5 Reasons to get Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage is an essential part of your auto insurance policy. Yes, it is optional and you can “reject” it in writing, but you’d be crazy to do this considering that an estimated one in five drivers in Texas may be driving around with no insurance at all, and millions more drivers have only the bare minimum of coverage.

How do UM and UIM coverages protect you? They step in to cover bodily injury and property damage if you get involved in an accident with a driver who either has no insurance, or whose insurance limits are less than the cost of the accident. Hit-and-run accidents – where the other driver flees the scene – would also be included in the UM/UIM part of your auto insurance policy.

So, why get UM/UIM? Here are 5 very good reasons:

  1. The number of uninsured motorists is increasing As insurance costs spiral ever higher, so too does the number of people willing to “chance it” and drive without insurance. This is especially true in large cities like Houston which have among the highest auto insurance premiums in the nation.
  2. The number of uninsured motorists may continue to rise Research has shown that the number of uninsured drivers is directly related to the strength of the economy. If we enter another recession, the numbers of people without insurance will increase, so you should be prepared for this well ahead of time.
  3. Minimum liability limits are too low Even if you already have UM/UIM coverage, if you have only the minimum 30/60/25 limits ($30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage) you will likely have too little coverage under your policy to pay for a serious accident. Guess what happens if you run out of coverage? Yup, you are going to be paying the rest out of your own pocket, and those medical bills do not come cheap.
  4. Increasing your UM/UIM limits is not expensive It usually costs just a handful of dollars a month to upgrade from 30/60/25 to 100/300/100 or more – giving you a lot more coverage (and peace of mind) for very little additional cost.
  5. The chance of collecting money from an uninsured motorist is low Someone who is driving without insurance most likely has few assets, so pursuing a claim against them will likely to be an expensive waste of time, especially considering the legal fees involved.

The moral of the story? Speak to your agent at Memorial Insurance today to make sure the UM/UIM limits on your policy have you covered if the worst should happen!

Telematics: the Future of Auto Insurance?

Telematics is a technology-based system whereby insurance companies assess your auto insurance premiums based on your driving habits. The idea is to create a fairer system of auto insurance, by rewarding safe drivers with lower premiums – as well as providing a much more accurate way for insurers to assess risk.

You may know Telematics by other names such as Right Track (Safeco), Snapshot (Progressive), or IntelliDrive (Travelers). Drivers participating in the program download an app to their phone, or plug a device into their vehicle, which measures their speed, acceleration, braking, and night time driving, for a period of 90-365 days. At the end, safe drivers receive a discount from their auto premium, or a lower rate for their auto insurance renewal.

Some industry analysts predict that nearly all auto insurance policies will be primarily telematics-based within five years. It’s good news for driver safety, and also for premiums. Most carriers offer a 5% discount just for taking part in the program, with up to a further 20-30% premium reduction available on completion.

Give your agent at Memorial Insurance a call to see which Telematics program is available for your auto policy, and whether it would be a good fit for you.

Drive safe!

Coming Soon: Flood Endorsement!

We had some exciting news from one of our most innovative insurance carriers this week. Starting this spring, a Flood Endorsement will be available for all home insurance policies with XYZ Insurance (not the carrier’s real name because this product is still confidential).

What does this mean? Well, instead of purchasing a separate flood policy through the NFIP, homeowners will be able to add flood coverage to their home insurance.

Remember the old days when you had to purchase separate home insurance and wind insurance policies? Nowadays, most carriers combine these coverages in the same policy, even in coastal areas. Continuing this trend towards value and simplicity, the same thing is going to happen with flood!

XYZ Insurance is set to be the first company to “go live” with this endorsement, but it seems likely that other companies will follow suit because it makes so much sense for consumers.

XYZ Insurance’s new Flood Endorsement will offer:

  • Choice of flood coverage levels up to the limits of the home insurance policy (in other words, not limited to $250,000).
  • Full Replacement Cost coverage, including for your personal property.
  • Loss of Use coverage (for hotel stays and living expenses while your home is flooded).
  • Claims handled by XYZ Insurance adjusters (not FEMA).
  • Premiums likely to be lower than NFIP policies (in Preferred zones, probably around $150-$300 per year depending on coverage level).

So, when will this coverage be available to you? Watch this space for updates, or contact your agent at Memorial Insurance for more information!

Can You Alter Home Insurance?

Home insurance is something that all homeowners need to have on hand. This is going to help protect them and their home and is also going to help protect their investment. For those that live in the Houston, TX area, the agents with Memorial Insurance Agency can help you find the right home insurance policy for you.

