28 May

Nitecore-MH20, What’s it Have to Do With my Car?

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At one point or another we’ve all been there, trying to change the oil or add some coolant or water under the hood. While it’s great to do all these fixes yourself, in the comfort of your own home or garage there is one thing that could be universally detrimental: lighting. In my case the lighting in my garage is subpar, so subpar in fact that I had to start looking for alternate sources of lighting. I tried a lamp, but the lighting was way too dispersed. A flashlight provided good focused lighting but it was too much of hassle to carry around with me with all the other tools in hand.

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After days of searching, I came upon this nifty website, BestLight. BestLight sales all things lights, anything you can think of, from lighting apparatuses for hiking, scuba diving, mountain climbing, et cetera. After searching and doing research of my own the NiteCore MH20 practically took a springboard off my page and was screaming at me to pick it up. The clip allowed me to place it on the brim of my hat, which allowed me the ability to keep my hands free. Something I wasn’t able to do with flashlights. At the same time it gave me a great focused beam that clearly illuminated everything I wanted to see.

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The other stand out point of the NiteCore MH20 was its size. I can honestly say I was surprised when I first got it, it was extremely compact which allowed me to haul it around in my pockets. Not to mention it has great style and it has superb functionality. How many flashlights out there can actually be recharged in between uses via a USB cord? It allowed me to keep it recharging inside of my car while I was not using, which is a huge plus because I’m known to lose things a lot. I’m honestly so glad that I found BestLight, I know I’ll never go blind in my garage due to the lack of lighting. Now, if only I could find a way to tether my wrenches in my pocket.

17 May

Location, Location, Location

The majority of Americans know that things like prior accidents and citations affect how much you’ll pay for auto insurance premiums. Though, you may be surprised to find out that where you’re insured also has a huge impact on how much you pay. GEICO spent almost $2 Billion last year, telling us that we could save 15% or more on car insurance by switching to them. A study undertaken by Quadrant Information Services collected data on how much the average insuree’ paid across the 50 states. For example they found that the top 3 most expensive places to pay for car insurance were New York, Rhode Island, and Michigan, with premiums in Michigan being 135.9% above the national average. However, other than shopping around for different carriers and perhaps purchasing a vehicle that’s cheaper to insure, there’s little we can do to change the inevitable factors that will affect our premium.

These inevitable factors that will affect our insurance premiums include (but are not limited to): prior driving record, location, credit history, marital status, and age. The one we’re interested in, location, is one we do have some degree of control over. Think about it, if you live in a crime ridden urban neighborhood, you can expect to pay considerably more than someone who live in the perfect, quiet, cookie-cutter neighborhood. That’s just for the economic part of it. Penny Gusner of Insure.com had the following to say about your location, and where you live, “Your driving record and your car are the same no matter where you live… Change your ZIP code just a couple of towns the wrong way and your rates can double.”

According to the study by the NAIC, the following five states, on average, have the most expensive annual auto insurance rates in the country (by percentage above the national average):

Michigan:  +136 percent.

Rhode Island:  +45 percent.

New York:  +42 percent.

Delaware:  +41 percent.

Louisiana:  +33 percent.

Meanwhile, the following five states, on average, have the least expensive auto insurance rates in the country (by percentage below the national average):

North Carolina:  -41 percent.

Idaho:  -37 percent.

Ohio:  -33 percent.

Maine:  -33 percent.

Wisconsin:  -28 percent.

According to Insure.com, the top 10 states (in terms of dollars) that are the cheapest and most expensive for auto insurance premiums are the following:

Top 10 Cheapest Location To Insure:

Maine: $805

Ohio: $843

Idaho: $877

Iowa: $886

New Hampshire: $905

Wisconsin: $930

Vermont: $957

North Carolina: $986

Virginia: $1,008

New York: $1,013

Top 10 Most Expensive Locations to Purchase Car Insurance

Michigan: $2,476

Montana: $1,886

District of Columbia: $1,799

Louisiana: $1,774

Florida: $1,742

West Virginia: $1,716

Connecticut: $1,690

Rhode Island: $1,656

California: $1,653

New Jersey: $1,595

According to BankRate and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average annual cost of car insurance nationwide was $815 in 2012, which is the most recent data available. However, as you more, closely examine the cost of car insurance state by state you see that all state are not created equal. Let’s say you live in either, Maine, Idaho, or Ohio, on average, your auto insurance premiums will be a third of the national average (when trying to insure a new care). Michigan drivers can expect to face an auto insurance premium up to 90% higher than the national average. When comparing the cheapest state (Maine) with the costliest (Michigan) the differences can be staggering. The difference between the two over your typical 5 year ownership period, with Maine at $805, and Michigan at $2,662 comes out to be $9,285.

