Auto Insurance

Teen driver using Jacksonville auto insurance

Car Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

Auto insurance premiumsv for teenage drivers are extraordinarily high. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s Young Drivers Traffic Safety Facts data shows that 2,116 drivers aged 15 to 20 died in traffic crashes in 2021, an increase of 11 percent from 1,899 in 2020. Young drivers, while only comprising 5 percent of all licensed drivers in 2021, accounted for 8.4 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes. This is not taking into account the amount of damage to vehicles and property. Teen drivers do not have the experience to see a dangerous situation on the road or the skills needed to see and avoid possible hazards. However, there are many ways to reduce the odds of an accident as a new driver and avoid the even higher rates that will be added to your coverage cost if you have an accident.

Teen driver using Jacksonville auto insurance

Prepare Before You Drive

Teenagers tend to always be in a hurry and don’t always prepare for the risks of the road.

Leave in Plenty of Time to Reach Your Destination—One of the worst things you can do as a new driver is rush to work or school on time. Rushing leads to overlooking things and unnecessary risks when trying to arrive on time. Try to arrive at your destination at least five to ten minutes before you need to be there.

Wear Your Seatbelt!—At least half of teen drivers and passengers ages 16–19 years who were killed in passenger vehicle crashes in 2020 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. It is a simple way to reduce death and serious injury in an auto accident. 

Be Aware of the Weather—Keep an eye on the forecast and leave earlier during rain, snow, or other bad weather. Poor weather leads to poor road conditions, which are a leading cause of deadly accidents. So either limit teens from driving in poor weather conditions or (better yet) spend some time teaching them in safe driving scenarios so they can gain experience driving in this weather.

Know Where You Are Going—Plan your route ahead of time, selecting safe roads and avoiding known hazards. Do not depend solely on GPS to get there. And if you have a GPS display, don’t look at it while the car is in motion.

Adjust Vehicle Settings—Inexperienced drivers must adjust the mirrors for maximum visibility and adjust the seat and steering wheel to maximize visibility and comfort. This is critical for inexperienced drivers.

On the Road

Expect Other Drivers to Do the Unexpected—Assume that other drivers will make mistakes and that you’ll need to react quickly. Be prepared because other drivers may suddenly slam on their brakes, switch lanes, or run a red light.

Keep an Eye on Everything Around You—Don’t just focus on only what’s in front of you. Use your mirrors to see what’s going on behind and to the side of you. Watch for movement in your peripheral vision, which may be that of a pedestrian, animal, or bicyclist. Always check your blind spots before changing lanes.

Maintain a Safe Distance—Avoid tailgating by following the three-second rule. Counting to three at a stop sign or after the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark provides plenty of space between you. You may want to add a couple of seconds to this rule in bad weather, giving you more time to stop suddenly if needed.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents for new drivers. According to the CDC, in 2019, among U.S. high school students who drove, 39% texted or emailed while driving at least once during the prior 30 days. No one should use their cell phone while driving. Ever. But if you are a new driver, it is best not to do these things while behind the wheel:

  • Eat
  • Talk a lot with your passengers
  • Mess with your GPS
  • Play loud music

Remember, driving takes time and practice to master. By following these safety tips and making intelligent choices, you can help keep yourself and others safe on the road and earn lower auto insurance rates with a clean driving record.

Meet the Mizrahi and Garris Insurance Agency – Jacksonville Auto Insurance Experts

Are you looking for a Jacksonville insurance agency that partners with you to ensure your vehicles have adequate coverage? Then look no further. Connect with us for a free, no-obligation quote. We’ll help you find a protection plan perfectly customized to your needs.

When you select Mizrahi and Garris, you’re not just a client; we consider you family. Give us a call (904) 262-9202 or click “Free Quote” to speak to an insurance expert today.

Storm: One of the causes of high property coverage premiums in Florida

What Factors Cause Florida’s High Insurance Rates

Storm: One of the causes of high property coverage premiums in Florida

What Factors Cause Florida’s High Insurance Rates

By David Thompson, AAI, CPCU, CRIS

Executive Summary

  • In 2022, almost 1,200 people per day moved to Florida. They brought more vehicles here, drove more miles, and caused more accidents that resulted in more claims costs to insurers. They built more new houses that increased the “structure density” in the state, resulting in increased claims payments from insurers.
  • Going back to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, hurricanes have cost insurers hundreds of billions of dollars. Florida is “hurricane alley.”
  • Florida accounts for nine percent of homeowners insurance claims countrywide, but 80 percent of the litigation. People like to sue in Florida, which has been termed a “judicial hellhole” by some organizations.
  • Reinsurance costs for insurers have increased dramatically. These costs are passed along to consumers.
  • About a dozen insurers have become insolvent in the past few years. These costs are passed along by the guaranty association (FIGA) to consumers.
  • Florida has a long history of a favorable court system for plaintiff attorneys.
  • Seasonal residents with multiple homes and cars must weigh the benefit of that luxury.
  • Inflation of building costs over the past few years has resulted in increased claims payments.
  • Abuses of assignment of benefits resulted in increased claims costs by insurers.
  • Florida’s pure comparative negligence concept, unusually long claim filing deadline, and the favorable (to plaintiff attorneys) bad faith claim concept caused insurance premium increases.
  • Some of the legislative reforms passed in 2022 and 2023 have already resulted in some favorable responses by insurers. The actuarial data will take several years to come in and there will not, most likely, be any immediate rate relief.

Full Blog Article

Whether it’s auto or home insurance, price is a significant consideration with any household budget. This article should help you understand some of the factors involved in insurance pricing and how they can impact your premiums both present and future.

RELEVANT FLORIDA BACKGROUND

Every single day, approximately 1,141 people move to Florida. Last year (2022) the total was 416,000 new residents.

Between 2010 and 2021 just under 3 million relocated here, adding more cars to our roads, building more houses and condominiums. Our “Sunshine State” appeals to millions of “snowbirds” and it’s not just the sunshine–we also have no state income tax and a pretty good reputation for being a fun place to live and retire.

NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) reports that 76.5 % of Floridians live in high-risk coastal areas. One example, in Indian River County, the population increased by 36 percent from 2000 to 2021. Records show 7,834 building permits were issued for single family houses and 1,192 were issued for multi-family projects.

While such massive growth may increase the tax base, it also places more residents in areas where cows and citrus trees used to be. And, according to Swiss Re, virtually all of them are required to have insurance which, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), costs four times the national average in Florida.

When these factors and those that follow are combined with Florida’s traditional inclination for frivolous litigation, including the national distinction as a “Judicial Hellhole,” the result is higher premiums for everybody. Legislation passed in 2022 and 2023 has already begun to stem the tide of lawsuits (see “LITIGATION” below).

The following are some other factors contributing to Florida’s insurance rates.

REINSURANCE: Just like consumers buy insurance to protect their financial assets, insurance companies buy such coverage (called reinsurance) to help fund catastrophic losses. Florida is the world’s hurricane highway with some of the worst storms in history like Andrew, Opal, Charley, Ivan, Jeanne, Frances, Wilma, Irma, Michael, Sally, Ian, Nicole, Idalia, and more. Hurricane Ian damage reports have been over $65 billion. Reinsurance costs have increased drastically over the past decade and usually average from 40% to 60% of a homeowner’s entire premium. In one 18-month period in 2004 and 2005 Florida averaged one hurricane every 60 days.

INFLATION: The inflation rate for all goods and services over the past 15 years is higher than historical levels. But remember that insurance claims are paid based on “replacing” damaged property not the purchase or sales price of a house. While prices are constantly in flux, some reports show construction costs have increased by 19 percent since pre-pandemic levels. Combine that with what is often termed “demand surge” after a hurricane and it’s clear that insurers are paying out significantly more in property losses, especially those related to catastrophes.

INSOLVENCIES: Some would say this one is more of a symptom than a problem, especially for property insurance. None the less, a dozen insurance property carriers have failed in the last five years—a statistic not found in any other state. Insolvencies must be funded, and claims must still be paid, usually by assessing other insurers via the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA). This and other assessments are reflected in Florida homeowner rates.

SEASONAL RESIDENTS WITH MULTIPLE HOMES: Many Florida residents own secondary homes in another state. The reality is that the luxury of owning multiple homes and multiple cars in multiple states comes with a price. Such residents must weigh the benefits of this arrangement because paying premiums on multiple homes is similar to paying taxes and utilities in multiple states.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE:

In 2021 there were 42,939 highway accident fatalities, the highest number since 2005 when fatalities began to fall. More people are driving more miles, causing more accidents.

In the same year, 31 percent of the fatalities were alcohol related, and that figure increased by 14.2 percent over the previous year. One report stated that Americans purchased and consumed more alcohol during the pandemic than in years past, leading to more accidents and fatalities.

Long gone are the days of going to the auto parts store and getting a headlight for $10.00. Today’s technology-equipped cars cost a lot more to repair. Because repairs for electric cars are about double that of gas cars, their insurance also costs more. Supply chain issues have led to price inflation on used cars and the price of repair parts. It’s not unusual for a simple rear end collision to cost over $5,000.

III estimates that over 20 percent of Florida automobile owners carry no insurance. A few years back, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) published a report showing that of the cars with “any” insurance, 51 percent had liability coverage of $25,000 or less. Thus, uninsured motorist coverage is critical to carry, and the cost of that specific coverage has increased dramatically for the same reason.

One major national insurance company recently reported that its auto premiums will have to increase 20-25 percent a year until 2025. Some of Florida’s tort reforms may help, of course. And there is currently an effort to repeal Florida’s No-Fault law which might also have a salutary impact on rates.

LITIGATION: According to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), while Florida accounts for only 9% of the homeowners claims in America, it is responsible for close to 80% of America’s property lawsuits. Litigated claims cost 5 times more than non-litigated claims.

This obviously out of control problem resulted in the most comprehensive tort reforms in Florida’s history. After these reforms passed but before they became effective notices of lawsuits were filed to avoid the reforms. Under normal circumstances Florida would experience close to 120,000 annual property suits. After the reforms passed, but before they became effective, close to 280,000 notices of litigation were hastily filed to avoid application of the reforms. For a period of time the cost of those suits will be reflected in rates.

Here are just some of the tort reforms that will largely relieve the costs of frivolous homeowner litigation going forward.

Assignment of benefits: In an “AOB” action, a homeowner might sign a contract with a water remediation company, contractor, roofer, or automobile glass shop. In “layman’s terms” this could be viewed as giving a power of attorney to a third party to represent the customer. While AOBs by themselves are not bad, abuses lead (in part) to fraudulently inflated claim payments, legal costs and thus, higher premiums. An unscrupulous AOB contractor might inflate a damage repair estimate, file a claim and demand payment. When the insurer objected to that amount, based on their own damage repair estimate, the AOB contractor filed a suit. Recent tort reforms prohibit the use of AOB’s for personal and commercial residential policies, with a few exceptions. Likewise, in 2023 the legislature passed legislation prohibiting AOB contracts relating to windshield glass damage.

Contingency Fee Multipliers: Most plaintiff attorneys take a case based on a contingency arrangement, meaning the customer pays nothing unless they win in court. The court will look at the specifics of the case and award attorney fees based on the “lodsestar” method–the number of hours spent on the case multiplied by an hourly rate.

A “multiplier” can be applied of up to 3 times the lodestar rate. Florida was the only state that did not follow the U.S. Supreme Court standard of applying a fee multiplier only in “rare and exceptional” cases. The reforms repaired this anomaly.

