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This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on 4/5/2024.

If you’re driving an eco-friendly car or plan to in the near future, you might consider green auto insurance. But there are other reasons to think about green coverage. For example, if you choose to reduce the miles you drive, or use more sustainable transportation options like car-sharing or park and ride. So, if you’re hearing about this type of insurance for the first time, this article will provide useful information about what it offers and how it helps to protect the environment.

As you know, there are different types of auto insurance. Green car insurance is yet another type of coverage that typically applies to electric or hybrid vehicles. There are varying types of green auto coverage, and the rates can vary depending on your car, coverage amounts, and other factors. But the advantages of this insurance go beyond the individual car owner by helping our environment.

By offering green insurance, a small part of insurers’ profits may go to “offset some of the carbon footprint made by automobiles.”  For example, they may use a fraction of your premium to donate to organizations dedicated to planting trees in rainforests.

But drivers are also rewarded with discounts by some insurance companies for their purchase of a green car and/or driving less. Shopping around for the best coverage and rates for your fuel-efficient car is typically the same as gasoline-operated cars. Ideally, it’s best to compare as many insurers and options as possible.

Types of Green Car Insurance

Green auto insurance can take several forms depending on the insurance provider. With the increased popularity of cars that are eco-friendly, it makes sense that green car insurance is also on the rise. By purchasing green coverage, you can help improve your own ecological footprint and save you money. Let’s review some of the eco-friendly types of insurance.

Electric/hybrid car coverage

You’ve made a conscious decision to purchase a green vehicle that is designed to be more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions. Hybrid cars reduce the need for gasoline, allowing you to drive further distances on a tank of gas while electric cars eliminate gasoline dependency altogether.

Although the insurance coverages are similar to traditional auto policies, there are some additional coverages that address differences in your vehicle’s operation. For example, parts and repairs for electric vehicles are generally higher. There may also be battery coverages and power cable risks.

Usage based auto insurance

If you're a mindful driver who drives safely and drives less, usage-based auto insurance can offer lower premiums. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, driving less helps to reduce pollution. To take advantage of this type of policy, your driving will be tracked through a device that is plugged into your car. Or you may be tracked via your smartphone or through GPS technology.

Driving less also reduces wear and tear on your car as well as the potential for auto-related accidents. A similar type of insurance that may work for you may be pay-per-mile insurance. But be sure to track your mileage first to be sure it’s a good fit.

Electric/hybrid replacement coverage

If you are driving a gas-powered vehicle, you may consider getting green replacement coverage to help confirm your decision to want to protect the environment. This optional insurance will cover costs for a comparable eco-friendly car if your current vehicle is totaled in an accident.

Car sharing coverage

Some insurance companies now offer car sharing coverage that includes liability and property damage if you damage the vehicle or are involved in an accident. Car sharing is similar to renting a car but is usually member based and is typically for short-term usage. It allows drivers to use vehicles by the hour or on a daily basis and only pay for time and miles driven.

The Benefits of Green Auto Insurance

Driving an eco-friendly car is the best way to help reduce gas emissions. These fuel-efficient vehicles include electric, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen, and cleaner-burning gasoline vehicles. Green insurance provides coverages for these vehicles and other eco-friendly options to help reduce fossil fuel and its effect on climate change and the environment. The beauty of this coverage is that it not only benefits the environment, but also provides advantages to consumers as well as the insurance companies. Here are some noteworthy advantages:

For the environment

It takes all of us to make a real difference in protecting our world. Driving a hybrid vehicle is a good start in reducing carbon emissions. By owning a fuel-efficient car, you become energy independent, reduce fuel costs, lower emissions and environmental impact, and reduce vehicle maintenance.

To help in this movement, insurance companies offer “green” insurance incentives for eco-friendly cars that operate with alternative energy resources. Of course, this type of coverage may cost more due to the higher cost of repair and replacement costs. However, insurance companies help to benefit the environment by purchasing carbon offsets or donating a fraction of profits to environmental causes.

For consumers

Green insurance can offer potential discounts for drivers who own an eco-friendly vehicle, which helps the overall effort to reduce fuel exhaust. Depending on the insurance company, you may even benefit from lower rates. For example, usage-based coverage for your vehicle can lower your premium. In addition, there are other discounts like alternative fuel discounts if you use cleaner burning fuel like hydrogen, biodiesel, natural gas, or ethanol. In addition, Bankrate.com suggests researching government programs “that offer rebates or tax credits” for owning an electric vehicle.

If you are still looking for ways to save the planet and your money, try opting for other modes of transportation, public options, carpooling, and other ways to reduce your mileage and insurance. You can also opt for paperless billing that may get you a discount with some insurers.

Do You Need Green Car Insurance?

If you are wondering if you need green insurance and don’t yet own an eco-friendly vehicle, it may be wise to consider green insurance options. Look at your current vehicle and situation to determine what insurance coverages may be best to meet your needs and your budget.

On the other hand, if you own an electric or hybrid vehicle, you should consider a green auto insurance policy. Start with your current insurance company for their offerings. You should also shop around to find providers who offer this coverage.

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on March 29, 2024.

Have you recently opened a new small business? If so, you’re not alone. Entrepreneurs have been increasing steadily over the past few years. In fact, 2021 proved to be a record year for small business startups with over 5 million new business applications. Technology has made it possible for more people to venture out on their own to start small businesses without having to make a big investment. But as you start your business, you may find it difficult to separate your professional life from your personal one.

