Some Things Your Car Insurance Company Won’t Tell You

1. How to determine the value of “total loss.”

Most companies will tell you that they use at least three methods or schemes to determine the actual a totaled vehicle’s value including value books, computer-generated quotes from dealers, and local market research. In this case, you will probably think that local area is your current neighborhood, but it is not specifically defined by the insurer. If, in any case, the company cannot find an auto replacement in your neighborhood, so they have to find it not from your “local area,” your totaled car’s value is certainly affected. For example, if you currently live in New York, replacing your totaled vehicle in suburbs will be cheaper than in the city. Insurance company will, of course, use quotes from suburbs area as the most-reasonably-priced estimates. The main purpose in totaling a vehicle is to allow the consumer (the insured person) to purchase the same car that is totaled in an accident within the local market. Since they use three different schemes to figure out real value of a totaled car, a consumer may end up with a cheaper car than the totaled one. It is impossible to be sure what value you will get when your company does not tell you how they determine it.

Fortunately, you can do some smart methods to help yourself and your company to do the value determination. First, you have to produce valid proof that your car was in good conditions when the accident occurred; car in good condition has better value than a wreck. Bring a copy of maintenance records including oil changes and inspection by an authorized mechanic. The records will tell your company that your auto was regularly maintained, meaning it was actually in great shape (in terms of appearance and performance) when the accident occurred. Moreover, you probably had special features installed such as multimedia system, anti-theft system, anti-lock brakes, rear view camera, or 5-harness seat belt. The car insurance company may charge you more because of some special upgrades, so make sure that your insurer includes that in the evaluation.

Another good thing is to find at least three dealers and get quotes on replacement from them; make sure all dealers in your local area or at least within short driving distance from your home. Present the quotes to your insurer and ask your insurer to provide a list of some car dealers who probably can provide a car for the price listed in the quotes. If you are not satisfied with the company’s value determination or you get less than you expect, you can choose to do mediation. So, meaning you present the case to third party (neutral) to get help to settle the dispute, or arbitration, or you can even request a formal inquiry to the court.

2. If you want to cancel your policy, do it officially

Most companies say that consumers can cancel their policies at any date, but you need to notify the insurer concerning the exact date you want to end the coverage. The statement is clear enough; in other words, it says consumers have to notify their companies when they want to cancel their policies. However, consumers often think that when they ignore the last bill before renewal, the company will automatically end the policy. Too bad, this is not how it is done. People can forget and deliberately miss a bill, and the company totally understands that. After this first missed bill, your insurer is going to send you one more bill for premium payment; if you don’t pay the bill, you will be cancelled for non-payment, and the record will hurt your credit score.

What you should do when you want to cancel auto insurance policy is to let the company know that you are canceling. Please make sure that you provide a specific date; it helps you avoid being totally uninsured for a certain period, time, term. The cancellation request will be sent to you, and all you have to do is to put your signature. It is recommended that you carefully check the document before signing it. Some companies may require you to provide valid proof that you indeed have another coverage before they can approve the cancellation. If you’ve financed your car, the dealer needs the updated policy information because valid proof of insurance is required in the purchase contracts.

Credit history still matters

The use of credit information to determine approval and premium rate is still common, despite the fact that some states already started to ban such practice. Some (if not most) companies use the credit history to generate risk score. They believe that it strongly linked or correlated to the likelihood of the consumer reporting a claim. More likelihood of filing a claim is exactly the same with high-risk driver that usually also pays more expensive premium fee compared to “safe-driver” or “the preferred class.” The preferred consumers are those with stable credit card history as it suggests financial stability, meaning they are not likely to miss a payment. People of this category are safer consumers to insure compared to people with shaky credit history. Auto insurance companies do not like consumer who pays sporadically or changes accounts quite frequently.

There are some credit card issuers who offer free credit score checking, but in most cases, you need to pay for the service. Unlike credit score, risk score for insurance-related matters will not be available for you, but both probably indicate the same thing which is financial stability. If you are currently in the market to purchase auto insurance, and it turns out that you have quite unusual activity on your credit history within only certain time frame, you can wait until one month to allow the credit activity to go back to its usual condition. If you cannot keep the credit score stable, prepare yourself to pay more expensive premium fee.

