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What Affects Car Insurance?

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to car insurance.  Just like any good pair of shoes, having a pair that fits you, your needs, and your budget is the only way to approach auto insurance. In fact, car insurance changes from driver to driver, company to company, and even location to location.


Auto Insurance


There are a few things that affect your car insurance, and to make you a more educated consumer, here are a few of them.

The coverage that once was

There are a few things that you should be aware of when getting insurance quotes. A few things like gaps in your coverage, or if you’ve had lower than normal limits with past insurance policies. Some of these things may cause you to pay more or less for insurance.

Your Driving History

There are a few factors related to your driving history that affect your insurance quotes. If you’ve been in accidents or received a handful of tickets your rates may be affected. The great part about this is that if you abide by the law and stay safe then you can potentially reduce your rate.

How you use your vehicle

Just so you know, if you spend a lot of time driving on long daily commutes, your car insurance may change. The same goes for your car.  If you have a car that has a high safety rating, or a car that doesn’t, it will affect your insurance rates for better or worse.

There are a handful of factors that affect your car insurance rate. To understand more about how some of these factors may be affecting your rate, give us a ring and we’ll gladly talk through it with you.

What Is an Umbrella Policy and Why Do You Need One?

Umbrella Policy
Take a second and imagine that you’re 61-years old. Imagine that you’re well-seasoned in your career, just a few years away from retirement, and have a healthy portfolio of assets. You have two homes – one permanent and one vacation – and a car that is all fully paid off.

Suddenly, as you’re driving up to your vacation home, you, unfortunately, get into an accident. Luckily, you’re not hurt too bad and insurance will cover the damage to your car and any medical bills that you incur. However, the car you hit and the people in it were not as lucky. Everyone is okay, but there is damage and injuries to the people in the other car.

The judge concludes that you are liable for the accident, responsible for the damage to the car, for the medical bills, for the lost wages, and additional money for their pain and suffering.  Your auto policy covers much of the costs, but the total amount could exceed what your auto policy covers and is close to your entire retirement savings.

Not good.

This seems like a disaster, right?

Unless you have an umbrella policy, this disaster could, in fact, be a disaster. Yet, with an umbrella policy, most of this can be avoided. Umbrella policies take over when your other policies run up against their coverage limits – in this case, saving most of your retirement account from this ill-fated accident.

How Umbrella Insurance Works

Typically, insurance policies render one distinct coverage for one specific thing. For example, your homeowner’s insurance covers your home and everything in it.  On the other hand, an umbrella policy includes most every corner of your financial life. An umbrella policy covers:

  • Bodily Injury
  • Legal Fees
  • Legal Damages
  • Property Damage

So this means that whenever you approach your liability limit, your umbrella policy is right there to help counteract the additional expenses – saving you, your retirement account, and your peace of mind.

Give us a call today to learn how you can set up your umbrella insurance.

Why You Should Know What “Coverage Gaps” Are

Surprises are a part of life.

Month in and month out, we confront new obstacles, and no matter the size, these obstacles can be surprising and sometimes undesirable.

In the insurance world, these “undesirable surprises” are called “gaps” and they’re never enjoyable. However, if you know these policy gaps it can lessen the impact of their severity if they ever occur.

Coverage Gap: A coverage gap is an area or type of risk that an insurance policy does not cover.

How to Avoid Coverage Gaps

No matter what, coverage gaps will always continue because there is no such thing as an insurance policy that doesn’t have gaps. To learn a little more about these gaps, here are two seasonal scenarios where coverage gaps may occur:

The Roaring River

You live next to a beautiful stream that gently flows close to your backyard. It’s never been a problem until now. One weekend, after an ominous forecast by your local weather station, torrential rains came down and that quiet stream turned into a roaring river. Your backyard is now gone and your basement is under four feet of water.

Flooding is not covered by your homeowner’s policy. In order to be covered, You’ll need to obtain a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. This is a gap people sometimes face. Give us a call if you have questions about your homeowner’s policy and we’ll gladly go over it.

The Summertime thief

During the summer months, you decide that it’s okay to leave your windows open while you head out to your job. As you get home, your screen is broken and you realize that some of your belongings are gone. A burglar has broken in.

Chase Clarke Stewart and Fontana

Here’s where coverage gaps come into play. You have personal property coverage on your homeowners/renters policy, and your policy covers $1,000 toward jewelry in a single incident. Unfortunately,  the burglar walked away with $5,000. You’re out $4,000. There’s the gap.

In order to lessen the gap, you can “schedule” these expensive jewels. Don’t know what “scheduling” is? To learn more about scheduling, give us a call and we’ll gladly make sure your belongings are covered.

Want to learn more? Give us a call.

It’s important to understand your policy and address any coverage gaps that seem particularly concerning. That’s why we’re here to help.

Airbag Recall Coverage

Did you hear about the recent airbag recall?

There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about serious recalls.  For example there is a case of  an airbag recall.  Some insurance companies are even going so far as to extend auto coverage to rental cars or other replacement vehicles while their client’s car is being fixed for airbag recall repairs. They are extending airbag recallbeyond the 30 day period that is typically the limit for coverage to be extended.  Coverage will be extended for a set amount of time.

