Workers Compensation Insurance

Even careful employees with conscientious employers sometimes get hurt on the job. Workers compensation policies are there to ensure your employees are well taken care of in their time of need, and that you do not incur overwhelming costs in the wake of an unfortunate event.  

What is Workers Compensation Insurance?

Workers compensation insurance shelters you from the costs associated with an on-the-job employee injury. Most workers compensation claims are filed for relatively minor injuries where only coverage for medical bills is needed, but along with doctor’s bills, a workers compensation policy will cover a portion of your employee’s lost wages while they recover from their injury or illness. In more extreme cases, these policies may even cover the cost of occupational training in case your employee is unable to return to their previous position, or, should the unthinkable happen,  pay death benefits to a surviving spouse.

Many states shelter employers from lawsuits related to workplace injury as long as their workers compensation policy provides adequate coverage (providing, of course, there are no extenuating circumstances), which means a good workers compensation could save you and your business from time consuming and costly litigation.

Who Needs Workers Compensation Insurance?

Most states require employers to hold workers compensation insurance if they have even one full-time employee—with exceptions for a few industries and occupations. There is good reason for this: Expenses from an on-the-job injury add up fast and have the potential to leave employers scraping the bottom of the barrel for funds and injured employees unsure of where to turn in order to meet their basic needs. If you have even one full-time employee (and in some states, one part-time employee) workers compensation coverage will protect you from liability, help take care of your employees in their hour of need, and satisfy the legal requirements of the state in which you do business.

How much will it cost?

State mandates play a big roll in determining how much workers compensation insurance you need to buy, but one thing is consistent across the country: along with factors determined by state governments, workers compensation premiums are calculated based on a given employer’s payroll expense, a “class rate” based on the risk associated with your industry, and number called an experience modifier.

Your experience modifier is an indicator of the losses that your insurer has sustained from providing coverage to your business. When your carrier pays on a claim, your experience modifier goes up—along with your premiums. Maintaining a safe work environment can go a long way to keeping your experience modifier low and saving you money in the long run.

How do I purchase workers compensation insurance?

Because each state sets its own requirements for workers compensation insurance, making sure you are purchasing the right policy can take some work. An independent insurance agent will be well versed in the requirements of your state and can help make sure you have coverage that you and your employees deserve.

Business Owners Policies: A Bundle Built for Business

You got into business to provide support to your customers, not to spend hours wrapping your head around coverage for your operation. Thankfully, there’s a standard package that takes care of most business needs. Business comes with risk, but a business owner’s policy provides basic coverage for some of small business’ most common exposures.

 

What is a Business Owner’s Policy?

A business owners policy (BOP) is actually a bundle of the three most common policies carried by small businesses: general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, and business interruption insurance. We’ve covered each of these policies in detail in past posts, but here is a quick refresher:

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance, also called business liability insurance or commercial general liability insurance, provides coverage if a non-employee injures themselves or has their property damaged either at your business site or as a result of your business operations. This coverage includes obvious items like personal injury and physical damage to property, as well as some less obvious items like slander and copyright infringement.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance provides coverage for the “stuff” that makes your business work. A law firm might take out a commercial property policy to cover its furniture, records, and computers; a contractor to protect their tools, lumber, and workshop; and a restaurant to insure their product, kitchen equipment, and dining area furnishings. The more equipment critical to your business operations you have, the more important finding commercial property insurance is.

Business Income Insurance

Business income insurance, also called business interruption insurance, provides coverage for profits lost due to covered events and can help cover your payroll expenses, rent or mortgage, utilities, taxes, and even the cost of moving to a temporary location. Think about how your business would cope with a fire that closed down your primary location, business income insurance would help ensure that you don’t lose the revenue you need to recover and move on.

Why these three policies?

While other policies may be common, exposure to risk via the loss of critical property, liability, or lost revenue due to crisis are almost universal to small business, as almost all interact with customers directly, rely on equipment, and would have a difficult time moving operations should a fire or other disaster close down their place of operations. This is less true of other policies, however common they may be. Errors and omissions insurance, for example, provides coverage for real estate agents, attorneys, medical professionals, brokers, and other practitioners who provide professional advice to their clients, but is generally unnecessary for retailers and restaurateurs.

