How to Get Safety Discounts on Car Insurance

For those of us who can remember standing on the front seat of a Buick Special while mom drove to the market, or cruising around in a Plymouth convertible with no seat belts, modern safety equipment may seem a touch extreme. But with roughly 246 million cars on the road these days (and distracted driving on the rise), it’s clear that a lackadaisical approach to vehicle safety will no longer do. These days, stock safety devices are becoming increasingly common, and in many states, they can also earn drivers discounts on car insurance.

And as cars become more futuristic, more and more car manufacturers are pushing the envelope on safety features. Older items — like seat belts and airbags — are now standard on new cars, and newer, stronger features are constantly being tested.

Safety device discounts on car insurance

Stock safety devices are becoming increasingly common, and in many states, they can also earn drivers discounts on car insurance. Many car insurance companies — Esurance included — offer built-in discounts if your vehicle features automatic seat belts, airbags, and similar safety equipment. And if you’ve added safety features to your car, you may be able to select more safety equipment-related discounts.

Some good examples of safety equipment include:

  • Seat belts — It’s hard to believe that the first mandatory seat belt law in the nation passed in New York just 27 years ago. Nowadays, seat belts are an absolute minimum when it comes to safety, and not wearing one could cost you a chunk of change if you’re pulled over.
  • Airbags — While airbags started to become more commonplace in the late 1980s, driver and passenger airbags have only been mandatory since 1998 (or 1999 for trucks).
  • Head restraints — It may seem like a no-brainer these days, but remember when mom could reach over the seat and wipe your nose? Quality head restraints can prevent whiplash, and are mostly standard in modern cars.

Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) discount

Like seat belts and head restraints, it’s easy to take anti-lock brakes for granted. And though they’ve been on the scene since 1978, they’re still not standard on all vehicles. They’re often available as an optional extra, however, and could be worth the investment.

Anti-Theft discount

You might also qualify for discounts on your car insurance if your car’s equipped with an anti-theft device like LoJack®, Teletrac, or OnStar.

To find out if you have certain devices or features, check your user’s manual, or contact a nearby dealer.

Discounts by state

Please note (and this is important): All car insurance discounts vary by state. Visit our discount page to find out which discounts Esurance offers in your hometown, or check with your insurer to see what they have available.

Additional resources

How to differentiate anti-theft systems
More info on Esurance discounts
State-specific insurance info

How to Find a Reputable Repair Shop

Our partners at CARSTAR offer high-quality, reliable repair service in 30 states and 10 Canadian provinces. We asked them if they could provide some insider insight into what makes a great repair shop, and they gave us the following 5 tips for finding a reputable repair facility.

Spare yourself a headache

“It’s all about doing your research, making sure they are well-trained, certified and financially solid, and confirming all of the details of the repair process in writing,” says Dan Bailey, president and COO of CARSTAR. “Just doing some homework in advance can save a lot of headaches and money in the long run.”

Ask your insurance company for advice

If you skip tip 1, go directly to your insurance company. Esurance, for example, offers an E-star® locator that makes it easy to find an approved facility in your neck of the woods. Choosing a shop that your insurer recommends gives them leverage to assist you should an issue arise during the process or after the repairs are complete. In the case of E-star shops, it also means a lifetime guarantee on your repairs.

Choose an established shop

Always beware of fly-by-night operators trying to make a quick buck off of weather events like hail storms or tornadoes. If a shop’s set up in a tent or temporary location, don’t trust it with your vehicle. Make sure their technicians are I-CAR trained and find out if the shop belongs to any business or trade associations.

See for yourself

Visit the body shop and survey the location. If the lobby, customer areas, and repair bays are clean and well-organized, it’s more likely the business is well run. We also recommend you talk with the staff — it doesn’t take long to determine if they will treat you with respect and honesty.

Get it in writing

Once you feel comfortable with a repair shop, be sure to get the following in writing before repairs begin:

  • A detailed description of the parts to be replaced and whether they are OEM, new or refurbished, and in what condition the car will be returned to you.
  • An exact timeline of when the work will be done and the job completed (Keep in mind, that if additional damage is found, the completion date could change.)
  • Detailed payment terms and methods, including down payment, final payment, and costs for any follow-up work.
  • The terms of the warranty. Reputable repair facilities will offer a warranty of some sort for the work they complete. Make sure the terms are clearly explained and set down on paper.

