Category Archives: Automobile

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REAL ID: New Massachusetts RMV Requirements, Explained.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has implemented new requirements for obtaining driver’s licenses, ID cards and learner’s permits. Effective March 26, 2018, you now need documentation showing U.S. citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal and state law.

What do these new RMV rules mean for you?

Whether you need a new ID or need to renew an expiring one, new requirements mean the process will go like this.

  1. Decide what type of ID you want – REAL ID or Standard Massachusetts ID. A REAL ID is valid for federal purposes, but a Standard Massachusetts ID is not.
  2. Complete your online application
  3. Bring required identification and a completed application to an RMV Service Center.

Why was this change made?

Implementing the Real ID brings Massachusetts into compliance with Federal requirements established in 2005 pertaining to security and terrorism resulting from the 2001 terror attacks. Please visit mass.gov/id for more information.

Will this change affect my auto insurance?

There could be some ramifications for your automobile insurance if you are unable to obtain a Massachusetts Driver’s License, whether it is a Real ID or not.

As your insurance agent, Cochrane & Porter is here to help. Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns.

7 Safe Winter Driving Tips

7 Safe Winter Driving Tips

Even experienced New England drivers know driving can be more challenging in the winter months. While snowfall and ice certainly create the most difficult situations, there are other factors at play like earlier nightfall, fog, and salt and dirt kick-up on windows that can reduce visibility and increase the likelihood of traffic accidents. We’ve put together a helpful list of 7 safe winter driver tips that all drivers should remember.

  • Winterize your vehicle

Our first safe winter driving tip is to take basic safety precautions like having your brakes, tires, battery life and fluid levels inspected. A mechanic will let you know if you need any work done to make sure your vehicle is functioning properly.

  • Check the weather!

It sounds obvious, but life can get in the way and rushing out the door is all too common. Take the time to check weather forecasts before heading out on the roads. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Charge Up

Many drivers use their cell phones as navigation devices and as an audio streaming source for music, audiobooks and podcasts. Another great benefit we enjoy in the age of smartphones is that we can quickly seek assistance if we have car trouble – including getting stuck in the snow. But that cell phone isn’t much use to you if the battery is dead! Try to remember to keep your phone charged before driving, especially in the winter. Keep a spare charging cable in your vehicle to use while you’re driving.

  • Fuel Up!

In the winter months, it’s important to keep your car fueled up. Don’t run the risk of getting stuck, even in ordinary traffic, with low fuel. Cold weather can quickly turn an otherwise frustrating situation into a potentially dangerous one.

  • Make sure your windshields, windows and mirrors are clean to ensure visibility.

Always brush snow off your car and scrape ice off before driving. Additionally, while modern ice-melt and removal treatments are a marvel that keep the roads running during and after winter storms, this extra salt, sand and other ice melting compounds tend to stick to vehicles and get them really, really dirty. This salt and sand can build up in important places that help with safe driving – like side mirrors and back windshields. A $15 car wash – although it won’t keep your car as clean as long as other times of year allow – can make a huge difference in safe driving.

  • Put Together a Winter Emergency Kit

Packing a winter emergency kit is a precautionary measure that can go a long way. First, the basics: you’ll want to include a first aid kit, blanket, flashlight, hand warmers, bottled water, snack bars, a multi-tool, and jumper cables. But you can also pack things like duct tape, a jack and lug wrench to change a tire, foam sealant for small tire leaks, map book, and more, just in case.

Did you know we offer roadside assistance coverage? 

  • Reduce speed to allow plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

This tip is vital. Snow, ice and even rain can make it more difficult for vehicles to brake, and the time it takes to brake can be the difference between an accident and a safe commute. Be patient and leave space!

Winter makes driving more challenging, but remembering these 7 tips will go a long way. Eventually Spring will come, but for now, let’s stay safe out there!

How to Save Money on Massachusetts Car Insurance

Your Massachusetts car insurance premium is based on your level of coverage and a number of other factors such as where you live, how much you drive, the type of car you drive, how long you’ve been driving and your driving record. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best ways you can save money on car insurance:

Shop Around

It’s 2017!  Why limit your options to the best rate available from a single company when you could have dozens of companies competing to insure you? But you don’t have to do that footwork yourself. At Cochrane & Porter, we can shop our selection of the top insurance companies in the state on your behalf!

