Serving the Penn-Ohio area
As life-long residents of the area, we feel a personal concern for local families and businesses.
Get in touch with us today for a quick and easy quote.
Whether you are a current customer or new to our agency, we recognize that budgets are tight and no one needs to be paying more for insurance than they should. Be assured that, as a long-standing insurance agency, we are not motivated by a quick commission on an over-priced policy. Instead, we are looking to build the long-term trust of our customers and fully anticipate that they will be with us for many years.
Nearly all property insurance, including the physical damage part of auto insurance, involves a deductible—the portion of a claim that you pay. While increasing your deductible reduces your premium, some financial advisors make a blanket recommendation of high deductibles, without regard to the premium savings. Instead, what you should do is compare the additional out-of-pocket of a higher deductible to the yearly premium savings to figure a pay-back period. (For example, by increasing a deductible from $250 to $500 means you would have an extra $250 out-of-pocket in the event of a claim. If the premium savings were $50/year, then it would take you 5 claims-free years to make up for the higher deductible.) Here are some rules of thumb to help you figure whether a higher deductible is worth it:
Auto Comprehensive—2 to 3 years
Auto Collision—4 to 5 years
If your premium savings result in a pay-back period less than these amounts, increasing your deductible will usually be a good buy.
A Multi-policy Discount can give substantial savings. While it is sometimes necessary to write your Auto and Homeowners insurance in separate companies, if we can write your Homeowners with Erie Insurance, you would see a discount on your Erie Auto insurance policy typically ranging from 8% to 13%. Moreover, if any rated driver on an Erie policy also carries an Erie Family Life policy (with a face amount of $100,000 or more), you would receive an additional 5% discount.
If you can swing paying your auto insurance up front, in addition to saving on installment service charges, you may be eligible for a discount. Erie Insurance gives a 7% discount for paying your annual auto insurance premium in full by the inception date; alternatively, a 5% discount is given if you pay within 60 days of the inception. Progressive and Foremost also give substantial discounts when the premiums for their six-month policy periods are Paid-In-Full. (They also give a discount when monthly premiums are auto-drafted instead of billed out.)
For insureds age 55 and over, completion of a state-approved course (usually called 55 Alive, or Seniors for Safe Driving) results in a discount of 5%. Note the credit is good for three years, unless you have an at-fault accident above $1,450 (at which point you would need to retake the course). State regulations require that if there are two Named Insureds, both need to be 55 or over and both need to take the course.
The course involves no test, and most people who attend find it interesting and informative. Available courses are periodically listed in the local paper and are sponsored by the Shenango Valley Seniors Center, among others.
Young Drivers: Three of us at Mehler Insurance are parents of teen drivers, so we know first-hand both the insurance costs involved as well as the little bit of anxiety parents feel anytime their son or daughter drives off alone in the car. While we can’t keep you from worrying about your kids, here are at least some ways to moderate the cost of adding a teenager to your auto insurance:
• Completion of an approved Drivers Training course (both classroom and on-the-road portions) can save approximately 5% of the premium for the vehicle the young driver is rated on. This credit lasts until age 21.
• Erie offers a Youthful Driver Longevity Discount of up to 19%, with the discount increasing the longer the parents have been insured with Erie. It is calculated automatically, when the teen is added to the policy.
• Erie Insurance also offers a 10% Youthful Driver Discount for unmarried drivers up to age 21, as long as all drivers in the household have had no at-fault accidents in the last five years. (Erie has found the family’s driving record to be a better predictor of how a newly-licensed operator will drive than the good student discount some other insurers offer.) Once applied, this discount is removed only when your young driver has an at-fault accident (with over $1,350 paid out), a major violation, or two or more minor violations.
• If your son and daughter will be away at college (without a car), and home infrequently, let us know as a discount may apply.
• Probably the biggest impact on premium is whether to carry “full coverage” or “liability only”. Removing Comprehensive and Collision coverage—that is, going to “liability only”—can cut the premium by up to 50%. Of course, this is a viable option only if there is no loan and the car’s value no longer justifies the physical damage premiums (usually around $2,000 or $2,500). While we understand that your kid wants the latest flashy sports car, and you want something safe and dependable, being able to find a reliable, older car for your son or daughter to drive could have a big impact on your premium.
In Pennsylvania, choosing “Unstacked” limits of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists coverage typically saves $60 to $80 per vehicle. For just these coverages, Pennsylvania law allows you to choose Stacked or Unstacked limits, with Stacked meaning the limits stated on the policy declarations may be multiplied by the number of vehicles on the policy, and Unstacked meaning the limits stated are the limits that apply, regardless of the number of vehicles.
