The how’s & why’s of car insurance rates

why did car ins increase

I realize that I have written countless blogs about the how’s and why’s of car insurance rates but a conversation with one of my regular readers has reminded me that not everyone knows this information. Our conversation went something like this – “Hey, State Farm just upped my car insurance by $200 a year! I have no speeding tickets and no accidents on my driving record so why the heck did my rates go up?” (them) “Well has your credit score changed? Have you made several small claims recently? You also went from driving an old Chevy beater car to an older model Lexus, didn’t your insurance agent tell you that these things might drive up your rates?” (me)

When you are talking about car insurance rates you need to talk about ALL of the things that could cause your rates to rise. Let’s look at the things that drive up your insurance rates –

  • If your credit rating recently dropped
  • If you have made multiple claims to fix small things (like dings and dents)
  • If you bought a car that costs more to repair than your previous car did
  • If you have an abundance of tickets for moving violations
  • If you switched jobs and have a longer commute
  • If you moved to a different town/city/state/county

Your car insurance rates are based on several different things and if any of these things changes you could be looking at a higher rate

  • Your driving record (moving violations, DWI’s and DUI’s can cause high rates)
  • Where you live (Orange county has more reported accidents than Ulster county)
  • What you drive (It costs more to repair a Lexus than it does a Chevy)
  • How far you commute to work (longer commute means higher rates)
  • Your age (younger drivers tend to pay more)
  • Your credit rating (a low credit score means higher insurance rates)

Any online insurance company that promises you great rates based on an anonymous quote cannot and will not get you the correct amount of insurance coverage! How do you know how much insurance you need? Good question and the only way to answer it is to tell you to speak to an insurance professional!

Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s best bet for car insurance. We recently saved a Kingston resident over $1,000 on his car insurance and he is currently the happiest guy that ever lived in Ulster county! We offer online and in person service, great insurance rates with New York state based insurance companies, and great coverage too. Don’t trust your car insurance to an unknown online insurance company, get professional personalized service and low cost NY insurance from HVA today. Oh and Colleen, if you are reading this then call Ashley at 778-2141 right now!!!

Safety tips for when your car breaks down

HVA break down info

Have you ever been driving on Route 84 and had your car start acting “funny”? Maybe your engine starts to make an odd noise or every single warning light on your dashboard lights up at the same time, or just had your car just stop working all together – what should you do? If I’m going to be honest about this I would have to tell you that my first instinct is to absolutely panic and my second instinct is to get as far off of the road as humanly possible. Today’s blog is about what you should do if your car breaks down, panicking is not on the list!

1- Move your car as far off of the road as is possible.

2- Turn on your hazard lights.

3- Do not exit the car unless it is safe to do so.

4- Place flares or warning triangles around your car to alert other drivers.

5- Make sure you know where you are and, if possible, what exits are nearby.

6- Use your cell phone to call for help.

7- Don’t panic.

Things to know before you break down

1- If you have AAA and plan on using it know that the you have to be with your car when the tow truck shows up.

2- Many insurance companies offer discounted or free towing. Call your insurance agent or check your policy before hitting the road.

Having your car break down is never ever fun and it almost always happens when you have fifty things to do. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that a tow truck is on its way is indescribable, especially if you happen to be broken down on the side of the highway in 90 degree heat with little one’s strapped into their car seats. If your insurance policy does not offer any form of towing assistance then you really need to call Hudson Valley Agents. Your insurance will not cover any of the repairs needed to get your car up and running again but being able to recoup some (or all) of the money you paid for towing can really help ease the financial burden.

Drive safely Hudson Valley. Remember to shop local, eat local, explore local, and insure local with HVA!

HVA know how + Car insurance=Great rates for you!