Purchase Your Home and Auto Insurance from the Same Company

While shopping from different companies can save you money initially, our recent blog explains how you can save even more money by combining your car insurance with the insurance on your residence.

Maintain Continuous Insurance

Maintaining continuous coverage and never cancelling for nonpayment keeps rates down.

See If You Qualify for Additional Discounts

Many insurance companies offer additional premium discounts, and some may apply to you. These include:

  • Low mileage discounts
  • Safe driver discounts
  • Senior discounts
  • Good student discounts
  • Advanced driver training
  • Anti-theft discount
  • Pay In full discount
  • Paperless discount
  • Motor clubs (like AAA) discount
  • Automatic bill pay discount

Choosing Your Limits

Often, people think that higher limits will come with a higher premium. However, drivers with higher limits tend to be more appealing to insurance companies, so the difference between one limit and the next is often very minimal. In fact, sometimes the rate is actually lower if you go up to a higher limit. Also consider taking a look at increasing your Collision and Comprehensive deductibles to lower your premium rate.

Package Endorsements

Many companies offer at least one Package Endorsement that takes a number of individual endorsements and puts them in a package endorsement that is significantly less than adding all of the endorsements individually.  These can include accident forgiveness, loan/lease gap coverage, new vehicle replacement, improved rental and towing coverage, reduced deductibles, personal belongings, pet coverage, accidental airbag discharge, and many more.

Use an Independent Agent

Saving money on car insurance is great, but only if you still have the coverage you need. Some companies will offer what appear to be great prices but the actual insurance barely covers a thing! What’s the point in saving $10 to $20 a month if you’re short thousands after an accident?

At Cochrane & Porter, we’ll be happy to review your current coverage and make sure you get the right coverage for your needs at the right price.

Rest insured. We’ve got you covered.

 

What are the Benefits of Packaging My Homeowner and Auto Policies with the Same Company?

If you’re like most Americans, you have both car insurance and some type of protection for where you live – homeowners insurance, renters insurance or condo insurance. But if you’re a typical buyer, you may be shopping around for the best price for each; unaware that by securing both policies from the same insurance company, you’ll likely earn significant discounts and can be sure that you have proper coverage for your unique individual needs.

Additional Provider Options

Some insurance companies refuse to write mono-line (singular) policies. So, if you’re only shopping for car insurance, or only shopping for homeowners insurance, you may be missing out on offers from companies who will gladly provide you with both coverages.  And when you work with an independent agency with the resources of Cochrane & Porter, more than a dozen additional insurance companies could be competing for your business. That could mean big savings for you!

Premium Savings

Discounts of 20% are typical, and have the potential to be more than 35%. You’ll also be eligible for additional tiered benefits, which could reduce your premium even further. Many insurance companies have different tiers with lower base rates for certain tiers for which mono-line accounts are not eligible. Companies would rather write both lines of insurance for you at a discount than find another new customer who only wants one type of insurance.

Ease of Use

By getting both your auto and homeowners insurance from a single company, you’re making your life as an insured much, much easier. You’ll only be getting a bill from one place, only need to use one website to look up your insurance information, and only deal with one company if you need to file a claim. If a tree falls on your car in your front yard, you’ll have much fewer headaches trying to get the situation resolved. And, if you have an umbrella policy, there’s no need to submit your auto policy every year to confirm eligibility.

Ensuring Proper Coverage

While packaging all of your policies with one company usually makes a lot of sense, it always makes sense to write them with the same agency (and specifically Cochrane & Porter!). We can make sure you have the proper coverage in place, with no gaps, at the right price. We can do a full review of your policies and identify any areas where you may need additional protection or there are additional savings.

 

Contact us today to get your insurance bundled with one company, and with us!

What Happens if My Car Hits a Deer and I Am Injured?

In our last blog we explained which coverage would apply to your vehicle if you hit a deer. In Massachusetts, insureds need comprehensive coverage to be protected from financial loss in these types of incidents. But what if you get hurt in the accident? Medical bills are expensive, so it’s important to know what kind of financial support you can expect from a typical Massachusetts auto insurance policy and what you can do to make sure you have optimal protection.

