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5 Things You Must Know To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Settlement

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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5 Things You Must Know To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Settlement

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Last Updated on March 3, 2021

Top 6 Hacks on How To Build Credit Fast

Top 6 Hacks on How To Build Credit Fast

When done right, credit can open doors and provide a lifestyle that you never imagined possible. Anything from flying around the world in first-class and staying at 5-star hotels entirely for free to starting and scaling businesses. It’s also an area where it can be easy to make mistakes and hard to recover from without the right information. In this article, I will break down how you can build credit fast so you can open doors in your life!

When you start to think about improving your credit score, you have to answer three important questions first:

  1. What are you trying to achieve by having good credit?
  2. What really is your credit score?
  3. How is your credit score calculated?

What Are Your Credit Goals?

Having a high credit score is great, but ultimately, your credit score is a tool in your personal finance arsenal that you can use to open doors. The first question you should ask yourself is “what will a higher credit score do for me?”

I work with many clients directly at Freedom Travel Systems to help them fully leverage the power of their credit so they can enjoy free luxury travel and start or grow their business. For my clients and many others, here are a few common goals many credit-savvy individuals have:

  • Free Travel – getting access to travel rewards cards so you can get tons of free travel and even get first-class flights, hotel suites, and luxury amenities all for free
  • Start/Grow a Business – getting access to business credit so you can start and grow a business with 0% or low-interest financing that does not impact your personal credit
  • More Approvals – getting approved for credit cards, auto loans, or mortgages so you improve your lifestyle or build your personal wealth
  • Better Rates – getting better interest rates on any loans you get will save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime

What Is Your Credit Score?

Your credit score is simply a 3-digit number that tells potential lenders how reliable of a borrower you are. Keep in mind that lenders, such as banks and credit issuers, stay in business by lending. Their goal is to find the people that have the highest probability of paying them back and they assess this primarily through your credit score.

What’s important to know is that there are two major scoring models used to create your scores. These scores are your FICO Score and your Vantage Score. More than 90% of lenders rely on your FICO score, so when you are checking your score, you want to make sure you see the actual score that the lenders use. And no, checking your own score does not hurt your credit!

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Then enters the 3 main credit bureaus, which are essentially agencies that collect credit information on you. These are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These bureaus then apply a scoring model to the information they have on you and voila, you now have a credit score! Bureaus sometimes have different information on your report, which is why you will see 3 different scores.

How Is Your Credit Score Calculated?

Next, you need to understand how the credit score is calculated. This will provide a high-level overview, but there is more detail to each of these factors alone.

There are 5 main factors in the calculation of your credit score:[1]

  1. Payment History (35%) – This refers to the amount and percentage of on-time payments you have.
  2. Utilization (30%) – This is how much revolving credit you use as a percentage of the total revolving credit issued to you. Note that installment loans like auto-loans or mortgages do not count towards this while credit cards do.
  3. Age of Credit (15%) – This refers to how long your credit history is, primarily your “average age.”
  4. Credit Mix (10%) – This is how many different types of credit you have. For example, there are credit cards, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, and lines of credit.
  5. New Credit (10%) – This primarily refers to how many inquiries you have for new credit.

Top 6 Hacks on How to Build Credit Fast

Now that you’ve learned more about your credit score, here are the top 6 tips on how to build credit fast.

1. Don’t Close Your Cards

Many of us are taught that getting a new credit card is bad and having too many will hurt your score. In fact, the opposite is true. You want to have many positive accounts reporting to your credit report. Logically, this makes sense because having more accounts with more on-time payments shows that you are a more reliable borrower. You just don’t want to open too many accounts too quickly since that can hurt your “new credit” factor.

Instead of closing a card, what you should do is simply keep the card open and put a small subscription service on it monthly. Why? Because each time you have an on-time payment, it helps build your payment history, the largest factor of credit.