Who needs a BOP?

BOPs are meant for small businesses: usually with less than 100 employees, operating in low-risk industries, and pulling in revenues of under a million dollars. Larger businesses and businesses working in high-risk industries can purchase similar coverage but will likely have to buy their policies separately.

The following are just a few indications that your business would benefit from a BOP:

·       Customers or clients visit your place of business.

·       You have equipment critical to your business operations that would be financially difficult to replace.

·       You publish on social media or take other measures to advertise your business.

·       You would have a difficult time moving your operation if your place of business became unusable.

Options for Additional Coverage

The three policies commonly bundled in a BOP are just the beginning. Business owners can customize their coverage with a number of endorsements to customize coverage to their industry, setting, and operational needs. This additional coverage usually costs less when purchased as a rider (or endorsement) on a BOP, as compared to purchasing stand-alone policies.

The list of possible endorsements for a BOP is vast, but errors & omissions, workers compensation, and commercial umbrella coverage are common choices.

How to Purchase a BOP

BOPs are not one-size-fits all packages, and most business owners would benefit from the assistance of a professional insurance agent when making this purchase. The independent agents at Moreland insurance can help you to evaluate your coverage needs, find the appropriate BOP, look for necessary endorsements, an

Short-term Disability Insurance

The word disability may immediately conjure thoughts of lifelong mobility or health issues, but many people experience illnesses or injuries that prevent them from working for only a few weeks or months at a time. While these periods are short in comparison to impairments that impact people for their entire lives, even a short spell recovering from surgery, illness, or injury can play havoc with your financial life.

What is short-term disability insurance?

Short-term disability insurance provides coverage for disabling events, such as serios illness, injury, or recovery from medical procedures, that prevent you from working for a short period of time. Most carriers have a waiting period that must be satisfied before benefits kick in. Wait periods vary between underwriters, but are most often around two weeks. After benefits begin you can expect to receive coverage based on a percentage of your regular base income (usually 40% to 80%) for three to six months, though some carriers provide coverage for as long as a year. 

Who should carry short-term disability insurance?

If a disabling event prevented you from working for a period of weeks or months, would you have a hard time keeping up with your bills and other basic living expenses? If so, it is well worth looking into a short-term disability policy.

Short-term disability isn’t just for disasters though. While most people think of accident or illness when they think of disability, pregnancy and postpartum  recovery are the most common cause for short-term disability claims. If you are planning to start a family in the near future, a short-term disability policy may provide some financial relief during pregnancy and maternity leave.

What if I already carry long-term disability insurance?

Short- and long-term disability policies are not interchangeable and work best when carried together. As we discussed in our previous blog post, long-term disability insurance provides coverage for disabling events that prevent you from working for a period of months or years. Benefit periods for these policies usually begin one to three months after a disabling event, leaving policy holders to get through their initial waiting period without financial relief. Carrying a short-term disability policy can help you to bridge the gap in coverage created by this waiting period, removing financial stress from a particularly stressful time.

How do I purchase a short-term disability policy?

Short-term disability policies are commonly provided by employers as part of an employee’s benefits package, so be sure to check whether you already have a policy before making a purchase. If you do not have a policy, or would like to make sure that your employer-provided policy meets your needs, the independent agents at Moreland Insurance would be happy to help you assess your need for coverage, research potential policies, and make a purchase you can feel good about.

 

 

Long-Term Disability Insurance

Adjusting to life with a newly-acquired disability is difficult enough without adding financial worries to the mix. Unfortunately, many people find themselves dealing with both monetary and physical challenges after an accident or illness has removed their ability to work. Long-term disability insurance, also called disability-income insurance, provides coverage proportional to your pre-disability income, allowing you to focus on recovering and adjusting without the added pressure of looming bills.

What is long-term disability insurance?

