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November 9, 2010, 5:00 am

How you can get cheaper auto insurance

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Insurance

When it comes to the time of the year that we have to buy auto insurance (for some of us that’s every month) our wallets certainly feel the strain.  Auto insurance can be very expensive and if you don’t check what options are available to you, then it’s even more so. You can get cheaper auto insurance if you follow some simple steps, here they are:

Identify the type of coverage you require


This is just something that you should think about, if you have a vehicle that’s worth not a lot of money, should you purchase full insurance cover? For example, a friend of mine recently purchased his insurance for a vehicle worth $800 and his insurance cost more than the vehicle. If you are faced with this scenario you should look to see if you think the policy is worth it, if not then get a cheaper policy.

Always look for discounts!


There are always tons of discounts when it comes to auto insurance, so make sure you check what options are available to you. If you have more than one vehicle, many insurance providers now offer brilliant ‘multi-car’ discounts, so if this applies to you check out your options. Also, have you considered getting your home and auto insurance from the same provider? You can make big savings by combing your insurance policies.

If you are a young driver or you are just learning to drive, you could consider choosing a policy that offers a good grades discount. If you are doing well in school, then you will get a discount on your insurance policy, it’s that simple.

Ask for higher deductibles


Asking for higher deductibles is very popular as it can decrease your insurance cost by up to 10%. The higher the level of deductible that you choose the more the percentage you save will be. However, you should make sure that the amount you choose is realistic should you actually wish to make a claim. If you have an accident you will have to pay the deductible amount before your policy will come into play.

Compare policies


Comparing as many insurance policies as possible is the best way to save on auto insurance. Use a price comparison site and compare as many policies as you can, all you have to do is enter you details as if you are filling in car insurance quotes. You should then be presented with a list of insurance options available to you. You can then identify what each policy is offering and you can choose the cheapest option that offers the best value for you.

Check the extras on your policy


When you receive an auto insurance policy, there are often extras that get included such as health and legal cover. If you don’t need or want these extras, ask for the insurance provider to remove them, it can result in a big drop in the cost of your insurance policy.

Monitor your credit record


Insurance providers often look at your credit record when you apply for a quote from them, so maintaining your credit record to the best of your ability is a good way to save some money. Maintain a good credit record by paying your bills on time and try not to get yourself in too much debt, it makes you look like a reliable purchaser and the insurer will therefore offer you a bigger discount.


This article was written by Andreas Nicolaides, a finance and money saving author for Money Supermarket.

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March 3, 2010, 5:00 am

Extended Warranty: How You Really Contribute To A Company’s Profit!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Insurance

You are in the store, all excited thinking that you will see the hockey gold medal final on your brand new (not yet purchased) 58” plasma TV (since 42” is too small these days 😉 ). As you are about to tell the salesman that you will take it, he looks at you and starts his sales pitch.

The thing is that he doesn’t want/need/care to sell you a TV (he knows that you have made up your mind and that you will leave the store with a giant screen anyways!). He wants to sell his extended warranty. His whole pitch is based solely on how great the extended warranty is while your life would suck so much if you don’t buy it.

For every $100, the store gets $50 to $60 in profit!

According to Eric Arnum, chief editor of Warranty Week, here’s how $100 in extended warranty is split:

$50 in profit

$30 in administration fees (gotta love paperwork!)

$20 only is actually used towards actual claims.

I’m not surprised that $7.5MM were made from extended warranty sales in the USA in 2004 (according to Warranty Week).

When you think that an extended warranty could cost around $500 for a big TV, you can figure that the store makes as much money out of the extended warranty than from the TV itself!

What are your chances?

According to Consumer Reports, the chance of having a defective plasma screen within the first 4 years is only 3%! It jumps to 12% when you are talking about a refrigerator… Even then, the cost of an extended warranty can go as high as one third of the original cost.

So far, in my own experience, everything I bought new (tv, computers, furniture) has always lasted me more than 3 years (which is usually the longest any extended warranty period goes for). My first tv is still up and running (since 1998) and my “new” plasma TV is already 5 years old! I’ve had my washer and dryer for the past 8 years too… nothing to worry about so far!

Extended warranty‘s biggest weapon: fear!

Fear is one of the biggest motivators in life and any good salesman knows it. They will ask you what you will do if your TV breaks in 6 months. They will amplify the potential problems you will have when you will contact the manufacturer directly. He won’t forget to mention that you will be on your own, that you will have to ship your goods by Purolator and that it will take forever to repair.

By playing the fear card, he will take away the rationale behind your real chances of buying the worst item in the store. Unfortunately, it works really good in most cases…

What are your options other than extended warranty to protect your purchase?

So if you still think that you need an extended warranty (because we all think how disappointing it would be to drop $2,000 in 13 months to buy another TV!), you have a few options to explore.

When it comes to protecting major purchases such as a plasma TV, computer or refrigerator, you basically have 2 options:

–         Request to read the extended warranty contract and make sure that most of the stuff is covered.

–         Pay with a credit card with an warranty extension (usually, most good credit cards double your warranty up to 2 years additional).

