Are you looking for the absolute best rates on insurance in Atlanta?  Save money for you and your family on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance in Atlanta by calling Waggoner Insurance at 770-434-4000.

Insurance

No matter where you call “home”, from Atlanta to San Francisco or Seattle to New York, insurance is one of the necessities of life.  It becomes the preparation to help smooth the “bumps” of our lives.  Insurance is defined as “a system by which individuals pay premiums to build up funds from which they or their beneficiaries are compensated when death, loss, or disability occurs.”  In plain English, it becomes the nest-egg to help ease pain and /or suffering for yourself or others and even comes with a personal assistant to help and guide you when that time becomes necessary.

The three basic types of insurance, are automotive, home, and life which affect every aspect of our personal and family lives.  We wear seat belts when in the car; we keep items about the house in repair to avoid injury; and we pay-it-forward with life insurance in Atlanta to ease the financial burden to our families and other loved ones.  Therefore, let’s take a closer look at each aspect.

Auto Insurance

Why do you need auto insurance? Many people will tell you that they are good drivers and don’t ever use their insurance.  This may be true.  However, there are many occasions where it is the “other” guy who causes the accident.  Here are some statistics from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Crash Analysis, Statistics and Information Notebook compiled for 2008.  Even though they are for the entire state of Georgia, the Atlanta metropolitan area is the highest concentration of vehicles in the state.

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In 2008 in the state of Georgia, and mostly in the city of Atlanta, there were 342,534 traffic accidents.  In those traffic accidents there were 133,555 persons injured and 1,703 persons killed.  This number of accidents averages out to 1,198 crashes per day in the state of Georgia.  In Georgia, there is an average of 5 people per day killed in auto accidents. In Georgia, there were 1.53 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The U.S rate was 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles and if you live in a rural area then your fatal crash rate is even higher.

The eight contributing factors leading to traffic accidents in Georgia are:

  • Following too closely
  • Failure to yield
  • Driver lost control of vehicle
  • Improper lane change
  • Unsafe or illegal speed
  • Object or animal in roadway
  • Disregard stop/signal
  • Weather conditions
  • The top eight factors contributing to fatal crashes in Georgia are:
  • Driver lost control
  • Unsafe or illegal speed
  • Wrong side of the road
  • Failure to yield
  • Alcohol or drug impaired
  • Driver condition
  • Following too closely
  • Disregard stop/signal

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To consider these numbers is truly staggering.  However, when we put a name to these figures it becomes far more personal knowing that a friend or loved one is no longer with us or has suffered a life changing injury that we are confronted with every day.  No matter how good a driver you are, these numbers clearly demonstrate that we all need auto insurance.

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Now that we have established that automobile insurance is one of life’s necessities, you have to figure out how much insurance you need.  The minimum requirements for auto insurance in Atlanta vary from state to state.  The state minimum coverage is typically described in terms of split liability.  The split liability minimum coverage for the state of Georgia is 25/50/25.

At first glance this may appear confusing but split coverage is easy once you understand what the abbreviations stand for. For example, 25/50/25 stands for $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.  Each of these amounts stands for the minimum amount of coverage for three specific areas.

The first number, $25,000, is the amount of coverage for individual bodily injury.  Bodily injury coverage specifically deals with claims filed against you in which a person experienced bodily injury in an accident that is your fault.  Many auto policies stop at a maximum of $300,000 or $500,000 per accident for Liability coverage.  If you injure someone in an auto accident, you could be sued for a lot of money.  The amount of Liability coverage you carry should be high enough to protect all of the things that you own in the event of an accident.

Most experts recommend a limit of at least $100,000/$300,000, however in many cases this may not be enough. If you have a multi-million-dollar house, you could lose it in a lawsuit if your insurance coverage is insufficient.  The greater the value of your assets, the more you could to lose, so you need to buy liability insurance appropriate to the value of your assets.  In short the more you have the more insurance you need to protect yourself.

The second number, $50,000, is the amount of coverage for general bodily injury in an accident.  General bodily injury covers anyone who is injured as a result of an accident that is your fault

The third number, $25,000, is the amount of coverage for property damage liability.  Property damage liability is damage that occurs to the property of someone else and is due to your fault. .  If you carry only the minimum that is required by your state of residence then it is not likely to be enough to protect you in a serious accident.  With many cars costing upwards of $50,000, you could easily be responsible for a substantial repair bill if you hit someone’s car and it is totaled.