In a nutshell, long-term disability insurance provides coverage in the event that an illness or injury makes it impossible for you to work. These policies provide regular monthly, payments—usually 45% to 60% of your previous income.  Policies vary in terms of how long they will provide these payments, some last for only one year, while some provide coverage for as many as ten. Most cease payments when the insured party reaches the age of sixty-seven, as it could be reasonably expected that the insured would be retiring at that age, regardless of the presence of a disability.

Who needs long-term disability coverage?

It would be much easier to name the people who wouldn’t benefit from a long-term disability policy than those who would. In short, if you depend on a regular paycheck from your place of employment in order to pay your bills and are not ready to retire imminently, you should consider taking out a long-term disability policy.

What if I’m unable to perform my current job, but could perform another?

Some long-term disability policies provide coverage if you are unable to work in your current capacity, while others only provide coverage if you are unable to work at all. So, a teacher who is no longer able to stand for long hours in front of a classroom would be eligible for coverage if he carries the first type of policy but may be unable to claim coverage from the second if he is still able to make a living as a tutor.

I have disability insurance through my employer, isn’t that enough?

Maybe. While some employers offer long-term disability insurance, it is much more common for workers to receive short-term disability as part of their compensation package. Short-term disability policies are meant to help you stay on top of bills during your period of recovery, rather than support you for a period of disability that lasts for years, and so only provide coverage for a few months. This may be fine if you need two or three months to recover from surgery, but will likely be insufficient if you find yourself facing an illness of indeterminant length or acquire a disability that is expected to impact your for the duration of your life.

When does my policy kick in?

Most long-term disability policies have a waiting period, called the exclusion period, that begins at the time of the disabling event. This period will vary between carriers, but consumers can expect to wait at least 30, and sometimes as many as 365 days, before receiving coverage—though wait periods of one to three months are most common. This gap between event and coverage is why many people choose to carry short-term disability insurance, which kicks in much earlier, in order to cover the gap caused by the elimination period.

How do I purchase a policy?

Because an individual’s health and lifestyle may impact whether they experience a long-term disability, purchasing one of these policies can be a little involved. Customers can expect to undergo a health exam and an interview with a representative from their insurer.

Before that though, you’ll want to consult an insurance agent who can help you get the best coverage possible, at the fairest price. As always, Moreland’s team of independent insurance agents are here to help you shop for insurance, understand your new policy, and provide support as you file a claim, should the need ever arise.

Commercial Property Insurance

From tools, to computers, to inventory, to the very building you operate in, you’ve invested in items that ensure your business runs smoothly. Property insurance protects that investment by providing coverage in case those items are stolen or damaged, making sure that you can resume operations as fast as possible.

What is Commercial Property Insurance?

In short, commercial property insurance provides coverage for the “stuff” that makes your business work. A law firm might take out a commercial property policy to cover its furniture, records, and computers; a contractor to protect their tools, lumber, and workshop; and a restaurant to insure their product, kitchen equipment, and dining area furnishings. Covered items are as diverse as the industries and businesses for which they are written, but, with a few exceptions, if you own equipment, buildings, or other items crucial to the operation of your business, it’s worth investigating whether a commercial property policy is right for your business.

Who Needs Commercial Property Insurance?

Take a minute to consider what would happen if a fire destroyed the building that houses your business, along with all of the furnishings, computers, equipment, and other items inside.

This scenario would be a setback for anyone, but some more than others. A solo practitioner who rents space or works from home may only lose a computer and a couple items of office furniture—making it possible for them to replace these items without outside support, but operations that are even slightly more complex are a wildly different story. Imagine if a dental practice had to replace all of its X-ray machines and other equipment in one go, or a landscaper needed new mowers, weed eaters, hand tools, and other equipment in one fell swoop. These businesses would likely have a hard time scraping together the cash to make these purchases and may have to shut their doors permanently after a major disaster.

In general, if it would pose a significant hardship to replace the equipment, buildings, furnishings, computers, or other items critical to the functioning of your business, then a commercial property policy is likely in order.

What Items and Events Does it Cover?

