Monthly Archives: June 2017

The best car for your needs and budget

Buying a car for the first time can be daunting. Even the most experienced car buyer is often filled with uncertainty and the sheer number of makes and models available in the marketplace can make finding the perfect car tough. In order to help first time car buyers we have put together a few tips to help you find the best car for your needs and budget.

Be Realistic About Your Budget – Setting a realistic budget is probably the most important decision you will make when buying a new car. It can be easy to end up in a car that you can’t really afford if you are not careful. Stick to the basics, while a sports car may be more fun to drive, a low budget sedan is more affordable. Set a monthly amount that fits into your budget. When deciding on a car payment be sure to include all costs, insurance, fuel and maintenance must be factored in to the total payment.

Decide What Kind of Car You Need – Are you heading up to the mountains every weekend or do you spend most of your time circling the block looking for a parking spot? The kind of driving that you do on a daily basis should be considered when picking a car.  A small car can be easier to park and less expensive to insurance and maintain. However if you spend a lot of time in the snow and need to haul things, a truck or SUV may be the best solution.

Make a List – It is a good idea to make a list of features that you want in a new car. Go wild when you make your list because you are then going to prioritize it. Once you have all of your dream features listed it is time to break them into must-haves, would be nice, and probably just a dream categories. Put safety issues higher on your list than convenience factors, you are better off with anti-lock brakes than heated seats. Once you have your list prioritized its time to match it up with the perfect car.

Research – You will probably be driving this first car for at least a few years so make sure that you research it thoroughly. There are tons of websites that offer reviews, and information about all the makes and models available including used vehicles. You can find pricing information as well as details on trim levels and safety features. Read reviews from both professionals and owners. Make a short list of cars you want to test drive.

Test Drive Your Short List – Get out to your local dealer and test drive the cars on your list. The test drive is key and will probably be one of the biggest factors in your decision. Drive each car you are considering for a reasonable amount of time, get out on the highway, and drive in the city in order to get a real feel for the car. Pay attention to the layout of the controls and visibility. This is a big purchase so make sure you take the time to drive the car.

What You Do After An Accident

Being in a car accident is never fun, after the initial shock of the crash you will have to deal with the repairs of your vehicle as well as the insurance claim. While you will probably be a bit confused or frustrated after the accident there are a few actions that can actually make matters worse so follow these tips to make sure your accident goes as smoothly as possible.

Its Not Just a Fender Bender – While it might look like a minor fender-bender, the costs could end up being significant. There is the possibility that the frame is bent, the axle damaged, or other structural damage. Even a damaged bumper that is filled with sensors and crumple zones can be a very expensive fix. No matter how minor the damage, you should get all of the other drivers contact information, including their insurance ID number. This will come in handy if you need to make a claim later.

Never Apologize – Even if you think the accident might be your fault, don’t apologize or admit fault, it may be used against you later in a lawsuit. Simply exchange information with the other driver and let the insurance companies determine fault and settle the claims. Admitting guilt can result in a claim against you and a possible lawsuit if the accident is severe enough, for that reason, let the adjusters work it out.

Document the Scene – Many people think that if it is just a minor accident there is no need to take photos or call the police. Again, regardless of how minor an accident you should take photos of the scene as well as the damage to your vehicle, and that of the other person. Insurance experts recommended calling the police and getting a police report which can help determine fault. It is possible that the police will refuse to come out for a small incident but you can at least tell your insurer that you tried.

Consider Paying for Towing – If your car needs to be towed and you have roadside assistance on your policy you might want to cover the cost yourself. While roadside assistance is usually a low cost add-on, if you use it frequently it could result in a premium increase. Each tow or jumpstart ends up on your policy record and could drive your rates higher at renewal time.

Don’t Delay Filing a Claim – It is best to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. They will advise you how to proceed and in many cases will direct you to an approved repair center to get your car checked out. The adjusters will also get started on their investigation to determine fault and settle any claims.

Don’t Choose a Deductible You Can’t Afford – While it may seem like a good idea to raise your deductible to lower your insurance payment, if you don’t have enough money to cover the deductible you may find yourself unable to get your car repaired. It is best to keep your deductible in a range that you can easily afford, even if it results in a higher monthly payment.

Find a Lawyer – If you are involved in a serious accident and have sustained injuries it is best to speak with an attorney. A lawyer can help explain your options in regards to lawsuits as well as dealing with your insurance company if you are unhappy with their offer or claim service. Look for a lawyer that has experience in the type of accident that you were involved in.

A Teens Auto Insurance Rates

Letting a teenager drive is scary enough for any parent. Add in the parents’ car that the teen is driving on the family’s auto insurance policy, and you might not get any sleep at night. Throw in a DUI, and it’s a nightmare.

A DUI or DWI — police terms for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated — is a “scarlet letter” to auto insurers, says Troy Thompson, owner of Pinnacle Insurance Agency in Coon Rapids, Minn. Half of the companies Thompson works with will drop an entire family if their teen has a DUI, he says.

