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What Car Warranty is Best for Me?

Whether you're shopping for a new or used car, most people have a general idea that a warranty is a good idea. Warranties are often considered to be a form of "insurance" - you pay out a fee and in exchange, your car will be fixed if anything on it breaks, but unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. There are different types of warranties and a warranty might not necessarily cover everything that you think it will. Here is everything you need to know:

What Exactly is an Auto Warranty?

A warranty is a contract between either you and your dealership or you and your manufacturer. At its simplest, a warranty sets out a specific amount of time and mileage; any defects and repairs that are necessary under that time and mileage amount are automatically covered under warranty. Warranties usually last around three years or 36,000 miles. They can also be extended upon vehicle purchase. This is very common when used vehicles are purchased. 

But an auto warranty is not a type of insurance even though it is often presented as one. Auto warranties are only designed to fix parts that are considered to be defective or faulty. They are not designed to fix parts that have broken down from wear-and-tear, collisions or other issues. There are also different types of auto warranties that you need to understand.

What Types of Warranty Coverage Exist?

  • Drivetrain and powertrain warranties - These warranties are designed to ensure that the very essential components of the vehicle last: the engine, transmission and the associated parts. Drivetrain and powertrain warranties protect against manufacturer defects of these components but will be voided if they haven't been properly serviced (such as with regular oil changes).
  • Bumper-to-bumper warranties - The standard bumper-to-bumper warranty is a three-year warranty (or 36,000 miles) that governs the parts of the vehicle from bumper-to-bumper. If these parts are considered to be defective, they will be repaired as needed.
  • Rust or corrosion warranties - This type of warranty is rarer but may be tacked on to the other warranty. This covers rust and corrosion if it occurs due to a defect.
  • Federal emissions warranties - This warranty is more popular now and will cover any repairs necessary to ensure that the vehicle meets its emissions standards.
  • Roadside assistance - This is another specialty warranty that offers roadside assistance if a vehicle breaks down. Most people already have this through their insurance.

How Does a Warranty Work?

To go through a warranty, you must first contact the vehicle entity you have a relationship with: either your dealer or your manufacturer. They will then direct you to the repair shop that will work with you. 

Warranties can be voided if an individual does not maintain their vehicle properly. Auto Tek provides complete auto services that will ensure that all the parts of your vehicle are well-maintained so that you can stay within your warranties. Contact our team of professionals today!

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The Problem with Employer-Provided Life Insurance

Working for “the man” got you down? Just wait till he takes your life insurance policy away.

If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that offers employee benefits, life insurance through a group policy might be among the perks you can take advantage of. Group life insurance policies generally offer a decent amount of coverage at a reasonable price and some give the option of adding a certain level of additional (supplemental) coverage.

Sounds great, right? Now you can check getting life insurance off of your “to do” list.

Or not.

While group life insurance through your employer is far better than no life insurance at all, it may not be enough to protect your family from financial hardship if the unthinkable were to happen to you.

The Downsides to Many Group Insurance Policies 

  • Coverage Limits—Some policies may set a limit on the amount of coverage you can get. Often, the coverage you’re eligible for will be based on some multiple of your income. To obtain more coverage, you may have to apply for an additional policy from another source.
  • Less Flexibility in Benefit Options—Group life insurance doesn’t typically provide the option of adding benefit riders like those for accelerated death, child term, or disability.
  • Lack of Control Over Your Policy—With the policy owned by your employer, not by you, you could find yourself with no life insurance if your boss reduces the benefits or entirely drops the group policy.

And there’s more. 

The Biggest Potential Problem with Group Life Insurance 

Now you Have it, Now you Don’t—A group policy typically disappears if you’re laid off or if you voluntarily leave the company. So, if that’s your only source of life insurance, you’re banking on the idealistic vision that you’ll be working for your employer for a long time. Unfortunately, real world data shows that’s not very likely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6 years in 2014.

While some group policies are portable, allowing you to take coverage with you by remaining a part of the group after you leave a company, with most you simply lose coverage. If you opt to continue coverage with the group policy, be warned—you might find yourself paying a rather hefty premium to the insurance company.

