Factors That Influence Your Car Insurance Rates

To drive legally all drivers in the United States must carry some form of car insurance. For many people, one of the most confusing aspects of car insurance is understanding how their rates are determined.

The first factor that goes into determining your car insurance rate is the level of coverage you receive. In most states, liability car insurance is the only required form of insurance. However, this insurance does not cover you fully in the event that you are hit by an uninsured motorist, if your car is stolen, or if you car is vandalized. To have these incidents covered, you will need to have collision and comprehensive coverage. To have these levels of coverage, you will pay more than someone would pay if they only had liability.

The second factor that goes into determining your rate is your driving history. For starters, records have shown that younger and inexperienced drivers are far more likely to be involved in an accident than more seasoned drivers. Because of this, drivers that are under the age of 25 will always have a higher rate than older drivers. For people of all ages, driving history also has a large impact on car insurance rates. An individual who has multiple at fault accidents, moving violations, or driving related arrests on their driving record will pay more for insurance than someone who has a clean record. Most negative marks on your driving record will clear up after about 5 years.

Another factor that goes into determining your car insurance rate is the type of car that is being driven. All insurance carriers have information that shows the rate of accident, theft, and damage for every make and model of car. Cars that are more likely to be stolen or involved in accidents will result in higher insurance rates. Furthermore, cars that are worth more money and more expensive for the insurer to repair or replace will have higher rates.

The location of your residence is another factor that goes into determining your rate. Cars that are stored in areas that have high rates of crime, accidents, or automobile theft will come with high rates. Furthermore, if you car is parked on the street or in an unsecured spot, your rate will be higher than if the car was parked in a secured garage. The location is also important because those who drive further to get to work will spend more time behind the wheel which increases their chance of having an accident.

Surprisingly, a driver’s credit score and marital status are also factors that go into determining a car insurance rate. Both of these factors have been historically correlated with higher rates of insurance claims being filed. People that are married or have better credit historically are cheaper to insure than single people with bad credit.

Get the Motorcycle Insurance You Need without Sacrificing Coverage

Motorcycle owners may be a risky bunch by nature, but when it comes to motorcycle insurance, it is not a good idea to indulge that tendency. If you own a motorcycle, you need to have sufficient insurance coverage in place. Fortunately, there are some proven strategies motorcycle owners can use to trim their insurance costs, without sacrificing the coverage they need.

Ride Carefully – Keep Your Driving Record Clean

Perhaps the most effective thing you can do to keep your motorcycle insurance rates low is to be a careful and proactive rider. Keeping your driving record clean can significantly lower your insurance rates, so be sure to take safety into account each and every time you ride.

If you are a new rider, consider enrolling in a safe biking course. You can often find these courses at your local community college. Many insurance companies provide discounts for riders who successfully complete a safety course, so it may be worth your time and effort.

Choose Your Motorcycle Carefully

Some motorcycles seem to be irresistible to thieves and if you own one of these models you may end up paying the price. Before you shop for your bike, be sure to check theft records. Don’t forget – you can also contact us for a rate quote before buying your motorcycle.

Install an Anti-Theft Device on Your Motorcycle

Installing an anti-theft device can also reduce your premiums. Alarms make it that much harder for thieves to make off with your bike. Not only do they protect your motorcycle from theft, but they can lower your insurance costs at the same time.

Ask About Discounts

By having your homeowner’s, auto and motorcycle insurance with the same company, you may be eligible for a multi-policy discount. Be sure to ask your agent about any discounts that may be available.

In addition to multi-policy discounts, many insurance companies offer additional discounts for everything from a college degree to a safe driving record. Just like with your car, you may be eligible for additional discounts if you keep your motorcycle in a garage where it is safe from thieves and from the forces of nature.

Raise Your Deductible

Another excellent way to lower your monthly motorcycle insurance premiums is to raise your deducible. Deductibles and premiums move in opposite directions, so the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium. You can make this work for you by funneling the difference into a separate savings account that you can use to cover unexpected expenses in the event of an accident.

