Monthly Archives: April 2017

Selling Your Life Insurance? Proceed With Caution

A growing number of Americans are selling their life-insurance policies to get cash for retirement expenses and long-term care. These transactions are commonly called “life settlements,” “senior settlements,” or—if the person is terminally ill—”viatical settlements.” While selling a policy may make sense in some circumstances, consumers should be cautious.

How Life Settlements Work

Life settlements involve selling a policy to a company other than the original insurance provider. As the policy owner, you typically receive more money than you would get if you cancelled or surrendered the policy, but less than the policy’s death benefit. You can either shop your policy around through a life-settlement broker or contact life-settlement providers directly.

The first step is to provide copies of your insurance policy and medical records. A settlement provider then makes you an offer based on your age and health, the type of insurance, the premiums, and the death benefit.

Candidates for life settlements are typically 65 or older and own a policy with a face value of at least $100,000. “Simply put, the lower the premium and life expectancy, the more a policy is worth,” says Doug Head, executive director of the Life Insurance Settlement Association.

If you choose to accept the offer, the life-settlement provider pays the amount agreed upon and takes ownership of the policy. The provider then becomes responsible for the premiums and eventually will receive the death benefit when you die.

“There are definitely instances where a life settlement makes sense,” says Wendy Goldband, an independent insurance agent in Baltimore. “Your life circumstances may have changed so that you no longer need the coverage. Perhaps you’ve just divorced. Or you may have been hit so hard by the economy that you can’t afford to keep paying premiums.”

What to Watch Out For

While life settlements may sound appealing, there are several potential drawbacks. “People often don’t realize that there may be tax consequences to selling a policy,” cautions Bonnie Burns, a policy specialist with California Health Advocates. “And money from a life settlement can affect a person’s ability to qualify for public assistance like Medicaid.”

You should also be aware that your personal health information could be shared widely during the application process. And once you accept a settlement, providers can frequently check up on your health. “You’re basically signing away your privacy,” Burns adds.

Another issue to consider is that it may not be possible for you to get another life insurance policy. Each person’s life has a maximum amount for which it can be insured. And even if you can get more insurance, you may end up paying higher premiums because you’ve grown older and your health may have changed.

When it comes to life settlements, one of the hardest aspects for consumers to determine is whether they’re getting a fair price for their policies. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority warns that the life-settlement industry can be prone to aggressive sales tactics and abuse. Commissions paid to brokers and other financial professionals can be as high as 30 percent. Along with the reduction of the policy’s value, the amount of money the seller receives can be substantially eroded.

Consider These Alternatives

Before pursuing a life settlement, financial experts recommend exploring other options. “If you have a cash-value policy and have been paying premiums for years, you should be able to borrow money from it,” says David W. Bennett, a certified financial planner from Newport Beach, Calif. “It’s typically tax free, plus you’ll be keeping the policy in force so your loved ones still get money later on.”

People who are terminally ill have another avenue for getting needed cash. Most life insurance policies—term and cash value—now include a rider called “accelerated death benefits.” This option allows you to tap into your death benefit early and use the money tax-free. Ultimately, the death benefit is reduced by the amount borrowed, plus some additional fees.

You can request accelerated death benefits by contacting your insurance company. Typically, the company will ask you to provide documentation of your health condition. Exact requirements vary, but generally you must have a life expectancy of less than two years.

When evaluating options, Bennett recommends involving adult children in the discussion. “A son or daughter may offer to help with expenses in order to keep a life-insurance policy in force, thereby preserving the value of the policy,” he says. “Often, that makes the most sense for everyone financially, since the life insurance money may ultimately be needed for future parental expenses or estate-planning purposes.”

Do Your Homework

If you do decide to proceed with a life settlement, do thorough research. “Call your state insurance department, and make sure everyone you’re dealing with is licensed,” says Thomas R. Sullivan, commissioner for the state of Connecticut Insurance Department. “Find out whether there have been any consumer complaints.”