“They don’t want to be anywhere near someone in a household with a DUI,” Thompson says.

If an insurer does keep the family policy, parents with such a teen will likely see their rates double or triple, he says.

Two types of policies

A teen’s auto insurance rate depends on whose policy they’re on — their own or their parents — and if the teen owns a car. Using a parent’s car on a family auto insurance policy is a lot cheaper than doing it on your own.

A family policy can cost about $100 per month and will rise to $200 after a DUI, while a teen with their own policy will pay up to $500 per month and could see their rate go up to $800 per month, Thompson says. “No policy is cheap when you have a 16-year-old,” he says.

When the teen turns 18, they can stay on the parents’ policy as long as they live in the house, he says. But after moving out or having a vehicle in their name, they must have their own insurance, he says.

If the teen has their own insurance policy because they own a car that’s in their name, then they’ll face an “astronomical” rate increase after a DUI, Thompson says. Families and insurance agents don’t always put a car that’s in a kid’s name on the kid’s insurance policy, he says, but it should be.

“You can’t insure somebody else’s vehicle if you don’t have any skin in the game with that vehicle,” Thompson says, meaning your name on the title.

Know About Car Insurance Deductibles

Car insurance can be tricky. Knowing which coverages to carry is important but it can be confusing. While having the proper coverages is key, having the right deductible is also necessary. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about car insurance deductibles:


What is a deductible?

A deductible is the dollar amount that you agree to pay out of your pocket before your car insurance starts paying the bills after you have filed a claim. After your deductible is paid your insurer should cover the rest of the bills related to your claim, up to the limits of your policy coverage.

Deductibles vary by the type of coverage you are talking about, and some coverages have a zero deductible. As an example, liability coverages do not have a deductible while coverages such as personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorist may have a deductible depending on the state you live in and the insurer you are covered by. On the other hand, coverages that handle physical damage such as comprehensive and collision will always have a deductible. It is possible to set your deductible at zero but it will bump your premium up significantly.


How a Deductible Works

When a physical damage policy is first written you will the option of several deductible amounts. These amounts can vary from zero to a whopping $2500 if you really want to keep your premium payment low. The most common and popular deductible amounts are $250, $500 or $1,000.

What all of this means is that if you are in an accident and file a claim for $4000 in damages and you have a deductible of $250 you will need to pay the repair shop that first $250 and your insurer will cut a check for $3750 to the repair shop to cover the rest of the bill.

The deductible takes on a different meaning if your vehicle is totaled or deemed a total loss. In the above example, if your car is only worth $4000 your insurer will total the car and your insurance company will pay out the claim instead of repairing the vehicle. In this case you would receive a check for $3750 which is the $4000 value of our vehicle minus your $250 deductible.

Your deductible will also factor into when you will make a claim. If you are in a small accident and the damage amounts to $150 there is no need to make a claim as the damage amount is less then your deductible. This is not a big deal if you are carrying a small deductible but if you are carrying a deductible of $1000 that can amount to a lot of damage that will not be fixed unless you write the check.

In the majority of cases, the deductible is due regardless of whether you are at fault or not in the accident. One exception is for a windshield claim, this only applies in some states and with some insurers so be sure to check with your insurance company. If you are not at fault and do not want to pay your deductible its possible to go after the at fault party’s insurer by making a claim with them.

Leasing Your New Ride

Thinking of trading in your old ride for a new one? If you are, you might want to consider leasing instead of buying. This is especially true if you’re someone who likes to drive a new car every year or two.  If you are considering leasing, what follows are some tips to make your lease work in your favor…

The first step is to do your research when deciding on what car you want to lease and how much you can afford to spend on monthly payments.  Be sure to check on auto insurance, so you can factor that amount into your monthly budget.

According to Edmunds, it’s a wiser move financially to get a lease with no down payment, even if it means making higher monthly payments. This is because if you crash the car soon after you get into the lease, your insurance won’t reimburse you for your down payment, which is also called a cap reduction.  That means you’ll have to forfeit that money. Edmunds suggests that if you need to get a lower payment to meet your budget, it’s better to take the funds and set them aside to be put towards your monthly payments than to use them as a down payment.

It’s important to research incentives on lease deals to find the best one for your needs. Make sure you uncover any fees that might be hidden in the agreement that will end up driving up the price of your lease. Also, make sure that the vehicle in the lease deal has all of the options you want.  If it doesn’t, adding them on can add a significant amount to your contract.  Be sure to get multiple quotes to ensure you get the best lease contract.

Once you agree on a lease, review the contract carefully before signing.  Be sure to note the length of the lease (Edmunds recommends 36 months) and the stated amount of cash due upon signing, if any.  The number of payments is another thing to verify, as well as the monthly payment amount and gap insurance.  GAP is an acronym for Guaranteed Auto Protection. It’s a must when leasing because you don’t own the car outright.  In the event of an accident, your insurance company will reimburse you for the current value of the car, but the amount you owe on your lease could be more than that. GAP insurance will cover you for the difference so you don’t have to end up paying it to the leasing company out of pocket.