Private Hire, Minicab and Chauffeur Insurance Premiums Set To Rise Dramatically

Many of the big insurance companies in the UK that have for some time insured chauffeur driven cars are pulling out of that sector of the market for good due to heavy losses incurred over the last few years with claims going into tens of thousands of pounds per claim. Another company QBE will only accept renewal on existing chauffeur insurance policies but is turning down any proposals for new business. There are some new entrants coming into the market for chauffeur insurance but most of them are quoting ridiculous prices sometimes reaching up to three times as much of what the former companies were charging. Not only are they increasing the premiums on the chauffeur and minicab insurance but the added extras which made these packages so attractive are starting to disappear or have an extra charge attached to them. The PCO licensed loan / replacement car that used to be offered to London chauffeurs is now a chargeable extra. Many companies are refusing to give out open policies for any driver/chauffeur over the age of 25 or 30 and want named drivers only even with the high chauffeur insurance premiums increase.

The new pricing for private hire insurance will affect the industry badly and it is expected to drive the legal, law abiding licensees to cutting corners like keeping the car on a private insurance policy with the hope that they can get away with. Owner drivers who are working on their own with a chauffeur driven Mercedes Benz S class will never have to worry about this “little technicality” because the PCO inspectors are never thorough enough with their onsite or offsite inspections which should include talking to the clients/passengers at Heathrow and asking very simple questions as to what phone number they have rung to book the car and/or what the London chauffeur company they have booked this with is called.

It is understandable that the PCO licensees will look to cut this expense since the anti touting operations run in central London only target the minicab tout who is doing 20 jobs per night from the West End and not the chauffeur tout who is driving a brand new uninsured chauffeur driven Mercedes Benz S class which the authorities find very intimidating and hesitate to stop especially when it is registered in Germany or France. An operation run by the London Metropolitan police has been set up for this kind of offence due to these cars entering the UK and not paying speeding fines, parking tickets or the London congestion charge but until all the agencies start working together on this issue we will be in a harsh competition battle with people that shouldn’t even be driving on the UK roads.

Understanding Flood Insurance

Introduction Flood Insurance protects your house & possessions from loss by rising water from the outside. Think about a river or creek overflowing into your home… a frightening thought. Homeowner’s and other property insurance specifically exclude this peril.

If you own a house in a known flood risk area (i.e., the 100-year floodplain) with a bank loan, your mortgage bank will normally require flood insurance. For most homeowners, handling this mortgage bank flood insurance requirement is all they focus on and they ignore their true flood hazard. Then when a major storm does come, they have inadequate flood insurance coverage often with too little coverage on their house (often only the home loan balance) and no contents protection.

Also, over 25% of flood damage happens each year to properties outside of a known flood risk area (100-year floodplain). Central Texas had a recent example of an “out-of-the-blue” rain event that caused very intense flooding well beyond the known flood risk areas. The so-called “Marble Falls Rain Bomb” in June 2007 damaged over 100 homes & business around the city of Marble Falls with a very sudden 19 inch rainfall. A “Preferred Risk Flood Insurance Policy,” available to homeowners beyond the 100-year floodplain, can protect your home and possessions at a very modest price.

My city of Austin is part of the Central Texas “Flash Flood Alley” and has a long history of major flooding along its creeks and the Colorado River. Dams located on Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, built in the 1940’s, has helped control the very destructive flooding of the Colorado River. Today, the biggest risk is along the many creeks in our urban areas and the Colorado River south of Lady Bird Lake dam. Shoal, Bull and Walnut creeks in North Austin plus Onion and Williamson creeks in South Austin have considerable history of inundating adjacent areas.

Our neighboring Hill Country also has many creeks subject to flooding plus several major rivers that can rage with great torrents after heavy rain. The Llano and Pedernales Rivers both have had major flood events in recent years. The Llano River, surging into Lake LBJ has caused major flood damage along its normally calm waters on several occasions.

The hardest part of understand both your flood risk and flood insurance policies is the terminology. Most folks are confounded by its mix of insurance and engineering terms. Once you have a key to decipher the flood insurance nomenclature, things will make more sense. You also want to understand what your “Flood Zone” designation means. Finally, I have included an overview of the main components of a flood insurance policy.

Flood Insurance Terminology:

Base Flood Elevation – This is the level at which there is a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. A building that is located on land below the “Base Flood Elevation” is inside the 100-year floodplain.

Elevation Certificate – Clarifies the relative elevation of your house in relation to the know flood risk. This allows for more accurate rating of the flood insurance policy and may reduce your flood insurance rates.

Flood Maps (“FIRM” – Flood Insurance Ratings Maps) – Created by FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency), these maps were created to determine which land areas are likely to be flooded. These maps are based on surveys of the elevation of land areas relative to known flood risks (creeks, rivers, lakes, etc.).

