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5 Things You Must Know To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Settlement

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5 Things You Must Know To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Settlement

Two years ago when snow squall hit a highway in Ontario, Canada I was one of the unfortunate people driving. Fifteen vehicles piled up. I was in the middle. A snow squall, by the way, is a snow storm which causes a whiteout, but lasts only few minutes. But in those few minutes I ended up on the wrong side of the auto insurance claim process. I will save the rest of the story for later and get straight to the point. I will assume you have comprehensive coverage, the accident is serious, the car is totaled but there is no injury.

1. Do not admit fault when you start a claim

Before you call the insurance company think about the events and present a clear story. But do NOT admit fault. If you admit fault and the other person does not, you are at 100% fault. The fault is something the insurer determines and we agree, disagree or negotiate because faults are not always clear. There are provincial/state fault determination rules which you and your insurer can use to determine fault.

Always remember to present your story in the best way possible and negotiate for less or no fault. If you don’t, no one will and you will be at fault! No one will tell you this: there is nothing like 50% fault from the premium payment point of view. A fault is a fault and your premiums will hit the roof if you do not negotiate properly. A basic rule of thumb is to save all your negotiations energy for claim settlement and then negotiate fault to the point of being totally absurd.

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2. Do not let the insurance adjuster call you

It is important to recover from the shock and take your time before you can negotiate. If you get a call from insurance adjuster, offer to call back at a time that is convenient to you. Give yourself about 2 hours to call back after you have done your research. Research is mostly about finding the right value to claim. Give yourself at least a week to recover before you call the adjuster. To achieve the best results, it is very important to be fully composed and relaxed when you negotiate. Finding a new, good value car takes at least 20 days. Start looking immediately.

3. Pick an adjuster that is sympathetic to your case

When you call the adjuster, remember you can pick an adjuster if you know how to do it. If the adjuster sounds unsympathetic/unreasonable/hostile, request to talk to another adjuster. Adjusters will refuse. You have to stick to your request and decline to discuss it further. You can tell the adjuster that they are being unreasonable or hostile so you can talk to another adjuster. This is very important. Without the right person all your negotiations will be futile.

4. Calculate the true value of your claim using this method

Always remember that the value of your claim is what it costs you to buy a vehicle similar to the one that was in the accident. Always remember that the value of your claim is what it costs you to buy a vehicle a) similar to the one that was in the accident, b) available in the current market near you. That is not something your insurance company can randomly come up with. You have to show your costs based on what you are able to find in the market. Left to them, they usually come up with much less than what is due to you (potentially leaving you with an option 20% lower than what you deserve).

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Search car sales websites for vehicles on sale within 15 or 20 kms from your city, focusing on finding the same model that has similar kilometers. You should leave the very low priced ones out and pick 3 or 4 higher priced vehicles and average them. Your adjuster may ask you to drop the high priced ones. But never let the adjuster not consider the market price.

Do this search and averaging before negotiating so you know what to expect. Your claim settlement will be an average value plus HST, plus some risk amount for the purpose of negotiation. Never ask the actual value you expect (that is the baseline you are willing to settle for); always ask about 5–10% more and back this up with the average price of vehicles for sale.

Remember to keep a bank fund ready that will allow you to efficiently buy a vehicle when you find it. Do NOT wait for claim money to reach you. Get the best value vehicle you can from money borrowed from the bank and return it once you receive your claim.

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Drive safe. There is almost always something we could have done to avert that accident or escape from it. That something may not be just ‘hitting the break early’, it may be your choice to drive at that time and place. Precaution, at the end of the day, is the best insurance.

So, you may be wondering where is the 5th thing!

5. Do not negotiate with your inner voice when it comes to road safety.

Take that turn, drive slow, or make the call not to drive. Avoid accidents.

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Featured photo credit: Citroen via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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