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Many factors affect the premium you pay, including which insurance company you choose. Every insurance company uses different methods to rate their risk of insuring you and charge different premiums for similar coverage, but the following are generally the main items that will affect your premium.
Read your policy! It’s your guide to the types of losses that will and will not be covered and to filing claims. How often you file a claim and the types of claims you file often affect your premium and whether your insurer will renew your policy. If the cost to repair the damage is not much more than your deductible, you may want to pay for the repairs without filing a claim.
To file a claim, call the phone number on your proof-of-insurance card as soon as possible. Ask about forms or documents you’ll need to support your claim. Each state has its own laws about the claims process, and both you and your insurer will need to follow those rules.
The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to assess the damages and determine the payment. These adjusters may be employees of the company or independent contractors. You should cooperate with the adjuster’s investigation of your claim. The adjuster will probably want to meet with you to inspect the damage. Jot down notes and keep track of the dates of any conversations you have with your agent or adjuster.
If you, the insurer and the claims adjuster disagree, first try to resolve the differences with your insurer. Your agent may be helpful. It also might help to have your auto repairer meet with you and the insurance adjuster.
Don’t feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with; your insurer doesn’t have the last word. Ask questions and ask the adjuster to provide a written explanation of his decisions.
If you and the insurer still disagree about the claim handling or settlement, you should ask for help from the consumer services personnel at your state insurance department. If you disagree about the value of the claim, check your policy for an appraisal clause.
Another option is to hire an attorney or a public adjuster. A public adjuster isn’t an attorney or a government employee. Those states that allow public adjusters require them to be licensed and to follow certain guidelines. If you have questions about public adjusters in your state, contact your state insurance department.
There’s a big difference between an insurance company cancelling your policy and not renewing it.
Cancellation means either you or your insurance company stop the coverage before the policy’s normal expiration date. You can always cancel your policy for any reason.
In most states, when you’re a new policyholder, your insurance company can cancel your policy for any reason, but only for a limited time (typically 60 days). After that, there’s a limited number of reasons a company can cancel you, typically only if you don’t pay your premium or if you were dishonest on your application.
If your insurance company cancels your policy, it must give you advance notice. The number of days’ notice varies by state. If you or the insurer cancels your policy, the company may refund part of your premium.
Non-renewal means the company refuses to renew your policy after it expires. The expiration date is on your policy. Insurance companies generally have the right to not renew your policy. If your company chooses to not renew your policy, it must give you notice before your policy expires; the number of days (typically 30) varies by state. You should ask the insurer for the reason, which state regulation may limit. You also may choose to not renew your auto policy.
If your insurance is canceled or non-renewed and you don’t agree with the insurance company’s explanation, contact your state insurance department for advice.