Monthly Archives: June 2017

The High Cost of Losing Your Keys

Our car keys have an uncanny ability to get lost inside coat pockets or underneath couch cushions — or to disappear altogether. Prior to the 1990s, this wasn’t a big deal. You could get a spare key at any hardware store or locksmith shop, not to mention at the car dealership, of course. But because it was easy to copy a key, it was also easy for a thief to steal your car. These days, advances in key technology have made vehicles more difficult to steal, but the price has been costlier key replacements.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll face in the way of cost if you have to replace your key, along with some alternatives that could lower the bill. The prices quoted here are for Santa Monica, California, and West Los Angeles, an area where an hour of labor at an auto dealership can cost more than $100. Labor costs in your region may vary.

Basic Keys and Fob
A basic car key, which was common up until the mid-to late-1990s, has no security feature other than its unique cut. The shank, which is the long metal part of the key, has cuts and grooves like a house key. It’s easy to copy these keys. A locksmith doesn’t need any extra equipment: He can use the same machine he uses to cut other keys.

A basic key will cost about $3 at a locksmith. The only benefit of having the job done at the dealership would be to get the automaker’s branding on the head of the key. A Honda dealership near the Edmunds office charges about $12 for a basic key.

On most modern cars, an electronic key fob (also known as a remote or transmitter) is an integral part of the key set. At the dealership, the cost of replacing an electronic fob can range from $50-$90, depending on the automaker or complexity of the design. All fobs need to be programmed. Some dealerships will do it for free, while others will charge a half hour to an hour of labor.

There is a way around this fee, however. Most fobs can be programmed with a specific combination of button presses on the remote and key turns in the ignition. Some owner’s manuals will show you how to do it, and you can also find this information online.

Finally, there are aftermarket fobs that you can purchase online or from a locksmith. Like most aftermarket products, the quality will vary, but they are a less expensive alternative if you’ve lost your fob.

Transponder Keys
After the mid- to late-1990s, manufacturers began placing a transponder chip in the plastic head of the key. The chip emits a signal to a receiver in the ignition. If this “immobilizer” detects the wrong signal — meaning that the wrong key is in the ignition — the vehicle will not start.

A transponder key’s shank is either a basic key or a laser-cut key (more on laser-cut keys later). The major difference between a basic key and a transponder key is that the chip in the transponder key must be programmed before it can start the vehicle. All dealerships have the machines necessary to program the key. Some might program it for free, but others will charge up to an hour of labor. Most auto locksmiths should also have these machines.

In some vehicles, the transponder key and the fob are an all-in-one unit. This adds to the price of the key and makes it more difficult to get a spare anywhere but at the dealership.

We checked the price of a basic transponder key on a late-model Ford F-150. The dealership quoted $160 for the key and an additional $75 for the fob. If you go to a locksmith, expect to pay roughly $20-$30 less.

A potential low-cost alternative for access to your car is to order a basic key without the transmitter. This key will do everything but start the engine and can come in handy if you ever leave your keys inside the vehicle.

If you’re the type who frequently loses keys, you might be able to save money on the programming by creating a third key to have as a spare. If you already have two keys, a number of vehicle brands will allow you to program a third key on your own. You can have a locksmith cut this “emergency” key and then you follow the procedure for programming, which can frequently be found in your owner’s manual. If the manual doesn’t show you how, try searching online for the procedure. Try “How to program a (insert your year, make, model) key” as your search terms.

Our searches found a method that is said to work on many domestic vehicles. Insert one of your two working keys and turn the ignition to the “on” position for at least three seconds (the car does not need to be started), then repeat the process with the second key.

Now insert the new third key and again turn it to the “on” position for another few seconds. This should program the extra key. Before you try this method and spend money on a key, however, we suggest you check with the dealership or your local automotive locksmith to see if the process is one that will reliably work with your car.

