Thinking Of Switching Roadside Assistance Carriers

Having roadside assistance is important to us.  Though it’s been years since we’ve actually used it, the fact that we tow a couple of thousand miles per year makes it something we want to have.  Plus, I know that the minute I cancelled, we’d have something happen!

One mainstay I’ve had in my ‘adult’ life is that I’ve carried AAA for roadside assistance.  I actually have been covered since I got my license, which happens to be 25 years.  So, you’d think I’d want to celebrate by sticking around, but I think it’s actually time for a change.

Our Current Roadside Assistance Coverage Through AAA

AAA offers three levels of coverage.  We had a hybrid between two options.  I was covered under the mid-tier option which covered not only towing and services for regular driving, but also for our RV.  It also allowed both to be towed for 100 miles before additional charges kicked in.  My wife was covered under their basic plan which covered basic towing up to five miles.  Because she drives in the Metro Detroit area, and I do all the RV driving, this worked great.  And, we signed up with a discount on the family option.

The AAA Change Of Plan

Image from Morguefile courtesy of Alvimann
Image from Morguefile courtesy of Alvimann

So what happened?  Why are we looking to change?  Because when I opened the bill this year, I saw that our bill went up $24.  When I called to ask about the increase, they told me that they were no longer offering the hybrid option.  So, if one person in the family requires higher coverage, everybody covered has to have higher coverage.  This added $20 to cover my wife, with the remaining $4 being a normal annual increase.

I asked the agent why they made the change, and after she couldn’t really give a reason, it became apparent that it was basically a money grab.  They probably had a lot of people doing exactly as we were, and as a way to increase revenue they changed the rules.

Looking At Options

I started looking around and narrowed down our options to three carriers that I found had good reviews and offered services we needed:

  1. AAA – They’ve served us well and have a great reputation, so I kept on the table the option to stick with them.  Cost: $136
  2. Allstate Motor Club – We use Allstate for all the rest of our insurance needs.  They had coverage that would match everything we had with AAA and we could get it for around $95 for the first year, which was great.  What wasn’t great is that it goes up to around the same price as AAA after the first year.
  3. Good Sam – I do a lot of reading up on things to do with our RV, and in the RV world, Good Sam is about a common name as they come.  They offer a roadside plan that actually has no towing limits for cars or our RV (meaning we can get towed to the nearest service center no matter how far away it is).  The cost is $80 for the first year, increasing to $105 or $115 after the first year, though you can lock up to three years at the intro rate by paying up front.

Our Decision

Right now, I’m leaning toward the Good Sam plan. It gets great reviews, seems to have a lot of participating stations so you’re always covered, and the price and increased coverage help as well.   I’m on the fence as to whether to pay up front for an extra year or two to lock in the discount, or if we should see how things go the first year, then pay a higher rate (which would still be cheaper than the other two).

We have nearly another month to decide as our AAA coverage is good until the end of the month.

Readers, who do you use for roadside assistance coverage?  Any really positive stories?  How about horror stories?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Life Insurance – Because Dying Is Not So Abstract Anymore

“We’re not the young people here at work.  When did that happen?  Now we worry about things like…life insurance!”

As we were discussing careers, a colleague and I lamented this thought.  I remember back when I started and was working with people all older than me.  They were all people with spouses and kids and mortgages and real responsibilities.  I was the young kid talking about going out, showing them how to do the Macarena (it *was* 1996) and not worrying about much else.

Now I look around and I’m in the group with the spouse and kids and mortgage and all the other responsibilities that go along with it.  How quickly does it all happen?  In the blink of an eye.

A More Serious Take

That’s the kind of fun approach to looking at how things have changed.  I have so much more to think about now, but the truth is that there’s a lot more serious part that also fits in, specifically what about if I were to get sick, or even worse, what if I were to die.

Nobody wants to think about it, and when I was back in my 20’s, I pretty much didn’t.  At that time, people our age just didn’t die.  I’d had older relatives die so it wasn’t like I was exposed to death, but for the most part, nobody that I really knew in my age group had died or even been seriously sick.  It was always one of those things to worry about ‘later’.