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As I mentioned above 25/50/25 is the minimum coverage required by the state of Georgia.  However, there are a number of options that are available when considering auto insurance coverage. Some additional coverage options that you may want to talk to your insurance agent in Atlanta about are Comprehensive, Collision, Medical expenses, Personal injury protection, and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

Comprehensive insurance covers the cost of miscellaneous damages to your car not caused specifically by an auto accident, such as theft or fire.  With comprehensive coverage, you will need to choose a deductible. When you choose a higher deductible then you will have a lower premium.  Comprehensive coverage is generally sold together with collision insurance coverage, and when they are put together the two are often referred to together as Physical Damage coverage.

Collision insurance covers the cost of damage to your car when you are in an accident. How much to buy really depends on the value of your car. However, the big decision is how large of a deductible that you can afford to pay. When you choose to pay a higher deductible then you will have a lower premium.

Generally insurance providers recommend deductibles that range from $250 to $1,000.  Collision coverage is particularly important to have if you have a new car and it is sometimes required by lenders if your car is new and was purchased with a loan.  If your car is older and less valuable then it may not even make sense to carry collision insurance in Atlanta for example, if your car is only worth $2,000 or less and the deductible is $500, it may not make financial sense to buy collision coverage insurance. In most states collision insurance is not required by state law.

Medical Expenses insurance covers the cost of medical care for you and your passengers when you have an accident.  The amount of coverage that you choose for Medical Expenses coverage is the maximum amount that will be paid for any medical claims to each driver.  For example, if you select a $4,000 Medical Expense Limit, each passenger will have up to $4,000 coverage for medical claims resulting from an accident in your vehicle.

Personal Injury Protection also known as no–fault insurance is required by law in some states. It covers your medical costs and those of your passengers, regardless of who was responsible for the accident.  When this coverage is required by law the required limits and the optional coverage limits are established by state laws.

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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage covers you if you are involved in an accident and the other driver is at fault but has too little or no insurance. This covers the gap between your actual costs and the other driver’s coverage.  However, in most cases this will only cover up to the limits of your coverage.  In some states, uninsured motorist coverage is limited to bodily injury, while in other states it may also cover property damage. The limits of coverage required and optional limits of coverage that may be available are typically set by state law.

So once you have determined what coverage is required by the state in which you reside then you must select what additional insurance coverage is right for your specific situation.  After you have decided all of the different kinds of insurance that will best serve your needs then it is time to find the company that can meet your needs and fit in your budget.

Shopping for insurance today is much easier that it used to be.  Many people use the same insurance company their parents used and never ask any questions.  Also these days some many companies have removed the local agent from the equation.  They make it easy to change your policy online, pay online and even make claims online.  In many cases you can buy your policy and maintain your policy without every stepping into an office or meeting an agent.  However, since insurance is such an important part of daily life it should not be taken so lightly.

Today there are search engines that will take your basic information and shop different companies for you.  However, you should not necessarily go with the cheapest option.  First, call the insurance company of your choice and ask the agent questions.  Based on the decisions that you made about the coverage that you need you should be able to ask some pointed questions and judge from the responses just how experienced and helpful the agent that you are speaking to is.

If you go into the phone call having done your research beforehand then you will be able to get a good feeling for how knowledgeable the agent is. Aside from price point, this should be your first test.  Then you should use companies such as A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s to rate the financial strength of car insurance company of your choice so you can determine if they have the ability to pay any claims you might need to make.  I have heard many people say that you should not have to worry about that with any insurance company because the state makes them keep so much money available for claims.

However, this may not always be true.  There have been a great number of insurance companies that have gone bankrupt as a result of large natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina.

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Once you have selected and researched the company that you want to do business with it is time to see if you can get the price of the insurance lowered.  Many insurance companies offer discounts that you might not expect.  They offer discounts if you insure multiple vehicles like campers, multiple cars, motorcycles and boats.

They also offer discounts if you are insuring children drivers who have been through special training courses and additional discounts if your children drivers are maintaining good grades in school.  Insurance companies also base their rates on the type of driving that you do.  They use some of the same statistics that we discussed earlier to determine the risks that you are likely to encounter on a daily basis.

They look at how many miles you travel on a daily basis and how much traffic you are likely to encounter and how many accidents there are per 100 million miles traveled.   Some states are more dangerous to travel in than others.

Another way to find additional savings on your auto insurance rates in Atlanta is to bundle your different kinds of insurance with the same company.  This is why you want to make sure that the company is financially sound.  If you have put all of your insurance “eggs” in one basket then you want to make sure that the “basket” is quality and trustworthy. This is why you must consider more than just the lowest price.  Other insurance products that you might bundle with your auto insurance might be things like renters insurance, homeowners insurance or life insurance.

