Uninsured motorist coverage in Lakewood, WA

I Got Hit By Someone Who Doesn’t Have Insurance – Now What?

Uninsured motorist coverage in Lakewood, WAAccording to a recent study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, approximately one out of every 8 drivers in the United States are uninsured. That’s a staggering figure when you think about your chances of being struck by one.  So, what can you do to protect yourself from an uninsured driver?

The good news is there is a line of insurance coverage specifically for uninsured motorists, called (you guessed it) Uninsured Motorist Property Damage & Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage. This is an optional coverage that is available to most drivers. Let’s take a closer look at these coverages and see how they work.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (commonly referred to as UMPD) pays for losses incurred to your vehicle when it is hit by an uninsured motorist. This coverage may also pay for damages associated with a hit and run driver.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (commonly referred to as UMBI or UM) pays for your medical expenses when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. UMBI may also cover your passengers who are in your vehicle during a covered loss.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM)

Underinsured Motorist Coverage pays for injuries such as medical expenses, lost wages and settlements from a driver who is at-fault and does not carry enough insurance to cover your losses.

You should also carefully deliberate the amount of insurance coverage that you need. Available options, limits and coverages vary by state. Each state has different requirements and laws when it comes to uninsured motorist insurance. Be sure to ask an agent in our office about these coverages if you’d like them. Contact us!

What to do if you're in a car accident in Lakewood, WA

What To Do If You Get Into a Car Accident

What to do if you're in a car accident in Lakewood, WABeing in an accident can be a very frightening event. Being prepared to know how to handle the situation when it occurs will help you deal with the shock of it, as well as ensure you are covered for the loss when it does happen. While accidents will happen to almost every driver, whether their car is parked and unattended, or while they’re driving, knowing these important steps will help you deal with the unfortunate situation.

Safely park your vehicle: If you happen to be driving when the accident occurs, safely pull the vehicle over to the side of the road. If possible, carefully write down the license plate and description of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident. If you are reporting a hit and run, this information will aid police in locating the driver. In the event of a hit and run it most likely happens when your vehicle is unattended. If you return to your vehicle to find damage, look for clues to help you prove your case, i.e. Security cameras.

Assess any Injuries: If someone is injured, take care of their immediate needs and quickly call 911. It is typical to be jittery after such an event so catch your breath too.

Call police: Once you’re safely parked, you should call the police to file a report, especially if another party is involved. It’s important to always have documentation of how the accident happened. Some people want to settle the claim without going through insurance, but this comes with risks. The other driver may not live up to their word and without contacting the police, it turns into a he said, she said scenario.

Exchange Information: Exchanging insurance ID cards is always recommended. Be sure to have their name and phone number too. It’s simple to take a picture with your phone. Be sure to include the car’s license plate number, year, make and model too.

Take pictures/Gather any witness information: If you have a witness who wants to share their side of the story, jot down their phone number and name. Your insurance company will want to talk with any witness to the accident. Taking pictures also gives your insurance company more details on the damage of your vehicle.

Call your insurance company: Sometimes even though vehicles collide, the damages may be limited, so you’ll want to take a close look and determine if you want to pursue a claim or get an estimate first before calling your insurance company. If someone was injured or if you have major damage, it’s always best to call your insurance company immediately. Your insurance company can assist you with your claim so if you have taken pictures and provided all the information above, your claim can be settled quicker.

While we hope you never have to experience a car accident, being prepared will help you tackle the unfortunate situation.

If you have questions about your auto insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

What to do if a driving emergency occurs in Lakewood, WA

Would You Know What To Do In the Event You Have a Driving Emergency?

Insurance Unlimited discusses the four common driving emergencies and how to work through them.

What to do if a driving emergency occurs in Lakewood, WADriving hazards present themselves daily and can occur year-round in every state. But, would you know what to do in the event a driving hazard presented itself?