These versatile policies provide coverage for most of the items that you have purchased for your business, including but not limited to,

·       Buildings you own

·       Furniture

·       Inventory

·       Raw materials

·       Machines

·       Computers

Your commercial property policy will cover the cost of replacing these, and many other items, as long as they are lost due to a covered risk. Common covered risks include fire, theft, wind, and storms, among others. Most commercial property policies carry exclusions for flooding and earthquakes, so you’ll want to speak with your independent insurance agent about additional coverage if these are a concern.

How Do I Purchase Commercial Property Insurance?

If you have a business owners policy, or BOP, there is a strong likelihood that you already have commercial property coverage, as this coverage is a common component of these packages. If you don’t already have a BOP, or are unsure about your coverage, one of the independent agents at Moreland would be happy to help you take a look at your business property, assess your needs, and purchase a policy that keeps your investment in your business secure. 

 

Business Income Insurance

You’ve worked hard to build a stable foundation for your small business—but could you withstand an event that forced you to close your doors for a period of weeks or months?

 What is business income insurance?

Imagine that the theft of critical equipment forced you to stop operating for an extended period of time, how would you cover ongoing expenses like rent and personnel without your usual business income? Business income insurance, also called business interruption insurance, provides coverage for profits lost due to covered events and can help cover your payroll expenses, rent or mortgage, utilities, taxes, and even the cost of moving to a temporary location—ensuring that your temporary closure stays temporary.

What events are covered?

Covered events will vary policy to policy, but most will cover damages due to fire, theft, wind, hail, vandalism, or snow. In addition, your business income policy may cover events that have effect your supply chain; if you are a contractor and lose access to your place of operation for only a week, but your main source for lumber is unable to supply you for a month, your business income insurance will cover you for the full month—or as long as it takes to find an alternative supplier. Most business income policies exclude coverage for events caused by flood or earthquake, though coverage for these events is attainable through a special endorsements.

How much coverage do I need?

There are two basic figures to look at when deciding how much business income insurance to purchase: how much income do you expect to pull in over the course of a year? and, how long is it likely to take for you to resume business after a significant disaster? Taken together, these numbers provide a rough estimate for the amount of coverage you will need should disaster strike.

If you are a small, nimble business that trades largely on the expertise and knowledge of your employees, such as a law firm or accounting agency, it may not take much time for you to find a new or temporary office space, replace or move your computers and furniture, and get back to work. If, on the other hand, you are a large, complicated business that depends on having a backstock of inventory, expensive and difficult to obtain equipment, and industrial space that is specific to your needs, it may take much longer for you find an appropriate rental space, replace your inventory, obtain new equipment, and resume operations. Make sure you think through all the steps that you will have to take to reopen after a halt in operations and take factors that are specific to your area, such as the rental market and availability of suitable commercial spaces, into account when making your estimate.

How do I purchase business income insurance?

Unlike most of the policies we discuss on this blog, business income insurance is not typically sold as a stand-alone policy, and is instead usually included in, or purchased as a rider for, a business owner’s policy (also known as a BOP), or less commonly, a commercial package policy (or CPP). If you already carry one of these policies, there is a chance you already have business income coverage and simply need to review your policy and make sure your current coverage meets your needs. If your existing BOP or CPP doesn’t include business income coverage, you can purchase it as an endorsement on your existing policy.

Where can I go for help?

Because business income policies vary so widely from business to business, this is an area where independent insurance agents can be particularly helpful. Your agent can help you look at your existing BOP or CPP, assist you to evaluate your business’ exposure to risk, and advise you on how much coverage you should purchase—or whether you need additional coverage at all.

Remember, independent insurance agents like the ones at Moreland Insurance work for you, not your insurance carrier, and can be trusted to provide unbiased professional advice on this and all other insurance matters. We hope you’ll trust us with your business and other insurance needs.

General Liability Insurance: Built for Business

No matter how careful you are, having a business comes with liability. General liability policies cover the most common areas of risk that businesses face, providing crucial coverage in the case that someone has their property damaged or meets with an accident because of your business activities.

What is General Liability Insurance?

