Lying on an auto insurance application.. the benefits vs consequences

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 @ 13:10 PM

I am currently taking a class on becoming a tax preparer, and in that class I drew some comparisons to the insurance world. Today I will specifically be talking about some of the common "details" that customers fib or flat out lie about on the application. Much like the insurance world, there are certain misinformed individuals that believe that omitting or flat out lying on their tax return is beneficial to them. Although the "benefit" is immediate, the consequence can be far more costly in the end if you are discovered. The insurance purchasing process is a data entry process and interview at the same time. You inquire on the customer's specific information, such as address, telephone number, name, birthdate, marital status, and so on and so forth. The application of an insurance policy includes language that expressly states that lying on the application is grounds for a denial of coverage, or even in some cases, prosecution in the court of law. Here are a few examples of what people lie about when purchasing auto insurance:

  • Address/zip code: For those that know, for auto insurance, where you live has an effect on how much you pay for your premium. Ask anyone that has moved from Los Angeles County to Riverside County and they will tell you that the impact on the cost of insurance is significant (by the way, Riverside is cheaper than LA). Some people know that their rate is cheaper in certain zip codes, and they lie about where they live. This results in a decrease in premium, however, if you are caught doing this after a claim, you will most likely be denied coverage or in some cases prosecuted legally. Companies are now suffering through what is called a "hard market" - a cycle during which time coverage may be more costly, terms may be more restrictive, and policy conditions and requirements more stringent - so they are being more careful with business they write. Many companies are employeeing individuals that are tracking patterns in where there is a "discrepancy" in the zip code vs the area in which the policy was purchased.
  • Not diclosing household members of driving age on the application: Essentially, insurance premiums are relative to the risk. So more risk, more premium. Many companies want to know the names, birthdates and sometimes the license number of ALL members of the household who are of driving age. The "trick" that is pulled with this one is an individual will buy a policy under their name, having a good driving record, and getting a really good rate, BUT not disclosing that there are actually other drivers driving the vehicle other than himself. Companies base their rates on what is on the application, by not disclosing all members of the household, the company is not giving you that rate that you should be paying. The best commercial that I have ever seen that illustrates how rates work is the Progressive commercial "Rate Suckers". This is why rates go up.
  • Annual mileage: This is another rating factor in California, and I will admit that there is a lot of gray area with this one. A good example to compare: someone that is retired and drives to and from the store, the pharmacy or the park is going to be a lower risk than someone that has a commute of 100 miles a day to and from work. Unfortantely, this is something that many companies have a different policy on, so it is fairly inconsistent as far as the rules on how they are reported. However, if a company is expressly asking you to detail you annual mileage, do not underreport it, because again, you may be denied coverage.
  • Marital status: The discount rate on this one varies from company to company. A married person represents a lower risk to insurance carriers, and that is why a discount exists. Some people put themselves as married on an application when they really aren't. If you are separated but not divorced, most companies will want you to list yourself as single. There are some individuals that actually go beyond that and flat out lie and invent names of people who do not exist and give them the same last name as theirs. There are a lot of companies that you can get away with this with, however, many companies that are privy to this "trick" are asking for proof of marriage, proof of residence or in some cases plain and simply proof of existence (anything with their name on it with the same address as yours). I have seen cases where a brother & sister put themselves as married to each other (because they have the same last name) just so that they can get that married discount. The insurance carrier discovered this during the claim, and needless to say the claim was denied and they were prosecuted for fraud.
I have listed a few, but not all, of the common things that I have seen that people can lie on. Again, the consequences far outweigh the benefit. If it can be proven that you lied, your claim will be denied. Most accidents cost more than the premiums you pay, so saving a few dollars for a discount you don't qualify. Another thing that I strongly urge you to pay attention to and red flag is to NEVER allow an insurance sales person to ever "help" you. Lying on an application will not "help" you. The only person that will suffer consequences will be you, not the sales person, because most likely that sales person will not be there when you come back and need them to explain to you why you are being denied coverage. Someone that suggests to you that they can lower your rate by "helping" you lie on an application is not someone you want to do business with. Help insurance rates stay low, represent yourself accurately on all applications you submit. DON'T BE A RATE SUCKER!
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Topics: coverage, underinsured, rates, insurance, riverside, auto insurance, myth, debunked, liability, vehicle

Protecting your business & personal assets - at the same time..

