Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (often see as UM for short) coverage is probably one of the most misunderstood coverages and for good reason.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist is the coverage that pays for bodily and property damage.  The difference Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist and Bodily Injury coverage is that Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist allows the individual to insure themselves against the low limits of other drivers.  This coverage is mandatory under Georgia law, but only up to 25/50/25, the state minimum.

UM/UIM coverage can provide vital protection. It typically applies if you are hurt in an accident involving:

  • A driver who has no insurance
  • A driver who has insurance but there is not enough to compensate all of those who have been injured
  • A hit-and-run driver where the at-fault driver cannot be identified
  • A driver who hits you while you are walking or cycling.

This coverage provides options to the insured against an at-fault driver not having insurance, or not having enough insurance for their bodily injury.  Which is why we find policies that lower this coverage for the sake of saving a few dollars on their premium a huge disservice to our clients.

healthcare facility insurance Marietta GA

 

This topic is so sensitive, that the Georgia state requires agents to keep a form on record showing the client accepting or declining the coverage, and to what extent.  We can’t blame people for skipping on this coverage.  It is difficult to explain, and often decent enough factor in their premiums to make a dent.

To make matters further complicated there are two options for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist in Georgia.  Take note that UM coverage only takes into account once the AT FAULT parties (if known) insurance or assets have been exhausted.

  • Traditional: Non-stacking or reduced coverage.  This form of UM coverage will pay UP TO the limit noted, after taking into account prior settlement monies.
    • Example: Our client has 100/300 UM coverage.  The at-fault party has 25/50.
    • Our client has 150,000 in damages.  The at-fault party pays its 25k, leaving 125,000 unpaid.  The UM coverage in this example will pay 75k to a reduced amount of 100,000.
  • Added on: Stacking or Excess coverage.  This form of UM coverage will STACK/Add on or pay in Excess of the other parties coverage.
    • Example: our client has 100/300 UM coverage added on.  The at-fault party has 25/50.
    • Our client has 150,00 in damages.  The at-fault party pays their 25k, leaving 125,000 unpaid.  The UM coverage in this example will pay 100k to the add on the amount of 125,000.00

Since the settlements can vary greatly, it is vital that clients understand the difference between the two, and have the coverages known and signed for.  For many people, the last thing they want to hear is that they passed on something that could have drastically altered their life.

This coverage can NOT exceed the Bodily Injury limit.  Which means you can not insure yourself for a limit greater than you insure other parties.  Yet people can most certainly insure themselves for LESS, which is far more common than one would like to believe.  Again, we can not blame our consumers, given that the common message that suggests insurance is a commodity that would be valued based on price alone.

At The Weikum Group, we always quote with matching limits.  Whether we establish an insurance profile at 50/100 or 250/500, we match UM limits with BI limits.  Should the client elect to insure themselves at a lower coverage limit to save money, we can do so but do it kicking and screaming (and paperwork signing off on).

We love our community, and the best we way can make sure everyone is better off is by placing the right client with the right company.

 

Have you ever wondered how insurance companies can magically know VIN’s, Drivers license numbers, and even loss histories?

Well here is an industry secret…Magic…

By magic, we mean reporting agencies such as Lexus Nexus.  These companies, like Lexus Nexus aggregate data for a wide variety of industries.  They then gatekeep who has access to such information through background checks and inspections on the property, then limit the data based on your need.

Even in the wonderful world of Harry Potter, using magic wasn’t always a perfect solution.  Sometimes the data can be incomplete, or flat out incorrect based on the information provided by the insurance company.  You will need a letter of experience to clear the air on any discrepancies with these reporting agencies.

 

 

Here are some examples of why you may need a letter of experience.

You may have an at-fault loss on your file and not know it!

You, the insured, are rear-ended by another party.   If you have collision coverage, you can claim the loss on your coverage. The insurance company will then seek to subrogate their payout and your deductible back.  Depending on the company policy, they may list this loss as an at-fault loss until they recover the money.  Subrogating could take anywhere between 90 days to years, depending on the severity and other parties.

Even after the settlement has cleared, it may still appear to be an at-fault, causing you to have an at-fault loss on your file for at least five years.

Newly licensed/young drivers who are now paying for their insurance.

Young Drivers While it is crucial to have all household members on the same policy, the named insured is often given credit for the insurance history.  For young drivers who decided to stay home or continue education within 100 miles of their parents, you may find yourself with higher than usual rates.

With a letter of experience, we can show reliable insurance history and often provide options to otherwise closed markets, allowing for greater coverage and lower premiums.

Moving out of the country or coming back

Many insurance companies will not insure individuals without at least six to twelve months of prior insurance history.  Those companies who will charge an arm and a leg.  There are exceptions to the rule, yet these are limited.

 

Getting these letters are often painless and as easy as calling the insurance company even if the policy is no longer in force.  Make sure you are specific on what you want them to say.  They should include details such as:

  • Who, and what was insured.
  • Timeline in which the company insured said items.
  • Claims paid and details regarding claims.
  • Details on the break-up.

A good insurance agent can accompany you on the phone with the said company as well!  Having an advocate to speak the jargon can make the experience all the easier as well!

Most homeowners have little to no idea what their insurance policies cover and many of those homeowners base their decision on what policy to cover their home based on price, without knowing the implication of using price as the deciding factor on what policy will be used to protect their home.

Nothing brings the education of policy language and the importance of coverage than a claim.  By that time, it is too late, and “well that wasn’t explained to me” or “I didn’t know that” won’t afford coverage.  This is why having an agent focused on clients over their insurance company is critical.

 

About one in 50 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year.              – Insurance Information Institute

 

Water damage is the second most common homeowners claim.  While many forms of water are not or have limited coverage by homeowners policies (flood, or seepage, for example). Since water backup is an optional coverage agent often do not educate their clients on its benefits because they know clients shop price over value.

68% of water back up claims cost more than $5,000.00

35% of water back up claims cost over $10,000.00

Facts + statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance, Insurance Information Institute

 

So how much is enough?  

Here are a few questions to help answer the question of how much coverage do you need?

  • Finished or unfinished basement
    • Imagine the cost to remove sewer water and replace the basement and contents.
      • Do you have a secondary garage or a massive entertainment suite?
    • Include flooring such as carpet, vinyl, hardwood.
    • Cabinets, bathrooms, and kitchen, how much would it cost to replace them.
    • Where is the HVAC and water heater?

Every client with TWG has at least $5,000.00 in the water back up coverage, no matter the home.  Should a basement come into play, we will often inspect or inquire with the above questions to get a better understand of how much coverage is enough.

Why TWG?

We believe insurance is a modern day miracle.  We also believe that no single insurance carrier is the best fit for everyone.  The choice of carriers allows us to place the right client with the right carrier.  It also allows us to step away from these carriers and put our clients first.

While we are located out of Marietta, Georgia, we are licensed throughout the state of Georgia!  Our mission is to help as many people as possible.  Sometimes that is by partnering with TWG and our carriers; sometimes it is with education.  With over a decades worth of on the ground claims adjusting, placing our selves independent of our carriers, and placing a strong emphasis on technology, education, we are changing the way people think about insurance!

One of the benefits of having an Agent who has extensive claims experience is the context and knowledge of knowing how the policy actually works.

Pipe Bursts- an all too common scenario!

Water losses of the most frequent and costly claims insurance companies have to pay for.  While you are covered from bursting pipes, no matter how good the claims department is, it is not something people tend to enjoy.

Imagine- it is November, and the weather has finally let up.  That night, you hear a large snap.  As you investigate- you hear water, and suddenly, feel water at your feet.  Panic sets in, where is the water coming from, how do I turn it off?  15 minutes go by, and after googling how to the shut-off the water, you finally get it to stop.  Silence sets in, complemented by the sound of dripping water, and moisture in the air….How do I get this water out of my home?  How much damage was the cause?  What about mold?  How will I get the kids ready for school in the morning, or cook meals?

At this time- calling the claims department will get an emergency water mitigation company to your door.  They will extract the water, and start removing wet carpet, hardwood floors, and cabinetry.  Hours later, they leave your home with these giant noisy fans and dehumidifiers.  Your part- $1000+ deductible, and a massive interruption to your already busy life.  This won’t include the restoration time and disruption.

Prevention- How about we not spend our weekend listening to fans drying out your home.

What happened?  Copper pipes can suffer blockages from the cold weather- causing the pipe to swell and burst under pressure.  This is why it is recommended that you leave the sinks dripping during the cold months, moving water is less likely to freeze.

