Auto

When is a good deal too good to be true?  When the quote for your new auto insurance premium is super low, it might be a tell-tale sign. Let us help you understand what effects your premium and what coverages you should have to protect yourself, your vehicle and your liability.  It’s a New Jersey state law that you must have insurance – so let’s look at what effects your rates.

 

 

What affects your insurance premium

  • The type of car The type of car you drive:
    •  Insurance companies rate different cars based on a wide variety of factors.  From crash ratings, to ticketing statistics, to the cost of repairing highly technical parts and sensors – insurance companies take all of this into consideration.  If you’re shopping for a new car, ask us to run some rates so you know exactly what the costs will be.
  • The driver:
    • Age, driving record, claim history – if you have a new driver in the family, it’s almost always cheaper to keep them on the parent’s policy for the first few years.
    • Your credit score
    • Marital status
    • Whether you’re a homeowner or renter
    • Even your address – changing your zip code can actually change your rates!
    • Having continuous coverage
    • How long you’ve been with a specific insurer.  Most often, companies like to see that you’ve stayed with the same insurer for at least 3 years.

What is covered in typical auto policies?

If you’re shopping around for insurance, many agents and online insurers will cut coverages to get a lower premium – just to get your business.  Look closely at the coverage levels – are you fully covered in the event of a catastrophic accident or are you at risk of losing assets because of insufficient coverage?

Below are the recommendations from the New Jersey Division of Banking and Insurance.

Car insurance is required in New Jersey. Whether you are buying a new insurance policy or renewing your current policy, you must make many decisions about what coverage you need and how much you can pay.  The following guide outlines how to make choices that work for you.

UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS.  Do you rent or own your own home?  Do you have assets to protect (including income from a job)? Will your own health insurance cover auto accident injuries? How much insurance coverage can you afford?  These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before choosing a specific coverage plan.

UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS.  Use this guide to learn about the words and phrases used in auto policies.  Know the many coverage options.  Review the different benefits of each option.

UNDERSTAND CONSUMER PROTECTIONS. As a New Jersey auto insurance consumer, you have rights. You have a right to fair and equal treatment, and you have the right to get the information you need to make informed decisions.

  • Agents, brokers and companies must inform you of your coverage options when applying for a new policy, or at any time upon your request if you are already insured. You have the right to know how each choice may affect what you pay and what your benefits would be in the event of an accident. You always have the right to ask about additional options.
  • You can shop for auto insurance at any time – not just when your policy is up for renewal, and if you find a better price, you can cancel your old policy and seek a refund of your unused premium.
  • You have the right to change your coverages and policy limits at any time, even if you are not near your renewal date. If you select options that save you money, you have a right to a refund of your unused premium within 60 days.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR POLICY

Types of Coverages

Insurance policies use terms that may be unfamiliar to the average driver. It is useful to understand what these terms mean so you can make better, more informed decisions about your coverage.

COVERAGESYour auto insurance policy is divided into different coverages based on the type of claim that will be paid to you or others.

These COVERAGES are:

PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION — Otherwise known as “PIP,” this is your medical coverage for injuries you (and others) suffer in an auto accident. PIP pays if you or other persons covered under your policy are injured in an auto accident. It is sometimes called “no-fault” coverage because it pays your own medical expenses no matter who caused the auto accident. PIP has two parts – (1) coverage for the cost of treatment you receive from hospitals, doctors and other medical providers and any medical equipment that may be needed to treat your injuries and (2) reimbursement for certain other expenses you may have because you are hurt, such as lost wages and the need to hire someone to take care of your home or family.

LIABILITY — This coverage pays others for damages from an auto accident that you cause. It also pays for a lawyer to defend you if you are sued for damages that you cause.

There are two kinds of liability coverage: BODILY INJURY and PROPERTY DAMAGE.

BODILY INJURY LIABILITY COVERAGE Pays for claims and lawsuits by people who are injured or die as a result of an auto accident you cause. (See page ## for lawsuit options). It compensates others for pain, suffering and economic damages, such as lost wages.

