit

Many of you may remember hearing or reading about this accident. I bring this up because lately I have had a number of auto policies for prospective clients come across my desk that only carry state minimum liability limits, which cover just $25,000 for any injury that is caused in an accident. Many times, the prospect will tell me they went with the policy because the rate was “dirt cheap”. Unfortunately, in today’s world, auto insurance has been turned into a commodity, something that is marketed as only a number and not one of the most important insurance coverages you can carry. Many people won’t buy other products that are dirt cheap because of low quality, so why would purchasing dirt cheap auto insurance make any more sense? That’s not to say that auto insurance has to be expensive. Rather, you have to think that a cheap policy is cheap for a reason.

 If you have read our newsletters, or talked to anyone at our agency lately, you know how much we stress the need for proper liability protection, both personally and for your business. Caitlyn’s policy at the time of the loss actually had high limits compared to what most people carry! Many companies will only write coverage up to $500,000 when it comes to injury in an accident. The issue here is that if the injuries that are caused end up costing more than the policy limit, lawyers will go after the responsible party to make sure all costs and damages are covered.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is it’s not just the medical cost they’re looking for reimbursement for. They can go after the responsible party for lost wages, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and a list of other ailments that seemingly have no cap. Imagine a worst-case scenario. If the person you injure or kill is the breadwinner in the family, and they happen to make millions of dollars a year, don’t you think their family would want to be properly compensated for that person no longer being able to provide for the family? In the areas our agency deals in a lot, New York City and Westchester county, this is a small, but distinct, possibility.

Add Your Automobile to an Umbrella Policy

“…he may be left in a precarious position if Ms. Howe’s family chooses to file a civil lawsuit against him. In such a case, ‘the sky’s the limit with what a jury could award,’ one attorney said.”

What Caitlyn needed to have in order to help protect her assets better was an umbrella liability policy. This policy could have provided millions of dollars of additional coverage for her, at a relatively low cost, so if a civil suit is brought against her there may not be a risk of her having to dip into her own personal assets to cover the judgement. And sometimes, if a person has proper coverage, lawyers and insurance companies may try to settle within the limits of the policy because they know they’ll be able to get the reward, as opposed to having to worry about someone not being able to make the payments, or the responsible party having their wages garnished for years. Perhaps the responsible party is an older individual and they end up passing away before the reward is completely paid. Then it becomes the family’s responsibility to continue to make payments. So having improper liability protection not only puts you at financial risk, it could put your kid’s financial future at risk as well.

Thank god they settled within our limits

This quote comes from a current client of mine. Years ago his wife, while parallel parking, accidentally backed into a pedestrian, shattering her leg. At the time he had an auto policy with a very famous insurance company, with “only” $500,000 in liability. To this day he tells me he’s thankful the claim was able to be settled within that limit because he wasn’t sure what they would’ve done if they had to dip into their savings and investments. Shortly after this, he switched his auto insurance to us and added the car to his umbrella policy.

Obviously what happened with Caitlyn Jenner is an awful situation, and the poor woman that passed away is the victim here. But what this illustrates is that this could happen to anyone. Caitlyn has potentially millions of dollars to help pay for any judgement. Most of us don’t have that luxury. Call a professional who can help make sure you are properly covered, while at the same time working with you and your budget.

Filing an auto insurance claim can be a little intimidating. Luckily, the process is less complicated than it may sound. You should call your company or agent as soon as you can, and following are a few other basic rules and tips to keep in mind for most situations.

