Save Money by Comparing Cheap Car Insurance Quotes Online

If you love comparing cheap car insurance quotes online, raise your hand.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way let’s get to the real brass tacks. There are very few drivers who actually enjoy the process of assembling car insurance quotes and comparing them side-by-side. Yet at the same time, if you expect to get the best deal possible it is an absolute requirement. Simply believing the television announcer talking about how much you can save is not going to cut it. You need to do the work necessary to get the best price possible.

To get started, use a free quote tool like the one found on this website. Just enter your ZIP code and any other information it asks for, then sit back and wait for your results. It won’t be long before you have a list of companies you can begin comparing. While you’re sitting here, click on a couple of direct links that will take you to some of the most well-known car insurance companies, then fill out their quote forms as well.

Time to Compare

Some insurance companies will provide a full quote online while others would prefer to call and talk to you first. Either way, once you have three or four quotes in hand it’s time to sit down and compare them. The first thing you’ll want to look at is minimum liability coverage.

Minimum liability is a requirement in all 50 states so there’s no way of getting around it. You’ll probably find that among all the companies you’re comparing the rates for minimum liability are approximately the same. The only exception might be a policy that includes higher limits than what is mandated by law. If you don’t know what’s required by your state you can find that information online

After you get past the minimum liability you’ll then be looking at extra coverage’s such as collision insurance, comprehensive insurance, and gap coverage. Be sure to look at the limits and deductibles for each type of coverage. You might even do a cost-to-benefit ratio based on your annual deductibles.

Consider What You’re Willing to Lose

Finally, once you’ve crunched all the numbers in your comparison, consider how much financial risk you’re willing to assume. The last part of this equation usually is the kicker for most people in deciding the best policy for them. If you’re willing to lose a significant portion of the value of your car you might consider the cheapest policy with the least coverage. On the other hand, if you’re not willing to take a significant financial risk you’ll probably choose the most comprehensive policy with the highest price tag.

This is how comparing cheap car insurance quotes online works. It’s not a difficult process by any stretch of imagination, but it does require willingness on your part to go through the paperwork and run the numbers — regardless of how tedious it might be.

Getting Financial Advice – How to Make Sure You Get the Right Advice For Your Personal Finances

Once you have identified your goals, it is time to find out how to best go about achieving those goals. The financial services industry is a complex business, and there are few of us who could be expected to navigate its murky waters without help.

Perhaps the most important decision you can make when considering buying any financial product or service is the decision on the kind of advice you will seek out.

This is an area where some care is required. As complex as the financial services industry is, so too are the relationships of those who work within it, and you must be sure you understand the relationship between the person giving you advice and the product they are advising you on.

Always remember that the primary purpose of such advice is to help identify what your needs are, not to encourage you to purchase specific products. It may be that the best advice is to do nothing. Sometimes, an adviser will appear to go to a great deal of trouble on your behalf, in the hopes of encouraging you to feel obliged to stick with them – always remember you can say NO.

The rights you are entitled to in receiving advice vary according to the type of product. Check with the appropriate independent authority (as defined in various places in this guide, and in the Useful Information section) as to what your rights are with regard to a given product.

If you choose to buy a product without seeking advice, your rights are often less than they might be otherwise. In some cases, the attitude is ‘you didn’t seek advice, so it’s your own fault’. While it may be appropriate in some cases to go it alone, getting good advice is always worth the investment.

What may seem like advice may not be – do not mistake information for advice! If you buy from a direct mail shot, through a website or from a ‘direct’ company, you may be considered to have not taken advice, as far as your rights go. Marketing material is not objective and impartial – an obvious point, but worth restating.

Broadly, the kind of advice you can get falls into two categories: independent and tied. Both have their advantages and potential pitfalls.

Tied Agents

Tied advisers generally sell and advise on the products of just one company. They may or may not work directly for that company – sometimes they simply have strong ties and a good working knowledge of that company’s products. They may be able to get access to a good deal because of their exclusive relationship with the provider.