There are many different factors that go into tallying up what you pay for car insurance every month:
– The length of your daily work commute
– Where you live
– How much your car will cost to repair or replace
– Your driving record
– Your credit rating

You can help keep costs down by doing things like:
– Carpooling
– Paying your bills on time
– Driving the speed limit

When you initially speak to an insurance agent about car insurance the agent should ask you for these things before quoting you:
– Your name, date of birth, and social security number
– The age and make of your car
– Your drivers license ID number
– Your address
– If anyone else in your home will be driving your car
– Your marital status


The only way to accurately create your car insurance contract is to have all of the facts. If your agent is not fully aware of your insurance needs you can (and probably will) end up with an insurance policy that offers inadequate coverage (either too much or too little). No one wants to find out that they are underinsured and who wants to pay for added insurance coverage that you don’t really need? This is why you really need to talk to an actual live person and not just plug some bare bones information into an internet insurance search site. Classic cars, high performance cars, and some luxury cars are insured differently than the average Chevy or Kia. Work trucks and vans also have different insurance needs.

It is very tempting to just hop on your phone, tablet, or laptop and sign up for car insurance while you sip coffee in your pj’s isn’t it? No need to get dressed, no need to talk to a human being, it makes things easy but is the ease of purchasing what might be a substandard insurance policy going to be worth it when you find out that your insurance won’t cover the car accident your son just got into because you didn’t know that you needed to list him on your policy as an occasional driver? No one needs that kind of stress.

When you sit down with an insurance professional from Hudson Valley Agents you get more than just an insurance policy. Our staff is highly trained and we work with many different insurance companies so we can always find you the best insurance coverage with rates that are affordable. Great insurance coverage that is internet friendly and comes with a real live team of insurance professionals, what else could you ask for from a family owned independent insurance agency? If your car insurance rates are out of control give us a call at 845-778-2141.

Meet some of the insurance companies HVA works with

hva logo

You won’t find the insurance companies we work with blasting their jingles from your radio, they don’t have cavemen or lizards for mascots, and you won’t find any spots stadiums bearing their names and believe it or not this is a really good thing. There is a reason for this – when the product that you offer has real value to the people who purchase it word of mouth can be the best advertising!

Whenever I work out of our Walden office I often hear our clients talking to Kathy and Ashley, they say things like – “I’ve never heard of Maphre before you quoted me my car insurance, but I’m really happy I went with them.” or “I didn’t know that Preferred Mutual is a New York State insurance company, talk about keeping it local!” When you call Hudson Valley Agents for an insurance quote you might not always recognize the names of the insurance companies we work with and that is why I wanted to introduce you to a few of them today.

Preferred Mutual – This Chenango county based company was founded in 1896 and they only work with independent agents. The Professional Insurance Agents (aka PIA) ranks them as the 4th top performer in New York state.


Maphre– This company began in 1972 in Webster, Massachusetts and went by the name The Commerce Group. Today they are known as Maphre and they have branched out to 19 US states.

Mercury Insurance – Mercury Insurance is a California based company and it has been in business for over 50 years.


Before HVA decides to work with an insurance company our VP, Dave Jr, looks them over from stem to stern. They have to offer his clients great insurance at reasonable prices and they must address insurance claims quickly and fairly. If an insurance company cannot give our clients the best insurance value for their hard earned money then we will not work with them.

Take a moment to get to know HVA and the insurance companies we work with and then give us a call at 778-2141. You and your bank account will be very happy you did.  Low cost NY insurance that still comes with a live agent!

It’s finally Drive In season!!!


The weather is warm and you know what that means Hudson Valley – TIME TO GO TO THE DRIVE IN! Drive in movie theaters are dying out all over the country but here in the Hudson Valley we have several to choose from –
The Hyde Parke Drive In (Hyde Park, Dutchess County)
The Overlook Drive In (Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County)
Four Brothers Drive In (Amenia, Dutchess County)
Warwick Drive In (Warwick, Orange County)
For a full listing of all of the drive in’s in New York State click here.

Drive In’s are one of the very best things to do on warm Spring/Summer nights! Pillows and blankets are a must and you can bring your favorite snacks and beverages to boot! The kids can run around and play (before the movie starts that is) and then they get to enjoy a great movie to boot! The one thing I miss the most from my own experience as a kid at the drive in is this –


Who wouldn’t want to eat delicious dancing food?

