Seven Shopping Strategies for New Car Buyers

New car shopping can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re a car enthusiast. But others can find the experience stressful and tedious. Either way, there’s a lot to think about. According to a survey of car shoppers, overall purchase price is the most important factor when shopping for a new car (46 percent), followed by make and model (31 percent).

Safety and performance come in a distant third, tied at seven percent. But whether you’re turned on or turned off by the dizzying array of car choices, trim options, “expert” reviews, incentives and other deals, it definitely pays to approach car buying strategically.

So if you’re in the market for a new vehicle and you find yourself having trouble keeping a clear head, just keep these strategies, courtesy of Hill Insurance Agency LP in mind:

  1. Decide how much money you can spend and what type of vehicle best suits your needs. Just looking for the basic transport capability of a small or medium sedan? Or do you need the hauling capacity of a van or SUV? Something practical? Something sporty? Something in between?
  2. Research crash tests and accident data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  3. Shop around for financing. If you can, apply for and get approval for a loan from a bank, credit union or other financier before you even visit the dealership. Being a “cash buyer” gives you an advantage when you do finally meet with the dealership’s financing person.
  4. Test drive the car. Try to drive in conditions that will be similar to those under which you’ll drive every day.
  5. Check pricing for your desired make and model at two or three dealerships and use that information to help you negotiate the best deal.
  6. Get a firm quote, in writing. This should include not only the cost of the car, but any fees and the sales tax.
  7. Inspect your new car carefully before driving off the lot. Make sure all the options you’ve ordered are included and that the body and paint are free of scratches or dents.

Finally, it’s important to consider the cost of auto insurance, although it seems that few people realize that what they pay for insurance can add significantly to the vehicle’s total cost.

Wise car buyers know to shop around for insurance and find out how costs compare. They also know to visit an independent insurance agency – like Hill Insurance Agency LP.  We can check with several companies to find the best combination of coverage and price.

To get a Progressive quote with Hill Insurance Agency LP, visit progressiveagent.com or call us at 800-937-9594.

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Can my child take our insurance to college?

My son (daughter) is leaving home to attend college this fall.  Will my auto and homeowners insurance policies cover him (her) while at college?

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This is a great question, and one that our customers ask frequently.

When college students move from home to their home-away-from-home – a rented dorm or apartment – insurance issues can arise and should be addressed before they leave home.

One key question that arises in discussing these issues is whether the student is still considered a resident of your household.  This is a legal question, but your homeowners and auto policies both contain provisions that apply the broadest coverage available in those policies to persons who are legally considered residents of your household.

It is generally accepted that students living away from home while attending college are residents of their parents’ household. Based on previous Texas court decisions, the real test is whether the absence of a person from the household is intended to be permanent or only temporary – whether there is physical absence coupled with intent not to return. This leaves a great deal of room for interpretation. There may be borderline cases that require you to think about alternatives. For example, it may be difficult to consider a 23-year-old graduate student living in an apartment year-round to be a resident of your household.

Homeowners Policy
Your homeowners policy covers personal property owned or used by a resident of your household while the property is located anywhere in the world.

However, most policies limit the amount of coverage on personal property to 10 percent of the amount shown on the policy for personal property, when the property is located at another residence away from the home address.

Look at your policy and find the limit provided for personal property.  Take 10 percent of that amount, and then think about the items your student has taken to college:  clothes, TV, computer, other electronics, furniture, and household items.  How much would it cost to replace all those items if they were all lost at the same time in a fire or other catastrophe?

In addition to the dollar limitation, some policies don’t cover theft of personal property from the student’s residence, except while the student is temporarily living there. This is a definite problem, especially when the apartment is owned, or rented for a 12-month term, and the student comes home for the summer.

Your homeowners policy also provides liability coverage in case a family member is legally liable for another person’s injury or damage to another person’s property.  This coverage clearly applies to accidents at home or away from home, but some policies limit the coverage when an accident occurs at an owned or rented residence other than the family home.  Some insurance companies offer liability coverage at separate residences for an additional cost.

After all of the above information is considered, it’s easy to see there are potential coverage gaps in your homeowners policy when a student leaves home for college. That’s why we recommend that you purchase a separate tenant or renter’s homeowners policy for the student’s residence, whether it is an apartment or a dorm room.  The cost of such a policy is small compared to the benefits it provides.

 Automobile Policy

If your student takes one of your family vehicles to college, the coverage provided by your family automobile policy follows the vehicle anywhere in the United States and Canada.  This includes coverage for damage to the vehicle itself (if you have purchased such coverage on that vehicle) as well as liability coverage for injury or damage to other persons or property.

If your student doesn’t take a vehicle to college, some coverage under your policy may still apply if they are riding in or even driving a vehicle belonging to someone else.

Students Who Are Not Legal Residents of Your Household

Coverage complications can arise on your homeowners or auto policy if your student for whatever reason is not considered a legal resident of your household, as was mentioned in the first part of this article.  We encourage you to discuss your personal situation with us and your attorney.  To be safe, we will likely recommend separate homeowners and auto policies for the student.

This article was prepared and made available to Hill Insurance Agency by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, which is solely responsible for its content. Please read your insurance policy. If there is any conflict between the information in this article and the actual terms and conditions of your policy, the terms and conditions of your policy will apply. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas is a non-profit association of more than 1,800 insurance agencies in Texas, dedicated to helping its members succeed, in part by providing technical resources that explain insurance policies sold to their customers.

When Your Teenager Starts to Drive

My teenager just received a license to drive. Do I need to add him/her to my policy now? Will it increase my premium?

These are great questions that our customers ask frequently.

The short answers are “yes” and “yes.”

Most personal auto policies written in Texas extend liability coverage to anyone using a covered auto with your permission, including children when they begin to drive. However, some policies exclude family members who have not been reported to the insurance company and are not listed as drivers on the policy.

Failing to report your newly-licensed teenager is a dangerous game to play with your family assets. In fact, some companies may consider this to be “insurance fraud” and refuse to pay a claim involving a young driver who has not been reported – especially if the youngster had a license when the policy was first purchased.

Insurance companies expect you to report all drivers in the household and will charge a premium based on the appropriate driver classification. In the case of a youthful operator, that premium will depend on whether the driver is the principal operator of a family vehicle or just a part-time operator.

Be sure to discuss your family’s insurance needs with your insurance agent. After considering your specific circumstances, you and your agent can make a decision regarding auto insurance that is appropriate for your family and your insurance budget.

This article was prepared and made available to Hill Insurance Agency LP  by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, which is solely responsible for its content. Please read your insurance policy. If there is any conflict between the information in this article and the actual terms and conditions of your policy, the terms and conditions of your policy will apply. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas is a non-profit association of more than 1,800 insurance agencies in Texas, dedicated to helping its members succeed, in part by providing technical resources that explain insurance policies sold to their customers.