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Money Matters

How to Get the Best Car Insurance Rates & Discounts

September 23, 2019

All auto insurance companies have competitive rates. However, some companies are catered to low-risk drivers, and others are cheaper for high-risk drivers. Although Sally from Accounting swears by Insurance Company A, you may find that Insurance Company B offers better rates. It’s not because Sally is a terrible person who wants you to pay more for insurance; it may just be that she’s a high-risk driver while you’re a low-risk driver.

To ensure you’re getting the best and cheapest auto insurance policy possible, don’t just rely on Sally’s advice. Instead, do your research and read these people’s anecdotes. Car insurance discounts are in your future—I can feel it.


Take a Defensive Driving Class

“Years ago, I took defensive driving classes at a local police department. The classes ran about 90 minutes each, once per week, for a full month. After completing the course, I received a certificate and faxed it over to my auto insurance agent. That discount knocked about $25 off my monthly premium, and the class was $25.” – Jacob

Check for defensive driving courses in your area here.

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Money Matters, Under the Hood

How To Avoid Buying A Flood-Damaged Used Car In Kansas City

April 11, 2019

It’s already plenty nerve-wracking buying a used car. You might wonder if there’s an underlying mechanical problem or worry about the after-effects of a previous accident. Now, with the recent flooding along the Missouri River, there’s one more thing to worry about: whether or not the car you’re considering has been damaged by a flood. It’s an unfortunate reality for some shoppers, as thousands of cars from all over Kansas City have been damaged by water, then cleaned up for sale. How do you spot one of these vehicles?

Signs of Flood Damage in a Used Car or Truck

A few specific signs can indicate an issue with past water damage:

  • Water lines or condensation in the lights. Unless the lights were completely replaced, you may be able to detect the faint signs of water lines or condensation on the lens or reflector of the front or rear vehicle lights. These are hard to clean completely.
  • Damp, musty carpets & mats (or brand-new carpeting). The carpets can give you a great clue about past water damage. If they were not removed right away and carefully dried, they’ll still smell like dirty water or mold. Check underneath the floor mats for any sign of unusual grime or mud. Obviously, if carpeting was just replaced, you might inquire as to why, as this is not normal.
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Money Matters

What Factors Affect the Resale Value of a Car?

December 21, 2018
I heard through the grapevine that you’re considering selling your car to a dealership or private buyer. Congratulations! But although you may be ready to grab a new set of car keys, the real question remains: is your vehicle ready to be sold? To get the most money out of your car, it’s important to understand the factors that go into determining its resale value.

Vehicle Brand

Brand reliability and dependability plays an important role in deciding vehicle resale values. Most people who are looking for a used car opt for brands with great reputations, such as GM, Toyota, and Hyundai. These automakers typically design models that have few technology defects, require little maintenance, and are rarely recalled (see “Recall Rates” section below).

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Money Matters

8 Best Reasons to Buy a New Car

November 28, 2018
Should you buy a new car? Second only to a home mortgage, a new car is perhaps the biggest purchase you’ll make. But is it worth it when there are millions of quality used cars for sale out there? Let’s go over the benefits of buying a new car vs. a used vehicle.

1. Long Warranties

One of if not the major perks of buying a new car is its manufacturer’s warranty. The majority of new vehicles come with a comprehensive warranty that covers defects for up to 3 years or 50,000 miles. Some auto brands offer even more coverage; Hyundai, for instance, includes an incredible 5-year/60,000 mile warranty combined with a 10-year powertrain warranty. You may also be able to purchase extended warranty coverage through your car dealer.
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Money Matters, Under the Hood

Synthetic Oil vs. Regular Oil

January 29, 2016

Getting an oil change is generally a pretty common and uneventful experience. However, it can be costly depending on the type of oil your car should have. You will likely hear your mechanic talk about synthetic oil, but before you give the go-ahead on this pricey job, make sure you know what the difference is.