Wildlife: Hitting a deer in the roadway can be a traumatic experience, but it could also be deadly. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture cites as many as 2 million collisions with animals occur each year in the U.S. Prepare by following these steps:

  • Stay alert: if you are driving in rural areas, be aware that wildlife is always nearby and keep a lookout towards the sides of the road.
  • Don’t swerve: Swerving cannot only results in a worse injury and more severe accident, but your insurance company might find you at fault if you swerve to miss a deer and end up hitting a tree or guard rail. Keep your car pointed forward and hit the brakes!
  • Be more aware at night: Animals can become more active in the evenings and some travel in groups. If you see one, chances are there are more nearby. If there are two lanes, drive in the lane farthest away from the side of the road.

Blown Tires: A blown tire can be a startling experience, but knowing what to do in the event you have one can save you from an accident. Keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t slam on the brakes: Slamming on the brakes with a blown tire will only make matters worse because it will cause your vehicle to pull hard in the direction of the flat. Slowly pull to the side of the roadway, as far away from traffic as possible.
  • Work to maintain your steering: If a front tire blows, it can really cause the vehicle to pull. Do your best not to overreact to the sudden jolt and swerve the other way. This could cause your vehicle to lose control.
  • Place your blown tire and wheel under the car slightly when changing your tire: So many injuries occur when a jack is improperly used. Placing your tire under the car can save you from being crushed if a jack fails.

Bugs in the Car: We’ve all experienced the spider in the car!

  • Pull over: While a spider or bee in the vehicle can be alarming, you have to remember – it is probably more afraid of you than you are of it! Carefully pull over to the side of the road and let your unwanted passenger out.
  • Don’t let it take your eyes off the road: It can be tempting to try to swat at the insect or arachnid while driving, but don’t. It will only increase the chances of causing a more serious crash.

Black Ice: It is getting to that time of year when black ice can occur on roadways. If your vehicle begins to slide on ice, it is important to understand what to do:

  • Let off the gas: Many vehicle have stability control and will work to auto-correct the problem. Stop accelerating and let your car recover.
  • Let off the brake: Applying the brakes on ice can unfortunately make matters worse. Never slam the brakes on, but gently apply them.
  • Drive slowly: if you notice the temperature beginning to plunge, drive more slowly. Less accidents occur when drivers keep the speeds under 45 MPH during icy conditions.

While we can’t always be in the car with you to avoid hazards, we can help you with your auto and home insurance questions.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Fall Dangers Lakewood, WA

Fall Dangers: Be alert!

Fall is one of our favorite seasons! The leaves, the cooler, shorter days and of course, pumpkin spice everything. There are some seasonal dangers associated with fall that can be quite hazardous if one is not prepared. Knowing what these dangers are and how to anticipate them can mean the difference between a lovely, relaxing fall and having to file a potentially costly insurance claim.

Seasonal Fall Dangers in Washington:

  • The Road: A drive to see the fall colors can be relaxing and enjoyable for all. You should be aware of changing weather conditions. Fall brings rain, wind and fog. Standing water on the roadways can create a slick, ice-like surface making it difficult to control the vehicle or hydroplane. If you happen to be in an area where leaves are falling, the leaves have a similar ice-like effect on the car. Another potential danger while in the car is fog. Fog can seemingly roll in from nowhere and impede your ability to see road hazards like traffic, debris, etc. For all these dangers, the best course of action is attentive driving. Reduce your speed, increase your following distance and stay alert to changing conditions.
  • The Wind: The winds returns, sometimes with a vengeance, during the fall. The wind can blow cars around the road and debris into the road, so during an episode of high winds, be alert to debris that may be entering the roadways. Trees and tree branches can also be a hazard. Trees that are diseased or branches that are low-hanging can become dislodged and cause massive amounts of damage to homes, garages and cars. The best way to try and stave off falling trees and branches is to trim all low-hanging branches that reside over dwellings. If your neighbors have tree branches that sit over your dwellings, work with them to get the branches removed. Also, if you suspect your trees to be diseased, have them inspected and removed.
  • The Water: A gentle fall rain can be soothing, but let’s be honest the rain in the fall tends to be more torrential. Fast moving storms can overwhelm storm drains (that could already be blocked with leaves or other debris) and the oversaturated ground cannot absorb the water resulting in large amounts of standing water or a flash flood. Remember that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover outside water entering your home due to rain or flood. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, having sandbags on hand in case of a storm could be the difference between just mopping off your front porch and filing a flood insurance claim.

