Advice from a Youngstown lawyer for cheaper insurance rates
To mark the start of the new year, I’m using this week’s column to indulge in my annual rant on the insurance industry and to offer some free, yet incredibly valuable advice to anyone buying insurance – which, for all intents and purposes, means everyone, including me. I have so many fonts covering so much that if they ever caught fire they would fuel a raging inferno that would devour my house. Of course, if that happened and I filed a claim, my insurance company would cancel my home insurance policy before the rubble cooled.
Therein lies the reason for my diatribe: insurance is perhaps the only consumer product that people are compelled to buy but are deathly afraid to use. I don’t know why someone who has paid tens of thousands of dollars in premiums over the years looks at me like I have two heads when I tell them they should file a claim.
“But Dave, if I do, the company will raise my premium or cancel me. So what am I going to do?
How about this: Call another company. The big insurers in the country don’t spend more than $4 billion a year on advertising because they don’t want your business. If Progressive’s Flo raises your rate or cancels your call to the GEICO lizard or “Mayhem” guy, let Allstate put its good hands in your pocket or chip away at a piece of Prudential’s “rock.” Believe me, another insurer will gladly sell you a policy and you may even save a few dollars.
Which brings me to this advice: Shop around. Americans spend hundreds of hours on the internet comparison shopping for everything from underwear to cars, but most people never think to search for a cheaper auto or home policy. This behavior baffles me. I shop all the time and regularly save hundreds of dollars by switching companies. Everyone should try. And while you’re at it, consider raising your deductible as a way to further reduce premiums and/or increase coverage limits without paying more.
Finally, don’t be one of those people who find out too late that they should have added uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage to their auto policy. UM and UIM pay medical and other expenses for you and your passengers if you are involved in a car accident caused by:
A driver who does not have motor vehicle liability insurance;
A driver who does not have enough liability insurance to cover your medical expenses;
A driver whose insurance company denies coverage or goes bankrupt;
A driver on the run.
UM/UIM pays for:
As much as I hate to go to insurers, the fact that tens of thousands of Ohioans have minimal coverage and thousands more – about 13% – have no coverage at all makes buying that coverage relatively unhelpful. expensive an absolute necessity. Without it, you could end up with the bag for all the expenses associated with an accident, even if you weren’t at fault.
Lawmakers in 20 states agree with me and require drivers to wear some form of UM/UIM. Unfortunately, Ohio is not one of them, so if you want the coverage, you have to ask your insurer to include it in your policy.
Believe me, it’s worth every few dollars a month you’ll pay for it.
— Lawyer David Betras, a senior partner at Betras, Kopp & Markota LLC., directs the firm’s non-litigation activities and practices criminal defense law in state and federal courts. He practiced law for 35 years. Do you have a legal question you would like answered here? Send it to [email protected]