But the thing that sticks out most in my mind from my very first drive in movie is the old snack bar/lobby ads. Nothing was cheesier than a candy bar, a box of popcorn, and a cup of soda parading around and asking for moviegoers to consume them. Cheesy and creepy
Our Hudson Valley drive in theaters are independently owned and so is Hudson Valley Agents! (HVA can insure your drive in theater & the car you drive to get there too) Make sure your car’s battery is fully charged, pack some mosquito repellent, grab some pillows and blankets, load up the cooler with snacks and settle back to enjoy the show! Get outside and explore all that our Hudson Valley has to offer and remember – shop local, eat local, drink local, and insure local with HVA!

Read this before you buy your next car

hva blog pic

Are you considering buying a car this spring? I’m dreaming of a convertible, something small and preferably blue and low slung… The reality is that this type of car is just not a practical choice for me, there’s no room for the dogs and I wouldn’t be able to drive it through the snowy Hudson Valley winters. Some of us are practical about our cars, others look for performance, and others are all about style. There are cars and then there are CARS. Every car has a steering wheel, tires, seats, but not every car is the same to drive or insure.

According to the least expensive 2015 car model to insure is the Jeep Wrangler Spot 4WS two door. It carries an average premium of $1,134. The same publication also lists the most expensive 2015 model to insure, the Nissan GT-R Nismo (600 horsepower) carries a $3,574 average premium. When you purchase a car you really need to take the cost of your car insurance into account! There are 3 different Jeep models on the list of least expensive cars to insure, Ford and Honda each have two of their cars on the list as well. The Most expensive cars to insure list has three Mercedes models, Porsche and BMW each have two models listed.

Why does it cost less to insure the Nissan GT-R Nismo than the Jeep Wrangler Sport? The answer is simple, the Jeep Wrangler Sport is less expensive to repair or replace. The Nissan GT-R Nismo has a much higher replacement cost and the parts to replace it cost significantly more too. There are other reasons why different models cost more to insure-
– differences in safety features
– crash test ratings
– differences in horsepower

There are other factors that can cause your insurance rates to increase, a poor driving record, low credit scores, where you live, and on and on. Car insurance is not a “one size fits all” thing and it is important to make sure you have the correct amount of coverage, something you can’t count on when shopping for your car insurance online. The best way to ensure that you have the correct insurance coverage is to talk to an independent insurance agent. Hudson Valley Agents offers low cost NY insurance with many New York state based insurance companies. Shop local, eat local, and insure local at HVA!

Life in the biggest little city in the Hudson Valley


We all know that the Hudson Valley is a fantastic place to live. We have easy access to NYC and easy access to our own local cities as well. We aren’t a “party all night/sleep all day” place but we still know how to party. We have plays, live music, business growth, plenty of parks to hike and bike in, the best restaurants, great wineries, fantastic breweries, and an up and coming distillery scene. What’s not to love about living in the Hudson Valley?

When my significant other and I decided to cohabitate we knew we needed to be in the Hudson Valley and in either Orange county, Dutchess county, or Ulster county. We sat down and discussed the pros and cons of each county, we had both grown up in Orange county (Scotchtown for him, Newburgh and Mount Hope for me) and neither of us felt it was a good fit for us now. We considered Dutchess county simply because I had lived there before and raised my daughter there. Ulster county was the one big unknown, we had both visited it on day trips, Woodstock and Kingston’s water front district were our usual haunts, but neither of us knew what it would be like to live there. In 2013 we rented an apartment in Kingston and plunged into getting to know our new city. We kept telling each other that if we did not like this new place we could always move. It’s now 2015 and we have been in our house for just over a year. Kingston is now home.

I was hesitant to move to a city. If you are at all familiar with Mount Hope then you understand why, nothing but cow pastures and trees as far as the eye can see out there. Life in a city with an active freight train that runs through it takes a little getting used to but the occasional wait at a train crossing is nothing when you compare it to everything else this city has to offer. Yes, there are seedy sections but even the most rundown parts of Kingston look better than anywhere in the city of Newburgh or Poughkeepsie. Kingston is a city on the upswing, something Newburgh and Poughkeepsie are still striving to do.