They can tell you which of the company’s products suits your needs. They have a responsibility to advise you honestly, and if none of the company’s products suit your needs they should tell you so. But always be aware that they are not necessarily trying to advise you on the best over-all product for you, but rather the best product that the company itself has to offer you. They should not tell you a product is appropriate for you if it is not, but sometimes what is ‘appropriate’ can be a slippery concept.

Tied agents almost always work on commission, though there is some movement towards having advisers tied to specific companies working for a flat fee. You may find it more comfortable to seek out one of these companies.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (Website: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk) is an independent charitable organisation that focuses on giving advice on a whole range of subjects.

They are able to offer help in regards to issues such as debt, your rights, and general consumer issues. However, certain bureaux can offer specialist advice, often in conjunction with professional partners such as solicitors.

If things go awry, the CAB can help you to determine a way forward. They will help identify what your rights are, how to move forward with the issues, what kind of back up you can expect from various bodies etc.

The Financial Services Authority

The FSA is an independent non-governmental body that has statutory powers to regulate the financial services industry. Their funding comes from the industry itself, but the Treasury appoints the board. The FSA is guided by the Financial Service And Markets Act (Website: http://www.fsa.gov.uk), which came into force in June 2000.

One of their primary purposes is to secure the appropriate degree of protection for consumers. With this in mind they provide an excellent consumers guide that provides information on such things as consumer alerts, what to do if you have a complaint, a suite of comparative tables of similar financial services and even a firm check tool to find out if a company you are considering using are reputable and accredited.

Independant Financial Services

An independent advisor can nominally give you advice without you having to worry that they are pushing you towards a product that isn’t right for you. If they are not tied to using products from a particular company, they are free to look at the various products on offer, and make suggestions based on what is best for your particular circumstances.

They can give advice on a variety of products. If they give advice on investments such as pensions, life insurance, unit trusts and shares, then they and the company they work for must be authorised by the Financial Services Authority, and must abide by their code of conduct. Those advising on loans, most mortgages, non-investment (‘general’) insurance, term insurance or bank and building society accounts need not currently be authorised, though from 31st October 2004 all mortgage advisors will have to register and be authorised by the FSA. From early 2005, general and term insurance advisors will also have to be authorised.

If you want to check to see whether a person or firm is authorised by the FSA, you can use their Firm Check Service.

Some care has to be taken when taking such advice. While an advisor may not work directly for a particular company, they do often have relationships with companies (sometimes with a suite of companies). Often companies will offer bigger commissions or other such inducements to advisors in the hope that that will encourage them to promote their product.

The only truly independent financial advice you can get is when the advisor has no stake in your final choice of product. This can only come about if you get advice from one source, and buy your product or service from another with no connection between the two.

However, financial services often will prefer one product over another because those products genuinely are better than their competitors – the advisor’s reputations is founded on giving the right advice and achieving good results over time. In a sense, the advisor acts as a filter, discarding poorly performing or sub-standard products and focusing on the products that do perform.

When considering what advice to take, always establish what the point-of-view of your advisor is, and how that will affect the kind of advice they give.

You pay advisors in one of three ways: a one-off fee, a commission on any products bought, or a combination of the two. Always establish from the start what the deal is. The Financial Services Authority has decreed that from late 2003 all independent financial services must let you pay them with a flat fee if you wish to. This removes the temptation to recommend a product that pays them better commission.

Finally, it is always worth asking whether the advisor will be prepared to take a cut in their commission in order to give you a better deal (called a ‘commission sacrifice’). They won’t always agree, but if you don’t ask you certainly won’t get. Sometimes they will consider it worthwhile in order to get your custom.

Why Fee-Only Is Important for Financial Advice and Management

Recently, T.D. Ameritrade conducted a study that shows investors are not aware of the difference between different types of financial advisors. The study found that: 1) Investors are often not aware that there are two types of (investment) advice available to investors: fee-only investment advisors and stockbrokers. 2) 54% of investors believed both stockbrokers and fee-only advisors have a responsibility to act in their best interests. 3) 74% of investors did not understand the different obligations required of fee-only advisors and stockbrokers.

