Some Things Your Car Insurance Company Won’t Tell You

1. How to determine the value of “total loss.”

Most companies will tell you that they use at least three methods or schemes to determine the actual a totaled vehicle’s value including value books, computer-generated quotes from dealers, and local market research. In this case, you will probably think that local area is your current neighborhood, but it is not specifically defined by the insurer. If, in any case, the company cannot find an auto replacement in your neighborhood, so they have to find it not from your “local area,” your totaled car’s value is certainly affected. For example, if you currently live in New York, replacing your totaled vehicle in suburbs will be cheaper than in the city. Insurance company will, of course, use quotes from suburbs area as the most-reasonably-priced estimates. The main purpose in totaling a vehicle is to allow the consumer (the insured person) to purchase the same car that is totaled in an accident within the local market. Since they use three different schemes to figure out real value of a totaled car, a consumer may end up with a cheaper car than the totaled one. It is impossible to be sure what value you will get when your company does not tell you how they determine it.

Fortunately, you can do some smart methods to help yourself and your company to do the value determination. First, you have to produce valid proof that your car was in good conditions when the accident occurred; car in good condition has better value than a wreck. Bring a copy of maintenance records including oil changes and inspection by an authorized mechanic. The records will tell your company that your auto was regularly maintained, meaning it was actually in great shape (in terms of appearance and performance) when the accident occurred. Moreover, you probably had special features installed such as multimedia system, anti-theft system, anti-lock brakes, rear view camera, or 5-harness seat belt. The car insurance company may charge you more because of some special upgrades, so make sure that your insurer includes that in the evaluation.

Another good thing is to find at least three dealers and get quotes on replacement from them; make sure all dealers in your local area or at least within short driving distance from your home. Present the quotes to your insurer and ask your insurer to provide a list of some car dealers who probably can provide a car for the price listed in the quotes. If you are not satisfied with the company’s value determination or you get less than you expect, you can choose to do mediation. So, meaning you present the case to third party (neutral) to get help to settle the dispute, or arbitration, or you can even request a formal inquiry to the court.

2. If you want to cancel your policy, do it officially

Most companies say that consumers can cancel their policies at any date, but you need to notify the insurer concerning the exact date you want to end the coverage. The statement is clear enough; in other words, it says consumers have to notify their companies when they want to cancel their policies. However, consumers often think that when they ignore the last bill before renewal, the company will automatically end the policy. Too bad, this is not how it is done. People can forget and deliberately miss a bill, and the company totally understands that. After this first missed bill, your insurer is going to send you one more bill for premium payment; if you don’t pay the bill, you will be cancelled for non-payment, and the record will hurt your credit score.

What you should do when you want to cancel auto insurance policy is to let the company know that you are canceling. Please make sure that you provide a specific date; it helps you avoid being totally uninsured for a certain period, time, term. The cancellation request will be sent to you, and all you have to do is to put your signature. It is recommended that you carefully check the document before signing it. Some companies may require you to provide valid proof that you indeed have another coverage before they can approve the cancellation. If you’ve financed your car, the dealer needs the updated policy information because valid proof of insurance is required in the purchase contracts.

Credit history still matters

The use of credit information to determine approval and premium rate is still common, despite the fact that some states already started to ban such practice. Some (if not most) companies use the credit history to generate risk score. They believe that it strongly linked or correlated to the likelihood of the consumer reporting a claim. More likelihood of filing a claim is exactly the same with high-risk driver that usually also pays more expensive premium fee compared to “safe-driver” or “the preferred class.” The preferred consumers are those with stable credit card history as it suggests financial stability, meaning they are not likely to miss a payment. People of this category are safer consumers to insure compared to people with shaky credit history. Auto insurance companies do not like consumer who pays sporadically or changes accounts quite frequently.

There are some credit card issuers who offer free credit score checking, but in most cases, you need to pay for the service. Unlike credit score, risk score for insurance-related matters will not be available for you, but both probably indicate the same thing which is financial stability. If you are currently in the market to purchase auto insurance, and it turns out that you have quite unusual activity on your credit history within only certain time frame, you can wait until one month to allow the credit activity to go back to its usual condition. If you cannot keep the credit score stable, prepare yourself to pay more expensive premium fee.