Some group life policies offer the option to convert them to individual policies. These are also generally quite expensive, but they offer the advantage of being guaranteed issue. 

Term Life: An Affordable Way to get More Peace of Mind

According to LIFE Happens.org, four out of every ten married couples have only group coverage. And one in four Americans believes he/she needs more life insurance. If your only form of life insurance protection is through your company’s policy, individual term life insurance might be just the thing you need to protect your loved ones financially and give yourself peace of mind.

Term life insurance offers coverage at premiums often significantly less than those for portable group and whole life policies. Best of all, they’re flexible in the amount of coverage you can apply for and the length of the time (the term) your policy will be in effect. Typical term periods are 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years. The term period locks in the policy cost for that specific time and your rates will not increase at any point during your coverage.

You can quickly and easily get a term life quote online. And if you need help determining how much coverage your family might need or have other questions about term life insurance, reach out to a trusted life insurance professional for guidance.

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Extended Car Warranty, How To Choose The Right Plan…

There are many extended car warranty programs to choose from but it can be a bit tricky to find a “reputable” plan to suit your needs. The best way to choose a reliable extended car warranty program is to find a company that makes the following criteria…

1. Make sure the company is in business for 10 years or more. This assures you that they are not only in the business of selling coverage but also successfully paying claims.
2. You want to choose a company that has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and perhaps more importantly, is accredited by the BBB which holds them to a much higher standard of excellent business practices and customer service.
3. You want the warranty program to be directly underwritten by a US-based insurance carrier holding at least an A rating with an industry rating service such as AM Best or Standard & Poors. This will assure you that if any part of the claims administration process fails the underwriter will directly pick up all claims if needed.

There are also many different levels of coverage available for your vehicle. These levels are Power train, Major Component Plus, High-Tech Component, Component Type Bumper-To-Bumper, or Exclusionary Bumper-To-Bumper coverage. Depending on the age and mileage of the vehicle all or most of these levels could be available. It is important to look through the different levels of coverage for any companies you are considering side-by-side to make sure that you are purchasing the best coverage available for your needs. Do not rely on plan names such as Platinum, Elite, or Gold as they do not always correctly define the level of coverage you are purchasing. Some less than reputable companies will take a very basic plan and label it with a very fancy name. You want to look at the actual list of what is covered to make sure you are getting what you’re paying for.

All in all, an extended car warranty is an excellent investment and can save you thousands of dollars over the term of the coverage. To begin researching the different types of coverage you can visit Auto Advantage and see what the choices are. It is a great idea to fill out the quote request form and let them send you the specifics including coverage details and pricing.

 

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Five Things You Should Be Doing to Ensure a Safe Holiday Season

There’s nothing like spending time with family during the holidays. It’s one of the few times we get each year to truly unwind and appreciate the presence of the ones we love. However, burglars have also found this time of year excellent for taking advantage of homeowners who aren’t expecting disaster during such a happy time. Following these five tips will help you ensure the holidays are secure for your family:

1. Take Care with Packages

Ordering gifts to be delivered through the mail is becoming as common an activity as going to the store to pick them out, and large boxes are a beacon for burglars. If you’re expecting packages, avoid leaving them on your doorstep for extended periods of time. Try to schedule delivery to coincide with times when you’re home for maximum safety.

2. Conceal the Anticipation (Slightly)

A pile of gifts and an array of decorations do a good job of getting the family excited about the upcoming celebration, but they also tend to attract unwanted attention. Eliminate visibility of expensive-looking holiday gifts and ornaments from the outside of your home.

3. Remember Fire Safety

If you’re lighting extra candles for the holidays, make sure to keep your basic fire safety procedures in mind. Keeping flames out of the reach of pets and small children are a must. Also remember to put candles out before going to bed.

4. Make Your Whereabouts Secret

If you plan to spend time out of town, find a way to make your house looked lived-in. There’s nothing burglars like to see more than an unoccupied home. Consider having a neighbor stop by periodically to create the allusion of activity on your property. You could also schedule your lights to be turned on and off using home automation.

Consider a Home Security System

If you want to ensure that the safety of your home is being monitored at all times, consider installing a home security system. A wireless home security system will empower you to receive alerts about activity on your property, call for help when it’s needed and even control lights and locks remotely.

LiveWatch home security systems come fully equipped for holiday safety and can easily be upgraded to include home automation services for added convenience. LiveWatch security consultants are here to help you pick a system that fits your needs.

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5 Ways Critical Illness Insurance Can Be a Financial Life Saver

It was a world-famous heart surgeon, Dr. Marius Barnard, who created critical illness insurance, as he saw how the financial stress that accompanied cancer, heart attack and stroke was killing his patients. This type of insurance typically gives you a lump-sum cash payment if you are diagnosed with one of the illnesses specified in your critical illness policy.

No matter how you’d use the money, critical illness insurance always does one thing: It reduces financial stress.

But one of the challenges of critical illness insurance is understanding the many ways you can use the benefit—the money paid out—if you ever need it. Here are some of the ways I have seen:

1. To pay for deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses related to health care. This is the most obvious use, especially as deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance plans continue to increase.

2. Expenses not covered by health insurance like travel, hotels, babysitting, etc. I know a person who had a great health insurance plan. He was diagnosed with colon cancer. His doctor told him, “You need to go to MD Anderson.” Complicating the whole issue, he and his wife had just had a child. So, they took his father-in-law along to watch his son. He had to charge airfare, meals and the hotel costs to his credit card. Several years later, he was still paying off that credit card.

3. Income protection, especially for the self-employed. If a self-employed person has an income-protection plan, including disability insurance, it most likely will have a 90-day elimination period before benefits are paid. One self-employed person I know was diagnosed with cancer. She would take her chemo treatments on Fridays. Then she would use the weekend to recover and try to be back at work on Monday or Tuesday. She did not miss enough days from work to meet her elimination period. Did cancer impact her income? Significantly!

4. Mortgage protection. Many people purchase life insurance so that if anything happens to them, the family’s home will be paid off and the family will be able to stay in the home. But what’s more likely to happen while paying on a mortgage—death or a critical illness? Depending on age, you could be as much as four times more likely to suffer a critical illness while paying a mortgage than to die.

Typically, insurance that covers from two to five years of mortgage payments will help significantly through the transition. A great thought-provoking question is, “Would it reduce your financial stress if you are diagnosed with cancer to know your mortgage will be paid for two years?”

5. Retrofit a home or car. I had a woman tell me that her husband had had a stroke. The couple had to take out a second mortgage to make modifications to their home, including a wheelchair ramp, significant changes to their bathroom, and the widening of doorways to accommodate the wheelchair.

No matter how you’d use the money, critical illness insurance always does one thing: It reduces financial stress. There is always emotional stress for a family with a family member who has a critical illness. Emotional stress increases directly with financial stress. A critical illness plan reduces the financial stress, which then reduces emotional stress. If you’d like to learn more about this important coverage, contact your insurance agent or advisor.

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How to Avoid Trading in a Car with Negative Equity

A recent survey DealerRater conducted for Automotive News looked at the different ways car buyers deal with negative equity on their trade-ins. It found that the majority of consumers deal with this all-too-common situation in the worst possible way. 

Automotive News-DealerRater Survey

The Automotive News informal survey, conducted by DealerRater, looked at the most common actions that buyers take when trading in a car with negative equity ("negative equity" is when your car's value is less than the loan balance).

From May 5th to the 24th of this year, DealerRater interviewed 88,874 consumers who visited a dealership to shop or to have their car serviced. Of those, 46,700 respondents traded in their previous car when they bought or leased their most recent vehicle.

Over one third (37 percent) of those 46,700 respondents said they had negative equity in their trade-in. Here is how those buyers dealt with that situation:

  • 54 percent rolled their negative equity into their next loan or lease.
  • 21 percent "took some other action" (Automotive News did not specify what these other actions were).
  • 19 percent increased the amount of their down payments.
  • 6 percent opted to buy or lease a different vehicle than they had originally planned to.

