HOME & AUTO INSURANCE QUESTIONS
Oklahoma insurance law requires that all vehicles with current tags be insured with at least the state minimum liability insurance. In Oklahoma, car insurance follows the car not the person. Insurance must be in the name of the titled owner of the vehicle to be valid. Each person 16 years of age or older that has a driver’s license in a household must be listed on the auto policy
or be excluded. Excluded drivers have no coverage if they cause an accident.
WHAT’S COVERED IN AN AUTO INSURANCE POLICY?
1. Liability is the only coverage required by the State of Oklahoma. This coverage pays for other people’s injuries (medical bills) and other people’s property (vehicle) if you or anyone driving your vehicle causes an accident.
There are two kinds of liability insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability pays for the medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering caused to passengers, pedestrians, or people in other vehicles in an auto accident for which drivers of your vehicle are responsible. It does not pay medical bills or lost income for the driver of your vehicle.
- Property damage liability pays for damage that your vehicle causes to the property of others. This includes damage to other vehicles, buildings, fences, etc. It does not pay for damage to your vehicle.
Oklahoma insurance law requires at least the minimum automobile liability coverage of 25/50/25. This covers bodily injuries up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. It also covers property damage up to $25,000. If you carry $25,000 of liability coverage and cause $35,000 of damage, your insurance will pay $25,000 and you pay the rest. Higher limits are strongly suggested.
2. Collision coverage pays for the repair of your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident after subtracting your deductible. Collision insurance is optional unless you have a loan on the vehicle. Your lender may require you to carry collision and comprehensive coverage.
3. Comprehensive insurance covers any damage to your vehicle “other than a collision”. This includes damage from falling objects, fire, vandalism, theft, wind, hail and other non-collision losses. It only pays for your vehicle and does not cover other vehicles or bodily injuries. Comprehensive insurance is optional unless you have a loan on the vehicle. A deductible will generally apply to this coverage.
4. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UM) coverage pays medical bills, short term disability and pain and suffering for you and your passengers if an accident is the other person’s fault and if they are uninsured or underinsured. In Oklahoma UM does not cover your vehicle if you are hit by an uninsured motorist. UM coverage is not required but strongly suggested.
5. Medical Payments coverage provides for doctor, hospital, and surgical expenses incurred by the driver and any passenger in your vehicle if injured in an auto accident. This coverage pays no matter who is at fault. Medical payments cover those listed on your policy even as passengers in someone else’s vehicle. Medical coverage is optional insurance.
6. Rental Reimbursement provides for a rental car up to the daily limit of your policy if your vehicle is in the shop for any insured reason.
7. Gap Insurance is only available when vehicles are first titled. This covers the difference between what you owe on a vehicle and what it may be worth at the time of a loss. If you owe $10,000 on your auto loan and the resale value of the vehicle is $8,000, insurance pays $8,000. This optional coverage would pay the $10,000 which covers the “gap” between the value of the vehicle and the loan, hence the name “gap insurance”.
CAN I OWN AN AUTO WITHOUT INSURANCE?
Yes, as long as the auto does not have tags. All tagged vehicles are required to carry proof of liability insurance at the time of registration, at the time of a ticket or accident, and at all times when the vehicle is on the road. If you are stopped for a traffic violation or involved in an accident and can not show proof of auto insurance in Oklahoma, your license can be suspended and you could pay a fine of up to $500.
HOW CAN I LOWER MY AUTO INSURANCE COSTS?
10 ways you can save money on auto insurance:
- Multi-policy discounts.
Many insurers will give you a discount if you buy two or more types of insurance from them. Renter’s insurance or home insurance can give you a discount on auto insurance.
- Safe vehicle discounts.
Look for discounts for air bags, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices.
- Safe driver discounts.
Safe driver discounts apply after 3 years without tickets, accidents or claims. Good Student discounts are available. Taking a defensive driver course can also reduce your rates.
- Raise your deductibles.
You could lower your insurance costs by increasing your deductibles.
- Check with your insurance agent before buying a vehicle.
Your premium is based in part on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its safety record and the likelihood of theft. Four-door vehicles are typically less to insure than two-door vehicles. Consider buying a “liability only” vehicle for drivers less than 20 years of age.
- Pay-in-Full discounts.
Installment payments fit most budgets, but paying in full can save the monthly service fee and give a 10% discount with nearly all insurance companies. This can save you $200 – $400/yr. on auto insurance.
You can prevent paying higher premiums in the future by obtaining a non-owner’s policy if you are a regular operator of someone else’s vehicle or continuing a “comprehensive only” policy while your disabled vehicle is being repaired. A lapse of 5 – 30 days can put you in a “no-prior” status with a non-standard company. Having continuous insurance for 6 – 12 months will give you a “prior insurance” discount in a standard company.
- The location can make a difference.
Rural home addresses have lower premiums than vehicles garaged in a city.
- Stay with an insurer.
If you have maintained your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive special consideration. Several insurers reduce their premiums by 5% after staying with them for three to five years.