Floodplain – Any normally dry land area that is susceptible to being inundated by water often because it is adjacent to a watercourse. The 100-year Floodplain is the land that would be inundated by a 100-year flood event.

Flooding – Rising water from outside enters a structure. An example would be a house inundation from a flash flood. The flood peril also includes mudslide.

Hundred Year Flood – An engineering term used to describe the relative flooding risk. A house that is located inside the Hundred Year Floodplain is considered to have a 1% chance of being flooded in any given year. Most mortgages require that a house that is located in a Hundred Year Flood risk area must be insured for flood.

LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) – Document used to establish that a building is not located in a Special Flood Hazard Area. A typical situation in which a LOMA would be important is when a part of a house lot is subject to flooding in a 100-year storm but the house itself has been built at a higher elevation.

National Flood Insurance Program – This is the government agency that provides insurance for the flood peril in the United States. Insurance companies are licensed to sell flood insurance policies for this government agency. All financial backing, rules and contract terms are set by the National Flood Insurance Program which is part of FEMA.

Special Flood Hazard Area – A geographic area that is prone to flooding. An example would be an area adjacent to a river that has an elevation low enough to be subject to flooding.

Flood Zones Designations:

A – River / stream flood risk AE – River / stream flood risk with mapped base flood elevations
AO – River / stream flood risk with shallow water depths (1-3 feet)
AH – River / stream flood risk with shallow water paths (flows of 1-3 feet)
V – Coastal or Storm Surge flood risk
VE – Coastal or Storm Surge flood risk with mapped base flood elevations
X – Not a Special Flood Risk Area (elevation above the 100-year floodplain)

Flood Insurance Overview

Property Coverages:

Building – Provides protection up to your limit for damage or destruction of your house or other dwelling from peril of flood including rising water and mudslide.

Contents – Provides protection for your clothes, appliances, furniture and other possessions at your residence from peril of flood including rising water and mudslide. Flood Insurance offers “Actual Cash Value” as the basis of settlement. Contents coverage is optional and has a separate deductible.

Secondary Structures (fences, sheds, etc.) – None (No coverage is extended to secondary structures from the standard flood policy. Coverage is only available for the main structure.)

Loss of Use: None (not available which is unfortunate)

Helpful Links:

FEMA / National Flood Insurance: FloodSmart.gov

Visit our website for more information on Flood Insurance: http://www.quoteaustininsurance.com/flood

Traffic Tickets Affect Insurance Rates

To keep the premium rates affordable, you must focus on safe driving

Insurance companies want to provide coverage because they basically think you are worth protecting. For them, there are generally two types of customers: safe-driver (which is the preferred class) and high-risk driver. Each type receives different treatments as the former has the bigger advantages such as discounts and generally cheaper rates. On the other hand, providing coverage for high-risk drivers is quite risky; insurers think that those drivers have tendencies to get involved in accidents. Based on this assumption, high-risk drivers will have to pay more without discounts and other good benefits. You are categorized as either safe or high risk type based on DMV’s data concerning driving records. Traffic offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, or driving while intoxicated are some of most important violations which will adversely affect your premium. Not wearing seat-belt is probably a minor one, which can be dismissed from the record after paying fines, will probably never affect anything. You can actually figure out whether you are in the “safe-driver” or “high-risk” category by using car insurance estimator; this tool provides a simple way to use some of your personal data to determine the cost.

Why Traffic Tickets Increase Your Premium Rate

Traffic laws are written to keep everybody who uses the roads safe. Hundreds of different routes have distinguishing features, for example speed limit, number of lanes, signals, road signs, etc. When obeyed properly by everyone, there is almost no possibility of accidents. Failure to comply with all the rules put everybody to risk of fatal injuries due to road accidents. You are not allowed to keep on going at red lights, speeding at school area, or driving to the wrong direction on certain lanes. Even if those offenses do not end up in accidents, you will be pulled over if you commit any of them. You will receive a fine for those violations. The fine are documented by DMV, attached to your records, and eventually will be checked by your insurers. If any important violation appears on the records, your company can simply transfer you from safe-driver category to the high-risk one, meaning you need to pay higher for the coverage. In worst case, your policies will be cancelled. When your policies are cancelled, it can be very difficult to get full coverage insurance, unless you purchase the policies from new insurers who accept high-risk drivers as customers.

A different traffic ticket affects the rate differently as well; some will only increase the premium slightly, while others can break the bank. Parking fines will not affect premium no matter how many you have collected. The biggest problem they can cause is vehicle registration renewal difficulties, but they will never increase your rate. A DUI (Driving under Influence), however, can be quite a problem. There are some types of citations including minor, major, and criminal. More severe offense means greater consequences. Some of the most common citations that will simply increase are excessive speeding, driving while intoxicated, careless or reckless driving, and driving without insurance. Each of them is considered major violation simply because it increases the likelihood of fatal accidents which end up in heavy injuries.