Family and friends often make a point of coming to visit us in Kingston and we still aren’t sure if they come for us or the city itself. Aunt Ro likes the historical buildings and the cemetery at the Old Dutch Church (Kingston was the very first capitol of New York State), Aunt Janie likes the unique shops and the Kingston Candy Bar (Best. Candy. Anywhere.), both of their spouses love the restaurants as well as The Stockade Tavern and Keegan Ales. The big bonus is that we are five minutes from the Thruway so visiting from Utica or Long Island is a breeze.

Our typical summertime Saturday morning consists of a seven minute walk uptown to the Kingston Farmers Market to buy produce, peanut butter, and quiche, then a walk over to Outdated Café for brunch and antiquing. All through the spring, summer, fall, and winter I have access to locally sourced food within a seven minute walk from my front door, this! Our Farmers Market is huge and practically on the doorstep of every single restaurant uptown making the Saturday night dinner specials even more special. Oh, and if you happen to be gluten free you’ll find that almost every restaurant has gluten free options that are divine.

Business rents are incredibly reasonable, some are downright cheap compared to Dutchess or Orange counties. As a matter of fact you can even rent office space in an opera house! The local government officials work hard to make sure businesses come and stay in the area, it’s nice to have everyone working towards a common goal.

Kingston is not without its problems. A high school desperately in need of repairs, traffic patterns that make zero sense, and ancient water mains. Yes there is crime, yes there is are places you might not want to walk around in at night but it is a city not a village. Even with these issues Kingston is a wonderful place to live, this is where Hippies and Hipsters come to coexist! Can you believe that there is even a #movetokingstonnow movement?!?

Were you aware of the fact that where you live has an impact on your insurance rates? Before you put down roots in a new place talk to an independent insurance agent. Insuring your home and car may be more expensive in some areas and less expensive in others. Hudson Valley Agents understands the insurance needs of the Hudson Valley and they work with New York State based insurance companies to bring their clients the best rates with great coverage. It’s not quite farm to table insurance but we can insure your farm and your table too! Give them a call today at 778-2141!

4 Things you never knew about insurance agents


I spoke to a woman today who told me that she is paying way too much for insurance but she will not change companies because she’s uncomfortable trusting any insurance agent to not be “a sleaze ball”, and that my friend’s is an exact quote. I told her about Hudson Valley Agents, I even went so far as to say, “Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s best family owned independent insurance agency!”, talk about shameless promotion! I think insurance agents have an undeserved bad reputation so today’s blog should help clean that up.

Independent insurance agents are some of the hardest working people in the insurance business and perhaps it is time we acknowledged this fact. Before one can actually call themselves an insurance agent they have to learn the business, they have to study and pass a state licensing test and have hours of continuing education to keep that license. They need to be versed in many different types of insurance and have a well honed business sense. They must calmly and compassionately help clients who have just suffered a tragedy (house fire, car accident, death of a loved one). They are part financial planner, part counselor, part insurance law expert, and part business person all rolled up in one.

When you look for a new independent insurance agent there are things you need to keep in mind –

1- It isn’t all about money. A good insurance agent will find you the best coverage available even if it is with a company that pays the agent a low commission. The client must come first.

2- They have to give above average customer service. Normally people only speak to their insurance agent when they first purchase their policy, when they need to add or subtract something from their policy, or when they need to make a claim. They have only two or three interactions in which to make a positive impression. When a client needs to make a claim or change their coverage they expect to be taken care of promptly and professionally so good customer service is the key to repeat business.

3- You need to be pretty darn smart to be an insurance agent. Life insurance, business insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, boat insurance, classic car insurance, vacation insurance, wedding insurance, and many, many other types of insurance policies are sold by the same agency and your agent should be able to answer any question you have about any aspect of your policy.

4- Independent insurance agencies are usually a family affair. Our agency is a father and son agency and together they have several decades of insurance knowledge. When something is part of your family you work harder for it. Your business reputation and your family reputation go hand in hand.

