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FAQ

We try our best to provide you with the answers you are looking for. If your question is not listed above, please contact us.

Q. Does FIFS represent more than one company?

A.

Yes. FIFS is an independent agency, which means we are not limited to one company. We have contracts to sell policies for multiple carriers, and also have relationships with brokers for hard-to-place risks. This gives us the flexibility to choose a company and product that best suits the client rather than a “one size fits all” concept.

We represent a variety of companies including mutual, regional, and nationwide companies. We also write for companies that specialize in certain risks such as motorcycles, ATV’s, and boats.

The important thing to remember is that by choosing FIFS, you are allowing us to shop and purchase insurance on your behalf rather than having to spend your valuable time calling multiple insurance companies. Also, if anything changes with your current insurance program, we are happy to discuss, reassess your needs, and place you with a different insurance program.

FIFS is a member of the Trusted Choice brand of independent insurance agencies with a commitment to adhere to the highest level of customer service standards.

Q. How long should I keep copies of my insurance policies?

A.

It is recommended by www.USA.gov that life insurance policies are kept forever. Home, car, business, and other similar types of insurance policies should be kept at least until the policy renews.

Q. What is the deductible and how does that affect my policy?

A.

The deductible is the amount of money you pay before the insurance coverage begins. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium will be. 

Insurance is essentially the transfer of risk and the deductibles are an important part of one’s risk management strategy or assumption of one’s risk. Consider the amount of risk that you can afford to absorb yourself, and any amount above this can be transferred to the insurance company for a premium.

Q. What is the difference between “flooding” and “water damage” on my homeowners policy?

A.

Flood (as used in FEMA’s standard flood insurance policy) is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, and mudflow. Flood can also include the collapse of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion from a flooding condition. These types of losses are NOT covered by a typical homeowner policy.

Flood coverage can be purchased through the US Government in the FEMA Flood Insurance Program. Many companies also administer the flood program on their own letterhead, giving the appearance that there are other options for flood coverage. These policies are all identical in both coverage and pricing, and are all underwritten by FEMA.

A homeowner policy MAY provide coverage for water damage such as a broken pipe, overflow of bathroom water or damage to the roof. Another type of water damage can be caused by a back up of water into the house from a sewer line or a sump pump not working. The Sewers, Drains, and Sump Pump Endorsement must be on a homeowners policy in order for this type of water damage to be covered.

Contact our office to find out what type of policy you have and if these types of water damage are covered on your policy.

Q. What is the difference between “replacement cost” and “market value” of a house/building?

A.

Market Value” (as defined by the PA State Supreme Court) is "the price in a competitive market a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration all the legal uses to which the property can be adapted and might reasonably be applied." The market value of a home or property is only relevant in the purchase or sale of a property or for lending or refinancing purposes, but NOT for insurance purposes.

The market value of two similar houses can be significantly different depending on the amount of land included, the location of the properties, any easements or amenities (public/private sewer & water, sidewalk/curbing, etc) and the neighborhood, as well as the overall condition and maintenance of each.

The “Replacement Cost” of a building is the amount of money needed to repair, or rebuild/replace a home with new materials of equivalent kind and quality to the extent practical. This also includes the labor costs associated with construction or repair of the home. No amount is deducted for depreciation when calculating the replacement cost of a building.

The primary factors affecting the replacement cost of a house is the overall square footage, the material the house is built with (stone/frame, stucco/drywall, slate/asphalt shingles, etc) , the grade of construction (basic/custom/ornate), and the average labor rate. The cost of materials can also change from time to time based on supply and demand, which can be significantly affected by weather patterns countrywide.

Insurance only pertains to the structures on the property, not the property as a whole. This is why it is important to understand the differences between market value and replacement cost.

Q. Why does my homeowner premium go up every year?

A.

In order to keep up with the current market price of building materials and labor, the amount of insurance on the dwelling may be increased each year so that the limit stays current with the market should you need to rebuild your home after a loss. Since the coverage amount is adjusted, the insurance premium will be higher, even if the rates are the same, because there is more insurance coverage than the prior year.

Q. Will a discount be applied if an alarm system is installed in my building/house?

A.

Yes, discounts are available for buildings that have an active, central station monitored alarm system. Simply provide us with a copy of the alarm company certificate and the discount with be applied.

Q. If an alarm system is installed in my building/house, will the insurance discount pay for the alarm system?

A.

No. The reason to purchase an alarm system is for additional peace of mind. Since the alarm system increases the likelihood of preventing a loss, insurance companies recognize this by adding an additional discount on your insurance premium.

Although the discount may be significant, it will not be enough to pay for the alarm system or the monitoring fees.

Q. Where is the NAIC number for my car insurance?

A.

The NAIC number is a number specifically assigned to each insurance company by the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's (NAIC). You are required to include the NAIC number on all vehicle registrations renewals on an annual basis. To find out the NAIC number for a specific company, check the insurance identification card provided to you by the company. The NAIC number is listed and labeled as such.

Q. Does my personal auto policy cover me when I rent a car on vacation?

A.

The liability from your personal auto policy will typically transfer to a rental vehicle in the US and Canada. You MUST have collision coverage on your personal auto policy in order for physical damage coverage to transfer to the rental car.

Be aware of certain policy limitations when renting a vehicle:

- All drivers of the rental vehicle MUST be insureds on your personal auto policy.  If others will be driving the rental car, they will need to check with their agent for coverage options. 

- If you have an accident in the rental car, the rental company may argue that the resale value of the car is less than it was prior to the accident.  This is called “diminished value”, and they may hold you responsible for the difference in value. 

- If you have an accident in the rental car, the rental company may ask you to cover their “loss of use” since they will be unable to rent the car while it was being repaired.