General liability insurance, also called business liability insurance or commercial general liability insurance, provides coverage if a non-employee injures themselves or has their property damaged either at your business site or as a result of your business operations. This coverage includes obvious items like personal injury and physical damage to property, as well as some less obvious items like slander and copyright infringement.

Who Needs General Liability Insurance?

General liability policies cover some of the most common liabilities faced by business owners, which means that the vast majority of businesses, large and small, can benefit from carrying one of these versatile policies. This list includes business that,

·        Have a physical location that is open to the public

·        Sell goods or services

·        Advertise themselves and/or are active on social media

·        Interact with people at off-site locations

Some business owners, such as contractors, freelancers, and other individuals who commonly work on-premises at third-party locations, may serve clients that require you to carry a general liability policy before beginning work with them.

What Does it Cover?

General liability insurance provides coverage for a number of costs associated with personal injury or property damage.

Medical Payments

If a customer trips and takes a spill at your business and you are found responsible for their injuries, your general liability policy will step in to cover the cost of their medical care.

Property Damage

If your business handles client property or operates on-site at client-owned locations, general liability insurance provides coverage if you or your employees damage that client’s possessions. For example, if an equipment malfunction on a job site causes significant damage to a client’s home, you may file a general liability claim to cover the cost of repairs.  

Legal Defense

In the case that there is a dispute as to whether your business is responsible for damages, your carrier may provide funds for your legal defense and other court costs.

Products

In addition to covering events that take place on the premises of your business or in the course of your business operation, general liability policies provide coverage in the event that one of your products causes illness, injury, or property damage.

Damage to a Rental Property

If you rent space for your business, your general liability insurance provides protection if your actions cause damage to land or structures. Flooding due to a hose that was left running, a fire caused by improperly cleaned rags, or damage to an interior caused by careless movers are a few examples of events that may be resolved through a general liability claim.

Advertising Injury, Copyright Infringement, and Slander

Along with physical damage, general liability policies provide protection in the case that your advertising or other communications are found to cause injury to others. If you develop a new logo and are then sued by a competitor who claims that your graphic is too similar to their own, your general liability policy may cover court fees and judgments resulting from the case.

What Doesn’t General Liability Insurance Cover?

While general liability insurance coverers a wide range of events, there are some common business-related liabilities that these policies do not cover.

Injury to an Employee

General liability insurance only cover events that involve a third party—not employees of your business. Business owners who desire coverage for work-related injuries should as their independent agent about purchasing a workman’s compensation policy.

Auto Accidents

Even though an auto accident that occurs during the course of your business activities may cause both property and bodily damage, general liability policies do not cover vehicle-related events. If you would like to make sure your business is covered, consider purchasing a commercial auto policy.

Punitive Damages

While a general liability policy may cover court costs and most damages that you are required to pay, most policies contain exclusions for punitive damages.

Professional Mistakes

General liability will not pay for damages caused by professional error, like missed deadlines or nonfunctional products. For protection against professional errors, ask your insurance agent about obtaining an errors and omissions policy.

Finding Coverage

Good business-to-policy fit is a function of multiple factors such as your industry, the size of your business, and the amount of coverage desired. An independent insurance agent can help you to evaluate your needs, shop around for the best policy available, and negotiate a favorable price. As always, the independent agents at Moreland Insurance would be happy to assist you to find the right coverage for your business, at the right price.

Errors & Omissions Insurance: Critical Coverage for Your Business

You’re an experienced small business owner who takes pride in providing quality services to your clients—but even the most diligent professionals can have an off day. Luckily, there is coverage available to ensure that honest mistakes don’t turn into financial disasters.

What is E&O Insurance?

Also known as Professional Liability Insurance, E&O Insurance is there to protect you in case a mistake made by you, or one of your employees, leads to damages to a client or other party. While policies vary widely from carrier to carrier, and from business type to business type, most E&O policies will provide coverage for defending a lawsuit and paying damages you are found responsible for.

What does E&O cover?

Carriers write E&O policies to fit specific industries, making these policies, and the events they cover, particularly diverse. Depending on your area of business, covered events may include accidental copyright infringement, negligence, data breeches, work that falls behind schedule, malpractice, and much more. Most E&O policies cover court costs, legal fees, settlements, and judgments. These policies do not cover every potential source of liability; most exclude personal injury, punitive damages, or intentionally malicious acts.