Later Arrived Much Sooner

There was a guy,Paul, that I graduated college with who was always a pretty cool guy.  Paul and I weren’t buddies and we didn’t hang out in the same circle of friends, but our circles overlapped so we saw each other a lot.  He was a really cool guy and you could tell that he was really enthusiastic about life and always there when someone needed him.

He and I graduated together and went our separate ways.  We never stayed in touch, except when that glorious thing called Facebook came in vogue the opened your circles back up that you’d thought might have been forever closed.

Paul was one of the people that Facebook allowed me to reconnect with and I was able to see that he was doing well.  He’d continued his education, gotten his doctorate, and was a professor in Colorado.  In addition, he was working to turn a passion, drinking craft beer, into a reality, investing in a new local brewery.

He had a wife and a couple of young kids.  A pretty similar story to yours truly.

Then about a year and a half ago he posted that he wasn’t feeling well and was going in for some tests.  He actually created a private Facebook group to post updates to those who wanted to know what was going on.  I immediately joined.

The news, when it came back, wasn’t good.  Paul had a very aggressive form of cancer but he immediately started an equally aggressive treatment plan.  The updates to the group were incredible, full of lots of ups and downs, but he always believed that what he was doing would cure him. At the end of his treatment schedule, all of the blood tests and basic scans gave hopes that it might have.

He had to do a more detailed scan at the end of last year, and unfortunately the results were terrible.  There was still cancer in every spot where it’d originally been found plus it was in new areas.  Long story short, some of the most aggressive treatments available had reduced it but not even wiped one spot clean.

The news was grim.  It came right before Christmas, and although Paul expressed a willingness to keep fighting (and he did keep fighting), you could sense a resignation and that he was now also preparing to die.  Which, sadly he did this past July.  He left behind a wife and two small children, just older than my own.

Later Arrived Again

Another person from my college graduating class posted something last month that shocked me.  Her husband, who also graduated with us, though I don’t remember him, had had a series of strokes and was in the hospital and would require brain surgery.

Prior to that, they’d often post pictures of them as a couple doing CrossFit.  He was basically an actual iron man.  He was in peak physical condition yet now had stroke and brain surgery rehabilitation surgery.  It really rattled me.

In this person’s case, the potential for a full recovery is still much higher, but it still shakes you to the bone.   when These are people the same age as you and that people the same age as you are getting sick, and not just with the flu or mono.

Planning For Life But Without Guarantees

Seeing these things happen has hit home.  It hasn’t turned me into a person obsessed with death or sickness.  I don’t walk around thinking about death all the time and I don’t look at everything as a potential sickness.  I haven’t changed my diet or exercise (though I probably could stand to).

But I do think about it.  I do plan to live, but I now realize that my plans might not come true.  You never know what’s going to happen, and you never know when.

Live Life But Plan For Death

Life insurance has always been something I had for years, but really got serious about once we started our family.  Back when I was single, I took the basic life insurance plan that was available to me. I figured that if I were to die that I would just need my funeral arrangements taken care of.

After I got married, as the primary breadwinner, I bumped things up a bit, but some of the default options were still just fine.

When we had kids, that’s when things changed.  After becoming a father, I really looked at my options seriously.  At the time, my employer had very generous offerings, and provided adequate coverage.  A couple of years back our coverage options were reduced.  I knew that, for the first time, I’d have to look for insurance on the open market.

Once getting started, the process was straightforward.

  • Determine who needs coverage. My wife and I both knew that if one of us were to die, the other person would have a financial burden.  I work and provide most of the household income, where she stays home, thus providing child care and offsetting other costs.  So, we determined that we both needed some level of coverage.
  • Estimate the amount needed. We knew that I should have more coverage than her.  We ran some numbers through some estimators and came up with what we thought were fair amounts.
  • Brush up on verbiage. I spent some time getting to understand the various types of life insurance and understanding some standard options.  When you ask for and receive quotes to compare, you want the information to be comparable.
  • Get quotes. We got quotes from a variety of sources, including our agent for home and auto coverage.  We looked up reputable companies online, reading reviews and using trusted sources (lie fellow bloggers that I’d worked with for a long time) to narrow things down.  So much has transitioned to online these days that you can have quotes at your fingertips within moments.
  • Compare. We made sure that our quotes were covering the same things and looked at other items and
    mb-2015-03-checkbook clauses.  I  had some phone conversations as well as e-mail exchanges to make sure I had every question answered.
  • Look ahead.  We ended up getting life insurance that covers 20 years.  What this means is that as long as we pay in our annual dues every year, our rates or coverage don’t change for 20 years.  When we first signed up, our kids were 4 and 2.  We wanted coverage until they would be at or near the point where costs for them to grow up and go to school would be covered, should my wife or I die.
  • Keep options open. One thing that I learned that was really key to life insurance is that you can carry multiple policies.  So, if we decided we needed more coverage, we can add a second policy to cover our needs.  Understanding this flexibility made our decision seem a lot less permanent.

In the end, as with anybody that buys it, we hope that life insurance is something that we don’t use.  Paul didn’t make it to see his kids grow up and to get to grow old with his spouse.  I hope to do these things, If that’s not part of the plan that I’m not aware of, I’m comfortable knowing that the people who depend on me will not have money as something that they need to worry about.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Scoring a Deal: Common Car Insurance Quandaries to Be Aware Of

Car insurance can be extremely confusing. There’s of course basic coverage and protection to have.  There are also additional items and sub limits that you need to be aware of. Not every motorist’s situation will call for additional coverages or higher than minimum protection.  However, you never want to guess with insurance coverage. After all, it’s designed to protect your financials in case something unexpected happens.

Here are some of the more common options that you should be considering with your car insurance situation:

Uninsured and Underinsured Car Insurance Coverage

The law says that every driver must have car insurance.  Still, there are many people who drive without.  Additionally, there are countless more people who are covered but underinsured.  These are scary thoughts.  What if your car is worth $30,000 and when someone slams into you, you find that their minimum coverage only covers $15,000?

In addition to the other damage that could be caused (hitting a fence, causing damage to a neighboring building or tearing up the yard where one of the cars ends up, just to name a few), you now have someone either with zero car insurance or with the “cut rate” state minimums and they will be responsible to pay all of that money. The chances that it actually happens are slim to none.  If it does, you can use the uninsured and underinsured options your policy provides you with to cover any resulting gaps.

Common Exclusions and Barred Drivers

You need to know the specific language of your actual policy to know what it excludes and covers. What if you’re towing a trailer and your policy doesn’t allow coverage on the trailer due to the size? What if you deliver pizzas or drive for Uber and find that your policy doesn’t cover work driving?How about  if your roommate needs to back your car out of the drive, and damages another car in the process?

All of these things not only can happen, but they do, each and every day. You have to know that your specific auto policy is not just a guideline.  It is actually a legal contract that you are responsible to maintain and follow the directions and agreement within. If you suffer a loss while doing something that’s not covered,  you’ll have a vehicle needing repair but no money to do so. Know the specifics ahead of time.  Verify that the company you receive a quote from will in fact step up when something goes wrong.

Know What Your Limits Are

It is extremely important to know what is excluded.  You also want to know every benefit afforded to you when shopping for new car insurance rates. There are many cool sites out there that can provide comparisons.  Something like this can be helpful so that you’re getting equivalent information.

What if your limits do include the perks like rental reimbursement and towing after a collision? Do your limits include lost wages if you can’t work? What about the coverage for your passengers that are inside the vehicle? Some people think that every car insurance option is exactly the same.  But there are so many options offered that if you don’t know the particulars, you could have a big problem.