Synthetic oil is, at the base, a cleaner oil. It’s refined, distilled, and purified to get rid of any debris and impurities that regular oil possesses. This means that the oil circulates through your engine and comes out cleaner. If your engine is running cleaner, that usually means it’s going to run longer. Synthetic oil also performs better at more extreme temperatures. It is able to flow smoothly through the cold and the heat, while regular oil can break down and expose your engine to damage. However, it may not be worth the money. The biggest difference you will see with synthetic oil versus regular oil is how often you need to change it. It is recommended that you change your oil about every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, but with conventional oil it’s about 7,500. It all really comes down to how long you want your vehicle to run on a single oil change.
Money Matters

Pinching Pennies

June 18, 2015
I once watched a woman in line at a rental car company pay thousands of dollars to upgrade to a larger vehicle. She didn’t even bat an eye! While some of us may have money to spare, a lot of us don’t — especially when it comes to maintaining our cars. Lucky for you, I have compiled a list to help you pinch pennies and still maintain your vehicle properly. Steel Belted Tires We always hear about keeping your car well-maintained and laying off the AC to increase your gas mileage, but did you know that switching to steel belted tires can increase your gas mileage, too? It can increase your gas mileage by up to 10 percent! It’s an easy way to save as much as an extra $130 every year. Tire Pressure Did you know you can lose 6 percent of your fuel economy for every pound of under-inflation? If you’re one of those drivers who hasn’t checked nor refilled your tires since you drove it off the lot, this could save you anywhere from $100-$400 a year. Oil Changes You ought to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, regardless of what the owners manual says. Frequent oil changes are the single most important and effective way to extend the life of your engine, and the money you will save on repairs and engine wear is astronomical. You can keep anything from $300 to $5,000 in your pocket with this one trick alone.   Fluid Levels Since you’re going to be at your dealership every few months for your oil changes anyways, ask them to check your fluids every time you visit. Low battery water shortens the life of your battery, and keeping the other fluids full will prevent breakdowns and repairs. The little extra you’ll spend can save you $50 to $300 a year! A lot of people will increase their deductible or drop collision coverage on their car insurance to keep some pennies in the bank. However, these tips will allow you to save just as much, if not more, without losing an ounce of the protection and giving you peace of mind.  
Money Matters

Everything You Need to Know About Car Insurance

November 18, 2014
Honestly, whenever I think about car insurance, the first thing I think of is Allstate Insurance commercials, of course! And the second thing I think of is…boredom. No one wants to read up on car insurance, by choice! Nonetheless, auto insurance is an extremely important aspect of buying and owning a car. So I’m here to tell you about it in a quick, digestible format, that is hopefully as non-boring as possible! 🙂 The basics First of all, let’s talk about what insurance is. At the least, car insurance is a monthly payment that provides insurance coverage in the case that you get in an accident and judged to be at fault. With car insurance, you’ll have to pay a deductible and percentage of the cost if you damage to the other person’s vehicle, cause the other person to need medical attention or cause death. The cost will be MUCH lower than if you ever tried to pay out of picket.

Now let’s what happens when you don’t have insurance: well, nothing good! Each state has different laws when it comes to auto insurance, so to begin, find out what the law requires in your state. (Here is the minimum requirements by law in Missouri, for example!) You definitely don’t want to be caught without insurance, because you’ll have to pay a hefty fine (even if you’re just pulled over for a speeding ticket!), not to mention burdensome bills in the case of an accident.