Entrepreneurs may find it difficult to balance work and home life.

Dealing with so many details and plans on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Technology has made it easier to overlap business with personal activities including finance and social media, not to mention your time. Especially if you work from home. You can easily find yourself overworked and stressed out as you try to get through each day.

With that in mind, it’s important to keep yourself healthy, your business growing, and customers happy! Keeping things separate can help you achieve a more organized approach and help you to succeed in both your life and your work. So, how do you set boundaries?

Look at Your Finances and Resources

The most important thing you can do when setting up your business is to separate it from your personal assets. If not, you leave yourself susceptible to losing everything should your business become liable for damages or injury. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, co-mingling is never a good idea, especially when it comes to money. But the lines between business and personal don’t just blur with finances. Think computers, phones, insurance, vehicles, and your property!

Bank account

Handling business finances is difficult if you are mixing them with your personal affairs. If you don’t know that now, you may find out at tax time that your revenue, expenses, and assets will need to be reported separately. Mingling funds and expenses in the same bank account could prove to be a big headache. Turbo Tax warns, that “Tax season requires some planning and organization for everyone, and that’s especially true when you’re self-employed.” 

This recommendation of separating accounts also goes for cash apps like PayPal, Venmo, and others. Mixing your business and personal income that you receive from cash apps could end up costing you more in taxes. For example, starting in 2022, cash apps are required to report any income you receive over $600 to the IRS. That means, if you receive a $100 birthday gift on the same app that you receive business income, the gift will be reported along with your business revenue.

The same is true for credit cards as it’s easy to tangle up revenue and costs. And according to American Express, it doesn’t matter what type of business you own.

Vehicles

Is your personal car doubling as a business vehicle? Maybe you have a delivery service, or you travel for business. If so, you will need to purchase a commercial auto policy to protect your assets. Because if you are involved in a work-related crash using your personal vehicle, your personal auto insurance will not cover it. Ideally, using a separate vehicle with a commercial auto policy will provide the best form of protection.

As a small business owner, if your business relies on drivers to use their own cars to deliver goods or services, your drivers should have commercial auto coverage on their vehicles. Otherwise, you could find yourself liable if your driver causes an accident.

Property

Many entrepreneurs find that working out of their home is a cheaper option. You can skip the need to rent a space, buy furniture, phones, computers, etc. In addition, you may benefit from tax benefits. Check tax laws regarding the business use of your home to see if you can deduct some of your home expenses to offset your business income. Some deductions may include interest on your mortgage, utilities, property taxes, and maintenance on your home. Of course, you would need to dedicate a certain part of your home to operate your business.

But there are downsides to making your home your business headquarters. One issue would be having enough space for employees or to see clients. (Not to mention sharing your home and family with strangers.) And as your business grows, so will your need for additional space.

You should also check with your insurance agent for recommendations on home insurance coverages to protect your home and assets.

Disentangle Your Digital Activities

There’s no question that businesses today benefit from technology. Innovations have made online goods and services easy for customers to access businesses from anywhere. In fact, according to Intuit, 88% of small businesses say online sales will play a key role in generating revenue in 2022. And a whopping 97% agree that digital technology will be key to their business in the coming year. But here again, combining your business's digital activities and equipment with your personal ones can be a problem.

Computers and devices

There are benefits to purchasing computers and other devices for business. The biggest advantage is that you can deduct the costs of these purchases on your taxes if you use the device for business over 50% of the time. Of course, you would have to keep track of the percentage of time and resources used for business versus personal. On the flip side of this, you won’t be able to apply this deduction if you convert a personal computer for business use.

Phone numbers

Use a dedicated smartphone for your business to help automate customer communications. Doing so will provide better security and ensure privacy and might even get you a tax deduction. A separate phone will also help you look more professional than using your personal cell phone.

Social media

Some entrepreneurs mix their business and personal accounts as a successful marketing tactic. And this may work well for solopreneurs who have lots of followers. Problems could surface, however, when your customers decide they are tired of looking at your kids and vacations.

On the other hand, having a business social media account with very few followers and comments/shares could be construed as a negative. This explains why some businesses decide to remove their social media icons from their website. You should weigh both sides of the benefits of combining or separating your social channels as each situation is unique.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Without your health, it’s difficult to function on a day-to-day basis. This is especially true if you are juggling a business/personal home life. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy work-life balance—especially if you’re dealing with difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs struggle to keep this healthy balance, which is key to the overall well-being of both you and your business.

Identify priorities

Start by identifying the priorities in both your business and personal activities. It’s difficult to run with all engines firing at once all of the time. Start by making separate lists for your life, family, and work.

Set work hours

Designate work hours to help organize your priorities and stay on track towards balancing your precious time. This is critical if you are working in your home. And just like a regular employee, as an entrepreneur, you need time away from work!

Delegate

As your to-do lists get longer, you’ll dig more time into your personal life. So, when you find yourself having more work than the time allotted to do them, it’s time to think about delegating business tasks to other people.

Don’t worry if you haven’t yet separated your business from your personal life. You can start now with these steps. Because it’s never too late to gain control of your life (and business)!

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on March 11, 2024.

