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Archive for April, 2009

Driving an Exotic Car & Insurance

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Most of us have certain “dream cars” that we would love to own or drive at some point in our lives. For me, it would have to be a Lamborghini Gallardo or old school Ferrari Testarossa. Lucky for me, there are many services that offer exotic car rental – so one day I could head to Europe and have a Lambo delivered to me for a few days of driving debauchery on the AutoBahn in Germany. The costs for renting an exotic car per day in Europe range from $2k-$10k+, but here’s the catch. In addition to that fee, you have to typically pre-pay around $25k as a deposit as well as insurance fees. Keep in mind the deductible could be as high as $5-$10k or more!

In the U.S., it is an easier process. Most people that have been to the Vegas strip have seen the many exotic car rental shops in between the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay. Costs for exotic car rental there start as low as $400-$500 per hour of pure unadulterated fun. On top of that, you can simply use your existing auto insurance policy to cover you while driving. Keep in mind that you should review the deductible on your policy as well as personal injury and property damage limitations. It is always a good idea to run the idea by your car insurance company before dropping a lot of money to put your financial and physical future at risk while speeding through the Nevada desert. In addition to watching out for auto insurance issues, make sure to watch out for “the fuzz”. Last time I was there, I saw speed traps set right outside of the main city area as the desert roads open up for miles and miles. Getting a speeding ticket would be a terrible start to living out one of your life dreams!

Is Online Auto Insurance the Future?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Let’s face it, the web is here to stay and has changed the tide of how we do business with companies of all sizes. Decades ago, it would have been hard to imagine that there would be other choices than a local insurance agent when someone needed to insure their car.

These days, we have local agents, large insurance companies, and aggregators all vying for our business. On top of that, we see them all advertising on the radio, TV, print, Internet and more. As more and more people get broadband Internet connections and seek to find the lowest prices on car insurance, the Internet will become the natural destination to find the lowest rates. By eliminating the local agents (middleman), consumers can go direct to the big companies and find lower rates because there is no commission or mark up involved. Online auto insurance will continue to grow because consumers can compare prices from multiple companies, get the lowest rates and do it all without a pushy salesman presenting options that may not be the best for them. On top of that, there is something to be said about saving paper and “going green”. Filling out insurance applications and claims online absolutely helps the environment.

As the big insurance companies keep spending more and more money on advertising to build their brands, consumers will continue to shop generically for auto insurance online. This will create an interesting dynamic. The question is – what percentage of auto insurance will be purchased online in 5, 10, 20 years? Only time will trend but the Internet seems poised to grow going forward.

The ABCs of Auto Insurance

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

One of the first questions people ask when comparing auto insurance is what determines the cost? With auto insurance, many variables factor into the ultimate cost. The following are some of those main things that determine how much you pay for a policy. I’ve broken them down into two categories–the things you can’t control and the things you can control:

Why Worry About Things You Can’t Control? You Can’t Control Them!

1. Where You Live. The place you live will impact your insurance rates. Besides the rate differences from state to state, living in a city, where you can naturally expect higher claims from traffic accidents, thefts and vandalism, will be pricier than in the burbs and more rural areas. Some would argue that this is something you can control. I would answer with a question, “How many people do you know who sold their houses and up-rooted their families just to save on auto insurance?”

2. Sex. No, I’m not referring to the quality, frequency, style or preference–most of which you can control–unless, of course, you’re like me and you’ve signed over your “performance rights” to your significant other. It’s gender that impacts auto insurance rates. Yes, gents, the fact is that we have more accidents than the ladies. So for the sins of a few, all men end up paying more. A little unfair? Perhaps, and some states are eliminating gender-based underwriting. Oh, and let’s not argue over whether this is one you can control. I can double check with Dr. Phil on this one, but I’m pretty sure lower auto insurance rates is not a major reason behind transgender surgery.

3. Age. Bottom line, if you are 16-25 you will pay more for insurance. It should come as no surprise that the inexperience and recklessness of our ADHD-saddled youth leads to more dust-ups and fender benders. Ah, youth is wasted on the young. It also makes sense that when we turn 26, get married and have kids, the world slows down just enough to make the auto insurers sleep a little easier.

Why Worry About the Things You Can Control? If You’re Worried, Change ‘Em!

4. Get Yourself a Spouse. It’s a known fact that married couples are safer drivers. If you disagree, just call up one of your bachelor or bachelorette friends and tell them you feel like taking a ride on the open road. What you’ll likely get is a thrill ride, music blasting, heading straight towards a destination of other joy-riding singles seeking the same. Then follow it up immediately with the suggestion to a married couple that you’d like to take a day trip out of town and that their car would be perfect. You’ll need about two minutes in the minivan to understand what the statistics tell the auto insurance companies–married couples are more careful. And the on-road conservatism isn’t only dictated by a dissipating level of testosterone, but rather the lovingly, sung chorus, “Honey, please slow down”. And yes, tying the knot or staying single is definitely in your control, until, of course, your guilt-producing parents start the “when are you going to give me a grandchild?” chatter. And if arranged marriages are in your future, feel free to move this up to the previous category, and consider this a new-found benefit.

5. Credit History. OK, here’s another reason to irrationally monitor your credit rating 24/7. The auto insurers have established a direct relationship between credit history and expected claims. If you’ve missed a few credit card payments, or you’re levered up like a Wall Street buy-out king, and your credit score is below 650, you’ll likely pay more for your insurance. Unfortunately, this gives the “free credit report” marketers more reason to pollute the airwaves with lame, pseudo-user generated indie bands making up songs about credit scores.

6. Driving Record. Simply put, if you are a good driver, you’ll pay less for your insurance. For the most part, you have control over your driving destiny. Here are some helpful tips to consider when behind the wheel: don’t speed, don’t eat (especially spring-loaded Chalupas from Taco Bell), don’t text, don’t use a cell phone (except hands-free), don’t read the paper, don’t day-dream, don’t fall asleep, don’t do needlepoint, don’t watch TV, don’t blog, don’t run red lights, don’t run yellow lights that you know will turn red, don’t hit anything, don’t park under falling tree limbs, etc… To the extent you’ve had an accident or traffic violation in the prior 3-5 years, you will pay more for your insurance.

7. Your Ride. Choose wisely. The model and make of your car will have a direct impact on your insurance costs. If your vehicle is one that is popular with the car-jacking set or is just prone to higher historical claims, then you’ll pay more.

These are some of the important factors that go into the formula that determines your final auto insurance quote. There are other factors too. In the end though, the best way to get the best quote for your insurance is to start at AutoInsuranceQuote.com and let the insurance companies compete for your policy. Ultimately, this is the best way for you to save big bucks.

Car Leases Are Harder To Find Than Ever

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

In this economy, it has become abundantly clear that things have changed drastically in the auto industry. Many of the big names are on the verge of bankruptcy while others are bringing innovation to the forefront in terms of new cars and technology to save the environment. In the midst of this, car shoppers are facing a tough task in choosing the right vehicle and getting their hands on it.

Over the past decade or more, many people have chosen to lease cars as opposed to buying them. Simply put, leasing a car allows you to make fixed monthly payments for a set term for a vehicle that roughly mirrors the expected depreciation of that auto. At the end of the term, you return the vehicle to the dealership. So, while you pay monthly payments to use the car, it works almost like a long term rental but is economically fair for you and the dealer as the depreciation is paid for by you. Of course, the true financial model typically leaves the lessee (the consumer) with a higher residual value than the car is actually worth at the end of the term. That gives the lessor (car company) an advantage when they receive the car back at the end of the term as the lessee typically pays more depreciation than the car has actually depreciated. On top of that, playing with other items such as the money factor gives the lessor an advantage. All in all, it wasn’t such a bad deal for either party – until now.

You may have noticed (if car shopping recently) that most of the big U.S. auto makers have halted leasing as an option on their automobiles. A car buyer used to have the choice of buying a Jeep Grand Cherokee for a fixed price or paying a monthly lease fee. The practice has stopped for many reasons. Number one, the actual depreciation is only one piece of the pie. With gas prices rising and so many people out of work, it is easy to forecast parking lots full of returned lease vehicles that have terrible fuel efficiency and lower demand. That means, their actual values will fall and the auto makers/dealers will be left holding the bag as consumer demand dries up. Number two, many of the car companies do not even know if they will be in business in the future to receive those vehicles and try to sell them in the aftermarket or lease them off to a car rental company. Number three, technology may change entirely with mass produced hybrids where these older gas vehicles will be worthless. And number four, American cars have been eclipsed by Japanese and German players in terms of holding their value and overall consumer satisfaction (and even gross sales!). So, all in all, it is a case of very poor visibility for the U.S. auto industry. Many of the more solvent international players are still leasing as their vehicle line visibility is high.

So, what does this mean? The already teetering auto manufacturers have one less way to make a sale and one more reason to lose that sale to a Japanese car company. Consumers who are typically lessees, will shun the U.S. car companies. If a car company does not have faith in the value of their vehicles and the overall economy – enough to halt leasing programs – why should the buck be passed to the consumer to have faith in the value of the vehicle and the overall economy? This will be an interesting few years or more for the automotive industry. It is interesting to note that the auto insurance players still seem to be advertising in a big way in the midst of this industry shake up. Lease or buy, we all need car insurance and we all need to get auto insurance quotes to see how much we can save on our monthly payments.

Bentley Continental Supersport

Friday, April 10th, 2009

The New York International Auto Show opened in New York today at the Jacob Javits Convention Center and will run through April 19th. The show is a must-attend event for car fanatics. And if your tastes run to the world of luxury and speed, you will not be disappointed. Our team came back with many favorites–Aston Martins, Audis, Lambos, and the luxury hybrid Fisker Karma. But the car that floored us and had our car fantasies in overdrive was the gorgeous 2010 Bentley Continental Supersport.

The new Continental Supersport is the fastest, most powerful Bentley ever made. It can get you to 60 in under 3.7 seconds and will let you experience the thrill of 204 mph. But the specs are only one part of this fantasy. The car is beautiful, even as it strikes its intimidating muscle-pose.

It’s the ultimate combination of style, luxury and power. And in a nod to the environment, this Bentley will run on gas or E85 biofuel, an eco-fuel that can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 70%. Now you can feel just a little bit better about yourself when you blow by your neighbor’s Prius on the LIE or CA-1.

Don’t ask the price tag on this one. It’s meaningless–buyer’s won’t care and on-lookers will never know.

New Car: Nissan Cube Mobile Device

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Upon hearing the name, “Nissan Cube Mobile Device”, many minds went racing to think that Nissan Motors was switching gears and getting into the mobile phone device market. Imagine that, some people have iPhones and others have Nissans. In actuality, the “Nissan Cube Mobile Device” is actually a cute name for what has turned out to be a cute and inspiring vehicle. It looks like a toy upon first glance, and with a sticker price of just under $14k, it probably has a similar price to some toys you might find at F.A.O. Schwartz. Apparently, it is a very fuel efficient vehicle with a nice modern inside to keep technophiles happy. We expect to see a good deal of these on the road in the near term.

Click here for the Nissan Cube Mobile Device micro site.

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