This coverage is typically given as two separate dollar amounts: (1) an amount paid per individual and (2) an amount paid for total injuries to all people injured in any one accident that you cause. It can sometimes be purchased as a combined single limit, which offers a maximum limit of protection per accident of bodily injury and property damage liability combined.

PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY COVERAGEPays for claims and lawsuits by people whose property is damaged as a result of an auto accident you cause. (May also be purchased as a combined single limit with bodily injury liability coverage.)

UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGEPays you for property damage or bodily injury if you are in an auto accident caused by an uninsured motorist.

UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGEPays you for property damage or bodily injury if you are in an auto accident caused by a driver who is insured, but who has less coverage than your underinsured motorist coverage.

EXAMPLE OF UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE

 Jane purchases $100,000 in liability coverage and $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage. Sam purchases only $15,000 in liability coverage. Sam crashes his car into Jane’s car, causing $25,000 in damages. Sam’s insurance company pays $15,000 of the damages, while Jane’s insurance company pays the remaining $10,000 from her underinsured motorist coverage. 

COLLISION COVERAGE — Pays for damage to your vehicle as the result of a collision with another car or other object.

COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE — Pays for damage to your vehicle that is not a result of a collision, such as theft of your car, vandalism, flooding, fire or a broken windshield. However, it will pay if you collide with an animal.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR POLICY

Standard and Basic Policies

There are two common types of auto insurance policies in New Jersey.  They are referred to as Standard and BASIC.  Both offer options as well.

STANDARD POLICY The Standard Policy provides a number of different coverage options and the opportunity to buy additional protection. The Standard Policy is the type of policy chosen by most New Jersey drivers.

BASIC POLICYThe Basic Policy usually costs significantly less than a Standard Policy, but provides limited benefits. It is not for everyone, but it does provide enough coverage to meet the minimum insurance requirements of New Jersey law. The Basic Policy could be an option for those with few family responsibilities and few assets to protect (including income from a job).

SPECIAL POLICY FOR MEDICAID RECIPIENTS ONLY

The Special Policy is a new initiative to help make limited auto insurance coverage available to drivers who are eligible for Federal Medicaid with hospitalization. Such drivers can obtain a medical coverage-only policy at a cost of $365 a year. For more information, ask your agent or company representative or call the Department of Banking and Insurance at 1-800-446-7467.

The chart on the following page compares the differences between the STANDARD and BASIC policies:

 

COVERAGE STANDARD POLICY

BASIC POLICY

BODILY               INJURY              LIABILITY

As low as:                     $15,000 per person,      $30,000 per accident
As high as:$250,000 per person,$500,000 per accident
Coverage is not included,           but $10,000 for                            all persons, per accident,                                 is available as an option
 PROPERTY      DAMAGE LIABILITY As low as:                       $5,000 per accident
As high as:                 $100,000 or more
$5,000 per accident
PERSONAL INJURY      PROTECTION As low as:                         $15,000 per person or accident
As high as:                  $250,000 or moreUp to $250,000 for certain injuries* regardless of selected limit
$15,000 per person,                  per accident

Up to $250,000 for certain injuries*

UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE Coverage is available             up to amounts selected          for liability coverage None
COLLISION Available as an option Available as an option(from some insurers)
COMPREHENSIVE Available as an option Available as an option(from some insurers)
*permanent or significant brain injury, spinal cord injury or disfigurement or for medically necessary treatment of other permanent or significant injuries rendered at a trauma center or acute care hospital immediately following an accident and until the patient is stable, no longer requires critical care and can be transferred to another facility in the judgment of the physician.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR POLICY

What are Policy Limits and Deductibles?

LIMITS —The maximum dollar amount the insurer will pay following an auto accident. Limits vary with each coverage within the policy.

DEDUCTIBLESPayments you have to make before the insurer pays. For example, a $750 deductible means that you pay the first $750 of each claim.

  • EXAMPLE John has a car accident. His repair shop estimates the cost of repairs at $2,000. John pays $750 of the bill and his insurance company pays the remainder.


Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS

  •  DEDUCTIBLE OPTIONS In addition to any savings you may realize from how much coverage you buy, deductibles also provide savings opportunities. Cost savings can be achieved by choosing higher deductibles. Thus, if you feel you need a high level of PIP coverage but want to reduce your premium, you can save money by agreeing to pay more out-of-pocket through a higher deductible if you are injured in an auto accident. Your insurer will pay the medical bills over the deductible amount you choose. No matter what deductible you choose, there is also a 20 percent co-payment for medical expenses between the deductible selected and $5,000. That means you pay 20 percent, and your insurer pays 80 percent.
    • EXAMPLE: Sam and Jane  each have an accident that results in $10,000 of medical expenses.Sam chose the minimum$250 deductible. He pays the $250 deductible plus $950 (20 percent of the $4,750 that is left of the first $5,000) and the insurer pays the remaining $8,800).Jane chose the $2,500 PIP deductible for a 25 percent reduction in the PIP premium. She pays the first $2,500 as the deductible. She also pays $500 (20 percent of the $2,500 that is left of the first $5,000) and the insurer pays the remaining $7,000.
  • HEALTH CARE PRIMARY Cost savings can also be achieved by using your own health insurance as a primary source of coverage in the case of injury related to an auto accident. Before selecting this option, you should find out if your health insurance will cover auto accident injuries and how much coverage is provided.  MEDICARE and MEDICAID cannot be used for the Health Care Primary option.
  • EXTRA PIP PACKAGE COVERAGE — These are additional benefit options provided under the STANDARD POLICY.  
  • INCOME CONTINUATION If you cannot work due to accident-related injuries, this coverage pays lost wages, less Temporary Disability Benefits you may receive if your disability prevents you from working, up to the amount you select.
  • ESSENTIAL SERVICES Pays for necessary services that you normally do yourself, such as cleaning your house, mowing your lawn, shoveling snow or doing laundry if you are injured in an auto accident.
  • DEATH BENEFIT In the case of death, family members or estates will receive any benefits not already collected under the income continuation and essential services coverages.
  • FUNERAL EXPENSE BENEFIT — Pays for reasonable funeral expenses up to the limit you select if you die as a result of an auto accident.

 UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

  • UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE  — Pays you if you are in an auto accident caused by a driver who does not have the minimum level of insurance required by law. Claims that you would have made against the uninsured driver who caused the accident are paid by your own policy. Uninsured motorist coverage does not pay benefits to the uninsured driver.
  • UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE — Pays you if you are in an auto accident caused by a driver who is insured, but who has less coverage than your underinsured motorist coverage. Damages greater than the limits of the other driver’s policy are covered by your policy up to the difference between the limits of your underinsured motorist coverage and the other driver’s policy limit.

 

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS

Comprehensive Coverage/Collision Coverage

 COMPREHENSIVE (also known as comp or other than collision) and COLLISION coverage are not required by law, but may be required under the terms of an automobile leasing or financing contract.

Collision coverage pays you for damage that you cause to your automobile. You can also make a claim under your own collision coverage for damage to your car from an auto accident you did not cause. This may take less time than making a property damage liability claim against the driver who caused the auto accident. Your insurer then seeks reimbursement (subrogation) from the insurer of the driver who caused the auto accident.

Comprehensive coverage pays you if your automobile is stolen or for damage to your automobile caused by things not covered under collision coverage, such as vandalism, flooding, fire, a broken windshield or damage from an animal.

         DEDUCTIBLE The STANDARD deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage is $750.  Higher and lower deductibles are available as options.  Higher deductibles can reduce your premium.

 

        NAMED DRIVER EXCLUSION Prevents certain drivers on your policy from being covered by collision and/or comprehensive coverage on a specific automobile. This can lower your premium, but if the excluded driver operates the automobile and is involved in an auto accident, you are not insured for collision and/or comprehensive coverage; which means you could be personally responsible.

 

If you choose the STANDARD POLICY:

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage are always available

as options of the STANDARD POLICY.