With a little preparation, you may be able to avoid an unpleasant situation and a costly insurance claim. The insurance experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, WA can assist you with setting up policies like auto insurance, home insurance and flood insurance. If you have questions about your current insurance policies or about the potential fall dangers in the Lakewood area, give your Insurance Unlimited, Inc., agent a call. You can also visit their insurance website 24/7!

Driving Faux-Pas Lakewood, WA

Top Driving Faux-Pas in Washington

We wanted to know what some of your biggest gripes about those other drivers you share the road with. After tallying our unofficial poll results, we compiled a list of bad habits behind the wheel.

  • Blinkers: Not using a blinker topped the list of annoyances on the road. Using a blinker allows other motorists to know where you intended to merge, turn or otherwise move. It gives your fellow commuters a chance to slow down to let you in/turn, etc. Not using a blinker and then moving your vehicle could cause those around you to slam on their brakes potentially causing an auto accident. We all forget every now and again, but make sure to use that blinker.
  • Merging: There were several gripes surrounding merging. Most agreed that not allowing other cars to merge into traffic was not very nice and also hazardous. Allowing traffic to flow onto the freeway may prevent an auto accident. Also on the merging gripe list is merging at a speed too slow or too fast could cause other drivers to react which could lead to an auto accident.
  • Aggressive drivers: In many states, driving aggressively can lead to a hefty ticket. Drivers who tailgate, weave in and out of traffic and speed excessively put not only themselves at risk, but other drivers, etc., around them as well.
  • Distracted drivers: These days there are many things that can distract you while driving a vehicle. Shushing kids, minding pets, texting or talking on cell phones, self-grooming, eating, drinking coffee and playing with the radio are all things that can distract you from your number one task – keeping your eyes on the road. Whether you are on a major interstate or a country road, it only takes a moment for a vehicle, animal, child or debris to get right into your path. If you are not paying attention to the road, your reaction time could be minimized and it could lead to an auto accident.
  • Share the road: Not only do we share the road with other drivers, we share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. In some areas cyclists have dedicated lanes, but they are afforded the same “right-of-way” privileges as pedestrians. When driving in an area frequented by cyclists and pedestrians, you need to be hyper-aware of your surroundings as they can seemingly pop out of “nowhere.” While the burden of an auto accident may fall to the vehicle, all parties have a duty and responsibility to look out for themselves and each other. Cyclists and pedestrians should make the direction they are heading clear, and cyclists should use the proper directional hand signals.

Driving is a privilege and requires the utmost responsibility when behind the wheel. We all have bad days when we are rushing to get to our destinations, mad at the driver in front of us or just in a daze. Snapping yourself out of those moods may help prevent an auto accident or injury. If an accident does occur, make sure to get the appropriate information from all parties involved and report the claim to your insurance carrier. If you have any questions about your auto insurance coverage, don’t hesitate to ask the experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, WA. Your local, independent insurance agents can walk you through what may or may not be covered by your current auto insurance policy and help you decide if additional coverage is right for your situation. They can also assist you with a personal umbrella policy. You can visit their insurance website 24/7 for more details.

insurance claim lakewood, wa

Five steps for filing an insurance claim

In the moments after an auto accident there are a million things that will run through your head. Checking yourself and other passengers for injuries is probably the first thing you do followed by visually assessing the damage to your vehicle. Your next steps may make the insurance claims process a bit easier, so learning these steps prior to an accident may trigger your memory should you find yourself involved in an auto accident.