I actually use the credit card option. My Platinum MasterCard (from National Bank) offers me a great protection plan (double the warranty up to 2 additional years). Therefore, I don’t have to mind much when I buy a plasma TV (this jump the warranty to 3 years). Everything is covered according to the manufacturer’s basic warranty (which includes most of the “normal” stuff that could break).

While I have never had to use this feature (I guess it’s the living proof that we don’t really need an extended warranty), the process seems quite easy: you need your original bill, your credit card statement, a formal option on the state of your “broken” good and a insurance declaration.

I am actually in the process of finding out if I can use it to get my laptop screen working perfectly again (I have pixel bars showing here and there). The problem is that I didn’t keep any of my receipts, nor my credit card bills. My latest research showed that I didn’t purchase it with my main credit card (which I think I didn’t have 2 years ago…). So I am still looking to see if my other credit card has the same extended warranty feature… more news later on!

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February 8, 2010, 5:00 am

A Car Insurance Story

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Insurance

Picture this: a nice evening with friends, they take 2 cars to go somewhere after a nice dinner, the road is a bit slippery (it’s a real winter in Montreal after all 😉 ), the first car does a U turn since he just missed his turn, the other car follows… BANG! We have a bumper that just kissed the door of the other car.

How stupid do you feel? You just hit… your friend’s car. Of all the car accidents you could have, this is probably the best story to tell when you are with your friends around a pitcher of cold beer. Well, this is exactly what happened to 2 of my friends a few weeks ago.

We had a good laugh (nobody got hurt and they even got the nicest cop around to complete the paperwork and a guy on the street brought them coffee and donuts… I’m telling you, people from Montreal know how to live 😉 ). However, the rest of the story got me thinking about the most important thing about car insurance; filing a car insurance claim.   Of course if someone was seriously injured in an accident you may need to contact a lawyer. A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can assist you if you are having issues with your insurance company.

Car insurance cheap quotes first?

When we look for car insurance, most of us will consider only one criteria: we want the cheapest insurance quote. However, once you are pretty happy about your car insurance premium, the second factor (the one that will really determine if you have good car insurance or not) is how easy it is to file an insurance claim.

We don’t really think about this part until we get into a car accident. Even myself, I’ve been looking for the cheapest car insurance quote for the past 12 years (oh boy, that doesn’t help me stay young…). Yet, I have never made a claim from my car insurance company so far (knock on wood!) so I don’t really know how great my car insurance is…

Back to my friend’s story (and how his car insurance dealt with him!)

I’ll tell you upfront, my friend is with TD Insurance. He got a nice quote since he went to a school who has an affiliation with Meloche Monnex (who belongs to TD Insurance group). So his first criteria was no different than mine when he picked his car insurance: he wanted a cheap car insurance premium… period.

But does cheap premium means cheap service? Let me tell you that it is not the case with TD! Right after filing the paperwork with the police officer, my friend called his car insurance company to explain the situation. The next morning he drove his car to a garage (as instructed by TD) and got a courtesy vehicle right away.

Filing the car insurance claim paperwork was easy, people who served him were easy to deal with and proactive.  My friend didn’t have to wait long to get his car back. This is what we call a great service experience!

I am often the first one to step up and tell the world how bad customer service was at one place or another (remember my Roger’s Story, my friend’s fight with Bell or my Baton Rouge’s friend story?… go see them, you’ll have a good laugh 😉 ). But when it is the time to recognize a company is going above what we can reasonably expect, I will also step up and tell everyone. So here it goes:


(Isn’t this a great plug? Hahaha!)

But seriously folks, I wouldn’t write about it if I found they weren’t great 😉 So if you are looking to get cheap car insurance with great service, I’ve picked a few car insurance companies here:

TD Car Insurance

Enough said about them, to get a quote, just enter your postal code there in the add above, the process is easy and it doesn’t cost anything. On top of that, you don’t even have to talk to anybody or have anyone calling you… simply love it!

National Bank car Insurance

They are usually very picky in their drivers’ selection (almost no tickets, no insurance claim, etc) but they offer very cheap insurance quotes.

Royal Bank Car Insurance

What can I say besides; I love the insurance pendent of any Canadian banks? Seriously, they are solid and reliable 😀

Belairdirect Car Insurance

They seem to be pretty aggressive on their pricing too. However, they are fussy if you drive in the USA and I have not heard anything back from them with regards to filing an insurance claim… Car Insurance Quote Service

You can search for the best car insurance quotes among the above listed companies (and many others). Great tool to make a quick (and free!) search on the web.

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January 12, 2010, 5:00 am

Extras in Ontario

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Insurance

Optional coverage with auto insurance is sometimes a good thing for those situations that arise that are out of your control. Disability insurance can be added to your auto insurance too, but it is sometimes less expensive and includes better benefits if you get it somewhere else.

One optional benefit for coverage includes income replacement. A car wreck can leave you disabled and replacing your income may become necessary. Weekly payments can be made that total up to 400 dollars. With income replacement, benefits the payments can increase to $600 or even to $1,000.