Teenagers Wait to Get their Driver's Licenses

Remember when you were 16 and couldn’t wait to get your driver’s license? Or are you a teenager waiting to drive? You might be surprised to learn that more teenagers over the past few decades are deciding to delay getting their driver’s licenses. What used to be a highly anticipated event and pass to freedom is being delayed by U.S. teens 16 to 19 years old.

According to Insurance Journal, Green Car Congress noted this trend while analyzing Federal Highway Administration data showing a noticeable decrease of teen drivers. This research shows only 61% of U.S. 18 year-olds in 2018 got their license “down from 80% in 1983.” During the same time period, 16-year-olds with a driver’s license also dropped from 46% to 25%.

Reasons why some may be delaying this rite of passage, especially in recent years, include not having a car, expensive gas prices, rideshares, not being interested, and even stress. However, a Yale study points to additional reasons including “minority race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, urbanicity, and parenting factors.” Unfortunately, they’re missing out on the benefits of graduated driver licensing (GDL) as this is reserved for those under 18 years of age.

With stats on high teenage accident rates and being more easily distracted with cell phones and friends, delaying could be the right choice. Or maybe not. Some researchers point to GDL limits for the delay, which results in older teens (19+) “having less driving experience and higher crash risk” than younger teens.

So, should you get your license as a young teen or wait? Here’s some information to help teens and their families decide when the time is right.

The Pros and Cons of Driving as a Teenager

Once you become 16, getting your license is possible. But if you’re a teenager, your sixteenth birthday may not mean you feel ready to take on the responsibility of driving. Ready or not, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Pros:

Cons:

The Pros and Cons of Waiting Until Adulthood to Drive

So, is waiting to drive over the age of 18 a better decision? There are many discussions around why waiting may be a good idea. But not everyone agrees. Here is a list of benefits and drawbacks that could help you decide.

Pros:

Cons:

Making the Choice

Getting your driver’s license is a big decision. There are many factors to consider based on your own situation. Be sure to take your time deciding and weighing out the benefits and disadvantages based on your readiness to get on the road. Discuss the decision with your parents to determine when driving may be best for you.

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on 2/23/2024.

Recent years have put the spotlight on our physical and mental health. And it’s not surprising. A traumatic event like a pandemic can put your mental health in a tailspin and affect your physical health. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event” like an accident or natural disaster.

Because your mental and physical health is “closely connected,” experiencing a traumatic event can wreak havoc on your overall well-being. Not only can it create problems for your health, but it can also put strains on other areas of your life including relationships.

Understanding trauma and recognizing the effects of such an event on you is key to your recovery. Every situation is unique and yours is no exception. So, if you have encountered a traumatic event in your life, you should take steps to identify the harm it may be causing you and how to cope with it.

Examples of Traumatic Events

A traumatic event can take many forms and the impact of such events on individuals can vary from one person to the next. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says these events are the cause of immense stress and are “marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.”

Yet, some of these events are considered common as many people experience them during their lifetime. Here is a short list of common traumatic events:

There are, of course, many more forms of traumatic events. Others include incidents like rape, terrorism, war, mugging, physical assault, etc. Unfortunately, what these events have in common is the negative impact they cause on those who experience it such as “physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm.” But the harm they cause may not always be obvious to the sufferer.

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For

Not everyone will react to something traumatic the exact same way. Some of the initial reactions can include confusion, anxiety, agitation, sadness, and exhaustion. Some people might go into shock or denial. Most of these reactions may be expected or even normal.

The pain and suffering after a distressing experience may be noticeable to some people. But this is not true for everyone. For although some people may have serious emotional reactions, there may not be any visible signs they need help.

Fortunately, there are signs and various symptoms to watch for following the event. These will alert you that you or your loved one is struggling and should seek assistance to help you cope. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that indicate you or someone you know may be struggling due to a traumatic event.

Physical: The physical symptoms you might suffer following a traumatic event are a red flag. They can alert the victim just as any other illness or injury. Some of these can include:

Emotional: Emotions can run high after experiencing trauma and affect loved ones with emotional outbursts and other post-traumatic signs including:

Behavioral: Changing behaviors can be a detriment to your health and signal your struggle to deal with your emotions. These can include:

Of course, how someone reacts to traumatic events can vary greatly. And it’s normal for people to respond with a variety of reactions following the event. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, “most will recover from their symptoms over time.”

In addition, some symptoms may be short-term while others may be longer-term. However, if your symptoms continue, you “may be diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)” and should seek help to handle your stress levels.

How to Start Healing

Identifying that you have symptoms related to trauma is just the first step in the recovery process. But healing may require professional assistance, especially if the symptoms persist. If you are unable to function or find yourself having suicidal thoughts, it’s time to seek the help of a professional.

Here are some things you can do for yourself or someone you know who might be suffering from a traumatic event:

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on 2/7/2024.

Today’s technological advances, including artificial intelligence (AI), can be found in almost every industry. And the automobile industry is no exception. In fact, Meticulous Research forecasts that the global automotive AI market is expected to see significant growth “to reach $15.9 billion by 2027.” 

Modern autos benefit from artificial intelligence.

Simply put, artificial intelligence uses computer systems to do things that would normally be done by human intelligence. By incorporating AI, tasks that require human intelligence and judgment simulations (problem solving, reasoning, planning, learning) can be completed by technology. 

The use of AI applications and similar innovative technologies are becoming more and more commonplace but can vary widely in its uses.