Remember the lady I spoke of in the beginning of the blog? She just called me and asked for Hudson Valley Agent’s phone number (845-778-2141). She told me that if anyone could speak so highly of her insurance agent then they must be worth looking into! When you find a great insurance agent it’s kind of hard to keep quiet about it so if you love your insurance agent tell a friend or two and share the love. Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s best family owned independent insurance agency. Let them show you that the best insurance in the Hudson Valley can be found at Hudson Valley Agents.

Are your collectibles worth insuring?


When I was a kid I attempted to start a stamp collection because my mother thought I should have a hobby. After my little brother licked every stamp I had collected and stuck them to my bedroom door I decided that collecting anything just was not my scene. Then I had kids and suddenly my home was invaded with beanie babies and Pokemon collections that each child swore would one day be worth so much money that the kids could pay for their college education. That fad passed and not one of them was able to pay for their educations with Jiggly Puff or Charizard.

People collect all manner of things and sometimes these collections are quite valuable (coin collections, first edition books) and others are barely worth what the collector paid for them (Hummel figurines, anything from the Franklin Mint). If you are an avid collector of anything you should discuss how will your collections will be covered by insurance with your agent. Some collectors purchase specialty insurance to ensure that their investment in their collectibles of choice are protected while other collectors never give insurance a second thought. I think it all comes down to what it is you collect.

If you spend the 1980’s collecting Cabbage Patch Kids you probably are not looking to spend extra money on insuring them. If you collect Star Trek memorabilia you might want to rethink your insurance needs. Even Barbie is a money maker when it comes to collectibles, the original version of Barbie in mint condition could sell for as much as $28,000! If I had known a Barbie could be worth that much I might not have drawn tattoos on mine! Collectors tend to take their collections very seriously and those that are serious about protecting their investments insure them.

Insuring collections can be tricky business. The worth of the collection could increase or decrease as the market changes and that fact could make any insurance agency shy away from even considering insuring collections of any type. Hudson Valley Agents is not that agency! HVA understands how much time and effort you put into your collection and they can ensure that it is insured correctly. Give them a call to discuss how to properly insure your collection. HVA’s Dave Jr has his own collection of Star Trek memorabilia as well as a coin collection and yes my friends these collections are insured.

I clicked on an ad for low cost NY insurance and saved money


Car insurance is not the most interesting of topics, as a neophyte insurance blogger I spend a lot of time trying to write about topics that most people don’t care to know too much about. They purchase their insurance, they pay their premiums, and they usually never think about it again until they either buy a new car or have to make a claim. A lot can change as we move through life and having your insurance needs reevaluated is something we rarely think about. I never once thought about it and it ended up costing me almost two thousand dollars.

When my husband and I split up I changed my name, changed my internet passwords, my bank, and my address but I never changed insurance agents. We both kept the same insurance company and the same agent and that fact cost me exactly $1,875.00. I called my insurance agent the very day I moved into my new apartment to purchase renters insurance and to change the address on my car insurance. My agent was very kind, she congratulated me on my new place and told me that my payments would be less now that I had moved further upstate. She even remarked that my ex-husband had called the same day to change his address on his policy. I thought I had taken care of everything and never thought about it again.

One day I came across an ad for low cost NY insurance and thought it might not be a bad idea to find out if I could save a few dollars on my car insurance. I picked up the phone and called Hudson Valley Agents. David Bonne looked over my policy and found that I was being penalized for my ex husband’s poor driving habits! I was no longer living with the lead footed, accident prone man but I was being charged the same insurance rates as if I still were! So much for that discount I was promised.

My original car insurance policy was with a big name, heavily advertised, insurance company and I will never go back. Hudson Valley Agents provides me with stellar car insurance coverage at reasonable prices and they work with insurance companies that don’t flood my brain with their advertising jingles. The best part, when my rates went up last year they found me the exact same coverage for less money with a New York based insurance company! I get great service from a family owned independent insurance agency that has decades of insurance experience, what more could you ask for from an insurance agent?

Having Hudson Valley Agents look over my car insurance policy was one of the smartest things I have ever done. Do yourself a favor and have your insurance needs reevaluated sooner rather than later, the money you save will be well worth it.