5 tips for filing an insurance claim in Washington:

  • Call 911: Always alert law enforcement to an auto accident whether it is single or multiple vehicles, on private property, etc. The 911-dispatcher will ask a series of questions to determine if an officer is needed, usually if there is significant vehicle or property damage, there is an injury or if impairment is suspected. If an officer is not needed at the scene, make sure to file a police report at your local precinct as your insurance company may need a police report in order to process certain claims. This process also works for claims such as theft, vandalism or hit-and-run damage to your vehicle.
  • Gather information: You will need to collect information from any parties involved in the auto accident or information from someone whose property may have been damage by your vehicle (and vice versa). Make sure to get a phone number, address, auto insurance company and policy number, a description of the vehicle (make, model, and year) and a description of the damage done to the vehicle. If you have a smartphone or camera handy take photos of all vehicles, buildings and surrounding areas. Make sure to photograph vehicle positions, street signs and anything else that may be useful in the claims process.
  • Talk to your agent: Alert your agent to the fact that you have been in an auto accident and let them know the details. If it is a smaller, solo accident without significant damage to your vehicle, it may be cheaper in the long run to avoid an insurance claim and pay for the damage out of pocket. Your agent can guide you through your options and help you make the best decision for your situation. Your agent may also be an advocate for you when dealing with the insurance company of any party that was involved in an accident with you.
  • File a claim: If you and your agent have determined that filing a claim is the best option for you, then your agent can assist you in that process. Provide your agent with the information of anyone else involved in the auto accident, any photos or videos that were taken at the scene and if there is one, the police report. Your agent will start the claims process and send out a claims adjuster to assess the damage to your vehicle and let you know how much the damage will cost to repair. This does not necessarily reflect the amount you will pay, depends on who is found “at-fault” for the accident.
  • The waiting game: The claims process can take a bit of time, especially if there are multiple parties and multiple insurance companies involved. Check in with your agent and feel free to ask any questions you may have about the process.

We always hope that none of our clients will experience the stress of an auto accident, but we know that it happens (that’s why we’re here!) The local, independent agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, WA can assist you in filing a claim and finding a reputable repair shop. They are right in your backyard, so they know the most trusted repair shops in the Lakewood, Washington area. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle. You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about auto insurance or the other insurance products they offer like Classic Car or RV insurance.

 

Homeowner's Insurance Lakewood, WA

Homeowner’s Insurance in Lakewood, WA – Don’t let your home be a house of horrors

Time to break out the conical hats, black cat decorations and the pumpkin seeds; Halloween is on its way! Whether you intend to go all out and build a spooky scene in your front yard complete with a giant spider and web or if you plan to put up a few jack-o-lanterns you can take some extra steps to ensure that your Halloween spirit does not turn your home into a personal house of horrors.  To avoid a costly homeowner’s insurance claim in Lakewood, WA such as a fire, property damage or a personal liability claim, make sure that your Halloween decorations and any area that party-goers or trick-or-treaters access is free of debris and tripping hazards.

Avoid a holiday homeowner’s insurance claim in Washington:

  • Décor: Many Halloween decorations are made of paper or wood products. Keep these decorations away from open flames and away from lights as the décor could spontaneously combust resulting in a fire. Lit jack-o-lanterns should be extinguished prior to going to bed or leaving the house for an extended period of time. A pumpkin that is too dry or a flame that is too close to a wooden porch could spark a blaze, which if not caught quickly could be quite destructive. To eliminate open flames altogether, try flameless LED candles.  Speaking of lighting, make sure that any lights hung are the appropriate type (indoor or outdoor) and that they are strung in such a way that no one could trip over or get tangled in.
  • Tripping Hazards: Little ones (and adults too!) can get over excited during a scare and could hurt themselves on décor that is not properly secured or in the way. Moving items like porch furniture or lawn décor could help prevent accidents outside. If you plan to throw a Halloween party indoors with little ones, make sure that sharp edges and corners are secured and tripping hazards such as side tables or ottomans are out of the way. Taking a few extra steps to ensure that your guests are safe could save you from a costly personal liability claim.
  • Treats and tricks: Another wonderful part about Halloween is the food! Candy corn, lollipops and caramel apples are delicious treats for young and old alike; however they do present a choking hazard for small children. Make sure that bite-size or chewy treats are kept out of reach of tiny hands.