3. Budgeting by installments is not always efficient.

Installments can pay almost all items, and consumers think that it is indeed the best way to budget the expense. When it comes to auto insurance, you can ask the company to divide the annual premium into a monthly basis, quarterly, or on six month. Please put in mind that dividing the annual premium will cost you “fractional premium.” You can consider this additional service fee to arrange the installment. It can be as cheap as $10 per payment; the more you break it down, the most fractional premium to pay.

Most companies will probably offer you to pay in installments since it makes more money for them. When you apply for insurance, it is wise to ask whether there is any additional charge for installments option, and then you can compare the difference. If the fractional premium is not very expensive, then perhaps it is worth it. Another big difference between upfront payment and installments is that certain companies will immediately cancel your coverage if you miss one payment; even worse, they can do it without notification. It is best to pay up front if you can; the entire process will be easier, and you can indeed save few dollars.

Every vehicle model and type has certain premium rate

Of course, you all know that sport cars need more expensive insurance policies than a van, but insurance companies will not tell you the exact numbers. In general, it is true that attractive, sporty, luxurious car with turbocharged engine will go very quickly on the road, and it increases the risk of accidents, but this is not always true considering the discounts for safety features, security features, mileage (especially when you drive it less), etc. Auto insurance companies have a specific system to know the premium for all car models you can buy, based on the system rating by ISO (Insurance Service Office). Every type of car is rated from 3 to 27; higher number means a higher premium. Insurance Service Office says that it will not release the rating system for publication because its clients are insurance companies.

You will not get the rating system from your insurer; you may not even find it anywhere at all. The best thing you can do when you want to purchase a new auto is to ask the insurance how much insurance premium you need to pay for a new car that you want to purchase. If you keep a good relationship with an independent agent, he/she should be able at least to predict the price based on raw calculation.

4. Filing claim increases your premium.

People are always interested to see insurance companies reduce premium fee to attract potential customers. It is indeed one of the best things customers get from the competition in the market, but your insurer can increase the price right away after you file your first claim. The industry standard is to increase premium fee up to 40% of the base rate after first-at-fault accident. With the help of an online car insurance calculator you get a base rate of $500, your premium increases by $200. Some companies have different rules, but there is always a big chance your premium will go up after the first-at-fault claim. Some insurers offer “first-accident forgiveness,” meaning your first actual claim will not affect the premium at all, but the variable and requirement for eligibility can be different from company to company. You should ask your insurer if such discount is available and how to qualify for it.

The Benefits of Non-Profit Branding

To the uninitiated, branding is synonymous to the image of a logo. Yet, branding is much more than a logo. What then, is branding? “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015). One can clearly tell from this definition that branding is much more than a logo, a website or a brochure.

In times past, non-profits adopted the concept of branding mainly for fundraising purposes. Today, branding has evolved beyond fundraising purposes and offers the following benefits:

1). Builds Trust

An effective branding strategy that communicates the impact of a non-profits work engenders trust. By sharing its’ activities and progress, people become aware of the role the non-profit plays in its’ community. With the trust earned, a non-profit can easily garner support for its’ causes.

2). Advocacy / Expanded Support Base

Once people become aware of a non-profits’ work, it becomes easier for them to connect with its’ brand. Consequently, they not only become loyal adherents of the non-profit but they also become its’ advocates. This can serve the non-profit in many ways. For instance, success stories shared on a non-profit’s social media page can be re-posted by loyal adherents and shared with their friends. Such activities have the power of expanding a non-profit’s support base since a wider audience is reached through the act of sharing.

3). Increased Funding Opportunities

A strong brand improves the rate of success of a non-profits’ funding endeavors. By creating a positive brand image, it becomes easier to engage favorably with funders and stakeholders alike.

4). Facilitates Partnership Formation

A strong brand makes it easier for a non-profit to forge meaningful partnerships. The ability to collaborate with other organizations enhances a non-profits ability to implement projects that have a wider reach/scope. This in turn creates a favorable perception for the non-profit and influences its’ fund-raising potential.

5). Reflects a Non-Profit’s Identity

According to Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012 Blogpost), a ” brand embodies the identity of the organization, encapsulating its mission, values, and distinctive activities”. In essence, a thoughtfully planned and executed brand image will convey the ideals of a non-profit to its’ constituents and the general public in an effective manner. It will aid in reflecting the unique value proposition of a non-profit while differentiating it from other entities.

Thus, its’ constituents and the general public will be in a position to familiarize themselves with the vision of the non-profit while keeping track of its’ achievements. As a result, the process of nurturing relationships with supporters(such as volunteers) and sympathizers to its’ cause while entrenching its’ position will be greatly improved.

