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Getting The Best Car Insurance For A Lovingly Restored Vehicle

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Car insurance is something no one wants but nearly everyone has, at least everyone who drives a vehicle. It’s something you always want to have but never want to use. If you own a restored vehicle, you’ll want to have it insured but you’ll want to look into obtaining a specialized type of coverage written specifically to protect vintage automobiles. It’s not difficult to find companies online who provide this type of car insurance coverage.

It used to be that any car 25 or 30 years old was considered a collectible but that’s no longer the case. Because production numbers for car manufactures increased so significantly during the 70s, some mid-70s and 80s vehicles are actually not considered collectible. There was also a marked decrease in manufacturing quality standards during this period, which also affects a car’s collectible status. Certain styles, though, even from the period mentioned, may still be classics. These include convertibles, cars with big-block V8 engines, cars with unique body shapes and certain sports cars.

If you own a car that you’ve lovingly restored you want to make sure it’s protected from damage, theft and fire, but there’s a good chance it won’t be driven on a regular basis and, in some cases, hardly driven at all. You may only transport your restored vehicle to car show events, for example, and having a regular car insurance policy containing collision, liability and medical benefits may not be the most prudent expenditure of funds.

Some people actually never drive their restored vehicle because it’s normally garaged or displayed in a controlled environment and, on the occasions it’s taken to an event it’s simply put on a trailer and delivered in that manner. A car insurance policy written on that particular type of car should consider all this. There are many online insurance businesses specializing in car insurance for vintage or collector models. In addition, companies who don’t specialize in insuring older cars may still be able to write a policy. Using your current car insurer could even earn you a discount.

There is another group of individuals who have restored their older vehicles to pristine condition for the purpose of using them for daily transportation, much as they would any car. These vehicles are anything but typical, however, as is evidenced by the number of heads that turn when a really nice, old one drives by. While these ‘used’ cars will have to be insured, much as would any car used for daily driving, special care will have to be used when figuring the replacement value of these lovingly restored machines.

Rare Cars: Bugatti Veyron

Friday, November 13th, 2009

The rare things in life come at a significant cost: The Hope Diamond, true love and the Bugatti Veyron are three. Assembled by hand in the Bugatti headquarters of Alsace, only 150 2009 Bugatti Veyrons will be produced — with the first 50 earmarked for existing Bugatti customers. True love and the Hope Diamond may be easier to acquire.

Though then number of Bugattis to be produced is limited, the options for each model make each one unique. The newest edition, The Grand Sport, a targa top edition, was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concourse in August of 2008. The first one produced was donated to charity and was auctioned for a cool $2.4 million. Production of this model began in March of 2009 with a starting price of $2.2 million. No matter your taste, as long as you have deep pockets, you may be able to drive a Bugatti Veyron into your garage — a big maybe. So many models, so many ways to spend your dollars, but so few available. The Bugatti Veyron is one of the rarest super cars in the world today.

One of the most unique Bugatti models is the Hermes Edition Bugatti Veyron FBG. FBG stands for “Faubourg” — the street where the famed house of Hermes resides. The interior of this model is a fashionista’s dream enrobed in bull calfskin leather. From the dashboard and the rear bulkhead to the leather-lined trunk filled with custom-made Hermes luggage, the Veyron FBG is seat candy of the optimum kind. At a catwalk price of $600,000, there are only two paint job options: none and chocolate Hermes brown. This price makes the paint for the Bugatti Veyron FBG more expensive than purchasing three houses on a block of many suburbs in the U.S. The interlocking “H” s in the updated grille and air intake add a little Hermes bling and recognition to the already over-the-top Bugatti Veyron FBG.

For optimum rarity, the Bugatti Veyron Pur Sang is the winner. With only five produced, owning one of these models is almost as rare as being struck by lightening. In direct contrast to the Veyron FBG, the Pur Sang has no paint job. It is described as “naked” in that the carbon fiber and aluminum body is unpainted. Even without paint, the nude Veyron Pur Sang is priced at $2.2 million. The Veyron design is enhanced by the simplicity of the dark carbon fiber and shiny aluminum two-tone contrast. It is artwork in performance, design and complex simplicity.

As one of the world’s rarest cars, owning a Bugatti Veyron, no matter the model, is the ultimate calling card of the privileged.

National Vehicle Theft Rate Lowest in 20 Years

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

According the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), vehicle theft has dropped to the lowest rates in the past 20 years. This is a significant fact because the amount of cars, trucks, and SUVs on national highways has more than doubled. Here are some reasons why there are currently less instances of auto theft.

The FBI reports that 956,846 vehicle owners experienced theft of their automobiles in 2008. Breaking it down, that equals 315 stolen vehicles for every 100,000 on United State’s roads. In 1991, 1.66 million cars were stolen — 659 for every 100,000 vehicles. These numbers mean that instances of vehicle theft have been practically cut in half.

Why is this? Recent auto insurance claims reflect that drivers reporting theft tend to have older vehicles with out-of-date security features. Manufacturers have gotten smarter and more technologically advanced when it comes to the types of auto theft precautions they are placing in current car models. Newer vehicles parked on streets, in dark garages or in the driveway of a residence are harder to steal due to being equipped with state-of the art anti-theft devices. Such devices include smart car alarms, equipment that immobilizes parts of the engine if being tampered with and tracking devices that allow authorities to track vehicles if they are stolen. Specific examples include installed global positioning systems and silent alarms that aid authorities not only in tracking stolen vehicles, but in catching the thieves as well. In addition, drivers are taking action to keep their vehicles ahead of the game. Prompted by potential auto insurance rebates, many drivers are equipping older models that don’t come standard with their own anti-theft devices with newer systems. Though there is no way to completely prevent vehicle theft, it seems people are doing everything they can to make sure they are victims of this crime.

Another simple way of protecting yourself against the effects of auto theft is making sure your auto insurance coverage protects you in the event that your car is stolen. Having the proper coverage can help you repair your vehicle if recovered from a theft of provide the funds for a replacement vehicle while you search for a new one.

With the drop in the amount of car theft in the past 20 years, it’s obvious anti-theft devices have come a long way. But don’t depend primarily on your alarm system to keep your car safe. Also have some common sense. Be aware of the surroundings in which you park your car and avoid leaving valuable items, like GPS systems or other electronics, in clear view. Doing these things will help you avoid becoming the victim of vehicle theft.

How Renewing Your Own Headlights Can Save You Money and Increase Safety

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

October is National Headlight Safety Month. It is also the time when days get shorter and daylight savings time ends (October 31). Shorter days mean longer nights, so you are turning your car’s headlights on earlier. At night your field of vision is drastically reduced. Headlights that are dim or burnt out make it hard, and sometimes impossible, for other drivers to see you. They also make it hard for you to see what is in front of you.
Now is the perfect time to check your headlights and make sure they are working and emitting enough light onto the road.

Headlight bulbs naturally dim over time. Another factor that contributes to dim headlights is the headlight lens. Typically headlight lenses are made out of plastic. Over time, they can become gray and cloudy. Both dim bulbs and cloudy lenses will restrict the amount of light coming from your car’s headlights — and that becomes an auto safety issue.

If your car is more than a couple of years old, checking your headlights should be part of your regular auto safety maintenance routine. To check your headlights, park your car so it is facing a solid surface (one that is taller than your headlights). Your car should be approximately five to six feet back from this surface. Turn on your headlights and look to see the light reflection on the surface. You should see two circles of white light, which are even, and aligned straight. What you should not see is very dim or yellow circles.

If one of your headlights is burnt out, you will need to have it replaced. When replacing a burnt out headlight, it is always a good idea to go ahead and replace both headlights. When one goes out, the other isn’t far behind. You can do it yourself by getting the bulb from an auto parts store or taking your car in to have it replaced.

Next, check your headlight lens (the outer covering of the headlight). You can do this just by simply looking at it. It should be completely clear, not cloudy or gray. You should be able to see your headlight bulb through the lens. If your headlight lens is cloudy or gray, your can replace or restore your headlight lens. You can restore the headlight lens by purchasing a headlight restoration and cleaning kit. These kits can cost as little as $8.99 at an auto parts shop and usually requires going through a few simple steps.

When it comes to the fall and faster fading daylight, it is imperative that you’re car’s headlights are in proper working order. Doing proper auto safety maintenance will ensure that you and your passengers are seen, and can see, on the road.

5 Tips for Saving Money on Auto Rentals

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Auto rental rates have risen this year, but the consumer can realize considerable savings by comparing details before making a reservation.

1. Do your research.

• Go to travel websites like Travelocity or to search for deals on auto rentals at your desired location. Visit the websites of rental car companies, too.
• Before making an online reservation, phone the rental company’s local office at your destination to see if there are any special offers. If the agency knows you’re shopping around, you may get a better quote – auto rental firms are seriously competing for your business.

2. Be aware of extra fees.

Include these when comparing prices. Some of these costs can be avoided; others are unavoidable, but you should be aware of them.

• Don’t prepay for a tank of gasoline. Fill it up yourself, and you’ll likely need less than a tank full. But you’ll pay a hefty fee for a tank that’s not filled.
• Some auto rental agencies charge a refundable deposit, up to hundreds of dollars, against failure to return the car. This will be charged to your credit card, though unprocessed until the car is overdue. However, it may cut into your card’s spending limit.
• Ask if there any mileage fees.
• Avoid a portion of state and city taxes by picking up the car at a suburban auto rental location.
• If the agency charges airport fees, pick up your car at a non-airport location. That “free” shuttle from the airport to the agency may cost several dollars a day.

3. Decline the insurance.

Check with your auto insurance agent to see if your policy covers rented cars. A credit card used to pay for an auto rental often provides collision coverage. Resist the rental agency’s efforts to sell you additional auto insurance, such as a collision damage waiver.

4. Be flexible with size and time.

• Smaller cars have lower auto rental rates, but a larger vehicle may provide comfort worth a couple of dollars a day.
• If you’re offered a free upgrade to a larger vehicle, remember that its fuel will cost more.
• A weekly rental rate may be almost as low as rates for as little as three days.
• Weekend rates are often lower than weekday rates.

5. Look everywhere for discounts.

• These may come with membership in AARP, AAA, a discount store, frequent flier programs, or with credit cards or hotels. Can you use your employer’s corporate code for personal travel?
• Earn upgrades, free rental days, and other benefits with “frequent rental programs” adopted by many auto rental agencies.

Be a good consumer; arm yourself with knowledge, and the savings are yours to enjoy.

Turn Your Clunker into Cash — Escort or Ram Van?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

How do you turn your hot 2002 Ford Escort into cold, hard cash? No problem, Uncle Sam can help. In an effort to stimulate the challenged U.S. auto industry, in June, Congress passed what is now being hawked as the “Cash for Clunkers” Act. Officially, it’s a government program called CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System). Unfortunately, you won’t actually ever see the cash. Instead, you’ll save up to $4,500 on top of any other savings at your auto dealer when you trade in your beaten up jalopy. Your dealer then gets the rebate from the government. It’s not a bad deal. You could end up double or even triple dipping on the savings. If you purchase a fuel-efficient hybrid, you can still qualify for a federal tax credit. Add on top of that any dealer incentives, plus the $3,500 or $4,500 from the government and all of a sudden that new ride is looking pretty good.

Plus, you’ll finally be able to retire that late 80’s hunter green, high-top Dodge Ram Van with the wicked panel art, running boards, and after-market Blaupunkt cassette player. Hmm, on second thought, trade in the wife’s mini-van instead. You never know when you’ll need to find a quiet escape in the warm embrace of your coffee-stained captain’s chair with Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” setting up on entertainment system.

OK, let’s get to the basics. Here are the rules to know:

1. Your trade-in vehicle has to be less than 25 years old.

2. You need to be purchasing or leasing a new vehicle to qualify.

3. In a nod to the Green movement, the program is designed to take old, gas guzzlers off the road. So your trade-in vehicle must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements). Be safe, and double check that your vehicle qualifies before you race over to your auto dealer.

4. Trade-in vehicles must be registered and have auto insurance continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in date

5. Act fast because the program runs through the earlier of November 1, 2009 or when the $1.0 billion program funding runs out. As of today, there was $858 million left in the kitty, or just about enough for another 200,000 sales.

6. Because the program is intended to permanently remove these wasteful, rust-buckets, the dealer is also required to estimate the scrap value of your trade-in and will throw that amount, however small, on top of the rebate as well.

More detailed Program FAQ’s can be found here or call the CARS Hotline at (866)-CAR-7891.

Last, but not least, it is critically important that you get the right auto insurance for your new vehicle. Remember, cruising around in a brand new gem is going to be a lot different than your last ride. And with your hard-earned $$ at stake, you need to make sure you’re covered. In keeping with the money-saving spirit of the “Cars for Clunkers” program, go no further than to get the lowest quotes on your auto insurance.

Items to Keep in Your Automobile

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

What to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Emergency

Most of us keep a spare tire and a set of jumper cables in the car trunk, in case of a breakdown on the road. But being prepared for any potential automotive emergency requires several other provisions.

Emergency Kit: Start with a strong backpack or a shatterproof plastic box; include provisions to survive for 72 hours and basic car-repair tools. Some essential items for your automobile emergency kit are:

• Proof of car insurance and your insurance company’s emergency hotline number
• Flashlight with batteries kept separate
• First aid kit
• Swiss style army knife or utility knife
• Drinking water and non-perishable food
• Blankets and towels
• Hammer to break a window (Keep this in the front seat)
• Jack
• Spare tire
• Can of Fix-a-Flat
• Shovel

Include supplies for your family’s specific needs — medications, eyeglasses, doctors’ phone numbers, baby food, etc. – and the weather in your area.

Take time to prepare a complete kit, and you won’t need to think of it every time you leave the house. Check the kit periodically to be sure everything is in good condition. Pack all family cars, including those of students and adult children.

Cell Phone: This is an absolute essential, and should stay within reach at all times. Give it a full charge or bring an extra battery. Program the emergency numbers of your roadside assistance organization and car insurance company.

Document Accidents: It’s very important to document any accident to make filing a car insurance claim easier. Always carry:

Pens and paper for writing down:

• Exactly when and where the accident occurred
• Name, telephone number and insurance information of other parties
• Names and contact information for witnesses
• Description of relevant events or conditions, such as icy roads
• Any statements made by drivers or witnesses indicating driver error or responsibility for the accident.

Disposable camera to photograph:

• All vehicles involved from several angles, with particular attention to damage
• People, especially if they’re injured
• Road conditions, hazards or other relevant details such as poor signage

Complete contact information for your car insurance company: If the accident causes significant damage or personal injury, call your insurance agent as soon as emergency personnel have been notified.

This documentation and evidence will provide tremendous assistance in filing and expediting your insurance claim. It will also help support your side in court, in case of a lawsuit, traffic hearing or criminal charges for any party.

Planning for an emergency may seem like a lot of work, and an accident isn’t much fun to think about. But if you or a loved one ever needs anything in your kit, or detailed information for filing an insurance claim, you’ll always be glad you prepared ahead of time.

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!

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.

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