There are four components to Massachusetts auto insurance policies that are required by law:

  1. Bodily Injury to Others
  2. Personal Injury Protection
  3. Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto
  4. Damage to Someone Else’s Property

Additional options include Collision and Comprehensive coverage. As explained above, comprehensive coverage provides financial protection for your property in case you hit a deer.

If in the unfortunate circumstance that you do get hurt, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will typically automatically cover the first $2,000 in medical expenses incurred. Additional medical expenses will then be submitted to your private health insurance provider to determine if medical coverage applies. If for some reason your health insurance provider denies payment for a claim, you must submit that claim to your auto insurance carrier and your PIP coverage would then be used to cover up to the standard limit of $8,000.

If you have Medical Payments (MedPay) but don’t have private health insurance, PIP will cover the first $8,000 in medical expenses and any additional expenses will be covered by MedPay up to the MedPay policy limits. If you have MedPay and private health insurance, PIP will cover the first $2,000 in medical expenses and anything above that amount will be submitted for review to your private health insurance provider. Any expenses denied by the health insurance provider can be resubmitted through your PIP coverage and paid, up to the $8,000 limit, with additional expense then going through your MedPay coverage, up to the policy limit.

To keep it simple, if you are injured as an insured driver after hitting a deer or another animal, PIP will typically cover medical expenses up to $2,000 and private health insurance will kick in after that – although you can come back to your PIP coverage up to the $8,000 limit for certain items denied by health insurance. MedPay customers will have a slightly different experience. After the PIP limit is exhausted, MedPay would then be used for any expenses not covered by a health insurance provider.

A licensed and responsible insurance agent can be the difference between making sure you have the protection you need and facing eye-popping expenses after an accident.

Contact us today for a complimentary review of your insurance and let us shop our network of 40+ companies to find you the best possible coverage at an affordable price!

What Insurance Coverage Applies If I Hit a Deer?

You’re driving the same commute you drive every day and it’s starting to get dark. There’s light traffic and you’ve got the radio on and the windows down, not a care in the world. Suddenly, before you can even react – BOOM. No, you didn’t hit another vehicle; a deer jumped out to cross the road and collided with your front end. Thankfully, you’re okay. But your car isn’t. You get out to check the damage and know you’ve got a call to make. Once you’re done dealing with the police and the tow company, it’s time to think about insurance. Hopefully, you have the right coverage.

Living in New England, you may have already experienced this firsthand or know someone who has. Insurance companies want their customers to be protected from risks – including accidents involving wild animals. Many people wrongly assume vehicle damage of this kind is covered by collision insurance. It is a collision after all, right?

Although running into a deer seems like it would be viewed the same as any other accident, the language in Massachusetts auto insurance policies classifies it differently. Customers need what’s known as comprehensive coverage to be protected from financial loss in these instances.

The Automobile Insurers’ Bureau’s standard Massachusetts Insurance Automobile Insurance policy states “We consider….the following types of losses to be Comprehensive and not Collision losses: losses caused by vandalism, fire and theft, missiles, falling objects, larceny, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, water, flood, malicious mischief, riot or contact with a bird or animal.“

Comprehensive insurance is optional and is not required by law, and many consumers incorrectly believe they are covered in the event of any collision.  An independent agent can make sure you have the right insurance policy to protect yourself from financial loss.

Call us today at 781-943-1555 to make sure you do! We’ll be happy to review your insurance and shop our selection of more than three dozen companies to find the best and most affordable policy for you so that if you ever do hit a deer, you won’t lose a whole lot of “doe.”

5 Apps Recommended For All Drivers

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Technology has become a huge part of almost everyone’s lives and with that, it’s many processes easier.  One of those is driving; whether it is a long road trip or running to the grocery store, there are several apps that can make your trip quicker, less stressful by avoiding traffic, and overall more fun. Here are a few of my favorites that help me out on a regular basis:

Waze

Waze is my favorite driving app, no doubt. While it has similar capabilities as other navigation and traffic apps, it differs because it works to outsmart traffic! Other drivers share real-time traffic and road information, which results in saving time and money for everyone.  You can map a drive ahead of time and let Waze know when you want to reach a specific destination, or let friends know your ETA. I highly recommend downloading this free app! According to an article by Techlicious, here are the 5 best navigation apps.