It’s also a good idea to ask the store manager for regular updates on the job, and require approval for any work done outside the original estimate. (With RepairView™ from Esurance, you’ll receive daily photos, online or on your smartphone, of your repairs in progress.)

“Taking your car to a body shop doesn’t have to be an intimidating or frightening process,” Bailey said. “A good auto body repair center is your partner in repairing your car and returning you to the road safely. You want to make sure you do your research to find a partner that truly fits your repair needs.”

For information on CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts and store locations visit www.CARSTAR.com.

4 Ways to Reset Your Car Clock for Daylight Savings

Less sleep, more daylight. We’ll miss that hour in bed, but many will gladly make the exchange for the promise of the warmer, brighter days. There’s just the pesky matter of all those clock changes. Millions of us scrambled around the house yesterday to sync the microwave clock to the oven, the DVR to the DVD player, and the alarm clock to the ol’
Kit-Cat.

Then there’s the dashboard of your car. Each car clock and stereo seems to possess its own set of frustratingly nuanced directions. And if you’re like most folks, it’ll be weeks before you give in and adjust your dashboard clock.

If the thought of resetting the time on your dash made you wince, we’re here to help. Here are some ways to ease the frustration of figuring out your clock, so that you can embrace the longer, sunnier days ahead:

Consult your car’s manual for directions

Don’t worry if the book isn’t in your glove box! Almost all vehicle instruction manuals are available for download online, and most are free. Edmunds.com publishes a list of links to manufacturers’ manuals.

Ask your favorite search engine

This is where the Internet shines. Try a quick search like this: “How to set the clock in a (insert your car’s make/model)”. If you’re struggling to reset your car’s clock, chances are a fellow driver has already written about it online.

Try the volume and radio tuning buttons or dials

Often, these pull double-duty and are used to add or subtract minutes and hours. Press the “clock” or “time” button again, and you should be able to toggle from minutes to hours.

Eh, just leave it

It’ll be correct again in November. If your friends ask why you haven’t changed it, tell them you’re really into nostalgia.

Once you’ve got your clock situation figured out, make your car smarter with these aftermarket upgrades.

(polls)

What Is an SR-22? Top 6 Things You Should Know

The SR-22. Most people probably have a hazy idea of what it is. Maybe you’ve had a friend who needed one or you understand vaguely that it has to do with car insurance. But really, what is an SR-22? Is it something you get from the DMV or your car insurance company? Does everyone have to have one? Is it bigger than a breadbox?

It seems that, aside from a general sense of foreboding, most people don’t know much about SR-22s. And that’s fine. As long as you practice safe driving and don’t let your insurance lapse, you’ll never need one. But just in case, here are a few SR-22 insurance basics to help keep you in the know.

What’s an SR-22?

An SR-22 — also known as SR-22 insurance or Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR) — isn’t a type of car insurance, but verification that you’re maintaining car insurance liability coverage. An SR-22 form is a state-mandated certificate filed by your car insurance carrier with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Who needs an SR-22?

An SR-22 is required when someone who was in an accident or convicted of a traffic offense couldn’t show financial responsibility. For example, you’d need an SR-22 if you were caught driving without car insurance.

You might also need an SR-22 if you had any of the following:

  • A DUI or DWI or any serious moving violation
  • An at-fault accident while driving without insurance
  • Repeat traffic offenses or too many tickets in a short time period
  • A revoked or suspended license

What does an SR-22 cost?

Though it varies by state, car insurance companies will typically charge a nominal fee of $15 to $25 for filing an SR-22 form.

If you need an SR-22, however, you’ll first need to purchase a car insurance policy. Your car insurance rate will be determined based on all the factors that normally go into rating a policy. However, keep in mind that car insurance companies generally consider drivers who need an SR-22 riskier to insure, so your car insurance rates will likely reflect the risk.

We recommend shopping around, but remember, the cheapest SR-22 insurance quotes may not be the best. You should always consider the company’s service, financial responsibility, and reliability when making an insurance purchase of any kind.