Over half of the buyers polled rolled the debt into their next loan or lease. From a financial point of view, this is disappointing since this is the worst way to deal with this situation. Not only does it make your next loan or lease more expensive, it can put you in a debt spiral that's hard to escape.

Avoid Trading in a Car with Negative Equity at All Costs

Having negative equity is sometimes also referred to as being "underwater" or "upside down." Regardless of the word you use, negative equity is a growing problem with loan amounts rising and loan terms increasing.

Having negative equity isn't typically an issue if you plan to keep your car for a while and/or pay off the loan in full. It only becomes a problem when your vehicle is totaled, stolen, or you want to trade it in halfway through the loan term.

Let's look at an example of why being upside down can present an issue if you want to trade in your car. Say you have a balance of $12,000 left on your auto loan, but the vehicle is only worth $10,000. This means you have $2,000 worth of negative equity—and it isn't going to just disappear. Your options are to either deal with it now or deal with it later.

If you want to trade in your car, rolling the balance over into a new loan means paying on the new vehicle, plus the $2,000 from your last car. This means you're making payments on two cars at once, and your monthly payment and interest charges will be larger, as a result.

Worse yet, it typically means you'll be further upside down in the new loan. Rolling negative equity into a new loan just compounds your problem, which can create a debt cycle that can quickly spiral out of control.

For these reasons, every expert on the subject, including the team here at Auto Credit Express, will tell you that trading in a car with negative equity should always be viewed as a last resort option. This statement rings more true for those dealing with less than perfect credit, especially considering the higher than average interest rates these borrowers face.

Instead, it will be in your best interest to look at these alternatives:

  • Cover the negative equity out of pocket.
  • Find a new car with a big manufacturer rebate attached. If you don't have the cash to cover the difference out of pocket, this is a good alternative to explore.
  • Hold off on trading in your vehicle until you are no longer underwater or you have paid off the loan. Try making larger payments than your minimum amount to take care of this faster.
  • Try to sell the car yourself to get more than you would if you were to trade it in.

The Bottom Line

In an ideal world, you would always have equity in your vehicle so you could avoid this situation. Because negative equity is a common issue, however, it's best to figure out a way to avoid trading in a car when you are upside down in your loan. Buyers, especially those dealing with credit issues, should do whatever it takes to avoid this situation.

Another car buying roadblock can be your credit. Having bad credit or no credit can make it difficult to get approved for a car loan. Luckily, Auto Credit Express is here to try to make that process easier.

We connect car buyers to local special finance dealerships that know how to work with challenging credit situations. Our service is free of charge and obligation, so go ahead and get started by filling out our car loan request form right now.

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How to File an Insurance Claim After a Fire

Many households share one common fear: house fires. Aside from the danger associated with them, house fires put your personal belongings at serious risk. People without homeowners insurance can pay thousands of dollars just to replace the items lost in a fire, not to mention the damages done to the structure of the home itself.

Fortunately, if you’ve obtained a homeowners insurance policy before the incident occurs, you’ll be in much better shape. Paying for repairs after a fire or other disaster strikes out of pocket can cost an arm and a leg. If you have an adequate amount of home insurance coverage and are keeping up with your premium payments, any damage that was caused by a fire in your home should be covered.

Following these steps will make the claims process as painless as possible. Though you’ll want your home repaired and items replaced as soon as possible, patience is required if you want to maintain a positive relationship with your insurance company.

 

Before You File a Claim:

Go Shopping

When you were evacuating your home during a fire, you probably didn’t have time to grab much, if anything at all. You can ask for an advance payment from your homeowners insurance company to cover some essentials, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and other hygiene products, and even clothes that you’d wear to work. Fortunately, your home insurer wants to be convenient, so you won’t need to file a claim before you buy these items. Instead, ask your insurer for an advance in the form of a check or wire transfer. Make sure you save your receipts and don’t spend above your (and your insurer’s) means, as you’ll need to pay the difference. In other words, when you’re buying a replacement suit to wear to work, head to Macy’s, not to Gucci.