Don’t Forget the Risks of Car Sharing

If you live in an urban area, owning a car can be both expensive and a hassle. Finding a parking spot may rival finding Osama Bin Laden in its difficulty. Paying for parking can leave a major hole in your wallet. Due to the sheer number of drivers on the road, insurance costs tend to be higher in large cities. Fuel economy suffers during city driving because of the relatively slow speeds and frequent stops. Consequently, many city dwellers are saying no to car ownership and relying on alternatives. Mass transit remains an essential option, but a relatively new idea is taking hold in U.S. cities: car sharing.

According to CarSharing.net, at the beginning of 2010 there were 27 car sharing programs in the U.S., serving 388,000 members and sharing 7,500 vehicles. They go by names like Zipcar, Car2go, City CarShare, and Community Car. The programs charge an annual membership fee and may charge an application fee; Zipcar, for example charges a $50 annual fee and a $25 application fee in the Washington, D.C. area. A separate fee applies for each use of a car (for example, $30 for a four-hour reservation), which covers gas, insurance, and a specified number of miles. When a member needs a car, she reserves one by phone or online; the program directs her to a parking spot where she will find the car. She unlocks the car (Zipcar issues a “zipcard” to members, allowing them to unlock the vehicle by holding the card up to the windshield); the keys are inside. She uses the car and returns it to a designated parking spot by the end of her reservation time.

The types of people likely to use a car sharing service include:

  • Those who normally use public transportation but who need their own vehicle on occasion
  • Those who own one car and occasionally need a second
  • Those who own cars but occasionally need a larger vehicle
  • Those who can’t afford to buy a car but can afford the membership fees
  • Those who want to avoid the inconvenient parts of car ownership, such as maintenance, fees, and storage costs
  • Environmentalists concerned about the pollution that comes with car ownership

A person using a car sharing service takes risks similar to those she would take while renting a car. She may incur legal liability for injuring someone or damaging another’s property while using the car. She may suffer injuries in an accident, resulting in medical expenses and lost income. She may damage the vehicle and become responsible for repair costs. The car sharing service provides liability insurance, but the borrower has no guarantee that the amount of insurance will be enough to cover all the damages. Also, that insurance may not apply if she lets an unauthorized person drive, such as a “designated driver” during a night on the town. If she does not own a car, she may want to buy a named nonowner auto insurance policy, which will cover liability, medical, and uninsured or underinsured motorist losses over and above what the car sharing service’s policy provides. Also, certain umbrella liability policies may cover damage to a borrowed vehicle if the car sharing service’s policy does not pay. A professional insurance agent can identify insurance companies that offer these types of coverages and explain the differences in coverage and cost of the various policies.

For people living in areas where it is available, car sharing may be a very sensible alternative to owning a car. Like any special service, it carries certain risks. However, by making some simple arrangements ahead of time, drivers can take advantage of these services and be confident that they’ve limited their financial risks.

Steer Clear of Car Break-Ins

One Saturday, Jenny stopped by the mall for some afternoon shopping. The parking lot was packed, but she found a space at the very back of the lot. After she ate some lunch and shopped for a few hours, Jenny strolled back to her car—only to find that her passenger window was broken, and her laptop and iPod were missing. Her heart plummeted into her stomach, and she wasn’t sure what to do.

If you’ve ever walked into a parking lot or your own driveway to discover a thief has broken into your car, you’re probably all too familiar with that terrible sinking feeling. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to stop car robbers in their tracks. These criminals go for the simple jobs, so they usually choose vehicles that are parked in remote areas and have valuables in plain view.

Don’t make yourself an easy target. Follow these five easy tips to steer clear of car break-ins:

Tip #1: Choose your parking spot carefully.

Car thieves generally target vehicles that are parked in remote areas so they don’t run the risk of getting caught red-handed. That’s why you should always park in a busy, well-lit area where your car is easily seen from the store or restaurant. Try to avoid parking between two larger vehicles or up against bushes, dumpsters or fences.

Tip #2: Hide your loot.

If you were to peer into your car windows right now, what would you see? A hand-held GPS attached to the windshield? An iPod plugged into your radio? A camera on the passenger seat? A laptop in the floorboard?

If so, you’ve made yourself an easy target for car thieves. Car robbers would be salivating over a car with so many treasures in plain view. That’s why you should hide all of your electronics, shopping bags and valuables under the seats or lock them in the trunk—or better yet take them into the store with you!

Tip #3: Lock the doors and roll up the windows.