3. Budgeting by installments is not always efficient.

Installments can pay almost all items, and consumers think that it is indeed the best way to budget the expense. When it comes to auto insurance, you can ask the company to divide the annual premium into a monthly basis, quarterly, or on six month. Please put in mind that dividing the annual premium will cost you “fractional premium.” You can consider this additional service fee to arrange the installment. It can be as cheap as $10 per payment; the more you break it down, the most fractional premium to pay.

Most companies will probably offer you to pay in installments since it makes more money for them. When you apply for insurance, it is wise to ask whether there is any additional charge for installments option, and then you can compare the difference. If the fractional premium is not very expensive, then perhaps it is worth it. Another big difference between upfront payment and installments is that certain companies will immediately cancel your coverage if you miss one payment; even worse, they can do it without notification. It is best to pay up front if you can; the entire process will be easier, and you can indeed save few dollars.

Every vehicle model and type has certain premium rate

Of course, you all know that sport cars need more expensive insurance policies than a van, but insurance companies will not tell you the exact numbers. In general, it is true that attractive, sporty, luxurious car with turbocharged engine will go very quickly on the road, and it increases the risk of accidents, but this is not always true considering the discounts for safety features, security features, mileage (especially when you drive it less), etc. Auto insurance companies have a specific system to know the premium for all car models you can buy, based on the system rating by ISO (Insurance Service Office). Every type of car is rated from 3 to 27; higher number means a higher premium. Insurance Service Office says that it will not release the rating system for publication because its clients are insurance companies.

You will not get the rating system from your insurer; you may not even find it anywhere at all. The best thing you can do when you want to purchase a new auto is to ask the insurance how much insurance premium you need to pay for a new car that you want to purchase. If you keep a good relationship with an independent agent, he/she should be able at least to predict the price based on raw calculation.

4. Filing claim increases your premium.

People are always interested to see insurance companies reduce premium fee to attract potential customers. It is indeed one of the best things customers get from the competition in the market, but your insurer can increase the price right away after you file your first claim. The industry standard is to increase premium fee up to 40% of the base rate after first-at-fault accident. With the help of an online car insurance calculator you get a base rate of $500, your premium increases by $200. Some companies have different rules, but there is always a big chance your premium will go up after the first-at-fault claim. Some insurers offer “first-accident forgiveness,” meaning your first actual claim will not affect the premium at all, but the variable and requirement for eligibility can be different from company to company. You should ask your insurer if such discount is available and how to qualify for it.

How to Get a 700 Plus Credit Score With One Small Key Ingredient

Everyone wants a great credit score, but sometimes you wonder if it is possible. If you are wondering how to get a 700 plus credit score, then you are in luck. This article will help you understand your credit better, and show you how to get awesome credit!

First, it’s important to understand what makes up your credit score. There are three major credit bureaus that potential creditors will use to get info about you. These are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. These credit bureaus collect info about you from those you have borrowed money from. The more times you pay your creditors on time, the better your score. They also measure the amount of debt that you have and how much of that is revolving debt (think credit cards). Too much revolving debt will lower your overall score.

Generally speaking a credit score above 700 is considered to be very good. This will entitle you to the best rates and the most respect. But, the holy grail of good great, a credit score above 700, is made all the more important in the credit driven society that we live in. A good credit score can mean that you can afford a bigger house or that great car you’ve wanted. It also gives you options and freedom.

Many people want to know how to get a 700 plus credit score. It is not as difficult as you might imagine. Even if you have made credit mistakes in the past, you can learn how to get it where you want. Start by getting on a reasonable budget. This allows to the freedom to allocate your funds properly so that you know that the money is there to pay your bills. And want to know the biggest secret to get your credit score above 700? Pay those bills on time! Anti-climatic, I know, but that is seriously it.

Another tip on how to get a 700 plus credit score is to keep your balances on your credit cards well under the limit. It is a good idea to owe less than half of your limit on your cards, and pay them regularly. When you are maxed out or even close on your cards, this signals to creditors that you are having financial trouble.