The differences really do matter. The fee-only system eliminates conflicts of interest by guaranteeing that the adviser will receive compensation from no source other than client fees. Other ways to invest (performance fees, brokerage houses, affiliated managers, etc.), include incentives for an investment manager that conflict with a client’s interests. Many managers choose products with which they earn higher commissions, trade more actively, or take on too much risk.

Many advisors who are not fee-only have a product-based approach. This is where a specific product is recommended or sold to the client, often without regard for the client’s particular financial circumstances and goals. Transaction, commission, and fee-based advisors are typically trained on only the products they sell or recommend, thereby taking a product-based approach to their clients’ portfolios.

The problem with the product-based approach is with process. Comprehensive financial advice should be a process with multiple steps, integrating the client’s holistic financial and non-financial situation. Fee-Only financial advisors take a holistic approach with each client, and offer more objective advice on a myriad of investment options.

Of the planners that are not fee-only, some are compensated entirely by commissions from the providers of the products they recommend and sell. Others, referred to as “Fee-Based” or “Fee-Offset,” charge both a fee and receive commissions from selling products.

The greater the advisor’s dependence on commission income, the greater the conflict. In the end, that conflict can cost you, both in out-of-pocket expenses and the objectivity of advice you receive.

When you’re looking for a new investment advisor to ask how he or she is compensated. Make sure your advisor creates a comprehensive financial plan that takes into account your life situation and goals (or if you already have a plan, make sure your advisor takes an interest in it). Shop around and interview several advisors before settling on one. Ask if there are any hidden costs. If your advisor recommends mutual funds, be sure to note if he or she goes over the fund fees that you will pay on top of the advisory charges.

Financial Advice From 1796

As leader of the Constitutional Convention, commander of the Continental Army and first American president, George Washington is considered by many to be one of our nation’s greatest heroes, renowned for his character and leadership. In his 1796 farewell address, Washington masterfully articulated his reasons for not seeking a third term of the presidency, and offered an eloquent argument for the importance of patriotism and protecting liberty. He also offered some prudent financial advice in a portion of the speech penned as “Warnings of a Parting Friend.” I believe these points still hold true today.

Quote #1: “And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force… to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”

Washington seems to be speaking about the danger of political parties, departments within the government, and individuals who try to seek more power and riches for themselves. He indicates that the spirit of always wanting more is good to a certain extent (a fire not to be quenched); however, if not vigilantly watched or kept in check and balanced, it could destroy (consume). This lesson can still apply to both personal and government spending and the importance of living within our means.

Quote #2: “As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it… “

Washington appears to be emphasizing how important having good credit is. He was advising the nation and its citizens to be careful how often they use credit and for what purpose. Washington also seems to acknowledge that for a prudent purpose, credit could and maybe even should be used if the benefit ensures stability and offers a hedge against potential risks. These important financial lessons should jump out of history books and into our personal and government spending habits!

Quote #3: “… avoid likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear… You should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue… “

Washington warns against going into debt unless the expense is absolutely necessary. In today’s times, many people incur debt to go to school, purchase a car or buy a home; but that does not mean you should necessarily go into debt if you don’t have to. Washington also points out that debt incurred during hard times should be repaid during times of peace and prosperity; if not, the debt will likely not get paid off. (He has definitely been right about that on a national level!) On an individual level, the takeaway is to consider paying off debt when you have extra cash available, and ideally to pay it off sooner rather than later.

Washington was a truly legendary leader, and in his Farewell Address I believe he was speaking to the nation as a whole and to its people as individuals. I also believe Washington’s advice is as timely and true in 2012 as it was in 1796. With such powerful and still-applicable words, it’s no wonder that reading Washington’s Farewell Address has been an annual tradition in the U.S. Senate since 1896. And remember, we know Washington’s words must be true because he could not tell a lie!