Laser-Cut Keys
You can tell a laser-cut key apart from a basic key because the shank is slightly thicker and has fewer carved-out grooves. Laser-cut keys are often referred to as sidewinder keys, due to the distinctive winding cut on the shank. The machines needed to cut these keys are significantly more expensive than a standard key-cutting machine and are not as likely to be found at every locksmith or hardware store.

Laser-cut keys also have built-in transponder chips and they need to be programmed at the dealership or by a locksmith, preferably one who is a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). You can search for a certified locksmith near you by visiting the AOLA Web site.

All-in-one laser-cut keys are becoming more popular, but as we mentioned, these keys are more expensive and typically need to be replaced at the dealership. Including labor, these can range from $150-$250, which is the price of a laser-cut key for a Honda Insight, for example.

Switchblade Key
Switchblade keys have shanks that fold into the fob when they’re not in use and pop out with the press of a button. They can have a basic cut or a laser cut. One small advantage of the switchblade key is that its components can be purchased separately. If for some reason your key is damaged and no longer works, you can buy the shank separately for roughly $60-$80. But the more likely scenario is that you’ve lost your key, in which case you’ll need both it and the fob into which it folds. This can cost between $200 and $300, once you factor in programming of both components.

Smart Keys
Smart keys aren’t keys in the traditional sense. They are fobs that are either inserted in the dash or, in the more advanced systems, they stay in your pocket or purse. The driver turns the car on and off with the press of a button.

A smart key’s main form of security is its ability to use rolling security codes. The system randomizes the correct code and prevents thieves from hacking it through the use of a device called a code grabber. The vehicle’s computer recognizes the code emitted by the smart key and verifies it before starting the engine. Mercedes-Benz was one of the first automakers to utilize this technology, and even coined the term “SmartKey.” Every vehicle in its lineup now uses the SmartKey. And only dealers can replace them.

“The German brands use proprietary technology,” says Mike Howell, owner of Santa Monica Lock & Safe Co. “We’re not able to copy those.”

Smart keys aren’t just limited to German automakers. Nearly every car brand has a smart key bundled in its high-tech packages. Nissan, for example, makes it available on a number of models ranging from the Altima to the 370Z.

With a smart key, there’s no avoiding the dealership for a replacement. And while it’s handy to carry smart keys in your purse or pocket, these are the very places you will feel the pain when you lose them. The cost of replacing and reprogramming a smart key can range from $220 on a Nissan Altima up to $400 on an Acura RL.

Better Safe Than Sorry
There’s no denying that modern keys are expensive. And so the best defense against losing them is a good offense. It is better to get a spare key now, on your terms, than to stress out and spend the money in what might be an emergency. You can take advantage of the cost-cutting methods here and avoid the labor charges by programming the key yourself.

Finally, if you are someone who is tempting fate by only having one set of keys, consider this: If you lose all the keys to your car, you will need to get it towed to a dealership and it can potentially cost you close to $1,000 to replace the locks on your car.

Get Your Easy Loan

Money is medium of exchange or legal payment. Before there was money, people buy and sell by bartering. Human basic needs are consist of food, clothing, and residence (house). To fulfil all the basic needs you need money. Now money is very important for all people. But in out there many people are short of money. The solution of thats problem is borrowing money. One of place that can give you money loans is bank. In bank you can borrow money with complete some conditions. But this is ancient way and to complicated. Great post has new solution, that is money online loan.

As people who where born in the era of advanced technology is very lucky. People can doing various things much easier, including money online loans. In the past , people should bother go to the bank or lending institutions and bring various documents also complete some terms to apply for a loan. Now all of that is not need to do again. Just use you laptop or gadget to apply for an online loan. So it could be more simple. Beside not complicated and not take a long time, there’s more profit in the online loans, are:

  1. Saving time

If you do a loat at the bank or lending institutions, how much time you should use. Time to go to the bank or lending institutions, especially if stuck traffic jam. At the place you still have to queue up to meet customer services. Doing online loans only spend shorter time, you can fill out the form on the sideline of your free time.