 

Mitigate the Damages

As a homeowner with an insurance policy, it’s your duty to make sure that no extra harm comes upon the home. Do what you can to keep this bad situation from getting any worse. After the fire is extinguished, assess the damages and take steps to protect your home and belongings from an incident resulting from this destruction. If there’s a hole in the exterior wall, for example, board it up to keep vandals or thieves out. If your roof experiences damage from a fire, lay a tarp over the exposed section to prevent rain from creating water damage. Stay on top of things to make sure no new issues arise as a result of the fire damage.

 

Filing the Claim:

Call Your Insurer

Make your claim as soon as possible. Calling your insurer directly is the most proactive, effective way to do this. The insurance agent will ask you about details regarding the accident and its aftermath so the insurance company can get an accurate report. After you speak with an agent, you’ll be asked to submit a proof of loss claim, which details the items lost from the fire, along with their values. This might sound obvious, but the sooner you file the claim, the higher priority your claim will be and the faster the damages will be fixed. Once the claim is initially made, your insurer will bring on a claims representative, who will take a look at your policy, what it entails, your deductibles and any other useful information. Your claims representative will send you a detailed letter documenting this information. This process should take less than 30 days.

 

Be Assertive

After filing the claim, if you feel that your insurance company is taking their time in responding to your initial claim, don’t be afraid to call or write to them. If there’s no question about whether or not you’ll receive coverage from the damages to your home, your repairs should be started in a relatively timely manner. If you’re still feeling tossed aside, you might need to send a letter to your state’s Department of Insurance. This letter can even be a copy of the same email or letter you sent to your insurer. If your insurer is taking too long, the Department of Insurance will reach out to them. This should light a fire under your insurance company, figuratively speaking.

 

Come to a Settlement

If you disagree with your insurer’s analysis of your policy, you are entitled to respond to their initial statement. Just because your home insurer is the one covering the damages doesn’t mean you have no say. Try to come to an agreement on this claim. Once the settlement is reached, the claims representative will either make the payments immediately or decide to investigate further to make sure no fraud is occurring. If the representative wants to go with the latter step, your insurer will send an investigator to look at the damages on your home. If no fraud is detected, the cost estimates to repair or replace features of your home will be put in place by your insurance company.

 

Track Your Living Expenses

If you were forced to relocate from your home to either a friend’s house or a hotel, you might be making various out-of-pocket expenses that you otherwise wouldn’t have made. If your hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen, you might be getting takeout meals more frequently. If you normally pay $300 per week for groceries but spend $450 one week for primarily takeout meals, you should be reimbursed $150 that week from your insurance company. This comes from the loss of use clause, which entitles you to additional living expenses that you are making while living away from home during the claims and repair process. Under this clause, your insurer will most likely pay your motel or hotel bill. However, as with shopping for essentials on your insurer’s dollar, be reasonable with your spending and lodging choices.

 

Get a Repair Estimate

This is where the type of homeowners insurance you have comes into play. If you have an “actual cash value” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money these damages items are worth at the time of the fire. If you lose an outdated piece of technology, like an old TV or computer, you’ll receive the amount of cash the item is worth in the present, not what you bought it for. “Actual cash value” policies take objects’ depreciation into account. On the other hand, if you have a “replacement cost” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money it would take to replace the object. If you lose a laptop that you bought in 2011 with this sort of policy, you will receive the cost it takes to buy a brand new laptop, not the amount the exact laptop is worth in present day.

 

It’s Not Over Yet

When you filed the initial claim, you might have overlooked other damages. For that reason, leave the claim open with your insurer for a few months after the repairs have been completed. That way, if you come across an issue that emerged from the fire damage, you won’t need to pay a second deductible. Your insurance company will want to close the claim as soon as possible for this reason, but don’t hesitate to keep it open just in case.

 

This sounds like a long process. Unfortunately, it may take a few months to file a claim and receive repairs on your home following a fire; this seems like a long time, especially if you’ve been relocated from your home. However, your insurance company wants to make it as seamless and efficient as possible. If you work with your insurance company cooperatively yet assertively, you will make this process much easier on yourself and them.

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