What Ingredients Go into My Auto Insurance?

What Ingredients Go into My Auto Insurance Cost?
It’s not a secret family recipe, but your auto insurance cost does include three unique ingredients: you, your car, and your coverage. These three factors combined determine the risk and cost that shape your premium.

You: Your insurance carrier considers your driving record, age, and gender. Those with clean driving records generally pay lower premiums. As for age and gender, statistics show that women get into fewer accidents and younger, inexperienced drivers get into more. As a result, adolescent males typically pay higher premiums than 30-something females.

Your car: What is the price tag on your vehicle? Will it be expensive to repair if damaged? Some cars cost more to repair than others. How much you drive your car also matters. The more you’re on the road, the more likely you are to have an accident. Similarly, where you drive the vehicle also affects your coverage cost. Highly populated areas experience more fender benders and theft.

Your coverage: The final ingredient is the amount and type of coverage you prefer. While some coverage is mandatory in certain regions, you typically have a lot of say about how this ingredient is mixed into the recipe. Many coverages, such as collision and comprehensive, are optional. You can also decide what level of deductible to carry on your policy. The decisions you make about coverage will affect the final total of your premium.

To ensure you create the perfect blend, consult with your insurance agent. His or her expertise can help you maximize your ingredients for the best results.

Are Robots Really Taking Over Retail?

Since 1977, when R2D2 first showed up in the theater, it seems that robots have become commonplace. They now vacuum our floors, assemble our cars, monitor our homes, and even perform surgery. Indeed, our world is becoming more automated.

But what does this mean to us in our everyday lives? We order pizza from our computers, withdraw cash from an ATM that never sleeps, and push buttons on our phones in the hope of reaching a real person. A recent Vancouver Sun article claims, “Such automation has become so common that Starbucks is taking steps to make sure the process doesn’t feel so, well, robotic.”

When it comes to shopping, robots are becoming an integral part of the experience. Forbes reports that robots make buying groceries a lot easier with on-demand shopping. Lowe’s is testing a “Lowebot” that helps shoppers find what they’re looking for in their cavernous stores, and many companies are actually “training” robots to assume a customer service role.

Best Buy is testing “Chloe,” a robot that retrieves products from the shelves. According to TechEmergence, “Customers can use touch screens in the store to pick out merchandise they want, such as earbuds, movies, video games, or other accessories. Shoppers can then watch the arm navigate the shelves to retrieve their products.”

No, it’s not about reducing staff. The hope is that robots will streamline the customer experience and make us all more efficient and happier shoppers. May the force be with them.

Shopper, Collector, or Hoarder – Which Are You?

With fall comes yearly rituals of back-to-school shopping and purging of unneeded items. Neither activity is bad. But how can you know if your shopping crosses the line? Are you simply adding to your fall wardrobe, building a collection of ties, or becoming a hoarder?

The main differences between hoarding and collecting are emotional. Hoarders gather items out of fear. They want possessions to fill emotional needs. Hoarders get anxious when they think about getting rid of things. They distrust anyone who may try to remove items. Hoarders are often disorganized and may live in unhealthy conditions. They want to hide their hoarding and can become defensive when asked about it.

Collectors may also have lots of things, but their motivations are different. They take pride in what they’re collecting – often only a few, specific items as opposed to the many things hoarders have. They want to show their collections to others, and they keep things organized. Collectors have a budget and are strategic in their purchasing.

Hoarding can be treated through cognitive behavior therapy and support from family and friends. This is particularly true for animal hoarders, who often use animals to fill their need for relationships. Many object hoarders also hoard animals. They take in more animals than they can care for, putting themselves – and the animals – at risk.

If you suspect you or someone you know may be a hoarder, seek professional help.

How Much Homeowner’s Insurance Do I Need?
Your home is worth $250,000 in the real estate market. Does that mean you should have $250K in homeowner’s insurance coverage?

Not necessarily. When determining the amount of homeowner’s coverage you should have, several factors come into play. You should consider each of these as you work with your insurance agent to set up your policy.

The Structure: What will it cost to rebuild your home if disaster strikes?

To calculate this figure, multiply your square footage by per-square-foot building costs in your area. Your insurance agent can help provide these figures. As you calculate, keep in mind the style of your home, the type of materials used, the features and upgrades, and any additions you have made since initial construction.

The Codes: Have building codes changed since the construction of your home was completed?

If you have to rebuild, you may need to adhere to new codes, which can require additional expense. If you suspect this might be the case, consider adding an endorsement to your policy that allows funds for bringing your house up to code.

The Possessions: Don’t forget everything inside your home. You’ll need coverage to replace your personal property as well. Conduct an inventory of your belongings. This will help you estimate the cost of replacement, and the record will be helpful to have on file if you ever need to make a claim.

The Liability: Homeowner’s insurance also covers your liability as a property owner.

If you are sued due to bodily injury (your dog bites a neighbor) or need to repair property damage (your child’s baseball shatters the neighbor’s window), your liability insurance will cover the associated costs.

Most policies provide at least $100,000 in liability coverage, and it is often advisable to increase this amount to $300,000-$500,000 to ensure sufficient coverage.