If you choose the BASIC POLICY:

Insurers are not required to provide these options in the BASIC POLICY.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS

The Right to Sue

For the STANDARD POLICY, you must make a choice about the rights you will have if you are injured in an automobile accident.  (The BASIC POLICY includes the LIMITED RIGHT TO SUE option.)
IMPORTANT

 The choice you make affects how much your insurance will cost and what claims will be paid in the event of an accident.

 The choice you make regarding your right to sue another driver applies to you, your spouse, children and other relatives living with you who are not covered under another automobile insurance policy.

The UNLIMITED RIGHT TO SUE and LIMITED RIGHT TO SUE options only cover lawsuits for “pain and suffering” or non-economic losses. Your medical expenses and some economic losses for injuries in auto accidents will be paid up to the limits of your PIP coverage and are not affected by the choice you make here.

UNLIMITED RIGHT TO SUE  — Under the No Limitation on Lawsuit Option, you retain the right to sue the person who caused an auto accident for pain and suffering for any injury.

LIMITED RIGHT TO SUE By choosing the Limitation on Lawsuit Option, you agree not to sue the person who caused an auto accident for your pain and suffering unless you sustain one of the permanent injuries listed below: (Choosing this option does not affect your ability to sue for economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages.)

  • loss of body part
  • significant disfigurement or significant scarring
  • a displaced fracture
  • loss of a fetus
  • permanent injury (Any injury shall be considered permanent when the body part or organ, or both, has not healed to function normally and will not heal to function normally with further medical treatment based on objective medical proof.)
  • death

WARNING: Insurance companies or their producers or representatives shall not be held liable for your choice of lawsuit option (Limited Right to Sue or Unlimited Right to Sue) or for your choices regarding amounts and types of coverage. You cannot sue an insurance company or its producers or representatives if the Limited Right to Sue option is imposed by law because no choice was made on the coverage selection form. Insurers and their producers or representatives can lose this limitation on liability for failing to act in accordance with the law. See N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.9 for more information.

POLICY OPTIONS CHART

COVERAGES Options That Cost Less What Most   Drivers Choose Options That Cost More
LIABILITY – Bodily Injury and Property Damage $35,000;$50,000;$100,000 $300,000 $500,000
PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (PIP)
Medical Expense Limit $15,000;$50,000;$75,000;$150,000 $250,000 Some insurers may offer more than $250,000
Medical Deductible $500; $1,000; $2,000; $2,500 $250
Extra PIP Options:Income Continuation, Essential Services, Death Benefit and Funeral Expense Benefit You can decline the Extra PIP Package Most consumers choose theExtra PIP Package Packages maybe available in higher amounts
Health Insurer for          PIP Option Choose your own health insurer Most consumers do not choose their own health insurer
UNINSURED/

UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE

$35,000; $50,000; $100,000 $300,000 $500,000
COLLISION COVERAGE DEDUCTIBLE $750; $1,000;$1,500; $2,000 $500 $50; $100;$150; $200; $250
COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE DEDUCTIBLE $750; $1,000;$1,500; $2,000 $500 $50; $100;$150; $200; $250
LAWSUIT OPTION Limitation on Lawsuit Option No Limitation on Lawsuit Option

WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP

This Buyer’s Guide is intended to provide general information to help you make coverage choices. It is not a substitute for the policy language, which governs. Additional information regarding coverages or premiums is available from the insurer or producer.  

(Insurers that write at least two percent of the New Jersey private passenger automobile market shall provide a toll-free number for insureds.)

Contact the Department of Banking and Insurance

on the web:

www.njdobi.org

 

by phone:

(609) 292-7272

or the Consumer Hotline at 1-800-446-7467

 

by mail at:

NJDOBI

P.O. Box 471

Trenton, NJ 08625-0471

 

or in person at:

 

 

NJ DOBI

20 West State Street

Trenton, NJ 08608

 

  • Property Damage – this covers damage you cause to other people’s property.  It could be their vehicle, their mailbox or fence.  It’s any property you and your vehicle damage in an accident.  These days many new cars cost upwards of $50,000.  In the event of an accident your property damage bill liability in the event of an accident can add up quickly.
  • PIP is Personal Injury Protection.  PIP covers medical expenses, legal fees, loss of income, pain and suffering as well as funeral costs.  The coverage is usually expressed  by 2 numbers, like 50,000/100,000.
    • The first number represents the limit of coverage in the event a single person is injured in an accident.
    • The second number is the maximum payout for all involved if more than one person is injured.
    • One serious accident can incur tremendous expenses – you need to assess your risk tolerance because you will be responsible for any expenses that exceed your coverage.
  • Medical Payments coverage.  NJ has a mandatory $1000 minimun.  It
  • What Does Medical Payments Cover?
    • Ambulance transportation to the hospital.
    • Emergency room care.
    • The initial hospital stay.
    • Other reasonable medical and funeral expenses resulting from the accident.

    How Medical Payments Coverage Works
    Say you’re involved in an accident and spend two nights in the hospital recovering. If the cost of your stay totals $2,500 but your coverage limit is $1,000, you would be responsible for paying the amount that remains. Medical Payments Coverage is not intended as a substitute for health insurance. Coverage limits are typically low and meant only to help you cover your immediate medical expenses. You or your health insurance are responsible for covering expenses above your coverage limit.

Bodily in Many personal health care plans do not cover you if you’re injured in an automobile accident.  Some coverages follow the car and other coves follow the driver. In general, auto insurance follows the car instead of the driver. Different vehicles require different types of Insurance. Regardless of what you drive, we have the proper insurance for your vehicle.

If you haven’t reviewed your policy in a while, you might be missing out on a broad array of valuable discounts. Most low-priced auto quotes are giving away more of your coverage that you need just to save you money on premiums. Don’t give up extra insurance that you need just to save money. If you don’t keep a close eye on the details of your policy, you could also end up paying for things you don’t need. For example, you may be a member of an auto club that provides roadside assistance yet also pay for towing on your auto insurance policy. Look for opportunities to eliminate unnecessary costs. Without a great safety net, driving uninsured puts more at risk than just our cars. This is a great time to sit down with us and find out how you should be insured for your needs.

Why do I need auto insurance?

  • It is a New Jersey state law that you must have auto insurance. Driving without insurance brings steep and pricey repercussions.
  • To protect yourself and the people you care about. Even if you hit a deer or an uninsured/underinsured driver hits you, you can be covered.
  • To protect your assets. If you are at fault in an accident, you want to make sure you have enough coverage to pay for any injury or property damage to another party that may occur.
  • For peace of mind. Knowing that you’re covered in the case of an accident would make anyone drive happier and safer.

What should I consider?

  • The age of the driver. A young driver will be penalized for inexperience, while senior drivers may see rate increases because of their levitated age.
  • The year the vehicle was manufactured. Insurance for a newer vehicle will be more expensive than an older one (in most cases).
  • The type of vehicle. You can logically deduce that the insurance on an old four-door Oldsmobile will be less expensive than a sporty Porsche. Always remember that when you buy a new car, you will have to pay for the insurance also.
  • The condition of the vehicle. Depending on the condition of the car, you might find you would like certain coverages and not others.

 

Are there “Cheap Insurance” scams?

Customers seeking “cheap car insurance” are targets for those running car insurance scams. These scams are frequently disguised as a deal that seems too good to be true. One day, you try to file a claim and find out your insurance never existed.

Warning signs that the insurance company may be fake include the following:

  • The price is significantly lower than the range of prices you’ve seen from other companies.
  • There are typos in the paperwork or advertising from the company.
  • The company requests full payment via cash or money order.
  • An “agent” offers to backdate the new policy.
  • You do not get an insurance ID card.

At the Gansfuss Agency we only work with reputable companies.

There are coverages that follow the car and coverages that follow the driver. In general, auto insurance follows the car instead of the driver. Different vehicles require different types of Insurance. Regardless of what you drive, we have the proper insurance for your vehicle.