For example, according to a recent Forbes article, machine learning (a subset of AI) can “predict optimal pricing for Uber rides during rush hour in Manhattan” or make recommendations for what to watch on Netflix. 

So, without getting too technical here, there is more than one type and many uses of artificial intelligence. Let’s get into some of the uses you’ll find in current and future automotive applications and how these innovations are changing today’s modern vehicles.

Vehicle Production

Although automation (repetitive tasks) has been part of the auto industry for decades, AI-powered solutions are breaking new ground. This new technology uses data to adapt for better efficiency and better forecasts. According to Embitel, the use of artificial intelligence provides production analytics that helps “reduce manufacturing costs” while ensuring more efficiency and safety at the auto factory. 

For example, the traditional way of designing and testing vehicles is a very expensive process, which doesn’t always identify potential problems in the future. But AI changes all that with computer models that realistically tests vehicles far in advance of production. Then, once these vehicles are on the road, AI can estimate the need for parts and the demand for changes in the supply chain. 

Maintenance and Repairs

Consumers also benefit from this powerful technology through ongoing quality control designed to keep their cars on the road. It starts with AI-based machines that can detect defects more efficiently than humans during the manufacturing process. That’s because AI technology “constantly learns to improve its analysis based on feedback.”

These analytics of the vehicle’s system goes beyond warnings and alerts for needed servicing. Regular maintenance, technical issues, and needed repairs, for example, are predicted early on via sensors that gather data and make recommendations. This learning of what’s going on under the hood and throughout the car keeps vehicles from breaking down when least expected. 

Driver Behavior

If you’re a new driver, these innovations can work to improve your behavior by keeping you focused and driving safely. Distracted driving, for example, has become a significant cause of accidents among teenage drivers, particularly in the U.S. To drive safely, they need their eyes and mind on the road and their hands on the wheel. But AI-powered Driver Behavior Alert technology gives an audible alert when the driver is distracted for an extended period of time. In a study using an AI-powered driver and fleet safety device involving 1,400 drivers, these alerts were shown to “significantly improve drivers’ distraction risk in real-time.”

Car Insurance

Buying car insurance has changed considerably over the past few years. Artificial intelligence applications make it easy for consumers to compare insurance quotes. Shopping with this intuitive technology provides a more efficient experience with the ability to provide information on a variety of companies all in one place within minutes, and get the best rates available

When it comes to car insurance claims, insurers and vehicle owners both benefit from AI’s ability to gather data and assist in completing forms. Such technology incorporates things like speech recognition, text and language processing, and smart data analytics in handling claims. Other capabilities that help in claim processing include assessing accident photos and the use of object detection technology to accurately determine the extent of vehicle damage. 

Road Conditions

Identifying hazardous road situations can better prepare drivers to head out on long road trips and prevent accidents. AI algorithm predicts these unsafe road conditions and allows drivers to check these circumstances in real-time before heading out. If you’re already behind the wheel, AI can use data from weather cameras to provide information to drivers such as icy roads which lie ahead in their navigation app. Or even help in rerouting their trip for safer driving. 

This amazing technology is also used to improve roads and highways. One study, for example, used AI to evaluate the road conditions in “20 of the nation’s major metropolitan areas and ranked the cities where commuters might experience the most and least problems.” Potholes and cracks were among the data gathered and used to generate a high-definition map of the roadway to help highlight needed repair. 

Passenger Experience

Passengers are by no means left out of the AI technology trend. By recognizing both drivers and passengers through the in-car camera, preferences are automatically set including seat and mirror positioning. These capabilities, in addition to voice assistants and emotion recognition, are designed to personalize and maximize each individual’s experience.

Safety

Helping drivers operate their cars safely has always been a priority for most automakers. AI-powered vehicles take safety features a step further. They provide critical information that can prevent accidents and save lives. Drivers, for example, are advised about forward collisions, changes in the weather or traffic, moving out of a lane, and driving conditions. These technologies use object detection, speech recognition, and real-time image and video recognition to help make driving safer. 

Autonomous vehicles that drive themselves are becoming a fast-growing segment in the auto industry with the promise of safety on the road. AI is the key application as it is used to determine the driving environment and plan routes using cameras, ultrasonic sensors, LIDAR, and radar. 

But the power and use of artificial intelligence within the automotive industry is already here. From the assembly line to driver and road safety, even car insurance, the applications are seemingly endless. 

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on January 11, 2024.

Some people dread the cold, snow, and ice that come with this time of year, while others love it! Let's be honest, though – being stranded on an Interstate or country road in winter weather is no one's idea of a good time.

The recent I-95 nightmare traffic jam, which left hundreds of drivers trapped on the highway and forced to spend the night in their cars, was a wake-up call of how winter storms and snowy roads can turn dangerous quickly. To help you be better prepared for winter driving emergencies (and winter weather itself), here are some essentials that every vehicle should have.

Jumper cables:  A dead battery is one of the most common winter driving problems. You never know when your car's battery might die, so having good jumper cables on hand will be sure to save you from a winter driving emergency. It is important to check your cables regularly for wear and tear, such as fraying cables or corrosion.

car stranded in snowy road

Flashlight and spare batteries: A winter storm can quickly turn into a nightmarish situation if you're stuck in the dark. Make sure you have a flashlight (and some extra batteries) in your car so that you can see better and signal for help if needed.