- Check your policy.
Work with your insurance agent to construct a policy that fits your needs. Eliminate unnecessary and duplicate coverage’s.
Buying a home is one of the single largest investments that most people ever make. Home insurance safeguards your investment by providing financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the structure of the home and the contents. It can also protect against property damage and injury to others while they are visiting your home.
WHAT’S COVERED BY HOME INSURANCE?
A standard home insurance policy includes these four basic coverage’s.
1. Structure coverage pays to repair or rebuild your home and/or roof if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, tornado, hail, lightning or other disaster listed in your policy. When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, it is important to buy enough to rebuild your home (approx $100/sq ft). Most standard policies also cover structures that are detached from your home such as a garage, shed, fence or pool. Detached structures are covered for about 10% of the home coverage and are included free with standard policies.
2. Contents coverage pays for your furniture, clothes, sports equipment and other personal items if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, tornado or other insured disaster. Most companies provide 50% – 75% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure for contents coverage. Up to 10% of your contents are also covered anywhere in the world. There are limitations to the amount of coverage for expensive items such as jewelry, furs, silverware and computers. To insure these items to their full value you may purchase additional insurance for its’ appraised value or increase your standard limits. Contents coverage is included free with standard policies.
3. Liability protection covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people while they are at your home. Some insurance companies exclude liability from dog bites or trampolines. Check your policy and know your exclusions.
Your policy also provides guest medical coverage. In the event a friend or neighbor is injured on your property, he or she can submit medical bills directly to your insurance company up to the limit set in your policy. This coverage does not pay for your family medical bills.
4. Loss of Use pays additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable for any insured reason. It covers hotel bills or rent in another home and other additional living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt. Loss-of-use coverage usually is limited to one year or less.
WHAT’S NOT COVERED?
Most insurers exclude damages caused by acts of war, nuclear accident and terrorism. Maintenance issues and routine wear and tear are not covered. There are limits to money, jewelry, guns, computers and items of high value. Home insurance does not cover the land under or around your home. It does not cover rising ground water (flood) or earth movement (earthquake). Earthquake insurance and flood insurance can be purchased separately. Your insurance agent, real estate agent or lender can help you determine if you live in a flood plain. Follow this link to help determine your flood risk . Read your homeowners insurance policy to find out what is not covered.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HOMEOWNERS POLICIES?
Yes. HO-1, HO-3 and HO-5 are the standard homeowner’s policies. HO-4 is Renters insurance for contents and liability only. HO-6 is condo insurance. HO-8 is a non-replacement type policy used for older homes insured at lower market values. DF-1 – DF-3 are typically for vacant, second or seasonal homes and landlord policies. MH-1 – MH-3 are Mobile home policies. Coverage’s vary within these polices.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COVERAGE’S?
There are two basic types of coverage’s. 1. “Replacement cost” coverage can be from 100% to 150% of the face value of the policy depending on endorsements. With replacement cost coverage damage would be replaced with new, like kind and quality. Replacement cost coverage can be available for A. the structure of your home, B. the contents, and C. the roof. Each coverage is separate in the policy. 2. An “actual cash value” (ACV) policy includes depreciation. The older your possessions are, the less you will get if they are damaged. ACV coverage will not be enough to rebuild the home or replace the roof.
CAN I OWN A HOME WITHOUT HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE?
Yes. A home insurance policy is only required if you have a loan on your home. This protects the interest of the mortgage company in case of a loss.
HOW CAN I LOWER MY HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE COSTS?
10 ways you can save money on home insurance:
- Raise your deductible.
The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance pays. Increasing your deductible to $1,000, $2,500 or $5,000 can save an additional 10% each.
- Buy home and auto policies from the same company.
Many companies give multi-policy discounts if you buy both homeowners and auto insurance from them. You can save 10 – 30% for multi-policies depending on the company.
- The home can make a difference.
Newer homes are likely to have lower rates. Pre-1930 homes or homes that have not been updated to electric circuit breakers can be more expensive to insure. Frame homes are more expensive than masonry homes to insure.
- The location can make a difference.
Insurance premiums are lower if you live within 5 miles of a manned fire department and within 1000 feet of a hydrant. Avoiding flood zones will save you money.
- Avoid other risks.
Trampolines and aggressive dogs can raise your insurance rates.
- Insure your home, not the land.
Home insurance does not cover land. Subtract the price of the land from your property value to determine how much insurance you need for the house and contents. $85/sq ft will rebuild an average home in Oklahoma.
- Improve security.
Deadbolt locks, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors can bring discounts of 5%. Your insurance company may also offer discounts up to 10% for a partial or central monitored alarm system.
- Senior discounts.
Insurance companies have found that retired people stay at home more and notice fires sooner than working people. Older people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you’re at least 55 years old and retired, you might qualify for a discount up to 10%.
- Check your policy.
Finding an insurance agent early can save you money. Insurance agents are a great resource for information and can help you find the lowest insurance premiums. Work with your insurance agent to construct a policy that fits your needs. Ask about value package discounts.