If you are a driver in Virginia (or anywhere for that matter), you know how complicated and confusing it can be to file a car accident claim, switch car insurance companies or simply add a person on to your policy. To help make things easier when dealing with your auto insurance company, we have listed some helpful tips for Virginia car insurance customers below. Understanding these items can not only save you a lot of time and money on your Virginia auto insurance, but it will also help you be better prepared in the event of a car accident.
1. How your Virginia car insurance company determines your car's value after it has been declared a "total loss"
When totaling your car, your insurance company's goal is to help you find a new car within the same market. To do this, car insurance companies use three different methods for determining the value of the car declared a total loss, such as:
If the car insurance company is unable to find a car from within your area, they may have to find a replacement car outside your zip code, which can dramatically affect your car's true value. For instance, if you reside in a big city within Virginia, such as Norfolk, Richmond or Roanoke, then the cost of replacing your car will likely be more expensive then if you lived in a suburb or more rural part of Virginia.
2. Your car insurance company may be required to pay for sales tax and registration fee for a new car
Virginia requires all car insurance companies to pay for sales tax when you replace your totaled car with a new or used car. You must make the request and not assume the car insurance company will pay upfront. The tax will be calculated based on the pre-accident value of your car. If you buy a higher priced car as a replacement, the car insurance company will still go off the original price of the totaled car.
3. In Virginia, you can claim a diminished value claim
A diminished value claim means that regardless of how well repairs have been done to a car that was in an accident, the accident itself lowers the car's value so it's less than the exact same car that was not in an accident.
You can file a claim for the lost value, and there is a chance you will get back a diminished value payment. Successful cases are also made against the at-fault driver's insurance company by a third party.
4. When switching car insurance companies, you must cancel your insurance policy first
Though it is possible to cancel your coverage at anytime, it is important to note that many insurance companies require a written statement, including the date of termination, in order to officially close your car insurance policy. If you do not do this, and you receive and ignore the next bill, your policy will be canceled automatically by the insurance agency for delinquency of payment. The downside to this automatic cancellation is that it will show up on your credit record, which could potentially impact your credit score!
The safest thing to do when switching car insurance companies is to call your company and let them know that you are canceling your policy. The company will send you a cancellation request that needs to be filled out and sent back.
5. Adding a teen to your car insurance policy
Most insurance companies do not require you to add your teen to your car insurance policy when they are a certain age, only when they receive their license. On the other hand, if you are in a high-risk pool, you may be required to add them when they receive their driver's permit. If you forget to add your licensed teen, and they are involved in a car accident, they will be covered; however, your insurance company may charge you back premiums from the date your teen received their license.
For your Virginia teen to begin the process of receiving their license, they must complete the following steps:
This process is for first time drivers who are at least 15 years old and 6 months, but not yet 19. To ensure that the teen driver receives ample time to practice and to offset the number of accidents that involve teen drivers each year, Virginia has different privileges for each provisional license:
Parent or guardian must sign for the teen's driving permit after proof of residency and social security number has been authenticated. At the time of application, Virginia teen drivers must also take and pass a vision test and a knowledge test, also known as a written test, in order to receive their Learner's Permit. While driving under their Learner's Permit, teens must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult sibling.
Teens will be able to drive unsupervised after driving with a learner's permit for at least 9 months, completing a driver training course and obtaining 40 practice driving hours with a supervising adult
Teens will receive a notification in the mail to appear in court, where they will receive their permanent license at a licensing ceremony.
To learn more about Virginia teen driver laws and regulations, please visit the Virginia DMV.
6. Paying in installments may increase your car insurance
"Fractional premium" fees are usually charged when you divide your car insurance annual premium into installments. Six month, quarterly or monthly are the typical breakdowns for most insurance companies. Generally, the more you break down your installments, the higher the administrative/fractional premium fees are. Always ask when applying for a new car insurance policy, and see exactly what the fees are for each payment you break down. Make sure to also ask your insurance provider if they offer an alternative way to make payments, such as Automatic Clearing House (ACH) processing, which withdraws the funds right from your checking account. This may help eliminate processing fees while helping you stick to your budget.
7. Personal property in your car is not covered by your auto insurance
Stolen or damaged items from within your car are not covered by your auto insurance policy. Most policies will only cover smaller and less expensive items like CDs, but if you carry more expensive things, you will want to consider adding a rider to your home insurance policy. Keeping photos or video of your items is also a good idea. If something is stolen from your car, you may have to file a claim on your home insurance if you do not have a rider in place.
Even though most states typically have similar laws in place for car insurance, they do not typically have similar car insurance rates. That's because Virginia car insurance rates are influenced by Virginia's geographic location and its state laws. With that being said, it is always a good idea to shop around and compare the rates of various auto insurance companies. To assist you in the process Insurance.com offers an auto insurance comparison application. Here, you will be able to evaluate multiple rates from best-in-class insurance providers - helping you find the cheapest auto insurance coverage for your budget.
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