A portable space heater or emergency candle: This is a must-have for any winter survival kit to provide heat and light in an emergency. You can either purchase a portable heater or bring the necessities to DIY an emergency candle- all you'll need is a candle, lighter, and a metal can.

De-icing windshield washer fluid: Ice and snow can quickly cover your windshield in the winter, making it difficult to see. Having a bottle of windshield washer fluid in your car will help you de-ice your windshield so you can drive safely.

Cold weather gear: Having extra clothes, gloves, scarves, and hats in your car will come in handy if you ever get stranded and need to keep warm while waiting for assistance. If you live in a particularly cold winter area, keep a winter coat, boots, and some thermal items (pants/socks) readily available.

Extra food & water: If you are stranded for an extended period, it is crucial to have some emergency supplies on hand. Pack some non-perishable food items like energy bars and bottled water in your car so you will be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

snow stuck in car tires

Ice scraper, shovel, and snow brush:  Winter storms can come quickly and cause a lot of snow to pile up in a short time. Having an ice scraper, a snow brush, and a shovel on hand will help you avoid getting stuck on the road due to snowy conditions. It might be worthwhile to look for a small, collapsible shovel that is easy to store and lightweight, so it doesn't take up much space.

Bag of sand, rock salt, or kitty litter: In the event that you get stuck on the side of the road, pouring rock salt on your tires can help get you moving again. Alternatively, you can keep a bag of sand or kitty litter in your car to help give your tires some traction.

Emergency flares:  In winter weather, emergency flares or reflectors can be extremely helpful in signaling for assistance and helping other drivers see you on the road, especially if your car gets stuck in the snow. Flares should be kept out of direct sunlight and stored safely away from children.

First aid kit: This is a must-have in your car- You never know when you'll need to help yourself or someone else out. Make sure to keep your first aid kit stocked with basic necessities like bandages, aspirin, medical tape, gauze pads, and disinfectant wipes.

Portable phone charger:  Imagine this- you're out on a winter drive, your car gets stuck and your phone dies; suddenly, you have no way to call for help. Like a scene from a horror film, you're stranded in the middle of a snowy road, with no way to contact anyone. To avoid this nightmare scenario, make sure to always have your car charger in the vehicle and pack a portable phone charger to keep your phone going in case of an emergency.

Flat tire spray: If you get a flat tire while driving in winter, a flat tire spray can help you get back on the road in minutes. This handy spray will help you quickly inflate your tire without having to change it in the cold weather or waiting for a tow truck. Remember, this spray does not fix the flat, it simply allows you to put air in the tire and drive until you get to a mechanic to get it professionally repaired (this must be done within three days or 100 miles).

Air pump: If you happen to get stuck on the side of the road due to a puncture or other problem with your car, a portable air pump can come in handy to temporarily pump up your tires without having to go to a gas station or wait for someone to come help you.

Personal hygiene necessities: This one is a no-brainer. If you are stranded for an extended period, it is vital to have personal hygiene items in your car like toilet paper, moist towelettes, and hand sanitizer.

Toolbox: Winter survival kits should always include a winter-ready toolbox including a couple of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and some duct tape. These tools can help you fix common roadside car problems like a frozen door lock or a flat tire.

It's no secret that winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous. Blizzards, snowstorms, and icy roads can make even the shortest drives treacherous if you're not prepared for them.

By taking the time to put together a winter survival kit for your car, you'll be prepared for anything that winter might throw your way. These essentials will not only keep you safe in case of an emergency, but they'll also help make winter driving a little less stressful, especially if you plan to drive long distances!

Before any winter drive, be sure to stay up to date on winter weather forecasts and road conditions, travel with a tank full of gas, and most importantly, always drive safely and responsibly.

Stay safe out there!

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on 12/27/2023.

When shopping for car insurance, you will likely come across the terms "actual cash value" and "replacement cost." Understanding the difference between these two concepts is essential as they can significantly impact your wallet in the event of an accident.

Car insurance companies base their premiums on actuarial data that tells them how likely you are to submit a claim and the kind of claims you're most likely to file. You can think of your car as a unique risk based on its age, make, and model, combined with factors related to you, such as your personal driving history, credit score, and location.

So, when the insurance company calculates your premiums, it will also factor in things like the cost of parts and labor if your car needs to be repaired or replaced. Generally, the company will estimate the value of your vehicle based on what's called the "actual cash value" (ACV) of your car and is the most commonly used method for insurance companies to determine value. But, there is a different way to estimate the cost of your value, known as "replacement cost." Here is a breakdown of the differences between the two that can help you better understand how insurance companies value your car.

What is Actual Cash Value?

Actual cash value (ACV) is a standard provision in car insurance contracts and is what your insurance company would pay you if you totaled your car today.

Under this type of policy, a vehicle's insured value equals its current market value. So, if your totaled car is worth $10,000 and it's been driven for five years, the ACV would be $10,000 minus the amount of depreciation over time.

The depreciated amount represents the actual cash value from the year's initial purchase date. For example, if your car costs $20,000 new but is now worth only $10,000, your car's insured value would be $10,000. Although taking good care of your vehicle can maintain its value, it won't significantly change or increase the ACV.

How does my insurance company come up with this value?

The first step is for your insurance company to send out an appraiser. This appraiser will look at your car and assign it a value based on a few factors, including make, model, year, condition, and mileage.

