While buying auto insurance in the Portsmouth Ohio area with a clean driving record is very easy to do, drivers who have accidents, DUI’s, suspensions, multiple minor tickets or need an SR22 filing might have to look a little harder in order to find an affordable rate. But there are plenty of auto insurance companies out there that can help you find a low rate even with a bad driving record. There are several things you can do to help minimize the damage done to your auto insurance rate. There are also several things you can do to make the situation even worse! This article will help you understand what you need to know and need to avoid in order to keep from paying a higher rate.
As an agent, I continue to see many of my customers make the same mistakes over and over again. I can warn them about these pitfalls and how they’re going to end up paying extra money in the long run, but they still don’t listen. This is especially a problem in the Portsmouth Ohio area, where a high concentration of violations per capita are written. So I've compiled a list of 10 Keys to Buying Auto Insurance in the Portsmouth Ohio area with a bad driving record. This will help you in finding a lower auto insurance rate.
So let’s get started with those 10 keys. I have arranged them by category:
Key 1: Not-at-fault accidents.
If you’ve been an accident in which you were not the at fault driver, be sure to save and keep handy any documentation that you have. This includes police reports, crash reports and anything showing where the other driver’s insurance company paid you for the accident. I have seen many times where a driver was not at-fault but yet their driving record indicated that they were at-fault on their motor vehicle report (MVR). This error is quite common. The state BMV tends to screw this up quite often. Many accidents simply get listed as accidents, without mentioning anything about fault. If it doesn’t specifically mention being not-at-fault in the accident, many times it will get categorized on your MVR as an at-fault. I see this happen to drivers all the time. However, many auto insurance companies will let you dispute that charge as long as you can provide documentation that shows you were not at fault. So if this applies to you, be sure to save that documentation for at least five years.
Key 2: At-fault accidents.
It is also a good idea to save documentation if you were at-fault in a very minor accident. Auto insurance companies all weigh at-fault accidents differently. While some companies treat all at-fault accidents the same, other companies will categorize and rate at-fault accidents by severity. For example: at-fault accidents in which there was only property damage and no injuries (such as a fender bender) will go a little easier than an accident in which a bodily injury claim was paid out. This is especially true if a claim paid out for property damage was less than $1000.
Key 3: If at all possible, don’t let your auto insurance drop following a DUI.
I understand that in many cases you may have to drop your insurance because of suspensions. But many drivers will still be able to keep their auto insurance active in some cases. If you can keep your auto insurance active, it will go a long way in saving you money due to having prior insurance coverage. That’s because auto insurance companies give significant discounts to drivers with prior insurance versus drivers who don’t have prior insurance.
Key 4: Don’t drive with your license suspended after you get a DUI!
Most high risk auto insurance companies go very easy on DUI’S. Believe it or not, due to competition for market share, many high risk auto insurance companies will go easier on DUI’S than they do for minor tickets like speeding, stop sign and red light violations. As long as you follow the right steps in getting your license back, and not driving until then, things will probably be easier on you regarding auto insurance than you thought..... However, a lot of drivers will get caught driving under suspension shortly after their DUI. Once that happens, things go from bad to worse! It becomes nearly impossible to get an affordable rate.
Key 5: Having your DUI reduced to a reckless operation charge will wreak havoc on your auto insurance rate!
Like I mentioned before about auto insurance companies going easy on DUI’s, that is definitely not the case with a reckless operation ticket! As far as raising your auto insurance rate, the only thing worse than getting a reckless operation ticket is being at-fault in an accident. I understand that many of you may have to do this out of necessity to save your job. But be forewarned, it’s going to cost you quite a bit more on your auto insurance premium because a reckless operation violation gets dinged heavily, even by high risk companies.
Other key points to know:
Key 6: Getting multiple violations on the same day.
If you get more than one violation on the same day, most auto insurance companies will only count the most severe violation and let any other violations drop (or at least not be counted against you as far as your auto insurance premium). For example, if you get a DUI because you caused an auto accident, only the At-fault accident will be charged against you. Another example, if you get a DUI and also get a speeding ticket, only the DUI would affect your rate. The speeding ticket would be dropped because it happened on the same day. However, you need to keep an eye on this because there are still companies who will charge for everything. So if this applies to you, you may need to do some shopping around, if you notice that you're being penalized for more than one violation that occurred on the same day.
Key 7: Shop around with independent insurance agents.
Captive agents most likely cannot help you. A captive insurance agent is someone who only sells insurance for one company. An independent insurance agent carries many companies and can thus give you multiple quotes at once. It’s not that there’s anything bad about captive insurance agents. In fact there are many captive agents here in the Portsmouth area that do a great job, and they are professional people. But the problem is that the company they work for most likely doesn’t want your business. Companies who only hire captive agents tend to only want drivers with clean or almost clean driving records. Not to mention over half of them don’t offer SR22 filings. These are the type of companies that will either refuse to sell you a policy or offer you a policy with an enormous price just to get you to go away. Of all the auto insurance companies that go easy on drivers with bad driving records, almost all of them go through the independent agent channel. Plus shopping around with multiple companies at once is more efficient in finding the companies who will offer you the lowest rate.
Key 8: When getting an auto insurance quote, be honest and accurate about what’s on your driving record.
Insurance agents are like anyone else in that they hate being lied to. By not disclosing everything that’s on your driving record, you are simply wasting both your time and the agent's time. If you don’t know what’s on your driving record, you can get a copy of your motor vehicle report online by visiting the Ohio BMV web site. Remember that every company requires their agent to run an MVR report before they can sell a policy. So there’s no use trying to hide something on your driving record, because they’re going to find out.
Key 9: Buying 6 month auto insurance policies vs. 12 month policies.
Most auto insurance companies in Ohio only offer six month policies. But there are some companies that offer 12 month policies. There's really no significant difference between the two. But if you have your choice between one or the other, I recommend you go with the six month policy if you have dings on your driving record. Because sooner or later the time will come when that ding falls off of your record (usually after 3 years but some companies go back 5)…. But a ding won't officially fall off of your insurance score until the policy expires and is up for renewal. So with a 12 month policy, you may have to pay extra for a few more months than you normally would have to.
Key 10: Know your state filing status (SR22).
I've had several people over the years that have bought auto insurance believing that they did not need an SR22 filing when in fact they did. If you need an SR22 filing, it has to be attached onto an auto insurance policy to do you any good as far as getting your license back. Unfortunately, many drivers don't discover this error until they get pulled over and find out their license is still suspended. If you don't know your filing status, you can look it up for free on the Ohio BMV website. Click on the unofficial driving abstract and you can pull that info up. It will tell you whether or not you need an SR22 filing, and if so, how long you need to carry it.
As far as getting an affordable auto insurance rate, having a bad driving record is no longer the kiss of death that it once was. However, you have to be smart in knowing what to do and what not to do. The 10 keys I mentioned above are some of the most common mistakes I see people make. Keeping these 10 keys in mind will go a long way in saving you money on your auto insurance premium.
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Dan Lyles is an Independent Insurance Agent serving Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia..