Monday, March 31, 2014

Buying flooded cars could be an option that is very tempting

After a major hurricane hits the country there are hundreds of thousands of insurance claims filed for damaged vehicles. In cases like Katrina or Sandy the number of totaled cars alone accounted for dozens of thousands, with insurers paying out billions of dollars for comprehensive and total loss policies. Those affected by the disaster use the payout money to buy another car while the destroyed one gets towed away by an insurer-contracted company, which specializes in car salvage after hurricanes. And that's where the totaled car starts its new life.
Most of the cars damaged by seawater or wind end up being broken down to salvage parts or melted for rubber and metal. But there are a considerable percentage of these cars that get out of the procedure completely intact to be sold to out-of-state and foreign buyers without ever being titled as damaged by flood. This scheme gets applied after every major hurricane, exploiting the inconsistencies in state regulations concerning totaled cars. And what's really troubling about the whole practice is that such cars are unsafe to drive despite their seemingly perfect appearance.
Because it enters all of its systems and damages various components with salt seawater tends to damage any car badly. Moreover, during hurricanes seawater gets mixed with sand, which is another highly corrosive agent, and assuming that some cars may stay flooded for weeks until the hurricane impact is eliminated, you can imagine how badly the car may be damaged. Those dealing with flooded cars know that very well, so they will never list them as totaled. Instead they will eliminate any mention of flood damage, which can easily be done when the car is taken to another state or overseas. And after some repair and refurbishing the potential buyer will never suspect that he's paying for a faulty and potentially hazardous vehicle.
When getting car insurance quotes for it one would assume that the fact that the car was flooded would be determined. And since insurers have a national database on all cars they've dealt with this is partially correct. However, the entries to this database can be sporadic and inconsistent, which lets too many flooded cars stay unnoticed even by the same insurer, which ends up dealing with a different car after its title has been modified by the fraudulent sellers and intermediaries. In a market where a flooded car of a recent production year can cost about $2000-$4000 and get sold for $15,000 the staggering revenue pushes the dealers to become really thorough when it comes to title editing. That's why there are thousands of such cars being sold legitimately after every major hurricane and very few buyers even suspect a fraud years after the purchase when the car starts to break down without an apparent cause.
The best advice experts give with regard to flooded cars is to be very cautious about the car's origin, especially when buying directly from the owner, not through a dealership. If it's a used car make sure to learn where it came from, especially if you're making the purchase sometime after a hurricane. A make sure to get car insurance quotes for this exact car - there's a chance that the national insurer database will contain a totaled entry for this vehicle.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cheap Car Insurance: Unusual Places to Take the Family

Summer vacation is a great time to break away from your routine and reconnect with your family. Yet even the best summer vacation ideas can grow stale when you do them year after year. If you want to enjoy your family time in an offbeat way, one of these three unique vacation ideas may fit the bill for your next family trip.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Take your family on a real-life treasure hunt at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Located in Arkansas, the site is the only diamond-producing area in the world where the public can search for diamonds. Even better, the official policy of the park is "finders, keepers," which means that you can keep all of the loot you manage to find! Kids will have a thrill with the idea that they are true treasure hunters.
  • All of the diamond hunting takes place atop a 37-acre plowed field, the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic crater.
  • Most diamonds found at the park are too small to be cut, though valuable diamonds have occasionally been found.
  • Diamonds from the park can be mounted in jewelry to serve as a souvenir of your trip.
The park is open throughout the year except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. Admission rates are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for children under six.
The park also has tools and equipment available for rent. There are plenty of accommodations nearby, as well as many additional area attractions.
Concordia Language Villages
Concordia Language Villages, located in the Northwoods of Minnesota, offer a unique learning opportunity for families. As a premiere language and cultural immersion program, it offers your family an opportunity to have an international experience without the cost of traveling abroad. The full-immersion setting provides the following:
  • Comfortable lodging
  • Homemade, ethnic cuisine
  • Educational programs for adults and children
Global Citizens Network
If you are looking for a completely out-of-the-box experience that will stay with your family for a lifetime, a volunteer vacation could be right for you. These trips give your family a chance to learn about another culture, while also learning about the importance of volunteerism. The Global Citizens Network sponsors trips around the globe, but also has family volunteer trips to indigenous communities in domestic locations:
  • The Anishinabe People of White Earth Reservation located in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen counties in north-central Minnesota
  • The Quileute People of La Push located near Forks, Washington
Before you leave on a driving vacation, make sure your cheap car insurance is updated with all of the coverage you need. Then you can enjoy a fun trip with no worries. You can also check with your cheap car insurance to see if it offers discounts or provides coverage for rental cars if you don't want to drive directly to your destination.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Defensive driving - a great way to get better auto insurance quotes