Are you looking for the absolute best rates on insurance in Atlanta?  Save money for you and your family on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance in Atlanta by calling Waggoner Insurance at 770-434-4000.

Homeowners Insurance

Just like people are different our homes are all different and so homeowners insurance offers a great number of options.  However, it is important to remember that to the insurance company you are a set of risks.  The object is to never have to pay any claims and in actuality many people never file a single homeowners’ insurance claim.  Having said that it is scary to imagine not having any coverage should something happen to your home.  However, homeowners insurance does not cover all damage it typically covers all major perils, except flood, earthquake, war, or nuclear accident.

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You will need to decide how much of your homes’ value you will insure.  Many people will only insure 90% of their homes’ value.  In this case they are betting that they will never suffer a total loss of their home.  In order to make sure that you are adequately covered you should insure your home for 100% of your home’s value.  However, value is a tricky word in this case.  You need to think replacement value.  A brick home built in the 1970’s that originally sold for $38,000 and now is valued on the tax rolls at $80,000 could not likely be built in today’s economy for $80,000.

You should insure your home with the absolute best home insurance in Atlanta for its replacement cost.  That is what it would cost to clean up your completely demolished house and rebuild it.  In this case you will need to consider the average building cost per square foot in your region, the quality of your house and the materials used to construct it, the style of your home and the size of your home.

In many cases the best resource for getting an accurate replacement price for you home will be a contractor who builds homes for a living.  Be sure to talk to one that builds custom homes.  A builder that builds only mass homes like you might find in developments will be used to using numbers for tract homes which take advantage of economies of scale.  A custom home builder will also be able to accurately estimate some special features that you may have in your home like an ornate fireplace or grand staircase with unique railings.  When determining the homes’ value, as you shop for the best home insurance, it also important to include any customization that you may have added like granite counter tops or antique decorative features or even upgraded appliances.

In addition to the structure itself you will also want to insure the contents.  In most cases insurers will cover the contents from 50% to 75% of the homes insured value.  Depending on you or your wife’s decorating style this may not be enough.  It is a good idea to make a list of the items that are most important to you.  In many cases people will actually make a video of their furnished home and be sure to document the items of specific importance and state the replacement price for the more expensive items.  These type of records are really good ideas especially when you have suffered a complete loss of your property.

As you may recall in start of this section I mentioned that homeowners insurance covered most perils but does not cover things like floods, earthquakes, acts of war or nuclear accidents.  If you feel like you may need insurance in Atlanta to cover these exceptions then you will need to look into insurance riders.  Below I will discuss how you go about determining if you need to look into any of this additional insurance.

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When you purchase your home there is a section buried deep in the clauses of the paper work called “Natural hazards Disclosure.”  In this section of the disclosure agreement the property will have a Zone “A” designation or a Zone “B” designation.  Once you have identified the zone that your property is in then you can contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency and ask them what the specific zone designation means in your region of the country.

You can also locate a map usually at the local tax assessors’ office or in the post office that will identify parcels and their flood zone designation.  Another step that you should take is to pay close attention to your proximity to bodies of water and the natural flow of rain water in your area.  In some cases the zone designation was established many years ago and recent construction or manmade bodies of water present a new danger.

You should also take some time to talk to neighbors that have been in the neighborhood for a long time.  You should ask them about recent wild fires or any changes in the flow pattern of rainwater.  In wild fires the undergrowth is burned away and this can result in faster run off of water and increased rates of erosion in local drainage ditches.

They will also be able to tell you about seasonal changes in the area.  A neighborhood that is dry and normal in appearance in the summer may be near flood stage in the winter and be just one good storm away from flooding.

Looking for potential earthquake risks is a little more difficult.  Anyone in the USA probably already knows that earthquake insurance in California is a necessity.  However, you might not assume the need for quake homeowners insurance if you live in Virginia, Colorado or Oklahoma but you would be wrong.  All three of those states had major earthquakes in 2011.  If you get quake homeowners insurance then there are some special rules that you should familiarize yourself with.

The deductible is the amount of money that you have to pay before your insurance kicks in.  In most cases the higher your deductible then the lower your annual premium will be.  However, the deductible for quake homeowner insurance is determined as a percentage of your total policy limit.  In most cases it is about 15% of the amount of the insurance policy.

For example, if your home is insured for $500,000 then the quake homeowner’s insurance deductible would typically be $75,000.  In lower risk states they will sometimes set a lower percentage but in high risk states like Washington and California they tend to be the highest.

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With all of the homeowner insurance options quake insurance is likely to have the most out of pocket expenses.  For example, if you have damage to your pool, fence, patio and the repairs to these things costs $150,000 then this money does not count toward your deductible.  This is referred to as an uncovered loss.  When you add up uncovered losses and deductibles as a result of an earthquake the out of pocket expenses can be very high.