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 14:06 PM

Today we feature an article from a personal friend of mine, Jim Betinol, who is also a business associate of mine as well. He is a partner at the law firm Withrow & Betinol Law. I have asked him to write an article educating people on the importance of business insurance AND doing business under a corporation or LLC. Notice how I emphasize the word "AND" - because it is not simply enough to have one without the other. Jim can be reached @ 424-229-2560, [email protected] & visited @ www.wibelaw.com.

Why you should have both a limited liability entity (LLC, Corp) and business insurance.

Many business owners mistakenly believe that there is no reason to have both business insurance and a limited liability entity like an LLC or a Corporation -- that business insurance will provide enough protection so an LLC or a Corporation is unnecessary.  This misconception puts many business owners, their homes, savings, and financial security at risk. 

For example, if a customer  is injured at your place of business or due to your services, including unintended injuries (i.e. slipping on a wet floor, a driver accident, construction materials falling on customer, or a mistake made by one of your employees causing property damage, etc.) there is a strong chance that a lawsuit will be filed.  Most business owners have the foresight that these types of situations may occur, which makes obtaining strong business insurance with policies that provide coverage for the types of risks that are likely to happened a must.

However, as medical costs increase, business owners have to pay for higher and higher damages, which may be beyond what is covered by insurance.  When your insurance coverage runs out, this is where your lifesavings, home, and other personal property could be at risk -- and where having a limited liability entity steps in. 

The benefits of having a limited liability entity, such as an LLC or a Corporation, is that they shield your personal assets and keep them separate from your business assets.  This means, when a business liability arises you do not have to worry about the damages affecting your lifesavings or personal assets.  A limited liability entity generally limits personal liability to cases in which you personally cause the harm, guarantee a loan, intentionally act with recklessness, or fail to maintain the LLC or Corporation. 

A properly planned and operated limited liability business can provide:

  • Asset Protection by limiting liability to the assets of the business:
    • For business owners with multiple businesses, this can mean that losses in one higher risk business will not affect the other businesses;
    • For all owners, it will help protect your lifesavings, home, and other property.
  • Potential Tax Savings by reduction of self-employment taxes.
  • Flexibility when bringing in new investors or when selling your business. 

This article should not be taken as legal counsel and readers should not base any legal decisions solely on the article without consulting an attorney.  Legal decisions must be approached on case-by-case basis as your situation may require specific requirements.  For additional questions, feel free to contact the author at [email protected]

Topics: underinsured, insurance, liability, business insurance

What you need to know about insuring your classic car...

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Sun, Apr 28, 2013 @ 21:04 PM

classic auto, hagerty

After you got your classic auto's VIN verified, it's time to insure it! Much like renters insurance, classic auto insurance is the type of insurance that is not commonly known, but is definitely something that is worth buying, simply because the cost is surprisingly small in comparison to what it covers. What I often see what owners of classic autos is that they are insuring their vehicle under a regular/standard auto policy. The error in this is that by doing this you will most likely be underinsuring their auto. The reason for this is this: most insurers don't specialize in these types of autos, and as a result, their valuations are not accurate. I will give you an example: a 1980 Chey El Camino could be valued at $500.00 by the insurer, without laying eyes on it, but a classic auto insurer knows that these vehicles are often fixed, painted, and modified, adding a signficant value to the vehicle. If you went ahead and insured this under your standard auto policy, you may be paying a premium, but that premium won't be getting you what you actually need. This is why I highly recommend getting a separate policy just for your classic auto or autos. Here are a few things that you need to know about classic auto insurance policies:

  • Classic auto insurance is relatively cheap. The reason for this, as with all insurance, is risk. The risk is low with classic auto insurance. Often, the owners of such vehicles are low risk drivers themselves. Also, they tend to love their cars, so they drive them less, often only on the weekends, at most, and also, they drive them very carefully, and don't leave them just anywhere, like at the Costco parking lot for instance. Classic auto owners do not use their vehicles as a daily driver, and as a result, their exposure is a lot less.
  • Classic auto insurance is very comprehensive. The coverage in an auto policy for classic autos covers nearly every base, from roadside assistance, to uninsured motorist, to locksmith coverage in some cases, and, to a ZERO deductible. They also have networks of bodyshops that specialize or exclusively repair classic autos only. So the policy covers all of the bases for the type of potential problems one would have as a result of an accident and it is time to file a claim.
  • The insurers that offer classic auto insurance have strict guidelines on who qualifies to purchase classic auto insurance. A few of those are that you must have an existing auto policy for your daily driven vehicles. Another stipulation is that your coverage limits on your standard auto policy must match the coverage that you purchase on your classic auto. Another rule is that your vehicle must be garaged & locked, meaning, not parked out in the street, exposed to the elements or where there is an increase in exposure of theft to your vehicle. In addition to all of this, most classic auto insurers will only insure California Good Drivers, meaning, only 1 point on your record, so, unfortunately for some classic auto owners, their bad driving records precludes them from being able to buy insurance with some carriers.
  • Some insurers will require receipts of the modifications that have been made, or in some cases an appraisal. This requirement by some insurers may be a hassle for some people, but I highly recommend this, because this helps in three ways: one is that it will help in justifying the value when it is time to resell the vehicle; two, it helps in the claims process when the company is trying to asses the true value and cost of the parts of the vehicle; and three, when it is actually time to insure the vehicle, the agent that is helping you write the policy knows which value to insure the vehicle at, making the process seamless.
Our staff at Mey's Insurance Services can help you get a quote with the biggest classic auto insurer in the the United States: Hagerty Insurance. If you are currently insuring your classic auto under your standard policy, you are making a mistake by not getting a quote from us with Hagerty. Keep your beautiful car insured with the right company and the right coverage! Give us a call, or send us an e-mail for a quote today.
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Topics: insurance, riverside, auto tag agency, VIN verification, classic auto, vehicle, vin verifier

Shopping for auto insurance? Here's a few tips to help you be a better shopper..

Posted by Uni Aguilar on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 @ 00:08 AM

Are you shopping for auto insurance? Many customers are lured in by low prices offered by agents over the phone. Unfortunately, most of those prices are phony. Become a more sophisticated shopper by applying a few tips that I suggest for you:

  • Have a "baseline" - a set coverage that you want to be quoted at. You could get a quote with a company that is offering you one level of coverage, while another will give you a quote based on a different level of coverage. Essentially, make sure to compare "apples to apples". You will obviously get a lower price when you get quoted lower coverage.
  • Be wary of anyone that offers you a quote and does NOT ask you about your driving record. Your driving record is a major factor in determining the price. Usually agents that don't ask questions about your driving record are only interested in getting you in the office by offering you the lowest quote possible, and use a bait and switch tactic, by not offering you an "honest" quote. Other questions that should be asked is marital status, commute miles, & occupation.
  • Although the purpose of shopping around for your auto insurance is to get the most for your money, please always remember that you get what you pay for. There are various companies out there that you have never heard of that offer really low rates, excellent coverage, but extremely bad service, whether it be customer service or service during a claim. There are always exceptions, but "brand" companies tend to work harder to keep their brand's reputation as good and clean as possible.
  • When and where possible, give the salesperson your driver's license number, and the VIN (vehicle identification numbers) for your vehicles. This will ensure a more accurate quote, because a VIN will tell the agent exactly what vehicle they are dealing with, and also, your motor vehicle report will ensure that they know what is on your driving record.
Use these tips to narrow down the good brokers/agents from the bad. Also, these tips will give the person on the other side of the phone the impression that you know your stuff, and this will likely lead them to take you more seriously and not use their "tricks". Lastly, it helps you achieve your goal: to get the best rate possible based on the same information you provided. Give us a call, and let ME quote YOU :).

Topics: coverage, auto, rates, insurance, riverside, Full coverage, liability