Once the appraiser has assigned a value to your car, your insurance provider will likely use it as the ACV determination for your policy. However, this is not always the case. Your insurance company may use a different value based on other factors such as state regulations or internal policies.

No matter the value your insurance company assigns to your car, it's important to remember that this is not always the final say. If you believe that your vehicle is worth more than what they have assigned, you always have the right to appeal.

How do I negotiate my car's ACV?

If you do choose to appeal your ACV, it's important to remember that this can sometimes be a long process. If your insurance company does not agree with the amount that you are asking for, they will most likely require you to go through an appraisal by an independent appraiser of their choosing.

The definition of ACV is the actual worth in cash value of an object or property at the time of loss or damage (not counting repairs or upgrades). That means that if you have a car that's ten years old and it's in a wreck, the insurance company will not pay to have it replaced with a brand new car. They will only pay to have it repaired to its pre-loss condition, and the value of it at that point is what you would get for your settlement.

ACV coverage pays the current market value of your car minus your deductible. For example, if your vehicle is totaled and it's worth $10,000 on the open market, but you still owe $15,000 on your car loan, ACV will only pay $5,000 (the $10,000 market value minus your $5,000 deductible), and the rest goes towards paying down your car loan.

What if I still owe money on my loan?

Gap insurance is a wise investment for people who are upside down on their car loans and want to avoid paying out of pocket for a totaled car. This type of optional car insurance covers the difference between the actual cash value of your vehicle and the amount you still owe on your car loan. For example, if you have a car with an ACV of $10,000 but still owe $15,000 on your loan, gap insurance will cover the $5,000 difference (minus your deductible).

What is Replacement Cost Coverage?

Replacement cost is an alternative to ACV and is a complete form of insurance that will pay to replace your car if it is totaled in an accident or stolen.

Insurance companies will typically review cars similar to yours on the market to determine the replacement cost. The difference between the ACV and replacement cost is that an estimate for how much the vehicle would be worth if you tried to replace it today includes factors like inflation.

How does my insurance company come up with this value?

Under a replacement cost policy, the insurer agrees to pay the total cost of replacing the vehicle with a new one of a similar make and model. This is usually done through a lump sum payment to the policyholder or by financing and paying monthly.

Replacement cost coverage pays to replace your vehicle with a brand-new one, minus your deductible. If you opt for replacement cost value instead of ACV, if your car is totaled, it will be paid off using the full purchase price of a new one, minus your deductible.

If you're thinking about purchasing replacement cost coverage, consider that this will typically result in higher premiums than ACV.

Which one is right for me?

The benefits of choosing between ACV or RCV coverage depend on the amount you still owe on your car and your account's current value compared to what it was when you purchased it.

Of course, as with any type of car insurance, there are pros and cons to choosing replacement cost value over ACV. The main pro is that if your car is totaled, you'll receive the full purchase price of a new one minus your deductible. The main con is that replacement cost insurance is more expensive than its counterpart.

If you're still paying off your car loan, opting for ACV coverage may be a better option, as the insurance company will pay off the remainder of your car loan using the car's current market value. If your vehicle is paid off, replacement cost coverage may be a better option, as you'll receive the total purchase price of a new car minus your deductible.

In short, car insurance companies sell two kinds of coverage: actual cash value (ACV) and replacement cost value (RCV). The main difference is what car insurance companies will pay if your car is totaled.

Actual Cash Value is what your car is worth at any given time, based on its age and condition, factoring in depreciation. On the other hand, replacement cost is what it would cost to replace your car with a brand new one of the same make and model. Depending on your individual situation, one type of coverage may be more advantageous than the other so be sure to consider all the different factors before making a decision.

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on December 14, 2023.

The moment you drive off the lot with your shiny new car, it is already worth less than what you paid for it- the more miles you put on it, the more it loses its value.

In the automotive industry, there is a term called "negative equity," which refers to the gap between your car's actual value and how much money you owe on it.

Let's consider the following scenario: you drive off the lot in a new car that's worth $30,000. A year later, you get into an accident where you are not at fault, and your vehicle is completely totaled. Your car's actual cash value at the time of the accident is $21,000, but you still owe your lender $25,000. If you have gap insurance, this $4,000 difference, which would otherwise be your responsibility, would be covered by your policy (minus any deductibles you may have).

Gap insurance protects the consumers by covering the difference between your car's actual cash value and how much you owe on it AND protects lenders against negative equity should you find yourself in an accident where you are not at fault and are unable to pay the difference to your lender.

What is gap insurance?

In order to understand gap insurance and determine whether you need it, let's take a step back and go over how a car loan works. When you buy a car, the dealership will ask for a down payment and then arrange a loan for the rest of the cost. The loan is paid off over time with monthly installments. The problem arises when your car is worth less than what you owe on it.

Gap insurance could help you avoid the financial consequences of totaling or severely damaging your vehicle while still owing money on it, thus creating a gap between what you owe and what the car is worth. This insurance does not replace collision or comprehensive insurance but is an additional policy that can be added to your car insurance plan.

What does it cover?

Gap insurance policies will pay off the difference between your car's actual value and the remaining balance on your loan or lease if your vehicle is totaled or stolen. It will also cover the difference in the events of theft, vandalism, and even natural disasters, such as fire and storm.

Although gap insurance is not a requirement when purchasing a car (some lenders may require you to purchase it when you lease a car), it can help save you much more money in the long run.

What doesn't it cover?