Finally, try not to apply for new credit if you don’t need it. Those store credit cards that promise to give you ten or fifteen percent off of your purchases may be tempting, but in the long run they can cost you precious points on your score. Limiting new credit inquiries is a key element in how to get a 700 plus credit score.

If you are looking for ways to skyrocket your credit, keep these tips in mind. If you keep to your budget, make your payments on time, and watch your balances, you can learn how to get a 700 plus credit score in no time.

Email Marketing – The Pros And Cons of Marketing With Email

Many small businesses are considering jumping into the world of email marketing. Email marketing has many different advantages, but it also has a few drawbacks that you need to keep in mind. The truth is that when utilized in the correct fashion it can be an extremely powerful and cost effective way of promoting your business and producing more sales. Once you learn about the pros and cons of email, you will be able to begin your own campaigns and get started down the path towards increased success and profitability.

The Advantages of Email Marketing

There are several key benefits to running an email marketing campaign. One of the most important is how cost efficient is can be. There is no other form of direct marketing that is as cheap as email marketing is. A 2005 study by the Winterberry Group found that for every dollar spent on email marketing, $15.50 was earned in return. There is much relevant data pointing to email marketing having a superior ROI than telemarketing, direct mail campaigns, radio or billboard advertisements and more.

Another advantage that email has is that you can quickly get your message across, and you can reach your customers and prospects in a place where they are comfortable communicating. If you have an idea for a new sale or promotion for the upcoming weekend, you can inform all of your customers about that immediately. With print advertising, traditional direct mail or anything else, the turnaround time could be days or possibly even a week or more.

One of the real strengths to running an email campaign is how effectively you can track the results that it produces. You will be able to see every click that is made to your website as a result of the email, and you will be able to see statistics such as how many people read the message, how many times they read it, if they ended up making a purchase and on down the line.

There is no other form of marketing or advertising that produces such an array of in-depth statistics. It’s an invaluable way to track your marketing efforts, and make the most out of every dollar you put into promotion.

Finally, another important advantage to email marketing that you will want to remember is that it’s the perfect way to convert prospects over a long period of time. No matter how great your products or services may be, not every person will be immediately ready to make a purchase or investment. Email marketing is the perfect tool to continue chipping away at those prospects over the long haul. By developing a relationship with each prospect and providing them with useful information, you will gain their trust and stay at the forefront of their mind.

The Disadvantages of Email Marketing

The largest disadvantage of email marketing is that so many people today are fed up with spam. All of our accounts are flooded with wasted emails everyday, and it’s a worldwide plague of the largest scale. Because of this, many people are wary about opening up emails from businesses, or about trusting anything they see in their inbox.

You can help combat this problem by being as transparent as possible. This means making it easy for people to see who is sending your message and what it’s about. It also means ensuring that all of your email addresses are used with permission, and you never purchase a list or steal addresses from another website.

Another disadvantage with email marketing is that far too many small business owners or managers know how to make a campaign work for them. Perhaps they try using gimmicks or copying an email that somebody else sent out. However, a much more effective strategy is sticking within your own identity, playing to your strengths and providing your prospects and customers with exactly what they are looking for.

Making Email Marketing Work for You

The bottom line is that the benefits of email marketing far outweigh the disadvantages. It’s all about learning how to run your own campaigns in the right way, and for maximum success there will be some trial and error as you traverse that path. By not utilizing email campaigns you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to help your business become more efficient and more profitable.

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page erected as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who’s possibly just lost his job accompanies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month

    – Forbes.com

  • Men’s monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years

    – Guardian.co.uk

  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs

    – Guardian.co.uk

There’s even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid wouldn’t you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let’s take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it’s deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we’re talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also meant more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious).

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, namely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleagues and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the Prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content such as videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared amongst millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. the Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has decreased the need for Traditional Media because it enabled consumers to join social societies within their neighborhoods, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that’s been said, the demise of Traditional Media can largely be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership means advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can’t compete with instantly updated user-generated content that’s immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio/Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without any advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe, their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, perhaps live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection…