How Much Car Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

Car insurance, like most insurances, can seem complicated.  Deciding just how much car insurance coverage you need is the biggest hurdle.  Of course, it’s easy to select the coverage that meets the requirements of your state and the lien holder (of you owe on a loan for the car, you’ve got a lien holder, and it’s likely the bank you borrowed from), but those aren’t the only factors to take into account when deciding on how much coverage you need.  In the end, you’ve got to find a coverage that will meet those requirements, and also fit within your budget.

State Requirements

You’ll want to know what the state requires you to have for insurance.  Any local insurance provider should be able to tell you, but you’ll want to double check if you’re planning on using an out of state or online provider.  If you still owe on your car, the lender on your loan will likely require that you have full coverage, so the state minimums will likely only come into play if you own the car you’ll be insuring.

Lien Holder Requirements

If you owe on your car, you’ve got a lien holder.  The lien holder is whomever you borrowed the money from.  Most (if not all) lenders will require that you carry full coverage insurance on the car.  It has nothing to do with them wanting to make sure you’re safe, and all to do with making sure that should you get in an accident, that they’ll get some of their money for the loan.  While most lien holders won’t require a certain level of insurance (over full coverage), it is a good idea to find out what they require just to make sure that you’re getting the coverage that you need.

Deciding on Coverage Levels

Car AccidentOnce you know the requirements of the state and any lien holders, you’ve got to decide on the level of car insurance coverage you want.  There are two ways to look at this.  The first is that you’ve got to find a coverage and provider that is affordable enough to fit into your budget.  The second is usually the forgotten way of looking at insurance.  The coverage doesn’t just have to fit into your budget, it also needs to cover you against a total loss.  If you have full coverage, but it’s only enough to cover a portion of what you owe on the car, you’ll also want to look at something that’s usually called “Gap Insurance”.  Gap insurance is aptly named in that it is designed to cover any gap between the value of the car and the remaining loan should the car be totaled before you pay it off.  Car insurance can be a combination of three coverages.  A liability coverage (usually what States require), Comp & Collision, and personal injury.  The exact levels that you need will vary based on your situation, but your insurance provider should be able to make recommendations for you.

How Much Deductible for Car Insurance

One of the easiest ways to lower the monthly cost of your car insurance coverage is to raise the deductible on your policy.  This method is a bit of a double-edged sword, however.  Raise it too high, and you might not be able to afford to have the car fixed.  Or, anything short of a major collision may fall under the amount of the deductible.  Again, your insurance provider should be able to help you compare the different deductible levels and help you find one that fits your budget without breaking you if you get in an accident.

The level of coverage that you need is going to be drastically different based on your own individual situation.  Do you own your car, or owe on your car?  Do you have sufficient savings to cover a higher deductible in an emergency?  What are the requirements of your state and any lien holders?  Make sure you know all that information before you go looking for car insurance, and remember to double check any suggestions by an insurance provider.  We’d all like to think that they are all honest, but not all of them are.  Knowing at least a little about what you’re talking about, and the information required to ask informed questions is a huge step towards not getting taken advantage of.

How much do you know about car insurance?  How much have you learned since the first time you bought insurance?

img credit:stupid.fotos on Flickr.

The Cost of Civic Duty

As this is posting, (thank you scheduler) I’ll be arriving at my local court house to perform the civic duty of jury duty.  It’s an interesting civic duty; one that’s is both afforded us if we are ever persecuted, and one that we must perform for those that are.  But, what is the cost of doing your civic duty?

Jury Duty SummonsIn the letter I received, it states that I’ll be paid $25 if my service is four hours or less and $50 if I’m there longer than $50.  I’ll also be paid $50 for each day after the first day.  My employment cannot be threatened due to serving on a jury (that’s good), but my employer doesn’t have to pay me for time spent away from work while serving on a jury.

In a very basic math sense, the cost of serving on a jury, then, is my pay for however many hours of work I miss minus the fees I’ll be paid for serving.  Different employers have different policies for jury duty as well.  My previous employer’s policy was that you could serve on a jury and be paid your wages provided you turned over your jury duty check to the company when you received it.  That’s a pretty good policy.  My current employer allows for unpaid time off to serve on a jury only.  Not as good of a policy.  I can take vacation time during that time so that I don’t lose any pay if I have it available.

As it happens, I don’t really have any vacation time to use.  So, I’ll be going without pay for as long as I have to serve.  It’s not exactly ideal.  But, I do get something for it at least.  Unfortunately, if I’m there a full 8 hours, it’s far less than minimum wage.  A token amount, really, to help offset the lost opportunity to earn my wage.

Have you served on a jury?  Is the pay the same everywhere, or does it differ by location?

img credit:zzpza, on flickr

Using Youtube for DIY

When you think about DIY, it’s not very likely that the video site, Youtube comes to mind right away.  If you’re thinking anything video related, you’re probably thinking about television stations like HGTV or the aptly named DIY Network.  Youtube, however, can be the best friend you’ve got when it comes to DIY.

This new age we’re entering where information is super duper easy to disseminate means that we can hop on the internet and find just about whatever information we need.  And that includes how-to videos on just about any DIY project you can imagine.

When I was working at a computer repair shop last winter and spring, one of the things that I did on a regular basis is search on Youtube for the steps to replace a part on a computer.  Each computer manufacturer makes their machines a little bit differently.  It’s very evident in their laptop models, so often, what will take one apart will break another.  Faced with a new model, the easiest way to figure out what you’re doing before you end up replacing it for a customer is to do a quick search for a repair video.  Just about every time, you’ll find a video of a technician doing the exact same repair that you’re about to do.

Armed with that knowledge and experience, one of the first things that popped into my head when our clothes dryer stopped heating up two weeks ago was to see just how hard it would be to replace the heating element.  A couple of videos later, I was reasonably confident that I had the skills necessary to make the repair myself.  I ordered a new heating element and a new non-resettable fuse (just in case that was the problem and not the element) from Amazon.  The parts totaled less than $40.

Once the parts arrived, I was able to make the repair to the dryer in about 45 minutes.  Probably a bit longer than a technician that repairs appliances all the time, but for me, a pretty reasonable amount of time.  Once the new parts were in place, and the dryer was put back together, I hooked it back up to the vent and the electrical and gave it a test spin.  And it heated up!  I win!  😉  For less than $40, and about an hour of my time (if you include the time spent watching the repair video), I was able to successfully make the repair.

I don’t know how much it would have cost to have the local technician come and repair the dryer, but I can guess that the part alone would have cost almost twice what it did for me to order it.  Even if I guess conservatively, the labor would probably cost me about $50.  All told, it could have cost me about $100-$150 to repair the thing.  We bought it used, for about $200, so that wouldn’t have been a very smart thing to do.  And, if it had come down to having someone repair it, you can bet I would have looked at the cost of a new, to-us, used dryer first.

It’s not the first time that I’ve used a Youtube video to learn how to repair something.  Remember when I repaired my iPad myself?  Guess how I learned how to do that!

Have you ever used a Youtube video to learn how to DIY something?