Knowing the amount of car insurance you pay as well as the amount of coverage you have are essential to know.  Other pertinent information still lies within. Drivers need to know that their vehicle and their financial assets (as well as their health) will be protected in case something does happen and an accident does occur. By taking the time to thoroughly quote auto insurance with a provider that knows their stuff, you have a much better shot of being covered in the worst-case scenario of an auto accident.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How to Compare Auto Insurance Quotes to Get the Best Price

You would never consider buying a car without doing some cost comparison to see how much money you would save. So why would you sign up for an auto insurance plan without doing the same? If you have little to no clue on how to compare auto insurance quotes, here are a few tips that are likely to save you some money.

Gather Up-To-Date Information

If there have been significant changes in your life since the last time you went shopping for auto insurance, make sure all information is updated in your new quotes.  There are many important factors that determine auto insurance pricing.  For example, buying a home or getting auto insurance after marriage usually means cheaper rates for you since homeowners and married people have a tendency to file fewer claims. If you add a teen driver to your household, or looking to move to a new ZIP code, then what you pay may drastically change.

Comparing quotes usually requires information you can easily identify: your name, address, the make and model of your car, insurance history and a list of past claims and violations. Once you find a policy you like, continue to get more information before purchasing it.

It is advisable to have information such as your vehicle’s VIN, driver license number and any additional drivers who’ll be operating the vehicle ready ahead of time to tell your potential carrier.

Compare Deductibles

The deductibles on comprehensive and collision coverages offer you the best option of influencing the rates you get. Many claims are small and when you choose higher deductibles, you take on more of the risk associated with paying such claims. Choose amounts you are able to pay from your savings or are sure you can easily scrape together should the need arise.

Payment Plans

A majority of carriers offer their clients various payment plans. Typically, you are required to offer an auto insurance down payment of anywhere around 8 to 33 percent. Always expect to pay a certain fee for the privilege of using a certain payment method. Many carriers do not accept all types of payments, some payment methods include:

  • Bank pay
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Money order or check
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (ETF)

On the other hand, you may receive a discount for making your payment in full.

Compare Coverage

Ensure that every auto insurance quote you compare is for the same type and amount of coverage. The best place to start is with the policy declarations page, which is a list of coverage types available, deductibles and limits, and of course, overall premiums. Here are some important coverage comparison details to weigh:

  • Will liability insurance limits still protect your assets such as savings and your home in case of an accident? With modest assets, you don’t need to sweat about getting high limits. However, if you are recently married, just bought a house or are building a nest egg, you may require more liability insurance.
  • How will you pay for medical treatment in case you get injured in an accident that is your fault? If you have no health insurance, this is the time to add some kind of coverage. For someone with health insurance, consider whether you have the cash required for co-pays and deductibles, and whether your regular passengers have medical insurance.
  • It is advisable that you visit an auto insurance quote comparison website, such as CoverHound, to calculate what policies drivers like you are purchasing.
  • Do you need collision and comprehensive “full coverage” to replace or repair your car? Sometimes, the premiums you pay would be better utilized when channeled towards a savings account for a replacement.

Look for Big Discounts

A firm that sells both home and auto insurance wants you to purchase both. If you have more than one car in your family, they’ll want to insure them all. Home, auto and multi-car insurance discounts can bemb-2015-12-accident quite substantial.

A slightly expensive premium from an insurance firm offering a bundle on home and auto coverage may be even cheaper when discounts are applied to both policies. For a household with a teen, be on the lookout for an attractive student discount.

Read the Fine Print

If your credit, insurance or driving history have black marks, you’re likely looking for insurance from nonstandard firms. These firms are known as “nonstandard” because their policies may have exceptions to typical coverages and situations. Some exceptions include:

  • Limit on permissive drivers. While the typical policies offer you leeway to lend your vehicle to any licensed driver, nonstandard policies may limit the coverage the permissive driver gets.
  • No automatic coverage. A standard policy may insure you behind the wheel of a rental or new car, with limitations. Nonstandard policies may not allow this.

If you compare auto insurance quotes line by line, you will find that not all policies are the same. It’s easy to assume that the cheapest policy is the best one, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, the lowest cost policy is also the one that offers you the lowest coverage limits. Always do your research to ensure that you get the best value on great auto coverage.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.