Quake homeowners insurance is also different when it comes to personal possessions.  If your home is destroyed in a fire then it is usually expected that all of your possessions are also destroyed.  However, when your home is damaged in an earthquake then it is rare that all of your contents are also damaged.  So with quake homeowners insurance in Atlanta there is usually a set value.  After some consideration this is actually logical.  You are not likely to have you bed and sofa or dining room table destroyed in a quake but these type of items are not likely to survive something like a fire.

No matter where you live if you own a home then you should make sure that adequate insurance coverage and that you shop around for the right price and service.  As I mentioned before it is often easier to get a discount if you carry multiple types of policies with the same insurance company.  Another policy to consider is a life insurance policy.

Are you looking for the absolute best rates on insurance in Atlanta?  Save money for you and your family on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance in Atlanta by calling Waggoner Insurance at 770-434-4000.

Life Insurance

In life insurance more than any other type of insurance you are a statistic.  The insurance companies have the study of life down to a science.  This is why rates are so dependent on your lifestyle and health history and doctors records.  However, life insurance my not be necessary for everyone.  It is obviously important to those who have dependents, but may not be a necessary expense for single people.

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 All life insurance, including life insurance in Atlanta, policies fall into one of two categories.  They are either term policies or they are whole life policies.  The term policies are sometimes referred to as pure insurance while there are a number variations on the whole life insurance policy.  Many whole life insurance policies are combined with investments or other products in an effort to build cash value.

You should determine how much life insurance you need.  This can only be done by finding the answers to the following questions:

  • How much is needed to pay off your mortgage?
  • How many dependents do you have?
  • Will your dependents be going to college?
  • Are your vehicles paid for?
  • Do your dependents have special needs?
  • How much insurance do you need to replace your income for your family?

The basic rules are these.  You should have enough life insurance in Atlanta to cover your outstanding debts.  You should have enough to cover all of your children and their future needs.  Of course that means that the more children that you have then the more insurance you need.  A standard rule of thumb is to take your annual income and multiply it by 9 or 10.

After you have determined the amount of insurance that you need then you must decide what type of insurance you need to buy.  Term or pure insurance policies provide coverage for a set period of time.  Term life insurance in Atlanta tends to be cheaper because there is less of a chance that you will die within a certain period of time.  Term life insurance policies do not carry any value forward over time.

However, some companies have started offering riders that allow you to reclaim all of the premiums paid toward a term policy if you have not used the policy during the term.  This rider can be more expensive but it offers the purchaser the best of both worlds.  With a rider of this sort you can have your insurance and save your money at the same time.  Whole life is more expensive because death is certain and eventually we will all die.  Term life insurance tends to be recommended most for people who will be working in dangerous conditions like construction sites.

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Whole life insurance tends to be as much as 4 or 5 times more than term life insurance.  It is often associated with some sort of investment tool.  Tying your insurance with investments can be very dangerous.  Investing by its very nature is risky.  You should never invest any more than you can afford to lose.  When the balance of your insurance policy, including life insurance in Atlanta, is dependent on an investment strategy then when those investments go down the value of your policy also goes down.  In the recent markets many people lost a great deal of policy value.

Another danger of tying whole life insurance policies with investing is that when agents report returns they tend to report them on the high side.  After all insurance is sold it is not bought.  Whole life policies are based on the assumption of future returns.  However, the advantage of a policy that has static value is that you can draw on that value in time of emergency.  Also if the investment part of the policy does eventually produce returns then those returns can be applied to the premium thereby making the policy more affordable later in life.

No matter what kind of life insurance you buy the best time to buy life insurance is when you are healthy.  If you wait until you are older or after you have been diagnosed with a long term disease then you will have to pay much higher rates if you can find a company to insure you at all.  Most insurance companies require blood tests and sometimes even a visit with their physician.  In any case it is always best to tell the truth.  If you are to pass away and your loved ones make a claim you can rest assured that the insurance company will check all of the i’s and t’s.  If the company can avoid paying a large claim then it will certainly be in their best interest.

Just as with the other forms of insurance mentioned in this article it is best to start your shopping on the internet.  Start by selecting a reputable and financially secure insurance firm.  Then make sure that they meet the service requirements that you personally demand.  Once you have found the right company then you can start working on getting the right price.

Are you looking for the absolute best rates on insurance in Atlanta?  Save money for you and your family on auto insurance, life insurance, and home insurance in Atlanta by calling Waggoner Insurance at 770-434-4000.

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