This may seem like a no-brainer—but police departments across the nation receive countless reports every year from drivers who have items stolen from their unlocked cars. Even if you’re just running into the store for a minute to pay for gas or pick up your pizza, you should always roll up the windows and lock the door. (If you like to take your dog for rides, have an extra key made. That way, you can roll up the windows and keep the air conditioning on for your pup while you run into the store with your second key.)

Tip #4:  Don’t store your home address in your GPS.

You’ve probably heard the horror stories or read the elaborate sensationalized email forwards about car thieves who steal GPS devices from cars. Once they snatch the device, they find the driver’s address stored under “Home.” They then rush to the house and clear out the place.

Although it sounds like the stuff of urban legends, this has actually happened to some drivers. And it’s entirely possible that this kind of thing could happen again. That’s why you should not store your home address in your GPS device. Instead, store the address of a nearby intersection or even your neighborhood grocery store under “Home.” Better yet, take your hand-held GPS device with you instead of leaving it in the car.

Tip #5: Install a car alarm.

The last thing a car thief wants to do is draw attention to himself. That’s why car alarms are so effective. If your car starts beeping and wailing as soon as they try to break into it, they won’t stick around for very long. Many car alarm systems also come with a “panic button” for your key fob—which could come in handy if a suspicious stranger approaches you while you’re entering your car.

When it comes to protecting your car from break-ins, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take these five simple steps, and you’ll be much less likely to become a car thief target. If a thief does break into your car, report the theft to your local police department immediately.

Make Sure You Know What Your Condo Insurance Policy Covers

Despite the slump in the real estate market in recent years, many people find condominiums an attractive alternative to owning a separate dwelling. Typically, the condominium association is responsible for much or all of the building’s maintenance. The selling price may be more affordable than free-standing homes in the same neighborhood. The structure may be younger and in better condition than separate dwellings in the same price range. For these reasons, owning a condo makes sense for many. Those who choose condos over separate dwellings, however, need to understand the proper way to insure their investments. While similar in many ways to homeowner’s insurance policies, condominium unit owner policies have some significant differences.

The most obvious difference is the subject of the insurance. A homeowner’s policy insures against damage to a house and other structures on the property, such as an unattached garage or a fence. A condominium policy insures against damage to the condo unit, including alterations, appliances, fixtures, and improvements in it and parts of the real property that the condominium agreement makes the responsibility of the unit owner. Therefore, the subject of the coverage is much more limited in a condo unit owner’s policy.

Unlike a homeowner’s policy, a condo policy does not cover structures that the owner rents or holds for rent to a person who is not a tenant of the building. However, there is coverage if the rented structure is a private garage. The policy also does not cover structures from which anyone conducts a business or which store some types of business property.

Another difference has to do with trees. A homeowner’s policy provides a small amount of coverage for removing a downed tree that has damaged an insured structure or that is blocking a driveway or ramp for a handicapped person. The condo policy covers removal of an owned tree only if the insured person is the sole owner of it; if all the unit owners in the building share ownership of the tree, the policy does not provide coverage. Also, it does not cover a tree that has not damaged the structure and is blocking a ramp or driveway.

An important difference is in the range of perils the policy covers. A homeowner’s policy provides “special” causes of loss coverage on the dwelling, meaning that it covers all perils other than those the policy specifically lists as not covered. In contrast, the condo unit owner’s policy covers the unit only for those perils that the policy lists as covered. It is possible that a loss covered by a homeowner’s policy would not be covered by a condo unit owner’s policy.

If the building in which the condominium unit is located becomes vacant for more than 60 days, the policy ceases to provide some coverages. For example, it will not cover losses caused by vandalism or malicious mischief, accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam, or glass breakage that occur after 60 days of vacancy.

If the unit owner’s personal property such as household appliances is damaged, the insurance company will pay the difference between the cost to replace it and the amount by which it has depreciated. Property that is part of the building, such as carpeting, awnings, and outdoor equipment, are covered for their replacement cost without depreciation. However, the owner must repair or replace the damaged items within a reasonable amount of time; otherwise, the company will deduct an amount for depreciation.