It’s also important for you to understand the rules governing life settlements in your state. Many states have adopted model standards from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners or the National Conference of Insurance Legislators. Policy owners sometimes have the option of returning their life settlement and reinstating their life-insurance policy within 30 to 60 days.

Sullivan also urges you to consult with a financial or tax adviser: “Life settlements are a big decision,” he says. “You need to understand all the implications for you and your heirs before moving forward.”

Quick Guide to Chevrolet Cars

Like many cars brands today, Chevrolet has several different models of cars available in the marketplace from sedans, coupes, convertibles, crossovers to even the popular SUV. Each of the models offers a sleek and modern design that stand out in comparison to many other cars available for sale today. Each model can be customized based upon the customers’ preference, whether they want a basic car with minimal options to a fully-loaded car with all the bells and whistles. Three of their most popular models that include the Chevrolet Cruze, the Chevrolet Malibu, and the Chevrolet Camaro, which will all be discussed further in the upcoming paragraphs.

The Chevrolet Cruze is a basic sedan model that offers a 1.4-liter turborcharged I4 engine. This car offers great gas mileage with 29 mile per gallon and up to 41 miles per gallon on the highway. This car offers front wheel drive and comes with a surprising amount of amenities not found in other compact sedans. Some of these features include Chevrolet’s MyLink with a 7-inch touchscreen, onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi, an acoustic laminated windshield to reduce noise, and was the first car in its class to come with 10 standard air bags for occupant safety.

The Chevrolet Malibu is a mid-size family sedan that has three engine choices: a 1.5-liter ECOTEC engine, a 1.8-liter Hybrid engine, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission making 250 horsepower. This car also offers great gas mileage with 27 mile per gallon and up to 37 miles per gallon on the highway. This front-wheel drive car has an agile stance and a surprisingly sporty ride. Some of the car’s high tech features include available LED daytime running lamps and taillights, USB ports, a backup camera, as well as a great stereo system with Ipod connectivity. Other features include a Navigation System that offers a 7 inch touch screen.

The Chevrolet Camaro is the legendary sports car that is available as a coupe or convertible. Under the hood of the SS model is a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine with 455 horsepower, coupled to a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. This vehicle was recognized as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 2016. This sports car offers rear wheel drive and comes with all of the bells and whistles that a performance vehicle should have. Some of these features include customizable interior accent lighting, 20 inch wheels, HID headlamps with LED accents, rear spoiler, and Chevrolet’s optional Magnetic Ride Control system. Other features include a Navigation System that offers an 8 inch touch screen with 3D graphics.

With so many great models from Chevrolet to choose from, there’s sure to be a car that is right for you! Stop by your local Old Bridge NJ new car dealer to check one of these models out today!

New brief recommends increased insurance coverage for exercise programming for individuals with mental illness

The American College of Sports Medicine and the Society of Behavioral Medicine recently released a new statement supporting increased coverage of exercise programming by health plans for individuals with mental illnesses. The brief, titled “Increase United States Health Plan Coverage for Exercise Programming in Community Mental Health Programs for People with Serious Mental Illness,” includes an assessment of current policies and recommends policy actions to state and federal policy makers, allied health professionals and state and federal mental health administrators.

“Exercise improves both mental and physical health while reducing health care costs. However, these benefits often do not reach consumers who need them the most,” said Jim Whitehead, CEO of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Exercise can reduce the public health burden of the medical conditions of individuals who are treated primarily in community mental health programs.”

Some of the brief’s key recommendations include creating a definition for evidenced-based exercise programming for people with serious mental illness, expanding health care services for people with serious mental illness to specify exercise programming as a reimbursable service through mechanisms in the Affordable Care Act for health promotion, clearly specifying standards of professional accreditation or competency to deliver exercise programming to people with serious mental illness and increasing the range of disciplines of licensed/certified allied and mental health professionals who are eligible for reimbursement to deliver exercise programming in mental health settings.

“Ensuring access to exercise programs for this vulnerable population is critically important,” said SBM President Marian Fitzgibbon, Ph.D. “Exercise is a first-line and often underutilized strategy for improving health outcomes. It’s also a key strategy for preventing health issues in the first place. This saves lives and dollars.” To read the full paper, please visit the SBM website.