Why is Location so Important?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, factors such as population density, natural disasters (or risk thereof), and cost of living can affect why it costs more to insure certain areas. For example, states with higher costs of living such as California or New York will have higher premiums for things like medical insurance and home insurance – insurers will also place the price accordingly. States like North Carolina, Ohio, and Idaho have much more rural space and lower crime incidence and rate to keep auto insurance premium low. However, in states like Louisiana, and other coastal states have natural disasters such as Hurricanes to contend with and thus are likely to face higher premiums because Hurricanes have the ability to damage vehicles. For example, in New York and Connecticut, Sandy may still be affecting their premiums, given that they pay 42% and 25% above the national average, respectively.

What should you do?

Other than moving, your inherent location has a price tag that you will have to deal with. It would be rather extreme to move just because of car insurance, but if you live close to a border in Michigan it then may be worth consider moving a state over because of the outrageous premiums in Michigan. Things to consider doing to lower your rate are, enquire about discounts by call your carrier, shop around other companies before renewing, avoid making small claims, use a pay as you drive program. These things are unavoidable, and since we’d rather keep money in our pockets we must find every way possible to save wherever possible.

11 May

Changes in Pricing for GEICO and Allstate Auto Insurance Premiums

We know, the last thing you probably wanted to hear was that price are going up. It seems as if that’s the only thing that’s happening now a days, no matter, wherever you turn you’re always finding that prices have gone up. So, it’s our sad duty to report that because of finances that GEICO and Allstate are looking to raise insurance premiums because of less than favorable financial outcome for them. However, even though prices are going up, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, browse the site and check out all the money saving tips that we have to offer.

Also, another quick important note is that if your policy coverage is set to expire, don’t just renew! Loyalty with insurance companies is often not rewarded and in fact can be detrimental to your bottomline. Think of it like this, if you’ve been with an insurance company for a long time, renewing year after year, they’d feel comfortable raising price on you. Why? Well because they see no sign of you leaving and so they think that, “hey, Joe Schmo hasn’t left us for four years, what’s $50 going to do?” You get the picture, so always stay vigilant of other companies and make sure you always know what’s going on with your insurance.

GEICO’s woes

After GEICO suffered disappointing losses in its underwriting results, the company everyone knows as the company that could save you 15% or more on car insurance will raise its auto premiums. Based on financial information released by the company, the underwriting profit for the first quarter of 2015 was $160 million, a sharp loss from a year ago in which they experienced profits of $193 million dollars in the first quarter. The loss ratio was 80.1 compared with 75.8, just a year ago. To further compound the matter in the first quarter of 2015, GEICO also saw a jump in the number of claims and severities in a number of its major coverage’s.

Financial Numbers

In the first three months of the year, GEICO losses (including their loss adjustments) expenses were up 16.6%. Their underwriting expenses were up 9.5 percent. However, for the premiums they wrote, those number increased 10.2 percent to $5.8 million dollars in the first quarter of the year. As a result of these financial numbers the company said, “[they] are implementing premium rate increases as needed” so you’ll have to watch your statement the next time you’re billed.

We all probably know GEICO from their commercials, they have some with the iconic gecko, and several newer ones that star a cat. Thus, GEICO spends the most on advertising than any other property and/or casualty insurer, and has been for several years. GEICO spent an astonishing 1.18 billion in 2013, just on advertising. The company also reported that because of “an aggressive advertising campaign and competitive rates,” voluntary policies-in-force have increased 39% over the prior five years. GEICO has said they will not be “selling their products for a period of time at less than adequate rates.” Taking aim at companies who offer very low insurance policies.

Allstates’ (Not So) Troubling Times

Allstate, a little fun fact, is the largest U.S. publicly traded company which offers auto and home insurance. They, too, said they would be raising their auto insurance premiums even though they saw a profitable first quarter, unlike GEICO. Their main reasoning behind this is that because of increased economic activity has led to a rise in the number of people driving and thus an increase in the number of claims. They said they would go ahead and start increasing premiums sooner than they originally anticipated.

Making Sense of Everything

Well as you have expected, expect to see price increases in the near future. GEICO and Allstate are two of the largest insurers from auto policies. If you are a customer of either of these companies and see a price hike on your next premium consider switching out! There are 10s of 100s of other auto insurance companies out there that would be happy to take your business. Furthermore, shop around, it is the number one reason people often miss out on the best deal.

 

07 May

Steer Clear of These 5 Things That Could Raise Your Car Insurance Premiums

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When it comes down to car insurance, the last thing we want to do is inadvertently raise are premiums just because of a stupid decision we made. Even more damning, what if that one dumb mistake caused all your future car insurance quotes to raise as well? That’s exactly what you have to try to avoid. In life there are things that you can’t change or have no control over – your age, where you live, and other things that are a tad easier to change – like the kind of car you drive don’t happen from one day to the next.

Data from Florida drivers collected by NerdWallet shows how much car insurance premiums are increased when drivers committed very silly errors. It goes to illustrate how much your behavior impacts your pocketbook.

NerdWallet gave us a control, an average driver, for comparison. The average driver’s quote was a stable $1,786 for all intents and purposes. Let’s look at the first two silly mistake that could mistakenly raise your car insurance quotes. Tailgating, or otherwise known as following too closely, and bad credit management. Let’s dive deep into the first one.

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We get it, it’s tough driving in traffic. What makes it all-the-more difficult is that we’re very social, territorial critters. We don’t like people invading our space and when you look up to your rear view mirror and see a car approaching several things kick in. First, we have a psychological response of discontent and anger. To fuel the situation further, we often (and I myself have a tendency to do this) take things personal. We see the car as an adversary trying to wrong us or do as wrong, but in reality the person driving the other vehicle knows nothing about you. However, we still find a way to make things personal and make it seem as if the person is attacking us, telling us that we’re going to slow or invading upon our space. That’s why tailgating is such a risky behavior, and a red flag to most car insurance companies. In fact, according to Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation, one-third of all rear-end accidents are caused by tailgaters. Tailgating accidents are costing these insurance companies a good chunk of cash, which is why they won’t hesitate to pass the bill on to the people who are more likely to do it.

Average Driver Car Insurance Premium: $1,786

Tailgater’s Car Insurance Premium: $1,943

Difference: $157

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Now, talking about credit spending, and general credit habits, this has the potential to affect more than just your car insurance. Including, but not limited, future financing opportunities, job offerings, and ability to operate financially under certain circumstances. In general we would want to avoid this mistake at all costs because it has the potential to damage more than just your can insurance premium. It is true, we all have those moments of impulse where we buy this or that on the spur of the moment without thinking of how we’d be able to pay those creditors back. In the case, it’s very important to keep good budgeting habits and maintain financial hygiene. Good resources available to use is Reddit’s Personal Finance subreddit and Bank of America’s very informative guide on credit. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at how much you can expect your car insurance premiums to rise because of a shoddy credit history.

Average Driver Car Insurance Premium: $1,786

Driver with Subpar Credit History Habits: $2,102

Difference: $316

Let’s move along the list, the next two easy mistakes to avoid are getting three speeding tickets in less than two years, and driving drunk. These two are perhaps the easiest to avoid, they are predicated directly to our behavior and very avoidable. As such they are intrinsically linked to our personality. Are you more risk averse, or are you willing to risk your or someone else’s time for an increase in speed or time? Driving drunk is also a citation that may carry very severe penalties beyond just car insurance. Nonetheless, we’ll read a little deeper into speeding tickets.

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As often as you may drive, you probably feel like an experienced, cultured, good driver. That’s where the need for speed may come in, you tell yourself, “why is this guy going so slowly,” “hurry up, I need to make it to a meeting,” or perhaps, someone is genuinely going over the speed limit and you just really need to get somewhere. Whatever the case may be, you have to be cognizant of your surroundings, driving conditions, and current traffic. You may be apprehended for a speeding ticket even though you were going the speed limit due to the fact that it may’ve been foggy, rainy, or just bad driving conditions in general. Furthermore, you always have the option of purchasing a radar or laser detector. While these options are available, and we certainly do not condone you use them for speeding, they are supplemental and you could still be flagged for speeding while using these devices. On the flipside, you are given some leeway to correct the erroneous driving as you would have to pick up three speeding tickets in the span of two years. Let’s see the size of the hole that speeding could put in your wallet.

Average Driver Car Insurance Premium: $1,786

Driver with Three Speeding Tickets within 2 Years: $2,388

Difference: $602

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Drunken driving simply carries no excuse. There are a multitude of services available such as, Uber or Lyft, which will provide transportation in the event that you are unable to operate a vehicle. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is simply a risk you should not be willing to take. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that every two minutes a person is injured by a drunk driver. Penalties for drunk driving range from a fine, suspended license, to incarceration. It is no wonder why car insurance companies levy such high penalties for this behavior. In fact, on average, when compared to the average driver, a driver with a drunk driving citation will pay on average, 36% more.

Average Driver Car Insurance Premium: $1,786

Drunken Driver Insurance Premium: $2,430

Difference: $644

Lastly, the one thing that could save you the most money on car insurance (that most people fail to do) is by shopping around. Check out our earlier article on how to effectively and efficiently shop around for car insurance. Research done by NerdWallet showed that in Florida, the average quote for an average drive ranged from $1,126 and $3,252. That is a 189% increase from $1,786, simply shopping around could save an enormous amount of money. Despite the fact that it is one of the easiest things you could possibly do, most people fail to do this one simple thing.

Conclusion

There are things in life we obviously cannot change or have no control over. That is okay, and we have to accept it, however for the things we do have control over like our behavior, we must make sure to do all the necessary things in order to keep our wallets fat and our car insurance premiums in the gutter. Simply avoiding the 5 things mentioned could save you a bunch of money now and into the future.