Gap insurance isn't meant to replenish what you owe entirely but rather pay off the difference between your car's actual value and how much money you owe in specific circumstances where your vehicle is damaged or stolen.

It doesn't cover the remaining balance on your loan if your car is repossessed, nor does it cover the down payment on a new vehicle. Also, this coverage doesn't provide support in the event of financial hardship or disability, and it can't be applied towards car repairs or rental reimbursement while your car is in the shop.

Finally, gap insurance doesn't cover your deductibles-- So, going back to the example above, if you have a $500 deductible, your accident settlement would be $3,500, not $4,000.

So, should you get gap insurance?

Gap insurance sounds great-- but does everyone need it? Not necessarily. Gap insurance is a form of optional coverage and is not a substitute for regular auto insurance. It helps pay off your vehicle loan if your car is destroyed or stolen and you owe more than the car's depreciated value, but it is not required by law.

Whether you need gap insurance depends on your unique situation. This insurance can be beneficial to buyers who owe much more than their car is worth, whether it is because they put a very low down payment on their vehicle (less than 20%) or chose a considerably long payoff period (longer than five years).

Gap insurance can also be especially beneficial to those who expect their vehicle to lose value faster than average, for example, if they drive more than 15,000 miles a year. Sites like Kelley Blue Book can help you gauge your car's expected depreciation rate and determine if this type of coverage is a wise investment for you.

Finally, gap insurance is typically favored by those who lease their car. If something were to happen to their vehicle during the lease period, it could protect them against any financial loss.

Typically, adding gap insurance as supplemental coverage to comprehensive and collision coverage would only add a nominal increase to your monthly payments. If you do decide to purchase gap insurance, it's important to note that getting it through your dealer will often be more expensive as it will go into your loan and accrue interest. Instead, we recommend getting it through an insurance company.

Let's sum it up...

insurance policy

Gap insurance is a form of supplemental coverage for drivers who want to protect themselves against depreciation. When you finance or lease a car, your lender will require you to have collision and comprehensive coverage. These policies protect against damage to your vehicle, but they don't cover the car's entire value. That's where gap insurance can come in handy.

Gap insurance doesn't cover everything, so make sure you know what it does and doesn't cover before you decide to purchase a policy.

The optional coverage isn't necessary for everyone, but in most cases, it is definitely worth the extra cost to add a layer of coverage for peace of mind. To get the best deals on gap coverage, we recommend purchasing it from an insurance company. Insurance rates vary by company and depend on several factors, such as the car's make, model, age, and mileage, so be sure to compare quotes before purchasing.

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on October 27, 2023.

If you've ever been in a car accident, you know it can be a costly and tiring experience. First, you have to deal with insurance companies. Then, there's the stress of repairing your car and figuring out how you'll get around while your vehicle is in the shop.

You might not be worried about the total cost of your car repairs as you've been insured from the moment you got a car; after all, that's what insurance is for, right? Sure, for the most part.

When it comes to car insurance, there is a fairly misunderstood and overlooked term in the claim process called the "betterment clause." In this article, we will explain what betterment is and how it can affect your claim.

What is Betterment?

Betterment in the insurance world simply means "improvement." It is a legal term used to describe improvements made to a car that improved its value to a condition that is better than it was before an accident.

Let's consider the following scenario: You go out with your friends and park your car in an alley downtown. When you return to your vehicle, you notice a dent on the back panel on the driver's side. You don't recall hitting anything and are unsure how it happened, but you decide to postpone getting it fixed as the dent is not very noticeable.

Months later, you get into a car accident, and the same side of your car is hit in a collision with another vehicle. You file a claim with your insurer, and your assigned insurance adjuster conducts a thorough investigation to determine the cause and assess the extent of the damage.

It is concluded that most of the damage is the result of the accident, but some of the damage, such as the dent you noticed a few months ago, was pre-existing and had nothing to do with the collision. What would happen next?

Well, you might receive a betterment charge from your insurer explaining that the difference in cost between the repair of the back panel and what it would've cost if the panel was undamaged would be your responsibility. This repair would make your car better than it was before the accident, and therefore, your insurer may be entitled to a betterment charge.

Let's break down the betterment clause

When an agreement between you and your insurer is formed through a policy, the insurer agrees to repair the costs of damage to your vehicle in an accident and return your car to the state it was in before the accident happened, not more or less.

Betterment can be charged on the replacement or repair of "wear-and-tear" parts, as well as parts that were damaged prior to your accident, like in the example above. After you file your insurance claim, an adjuster will be assigned to your claim to investigate the damage and determine betterment charges, if any. You would then receive a betterment charge from your car insurer stating that they will not cover the total cost of repair or replacement.

The betterment clause in car insurance assumes that you must have taken appropriate care of your vehicle to ensure it was working properly at the time of an accident and that you were not responsible for any pre-existing damage or defects.

When your car has been damaged in an accident, and older or already damaged parts are replaced with new ones, your car is then considered as being "better." Consequently, insurers may ask you to contribute to the cost of improving the condition of your vehicle.

The betterment charge does not depend on who is at fault for an accident; you can be blameless but still receive betterment charges if your car is in a better condition than before the accident. Remember, the insurer's goal is to bring your car to the same condition it was before the accident.

I got charged a betterment fee, what can I do?