How To Tell if Your Body Shop Did the Job Correctly

When you last saw your car, it was a twisted mess being towed away from the scene of the accident. Now it’s weeks later and the car is parked in the driveway of a body shop. All you have to do is write a check and the car is yours again. But how do you know that everything under the surface has really been fixed correctly?

One key to getting your car fixed right is choosing a reliable shop in the first place. But you should still inspect the work performed before you drive away. To better understand what to look for, here are some insider tips from several knowledgeable veterans of the body shop business.

Have a Clear Understanding Up Front
The process of having your car fixed right starts when you drop it off, says Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists. Be clear on what the shop is going to fix and how it will do the repair. Get everything in writing. Ask about the shop’s warranty on its work. When you return, review the paperwork to confirm that the shop did the repairs correctly.

“A reputable repair facility will go through everything with you, walk you through all the steps they took,” Schulenburg says. “Good shops will even touch up bolts under the hood that have been scratched while being repaired.”

Clean Car Is a Must
Appearances matter. When you pick up your car, it should have been washed, cleaned and vacuumed, says John Mallette, owner of Burke Auto Body and Paint, in Long Beach, California. There should be no dirt or dust in the car and definitely no old parts in the trunk. Mallette says he even tries to wash down the engine compartment before he hands over the keys.

It can be a challenge to return a clean car to a customer, says Mike O’Connell, owner of Golden Hammer Auto Body in Los Angeles. With all the dust from sanding, he says, “body shops are the dirtiest places on earth.” He says his workers take precautions to keep the cars clean by using paper and masking tape to protect different areas. And then they carefully wash the car before the customer comes to pick it up.

Closer Inspection
If the car’s general appearance passes muster, take a close look at the area that was repaired. Mallette recommends looking for gaps between body panels first. If the gaps are obviously uneven, that’s a telltale sign of panels not being aligned correctly. Schulenburg says owners should make sure the doors open and close properly with good alignment.

If there was extensive front-end damage to the car, it can be difficult for a body shop to repair perfectly, Mallette says. One way to spot a problem is to look at the distance between the tire and fender. If it is wide on one side and narrow on the other, something wasn’t fixed properly. Another test is to turn on the headlights to ensure that the light beams are aligned.

When a car is hit in the front, the frame may have been bent and required straightening on what the body shop calls “the rack.” The shop workers use it to pull the frame rails until the frame is straight. Mallette says he can look under a car and see “butcher marks” from poor repair jobs.

But visual inspections might be difficult for the average consumer, Schulenburg explains. He says owners should take a look at the automated printout of the frame specifications. A good body shop will measure the damaged area of the car and then measure the frame again after it does the repair. The frame specs should be the same post-repair as they were before the accident. The frame spec printout is a good reference document to make sure the job has been done right.

If you are concerned that a major repair wasn’t done correctly and want someone other than the original body shop to size it up, you can get a second opinion. O’Connell tells us that many people bring cars to him for just this kind of assessment, and he can immediately spot problems that the ordinary consumer can’t.

Paint Jobs: Matching Colors and Consistency
One of the most challenging jobs in a body shop is paint matching. “Punching in the factory paint codes gets you 95 percent of the way to matching the color,” O’Connell says. But the remaining 5 percent has to be done by people who really know what they’re doing. “If we didn’t do this extra step there would always be a little variance,” he explains. “That’s why you see cars on the road that look like they are three different colors.”

Most factory paint jobs have an “orange peel” texture to the finish to a greater or lesser degree. Whether you like that effect or not, most factory paint jobs have this texture, and it can be tricky for body shops to duplicate. Mallette advises that you arrange to pick up a car from the body shop during the day. If possible, look at the car in the sunlight to make sure that the new paint matches the car’s original shade and finish. Also, if the shop repainted several panels, sight along the side of the car to look for color consistency. And finally, examine the paint for runs or imperfections such as hair or specks of dirt trapped in the finish.