Income is not the only loss that can occur when a car accident occur. Medical, rehabilitation and attendant care benefits can also be covered through a car insurance plan. This optional insurance benefit can cover up to $1,000,000 in certain costs and that is raised to $2,000,000 when the accident is disastrous. This type of insurance benefit can cover costs with chiropractic treatment, dental costs, and other medical care.

Another optional coverage benefit is dependant care. Young children are often affected by the effects of a car accident. Being an employed parent at the time of the accident is required and having to pay for childcare as well. With insurance dependant care benefits, $75 is paid for the first child and $25 for each additional child.

With some car accidents death can occur. It is a good idea to have optional coverage that can help with this. The spouse of the deceased will obtain a monetary amount, usually $25,000, in the event of this tragedy. With added benefits, this can increase to $50,000. Children can receive $10,000 and $20,000 with extra benefits. Funeral costs are also compensated with $6,000 without added benefit and $8,000 with the extra.

When injured in a car accident that can affect income as well as those that care for others, caregiver benefits are a great addition. If you are a full time caregiver at the time at the automobile accident, this added bonus can be a wonderful safeguard. The optional coverage provides $250 weekly and $325 if you add the caregiver benefits to the plan. It also pays for dependants. Generally, it is $50 weekly for each, but can increase to $75.

disclaimer: this post was offered by TD Canada Trust

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October 7, 2009, 5:00 am

Knowing more about Insurance: 15 questions and answers to help you see through your insurance coverage: part 2

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Insurance

Yesterday, I had outlined 7 questions about insurance. Today, we are looking at 8 more interesting questions you may have about insurance coverage:

8. How can I ensure that I’m making an apples-to-apples comparison if I’m price shopping among several companies?

A:  Your agent will be the biggest helper in this situation. He will actually play the role of “translator” to make sure you understand complex insurance terms. You will probably have to ask a lot of questions to make sure you understand. Don’t be afraid to ask, it’s the agent’s job to answer!

One more point: there is no free lunch in finance, nor with insurance! If there is a huge difference in the insurance premium, there is probably a huge difference in the coverage!

If you need third party advice, there are good associations that provide people with assistance such as the Insurance Information Institute; and industry experts like Ben Baldwin, who wrote The Complete Book of Insurance. There are other personal finance experts who may also be helpful.

9. How can I make sure that my insurance decisions fit into my overall personal financial picture?

A:  Your agent should help a lot with that.   If you have multiple lines of insurance or even other financial services products with State Farm, your agent can help you to see the big picture – understanding your total financial situation.   It’s also absolutely critical that as you evaluate your overall situation that you think about how your individual insurance policies fit into your preparations for financial emergencies – and you should look at it across policies, including auto, health, etc.   Understand what your deductibles and other out-of-pockets could be and do your best to have an emergency fund that takes those factors into account.

10. What is the impact on me if I file a claim?  Explain to me why my policy goes up when I make a claim?  How is this protecting my financial needs if my insurance company raises my premium?

A:   Statistically speaking, if you have an accident, you are more likely to have another compared to an individual who never had one. This is why your premium can increase after an accident. However, depending on your client status, you might benefit from insurer “forgiveness” and have a “free” accident.

11. What are the most overlooked discounts that are relatively easy to get?

A:   Discounts that are tied to changes in your life or behaviors are probably the most often overlooked.   Things like a student going away to school, students with good grades and safe driving records can all help you qualify for a discount.   Multi-car and multi-line (having auto and homeowners’ or renters’ insurance) discounts are also important to keep in mind.

12. How frequently should I review insurance policies to ensure they are up-to-date and meet my needs?

A:   As a rule of thumb, I would suggest once a year. Your contracts usually renew on a yearly basis and it allows you to contact your insurer in order to let him know about any changes in your life (getting married, finishing school, moving, having a baby, etc.). Your insurance agent will tell you if your new status should affect your insurance coverage or insurance premium.

13. How can I tell if an insurance agent is being “straight” with me, or just trying to sell something else?

A:  I’d say that your best bet is always to shop around the first time you are about to purchase insurance. Get 2 to 3 opinions and ask each rep why you received a different proposal than the other. Also, ask them how they are compensated. By law, they have to tell you how they are rewarded when selling insurance. They don’t have to tell you how much, but they sure have to disclose if one policy pays more than another… that is, if you ask ;-). Since State Farm offered me a lot of information to write these 2 posts, I must mention that they said that their agents only sell State Farm policies, therefore, they are non-biased in their product offering process.

14. Do my kids get a discount when they buy a policy with the same company that I have been with for years and years?

A:  State Farm along with many other insurance companies offer a teen driving safety certification that can carry a pretty significant discount.

15. Will a poor credit rating influence the coverage I qualify for and my premiums?  How do I know if an insurance agency is investigating my credit report?  Is that legal?

A:  That’s a great question for your agent.  The laws vary by state.   Good organizations to reach out to for more information are the Insurance Information Institute and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors

In Canada, they actually have to ask for your permission to conduct a credit investigation. You are allowed to say no, but you could benefit from additional discounts, if you have a great credit score. 😀

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