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Frequently Asked Coverage Questions

Why do my rates go up every year?

The cost of auto insurance is of great concern to everyone. The rising cost of vehicle repairs and the skyrocketing cost of medical care affect the total cost of auto insurance, pushing premium rates up every year.

The greatest increase in recent years has been in liability coverages. These coverages pay for property damage and bodily injury. The impact of legal costs is a part of the overall expense.

Auto insurance rates are based on a variety of factors. The premium you pay consists of a "base rate" plus or minus amounts reflecting your age, gender, marital status, driving pattern, vehicle type, driving record, and claims history. There is a different base rate for each type of car and geographical area. While individual companies may differ in the amounts they assess for each factor, the major rating factors are fairly universal.

  • Your age: Statistics show that, as a group, drivers under age 30 and over 75 have more accidents per mile driven than the general population. Thus, these drivers are charged higher rates, as well as families with young drivers in the household.
  • Your gender: Young men are involved in more accidents per miles driven than any other population group. The difference is especially pronounced for male drivers under 30. Idaho law allows insurance companies to charge on the basis of gender and age where the actual proof of differences in risk exists.
  • Your car: Generally, the more expensive your vehicle, the more you will pay for comprehensive and collision coverage. Also, because sports cars and high-performance cars tend to get into more accidents, cost more to repair, and are more likely to be stolen, they cost more to insure.
  • Your location: The higher number of accidents in a populous area will raise both your liability and collision premiums, while higher crime rates in urban areas can raise your comprehensive premiums. The law allows companies to base your rate on your address (garaging territory), even though you may drive to a more urban or rural area.
  • Driving patterns: The more miles you drive, the higher your rates will be. A car used for a total of 7,000 miles a year would normally have lower rates than a car driven 15,000 miles a year. Your work commuting distance will mean additional miles on top of non-commuting, "pleasure", miles.
  • Your driving record and claims history: Most companies apply a surcharge to drivers who have been involved in an accident or convicted of multiple traffic violations. Also, the more claims you have made, the higher your rates are likely to be.

Why does my insurance cost more than my agent said it would?

This is called a misquote. Determining your premium depends on many factors, including where you live, the kind of car you drive, how much you drive, how much coverage you want, your driving record, and your age.

If an error is made in reporting any of these facts, your rates will not be quoted correctly. Misquotes can also happen if your agent makes a mistake in applying the company's rating system. Auto insurance misquotes can happen when your application information differs from actual driving record.

Companies ask states' motor vehicle divisions to verify the records of drivers they insure. If you told your insurance agent you have a perfect driving record, and you do not, your insurance company will charge higher premiums than your agent quotes.

To avoid misquotes, provide accurate information about your driving record and any other facts affecting the cost of insurance, such as the make of your car or how far you commute to work. Verify all information before signing the application.

How does my driving record affect my insurance premium?

Most companies apply a surcharge to drivers who have been involved in an accident or convicted of multiple traffic violations. Also, the more claims you have made, the higher your rates are likely to be.

Can my insurance company cancel me for having too many tickets?

Idaho Insurance Code §41-2507 states that no insurer (insurance company) shall cancel or refuse renewal unless it is based upon one or more of the eight included paragraphs. Paragraphs 7g and 7h spell out the citations that an insurance company can use when considering cancellation, which includes any felony, criminal negligence while operating a motor vehicle, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, theft of a motor vehicle, fraudulent statement in an application, or three 3 or more miscellaneous violations within the 36 months immediately preceding the notice of cancellation.

No company will insure me because of my driving record. What do I do?

If you have been denied coverage by an insurance company because of your driving record, try another company. Do not assume that you will be turned down by all companies because they have a variety of underwriting standards.

If you are unable to obtain auto insurance, any licensed agent can get insurance for you through the Idaho Automobile Insurance Plan administered by the Western Association of Automobile Insurance Plans. The plan should be a last resort because the premiums generally are higher than those of private companies.

What factors affect my premium?

  • Choose the right car: Before you buy a car, check with your agent to see how much the rate for the car you have chosen will be, and if the premium and the car payment fit your budget.
  • Choose a higher deductible: Your insurance premium can be decreased if you increase your portion of the risk. Raising your collision and comprehensive deductibles from $250 to $500 or higher can save money. You do need to be aware that you will have to pay the higher deductible any time you use these coverages.
  • Take advantage of special discounts: Ask each company what special discounts it offers. Discounts are available to young drivers who are good students or have taken a drivers' education course. Discounts are also available to seniors who take the "55-Alive" program offered by many organizations in the state.
  • Eliminate duplicate coverages: You may have an overlap in coverage, such as medical coverage and health care, or collision and uninsured motorist property damage. Ask your agent to explain what each coverage offers.
  • Shop around: Since insurance companies are all separate businesses with unique financial goals and costs, it is notn't unusual to find rate variances between companies for the exact same coverage. The cheapest insurance may not provide the degree of coverage you need. It is a good idea to discuss this aspect with your insurance agent and/or insurance company.
  • Companies differ in the skill, care and speed with which they settle customers' claims: Our office can not recommend one company or policy over another.

If I choose to cancel my policy before its expiration date, can the company charge me a fee?

If an insurance company chooses to charge a cancellation fee, it must be fully disclosed on the initial application for coverage.

My insurance company has increased my premium because my teenager has his driving permit. Is that legal?

There is no state law that dictates an insurance company can or cannot charge for a driving permit. Some companies do charge while some do not make a charge until a driver’s license is issued.