When It Isn’t Fixed Right
In some cases, a problem with the repair develops months later. A common scenario is that you notice the car’s front tires are wearing unevenly. This could be a sign that the front suspension hasn’t been straightened and repaired correctly. Find your paperwork and receipt, bring the car back and show the manager the tire’s wear pattern. The shop should fix the problem under the warranty, Mallette says.

Schulenburg agrees that improper tire wear on a car is a bad sign. “Take it back to the body shop,” he says. “There are a whole lot of things that can lead to tire wear. Let them assess what is causing it.”

Many body shops are “fly-by-night,” O’Connell notes, and if you’re dealing with one of them, it can be tough to get satisfaction if the job wasn’t done right. A legitimate shop should stand by its work. He recommends that you make sure you are within the warranty period, which is usually one year or 12,000 miles. Then, with your paperwork in hand, ask to speak with an owner or manager.

“And be courteous, not demanding,” O’Connell says. “If you start making accusations, things can go downhill fast.”

Concise but Complete Guide to Online Auto Insurance Comparison

No doubt, comparison plays a very important role, when one has to pay a lot for something. A number of people prefer to make comparison before buying any expensive things. And same thing happens in the case of buying auto insurance. It is also something which costs a lot, if one doesn’t buy the right policy. Therefore, nothing but the online auto insurance comparison is one of the best ways to buy right policy for their car to insure with.

Actually auto insurance is something that ensures that one is complete safe from paying damages and the like. That’s why a number of people want the right and appropriate auto insurance for their vehicle. And all one is required to do to get best deal is to go for online auto insurance comparison.

Firstly, find out a reputable and reliable website that offers auto insurance comparison shopping. Thereafter, one should request for insurance quotes. One should always remember that the rate of auto insurance policies varies from company to company. So, one will find a number of insurance policies to compare. In addition, one should not always compare prices of insurance policies but also compare what the insurance policy covers. This is how one can get the right policy by dint of auto insurance comparison without wasting much time or money.

Apart from this, there are lots of benefits to make online auto insurance comparison for buying the policy. One of its benefits is that, with the help of online auto insurance comparison site, one is not getting only a number of insurance quotes but also getting a chance to compare them.

Another benefit of auto insurance comparison site is that one needs not take out their precious time from their duty hours as these sites are available for 7days a week and 24 hours a day which is really good news for the day-time workers. Therefore, whenever one wants to buy an auto insurance policy for the safety of their vehiclesFind Article, one should never forget to make online auto insurance comparison.

Lamborghini Aventador News, Photos and Buying – AutoPortal.com gets more facts

Lamborghini Aventador, a combination of, luxury, speed, power and style

If you combine, luxury, speed, power and style, you will get a super-powered sports car called Lamborghini Aventador manufactured by the world renowned, Italian luxury sports car maker Automobile Lamborghini SpA. You can also check out the Hyundai Cars in India, Prices, Reviews, Images, Models.

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Just take out the gentile giant from your parking lot and enter the road, people will gaze at the car with wide opened eyes with cameras ready to click a couple shots of the super sports car. That is the magic this car creates. Sport car enthusiasts are just dying to have a first-hand experience of the Aventador with its super-charged engine fitted with an all-new exhaust system that sounds like it was forged in the fires of hell.

Lamborghini Aventador is available in two petrol variants LP 700-4 for Rs 3.69 crores and the LP700-4 Roadster at Rs 4.78 crores.

Exteriors charm you to the core

The main attraction is the exteriors of this car. One glance at it and the Lamborghini Aventador charms you to the core. The front façade get the hawking appearance delivering a very aggressive and stylish look. The headlights are designed keeping in mind the sporty approach along with wide grille and broad air dam. The side features body colored door handles and electronically controlled ORVMs and highly flared wheel arches. The exhaust pipe is chrome finished, while the tail lights are designed to perfection.

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Interiors will magnetize you

As soon as you step inside Lamborghini Aventador, this car will magnetize you and leave you in complete awe by its airplane cockpit inspired design and toggle switches. The cabin has plush color theme. The seats are adjustable and can be heated when required. The TFT display provides the driver with all information you need. The intelligent controls on the center console are made for driving pleasure. The on-board computer of the Aventador reflects all the relevant information at the full TFT instrument cluster.