A couple examples

A freelance graphic designer creates a logo for an emerging company called Widgets Inc.  A month later, after Widgets Inc. has purchased signage, printed business cards, and taken other steps to brand themselves with their new logo, they receive a cease and desist letter from Sprockets Corp. alleging that the new Widgets Inc. logo is too similar to Sproket’s own. Through a simple mistake, the graphic designer has caused Widgets Inc. to spend thousands of dollars on materials they are now unable to use. If our graphic designer carries an E&O policy she will be able to file a claim and cover the costs arising from the snafu, rather than paying out of her own pocket.

A real estate agent lists a home and facilitates a successful sale. Months later, the buyers file a lawsuit. It turns out that one of the property lines of the house in question is disputed by a neighbor. While the agent was unaware of this dispute, he is now being accused of failing to disclose the dispute at the time of sale. If the agent carries E&O insurance he can expect costs associated with defending himself in court, as well as any damages awarded to the plaintiffs, to be covered by his policy.

Who needs E&O insurance?

Simply put, anyone who owns a business—including independent contractors and other solo ventures—that exchanges services for money should strongly consider carrying an E&O policy. This group includes  the majority of businesses large and small, including,

·         Real estate agents

·         Creative freelancers

·         Event planners

·         Consultants

·         Medical professionals

·         Accountants

·         Contractors

·         Attorneys

·         Brokers

For some of these professions, E&O insurance may be a requirement for licensure. Be sure to check the requirements in your state and make sure your coverage complies with all regulations.

Seek professional advice

You don’t need to be an insurance industry insider to guess that the coverage needs of a general contractor and those of an accountant are going to be radically different. The diversity of businesses that E&O policies are written for makes industry standards for these policies difficult to pin down and may make purchasing coverage particularly confusing to consumers. One thing can be said for certain: if you provide services directly to clients, then an E&O policy can provide critical coverage for your business. Moreland Insurance’s independent agents will be happy to help you evaluate your coverage needs and find the policy that is right for your industry, your level of exposure, and ultimately, your business.

Personal Article Policies: When Homeowners Insurance Isn’t Enough

Your homeowners policy provides ample coverage for the everyday items in your home, but what about the extraordinary ones? Whether you are the keeper of your great-grandmother’s heirloom jewelry, an avid collector of antique guitars, or even own costly medical devices, a personal articles policy can provide low- or no-deductible coverage for these difficult-to-replace items and keep you covered for a wide range of events.

Why isn’t my homeowners policy enough?

Well, it might be. For most people, a standard homeowners policy provides perfectly adequate protection for personal possessions, but these policies may fall short for those who own particularly valuable items. In addition, homeowners policies only provide coverage in the case of loss or damage that is the result of specific events. If you own an item, or items, that would be particularly difficult to replace if lost to a non-covered event, or that carries a value that greatly exceeds the sublimits attached to your homeowner’s policy, you may want to purchase additional coverage in the form of a personal articles policy.  

Sublimits

Most homeowners policies contain restrictions on how much the insurer is obligated to pay for certain types of items—even when overall coverage hasn’t been exhausted. For example, a diamond ring valued at $6,000 is likely to be subject to a sublimit that limits claims on jewelry to $2,000 or less—falling far short of the replacement value of the item.

Restricted Events

Coverage from homeowners policies only applies when loss or damage occurs due to the specific events listed in your policy, usually fire, theft, vandalism, and most (but not all) natural disasters. If you accidentally lose your item, or it becomes damaged by flood, earthquake, or other peril not covered by your policy, you will not be entitled to coverage through your homeowners policy.

Deductibles

While deductibles on homeowners policies vary widely, all homeowners should expect to pay something towards replacement of lost or stolen items when they file a claim.

Cover your valuables with a personal articles policy

Personal articles policies fill the gaps between standard homeowners policies and the replacement value of particularly costly items, offering full-value coverage, low- to no-deductible, and coverage for a wide range of events.

