So, your driving has gotten a little rusty, and it’s time for some training. Or, perhaps you’ve been ordered to take a course. Either way, we don’t judge, but we do want you to choose a course that’s right for you.
Your reason for taking the course may play a significant role in the one you choose.
If you’re looking to potentially save on your car insurance, your insurer may only recognize certain courses. Likewise, not every defensive driving course is valid or accepted in every state. That means, if you are taking one to dismiss a ticket or remove points from your driving record, you will need to learn from the court or appropriate state department (such as vehicle licensing) which courses are approved.
Here are three more tips to help you find the right course for your needs and your budget:
1. Consider your learning style
You’ll get more out of your defensive driving course if you choose one with a learning environment that works for you. You can complete an online course from the comfort of your own home, for example, but classroom options may also be available, depending on your area and the course material.
Online courses offer convenience, save time and may also cost less than in-person classes. However, classroom options might offer additional interaction or fit your learning style better. Either option can range from 4-12 hours over one day or several days.
2. Look at reviews
State-approved courses will likely have the most useful course material, but searching online review sites such as Yelp and others may help you find other quality options for defensive driving or accident prevention training. Keep in mind that people might be more inclined to post negative reviews, particularly if they felt forced to take a course to avoid a ticket.
3. Determine whether the cost is worth it
Courses range widely in cost, again depending on your area and the course material, as well as whether it’s online or in person. So, if you’re taking a course primarily to save on your auto insurance, be sure to check with your carrier or agent first about how much of a car insurance discount you may receive.
For example, if you stand to save $50 on your car insurance premium each year for three years, you probably wouldn’t want to spend more than $150 on the training. And, while having to take a state-approved course may limit your choices, potentially resulting in a higher cost, it may be worth it if it keeps a ticket off your driving record.
There’s a key benefit to defensive driving courses beyond ticket avoidance and insurance discounts, though: Your driving may improve! You’ll possibly learn about new laws, be reminded of some things you’ve forgotten and get an overall refresher on good, safe driving. And, that’s worthwhile, no matter what.
Insurance isn't something many renters give a lot of thought to. In fact, a study by the Insurance Information Institute a few years ago found that only about 31 percent of renters buy renters insurance.
If you're renting, it's worth your while to consider joining their ranks. When you rent an apartment or house, your landlord is not responsible for your personal belongings if they’re stolen or damaged. You are, and renters insurance can help.
Renters insurance can also help protect you if you’re held legally responsible for injuries to another person while they’re visiting your home. And, because the policies don't cover the building itself, premiums can be relatively inexpensive.
If you decide to look for renters insurance, here are a few questions to ask to ensure you get the coverage you want.
One day following a particularly nasty hailstorm, you receive a knock on your front door. It’s roofing contractors, and they can replace your roof at no cost to you – it’s covered by your insurance.
Suspicious? You should be.
Roofing contractors (the not-so-reputable kind) spring into action following a storm, coaxing homeowners into okaying work that may or may not be needed and may or may not be covered by their insurance. So, despite how genuine the contractors may seem, it’s smart to remain wary until you work out a few key details. These scenarios and tips should help you sort out any confusion.
Contractors: Want to Take a Quick Look at Your Roof
You: Should Decline
The problem with this scenario is, if you let dishonest contractors onto your roof, they might do more than just look for damage. They might go so far as to cause damage. Why? They want a reason to replace your roof. There’s money in it for them, remember? So, if they don’t see a valid reason, they may attempt to create one.
When representatives from your insurance company come out to take a look, they will likely know the difference between actual storm damage and artificial damage. And, since you only have coverage for the former, according to the terms of your policy, you may have to pay out-of-pocket to repair the latter. So, leave the initial roof inspection to your insurance company or to someone you know and trust.
Contractors: Insist on Starting Work Right Away
You: Should Research, Not Rush
So, the contractors want to begin work right away and handle the insurance details later. All you need to do is sign. Not so fast. You haven’t been in touch with your insurance company, you don’t know anything about the roofers and you likely haven’t had a chance to read the fine print – all red flags.
This is when you stop and ask for the roofers’ business card and references and tell them you may be in touch. Then contact your insurance company, which can likely recommend a reputable roofing contractor in your area. If you wish, look into the other contractors’ reputation online, such as with the Better Business Bureau or other online review sources.
Contractors: Say Your Insurance Company Will Pay the Entire Cost of a New Roof
You: Need to Hear This From Your Carrier, Not a Contractor
Sure, a contractor may say you’re entitled to a new roof because a storm went through the area or because your neighbor’s getting a new roof. However, a random contractor doesn’t know the specifics of your homeowners insurance policy. That’s why it’s important to start with your insurance company when facing the need for potential roof repairs or a potential roof replacement following a storm. This allows you to understand whether or not you have coverage for the scenario at hand. It also helps you know how much you may need to pay out of your own pocket, such as your deductible. And, isn’t that nice to know upfront?
Contractors: Want You to Assign Your Insurance Benefits to Them
You: Should Be Very Cautious
Say you assign your insurance benefits to roofing contractors, who claim this will make the whole process quicker and easier. The problem here is that you may end up being scammed. The contractor may pocket the insurance money and skip town before finishing your roof repairs.
The bottom line is this: Rushing into roof repairs or a roof replacement may leave you on the line for some or all of the costs. So, be wary of contractors going door-to-door in your neighborhood, and contact your insurance company at once if you suspect you have roof damage following a storm.
If you still find yourself hiring or interacting with a roofer, here are some tips:
5 Tips for Dealing With a Roofing Contractor
We know it can all seem a little daunting. We just want you to be aware of some scenarios you may encounter so you can protect yourself. Because, while not all roofing companies engage in disreputable behavior, some of them certainly do.
So, remember, get in touch with your independent insurance agent or your insurance company first to deal with storm damage. Doing so may just help you avoid unsavory characters and contract conditions.
Carolina Insurance Alliance
Brought to you by Carolina Insurance Alliance, LLC.