Tips For Most Car Insurance Claim Situations

  • If another party is involved, it is essential that you call the police to receive a police report. This information will be critical in determining fault.
  • You should also gather information from the other party yourself, including names, addresses, and insurance details. Take pictures of the vehicles that show the extent of the damage, their current position, and of anything else you think may be relevant.
  • Only move cars if their position poses a risk to yourself or others, such as if they are blocking a road or are in the middle of a highway.
  • If you were injured in an auto accident, or think you might be injured, it is critical to get necessary medical treatment and coverage. This will help you physically recover as quickly as possible and also help document your injuries, symptoms, and complaints as you experience them. That will be important evidence if you choose to make a claim in order to pay for your medical bills and injury-related damages.
  • Avoid trying to settle without going through your insurance company. You pay for auto insurance to defend your interests, and now is the time to benefit. If you try to settle alone, the other party may later disappear or claim for damages or injury that should not apply.
  • Only speak to the other insurance company after consulting with your adjuster. If you receive requests for information, politely decline until you have the chance to discuss the situation with your insurance company or agent.
  • Regardless of fault, your insurance company will most likely pay to fix your car immediately. They will then work with the other company to determine fault. It is a good idea to allow your insurance company to pay for the repairs as soon as possible, as there is always the possibility that you will meet unexpected delays in resolving the claim. 
  • Although it may take some time to resolve your claim, try to be patient. There is plenty going on behind the scenes and cases are often more complicated than they seem.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident

Determining who is at fault in a car accident is essential to deciding who will pay for any damage or injury incurred. In general, the driver responsible for the accident usually pays for all damages. However, there are many circumstances that determine fault, whereby a percentage of the blame can be assigned to each driver, resulting in different monetary obligations for each party. Ultimately, the drivers’ insurance companies, while going through the claim process, decide each driver’s liability.

If You Are Not At Fault…

If the other party was found to be 100% at fault, and if you have paid a deductible to your company to get repairs started promptly, your insurance company should reimburse your deductible in full once they have gotten reimbursed from the other company for the cost of the damages to your vehicle.

If You Are At Fault…

If you are found to be 100% at fault, you will lose your deductible. However, if you are only partially at fault, your insurance company will return a percentage of your deductible; for instance, if you are 40 percent at fault, you will receive back 60 percent.

How Will This Affect My Premium?

No matter who is at fault, there is a chance that your claim may affect your premiums, as you may be surcharged, lose a discount, or have a violation added to your driving record. However, you should never allow this to be a deterrent for reporting a claim. Your insurance company has the resources to help you receive full repairs for your car, pay for your medical expense and lost wages, and can provide you with adequate defense.

Choosing the right car insurance can be a difficult process. Auto insurance is complicated and can be quite involved when handled on your own. Car insurance is a complicated topic and we are here to help you find an automobile insurance company that works for you, and provides you the best value for your dollar.
We hope you have found this 3 part series useful in explaining the basics of car insurance.  For further help and advice, contact us at George A. Bell & Son.

Driving a car is one of the most dangerous activities in which we partake on a daily basis, and insurance is one of the most important ways to assure that you and others are protected in the case of an accident. There are two main parts to an auto insurance policy – liability, which covers you in the event that you or someone else is injured, and physical damage, which covers your car. To ensure that you purchase sufficient coverage, it is necessary to fully understand the two.

Auto Liability Coverage

You generally have two options for liability coverage: Split Limits and Combined Single Limit (usually the more expensive). Although they respond differently in a claim, they both cover the following:

  • Bodily Injury – Responds in the case you cause injury to someone else. You should take out the maximum that you can afford.
  • Property Damage – Covers you in the case that you damage someone else’s property in an accident. This also includes damage you cause to someone’s car.
  • Personal Injury Protection – Previously called No Fault, this covers you, other people in your car, and pedestrians you hit that are injured in an accident. Again, it is best to hold the maximum coverage.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Responds if another party causes an accident and lacks sufficient coverage. You should match this coverage with your total liability insurance.

You can never have too much liability insurance. Although your state may impose a minimum to register a car, this amount is almost always dangerously low. Always take out the maximum, if you can afford it, and supplement with umbrella coverage, if available.

Physical Damage Coverage

Unless you are loaning or leasing a vehicle, physical damage coverage is usually optional. It is possible to have either comprehensive or both comprehensive and collision coverage, but you cannot take out collision coverage without comprehensive.