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If you close a card, you are missing on potential on-time payments, age of credit, credit mix, and also lowering the total credit lent to you so your utilization percentage may go up. If you have an annual fee on a card you don’t like, see if there is a “no-fee” version of the card and downgrade it to that card rather than close it.

2. Use Autopay to Never Miss a Payment

This one is easy to do and easy not to do. Go into your credit card account and set up auto-pay. You can choose to either pay the full amount, the statement balance, or the minimum payment. Personally, I like to set up autopay to pay the minimum payment so that I never get a late payment. Then, I go in and manually pay the statement balance each month by the payment due date.

This helps me personally see my spending and have a manual review of my charges while ensuring, not have to pay interest, and still get the benefit of making sure that I never miss a payment if something goes wrong. Think about it, if you were to have a medical or family emergency, the last thing you want to experience on the back end of that is a late payment and a drop in your credit score. So, set up autopay.

A pro tip is to update your payment due dates across all bills and accounts to be the same so that you can “time batch” the process and have one time a month where you sit down and handle your payments. You can do this by simply contacting the credit card company or doing it online.

3. Get a Credit Limit Increase to Lower Your Utilization

One of the factors that get most people into trouble is using too much of their allotted total credit. Their utilization, which is the percentage of revolving credit they use, goes up, and their score tanks. You should aim for less than 30%, and in an ideal world, less than 10%.

To help drive this down, call your credit issuer and ask for a credit limit increase. This will help increase the total amount of credit extended to you and drop your utilization. Oftentimes, they will only give it to you when your utilization is fairly decent (less than 50%), so work to pay it down as best as possible before doing this. You should ask if the credit limit increase will give you an inquiry as some banks do a hard inquiry while some do not. If they do a hard inquiry, it is often better to just get a new card altogether or pass.

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4. Add Authorized Users to Increase Your Age, Add History, and Decrease Utilization

This is one of the best hacks out there as it helps with the 3 biggest factors of improving your credit: payment history, utilization, and age. This concept is also called “credit piggybacking” where someone with great credit history on a card adds an authorized user (AU) to the card. When the AU gets added, the credit history and information from that card are added to the AU’s report!

This is extremely helpful for people with young credit because it can drastically increase your age of accounts. It can also help many people with limited payment history or high utilization.

Please be aware that anything good or bad on that account you are added to will show up on your report. So, you want to avoid any cards with negative marks or high utilization. That being said, it is a one-way street, so nothing that you do with your credit can impact the primary account holder.

This is so valuable that there are companies that sell AU accounts. I always suggest starting with your family and/or personal network first as there are likely people in your network that can help!

5. Space Out Your Application Strategy

New credit is the smallest factor of credit, but it still matters! If you are looking to build up your credit, you should space out your applications. If you apply for too much credit in a short period, it looks very needy in the eyes of the lenders. For this reason, it is safest to apply for cards slowly over time unless you have really studied more in-depth how this works. A good rule of thumb is once every few months.

If you are in the credit game for the hopes of getting tons of credit card points for free travel, which is what I personally take full advantage of, you will want to familiarize yourself with the different bank rules and card promotions to put together the right application strategy. Applying blindly will waste inquiries and leave tons of benefits on the table!

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6. Review Your Report for Negatives

If you have any negative or “derogatory” marks on your credit report, this will hurt you drastically. They do impact you less as they age, however, you should review your credit report to ensure that everything on your report is 100% accurate and actually yours. Wrong information ends up on credit reports all the time and you will want to take personal responsibility for making sure it is accurate.

The “burden of proof” is on the credit bureau to confirm that any information on your report is in fact accurate. If you find inaccuracies, you can dispute that with them, or you could consider getting a credible credit repair company to help you.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the top 6 tips on how to build credit fast so you can get closer to reaching your goals. Now that you’ve learned more about how credit score works and how you can improve yours, you’ll hopefully be able to make better financial decisions and achieve your financial goals quicker.

More Tips on How to Build Credit Fast

Featured photo credit: CardMapr via unsplash.com

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