One Way Attorney Fees: Florida has a long history of generously awarding fees to plaintiff attorneys. In cases where the insurer offered a settlement amount and the court awarded just $1.00 more, the plaintiff attorney was entitled to their fees. Legislation in 2022 and 2023 made material modifications to this concept removing a major incentive for so many frivolous suits to be filed.

Comparative Negligence Changes: States differ in their system of negligence. In some states, called contributory negligence states, if (as an example) a driver is just five percent at fault in an accident, they can recover no money from the other driver because they “contributed” to the negligence. Florida, until 2023, was a “pure comparative negligence state.” The fault of each party was “compared” and each party recovered based on the degree of negligence. For example, a driver who was 80 percent at fault could still collect 20 percent of their award from the other party. Based on the 2023 legislative changes, if a party is more than 50 percent at fault, they cannot recover from the other party. Again, this will result in fewer frivolous lawsuits.

Statute of Limitations For Negligence Claims: The legislative changes in 2023 reduced the timeframe to file a negligence suit from four years to two years. This will result in fewer lawsuits over time.

Bad Faith Claim Reforms: An insurer can be accused of not settling a claim “in good faith” by misrepresenting facts or failing to comply with policy and/or statutory provisions. As such, they can be found to act in “bad faith” and can face substantial monetary penalties. For example, one change would require that the insurer be found not to have paid a claim or to have underpaid a claim before a bad faith claim can be filed. Prior to the reforms an allegation of bad faith was the norm even prior to an adjudication of guilt.

Other legislative reforms were also enacted during 2022 and 2023 that will have a salutary impact on rates going forward. Some are already having a favorable impact. See Glimpses of Optimism.

For complete information on all the legislative changes see the report from Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate.

I would also recommend buying a copy of Scott Johnsons’ book, Collapse of an Evil Empire, which has been endorsed by numerous legislative leaders and explains what was going on behind the scenes with respect to litigation.

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT REDUCING YOUR PREMIUMS

For homeowner’s insurance…

  • When buying a new home make sure it’s built to the current state and local building code. Obtain a wind mitigation report (About $125) so that all credits can be applied.
  • Check with your insurer or agent to confirm you’re getting all appropriate discounts. Examples are new house credits, multi-policy credits, claims free credits, gated community credits, and other assorted discounts.
  • Keep your roof and water heater current. Many insurers balk at ages over ten years.
  • Take a proactive approach to claims mitigation. For example, consider turning the water off when you leave town for even one night, and regularly inspecting all water connections under sinks, toilets, washers, and other parts of the house. Non-weather-related water claims are the number one cause of loss for homeowners.
  • Replace washer hoses every five years, even the upgraded metal hoses. Install impact glass or shutters and secure them even for a minor hurricane.

For auto insurance…

  • It is very important to maintain a good driving record and credit history. Check with your agent about potential discounts for taking a defensive driving course.
  • Bundle your auto insurance with your homeowners insurance whenever possible. With some insurers the savings can be as high as 20%.
  • As difficult as it may be, avoid expensive cars that cost $75,000 or more. Look into tracking device discounts that verify good driving habits but… be aware of what data is collected.
  • To avoid problems during the term of your policy, make sure your insurer/agent knows about all household residents regardless of age but especially teenagers whether of driving age or not.

CHANGING INSURANCE COMPANIES

Be cautious when moving to a new insurance company based solely on price– a lower premium can be due to lower coverage.

Also, an insurance company can cancel a new policy for any reason within the first 60 days with just a 20-day notice. This “free look” period is used to conduct inspections (inside and out) and to check prior claims, residents in the household, credit ratings including past bankruptcies and more.

Information discovered during that first 60 days can, at times, lead to a mid-term cancellation making it difficult to find replacement coverage or to return to your previous carrier. This is also true for auto insurance.