It is essential for a non-profit to develop a compelling and consistent brand since it engenders trust among its’ audience, expands its’ support base, increases its’ funding opportunities, facilitates its’ ability to forge partnerships and reflects its identity.

References:

Kotler & Keller: Marketing Management (2015), American Marketing Association (AMA)

Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012). The Role of Brand in the Non – Profit Sector[Blogpost]. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_role_of_brand_in_the_nonprofit_sector#bio-footer

Long Lasting Outcomes of Business Gifts

Business gifts are employed by commercial organisations in order to promote their company identity and establish it as a brand name. The motive is not of creating a shallow appeal but a long lasting impact that is persistent in maintaining its presence in the minds of the audience. . Among the numerous promotional item companies that already exist and those that are upcoming, online stores are the place that comes foremost to the mind. They have carved a niche for themselves in the domain of corporate gifts only because their products show the potential of rendering advantageous long lasting outcomes.

Investing in business gifts is extremely beneficial. Unlike the much tested print, electronic and cyber media, purchasing corporate merchandise acts as a one-time expenditure. Once distributed to the intended set of audience, they spread brand awareness to more and more audience groups in a gradual and natural process. The business gifts continue to create brand exposure in the respective business and social network of the first hand recipients. This phenomena rolls over to a wide audience arena and to an extensive geographical periphery. The time till the promotional gifts are extant among the first hand users, they persistently make the brand presence felt among both the existing as well as the prospective clients.

The second long lasting output is that of a well positioned brand image in the memory of the target audience. The business gifts are so crafted that they can be brought into everyday application. The regularity and frequency of usage of these promotional articles repeatedly strikes the visual concentration of the users thereby getting the brand image embedded in the memory of the audience. The resultant effect is that the brand name occupies a major share of their consciousness which leads them to ask for the brand when they go for purchasing similar products.

The third outcome of business gifting is making a loyal set of existing consumers and a wide base of prospective clients. The business gifts act as the source of appreciation to the present consumers for their association with the brand for a long period of time. This would further make them loyal to the brand. On the other hand, the promotional products also motivate the potential clients in initiating a rapport with the brand and thereby gain new audience for the brand. The overall effect is that of a heightened brand prospect in terms of its awareness and sales.

For more information on business gifts, visit online stores.

Low Cost Hosting

If you are thinking about getting low cost hosting then you are most probably new to the internet, and new to designing websites. When people first start out they think that they should look for the cheapest option for them to get started. This is by no means a bad idea, as we are all trying to save money in this economy. But you have to take many factors in to consideration when you want to develop a site.

There is basically two types of hosting, paid and free and a lot of people that start out go down the free route. Free hosting gives you the option to upload files to the host server, but it is limited to how much you can upload. The speeds of the server will be a lot slower than a paid host, so for example, if you have a few pictures that you have uploaded to the server for your site, it might take a little bit longer for them images to appear on your website.

Because you use free hosting you do not get a domain name from a registrar, so if you were to start a new business, you would be greatly hampered in trying to compete with other sites in your niche. Customer support is non existent in free hosting also, so if you were to ever have problems, you would basically have to try and work it out for yourself.

Free hosting works if say you are a person that wants to share files to friends or family, or you have a hobby and would like to share to people, you do not mind the restriction that free hosting serves. But if you are serious and want to make a real business online then paid hosting is the way to go.

It is the old saying you pay for what you get, and within the hosting business this term applies exactly the same here. It comes down to what you get for your money, so you need to look in to this very carefully before choosing a provider. What you should be looking for in a provider is the following.

  • Unlimited domains: You need to know if you can have as many websites as possible on the hosting package. It is pointless having the host, if you can only say have five domains, so you could only build five websites.
  • Unlimited Disk Space: This is also very important, say you have a photography business, and you want to upload hundreds of photos on to your site. You need a good host that has unlimited disk space.
  • Unlimited bandwidth: You need a host that has good speeds and this depends on the bandwidth.
  • 24 hour live support. I consider this to be very important, if they do not offer live support like this then I would not use the company.

On a final note all the big hosting companies offer different types of packages to suit the individual. They offer packages such as Baby plan, hatchling plan, then they go more advanced with options like reseller hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers and so on.

Low cost hosting is only as low as what you are prepared to give to your website, there is some great packages out there right now, ranging from $4 a month up to $10 a month. It is up to you the consumer to make your choice.