  1. Fast process

The process of online loan is faster than bank loans. You simply use laptop or gadget then open the online loan site. See the terms and fill out the online form that already available in the online loan site. If your submission suitable with the criteria then loan will be immediately liquid.

  1. Protect secret

Don’t worry abou the files will spilled because all requirements is done by online. Online loan site also keep protect your personal secret that you give.

  1. Competitive interest and penalty free

Bank or lending institutions implemented a number of interest for fund lent to customers. There are also other unexpected cost, such us penalties if full payment before repayment time. So you must be careful in choosing the online lending institutions. Choose practical type if loans and nit burden customers.

  1. Flexible goal / purpose

Often, loan application was rejected because not suitable with criteria of lending institution. In contrast with online loan, because it is more flexible. You can apply the loan for any goal / purpose, as long as you can discipline when repay the money.

in additional to the profit. There are many things that need to be alert when doing online loans. Trusted online lending institutions usually have several characteristics. The easiest way, make sure that there is a “key lock” on your browsing application. This sign indicates that all personal data in the input has been encrypted. So the possibility that data will lost or leaked to the outside very small.

Great post is one of trusted online lending institution. So if you recessive and need money loan, please contact us. We will provide the best deal for you

How to Change Your Rims DIY Style

Rims can be pretty expensive which is why many individuals with enough strength and know how choose to buy rims and install them DIY style. While this might be able to save you a penny or two in terms of mechanic services, it can also cause you a whole world of trouble and potential injury. Before you start your rim changing project, make sure you understand exactly what you need and what you have to do to get the job done properly and safely.

What You Need When Changing Rims

See to it that you have the following items in handy before you start changing your rims:

  • Car Jack
  • Socket set
  • Tire lever

If you don’t have these items, you can borrow them from a friend or neighbour. But if you think you’ll need them in the future, they can become a worthy investment. Auto supply stores and hardware shops often have these items available. See to it that you get a sturdy model that will serve you well for years to come.

How to Change Your Car Rims

  1. Lift the Car – You can’t expect to be able to replace the wheels if the entire car’s weight is still resting on it. Using your car jack, lift the wheel off of the ground and ensure that the proper locks are in place. The last thing you want is the car falling on you while you’re doing the job.
  1. Deflate the Tire – When tires are fully inflated, they tend to latch on to wheels to be able to secure the air inside. It’s impossible to wiggle a tire off a wheel when it’s fully inflated. Deflate the tire first to create a space between it and the wheel.
  1. Remove the Bolts – Using your socket set, remove the bolts that secure your rim to the car. Remember which bolt corresponds to which hole as these sometime become difficult to reinstall when they’re not appropriately paired. Once the wheel is free from any fasteners, carry it off of the car and gently place it on the ground. Do not place it vertically upright and instead lay it down on a piece of cloth. Have someone help you in case it’s too heavy.
  1. Remove the Tire – Take your tire lever and slip it in between the tire and the wheel. Push out and pry the tire off of the wheel. Repeat this around the circumference of the tire until it pops out of place.
  1. Place the Tire Around the New Replica Rim – Pop the new rim into place around the lips of the tire and secure the new combination onto your car. Secure each rim bolt with your socket set and gently lower the car back on the ground. Repeat the procedure for all other wheels to complete the project.

Guest post provided by certified auto expert Cito Williamson. For more information about cheap rims, visit his site replica rims and tell them we referred you for a 5% discount.

Young Drivers, Marijuana and Car Insurance

Marijuana, young drivers and serious car accidents are on a collision course. Fatal crashes involving drivers whose systems showed evidence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, nearly tripled in 10 years, rising from 4.2 percent in 1999 to 12.2 percent in 2010, according to a study released earlier this year by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. In another four-year study, 43 percent of fatally injured drivers under 24 tested positive for cannabinoids. The percentage was lower for older age groups.

Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington and widely tolerated elsewhere in the U.S., parents may be on their own collision course with pot: They face steep car insurance hikes and even cancellation if young drivers on their policies are convicted of a DUI stemming from marijuana use. Here’s what parents need to know about drugged driving and the effect it can have on insurance coverage.

Drugged Driving: A Growing Concern
Pot use behind the wheel is a subset of a category that law enforcement and the traffic safety community call drugged driving. Every state has laws addressing it. In many, the laws say if a driver is stopped and authorities can prove the individual drove under the influence of any substance that impairs driving ability, he or she could be convicted of a DUI. Nearly one-third of states feature “per se” laws. These more strict laws say that any amount of a controlled substance found in the driver’s body is evidence of impaired driving.

The hazards of drunken driving are well known. A growing concern among researchers, law enforcement and those in the traffic safety community is the destruction wreaked by individuals driving under the influence of drugs including marijuana, cocaine and prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Conservative estimates put the cost of these accidents at 6,700 deaths and nearly $60 billion in costs each year.

The effects of marijuana use on driving vary from one person to the next. In the words of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects.” Concentrations of the drug are “very dependent on patterns of use as well as dose.”

Insurance Follows the Car
Driving while stoned is a serious matter for teen and twenty-something drivers, who risk death, injury, criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits. In addition to those outcomes, drugged driving also can have financial impacts on parents, who often own and insure the cars their adult children drive.

“Insurance follows the car, not the driver,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute, a national insurance trade association. A young person’s drugged-driving conviction is likely to be treated like a drunk driving conviction, whether the recreational use of pot is legal in that state, says Bob Passmore, personal lines policy senior director with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

“As with any DUI conviction, your insurance company could cancel your policy, ask you to take the individual off the policy, or keep him or her on at a much higher rate, depending on the rules in the state,” Passmore says. “The individual with the conviction might need to get their own policy.” That would come at a much higher rate than if the driver is on his parents’ policy, he says.

Worters agrees. If a young person is convicted of driving under the influence, “insurance rates will jump astronomically, because driving under the influence is illegal,” she says. “DUI convictions can result in multi-year jail terms. You’re also putting the parents’ assets at risk” if there are civil lawsuits in connection with the accident, she warns.

Not every teen uses pot, of course. In 2012, less than 8 percent of youths ages 12-17 had used marijuana in the past month, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use & Health. And about 80 percent of teens say they disapprove of their friends using pot. Pot use increases markedly for young adults, however. In 2012, 18.7 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds had used marijuana in the past month.

If your child does use pot, you may need to take a tough stance when it comes to his or her use of your cars.

“Parents may want to consider either taking the car privileges away until they’ve cleaned up their act, or taking them off your insurance policy,” Worters says. An insurance company may not be comfortable with a young driver continuing to be on the policy if they’re “living in the same house, having possible access to the keys, even if they aren’t driving,” she says, “because that risk is always there.”

Talk to Your Insurance Agent
Parents should consider contacting their insurance agent to assess their coverage, preferably before a teen drives under their car insurance policy, experts says. Parents also might want to review their liability limits and consider an umbrella liability policy. This will provide protection in case their child causes a serious injury and is sued.

“You want to make sure you and your child are protected,” Passmore says.

Some health insurance websites show improved efforts to support patient decision making

Websites for national and state health insurance marketplaces show evidence of improved efforts to assist patients in choosing health insurance plans, such as providing decision support tools, experts from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found. However, in a letter published in the August 18 issue the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Penn team recommends taking more steps to better support consumers in making informed health plan decisions.

The marketplaces, also called health exchanges, were established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to allow consumers to compare and choose health insurance plans.

“Selecting a plan is a complex task for just about anyone, regardless of your knowledge of the marketplaces or health insurance, and the way plans are presented on the exchanges and the tools available there can influence consumers’ choices,” said the study’s lead author Charlene A. Wong, MD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and fellow in Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. “Performance of the health insurance marketplaces will significantly depend on such features as the order in which plans are displayed, the plan features listed, and the availability of decision-support tools created for consumers. While we generally found improvement in the second versus the first open enrollment period, additional measures can and should be added in the future to further improve the selection process for consumers.”