Home insurance is something that can be pretty difficult to understand, but that is also very essential. When it comes to your home insurance, it is important that your policy fits your home as specifically as possible. This is going to help make sure that if you do have to call on the policy, it is going to cover your home and is going to cover what you need it to cover. If you have a policy that does not fit your home as perfectly as possible, it may not cover what you need it to in the event of something happening.

The key to getting a policy that is going to fit your home perfectly is to alter it as needed. That being said, you can alter your home policy at any time but may need the help of an agent to do so. When you alter your policy, you need to be sure you are changing it for the better. If you do change your policy during a billing cycle, you are not going to see the new price of your policy, if there is one, until the next billing cycle.

For those that live in the Houston, TX area, the agents with Memorial Insurance Agency can help you find the home policy you need and help you alter policies that you may already have in place to give you the best coverage possible for your home. Contact our offices to get a quote.

6 Things to Look For in Home Insurance Mailers

Ever had something like this through the mail? Most likely you receive several of them every year in the lead-up to your home insurance renewal. They may sound tempting …. but how do you know if it’s a good quote? What should you be looking for? Let Memorial Insurance be your guide!:

  1. Coverage amounts: Do these match your current policy? They are often lower, because less coverage means a cheaper price. Your agent has several tools available to work out exactly how much your home should be insured for.
  2. Bells and Whistles: On this quote, $1,000,000 in personal liability is eye-catching, especially if your current policy offers “only” $300,000 or $500,000. But if you have an umbrella policy (which you should!), you’ll already have the high liability coverage anyway. And if you want to add higher liability to a homeowners policy, it’s only going to cost a few bucks a year. So this feature is not nearly as impressive as it sounds!
  3. Extended Replacement Cost: Some agents offer relatively low dwelling coverage amounts, but add the extended replacement cost endorsement and tell you it’s additional coverage for your home. This is not true. Extended replacement cost applies when a large area is afflicted by a catastrophe (for example a Category 4 hurricane), and the subsequent increased demand for materials and contractors pushes repair costs sky-high. This endorsement allows for extra coverage but ONLY in the event that replacement cost increases in your area as a direct result of a natural disaster. If faulty wiring causes your house to burn to the ground, you’ll get only your basic Dwelling Coverage amount from your insurance company.
  4. Deductibles: This quote headlines with the 1% deductible, but notice the cheeky 5% deductible in the middle? This part is the deductible for a named hurricane. If you keep in mind that named hurricanes are one of the leading causes of insurance claims in many states, including Texas, do you really want to be on the hook for a 5% deductible the next time a major weather event blows through? In the case of this particular policy, you’d be looking at a $30,000+ out of pocket payment before the insurance company stepped in to take care of the rest. If this is something you can afford and would be happy to pay for, then stop reading here! In Houston, a 2% hurricane deductible is standard, with 1% also available in some areas. At Memorial Insurance, we’d be happy to provide several quotes with different deductibles so you can make an informed choice and NOT get a nasty surprise after the next hurricane.
  5. Total Premium: The advertised rate on this quote is NOT the final price, it is a guess based on you having the best possible credit and zero prior claims. To get the final rate, insurance carriers run an “insurance score” taking into account the above plus many other factors. More than nine times out of ten, when you call the agent to take the quote, your premium will increase.
  6. Exclusions: Sure, this quote tells you that your contents are insured for replacement cost. But how about the roof? See my earlier blog post for details of why you do NOT want an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy. Moreover, are water coverages (slow seepage, water backup, foundation water damage) included? Most likely not, because these increase the premium, which would make for a less impressive mailout!

Moral of the story: if you’re interested in a quote you receive in the mail, make sure you get an “apples to apples” comparison with your current policy to make sure all the coverage levels match. Better still, why not give Memorial Insurance a call – we have most of the main home insurance carriers in our agency, so we will do the shopping and comparing for you, and make 100% sure you are correctly insured!

Rewards for Safe Drivers

Insurance carriers are increasingly turning to technology to get a better idea of the risk profile of the customers they insure. One example, which is currently taking the auto insurance market by storm, is “telematics”. The exact details vary by carrier, but broadly speaking it involves installing a device in your vehicle, or downloading a smartphone app, which monitors your driving habits over a period of time (usually 90 days).