Note that accidents are not the only variables on driving records. There are many other things that they use to determine rates. It means even if you are never involved and at-fault in accidents, any fine will be enough for insurers to charge you more for the coverage. If you think the increase is too much, you can always find new less expensive insurer as long as you meet the minimum coverage requirement in your state. Some websites provide car insurance calculator services for not cost at all, meaning you can estimate the cost before even asking for the quotes. If you properly enter personal data, kind of car, and driving records, the results of the calculation will be accurate.

How Much Will My Rates Increase?

It is difficult to determine the actual amount of the increase. There are some important factors playing their roles such as the specific laws in your state and contractual agreement. A single auto fine for a minor infraction may not increase the rate at all. Your insurer will also consider your previous driving record. If this is your first offense and you have been good customer so far, you will probably be able to discuss the issue and ask them to ignore it. However, a DUI ticket is very serious and there is very little chance that you can get away with it without paying more for the coverage. Your driver license can be suspended for this offense as well. Also, repeated offense is often a reason that insurer cancels your policy. Some companies will not give coverage to high-risk driver, meaning you need to find new insurer before you can reinstate driver license. There are some big firms providing coverage for high-risk drivers; most even give free auto insurance quotes to potential customers. You can compare the quotes to find one that is suitable for your circumstances before deciding to make a purchase.

Please put in mind that any increase in the premium will only occur during renewal. You will probably not realize the increase months after the offense is committed. Bottom line, the best way to avoid any increase is to drive safely obeying any law and road sign you see while you are driving. If you stay on the safe side, your insurer has almost no reason to ask for more money to provide coverage for you. If you drive safe, any increase should be normal or caused by certain circumstances such as changing address to a more crowded area or bad credit score.

A different firm has different rules. You need to consult insurance agents or call your insurers for the details. Some of them simply cannot afford to provide coverage for high-risk driver, and they will cancel your policy due to any major infraction you commit. Luckily, you can find new insurer easily via Internet; you can access almost any company’s official website to get quick car insurance quote. It eliminates the hassles of making appointments with agents or making phone calls to all companies in your state. This is probably the quickest way to get back insured after policy cancellation.

About Parking Tickets

As previously mentioned, parking fines are highly unlikely to increase estimates. Other violations including Driving while intoxicated and speeding have clear correlations with the likelihood of accidents, but that almost has nothing to do with it. Parking tickets are non-moving violation, meaning the offense is committed while the vehicle is not moving. You will receive this fine if you park in the wrong place, such as fire zone or handicap park area. Furthermore, it does not demonstrate any lack of skill as driver. A parked vehicle is not liable for accident; even when the parked auto is involved in an accident, the fault rest on the moving vehicle that crashes into it. A driver must avoid fixed object of any kind including parked auto. When the vehicle is parked (even in the wrong place), it does not pose risk to insurer and will not affect your rates.

The problem is that being not-at-fault does not always mean that your company will pay for the repair. It certainly depends on the coverage you have. There are various types of coverage including comprehensive, liability, collision, medical payment, etc. A minimum requirement may not cover hit-and-run cases, for example when your parked auto is hit by another driver in a moving vehicle.

Parking tickets cause driver license suspension

While parking fines will not directly affect rates, they can unfortunately cause driver license suspension. It will only occur if you get too many tickets and you fail to pay the fines in time. A fine in a parking lot is considerably cheap, but many of them can be very expensive. Suspended driver license means you are not allowed to drive anymore, or you cannot legally drive your car anywhere. The companies will only want to provide coverage for legal drivers, and suspended license can cause policy cancellation. In such case, you need to re-apply for insurance as soon as your license in reissued. A suspended license due to parking fines is not major violation, so you can apply to new company easily. Some major companies give free quotes to potential customers. Just because you ask for the quotes, it does not mean you must purchase it. You can use it merely for comparison before you finally decide to make a purchase.

Fines from another state

In the past, you could get away with speeding fine issued in another state. You did not even have to pay it because the information concerning such issue would never reach your actual local DMV. Nowadays, information is sent electronically in an instant, and DMVs can access central database to all drivers. The database, popularly known as DLC (Driver License Compact), makes information available and easily accessible by almost all DMVs in the country. Therefore, fines from another state will affect insurance as well. All states are member of DLC except Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Georgia. Unless traffic offenses are committed in those states, it is almost impossible to avoid an increase in your premium rates. There is also another database known as National Driver Register which keeps all suspension records and reports them. In case your driver license is suspended, you cannot simply apply for a new one in another state.