When the repairs are happening the defective vehicle must remain:

  1. Registered.
  2. Insured.
  3. Out of use.

Have you received a notice for a vehicle recall?    Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to follow up with recalls.  If you received a recall notice please don’t delay in responding to it.  Many insurance companies are trying to encourage their clients to follow through on recalls.  They recognize that recalls are serious and they may be willing to assist while you wait for the repair.

Call your local independent insurance agency for answers to further questions

Did you know there is a website that you can visit to look for the latest vehicle recalls?


Are you a recent high school graduate? What’s Next?

We want to say a big congratulations to all of you 2016 grads!!  What a wonderful milestone to have reached!

Are you a 2016 high school graduate??

What’s next?  Are you headed off to college or taking the year off?

Welcome to the next chapter of your life!! You have endless possibilities!

Staying informed of your options is always a good idea.  That is where we come in.

graduate highschool

For those of you heading to college there are a few things you may want to consider.

  • Headed off to college, out of state and taking your car? Be sure to let your agent know.
  • You may qualify for various student discounts.
  • Will you be renting an apartment? Do you have insurance for your items?

For answers to questions about insurance coverage and discounts available, contact your local agent today!


Helpful links for you…

Renters Tips

Auto Tips


Spring Auto Tips

Are you ready for warmer weather? How about your car?

It has been a long winter.  With winter weather winding down, now is the time to give your car the attention it deserves.  The Federal Trade Commision has a lot to say on this subject. Here are a few Spring Auto Tips.

spring auto tipsSpring Auto Tips:

  • Check oil levels and change it on a regular basis.
  • Check levels of engine fluids, such as coolants.
  • Check tire pressure.  Changes in temperatures can affect tire pressure.
  • Try the penny test on your tires, it may be time to get new tires.
  • Check Brakes. Squealing when coming to a stop is usually a sign that you need to replace your brakes.


Now is also a great time to have your interior carpets shampooed and wash your car.  Salt and ice melt can be very damaging to your automobile. The deep cleaning of your car also gives you a chance to spot any other issues that need to be resolved.

Click here for Tire Safety Tips


Stolen Wheels… Are you covered?

stolen wheelsRipped from the headlines:  It appears we have a wheel thief!

Local western Massachusetts residents have reported wheels being stolen off their cars.  If this happens to you… Are you covered? In short, yes usually a comprehensive auto policy would provide coverage for stolen wheels.  Claims are individually evaluated by a company assessor.

 It is important to remember that reimbursement for stolen wheels would be based on:

  • Your policy deductible.
  • Age of the tires.
  • Mileage of the tires.

Check with your local agent to make sure there are no gaps in your policy.

We hope this does not happen to you.  It is recommended that you protect your investment by means of a garage or other anti theft measures.


Independent Agency VS Agent

Imagine living in a world with only one flavor of Ice Cream and worse yet, only one serving size??  Sound awful? We agree!

We recognize how important choice is, and feel people should know that they also have many options when it comes to insurance.  As an independent agency we work for you, keeping you informed of your options and to providing you with a policy that best matches your needs.

While other agents are stuck representing only one company, we can shop around for you.




Chase Clarke Stewart & Fontana Insurance Agency would be happy to provide you with the free quotes you need…

Why is our Independent Agency right for you:

  • We work for you as opposed to one company.
  • When you have a claim we work for you, to get you the best results.
  • We are value hunters, whose priority is to bring you the best price, coverage and service.
  • We cover a wide range of products, including Home, Renters, Auto, Business, Cyber Liability and More.
  • We will review your coverage from time to time to make sure all your needs are covered.
  • Customer satisfaction is our number one focus.
  • You are a person and not a number and we are available to talk when you need us.
  • We are local, licensed professionals with a long history in this community.

Contact us today  413-788-4531

Did you know you can renew online?

Stick of waiting in line at the RMV?  Great news you can now skip the line and renew online.  Not only that but the RMV offers many of its necessary services online.  Check out their website today…

Vehicle Registrations- Renew Online

Of course renewing is not the only thing you can do.  You can also:

  • Renew your registration.
  • Cancel your registration.
  • Duplicate your registration.

Other things you can do online:

  • Request a Duplicate Title.
  • Renew License, both Commercial and Passenger.
  • Renew or Request Duplicate Mass ID.
  • Pay Citations.

See more when you visit their website


Your Local Insurance Agent is available to help, and answer any questions you may have about this.  Contact us today at 413-788-4531.


If you choose to visit the branch in person here are the hours…

Springfield MA RMV Hours

Monday – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Thursday – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Chicopee MA Office

Monday through Friday – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Winter Auto Checklist

Is your car ready for winter?  While most of us are not ready for cold weather, it is good to prepare for it.  There are a few things you can do, ahead of time, to prolong the life of your car this winter. The NHTSA has a lot of good auto tips.

Winter Auto Checklist

  • Check your battery.  Have your mechanic check battery connections and voltage.Hit Deer, winter auto checklist
  • Inspect your wipers and defrosters.
  • Check your tire for pressure and wear.  Bald or low tires can be hazardous.
  • Carry emergency items in your car.
  • Keep at least a half tank of gas in your car. New England weather changes quickly, avoid being stranded with no gas.
  • More Winter Auto tips here from the NHTSA

Also remember to plan ahead for road trips.  Based on weather conditions, trips could take longer than in warmer months.


If you hit a deer are you covered?