At the end of this period, insurance companies assess your results, factoring in your speed, how often you accelerate hard or brake sharply, and how often you drive in the dead of night when serious accidents are more frequent. Safe drivers who do not engage in risky behaviors see a reduction in their premium. Depending on the carrier, this can be as much as 20% off the entire premium. Be careful though, because several carriers INCREASE premiums for risky drivers, so it pays to chat to your friendly independent insurance agent to find out if telematics programs are a good fit for you!

The video above explains a little about Travelers’ telematics product, called IntelliDrive and launched in late 2018. Safeco (“Right Track”) and Progressive (“Snapshot”) also have similar products which differ in a few details.

Worried about data harvesting? Don’t be. These devices or apps glean only information directly relating to your driving habits. People worry about being “monitored”, but this fear is misplaced ……. if you own a smartphone or engage in any kind of social media, your data is already being used in far greater depth than with any telematics device.

For safe drivers, getting on a telematics program is a no-brainer. It is also the way of the future – by 2025 it is estimated that the vast majority of auto insurance premium calculations will be entirely or mostly telematics-based.

Safe driving out there!

Flood Insurance Increases!

Dwelling ContentsDeductiblesPrimary HomeRental Home
$100,000$40,000$1,000$371$596
$125,000$50,000$1,250$389$614
$150,000$60,000$1,250$415$640
$200,000$80,000$1,250$453$678
$250,000$100,000$1,250$480$705

In breaking news that will surprise no one in Houston, flood premiums under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have increased, effective January 1st, 2019. The table above shows the new rates in flood zone X; premiums in other zones will vary.

The increases are in fact remarkably small, considering the huge losses incurred by the NFIP after Hurricane Harvey; the top-level X-zone policy has gone up from $450 to $480, a rise of just $30 per year. Flood insurance premiums are set by the government and are the same no matter which agent you go to, or which flood carrier you use.

For more information about flood insurance, give your friendly agent at Memorial Insurance a call today!

Insurance Health Check

Are you one of the millions of people making a New Year’s Resolution to improve your health this January? While you’re at it, why not check the health of your insurance, too? The following three tips may come in handy!

  1. Update your agent: Changed your phone number or email address? Make sure your insurance agent is aware. We may need to contact you if we get an alert from your insurance carrier about your policy. Also, if we’ve got your up-to-date information, we can proactively call you ahead of your renewal and let you know of any pending increases, and find you a lower-priced policy in plenty of time.
  2. Check your coverages: Make sure your auto insurance has high enough limits, and check you have uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. Maybe you’ve purchased a rental property – is it included on your umbrella insurance? How about that jet ski – is it covered? Give your insurance agent a call, we’d be more than happy to run a policy health check.
  3. Review your billing information: If you’re set up on automatic draft, make sure the billing information is current. Your credit score will not thank you if a payment is declined! Similarly, make sure your insurance agent is aware if your mortgage details have changed. That way, we can process your renewal in plenty of time without you having to worry about a lapse in coverage.

Does my insurance company find out if I get a ticket?

Getting a traffic ticket will always be annoying. It can ruin your whole day and will cause you to worry about how much it costs and how long it will stay on your record.

Then you realize that there may be other repercussions. Once your insurance company finds out about your ticket, will your auto insurance rates go up too?

What happens after one ticket

Drivers in Houston, TX may not need to worry about one ticket. Most insurance agents at Memorial Insurance Agency or other insurance companies may not ever find out about the ticket right away. Unless there are warning signs, insurance companies won’t check your driving record regularly. They will only find out about your incident quickly if you tell them.

One ticket may not make much difference anyway. An insurance agent is unlikely to find out about one ticket unless you are just signing up for a new policy or renewing a policy.

Multiple tickets

If you start getting numerous tickets, Texas will keep track of the violations on your driving record with a point system, and points stay on your record for three years. You could get 2 points for a moving violation, or more if the moving violation caused a crash. Operating while intoxicated and failure to stop at an accident are even worse for your driving record, and you will be charged by the state of Texas every year you have too many points.

Even though it may seem overwhelming, this is the most critical time to make sure you are protected. The agents at Memorial Insurance Agency are working hard to serve the people of Houston, TX, and they will work with you to make sure you get the protection you need. Contact our offices to receive a quote.

Ugly Sweaters and Christmas Opening Hours!

Whose sweater is the ugliest? Answers on our Facebook page please! Memorial Insurance will be closed on December 24 (Christmas Eve), December 25 (Christmas Day), and December 31 (New Year’s Eve). We will be open as usual on December 26 through December 28. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our clients!