The Difference Between Types of Insurance Agents

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Those insurance commercials on TV can be so amusing, but when it really comes down to it, which kind of insurance agent do you want?  Let’s take a look.

There are three types of insurance agents:  independent, captive and direct through the internet.  Our post “Why should you choose an independent insurance agent over online insurance?” explains why getting insurance online may not be your best choice.

A “captive agent” works for just one insurance company.  The benefit is that they are very well-trained in their company’s products, and they usually will know fairly quickly if you qualify for a particular product. They also generally offer good customer service as well. They will be able to answer your insurance-related questions and help guide you through purchasing a policy. On the other hand, they are limited in options that they can provide to you, because they can offer products from only one insurance company.

Why an Independent Agent is the Best Choice

An independent agent stands out from the rest. Because they do not have an exclusive relationship with one company, they do not have the limitations of online insurance or a captive agent.  The result is you get more from an independent agent.

  • They can provide quick quotes across multiple insurance companies to help you find the best rate.
  • Based on their experience and knowledge, they can advise you about the differences between companies as well as the benefits of each insurance company so that you can choose the one that balances the coverage you want with the rate you can afford.
  • You get personalized service centered around your needs and wants.
  • If you need multiple policies (such as auto, home, and life), you are not limited to one company for all your insurance needs. Your independent insurance agent can provide you with information about your options so that you can make the best choice for which company or companies will provide your insurance.

We would like to help you!

We would love to answer any questions you may have or to provide a quote for you. For questions, please give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here and fill out our contact form. One of our experienced agents will contact you as quickly as possible.  If you prefer, you can click any of the links under “Quotes and Information” (in the upper menu bar) to receive a free quote.

How Much Car Insurance is Enough: Liability Insurance

In Part 1, we discussed deductibles and what you should consider regarding a low vs. high deductible.  A second very important part of your vehicle coverage is liability.

What is Liability Insurance?

Liability car insurance covers damages to another person that result from an accident you cause.  It is one of the most base types of coverage and is also mandatory in every state.  The actual minimum limits of coverage can vary state-to-state.

Understanding Liability coverage

Liability coverage is represented by three numbers.  It might appear as 25/50/15 or 100/300/100.  Knowing what these numbers mean is very important.

The first number is maximum paid for “bodily injury” to the other person per accident. (Think in terms of medical expenses for this one.)

The second number is the “maximum paid per accident.” Add up all the costs the insurance pays, and it cannot exceed this amount.

The third number is the maximum paid for “property damage” to the other person’s vehicle as well as any other property damage done (such as fences, guardrails, buildings, etc.)

How much Liability Insurance Coverage do I need?

Although the minimum limit may be lower, a very common liability amount chosen is 50/100/50.  However, we recommend that you make your liability coverage as high as you can afford.   It’s in your interest to do so.

Let’s consider if you were in an accident in which you totaled the other person’s vehicle.  Costs might include:

  • The vehicle
    According to USA Today, in 2014 the average used car price was almost $17,000.
  • Ambulance to the hospital to get checked
    Ambulance rides can cost from $500-$2000 depending on where you are and what is required.  The L.A. Times reported that one lady’s insurance company covered $750 for her ambulance ride and she had to pay over $1500 for the rest of the cost.
  • Medical Costs (emergency room, hospital, x-rays, tests, etc.)
    One of our customers spent just one night in the hospital last fall.  By the time all the costs were added up, the bill was over $9000.  That’s just for one night to get checked out and monitored.

While all of these are very general numbers, they add up quickly. Liability costs from an accident can quickly reach $25,000 or more.  If you are carrying the Tennessee minimum (25/50/15), all those expenses would be covered.  However, what if it was a new car worth $35,000?  What if there are extensive injuries requiring a several nights stay in the hospital followed up by physical therapy and other doctors visits.  With the minimum coverage, the maximum the insurance pays is $50,000.  You are liable for the rest.

Being Realistic

We are not trying to be scary here.  It’s important to be realistic about what liability can mean. Your budget may determine how much coverage you carry. However, if you have the ability to carry more, we recommend that you do.

Our hope, of course, is that none of us has an accident.  How much Liability Coverage should you have?  Talk to your insurance agent about the right amount for you.  They can answer any questions you have about it as well.  If you would like, contact Bob Johnson Insurance.  We have several experienced agents who can help you decide what is right for you.


How Much Insurance Do You Need?

Low vs. High Deductible
Liability Insurance
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

How Much Car Insurance is Enough: Low vs. High Deductible

Many questions come to mind when you are getting your car insurance.  Questions like:

  1. What do all these numbers like 100/300/100 mean?
  2. What is an umbrella policy and do I need it?
  3. How much coverage do I really need?

That third question is one that we all face.  We know how much we want to pay — as little as possible so it doesn’t hurt the budget too much. We know how much the highway patrol requires — hopefully.  However, that might not be enough.  Let’s take a look.

Low Deductible vs. High Deductible

The most commonly chosen deductible for vehicles is $500.  We recommend, however, that you should do a break-even analysis.  You might consider raising your deductible to save money. The national average for car claims is 7 years.  Divide the change in deductible by the amount of savings. If it is greater than 7 years, it’s probably not a good thing to do.

The actual savings of raising your deductible can vary from one insurance company to the next and it depends on too many variables for us to actually use accurate numbers here.  However, let’s make up some numbers.

If you raise your deductible to $1000 per year, let’s say that saves you $50 per year.  Your break-even:

$500/$50 each year = 10 years to break even

The national average of having an auto claim is 7 years, so that’s probably not a good thing to do.  But what if raising your deductible saved you $150 per year?

$500/$150 each year = 3.3 years

Raising your deductible might be a good idea in this case.  You should contact us to get actual rates.  In addition, our experienced agents will be able to help you choose exactly the best coverage for YOU.  (And we’re also happy to answer all the questions you may have about it!)


How Much Insurance Do You Need?

 

Low vs. High Deductible
Liability Insurance
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

5 Ways to Save on Your Car Insurance

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

It can be easier than you think to put the brakes on high auto insurance rates. As an independent agency, Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc. can help! We can review your policy and possibly help you find a variety of illuminating ways to save money. Here are some things you may want to consider.

Ask us to check several companies’ rates.

This is the single most important thing you can do to get the best possible rate, and we can do it for you quickly and easily. The difference between the highest and lowest rate available to you from different companies could vary by hundreds of dollars.

Reduce or drop physical damage coverage on an older car.

Depending on your car’s age and where you live, comprehensive and collision coverage may not be worth keeping. We can give you advice on whether it makes sense to reduce or drop this coverage altogether.

Raise your deductible.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, raising your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive cost by 15 to 30 percent. In addition, because the average driver files a collision claim only once every ten years, odds are that over the lifetime of your car, a higher deductible will save you money. We can show you how raising your deductible will lower your premium.

Look for discounts.

Many insurance companies reduce premiums for certain driver traits or car features. For example: being a homeowner, students with good grades, senior citizens who have taken an approved defensive driving course, people who only drive for pleasure, antilock brakes, antitheft devices, air bags, etc. Ask us to check.

Don’t assume having your car and home insured by the same company is the best option.

Because auto insurance rates vary so much from company to company, it may make sense for you to have your car and home insured by separate companies. Let’s talk about it.

To learn more about all an independent agency can offer you, call Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc. at 865-922-3111 or click here to contact us.

Tips to Ensure Your ATV is Properly Covered

Tips to Ensure Your ATV is Properly Insured

The winter has been very mild in the Southeast this year, so you might be breaking out the “outdoor toys” a little early!  Before taking out your all-terrain vehicle (ATV), but sure that it is properly covered.

When it comes to your ATV, it pays to keep your feet on the ground when it comes to insuring it. You may think it’s covered by your home-owners policy, but are you really protected? Your “toy” wasn’t cheap, and lacking the right type of insurance coverage could lead to a sticky financial situation.

“Owners should think of ATVs the same way they think of motorcycles,” said Rick Stern, product manager, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies. “You’d never consider getting on a motorcycle without the proper insurance, and you shouldn’t ride an ATV without the right coverage either.”

