Definite loss: The loss takes place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place, or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place, and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements.
To ensure that providers’ financial affairs were up to snuff, we looked at independent evaluations from insurance rating and credit rating agencies A.M. Best, S&P Global, Moody’s, and J.D. Power. While each agency has its own rating scale, we required companies to have A or “above average” ratings from all four — solid indications that companies are in great financial health. Acquiring ratings from all four agencies also indicates that companies care enough about their business’ reputation to apply for these voluntary review processes. For an industry that’s centered around the principle of being there when you need help most, we found this focus on transparency to be the mark of a good provider. Smaller companies like Good Sam or National Interstate may provide seemingly better discounts, but they tend to only submit themselves for review to one or two agencies.
An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance policy. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: identification of participating parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damages from an "act of God," or events that are not caused by a car driving into something else. An "act of God" can include things like damage from a heavy tree branch falling on your car. Since you have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would be covered under your comprehensive policy.
For this review, we focused on national providers and left out any companies that only insure RVs locally. Odds are, national insurers are able to provide coverage no matter where you are in the U.S., and they are more likely to have the financial strength to support you. If you’re trusting a provider to come through when you’re most in need, it’s reassuring to have a company with years of experience and a history of financial success at your back.
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
An insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer), a concept known as moral hazard. This 'insulates' many from the true costs of living with risk, negating measures that can mitigate or adapt to risk and leading some to describe insurance schemes as potentially maladaptive. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.
Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices.
State Farm boasts a solid score in J.D. Power’s Customer Claims Satisfaction rating among our top picks (three out of five) and sits above industry average. That means that once you do file a claim, you can expect a smooth experience. If a positive customer experience is especially important to you, State Farm is likely to deliver superior service.
Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form, such as those produced by ACORD.
One of Progressive’s add-on coverages includes a “disappearing deductible” option. This means that each year you don’t file a claim, Progressive will drop your rate by 25%. With this method, the company boasts that you could eventually have a $0 deductible. But it only stays this way as long as you haven’t filed a claim — if you do, your deductible will go right back up. Safeco also incentivizes safe driving with low deductibles. Safeco will reduce your collision deductible by $100 each year you don’t have a claim, but this incentive caps at $500.
While there are a couple of benefits of collision insurance, the main one is that you can file a claim and receive reimbursement regardless of who was at fault. Collision claims usually get processed faster than property damage claims because the insurance company does not have to spend time investigating who was at-fault. Another benefit is that you only deal with your own insurance company, rather than another insurer with less incentive to pay for your claim. Collision insurance can also be used toward your rental car in most cases, which can spare you from having to buy rental car insurance.