Extremely powerful yet smooth Engine

The 6.5-litre V12 engine of the Aventador LP 700-4 Petrol produces a whopping 740 bhp at 8400 rpm, and 507lb ft of torque at 5500 rpm. Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster Petrol is fitted with a strapping and aggressive V12 petrol engine, which happily gives away 700 bhp of peak power along with 690 Nm of maximum torque.

Smooth handling makes this car a delight to drive

Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 delivers splendid performance on road. Although it is quick enough to hit 100 kmph in just 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 350 kmph, the handling is another high point here and the credit for the same goes to its suspension system. It is a delight to drive this car.

Also check out the all new Mahindra Bolero & BMW India!

 

How To Cut Teen Insurance Rates

Teens ages 16-19 are three times more likely than drivers older than 20 to be involved in a fatal crash (or any crash, for that matter) according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It’s not too surprising, then, that teen drivers tend to have high insurance premiums. For parents, this can mean a big jump in insurance premiums once you add your teen driver to your policy. However, there are ways to reduce your costs right out of the gate, even for very inexperienced drivers. Here are some ways to keep policy costs at a minimum.

Choose the Right Car
It’s simply a matter of economics. There are some cars that cost more to repair and replace than others. There are also some cars that are more likely to be stolen and others that protect passengers better in a crash. Combined, these three characteristics have a lot to do with how much you’ll pay for the collision and theft portions of your policy, says David Goldstein, the author of Insure Your Car for Less: A Practical Guide to Saving Money on Automobile Insurance.

There are several ways to choose the least expensive car to drive. First, check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick awards and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings to see which cars scored the best in crashworthiness. You’ll also want to check the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s list of Hot Wheels: cars that are most commonly stolen.

Your insurance broker or company can also help you find the best rate for the cars you’re considering, says Goldstein, who has worked as an insurance and claims adjuster. “If you’re considering several cars, call and ask for a rate quote on each,” he suggests.

Midsize family cars are generally the cheapest to insure, says Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president and chief communications officer at the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit information service. “You want a car that’s easy to drive and highly protective. Those are the cars that are going to keep your teen safe and cost the least to insure,” she says.

You may also want to consider a car that doesn’t need collision insurance, which will cut your rates considerably, says Salvatore, and either way, the age of your car may lead to more discounts.

“Some companies offer a utility discount for cars older than a 2002 model year,” she says. That said, make sure any older car you purchase has a solid crash rating and all of the safety features that a newer car might have including airbags, an antilock braking system (ABS), daytime running lights and (for SUVs) electronic stability control.

Adjust Driver Assignments
When you call the insurance company to add your child to a policy, the representative will ask you to designate which car will be driven by each member of your family most often.

You can save money by designating and having your child drive the car that’s the least expensive to insure. The trick is finding out which car that is, says Goldstein. “Driver assignment can really affect your rates,” he agrees.

If you get someone on the phone who is willing to work with you, he or she can take you through all the different scenarios. “Occasionally, I’d quote rates for four people and four different cars: two parents and two kids. If we played around with it, we could often save money,” Goldstein says.

Look for Alumni Discounts or Resident-Student Discounts
One of the perks of going to college is that many schools ink alumni deals with large organizations, such as insurance companies. While the discount is usually around 5 or 10 percent, it’s still worth looking into. Geico, for instance, offers an 8 percent discount for DePaul University students and alumni. Liberty Mutual offers special rates to those who attend Arizona State University.

If your child goes away to college and doesn’t take a car along, you can save a lot on your premium. Allstate, for example, offers a 35 percent discount off premiums for students who live at a school that is more than 100 miles from where their car is garaged. “There’s an assumption that they are only going to be driving on weekends and school vacations,” says Salvatore.