What Personal Articles Policies Cover

Items

Personal articles policies can be purchased for almost any item of value you own, including:

·         Antiques and collectables

·         Jewelry

·         Medical and prosthetic devices

·         Cameras and photography equipment

·         Musical instruments

·         Sports equipment

·         Furs

·         Fine art

While personal articles policies are most commonly purchased for items from the above list, it is by no means complete or comprehensive. Your independent insurance agent can help you find and purchase coverage for almost any valuable possession, no matter how unusual.

Events

Depending on your carrier, a personal articles policy may expand your coverage to include accidental loss or damage, as well as loss due to flooding, earthquake, or other disasters not typically covered by homeowners policies. In addition, personal articles policies follow your item anywhere in the world—meaning that engagement ring is covered whether you’re in Portland or Paris.

Coverage

Personal articles policies are typically full-coverage policies. This means that they are written to cover your item for its full appraised value, with no deductible to satisfy before insurance kicks in. 

Purchasing coverage

As always, your independent insurance agent is your best resource for evaluating your coverage needs, shopping for policies, and purchasing the insurance that’s right for your valuables. The insurance professionals at Moreland would love to help you evaluate you understand your current coverage and decide whether a personal articles policy is right for you.

 

Teen Drivers and Auto Insurance

Watching your teen settle into the driver’s seat may bring up some anxiety—but concern over your insurance premiums shouldn’t be the cause of your worry. While teen drivers do pay more for auto insurance, there are steps you can take to mitigate the financial impact and help ensure your teen’s safety on the road.

Why Teens Pay More

As with everything in the insurance industry, auto insurance rates are based on risk—and teen drivers pose a significantly greater risk than adults. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that teen drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than those over eighteen, and six times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Invest in Driver’s Education and Training

While some blame irresponsibility and impulsiveness for the high rates of teen-involved accidents, there is another explanation: simple inexperience. Driving is an acquired skill, and new drivers of any age are at a higher risk of accident during their first year of driving. Providing your young person with driver’s education and ample supervised time behind the wheel will put them ahead of the curve when it comes to practice and may be rewarded by your insurance carrier as well.

Provide a Safe Vehicle

As with all auto policies, insurance carriers extend preferable rates to teens who drive safe vehicles. While they may not be the hottest cars on the road, vehicles with high crash test ratings and plenty of safety features will lower your rates—and even more importantly—reduce the risk of injury in case of a collision. For guidance on purchasing a safe vehicle for your teen, consult the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization that determines vehicle safety standards and tests vehicles for crashworthiness and collision avoidance.

Ask About Good Student Discounts

Some carriers reward students for their hard work through good student discounts. If your student has an A or B average, be sure to inquire whether your insurance company has such a program.

Add Young Drivers to your Existing Policy

Rather than purchasing a dedicated policy, consider adding your teenager to your existing household auto coverage. Adding a driver, particularly a young one will raise your rates, but will likely cost less than purchasing a second policy for your young driver.

Investigate Occasional Driver Discounts

If you have a newly licensed driver but no plans of purchasing them their own vehicle, you may be able to add them as an occasional driver at a significantly lower rate. Most carriers define an occasional driver as someone who’s driving makes up less than 25% of the vehicle’s time on the road, which means you may be able to add a young person who has limited use of a car on evenings and weekends at a lower rate.

Consult an Independent Agent

Auto insurance for young people varies carrier-to-carrier and state-to-state, which can make shopping for coverage confusing for a lay person. An independent insurance agent can help determine what kind of coverage is most appropriate for your family, and which discounts your teen may be eligible for. Remember, independent agents work for you, not the insurance company, so you can trust them to provide unbiased advice.

Concern over your newly licensed teen may be unavoidable, but skyrocketing insurance premiums are not. Keep price hikes to a minimum—and your young person safe on the road—by having your teen complete driver’s training and ensuring that their vehicle has a high safety rating. As always, the independent agents at Moreland Insurance are available to help shop for plans, hunt down discounts, and ensure everyone in your household has the auto coverage they need.