The Penn investigators examined HealthCare.gov, the national marketplace used by the majority of states, and 12 state-based marketplaces during the first and second open enrollment periods (October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 and November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015, respectively). They collected data that consumers would see while browsing before creating an account (“window shopping”) and after creating an account and having their identities verified (“real shopping”).

In continuing research extending from findings published online this past June in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Wong and her colleagues found that decision tools most likely to be helpful to consumers were more common in the second versus the first period but still not universally available. For example, while most sites allowed consumers to sort or filter plans by premium and deductible amounts, only three states had out-of-pocket cost estimators that “did the math” for consumers by adding together their premium and expected costs (e.g., deductible and copays) based on consumers’ predicted use (e.g., number of physician visits or prescription medications). California (www.coveredca.com) listed plans in order of this estimated out-of-pocket cost from cheapest to most expensive. This is in contrast to most sites that simply used the premium amount as their default plan order, which may cause consumers’ to be overly influenced by the premium amount while not paying enough attention to other potential out-of-pocket expenses, such as meeting a high deductible.

Only six sites included an integrated tool that allowed consumers to search plans on the basis of provider network. Pop-up definitions for common and important terms like “deductible” or “coinsurance” were available on only nine sites, despite being easier for websites to implement. Only four sites had health plan quality rankings, albeit a step-up from two in the first open enrollment period. “By including more of these tools in both real and ‘window’ shopping stages, marketplaces can help de-mystify what for many is a complex, opaque process,” said Wong.


Fuel Duty to remain unchanged in 2016

No Increase

It is with relief that the UK’s 38 million motorists reacted to Chancellor George Osborne’s March 16 Budget Speech: for the 6th year in a row fuel duty on petrol and diesel will not be increased, despite many experts having predicted otherwise. Even a small rise to fuel duty above the rate of inflation could mean billions in added income for the Treasury; therefore drivers have met the freeze with enthusiasm.

Good Savings

In doing so, Mr Osborne has promised to save the average driver £75 a year and small business drivers with a van £275, thereby “…keep(ing) Britain on the move.’’ In his speech Mr Osborne said that, “…fuel costs still make up a significant part of household budgets…’’ and that families “…shouldn’t be penalised when oil prices fall.’’ Although international oil prices have fallen in recent times, it is not a given that this situation will prevail indefinitely, but this has certainly contributed to the decision. RAC  chief engineer David Bizley has, although he praised the decision not to increase the duty, expressed disappointment that Mr Osborne has not committed to longer-term goals that could have frozen the duty beyond next year’s budget. As things are, £27 billion will be collected over the next year in fuel duty alone.

IPT

What has been disappointing, however, was the decision to raise the Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) for the second time in a row, even though it had been expected. The raise is relatively small at 0.5 per cent, and the additional £700 million being raised this way will be spent exclusively on flood defences. The decision has been met with great disappointment by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) who says that a year-on-year tax increase since March of last year represents an increase of 66.6 percent. According to a survey conducted by the AA, 87 per cent of drivers view this increase in a negative light and feel that some may be tempted to cancel their insurance. It is further likely that car insurances and breakdown cover will be increased too.

Backing for Driverless Cars

Chairman of Nissan Europe, Paul Willcox, is equally excited about the freeze in fuel duty, as he believes that the announcement will only contribute towards bringing autonomous driving technology to the market. The goal, ultimately, is to have zero emission vehicles and no fatalities on the road. Mr Willcox believes the freeze will help pave the way for these new technologies.

Since the price of fuel price increases of the past 10-15 years, less efficient vehicles or those with large engines have often felt a greater depreciation than more efficient motors. If you would like to find someone to ‘buy my car’ then the sooner you’re able to arrange a sale, the less depreciation you are likely to face.