So we've covered what betterment is and some of the basics of how it works. If you feel that the betterment charge should not have been applied, you can file an appeal to have the betterment charge negotiated:

  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible and ask to begin the dispute process.
  • Be sure to back up your claim with evidence and provide a detailed explanation of why betterment should not be included in your claim.
  • Ask questions about the process. How was betterment determined? What tools did the adjuster use to measure betterment? Is there sufficient documentation (e.g., photos)?
  • Be completely honest and upfront during the betterment dispute process. If you lie, it could affect your claim or future insurance coverage.
collision car accident and the betterment clause

A few things to keep in mind...

So, now you know why betterment charges are applied to insurance claims and what you can do if you receive a betterment charge. To learn more about betterment charges and how they are applied to your insurance claims, it is always recommended that you review your policy carefully and contact your insurer with any questions.

This article has been reviewed by licensed insurance industry expert, Moshe Fishman on 10/16/23.

If you're like most people, the only time you think about car insurance is when you need it. There's no end to the information when that happens, and it is difficult to sift through the noise. Car insurance is confusing enough without all the noise, which is why you need to be aware of what's true and what's just a plain myth. We've compiled a list of the nine most common car insurance myths and debunked them for you!

Myth #1: All insurance policies are created equal

You may think that it doesn't matter which insurer you decide to go with because they all offer the same policies. That's false.

While most insurance policies share some overlapping coverage, it is essential to note that rates charged for the same exact car and driver can vary by hundreds or even thousands of dollars from one insurer to the other, so it's wise to shop around compare quotes.

Myth #2: Car insurance covers every trip

 Unfortunately, this is false. Typically, your car insurance policy doesn't cover accidents that happen during work-related trips. Suppose you are an entrepreneur, independent contractor, or small business owner and use your car for work. In that case, it is crucial that you add on commercial auto insurance to protect your vehicle while it's on the road.

 With this type of insurance, you are covered for all the risks associated with driving your car to and from work, as well as on work-related trips. If you have any employees that use your vehicle, be sure to check their driving records throughout the year to ensure that they are being safe and responsible.

Myth 3: I can get coverage with any insurer I choose

This is a big one for many people, but you can actually be denied coverage by an insurance company. For example, if you have canceled your previous policy and have been driving without insurance, recently filed for bankruptcy, filed too many claims, or were engaged in criminal activity, an insurance company may refuse your application.

If an insurer deems you as too risky or dishonest, they may deny you coverage with or without an explanation. That said, each state has its own laws regarding prohibited reasons to deny coverage.

Myth 4: Having the minimum state-required coverage is enough

While each state has its own minimum requirements, in most states, liability coverage is the type you must have to legally drive.

We strongly recommend against relying on liability coverage as your only coverage as it is not sufficient to fully protect you in the event of an accident. In most cases, liability coverage only covers a fraction of accident costs and only pays for damages up to the amount specified by your policy.

For example, if you have a $25,000 liability coverage and are involved in an at-fault accident with a luxury car where the total amount to repair the damages done to the other car is $40,000, you would not only be expected to pay the difference in repairs for the other vehicle but would also have to fully cover the cost of repairs to your own car.

As you can see, not having comprehensive or collision coverage is a considerable risk, and our advice is to always go with as much coverage as you can afford - a few bucks saved now could end up costing you thousands later.

Myth #5: I shouldn't get a red car because my insurance premium will spike

There's absolutely no truth to this myth. It doesn't matter whether you drive a red or green car. Your car's color is irrelevant and has nothing to do with the price of your premiums. Insurers mainly look at factors such as the car's age, make and model, engine size, costs to repair, body type, and factors related to you, such as your age and driving record when they determine your rates.

Myth #6: I can't switch insurers because my policy is locked for a year

False. If you're looking to move to a new insurance company, you can cancel your policy before it is time for renewal. Although there might be a cancellation fee, the savings with the new insurer may help recoup that charge and save you money in the long term.

It is important to note that if you do choose to cancel your coverage and go with a new insurer, make sure there is no lapse in coverage at any point.

Myth #7: Shopping around for car insurance will increase my premium

This is another myth that has led many consumers to believe that shopping around for car insurance is a bad idea. However, the truth is that shopping around and comparing quotes can actually save you big bucks and lower your rates.

By looking at quotes from different providers, you can determine which company offers the best deal for the most amount of coverage and choose the insurer that gives you the most value for your money.

Myth 8: If my car is stolen or vandalized, I am always covered with car insurance

Not quite. The only type of insurance that covers theft, vandalism, and even hail or fallen trees is comprehensive insurance, which is optional coverage. If you do not have this type of coverage, a standard policy will only cover your car if it is damaged due to an accident.

Myth #9: I let my friends drive my car because they also have car insurance

This is another false assumption. In most states, car insurance coverage plans don't extend across cars. In other words, your coverage is connected to your vehicle, not the person behind the wheel. Even if your friend has car insurance, by allowing them to drive your vehicle, you are essentially lending them your insurance as well.

Therefore, if your friend gets into an accident while driving your car, your insurance will kick in, and the claim will go on your record (which will likely raise your insurance premiums). Nonetheless, policies regarding this situation vary between states, so be sure to check the insurance requirements in your state before lending your car to a friend.

Some myths contain a kernel of truth, but for the most part, they are based on poor assumptions or old wive's tales. Now that you know the truth about some of the most common car insurance myths, you can avoid costly car insurance mistakes by arming yourself with the proper knowledge.

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