- If you have an accident in the rental car and it is determined a total loss, the rental company will expect you to replace the vehicle.  Your policy will ONLY pay the Actual Cash Value of the rental vehicle, NOT the cost to purchase a new one.  You will be responsible for the difference.

Some credit cards may also provide some coverage for rental vehicles, but this is often limited coverage or considered secondary coverage to your personal auto policy. It may not cover the gaps listed above.

How do you avoid these coverage gaps? By purchasing the insurance coverage offered by the rental company. Simply hand them the keys to the damaged rental vehicle and walk away!

We recommend that you contact our office and speak with a Client Service Advisor since there are limitations and gaps when using the coverage from your personal auto policy.

Q. My child is in the process of getting his/her drivers license. When do I need to notify FIFS?

A.

Contact our office when your child has received their learner’s permit because some insurance companies require that drivers are added at that time, while others may add the driver once they are licensed.

The driver’s date of birth and permit/license number will need to be provided. If your child qualifies for a good student discount or driver training discount, additional information will be required (see Good Student Discount).

It is important that you notify our office as soon as your child receives their driver’s license.

Q. What is Other Than Collision (Comprehensive) coverage on my auto policy?

A.

Other Than Collision coverage pays for damage from most causes (other than collision) such as glass breakage, fire, theft, hail, flood, vandalism, falling objects, windstorm, and contact with bird or animal.

Q. What is collision coverage on my auto policy?

A.

Collision pays for damage caused by a collision of a vehicle with another vehicle or stationary object. Examples of “objects” include, a fence, a building, a pot hole in the road, a ditch, etc. 

Q. I’m purchasing a vehicle. What do I need to do?

A.

It is best to call our office prior to purchasing the vehicle to ensure it is added to your auto policy and we can provide a temporary insurance identification card.

If you are unable to contact us prior to the purchase, contact us as soon as possible. Depending on the scenario, your insurance contract requires the vehicle be added within 14 days of purchase in order to have liability coverage for the vehicle. To add comprehensive and collision coverage to a newly acquired auto you must contact us within 4 days of purchasing the vehicle.

If you are financing a new or used vehicle, we will need the financing company’s address and loan number in order to list them as a loss payee on the policy.

IMPORTANT: If the new vehicle will be jointly titled or solely titled to a child, or anyone residing at a location other than the residence premises, the vehicle may not be eligible for coverage on your existing policy. If the vehicle will be garaged at a location other than your residence premises, the vehicle may not be eligible for coverage on your existing policy. If you are purchasing a high valued vehicle, a motorcycle, or a commercial type vehicle, it may not be eligible for coverage on your existing policy.

In the cases listed above, you MUST call FIFS to discuss coverage PRIOR TO the purchase and registration of such vehicles. DO NOT assume that the person registering your vehicle understands the coverage and limitations of your insurance policy.

Q. What is the good student discount on an auto policy?

A.

Many personal auto policies provide a premium discount for drivers who are students that receive good grades in high school and college. The eligibility requirements may vary from company to company but a guideline is a 3.0 (B) average or higher. The insurance company must receive a copy of the most recent, full semester (or two quarters) grade report to start the discount and they may later ask for additional grade reports to continue the discount.

It is best to contact our office to see if your student would qualify and to get the discount started.

Q. What is the driver training discount on an auto policy?

A.

A driver training discount may be provided to a younger driver on an auto policy who has completed a formal driver training course. The driver must have completed the classroom portion and at least six hours of behind-the-wheel training from a professional driving school instructor. A copy of the course certificate will be required in order for the discount to be applied.

Q. What is the driver improvement discount on an auto policy?

A.

Many personal auto policies provide a premium discount for drivers who are over the age of 55 and have completed a driver improvement class. In many cases, both spouses are required to take the course in order to receive this discount.

Q. What does the usage mean on my personal auto policy?

A.

The usage is the main purpose for the vehicle and how it is typically used. The classifications are business use, farm use, driving to/from work, and pleasure use. Please call FIFS to discuss the most appropriate category for each vehicle/driver listed on the policy. Also, please be sure to call and update us as your usage changes.

Q. What does (full or limited) tort mean on my personal auto policy?

A.

Limited Tort does not allow you to sue another motorist for non-economic (i.e. pain and suffering) losses, except in cases of serious injury. Full tort does not limit whether or not you can sue for non-economic losses. Full Tort is the broadest coverage available and allows you to decide the most appropriate action after an accident rather than the policy dictating the terms.

Q. What is the difference between “stacked” and “non-stacked” on my personal auto policy?

A.

The Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection pays for economic loss to an insured who is injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, a hit-and-run driver, or a driver whose insurer becomes insolvent. The Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection can be “stacked” or “non-stacked”. “Stacked” allows the coverage limit to be multiplied by the number of vehicles on the insurance policy. “Non-Stacked” limit is the limit listed on the policy and can’t be expanded by the number of vehicles.

Q. Why do I have to add a licensed child if they don’t own a vehicle or if they don’t drive very often?

A.

Companies require that all young drivers are listed on a personal auto policy. If there are more drivers in the household than vehicles available, or the young driver has limited access to a vehicle, then the rate charged is discounted to account for the limited use. They are considered an “occasional” driver.

If there are equal or more vehicles in the household than drivers, then the assumption is that the young driver has full time access to a vehicle and they are considered “principle” drivers. The exception to this rule is when a college student resides more than 100 miles from home and does not have a vehicle with them at school. In this case, they are eligible for a “distant student” discount.

In the event of a divorce, the young driver must be listed on one (not both) of their parent’s auto policies. Proof of coverage is often required to assure that they are listed on a policy.

In the event that the young driver purchases their own insurance policy, they may not need to be listed on their parent’s policy. This is not true of all companies. Some require that ALL licensed operators residing in the household be listed on the policy.