Coverage for additional perils and for replacement cost on personal property may be available for an additional premium. A professional insurance agent can help identify companies that provide the needed coverage at a reasonable cost. With the right combination of coverage and price, the new owner can enjoy her condo unit in financial security.

New Pool = Check Insurance Coverage

You’re having a new pool installed in your backyard, and you can’t wait to dive into a summer of swimming fun.  Of course, you may be so busy buying water wings, noodles and floats that you forgot to take care of one very important detail: your insurance. Now is the time to take a close look at your homeowner’s policy to see if you have sufficient coverage for your new pool.

Your first step should be to give your insurance agent a call right away and let them know you have a new pool. If you neglect to inform them of this important fact, it could cause problems down the road if someone is injured in your pool.

Here are a few insurance facts to keep in mind as you get ready for your pool opening:

Your pool is separate from your home

Homeowner’s insurance generally provides coverage for damages to your home and “other structures” on the premises. As far as your insurance company is concerned, your pool is considered a separate entity from your house—which means it is covered under the “other structures” portion of your policy, along with detached garages, sheds and gazebos.

With most homeowner’s policies, the maximum amount of insurance coverage for these other structures is 10 percent the amount of coverage on your home. In other words, if your insurance policy covers $100,000 on your home, the coverage you would receive for your pool and other structures would be $10,000 combined.

If you spent wads of money on a fancy new pool, $10,000 may not be enough to cover serious damages to it. Plus, if you have a shed and a detached garage in addition to a new pool, keep in mind that this amount will have to cover damages to all three structures. You may decide that you need to purchase additional insurance.

The type of pool damages your insurance will cover varies depending on your specific policy. Be sure to read the fine print and figure out exactly what your policy covers. Most policies do not cover damage caused by freezing, thawing, pressure or weight of ice water. Therefore, if you live in a particularly cold area, be sure to properly protect and “winterize” your pool before the colder months hit.

Protect yourself against pool liability issues

Insurance can also protect you against liability issues related to your pool. Obviously, there are serious dangers associated with pools, including injuries and drowning. As a matter of fact, about 45,000 swimmers are injured and 300 people drown in backyard swimming pools every year.

Although the liability portion of your homeowner’s policy will protect your assets if someone sues you, it may not be enough. Most homeowner’s policies pay up to $100,000 in coverage each time a person makes a legitimate civil claim against you for an injury that occurred on your property. When you install in a pool, you are increasing the chances that someone could be seriously injured or even killed on your property—and $100,000 may not be enough such a tragedy.

Therefore, you should consider purchasing additional liability coverage after you install your new pool. First of all, find out if you can purchase higher liability coverage limits on your existing homeowner’s policy. You may be able to increase your coverage from $100,000 to as much as $300,000 for a minimal premium.

However, this still may not be enough for a pool owner. You should also consider purchasing what’s known as a personal umbrella policy. This type of policy offers a higher level of liability coverage and ensures that you and your family will be protected if someone sues you for damages. Umbrella policies typically pay up to a predetermined limit, which is usually $1 million, for liability claims made against you and your family.

Call your insurance agent and discuss how you can protect yourself from liability issues relating to your pool.

Follow pool safety rules

Another way you can protect yourself from liability issues is to create a safe swimming area and make sure everyone who takes a dip follows your pool rules. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not install a pool diving board or slide. (Many insurers will not even cover pools with these items because they are far too risky.)
  • Install a secure fence around the pool.
  • Never leave small children unsupervised near the pool, even for a few seconds.
  • Do not allow anyone who cannot swim into your pool.
  • Keep children away from pool filters. The suction from these filters can cause injuries or trap them at the bottom of the pool.
  • Do not swim alone or allow others to swim alone.
  • Do not allow people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to swim in the pool.
  • Check the pool regularly for glass, bottle caps and other hazards.

Keep a secure cover on the pool during the off-season.

Is Your Home Protected Against Devastating Flooding?

Don’t wait until the weather forecast calls for prolonged heavy rains before buying flood insurance. While this practical insurance can be purchased anytime, the policy does not take effect for 30 days. As the most common natural disaster in the country, flooding ruins millions of dollars of homes and property every year. Even so, flooding is not commonly covered in your typical homeowner’s insurance policy, making it necessary to purchase additional coverage for this costly, devastating disaster.