Finally, all full-time high school and college students who get good grades can benefit from their diligence. Most companies offer up to 25 percent discounts for good report cards. You’ll also see rates drop as your child advances in school. Seniors in college have better rates than freshman, so if your child takes college credits over the summer or in high school, let your insurance company know when he or she reaches the next college milestone, says Goldstein.

Wait an Extra Year Before Licensing
Some teens may not like this idea, but you can save a lot of money simply by having your son or daughter wait an extra year to get a driving permit.

“Wait until they are as old as possible before they get their permit,” says Goldstein. “For instance, in some states you can get your learner’s permit as early as 16 but you’re probably not going to be driving [without restrictions] until you’re 18. Why pay for insurance those two years unless you have to?”

Delaying the process is more common than you may think, according to several recent studies. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that just 44 percent of teens get their licenses within 12 months of the minimum age and only 54 percent get their licenses before they turn 18.

However, if you go this route, make sure teens know that they’ll still need the practice and supervision that a graduated driver licensing program affords.

Tracking for Discounts and Better Driving Habits
In recent years new devices that connect to a car’s computer and use GPS technology to track driving habits and routes have flooded the market. While they can be very useful for parents who want to make sure that their teen isn’t speeding or driving outside an approved area, they’re also being used by insurance companies to help set rates for drivers of all ages in an approach called use-based insurance.

Snapshot, a program by Progressive Insurance, is one such option that uses a pocket-size telematics device that transmits car data using cell-phone technology. The device plugs into a car’s onboard diagnostic port and measures driving habits such as how and when someone drives, tracking behaviors like mileage, time of day and if the person performs hard braking maneuvers.

“Our Snapshot program gives all consumers, including teens, more control over their car insurance costs by offering personalized discounts based on their actual driving behavior,” explains Jeff Sibel, a spokesman for Progressive Insurance. “People who drive less, in safer ways and during safer times of day are most likely to receive a discount.”

Some companies are offering the device for parental tracking, but without an immediate insurance discount. Its use could result in lower rates going forward, says Rebecca Hirsch, a spokeswoman for insurer USAA. “We’re offering the device for free and parents get the monitoring for a year free,” she says. “Parents can get text messages if their teens are doing things like hard braking. It enables the parent and the teen to have a conversation around safe driving habits. The first few years are so critical. Anecdotally, we’ve seen that the devices help build better driving behaviors.”

Take a Class
Adults and teens alike can save money by taking a six-hour driving safety course either online or in person. Some insurance companies are offering teen-specific courses that can help reduce the number of crashes that involve teens by providing realistic driving simulations.

Liberty Mutual, for example, offers something it calls teenSMART, a program that focuses on the six factors that most commonly cause teen car accidents. The company says teens who complete the program may get “special savings” on their auto policies, but doesn’t offer any examples of what those savings might be.

State Farm offers a program called Steer Clear for drivers under the age of 25 or new drivers with less than three years of driving experience. It requires drivers to watch a video, sign a safe driving parent/driver agreement and complete a certain number of supervised trips of 15-30 minutes over the course of a month, filling out a log after each trip. By completing the program, drivers can get a discount of up to 15 percent on their coverage, says State Farm spokeswoman Rachael Risinger.

Finally, driver-training classes — so-called driver’s ed — can also help lower your premiums by up to 10 percent, depending on your insurer.

Make Smart Choices
Even if they apply every discount imaginable, most people will find there’s no getting around the fact that rates will go up with a teen driver on the policy — at least for a little while. And while it might be tempting to simply “forget” to inform your insurance company that Junior has his license, take note: Doing so can have serious consequences if your child is in an accident.

You’ll also want to make sure you have enough insurance coverage. “Don’t go for the minimum limits,” suggests Burl Daniel, a former insurance agent and corporate risk manager who testifies as an expert witness in insurance cases. “You’re exposing yourself to potential problems, if your kid does have a wreck and seriously injures someone. Don’t take the bait now just to save a few hundred dollars when it could end up costing you a lot down the road.”

How To Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

There are a number of times when people need to store a vehicle for an extended period of time. Maybe you have a convertible that you love to drive in the summer, but winter is on the way. Or perhaps you’re going to leave town for a job or an extended vacation. Maybe you are in the military and are being deployed overseas.