If you’re not sure what to do about your ATV insurance needs, here are a few things to consider.

Your homeowners policy might not be enough.

Most likely, your homeowners policy only covers your ATV if trouble occurs on your property. Anywhere else and you’ll be exposed. Look for an affordable ATV insurance policy that offers coverage no matter where you are. Trail riders should be aware that many states require ATV insurance for vehicles operated on state-owned land.

What about theft?

ATVs are portable and can be easy targets for thieves. You should consider ATV insurance that provides coverage for things such as theft, fire and vandalism just like the kind you can get for a motorcycle. Theft, fire and vandalism are covered by Comprehensive coverage, an optional physical damage coverage.

Consider uninsured and underinsured coverage.

You never know what can happen in the great outdoors. This relatively inexpensive coverage protects you if another rider causes damage to you and he or she lacks adequate coverage.

Keep your rates low.

You can do a number of things to save money on your ATV insurance, including maintaining a clean driving record, staying free of claims or choosing a less “sporty” ATV. In addition, most insurers offer a discount if you insure more than one vehicle on your policy, or have more than one policy with the company. This could mean additional savings on your car, motorcycle, boat or RV insurance.

For more information about ATV insurance or to find an independent agent, call Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc. at 865-922-3111 or click here to contact us.

8 Tips to Gear Up to Motorcycle Season

mechanic tightening the wheel nut on a motorcycle

To steer this riding season in the right direction, you’ll want to make sure your motorcycle — and your motorcycle insurance policy — are in good working order before hitting the open road.

While you should always check your owner’s manual for specific guidelines, here are some general tips for getting ready:

Change the oil and filter.

Many manufacturers recommend changing the oil and filter before storing a bike for any extended period of time and again when you bring it back out for riding season. Be sure to first start up the motorcycle to warm the engine and then shut it off before changing the oil and filter.

Check the belt or chain.

Make sure it is set to the manufacturer’s recommended tension. If you have a chain, lubricate it.

Check nuts and bolts.

Start off the riding season with a solid bike. Make sure everything is tight. “A well-maintained motorcycle not only assures a fun time, it can save you money by avoiding accidents, which helps to keep your insurance rates down,” says Rick Stern, motorcycle product manager, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies.

Inspect tires.

Look for any damage and also make sure each tire is inflated to the correct pressure. You’ve only got two tires, so for maximum stability it is very important to avoid underinflation as well as overinflation.

Look for fluid leaks.

The easiest way to check for this is to look at the floor under the motorcycle. Leaking oil or brake, radiator or clutch fluid can cause their own special problems. For example, being low on brake fluid could make it hard to stop your motorcycle. You don’t want to find that out after you’re already on the road.

Check all lights.

Make sure headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all functioning properly.

Brush up on your riding skills.

Find a safe place to practice riding skills such as fast stops, figure eights, U-turns, etc., so you’re ready for the season. You’ll be glad you did.

Update your policy.

Perhaps one of the most important things you can do at the start of the season is review your insurance coverage to be certain you, and your bike, are covered. Talk to your local independent insurance agent.

Independent agents represent many companies and they can help you to understand the coverages you need. An independent agent can also help you find the combination of price and service that’s right for you. Call Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc. at 865-922-3111 or click here to contact us.

Auto Insurance Made Easy

Be prepared with the right coverage before you need it.

Understanding insurance can often be like trying to learn a foreign language. Many find it confusing and intimidating.

Fortunately, there’s help. Here is a quick reference designed to help you understand some of the most common kinds of coverages. The reference was put together by The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies.

Liability

Liability covers bodily injury and property damage (BI/PD). This covers your legal liability, up to the dollar limits you select, for damages caused to others in a covered vehicle accident. In most states today, liability insurance is mandatory.

Under BI/PD, your insurance company pays for damages to an injured person and for property damage that you are legally obligated to pay as a result of an accident. If your policy covers you in the event you’re sued after an accident, your insurance company will pay for a lawyer to defend you.

Liability limits generally appear as three numbers, for example, 25/50/25 or 100/300/100.