Positive Feedback

 

The public has, as could be expected, reacted very positively to Mr Osborne’s announcements, despite some areas of concern, such as raising the IPT.

Your Long Term Financial Plans Are Absolutely Frightening

NEW YORK — Well, U.S. workers, feel better: you aren’t the only ones failing to make long-term financial plans.

The deVere Group, a U.K.-based financial advisory group recently surveyed 650 people around the world who aren’t using a financial adviser. They asked simply, “Do you plan your finances a year ahead, one to three years ahead, or three years or more ahead?” Of that group, 71 percent chose the first option.

Many people believe the myth that planning for the longer-term is more difficult than planning for the short term — this is not true.

Granted, that’s an improvement from 2013, when the same poll had 82 percent of respondents provided that answer. However, when nearly three-quarters of a group from the U.S., U.K., Spain, Australia, France, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates gives that answer, it makes the financial advisers a little nervous.

“Many people believe the myth that planning for the longer-term is more difficult than planning for the short term — this is not true,” said Nigel Green, deVere Group chief executive and founder, when those findings were announced “The difficult part is starting to plan long-term. But procrastination will leave you in limbo and is likely to cost you dearly.” The upside — sort of — is that it isn’t just the U.S. that isn’t planning or saving. Earlier this month, a survey by GOBankingRates found that 62 percent of U.S. bankers have less than $1,000 in their savings account. Sure, nobody wants to stash cash in accounts that earn some of the lowest yields in banking, but the GOBankingRates folks see that revelation as a symptom of a much larger illness.

“It’s troubling how many Americans aren’t thinking about long-term planning or retirement, with little to nothing stashed away in a savings account,” said Casey Bond, editor-in-chief of GOBankingRates. “Saving money is an uphill battle for many, but there are a number of simple ways people can consistently grow their nest egg over time, such as automating their savings. Even a small contribution is better than nothing at all.”

Savings Delayed

Procrastination is something U.S. workers excel at, and the financial straits of the recent economic crisis haven’t helped matters. According to a survey earlier this year by financial firm Edward Jones, 45 percent of non-retired U.S. workers aren’t saving for retirement. We put it off by age (90 percent of young workers say they’ll start saving in their 30s or earlier, but only 64 percent of folks ages 35 to 44 follow through), we put it off until the kids get older (39 percent of singles aren’t saving, compared to 51 percent those in a household of three or more) and, according to a survey by financial services firm Franklin Templeton, we put it off altogether (30 percent of those 18 to 24 say they’ll never retire).

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But why is the rest of the world suddenly in the same year-to-year financial scenario. Well, there was a reason why it was a global economic crisis. Thanks to austerity measures implemented by countries around the world, some of the more socialized benefits offered to retirees just aren’t available anymore.

“Long-term financial planning has never been more important because governments are being forced to cut age-related benefits, meaning that in the future most people will not be able to rely on governmental support to the same extent they have done in the past, so we have to be more financially self-reliant in retirement,” Green says. “Plus, as we’re all living longer, and as such the money we accumulate throughout our lives has to go further than it ever has done before.”

Also, much of the joblessness that swept Western nations over the duration of the crisis affected the youngest workers. The Principal found that 63 percent of workers ages 23 to 35 began saving before they turned 25, but fewer than a third saved 10 percent of their salary. With cash tight thanks to either joblessness or settling for low-wage employment until better positions opened up, long-term saving for retirement competed with rent (65 percent), food (38 percent) transportation (30 percent), student loans (20 percent) and credit card debt (16 percent) for their dollars.

Obstacles to Saving

“Many millennials may see these large expenses — especially student loans and other debt — as primary obstacles to saving anything for retirement,” says Jerry Patterson, senior vice president of retirement and investor services at The Principal. “But in most situations, it’s possible and necessary to both save for retirement and pay down debt by creating a plan and sticking to it.”

