Rob Infantino, Openbay's founder and CEO, has just begun a regular blog series for Credit.com, where he’ll address everything as it relates to cars — maintenance and repair, driving tips, ways to save, etc. His first piece, “A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Car Insurance,” has been picked up by Yahoo! Finance and CBS Moneywatch. And now we’re pasting it here for you to check out. Enjoy!
A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Car Insurance
Insurance is an anomaly among commodities; it’s one purchase that we hope we never have to use. But car insurance is a mandated purchase almost everywhere, and with good reason; if your vehicle were to be stolen, vandalized or in an accident, you could be at risk for huge financial burdens if faced with covering the costs on your own.
Shopping for car insurance isn’t rocket science, but getting the best rate possible requires you to understand some basic information. Your rate will be affected by the value of your vehicle as well as any requirements from your state and your lender. Here’s a look at some of the considerations you’ll face when insuring your ride.
What Is a Deductible?
The word “deductible” refers to the amount of money you’ll have to pay out of pocket, following an accident, before your insurance kicks in.
So why not always opt for the lowest deductible possible? The lower your deductible, the higher your monthly premium, or out-of-pocket expenses, will be. On the flipside, a higher deductible will lower your monthly payment. When settling on a deductible, pick one that works for your budget. A high deductible can save you money in the short term and might be the smartest choice if you have money saved to cover your deductible in the event of an accident or break-in. If you can afford it, a low-deductible plan will ensure that you won’t have to dig deep into your pockets to pay for auto body work or car repairs resulting from a wreck.
Where you Live Makes a Difference
City vehicles are typically subjected to more break-ins, theft and fender benders, and are therefore more expensive to insure than ones in rural areas. In addition, your state’s laws may require you to carry a certain amount of insurance coverage. For example, if you live in California you’re required to carry minimum liability insurance of $15,000 for injury or death to one person, $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage. But if you live in New Hampshire, you’re only required to have motor vehicle insurance if you’ve been convicted of certain violations, including DWI and leaving the scene of an accident. Your first step should be to research the insurance requirements in your state by checking with your local motor vehicle office.
How Much Insurance Do You Need?
The car you drive may translate into pricier coverage. According to a survey by Insure.com, late-model BMWs, Mercedes and Audis are some of the most expensive cars to insure because they cost more to repair. Looking for cars that that won’t require you to purchase more insurance? Consider a Jeep SUV or a Honda Minivan; they’re among the cheapest new cars to insure.
Finding a balance between good coverage and affordable coverage is important. On the one hand, you want to have enough to cover your losses in the event of an accident. On the other hand, the more insurance you opt for will make for a higher monthly premium. Think it over carefully. You may decide that your 15-year-old jalopy isn’t worth the cost of coverage. If you drive a brand new car and are still paying for it, your lender will likely dictate your coverage minimums on the car since it officially belongs to the bank.
The Different Kinds of Car Insurance
Your car insurance policy is comprised of a handful of different categories of coverage. Here’s a list of the most common types and what they mean.
Look for Discounts
Car insurance companies offer a variety of discounts based on a number of factors:
As always, it pays to comparison-shop before buying. Once you’ve identified the vehicles you’re considering, call several insurance companies, who will be happy to provide you with estimates. In most states, insurance is a mandatory, ongoing cost, so doing your homework could go a long way toward saving you money.
Rob Infantino is founder and CEO of Openbay, an online marketplace to cross-shop, book and pay for vehicle repair. He has always worked on cars, including transmission replacements and engine rebuilds, and spent years working on a pit crew. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Connecticut. A noted authority on car repair, Rob’s interviews have appeared in BBC Autos, Boston Globe, The Economist and NY Daily News. More by Rob Infantino
“I can’t believe you’d loan me your car without telling me it had a blind spot. I could’ve been killed!” — Biff Tannen, Back to the Future
Perhaps the fact that all cars have blind spots is news to some, but it shouldn’t be to you. We all have blind spots due to an area on your retina that has no receptors, according to About.com. Give your blind spot a quick test (it only takes about five seconds) here.