  • Comprehensive (sometimes referred to as Comp or Other Than Collision) – This covers your car for almost any type of damage excluding collision. This includes theft, fire, keying, and even impact with an animal.
  • Collision – This coverage responds if your car collides with another object, such as a car, tree, or building.
  • Full glass coverage – Although glass is covered under comprehensive coverage, for an additional premium, you can have your glass repaired or replaced without first paying a deductible.

Saving Money on Car Insurance

If you are looking to save money on your car insurance, you may like to drop physical damage coverage, increase deductibles, or take defensive driving. Here is a good rule of thumb:

  • Drop physical damage (comp and collision) coverage if premiums are close to the value of your car. A good time to consider this is when your car is between 10-15 years old.
  • Make your deductibles as high as you are able to pay out of pocket. Maximum allowed deductibles might be imposed by a lender, so check with them before deciding to increase.
  • In many states, NY included, defensive driving classes can be taken online and will provide a discount on your policy for three years after the date it’s taken.

Choosing the right car insurance can be a difficult process. Auto insurance is complicated and can be quite involved when handled on your own. A better option is to seek out an insurance agency to help you with your individual needs. For further help and advice, contact us at George A. Bell & Son.   

No one expects to be in a car accident; however, there are over 10 million accidents in the U.S. every year costing $299.5 billion – on average $61,600 per crash – and medical expenses for a critically injured person can run into millions. To avoid financial ruin, you need to have auto insurance with proper coverage and a reputable company.

Why Buy Through an Agency?

To help you understand the fundamentals of Car Insurance Limits and Coverage. Consumers buying from direct carriers often lack understanding of fundamentals such as limits and coverages and therefore often purchase policies that are too low. For example, if a policy just covers New York’s minimum liability limits, but little more, you will almost certainly receive insufficient coverage during a claim. Even cautious buyers often struggle to know exactly what they need.

An agent, however, can explain exactly what each policy includes and advise you on the right choice. Plus, you can meet in person or always speak to the same rep, rather than making a transaction with an anonymous representative over the phone.

Insurance Before Purchasing or Leasing

Liability coverage is required in order to register a car. In New York, you must show proof of insurance, usually with an ID card, to purchase or register a car. Although some other states do not require this, it is always recommendable. Also, based on the age of the car and certain lender requirements, you’ll need to decide if you want to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage, as well as liability. 

Some things to keep in mind during the purchase process:

  • If you want comprehensive and collision coverage you will need a physical damage inspection if it is not a new purchase. However, if you buy a used car that’s older than 7 years, you do not need this inspection.
  • If you plan on registering your car in NY but purchase it in another state, make sure the salesperson understands the process in NY. NY is very strict with car registrations and insurance and will not issue documents like a temporary registration or temporary plates as other states will.
  • If you finance or lease your car, you’ll need to have a Binder as well as an ID card to finalize the deal. This shows the lender that they are covered on your policy.

An agent can best advise you on all these issues and ensure the process goes smoothly. In fact, the agency can deal directly with the salesperson; all you need to do is turn up to take the car.  

Youthful Drivers

Take advantage of multi-car discounts. If your child lives at home, they are under the age of 25, and they will have their own car, it’s almost always more cost effective to have them stay on their parents’ policies. This allows you to take advantage of multi-car discounts which can provide a substantially lower rate.

For the child’s future, it is also important that they at least be listed on their parent’s policy as a driver as this will give them a history of having insurance. Once they do go out to get their own policy, having had continuous liability insurance is an important factor in determining rate.

Cancelling Policies

In New York, you must hold insurance while a license plate is registered in your name. If you want to discontinue your insurance because you no longer have a car, you need to take your license plates to a DMV office and receive proof that they have destroyed the plate. If you cancel the policy before doing this, you will incur fines and possibly have your license suspended. 

Auto insurance is complicated and can be quite involved when handled on your own. A better option is to seek out an insurance agency to help you with your individual needs. For support with your auto insurance, contact us at George A. Bell & Son.