Whatever the reason for your time away from the vehicle, you’ll need to put it in storage. If you simply let your vehicle sit on the street or in a garage for an extended period of time, you may return to a dead battery or — worse yet — a damaged engine, ruined tires and a rat’s nest under your hood.

Here are important steps to take before you store a vehicle. They will preserve the life of the engine and ensure that your car starts when you return to it.

Keep It Covered
A garage is the ideal place to store a vehicle. This will protect it from the elements and keep it at a temperature that’s relatively stable. If you don’t have a garage and you can find accommodation at a reasonable price, consider putting the car in a public storage facility.

If you have to leave the car outdoors, consider getting a weatherproof car cover. This will help keep the car clean and dry.

Clean It Up
It may seem counterintuitive to get the car washed when you’re putting it away for months, but it is an easy step and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Water stains or bird droppings left on the car can damage the paint. Make sure to clean the wheels and undersides of the fenders to get rid of mud, grease or tar. For added protection, give the car a coat of wax.

Change the Oil
Skip this step if you’re only storing the car for a week or two. Consider getting the oil changed if you will be storing the vehicle for longer than 30 days. Ford recommends this in its owner’s manuals, saying that used engine oil has contaminants that could damage the engine.

Top Off the Tank
This is another long-term car storage tip. Fill the tank with gas if you expect the car to be in storage for more than 30 days. This will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out. You should also purchase a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-bil, to prevent ethanol buildup and protect the engine from gum, varnish and rust. The fuel stabilizer will prevent the gas from deteriorating for up to 12 months.

Keep It Charged
An unattended battery will eventually lose its charge. Get someone to start the car every two weeks and drive it for about 15 minutes, if possible. Driving the car periodically has several benefits. It will maintain the battery’s charge, help the car “stretch its legs” and keep the engine and other components properly lubricated. It is also a good idea to run the air-conditioner to keep the parts in working order and the air quality fresh.

If you cannot arrange for someone to start the car, there are two other options. The low-tech solution is to disconnect the negative battery cable. You’ll likely lose the stereo presets, time and other settings. If you want to keep those settings and ensure that your battery starts the moment you return, purchase a battery tender, also known as a trickle charger. This device hooks up to your car battery on one end and plugs into a wall outlet on the other. It delivers just enough electrical power to prevent the battery from discharging.

Don’t Use the Parking Brake
It’s usually a good idea to use the parking brake, but don’t do it when you leave a car in storage. If the brake pads make contact with the rotors for too long, there is a chance that they might fuse. Instead, purchase a tire stopper, also called a chock, to prevent the car from moving.

Prevent Flat Spots
Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure. If a vehicle is left stationary for too long, the tires could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tires’ footprints. This process occurs at a faster rate in colder temperatures and with vehicles equipped with performance tires or low-profile tires.

In some cases, simply having someone drive the car for a while will bring the tires up to their normal operating temperature and get rid of any flat spots. In more severe cases, a flat spot can become a permanent part of the tire and it will need to be replaced.

If your car will be in storage for more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners. This step requires more work, but it can save you from needing a new set of tires. Your tires will be in much better shape when you return if they haven’t had the weight of the vehicle resting on them for a month or more.

Keep Critters Out
A garage will keep your car dry and relatively warm. Unfortunately, those are also two things that make a garaged car attractive to rodents. There are plenty of places in your car for critters to hide, and plenty of things for them to chew on. Try to cover any gaps where a mouse could enter, such as the exhaust pipe or an air intake. Steel wool works well for this. Next, spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil along the perimeter of the vehicle. The smell is said to drive mice away.

If you want to take a more proactive approach, lay down a few mousetraps and some rat poison. Just make sure someone can check the garage periodically, in case there are some casualties. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a smell much worse than mothballs when you take the car out of storage.

Maintain Insurance
You might be tempted to cancel your auto insurance when your vehicle is in storage. Although that might initially save money, there is a chance that the insurance company will raise your rates due to the gap in coverage, which could cost you more in the long run. This can vary based on where you live and who your provider is, so contact your insurance company to see what options are available to you.