Acknowledging that a blind spot exists doesn’t eliminate your risk of accidentally colliding with another car when changing lanes or reversing. To save yourself - and your insurance company - some major hassle, follow these steps to eliminate blind spots in your vehicle.
Once these steps have been taken, you’ll be in a far better position to see all of the activity on the road behind you and to the side of your car. Just keep in mind that this is no foolproof method, and that sometimes the movement of your car could affect the proper positioning of your mirrors.
Even in today’s high-tech world of blind spot detection systems and aftermarket convex mirrors, there’s still no substitute for a good old-fashioned shoulder check and properly aligned side view mirrors. If you put into practice the above listed techniques, you’ll be that much safer on the road from invisible drivers.
Do you have any advice for other drivers on how best to eliminate blind spots? We’d love to hear it! Leave your comments in the box below.
Image Credit: Nimish Gogri, Flickr
Car batteries always die at the wrong time. Not that there’s necessarily any good time for a battery to give up the ghost. But you usually only discover it’s dead when you’re in a rush to get somewhere and your engine won’t turn over.
What should you do? Before you freak out, read on. You just might find a quick solution that’ll get you back on the road in short time.
Look around you. Depending on where you are and what time of day your battery’s decided to punch the proverbial ticket, your options could vary. The first thing you’re going to need are some jumper cables and a willing person to pull his or her car up alongside yours and give you a jump start. If you’ve never learned how to jumpstart a car before, and are asking yourself, “Positive to negative, or positive to positive?” here’s how. Try asking someone nearby if they’d be willing to give you a hand. Don’t be shy about asking – almost everyone’s been in this situation before and can probably identify with your dilemma. If there’s nobody around, move on to the next step below.
Phone a friend. Pull out your cell phone and start swiping through your list of contacts. Call your spouse, your best friend, or a family member to ask them if they have jumper cables and if they can get to you. If you have to be someplace and don’t have the time to deal with jump starting your car, they can at very least give you a ride to your destination.
Call for professional help. Roadside assistance is an optional car insurance addition that can sometimes swoop in for the big save during your hour of desperate need. If you’ve got roadside assistance, get on the horn and call in for help. Not sure if you do? Call your insurance company and find out. If the answer’s still no, seek out a nearby towing company. For a fee, most towing companies can come to you and jump start your car or tow you to a mechanic who can determine if your battery needs to be replaced, recharged, or simply jump started.
Typically, all a dead battery needs is a jump start to get it going again. Once it’s been brought back from the Great Beyond, driving your vehicle should be enough for it to recharge back to its normal, fully functional state. If your battery continues to die after it’s been jumped, this is a sign that you may need to have it replaced. Fortunately, battery replacement is fairly inexpensive.
Keeping Your Car Battery Alive
Here are some actions you can take to extend the life of your car’s battery.
Even though a battery replacement is a relatively inexpensive repair, it still pays to comparison shop. Openbay is an online marketplace that helps you to compare offers from multiple shops, and you may schedule and pay for your service all through Openbay. Give it a try today.
Have you ever had your car battery conk out on you at an inopportune moment? Have any advice for other car owners on how best to extend the life of a car battery? We’d love to hear your feedback.
Image Credit: Al Ibrahim, Flickr
Ever wonder why hospitals like to inspect an infant car seat before newborn babies leave for home? The facts below are compelling. (Sunglasses optional.)
We love cars. But surprisingly, motor vehicles are also far and away the top cause of unnatural death for those under 19-years old. Whether behind the wheel or riding as a passenger, following these nine guidelines (and noting the abundance of supporting evidence to confirm why you should) will go a long way toward ensuring your precious cargo’s safety.
Do you have any additional suggestions for keeping kids safe from traffic-related accidents? Have any stories to share or wisdom to impart? We’d love to hear it. Leave your comments in the box below, and we wish you and your younger passengers the safest journey!
Image credit: Bradley Gordon, Flickr