Halloween can be a fun time for friends and family, not a time to worry about household accidents. If you have any questions about what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers in terms of fire, property damage or personal injury liability, your licensed insurance agent in Lakewood, Washington can assist you.  The local, independent agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., can assist you with examining an existing policy or setting you up with a new policy. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle. You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about auto insurance or the other insurance products they offer like personal umbrella insurance.

 

 

Gap Insurance Lakewood, WA

Closing the Gap: What is Gap Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Congratulations, you just bought a new (or new to you) car! You were able to afford a down payment and now you are the proud owner of a new car and a monthly car payment. But, what happens if your car becomes involved in an accident and you owe more than your car is worth?

Imagine this scenario: While out enjoying your new car, you hydroplane and hit a guardrail damaging your new vehicle beyond repair. The insurance company is telling you that your new car is a total loss. While you may not be able to drive the vehicle, you are still responsible for the loan associated with vehicle. If you have gap insurance in Lakewood, WA, you may be only responsible for your deductible.

How gap insurance in Washington works:

What is depreciation:  Vehicles, especially new vehicles, begin to depreciate as soon as you drive them off the dealer lot. Depreciation can be quite surprising and is not necessarily tied to the base cost of the vehicle. Due to wear-and-tear, fluctuating market conditions and a number of other factors, depreciation in the first year is the steepest. Even with proper care and maintenance and no accidents, a vehicle will continue to depreciate. Even though the value of the vehicle will go down each year, the amount you owe on the vehicle will not. Depreciation will vary between make and model but here is a baseline comparison:

Year Vehicle Style Base price Depreciation year one
2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5i sedan $21,295 $3,069
2013 Honda Civic Base sedan $22,715 $4,406
2013 BMW 328i sedan $34,900 $5,198
2013 Ford F-150 $28,595 $5,915
2013 Toyota 4Runner $37,155 $6,380

 *Figures courtesy of automobilemag.com

Why gap insurance: In the unfortunate event that your vehicle is totaled, and it is an event covered under your current auto insurance policy, your insurer may pay the actual cash value of the vehicle, which may be significantly less than the outstanding vehicle loan. In that case, you would still be responsible for the remaining balance between the loan and the insurance payout, which could be thousands of dollars. If you choose to purchase gap insurance in Lakewood, Washington, your insurance company would cover the remaining balance between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the remaining loan balance, typically up to 25 percent, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

Options for gap insurance: There are two options for purchasing gap insurance in Lakewood, WA. It can be purchased from the dealership or through an insurance agent. If you choose to purchase gap insurance through the dealership you purchase your vehicle from, the gap insurance will be built into your loan. The average price for gap insurance from a dealership is around $1,000, but add interest and taxes and it can add up to much more. If you choose to purchase gap insurance from an insurance agent, on average it would add less than $10 per month to a policy! There may be certain stipulations associated with a gap insurance policy:

  • The loan may need to be through a financial institution rather than an individual
  • Your current auto insurance policy may need to include Collision and Comprehensive coverage
  • Your claim may need to be a covered Collision and Comprehensive coverage event
  • Your vehicle may need to be determined as a total loss

Before you purchase a new vehicle, make sure to check with your licensed insurance agent in Lakewood, Washington to see how you can add gap insurance to your new vehicle policy. The local, independent agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., can assist you with adding or amending an existing policy or setting you up with a new policy. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle. You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about auto insurance or the other insurance products they offer like classic car or home insurance.