FAQ

Got a question you don’t see here? Post it under the Insurance Nerd Blog page, and I’ll make sure to answer it here within a few days.

Why do I have to pay a deductible when I wasn’t at fault in my accident?

When you have a claim and your insurance company pays for damages to your vehicle, you are responsible for paying your deductible. Your insurance company will pay the remaining costs up to the value of the vehicle. If the at fault insurance company pays for your damages, you would not have to pay your deductible. When liability pays for someone else’s damages, it pays from the first dollar. Neither the at fault party or injured party pay a deductible. We see this often when in a minor accident where the at fault car isn’t damaged, but the other has minor damages. In that case, neither person pay a deductible and the property damage liability coverage from the at fault party pays for everything.

What does it mean when they say my claim has been ‘subrogated’?

If you’re damaged by someone else, you’re legally eligible to recover the amount of damage done. When your insurance company pays to repair your property, damaged by at fault actions of someone else, they are legally able to recover what they have paid on your behalf. Your insurance company will then go to the at fault party (or at fault party’s insurance company IF available) and pursue them for repayment of the damages which they have paid on your behalf. When your carrier recovers payment, they will reimburse you for your deductible.

If I don’t get a ticket from an accident, does it count against my insurance?

Regardless of whether you get a ticket or not, if you were the at fault party (the one responsible for the damages) it will be considered an at fault accident.

I got a red light camera ticket in the mail, will that affect my insurance rates?

No. Currently, red light camera tickets are considered civil violations and not moving violations. They won’t cause your auto insurance rates to go up since they are essentially in the same category as a parking ticket.

When I was driving in the rain, I lost control of my vehicle because of the wet and slippery road. Why is that considered an “at fault” accident?

When operating your vehicle you are always supposed to be in control of it. You are the last person who has the opportunity to avoid a situation which leads to damage. Even though you may not have been speeding or driving carelessly, you are still responsible for your vehicle.

Since Florida is a “No-Fault” state, how can i be considered at fault in an accident in a parking lot?

“No-Fault” refers to the requirement for Personal Injury Protection coverage. Personal Injury Protection coverage was designed to make sure that, when someone is hurt, their own insurance pays initially for their injuries, lost wages, some basic household services. The idea was, this allows an insured person to receive care right away, without having to wait on the investigation of an accident or process of determining fault in an accident. The hope was it would keep injured people from having to pay out of pocket for injuries immediately following an accident.

If my neighbors tree falls on my house, will their insurance pay for it?

Generally no. A falling tree is considered “an act of God” which isn’t anyone’s fault. In most cases, wherever the tree falls, it’s that person’s problem. The exception to that rule is when the tree which fell was dead, dying, or dangerous prior to having fallen. In other words, if the owner of the tree was negligent in not taking action to keep it from damaging someone else’s property, then the owner of the tree could potentially be considered liable. If they were found liable, their insurance policy would (eventually) pay for the damaged persons property repairs/damages.

My tree fell in my yard, will my insurance company pay to have it removed?

Unless a tree has done damage when it fell, generally there is not coverage for removing the tree. Removing a fallen tree which does not damage property (ie, hit your house, fence, shed, etc) would be considered general maintenance of the property. Hitting other shrubs, damaging your grass or similar item would not trigger coverage because the homeowners policy does not cover plants, shrubs, grass, etc. The homeowners policy typically covers property such as the main structure/attached structures, detached structures, & contents.

My tree is dying and/or leaning over my house and looks dangerous. Will my insurance company should come out and look at it and have it removed so it doesn’t damage my house?

No. Maintaining your property is considered maintenance and your homeowners policy actually has wording that requires you to ‘maintain’ and ‘defend’ your property. Leaving an obviously dangerous tree to fall on your house could cause a coverage question if you have a claim.

Why does my roommate matter on my insurance even if they never drive my car?

Most Florida auto insurance companies require all drivers living in a household be disclosed and accounted for. The most common ways drivers are accounted for are to be 1) rated, 2) excluded, or 3) non-rated. Rated = they are allowed to drive and factor in your rates. Excluded = they are not allowed to drive the vehicles and coverage is not provided (mostly) if they do drive. Excluded drivers generally do have a small impact on your rates. Non-rated = they have no impact on rates. Non-rated is the least common because it means they are not collecting any premium for that person yet there is some risk (even if it’s small) associated with a roommate. Remember, there are risks to the insurance carrier when you have passengers.

Why do I have to pay ANY additional premium when I’ve excluded everyone else in my house hold from driving my car?

Even if someone is excluded from coverage, the insurance company is required by law to pay for up to $10,000 of personal injury coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability in a claim. Even if they deny a claim totally, there are expense involved with the reporting, investigation, documentation and handling of a claim. A company may incur several hundred (or thousand) dollars in costs even if the claim has a $0 payout.

Why do I have to provide proof that my adult child is no longer living at my house in order to reduce the rates on my insurance?

Most people are honest, up front, and do things the right way. Unfortunately, not everyone does. Because it is fairly difficult for an insurance company to deny a claim, they need to have proof someone who previously was there (and was a significant risk) is no longer there. Unfortunately, there are some who would try and game the system (and causing all our rates to increase as a result) so companies often require proof someone is no longer there if they were a significant risk. Significant risk meaning a young driver, have a poor driving history, etc.

Since it’s safer shouldn’t my newer car be less expensive to insure than my older car?

Not necessarily. There are many factors that go into the costs of an insurance policy. Safety features of the vehicle are certainly one aspect but so are the costs to repair your vehicle, average damage done to another vehicle or person, and many more.

Why does a $5,000 vehicle cost roughly the same amount for insurance as a $50,000 vehicle?

Since the typical auto claim involves around $3000 of repair damage to your car, the overall value of the vehicle is not a significant factor in the rate. It costs very close to the same amount to fix $3,000 worth of damage on a $5,000 vehicle as it costs to fix $3,000 of damage on a $50,000 vehicle. The differences are relatively minor in practice.

Since I have really great health insurance and disability coverage, do I even need uninsured motorist coverage?

YES. Very much so. Your health insurance may pay for the medical bills, and your disability may pay for your lost wages. However, those may not be the only damages you suffer as a result of a bad car accident. You may have to make modifications to your home to accommodate your new wheelchair, or you may not be able to ride your bicycle, play with your kids, or exercise like you used to or because of the significant or permanent damage to your body. Those damages to your overall enjoyment of life are things which you could be compensated for by the at fault party or your uninsured motorist coverage if they don’t have any or enough coverage to pay for all those damages.

Why should I get “rental car coverage” if I have the extended warranty on my car which will pay for a rental vehicle?

Generally, your extended warranty or service plan will only pay for your rental if your car is in their shop for maintenance. It does not pay for a rental car if your car is being repaired or is not driveable due to a collision or comprehensive loss that isn’t ‘warranty’ related.

Got a question you don’t see here? Post it under the Insurance Nerd Blog page, and I’ll make sure to answer it here within a few days.