You can also make sure that the pipes are wrapped in high-risk areas.  Kitchens that face an exterior wall are the main culprits and bathrooms that tend to be cold in the winter months.

Safeco and Flo by Moen

As a former claims adjuster, I am tickled pink when I see insurance companies try to help clients before a loss!

Safeco has partnered with Moen and its product- Flo.

 

 

Flo is a water monitoring device with an automatic shut off valve!  The device is professionally installed into your pipes and monitors activity.  They claim they can even detect small drips.

In the event of a pipe burst, the device will detect the burst and that green knob will turn- ending the crisis and alerting the user on their phone of a potential pipe burst!

For users who enjoyed products like the Nest- this is right up their ally!

On top of that, for $5.00/month they will pay your deductible up to $2500 should the device fail to prevent a claim!

Safeco is offering to pay for $125.00 of the installation cost for its clients if you purchase it through your agent!

While education is powerful, actively helping their clients BEFORE a claim is a thing of beauty.  Before the skeptic in your mind goes to- well then they have to pay fewer claims!  Let me tell you, the fewer claims they pay, the lower your premium gets.   Premiums increase due to losses and the costs associated with them.  Fewer claims, lower premiums!

Though we are located off the Marietta Square, give us a call any time!

If you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be.

Owning a rental property can be troublesome, and end up costly! So you’re probably thinking, “Well Ken, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property.

Having handled claims for ten years, and insuring these homes for the TWG clientele I’ve had a first-hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

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I was recently asked this question by one of our The Weikum Group clients, and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t continuously check or monitor your credit. Usually, they only check it when you first get a quote and/or sign up with them in the very beginning.

This means that if your credit score increases (or decreases) your insurance company does not automatically know about it.

So, to my customers question of whether or not his increased credit score will lower his rates, the answer is not automatically.

What has to be done on our side as the agent is contact the carrier the insurance and ask them to do what’s commonly referred to as a “re-score”. This is when the insurance company can re-run the person’s credit (soft inquiry) to see if there is any positive bearing on the rate.

This isn’t something that the insurance company is going to let the agency do every single year, so it’s not worth even asking unless there has been a significant change in your credit score, and only you as the customer would know if that was the case.

If you’d like to get a better handle on your credit rating, it could be helpful to setup credit monitoring. We hope this was helpful! As always, leave us comment below if you have any questions.

Why do my auto insurance rates keep going up even though my car is getting older?  At The Weikum Group, many of our clients ask this question so I would like to address it from a couple of angles.

First things first, even though it’s called car/auto insurance, it covers more than just your car. It should technically be called “auto-owners” insurance, similarly to how home insurance is actually called “home owners insurance”.

It’s important to understand that there are a lot of variables that go into insurance premiums, and with auto insurance, it’s no different.

The insurance company is much more concerned with you crashing into someone and causing them (or yourself) bodily harm, or death, than they are about your car. A car is a material possession which can be replaced.

A human life is not.

When is the last time you looked at your auto insurance policy?
If you look at it you’ll notice there are a lot of different coverages on your auto policy.

Bodily injury
Property damage
Un-insured motorist
Under-insured motorist
Medical Payments
Loss of Income
Funeral Expense
Loss of use
Rental Reimbursement

These are all things that you are covered for on your auto policy. How many of them have to do with your car?

None.

How many of them have a price next to them on your policy?

All of them.

Your car isn’t the only thing you’re being charged for on your policy
That’s because auto insurance covers far more important things than your car as mentioned above.

Let me re-phrase that: your car insurance rate isn’t just based on your car.

You’re not the only one…
It’s also important to understand that you are not the only person your insurance company insures. You are one fish in an ocean of other fish, sharks, and sea creatures, all who have different characteristics and risk profiles.

Insurance is all about spreading costs over a large number (risk pool) of people, which each person paying their fare share. That risk pool is constantly changing, and is impacted by a ton of different things, including the overall economic climate.

This means that you are sharing in the cost of millions of other people, many of whom may have poor loss history and/or credit.

That’s what insurance is though — sharing in the cost.

The next time your auto insurance rates go up, take a look at the big picture. Make sure you’re looking at ALL of the coverages, and corresponding rates.

Hope this helps!  If you would like to know more about Car Insurance be sure to visit our page dedicated to it.