Once you know the minimum requirements in your state, you’ll have to decide what’s right for you. Should you go for the minimum? Or is it a better idea to get more coverage? The cheaper the insurance, the less coverage you usually have. So you’ll have to find that happy medium where your insurance is affordable, but also secure for your lifestyle. Types of insurance There are eight different kinds of basic auto insurance, plus even more customizable options. Whew! Most insurance policies combine multiple types of insurance together. Let’s try to break it down nice and easy here:
  • Liability – Usually the cheapest. Pays another person’s bills when YOU are at fault, but doesn’t cover your bills if the OTHER person is at fault and isn’t going to be covering you. Also doesn’t cover stolen cars, damage when you run into something other than another car, etc.
  • Collision – Pays for damages to your car when you hit a vehicle or object. Doesn’t cover theft of car.
  • Comprehensive – Pays for damages or loss of your car in situations other than collisions, eg. fire, wind, hail, flood, vandalism or theft.
  • Medical Coverage – Pays medical expenses whether you are at fault or not, as long as everything was caused by an auto accident.
  • PIP – Stands for Personal Injury Protection. Pays medical expenses for the insured driver, regardless of fault. Required in some states!
  • Uninsured Motorist – Pays your car’s damages when an auto accident is caused by a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance.
  • Underinsured Motorist – Pays your car’s damages when an auto accident is caused by someone who has liability insurance that doesn’t cover much!
  • Rental Reimbursement – Pays for a rental car via a daily allowance, if your car is damaged due to an auto accident.
Choosing insurance the right insurance for you So you’ve followed the checklist and figured out state minimum requirements, and you’ve learned about the options too. Now let’s and find the one that’s right for you! To help in the process, consider these questions:
  • Could you afford to replace your car if it was totaled in an accident? (If not, you’ll want comprehensive AND collision insurance)
  • What does your other insurance cover? (Health and homeowners insurance might cover auto damage or hospital bills in the case of an accident)
  • How much can you afford to pay each month?
  • How much are you willing to gamble? (Maybe you drive very little and only want liability insurance?)
  • What other factors will affect my insurance rate? (You can influence the cost of your insurance by picking a low-theft car or family car, not getting speeding tickets, etc)
Definitions You’re almost ready to pick your insurance! But if you’re like me, you might need a few definitions to help you navigate car insurance descriptions.
  • Deductible: The amount you are required to pay for some of the damages in an accident before the insurance starts covering. This amount depends on your policy, and could be $100, $250, $500 or $1,000. For example, if you are in an accident that causes $3,000 worth of damage and your deductible is $1,000, you are required to pay the $1,000 and the insurance company will take care of the other $2,000. High deductibles = lower monthly payments.
  • Premium: The price you pay for insurance on an annual basis, on top of your monthly payments. Can be lowered by choosing a higher deductible!
  • Claim: Whenever you can to report an accident or damage to your car, you are making a claim. The less claims you make, the cheaper your insurance will be.
All right, you made it through! Do you feel more equipped to pick an insurance policy now? It may not be the most fun topic, but hopefully you’ve learned something to help you with the car insurance process. McCarthy Insurance Services, a full-service Allstate Insurance Agency, is located inside of McCarthy Chevrolet in Olathe. They’ll be sure to help you make a great decision on purchasing car insurance!
Car Culture, Money Matters

Gas Prices Through the Ages

June 27, 2014
I don’t know anyone who enjoys spending money on gas. It seems like everybody — from my best friend to the news guy on the radio — likes to complain about rising gas prices, or brag about the one time they found gas for a ridiculously low price. So that made me wonder: is gas really that expensive? How do we know? Sure, we can listen to what people of older generations might say about what the price of gas used to be, but the economy has changed so much since then, it can’t be a totally accurate comparison. 497947055_75652da085_z The Real Comparison Rather than doing all of the research on my own, I figured that someone out there has to have written something about the topic already. And I was right! There is a lot of information out there about the price of gas throughout history. And some of the findings are pretty interesting! Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.58.42 AM It turns out that though the price of gas may have once been 25 cents per gallon, adjusting for inflation makes a huge difference in the way you look at it. Overall, gas was more expensive when people first started driving cars, then declined slowly until it dipped way down in the ’80s and early ’90s. Now gas has gone back up closer to the price that it was when people first started driving cars, but not quite as high. A good time to drive Overall, the price has fluctuated up and down a total of $2.41 over the decades, when you adjust for inflation. That’s still quite a bit, but it’s crazy to know that 25 cent gas in 1918 was actually less affordable than our price of gas today! If there’s anything I learned from my research, it’s that the ’90s were a GREAT time for joyriding! 🙂 Now that gas prices are on the rise again, what are you doing to try to save money? Or do you not worry about it and just drive as you please?
Car Culture, Money Matters

Tax Time – How to save your money!

April 14, 2011

The Nissan Leaf

It’s tax time! Most people dread this part of being a ‘grown-up’, however there’s always a silver lining … right? Tax season stinks, but for some the smell wasn’t too bad. Last year, those who purchased alternative fueled vehicles (a.k.a. hybrid); received quite a hefty return on investment. Thanks to President Bush and The Energy Policy Act of 2005, consumers were offered up to $3,400 as a tax credit for their purchase of an efficient hybrid car.  After December 31, 2010, this was no longer in effect. Ugh! Don’t fret … there’s something new to consider. Now, consumers can receive up to $7,500 tax credit for plug-in hybrids and electric cars. So, turn that frown upside down! For more information regarding tax benefits and cars check out this article. And just so you know … the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are qualifiers! As always, let me know if you have any questions.