According to Voya Financial, nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) working Americans say they are very or extremely concerned about outliving their savings in retirement and 74 percent have never calculated their monthly retirement income needs. However, if they just think ahead a bit, they can start making sound savings decisions now. A diverse and somewhat non-conservative portfolio helps.

“Generally, people should have at least 70 percent of their annual income in order to have a secure retirement with a similar lifestyle,” says James Nichols, head of retirement income and advice strategy and Voya Financial. “Of course, some people will need more than that and some will need less depending of their lifestyle desires, health expenses, retirement plans and other factors. You may have 30 years or more of retirement, so your money needs to continue to grow during that time.”

Sometimes, that saving means sacrificing in the short-term in favor of your long-term goals. Joe Boyle, a retirement coach with Voya in Beverly Hills who specializes in helping Millennial clients, notes that some of his younger clients with good jobs, who can afford to live on their own, make the choice (in concert with their parents) to live at home so that they can save money towards buying their first home. In one case, a younger client who is an attorney had no student loans or credit card debt lived at home for three years to save a 20 percent down payment on a home near her office.

“She said that ‘there were some small sacrifices’ to her social life that came with living with her folks, but that it allowed her to buy her first home and it was definitely worth it,” Boyle says. “The trade-off for many millennials living at home is giving up some of their independence today for greater financial freedom tomorrow.”

With The Principal’s survey noting that, though 84 percent of millennials believe that they should be independent by age 25, many still rely on parents for help with their cellphone bill (12 percent), car insurance (8 percent), health insurance (7 percent) and rent (7 percent). However, deVere’s Green warns that current conditions shouldn’t always put a damper on future plans.

“If you’re serious about reaching your big, life-enhancing financial objectives,” he says, “you must think and plan with a perspective that’s longer than 12 months.”

Four Steps to Switching Car Insurance

Could you save hundreds of dollars by switching your car insurance? It is a question worth asking yourself at least once a year. By doing a little research now, you may be able to find a comparable insurance plan at a better rate with another company, and save money. But you have to make sure you take the appropriate steps to switch, because you don’t want to have a lapse in coverage.

Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president at the Insurance Information Institute in New York, suggests asking yourself if you’re happy with the cost, coverage and service of your current policy each time it comes up for renewal. “If the answer is ‘yes, yes and yes,’ then stay with them. But if you’re not sure, it’s a good opportunity to shop around,” she says.

Here are four key steps to take when it comes to switching car insurance:

1. Review your current driving situation.
Take note of your driving circumstances as well as the needs of other drivers in your household. Do you have a newer model car? Do you commute several miles each week to work? Do you have recent traffic tickets?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), your potential new insurance company may ask you all of these questions as part of the underwriting process. You’ll also likely be asked about the number of drivers on the policy, your driver license information, and the insurance coverage and limits you’d like to purchase.

Take a look at your existing auto insurance policy. Knowing what you currently have will make it easier to create apples-to-apples comparisons with the rates you receive from different insurers. An easy way to do this is to study your current policy’s declarations page, says Vaughn Graham, president of Rich and Cartmill insurance company in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“The declarations page describes the insurance you have, including the amount of coverage as well as coverage limits, and the amount of your deductible,” he says. When you’re more informed about your current coverage, it can help you become a smarter shopper.

2. Shop around.
Once you’re familiar with your current policy, it’s time to look for alternatives. A good first call is to your current insurance agent or the insurance company itself (some insurers, such as Geico and Progressive don’t work with agents). Even if you’re not happy with your existing policy (if you think the premiums are too expensive, for example), ask if there are ways to lower your rate for the same amount of coverage, says Salvatore. You may be eligible to receive discounts you’re not getting.

Here’s a list of common insurance company discounts, according to the NAIC:

  • Having safety devices in the car, such as anti-theft features
  • Having a good driving record
  • Driving a low number of miles a year
  • Having multiple cars on the same policy
  • Being a student who gets good grades
  • Insuring both your home and car with the same provider

While you’re reviewing discounts, be aware that switching to a new provider could affect discounts you already have with other types of insurance. For example, if you’re already getting a homeowner’s and car-policy rate reduction from your current provider, and you then move your car insurance to a different company, you may lose the discount you receive for homeowner’s insurance. It may make more financial sense to stay where you are, or switch both policies to a new provider that will give you a rate reduction for both.

In addition to speaking to your current agent or insurance company about your options, you can look online to research potential companies and obtain quotes. It is also a good idea to get referrals from family members, colleagues and other people whom you trust, Salvatore says. If they have had to file a claim with the insurer, they could tell you in person about their customer service experience.

If you’re currently buying through an independent agent who represents multiple insurance companies, you have a few more options. “You can go to them and say ‘I’m happy working with you, but I’m not so happy with this carrier’ and explain why,” Salvatore says. “Ask if they can suggest another carrier.”

A good agent should be able to offer you customized choices to fit your needs, adds Graham. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We’re all a little different.”

3. Don’t skimp on coverage.
As you receive quotes, make sure the insurance coverage and deductibles mentioned are satisfactory. Just because a rate quote may be lower than what you’re currently paying, it doesn’t mean it’s a better deal if the coverage is lacking, Graham says. If you’re not sure how much coverage you need, discuss your needs with insurance company representatives, and ask for guidance.

For example, if you have significant assets, you may need more than just the state minimum for bodily injury liability insurance. The same is true for property damage coverage. The retail price for an average new vehicle could easily top $30,000, but in many states, the minimum property damage coverage required is only $25,000. If you were responsible for a loss and did not have enough insurance coverage, you’d likely be on the hook for the difference. “Many of those limits are often inadequate and not near enough to meet today’s exposures to price of vehicles,” Graham says.

Though it’s important to have ample liability coverage, if you drive an older model vehicle that is paid for, you may choose to opt out of some optional types of coverage, such as collision and comprehensive insurance, in order to keep premiums low.

Collision insurance pays for the physical damage your vehicle receives if it collides with another object, such as a tree or another car. Comprehensive insurance pays for damage to your car from causes other than a collision. This could include vandalism, broken glass, fire and theft. If this coverage is more than your vehicle is worth, you could skip it to lower your rates. Just understand that you would then be paying for these losses out of your own funds if such damage did occur. People who live in areas prone to such natural disasters as floods, high winds and earthquakes might want to think about retaining their comprehensive coverage, experts say.

Another way to get a lower premium is to ask for a higher deductible. If you are willing to pay $1,000 out of pocket for a claim instead of $250, you could lower your rates. But make sure you can afford the higher deductible in the event that you suffer an insurable loss.

4. Notify your old and new providers.
After conducting all your research (and with a bit of luck), you may well find a company that offers good coverage at a lower rate. You may be willing to switch, but before you sign a new agreement, call your state’s department of insurance to learn if the company is permitted to do business in your state. You can also check out business-rating companies A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s to check out the company’s financial stability. (Standard & Poor’s requires free registration before you can see company ratings.) It’s worth the extra time to spend before you agree to pay hundreds of dollars on a new policy.

Once you’ve verified that the new provider can do business in your state and appears financially stable, it’s time to make the switch. “When you are ready to cancel your current policy, let all parties know in writing, so that there is no gap in coverage,” Salvatore says.

If you end your existing auto insurance policy before it expires, you may receive a partial premium refund, depending on the terms of your agreement. However, you should continue paying for your old policy until the new coverage is confirmed in writing. Otherwise, the old policy could be dropped for non-payment before the new policy starts. And in most states, driving without proper car insurance coverage is against the law. “It may be easier to wait and have your new policy start when the old one expires,” Salvatore says.

Make it a priority to review your insurance policies on a regular basis. Household driving situations change often, and so do state laws that could affect the price of your premiums. By taking some time each year to do some car insurance research, you can make better decisions and pay the best possible prices for the best amounts of car insurance coverage.