As we roll into summer and say goodbye to one of the strangest and most trying school years in recent memory, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief, shake it off and take care of ourselves a little. If you live anywhere near the Jersey Shore, this will most likely include pulling out the beach chair and umbrella and packing all of the day-at-the-beach essentials. If you are keeping it close to home this summer, you might be thinking about that home improvement project or much-neglected hobby.
Truth is, summer is the time that many educators get done all the stuff that is hard to get to during the school year. I know from my experience in the insurance industry that summer is a time that many educators review their home and auto insurance. Of course, that makes a lot of sense, while August is still technically part of the break, we all know that a lot of planning and purchasing for the coming school year kicks in big time when July flips over to August.
So, if you are one of the many educators who have “review my auto insurance” on their list for the summer, I want to offer a few insider tips to help you get the most value from your choice of coverages and companies. Here are three key “insider” tips to keep in mind.
#1 Time your car insurance shopping right
While factors like your accident and violations history are very well known drivers of price, there are several, relatively lesser known factors that can affect what you pay. One of those factors is the frequency at which you change insurance carriers. In the industry, this is typically referred to as “prior tenure.” Insurers typically give better rates to shoppers who have been with their prior company for three years or more. That’s not to say that you may have good reason to switch sooner, such as a steep rate increase with your current company, or the coming addition of a new teen driver in the household. Just know that the ideal timing is when you have been with your current company for three years or more.
#2 Don’t buy low limit, minimum coverages
This is another one of those slightly counterintuitive things about car insurance purchasing. You might think, “I can keep my insurance bill low and save a bunch of money by purchasing only what is required by state law.” However, there is more than one way that this strategy can backfire. First, most licensed agents will advise against this choice, simply because it can leave you exposed to a lot of out- of-pocket costs if you are involved in an accident. Secondly (and this is the lesser known fact), you will most likely not be offered the best rates if you have a history of carrying only minimum coverage. This signals higher risk, and will set you up for higher insurance rates when you shop next. Avoid this by consistently purchasing higher limits.
#3 Take advantage of your educator status
When it comes to insurance, it pays to teach. While not all states allow insurance companies to use occupation as a rating factor, there are still many that do (New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for example). It is often hard to tell just how much your educator occupation status will save you. Companies may use your educator occupation in conjunction with many other factors to determine your premium. In these cases, you may not really know what your occupation status saved you. With other companies, some more concrete and knowable benefits come from your educator status.
Plymouth Rock Assurance is a good example. In New Jersey, their Teachers’ Insurance Plan of NJ offers special rates for educators, typically significantly lower than what they might offer non-educators with all other rating factors held equal. On top of that, Teachers’ Insurance Plan of NJ policyholders get some other benefits thrown in: 24-7 roadside assistance, zero deductible for certain at school claims, and deductibles waived for accidents that occur while you are traveling for school-related functions (like when you are on the road coaching your team or advising your club). In Pennsylvania, Plymouth Rock offers a 10% discount to educational employees. For a free educator auto insurance consultation (along with other personal insurance products, like homeowners and renters policies) call Plymouth Rock at 800-521-4084.
The bottom line here is to do your homework and be sure to get at least one quote from a company that is known for offering lower rates to educators. Here’s to a healthy, happy and safe summer. And here’s to saving some money on your car insurance! You’ve certainly earned it.
- Chris West, Ph.D., is editor of the Plymouth Rock Teachers’ Lounge and has worked in the insurance industry since 2015.
Plymouth Rock Assurance® and Plymouth Rock® are brand names and service marks used by separate underwriting, managed insurance, and management companies that offer property and casualty insurance in multiple states pursuant to licensing arrangements. In New Jersey, insurance is underwritten by Palisades Safety and Insurance Association, Palisades Insurance Company, High Point Property and Casualty Insurance Company, High Point Safety and Insurance Company, High Point Preferred Insurance Company, Teachers Auto Insurance Company of New Jersey, Twin Lights Insurance Company, Rider Insurance Company, and Palisades Property and Casualty Insurance Company. In Pennsylvania, insurance is underwritten by Palisades Insurance Company, High Point Preferred Insurance Company, Palisades Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and Rider Insurance Company. Each underwriting and managed insurance company is a separate legal entity that is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company. Some discounts, coverages, payment plans, features and benefits are not available in all states and companies.
Roadside assistance is provided by Quest Towing Services (QTS). Water and up to two gallons of gas are provided free of charge (delivery of gas limited to four (4) times in any twelve (12) month period). Other fluids provided at additional cost. If your car is disabled, it will be towed to the closest dealer or authorized repair facility of your choice within 25 miles. If there is no repair facility within 25 miles, then it will be towed to the closest repair facility, with no out-of-pocket expense (towing limited to six (6) occurrences in any twelve (12) month period). Roadside assistance is not available for vehicles that are disabled as a result of an accident. A $75 limit applies to reimbursements for roadside assistance services that were not obtained by contacting QTS. If a service call is not cancelled before the service provider is on their way, or the policyholder is not present when the service provider arrives, it will count towards their usage limit even if no service is provided.
Pennsylvania affinity group discounts apply to policies written in Palisades Insurance Company and are not available through Independent Agents or Prudential Financial Advisors. If a policy qualifies for an affinity group discount in more than one group, only one affinity group discount will apply.