If you are in a high-risk flood zone, a federally regulated lender will require a would-be borrower to buy flood insurance in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. To satisfy the lender, flood insurance must be purchased in an amount that sufficiently covers the loan.

A homeowner should also buy flood insurance if he or she resides in a flood plain with no failsafe controls, such as a dam. Flood policies even pay off if the President does not declare the area a federal disaster area, which can prove to be invaluable. Because the nation’s Chief Executive Officer rarely issues such a declaration, protecting yourself is extremely important. Besides, you have to repay the federal aid you receive for home repairs related to a natural disaster so providing your own protection is the only way to ensure financial recovery suffered from flooding.

Not all homes qualify for flood coverage. For instance, flood insurance for beachfront or ocean-side property may not be available for the obvious reasons.

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) reports that more than 20,000 communities have agreed to tighter zoning and building measures to control floods. Residents of these communities can buy flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which FEMA oversees. As of 2009, NFIP had 5.7 million flood policies inforce nationwide.

Premiums for flood insurance vary widely, depending primarily on individual risk. In determining price, flood insurance underwriters consider several factors including the property’s elevation, proximity to bodies of water, and whether the dwelling has a basement. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters.

Make Certain to Insure the Finer Things in Life

Do you own high value insurables such as coin collections, jewelry, furs, and collectibles? If so, it may be wise to develop a well-thought out strategy regarding the risk of loss or damage to the finer things in your home.  Most homeowner’s policies limit the amount of coverage for luxury items, and an additional specialized policy may be required.

These specialized policies or “floaters” are designed to cover valuable items at a pre-determined dollar amount as scheduled in the policy. If you prefer, your insurance company might be willing to cover your high value items on a blanket basis at an agreed upon value per type.  For instance, if you own quite a bit of fine jewelry, and you are comfortable with insuring all of it on an aggregate basis, you might agree upon $100,000 as the coverage amount.  If your home is decorated with antiques and you own fine china, check to see if your policy includes accidental breakage and if it needs to be scheduled.  Under a typical homeowner’s policy, such breakage would not be included.

One of the benefits of a floater is that it usually does not include a deductible, so you are covered from the very first dollar of loss.  Furthermore, floater policies are often written on an “all-risk” basis.  As such, unless the peril is specifically excluded, losses are covered for all perils regardless of whether or not they are named.  Another attractive feature of floaters is “mysterious disappearance” coverage.   Although many policies, especially inland marine policies, do not include mysterious disappearances of items, these floaters often will.  As you may surmise, mysterious disappearance involves a loss where the cause is unknown.   

The way you approach risk management will be a key element in the process of insuring your valuables.  If you show a strong commitment to minimizing loss, most insurers will take your loss prevention strategies into consideration when pricing your coverage.   For example, if you have a Monet hanging on your living room wall, and no alarm system, you should expect to pay a high price for coverage.

Some insurers will help you formulate your risk management plans by assisting you with the inventory process. It may be necessary to coordinate a third-party appraisal – a vital element of the risk management and insurance processes.  In many cases, insureds underestimate the value of their own property, and consequently underinsure the property.  A knowledgeable appraiser can offer assistance in assessing the value of your property, and can provide mandatory documentation of the value if you experience a loss.

Below are some guidelines to ensure proper coverage:

1.      Take inventory of your most valuable items.  Don’t forget about less obvious valuables such as the autographed Pele soccer ball sitting on your book case. It may be worth more than you think!

2.      Schedule an appraisal of special items, and be prepared to enlist the services of more than one specialist.  For example, you wouldn’t hire the same appraiser for the Pele soccer ball as you would for a piece of antique jewelry.

3.      Discuss the possibility of floaters with your insurance agent.  Learn what coverage and limits are available, and compare the coverage to your basic homeowners’ policy in order to fully measure the value of the additional coverage.

4.      Ask your agent what services they offer, in addition to the coverage they provide.  If they can help you in the conservation and preservation of your valuables, and if they bundle these services in a cost-effective manner, it may create a win-win situation.  If you take advantage of all your agent has to offer,  they will also benefit from a loyal client who will hopefully be with them for many years to come.

Why Condo Owners Need Insurance

If you own a condominium, you may think you don’t need insurance protection. Think again. Although your condominium association offers a “master” insurance policy that covers the building and commonly owned property, this insurance probably does not protect your upgrades, furnishings and other belongings.

That means if a burglar breaks into your condo, a fire causes smoke damage to interior walls of your unit or a visitor falls and hurts himself inside your home, you will not be covered by your condominium’s general insurance policy. This is exactly why you need your own condo owner’s policy. This personal coverage could protect you in the event of theft, damage and personal liability situations.

Every condo is different

Before you purchase condo insurance, you should find out exactly what is covered by your condominium association’s master policy. Generally, these policies cover only the structure of the building, but it varies depending on your state and particular condominium. It’s important to do your homework and find out exactly what is and is not covered so you can make sure your personal policy covers the rest.

What kind of coverage do you need?

The type of coverage you need greatly depends on your unique situation. However, you’ll definitely want to protect yourself against theft, damage and personal liability incidents. Depending on where you live, you may also need flood insurance or other special coverage.

A professional insurance agent can help you figure out exactly what kind of coverage you need. You may want to ask yourself the following questions as you decide on the details of your insurance policy:

  • What parts of the condo am I responsible for according to my condo association’s bylaws?
  • How much would it cost to replace or repair my condo?
  • How much are all of my personal items worth?
  • Do I have especially valuable items in my condo, such as jewelry, antiques, fine art or collectibles?
  • Do I run a business out of my home or often work from home?

You should also think about liability coverage. Unfortunately, we live in a lawsuit-happy society today. So, if a visitor falls down your stairs and breaks his leg or slips on some water in the kitchen and throws out her back, they may ask you to pay for medical expenses, lawsuit costs and other compensation awards. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your insurance policy includes liability protection.

Don’t skimp

Whatever you do, don’t assume that your condo association has you covered. This assumption could cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. Do some research and find out exactly what kind of protection your association’s insurance policy provides. You’ll probably discover that it’s not nearly enough to protect your personal property and belongings.

An expert insurance agent can help you determine exactly what kind of coverage you need. She may be able to offer you special discounts if your condo has smoke detectors and central station burglar and fire alarms. You could also save by purchasing a home and auto insurance package through the same insurer.

After the Accident – Working with the At-Fault Driver’s Insurer

You have just emerged from a car accident, but the good news is that you are not at fault. Now comes the task of successfully dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. In order to begin, you must collect certain details at the site of the accident from the at-fault driver: their name, address and phone number, the name of their insurance company, their policy number, their claims number and their insurance company’s address. With this information you can begin the process by making a phone call to the company in question.

Now, it is the responsibility of the at-fault driver to tell their insurance company about the accident; unsurprisingly, many of them are reluctant to do so. Therefore, it is a good idea for you to make the call in case they do not. During the call, tell the insurance company that you were involved in an accident with one of their policyholders and also inform them of any property damage or personal injuries, if any. At this stage, it is only necessary to report the simple facts of the accident without telling them who was at fault. Your opinion is not necessary in order for the police to determine who was at fault, and for the insurance company to follow the police’s recommendation.

When you are involved in an accident, and you believe that you are not at fault, it is best to contact your own insurance company anyway. This is important because it establishes your own good faith. It is especially important if the other party or their insurer denies that they are responsible for the accident, because this can help you. The insurance company of the at-fault party is completely responsible for reimbursing you for any damages to either your person or your property. Nevertheless, there are certain strictures that must be followed in all situations.

The most important rule is never take the law into your own hands, under any circumstances. After you have informed both your insurer and the other party’s insurer, ask for an authorization for car repairs from the at-fault driver’s company. You will be asked to get an estimate of the necessary work from a local garage that you may choose. The majority of states only allow insurance companies to recommend garages and not only declare their services valid at one of their choice. Make the estimate known to the insurer as soon as possible.

Typically, this is an uneventful process, but sometimes the at-fault driver’s insurer can inform you to seek payment from your own insurer due to lack of evidence. Therefore, obtain the police report as soon as possible and notify your insurer at once. The report will clearly spell out who is at fault for the accident; taking a copy to the at-fault driver’s insurance company will probably clear up any remaining misunderstandings. As a matter of fact in most states it is against the law for the insurer to deny a claim when the liability is “reasonably clear.”