  • The first number refers to the maximum amount, in thousands, that your insurance company is obligated to pay for bodily injury per person.
  • The second number is the maximum that would be paid out for bodily injury per claim.
  • The third number represents the maximum amount your insurance company is obligated to pay for property damage you cause.

Collision

When you buy collision coverage, your insurance company pays for damages if your vehicle collides with another vehicle or object. Collision coverage involves a deductible amount you select when you purchase your policy. This amount is what you are required to pay before your insurance company starts picking up the tab. Remember, the deductible amount is the amount you need to pay in the event of a claim.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive covers damage caused by events other than a car collision such as fire, theft, vandalism, hail or flood. It also covers damage caused by your vehicle colliding with an animal. And if your car is stolen, it will cover the cost of a rental, subject to a daily limit. Like collision coverage, a deductible usually applies.

Medical Coverage

Depending on the state in which you live, you may have available to you Medical Payments coverage or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. While these both work differently, they provide coverage for medical care provided to you as a result of a car accident.

Have you considered Safeco as your Insurance Company?

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

“Safeco Gave Us Everything We Needed”

Hopefully you will never have the same type of experience as the family in the video above.

However, if you do, you definitely want to have an insurance company who is ready, willing and able to help you. Safeco is just such a company.

Who is Safeco?

Safeco has insured drivers and homeowners through its network of independent agents and brokers since 1923. Safeco Insurance is a Liberty Mutual Agency Corporation company and a member of Liberty Mutual Group. In business for more than 95 years, Liberty Mutual Group is a Fortune 100 company and the fifth-largest property and casualty insurance company in the country.

Liberty Mutual is also rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company, an independent firm that rates the financial strength and performance of insurance companies. An A is one of the highest ratings and means you can trust the stability and endurance of Safeco.

Products That Fit Your Life

Safeco offers a wide variety of personal insurance products for you and your entire family, including auto, home, umbrella, watercraft and more. The Safeco Package – which bundles your auto and home coverage together – offers the best combination of savings, convenience and coverage available.

Excellent Customer Service

Safeco offers 24/7 toll-free service for policyholders as well as online policy access at Safeco’s My Account where you can:

  • pay your bill
  • track your claims
  • view policy documents
  • print new insurance ID cards
  • update your name, address and more

Would you like to know more about Safeco or any of the other insurance companies represented by Bob Johnson Insurance?

We are happy to provide answers for you! For questions, please give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here and fill out our contact form. One of our experienced agents will contact you as quickly as possible.

If you would like a quote, please click here. One of our experienced agents will view your information and contact you to make sure you receive a quote for the insurance that best fits you and your situation.

How to Get the Best Rate on Motorcycle Insurance

the view over the handlebars of a speeding motorcycle

How about some other tips! If you want to get the best insurance rate for you, consider some of the major factors that will be considered.

 

Did you know?

Safeco Insurance Company offers motorcycle & ATV insurance.  Safeco offers discounts for belonging to rider clubs, completing a certified safety course, and having additional policies with Safeco.  Also Safeco’s claim service is fast, fair, hassle free, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Consider the Company

Name your ride, and we probably cover it!

As an independent insurance agent, Bob Johnson Insurance can offer you options from multiple companies so that you can choose the best coverage with the benefits you want.

For example, Safeco covers some categories many insurers don’t. They also offer special discounts for belonging to rider clubs, completing a certified safety course, or multiple lines of coverae. Just in case something does happen, Safeco offers hassle-free, 24-hour claims service.

Getting the best rates for your motorcycle or atv

Consider Your Ride

Your Bike: Newer, flashier bikes cost more than older, basic motorcycles.

Your Age: Just like auto insurance, rates usually decrase as you become older. Be aware though that being new to motorcycles can sometimes affect your rate category until you are more experienced.

Your Address: Living in high crime or accident areas can sometimes influence your rates.

Your Driving History: All accidents count — even auto accidents. The cleaner your driving record, the cheaper your insurance will be.

Your Job: Where you are driving to and parking your bike may influence your rate. For example, parking daily on a construction site may increase your rates.