DriveSafe.ly

This is an app specifically for BlackBerry and Android – it reads your emails and texts out loud, and auto responds without users having to touch their phone at all. This app drastically decreases texting while driving and allows users to keep their hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road! Highly recommended.

Car Locator

Do you ever park your car, then spend 15 minutes trying to find it? This happens to just about everyone, especially when we are in a rush! As 1st place winner in Verizon’s Power App Content, this app allows you to save your location once you are parked, then when you are ready to go back to your car, Car Locator tells you where it is. Although it costs 3.99, it is definitely worth it especially if you are frequently losing your car!

GasBuddy

Who doesn’t want the cheapest gas? This incredibly helpful app shows you the 10 closest fuel stations along with their prices. Over time, using this can save you a significant amount of money. GasBuddy incorporates 110,000 fuel stations in its database – that is almost every single station in the United States! Highly recommend.

My Max Speed 2.0

Curious just how fast your kid is driving the car? Well, My Max Speed 2.0 logs speed and location every five minutes, monitoring your teen’s driving speed and habits. As a parent, you are able to preset a location perimiter – you can choose to be notified if the phone travels outside of it.

These are just some of the great apps you can use to make your traveling experience easier and quicker. View a full list of them.

For any of your insurance-related questions, contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter; we’d love to help. 781-943-1555 or send us an email at info@cochraneandporter.com. Safe travels!

Car Insurance Discounts You May Be Missing

Nobody wants to miss out on a discount!

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Consumers don’t typically think of their car insurance as an area where they can save money. Especially if you haven’t reviewed your car insurance in a while, you may be missing out on a wide range of valuable discounts!

Here is a list of factors companies may give a discount for.

  • Multiple policies – maintaining more than one policy with the same company
  • Multi-vehicles – insuring more than one vehicle on a policy
  • Safe driver – for those who have a clean driving record
  • Anti-theft – if your vehicle has anti-theft devices, such as an alarm system
  • Customer loyalty – staying with the same insurer over a certain length of time
  • Passive restraint – safety features including air bags or motorized seat belts
  • Newer vehicles – vehicles that are under a specific amount of years old
  • ‘Green’ vehicle – alternative-fuel vehicles, like a hybrid
  • Low mileage – for those who drive under a certain amount of miles each year
  • Military – members of armed forces
  • Good student – younger drivers who have earned good grades
  • Automatic payments – for payments automatically withdrawn each month

DMV – 3 Types of Car Insurance Discounts
Hanover Insurance Group – Discounts & Credits
Mapfre Insurance – Auto Discounts in Massachusetts

At Cochrane & Porter, we advise our clients on discounts they may be eligible for. Then, we find an appropriate carrier which will best fit their specific situation.

Please contact us with any questions you may have at 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com; we are happy to help!

How Your Garaging Address Affects Your Insurance Rate

How Your Garaging Address Affects Your Insurance Rate

What is a garaging address, and how does it impact your car insurance rate?

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Many insurance companies define your garaging address as the primary location of where your car is kept. For many people, this address is the same as where you live, but that’s not always the case! Sometimes people split their time between two states. For example, New England and Florida. In this case, your garaging address is where most of your time is spent. If you spend the winter in Florida and the rest in Massachusetts, your Massachusetts address will be your garaging address.

You’re probably wondering how this address affects your insurance. Well, your insurance rate is calculated by combining several pieces of important information. Your garaging address is one piece that will determine whether your rate is high or low. If your garaging address is located in an area that has a high crime rate and where a lot of vandalism and car theft occurs, your rates will likely increase. However, if your garaging address is an area where there is little crime and is generally considered safe, your rates will likely decrease.

At Cochrane & Porter, we can advise you on the impact your neighborhood or town will have on your insurance rate. Give us a call at 781-943-1555 or email us at info@cochraneandporter.com to learn more!

Related links
5 best and worst states for car insurance costs
10 factors that affect your car insurance rates