How do I get an SR-22?

To obtain an SR-22, you’ll need to go through your car insurance provider. Only an insurance company that is filed with the state can issue SR-22s.

Additionally, if you have an SR-22 in one state but move to another, you’ll need to fulfill the SR-22 requirements for your former state, and your new liability limits will need to meet the minimums required by law in your former state.

Learn more about filing an SR-22 here.

How long does an SR-22 have to be maintained?

Most states require drivers to carry SR-22 insurance for 3 years. In that time, continuous coverage must be maintained. If there is an insurance lapse or cancellation, your car insurance company is legally obligated to notify the DMV and your license will be suspended.

How can I avoid an SR-22 requirement?

You can avoid the complication and expense involved with an SR-22 filing by simply maintaining your car insurance and practicing safe driving.

Here are a few useful reminders:

  • Don’t drink and drive. DUIs and DWIs are the most common reasons for needing to file an SR-22 certificate.
  • Drive safe. Not only can too many moving violations result in an SR-22, they can significantly increase your car insurance premiums.
  • Don’t drive without insurance. If you don’t have car insurance and you’re pulled over, you’ll be required to prove financial responsibility by way of an SR-22.

Bottom line: Drive carefully and stay insured and you’ll never need to know any more than this about the SR-22 (which, by the way, is smaller than a breadbox).

And if 6 facts about SR-22s just aren’t enough, find out what SR-22 actually stands for.

You have questions about SR-22s. We have answers.

Bike Locks & Renters Insurance: Tips for Protecting Your Bike

If you’re a cyclist, you know that few things are as disheartening as leaving a great movie or delicious dinner and finding some or all of your bike missing. Protecting your bike isn’t always easy and just like a home robbery, bike theft feels like a personal violation.

But there’s some good news: In most cases, your homeowners or renters insurance policy will cover bike theft — even when it happens away from home. If your bike’s been stolen, file a police report (ALWAYS), then contact your insurance provider. After you pay your deductible, you’ll be covered for the remainder of your bike’s current market value.

Since the police and your insurance company will want to establish that you took preventive measures, get in the habit of locking up correctly. Here are a few tips for protecting your bike against theft.

Choosing your lock

Start with the highest-quality lock you can afford. U-shaped locks are easy to carry and come in a wide range of proven models — OnGuard and Kryptonite both make difficult-to-break locks with great warranties.

Always choose a lock that releases with a key, not a combination. Combinations aren’t easy to figure out, but their dials can be exploited by accomplished bike thieves.

Once you have your lock, complete the warranty or registration form. This way the manufacturer knows that you own it (and may even replace it if a thief breaks it). More important, the registration form serves as another piece of evidence that you took necessary precautions.

Using your lock

Use multiple locks, or locks and cables, to secure every part of the bike you can. The most expensive parts of your bike are the frame and the rear wheel. So if you put your lock around only 2 pieces, make it those.

The “U-lock technique” is the most secure locking method, and requires a large lock, like the Kryptonite Bicycle U-Lock.

The “cable and U-lock method” only requires a small lock, but it’s essential that you place the lock around the rear wheel within the confines of the frame’s rear triangle. (This prevents the 2 from being separated, even if a thief detaches your rear wheel.) It’s also a good idea to add a cable to this setup. Loop the cable through your front wheel and attach it to your lock. You can often get a small lock and cable as a set.

Don’t hold components in place with a “quick-release” (QR) lever. Seatpost clamps and axles often have QR elements, but your local bike shop can help you fix that.

Always lock up in well-lit areas, among other bikes if possible. The more your bike can blend in, the safer it is.

If you can’t lock to a proper bike rack, lock up to something that’s securely attached to the ground, and make sure would-be thieves can’t slip the lock over the top. Remember, thieves don’t have to ride your bike away, they just have to GET it away.

Utilizing your insurance

And if, in spite of your best efforts, some savvy thief manages to steal your wheels, your homeowners or renters insurance can help minimize the loss. If you have a policy, check to see if your bike’s covered. If you don’t have a policy, you can get a free renters or homeowners insurance quote from Esurance.