When Unstacked limits are chosen, coverage is clearly being reduced (except in the case where you have only one car). On the other hand, the Stacking option is an odd way to buy insurance; it may be better to increase your limits overall. Note that Ohio does not allow Stacking.
Switching from Full Tort to Limited Tort (Pennsylvania only) is something to consider. In exchange for a premium savings—which we can quickly calculate for you—the Limited Tort option restricts your ability to collect from an at-fault party for injuries you suffer in an auto accident. You can always collect out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages; what is restricted is the right of you and your family to collect for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages the law otherwise allows. You may still collect for pain and suffering if your injury is deemed “serious”, which the law defines as death or permanent and disabling or disfiguring. (A broken leg that heals fine is usually disabling but not permanent. Back pain that lingers indefinitely would not be deemed “serious” if it doesn’t prevent you from working.) There are also a few other exceptions where you would retain the right to collect pain and suffering, even after having elected Limited Tort: if you are occupying a commercial vehicle, or if the wrongdoer is uninsured, from out of state, or convicted of DUI.
While more people in Pennsylvania carry Full Tort than Limited, the Limited Tort option is something to consider, especially if the premium savings are significant. The important thing is you understand the difference between the options. Even though the Limited Tort option was enacted back in 1990, we are constantly amazed when new customers tell us their prior agent had never explained the difference to them.
Recent years have seen an large increase in the number of factors used to determine an insurance premium. While we try to make sure your policy is accurately rated, it helps if you let us know of changes in your personal situation, such as a change in your commute to work, annual miles driven, drivers in the household, etc. If you plan on shopping for a new car, give us a call beforehand. The premium difference between car models can sometimes be substantial.
A Multi-policy Discount can give substantial savings. While it is sometimes necessary to write your Homeowners and Auto insurance in separate companies, if we can write your Auto with Erie Insurance, you would see a discount on your Erie Homeowners insurance policy of 13-25%. Moreover, if any Named Insured on an Erie policy also carries an Erie Family Life policy (with a face amount of $100,000 or more), you would receive an additional 5% discount.
We are constantly surprised by how often new customers come to us and tell us their old agent has never visited their home. Developing an accurate replacement cost of a dwelling is the cornerstone of sound homeowners insurance protection. By inspecting the exterior of the dwelling and reviewing its interior features with you, current software allows us to calculate a reliable estimate of your home’s replacement value. In some instances we may find that the current amount on your dwelling is undervalued, in other cases you may be overinsured.
If you are presently one of our policyholders, remember to let us know if you make any additions or significant upgrades to your home, so we can re-evaluate its replacement cost.
Depending on your policy form, you may be required to insure to either a home’s full replacement value, or only to 80% of that value. If you plan on rebuilding the same size and style of home, then you want to insure against the chance of a total loss.
However, in other situations—perhaps say, the kids are moved out and you would rebuild with a smaller home—insuring to 80% of the full value may be an option to consider. You would still be entitled to a replacement cost (i.e., no-depreciation) settlement in the event of a partial loss. We can help you evaluate the reduction in coverage against the premium savings if you would want to explore this option.
The pricing of commercial insurance is fairly sensitive to a firm’s claim record; further, the larger your business, the more your own loss history will affect rates. Consequently, efforts to control the frequency and severity of claims can both reduce your insurance premiums as well as to minimize the disruption in your operations that losses entail. Both our agency and the insurers we represent have a wide range of resources to help you improve workplace safety, reduce the risk of fire, better manage fleet safety, and mitigate liability hazards.
For Workers Compensation, medium-sized firms and larger are subject to an Experience Modifier, calculated by the state rating bureau. If recent claims have caused a significant increase in your modifier, we can review the calculation to spot the occasional error as well as to recommend whether attention should be focused on any outstanding claims. We can also help you forecast future changes in your modifier, as well as to advise you on the specific steps needed to reduce it.
Executive officers are employees of their corporation and, as such, are required to be covered under Workers’ Compensation. Pennsylvania, however, allows executive officers to exclude themselves from coverage, thus saving the premium associated with their payroll. (In Pennsylvania, even if a corporate officer draws little or no pay, they are assigned a minimum yearly payroll of $20,800 for workers’ compensation rating purposes.) For officers assigned to a classification with a low rate (such as office clerical), the exclusion may not be worthwhile. However, where the premium impact is significant, an executive officer exclusion may be considered—but only if you have equivalent health or disability insurance.
Life rates have dropped significantly over the last decade; in addition, Preferred and Super-preferred rate classes are now available. While replacement of an existing life insurance policy should always be approached with caution, you may want to revisit whether your current policy is appropriate to your needs. Especially if your current policy was purchased some time ago, with life rates at historic lows, now may be a good time to ask for a comparison quote.