Get Back in Action
Here’s a checklist of what to do when you’re ready to bring your vehicle out of storage:

  • Check under the hood for any evidence of rodents. Look for chewed belts, hoses, wires or nests. If you covered the muffler or air intake, remove that material before you start the car.
  • Check the windshield wipers to see if the rubber is cracked or brittle.
  • Check tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended specs.
  • Check the brakes. Rust may have accumulated on the rotors. In most cases, this should go away after you drive the vehicle for a short time.
  • Check fluids to make sure there have been no leaks and that they are at the recommended levels.
  • If the battery cable has been disconnected, make sure that you reconnect it and that the battery terminals are clean.
  • Wash your vehicle to remove any dirt that may have accumulated.

Car Insurance for Teenage Drivers

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The statistics about teenage drivers aren’t good. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 16-year-olds get into accidents almost six times more often than drivers between the age of 30 and 59. No wonder car insurance premiums are so high for this age group.

However, not all car insurance companies take the same dim view of young drivers. And some discounts are available to help you cut costs. Remember, the higher the risk, the higher the cost of insurance premiums. Let this be your guiding principle as you shop for insurance.

Here are 10 suggestions to help lower premiums and keep your teenager’s license free of violations:

1. Help your teen learn the laws and follow them to the letter. By far, the best way to lower car insurance costs for teens is for them to keep their driving record clean. Make safe driving a family project. In some states, restrictions apply to new drivers. Parents should know what the laws are and insist that their sons and daughters follow them.

2. Set a good example. Do you break the speed limit and tailgate? Do you yell at other drivers when you’re behind the wheel? If you do these things, how can you expect your children to act differently? Start watching your own driving long before they get their license and you’ll have a much easier time convincing them to be safe drivers. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

3. Put your teenager on your policy. Rather than setting up an independent policy for your teen driver, put them on your auto insurance policy as an additional driver. In this way, all the discounts applied to your policies will be passed on to them.

4. Pay your teenager to get good grades. Here’s a creative tip — find out how much you save if your teenager gets a good grade point average and pass it on to them. Usually, having a 3.0 or higher GPA will reduce your car insurance premium by 10 percent. Figure out exactly how much this saves you and give that money to your teenager. This accomplishes two things. First, it provides a direct reward for academic performance. Secondly, it motivates them to continue getting good grades.

5. Enroll them in driver education courses. Discounts are available for teens who take recognized driving classes. But call your car insurance company to find out which schools are covered before paying big bucks.

6. Steer clear of sports cars. Don’t try to live vicariously through your teenager by giving them the hot car you couldn’t get in high school. Getting your teenager a safe car to drive, with the latest safety equipment, will lower your premiums. Not only will you save money on car insurance, but fast driving will be less of a temptation.

7. Get their support. Don’t assume that your teenager wants to vacuum clean your wallet. Ask them for help cutting costs and point out that you will share in the savings (see rule #4). Tell them how much car insurance costs and show them how this fits into the family budget. If nothing else, you will score points for treating them as adults.

8. Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. This is a tough subject to broach with teenagers, who think they have everything under control. But the consequences of saying nothing can be catastrophic. Take the time to lay down some guidelines in this important area.

9. Take traffic school to beat tickets. Once a ticket is on your teen’s license, it takes months to get the violation removed. Instead, encourage them to take traffic school if the judge allows it. A day spent thinking about the consequences of unsafe driving can bring rewards for years to come.

10. Ride with your teenager. Your teenager was a safe driver last year when he or she got a license. But what’s happened since then? Let your son or daughter take the wheel while you sit back and relax in the passenger seat. If you see them doing something that breaks rules or seems unsafe, point this out in a diplomatic way. If they are doing a good job driving, praise them for their efforts.

If you follow the above suggestions, you will find that you can make it through the teenage years safely — and without paying an arm and a leg for car insurance. It just takes cooperation and understanding from both sides of the generation gap.


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