 

Originally posted on Johnson Strategies, LLC

General liability insurance limits and deductibles diagram

General Liability Insurance Limits and Deductibles

Each state has it’s own minimum liability limit requirements for Bodily Injury and Property Damage. While many drivers think they are saving by carrying only the state minimum limits (which we highly recommend against), raising your limits could actually help make sure you are getting the best rates!

By carrying higher liability limits, you are not only better protecting yourself against potential losses, but insurance carriers will also view your higher limits as evidence of you being a “more responsible driver” and offer you better rates!

A deductible is the out of pocket cost you are responsible for in the event of a loss. The standard deductible is usually $500. If you are looking to lower your monthly/yearly premium, raising your deductibles could help. We’d be happy to quote the difference so you can decide what is best for your policy.

Claims

All carriers view your claims history for the last 3 to 5 years – so this means that claims can have an impact on your rates for that same time period. This is why it’s particularly important to weigh the pros and cons before filing a claim. If the damage seems minor or is just over your deductible, it may be more cost effective to pay for it out of pocket since it can impact your rates for an extended period of time.

Windshield claims will also stay on your claims history for 3 to 5 years. One or two of these is not generally bad, but if there is an excess of windshield claims, it can be seen as negative and impact your rates.

With some carriers, roadside assistance calls may also potentially be listed under your claims history. We have seen this before with other national big name auto insurance carriers. Similar to windshield claims, if roadside assistance is used in excess, it can negatively impact your rates; it may be time to consider other private towing memberships.

Shopping

Since we are an independent agency, we have the ability to shop with many auto carriers for you. Shopping your auto insurance is a good way to make sure you are still getting the best rate currently available.

Some carriers also offer an annual option versus a 6-month option. If available, we highly recommend taking advantage of this! This will allow you to lock in the lower rate for a year and avoid a potential rate increase at 6 months.

Payment Plan

Did you know that most auto insurance carriers give a great discount for Paying in Full? We’ve frequently seen this discount be close to the cost of one month’s payment! We highly recommend paying in full if you are able to.

If paying in full is not an option for you right now, you can still get a discount by setting up your payments on an automatic payment plan by EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) or RCC (Recurring Credit Card). These are great options to still get a discount and make sure you never miss a payment!

GAP

When purchasing a vehicle, an important coverage to consider is GAP Insurance. If a total loss occurs, GAP insurance can help pay towards a possible difference between how much is left on your loan/lease and the depreciated value of your car. This will vary independently on the value of your vehicle and the remaining loan amount.

This can be purchased as part of your loan, but if it was not, you may want to consider adding it to your auto insurance policy if available. With most carriers, this must be added when the vehicle is purchased and added to your policy.

Ridesharing and Deliveries

Ridesharing and Delivery Drivers have become very popular occupations in the last few years. Did you know that you have to have special endorsements and/or policies if you are conducting this type of business?

Ridesharing like Lyft or Uber may be covered under your personal auto policy IF the carrier has an endorsement that you can add for this specific coverage. If your particular carrier does not offer the endorsement, we can research options with our other carriers to make sure you have the coverage needed.

Delivery Driving like food or package delivery is almost never available under a personal auto policy. In most of these scenarios, you will need a commercial auto policy. This is very important to take into consideration.

If you are using your vehicle for ridesharing or delivery purposes, please speak to us urgently to make sure you have the proper coverage needed – or your claim could be denied and/or policy cancelled for misrepresentation.

Let Us Take A Look To See How We Can Help!

Bri and Liz are Mizrahi and Garris Insurance Agency’s in-house auto insurance experts! If you’re interested in us shopping your policy, please feel free to reach out to us by phone, or email: Bri or Liz.

Here’s what we’ll need:

  • copy of your current Declarations Page
  • Driver’s License Numbers for all drivers
  • about 5 to 10 minutes to gather the remaining info insurance carriers require to quote (like occupation, usage, preferred payment plan, etc.)
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