Consider Other Factors for saving money on motorcycle insurance rates

Secure Your Bike: By keeping your bike more secure (keep it in the garage, alarm it, etc.) you may find additional discounts. We can help you find them.

Don’t Over insure: Your motorcycle is only worth market value. If something happens to it, that’s what you will receive. Overinsuring will not get you more money. We will help you choose the coverage that is right for you.

Mileage: Keeping your mileage low sometimes helps keep your rates the same way — low.

Special Motorcycle Training: Many insurance companies offer discounts when you take a special DMV or other motorcycle classes. We can help you find those discounts.

Would you like more information or a free quote?

We would love to answer any questions you may have or to provide a quote for you. For questions, please give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here and fill out our contact form. One of our experienced agents will contact you as quickly as possible.

If you would like a quote, please click here.  One of our experienced agents will view your information and contact you to make sure you receive a quote for the insurance that best fits you and your situation.

Insurance for your Classic Car

grandfather and grandson cleaning restored classic car

Did you know?

If you have a classic that’s been collecting dust because you haven’t wanted to pay for the insurance, you have low-cost insurance options to get it on the road. Get a competitive classic car insurance quote.

If you own a “classic” car, which could be considered anything over about 25 years old, you could save money on your car insurance by buying specialized classic car insurance.

There are two ways to find insurance for your older vehicles. The first is to check with your current insurance company to see if they have a rating classification for classic or antique autos. This rate will be significantly less than a pleasure use rate, but it may also come with some mileage or usage limitations.

The other way to insure your classic car is to use an insurance company that specializes in insuring restored vehicles. Their policies have unique coverages that may not be available with an ordinary car insurance policy. Here’s a breakdown of some of the categories of classic vehicles for which you might want special coverage:

  • Antique & Classic Cars – Consist of stock vehicles built from the turn of the century through approximately 1969. Examples include a 1957 Ford Thunderbird, 1901 Oldsmobile and a 1930 Model A.
  • Exotic and Special Interest – These are rare or limited production vehicles such as specific models of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Dodge Vipers.
  • Lowriders – Cars modified with hydraulic or air bag suspension systems can often be insured as classic cars, but underwriting guidelines are strict.
  • Modern Classics – These are vehicles of modern production that are considered collectible such as a 1976 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1978 AMC Pacer or a 1979 Trans Am T-Top.
  • Motorcycles and Scooters – Motorcycles are becoming increasingly expensive and thus collectible. Examples of motorcycles insurable as collectibles are a 1948 Indian Chief and a 1952 Harley Panhead.
  • Muscle Cars – Typically late 1960’s and early 1970’s U.S. models that include larger V-8 engines. Examples include a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, 1970 Dodge Charger and a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda.
  • High Quality Replicas – The are home-built or professionally constructed replicas of older vehicles.
  • Street Rods – Street rods include vehicles that have been extensively customized for performance. Examples include a 1932 Ford Highboy or a chopped 1951 Mercury Coupe with custom paint.
  • Trucks or Pick-ups – Older models of trucks can be insured as a classic vehicle just as a car can be. Examples include a 1922 Model T Truck, a 1951 Chevy Pickup or even a 1975 Ford Pickup.
  • Vehicles Under Active Restoration – Even if you haven’t gotten the primer and paint complete, you can insure your classic while being restored.

Advantages of Classic Car Insurance

The typical classic car insurance policy offers better coverage at a reduced premium than a typical auto insurance policy. This is due to the fact that most classics are not driven as much or under the same circumstances as your regular vehicles. The policies may allow only a certain number of annual miles driven, but the return is a greatly reduced premium for insuring your classic car.

Typical benefits of the classic car insurance policy include:

  • Lower premiums
  • Agreed value coverage – this means your car is insured for a specific value that you will be paid in the event of a total loss
  • No deductible – many classic car policies do not have a deductible, so you will not have to pay anything out-of-pocket in the case of a claim

If you have a classic that’s been collecting dust because you haven’t wanted to pay for the insurance, you have low-cost insurance options to get it on the road. Get a competitive classic car insurance quote.