It's natural to look for more affordable solutions, especially when dealing with such a tedious thing as auto insurance. Sure, we all know that it's good thing to have a car insured, and that it can save a lot of money in case of an accident. But all this reasoning doesn't do much to the annoyance when you check for auto insurance quotes and see how much the thing will cost you. Yes, there are many ways to get more affordable auto insurance quotes, and there are even more articles on them. However, there's one method that is rarely considered despite its general usefulness: defensive driving.
What is defensive driving
Defensive driving is a set of rules and techniques that take the driver beyond the basic level of traffic rules. Developed by the specialists at the US National Safety Council during the 1960's as a way to train professional civilian and military drivers, the defensive driving concept has grown into an entire education subject over the decades. Now it is available through numerous public and private schools and courses, where you can get the respective training. But what does it train actually? Defensive driving is all about teaching the drivers how to avoid potentially risky situations while on the road and in traffic. The way you should act in various risky situations is also taught, which is important for minimizing the risk of collision. To put it simple, the principle is aimed at making a safer and more cautious driver out an ordinary one.
How it can help
It may look somewhat irrelevant to auto insurance quotes at first, but defensive driving can seriously affect your premiums once you complete the course. The logic is this: once you become a better and safer driver and have the certificate to prove it the insurer will downgrade your risk rating, which implies cheaper insurance. Since insurers are so sensitive about any form of risk assessment they are actually very glad when a car owner can provide a defensive driving certificate - this means that they can reduce the risk of an accident, and insurance claim respectively. So, from the insurance point of view it makes a lot of sense to enroll in defensive driving courses. Moreover, if you happen to have tickets, violations or penalty points on your driving record, in some states defensive driving courses can be used to eliminate some of these bad entries. Which, of course, means that you'll be able to get better auto insurance quotes.
How to start
Starting with defensive driving is quite easy. Since the courses are available virtually everywhere in the country, you should fine a school or course that is convenient for you in terms of schedule and location. Just make sure that they provide a fully legit certificate after the students complete the course, otherwise there's no point in enrolling. The process of learning itself can be different depending on the school you've signed up with. There may be different levels of proficiency or specialized courses for drivers in different trades. But in essence it's all about assessing the situation on the road adequately and knowing how to proceed in order to minimize risk. And that's certainly a great bonus to having cheaper auto insurance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Objections to the Radical Changes to Michigan's No-Fault Insurance Law

In most states, when an auto accident occurs, it is important to identify who was at fault for the accident. Typically, the person at fault (and their car insurance company) will be responsible for paying any damages that occurred due to the accident. The reasoning is that you should not be stuck paying for potential lifelong medical bills or a new car when you did nothing wrong. Additionally, sometimes charges need to be filed against the person who caused the accident. However, the result of finding out who is at fault typically leads to a bunch of time investigating or going to court - as each car insurance company wants the other person to be found to be at fault so that they do not have to pay. This can get expensive quickly.
In order to attempt to bring down these costs, and therefore the cost of car insurance in general, many states have put into place "no-fault" insurance laws. Michigan is one of 16 states that have one of these no-fault laws, but that law may soon be changing. Although many people in Michigan support at least some type of change to this law, there are some people who are fighting the current proposition for many reasons that they state are against the best interest of the public.
Supposedly, the main benefit of no-fault insurance laws is the cost savings passed to drivers. Massachusetts was the first state to introduce a no-fault insurance law, and 15 states have since enacted similar laws. The idea of this law is that by removing the costs involved in fighting the causes of an accident, insurance companies will lower their prices. Opponents state that if you look at the numbers, you will see that insurance prices have not gone down, and Michigan insurance prices are actually close to 40% higher than neighboring states. Specifically, the cost of personal injury protection in Michigan has increased more than 9 times when comparing it too other no-fault states. These costs have led approximately 20% of Michigan drivers to (illegally) drive without insurance, which is dangerous for everybody.
Expense, as well as unlimited lifetime medical benefits, are two of the reasons why government officials are trying hard to change this law. Several executives of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, as well as the mayor of Detroit recently met to speak about their opposition to these changes. They argue that the bill that is being proposed as a replacement is a "compromise" and a "death sentence for people recovering from catastrophic injuries." These four executives state the following components of the bill as reasons for their objection:
  • Capping the long-term care of people suffering from auto accident injuries - this can lead to many people not able to afford their medical care.
  • Limiting care by family members at home - is unfair since family members have been proven to provide better care than strangers hired to do the job.
  • Opt out of providing lifelong, palliative care that is given to provide a reasonable quality of life. Again, people will be unable to afford care and their quality of life will be dramatically reduced.
  • Putting a limit on home care hours of 24 hours a day - this will mean that people who are injured will be unable to hire more than one home aide per shift, even if a doctor determines multiple aides are necessary.
  • Implementing a lifetime limit on physical therapy to 52 weeks, and only providing additional therapy if it is medically proven that the person can make additional progress.
  • Only allowing Michigan residents to submit claims - friends and family from out of state who are passengers in your vehicle, or who you lend your car to for a quick trip to the store, will not be covered.
Currently, this bill has been put on hold due to debates over "Obamacare", the Medicaid expansion, and the federal government shutdown. However, it should come back to the table over the next few months.