6 Car Insurance Myths Debunked

We like to think of ourselves as everyday heroes – always working to make car insurance easier. Today we’re tackling car insurance myths and setting the record straight on a few common auto insurance misconceptions.

Car insurance myth #1: Red cars cost more to insure

According to Faber Birren, the noted color psychologist, red is the most dominant and dynamic of all colors. But contrary to popular belief, red cars are no more expensive to insure. Car insurance companies (Esurance included) factor in your car’s year, make, and model — but never the color of your car — when calculating your car insurance rate. So red cars may be hot, but they won’t burn a hole in your savings when it comes to insuring them.

Car insurance myth #2: Credit scores don’t count

Credit scores matter when you buy a house, a car, or make other major purchases, and they matter when it comes to your car insurance. To determine insurance rates, most car insurance companies use credit scores to compute credit-based insurance scores. Generally, the higher your credit score is, the higher your credit-based insurance score will be, and the less you can expect to pay for car insurance.

Car insurance myth #3: All car insurance policies are the same

Policies vary greatly depending on the insurance carrier and the amount of coverage selected. To see this in action, get a free comparison quote from Esurance. In just minutes, you can compare rates from many leading car insurance companies to see which plan and which company offers the most value for your money. You can also see firsthand how changing your coverage limits affects your premium.

Car insurance myth #4: U.S. car insurance coverage is valid in Mexico

While it’s true that you can drive in Mexico with a valid U.S. drivers license, your U.S. car insurance policy won’t protect you once you’re south of the border. Mexican authorities don’t recognize American property damage and bodily injury liability coverages, and most collision and comprehensive coverages are considered invalid as well. So if you plan on driving south, make sure you have international car insurance.

Car insurance myth #5: Marriage doesn’t affect your car insurance

Marriage is life changing; you know that. But did you know that it also affects your car insurance? Since tying the knot usually augments your assets, you want to make sure that you’re able to protect your increased finances in the event of an accident. Plus, when you insure more than one car on the same policy, many car insurance companies (Esurance among them) will give you a discount.

Car insurance myth #6: Thieves target new cars

Just because new cars are shiny and eye catching doesn’t mean they’re the most targeted by thieves. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), in 2009 the 3 most stolen vehicles were: the 1994 Honda Accord, the 1995 Honda Civic, and the 1991 Toyota Camry. If you only have collision coverage, drive an older vehicle, and live in a hot spot for vehicle theft, you might want to consider comprehensive coverage for better protection.

Now that you know what’s a car insurance myth and what’s not, make sure you have a policy that’s really tailored to you specifically. If you need help figuring out how much auto insurance you should have, contact your insurance company or use our handy Coverage Counselor®. Of course, you can always call us at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to get real, live coverage advice from our experts.

4 Money Pros Worth the Investment

For many of us, the word “counselor” or “adviser” invokes images of wood-paneled offices, smooth leather couches, and soul-baring conversations. But in reality, there are many personal finance counselors, or money pros, whose sole objective is to help you manage your finances, and who will rarely (if ever) inquire about your “feelings.”

These money pros can assist with everything from debt management to planning for retirement and are a huge asset when it comes to navigating the complex world of personal finance. So put aside your preconceived ideas about what counseling entails, and check out our list of the top 4 financial counseling professionals who can help save you money (and possibly feel happier as a result!).

Credit counselor

According to Bankrate, most credit purchases cost 112 percent more than cash purchases, and Americans charge 1.5 trillion (trillion!) dollars annually. If you find yourself (understandably) on the losing side of debt, a credit counselor can help you organize your finances, create a personalized budget, and set up a debt-management plan with lower interest rates and more favorable terms. By eliminating or reducing your debt, you could save thousands of dollars over time.

Retirement planner

As you head to work each Monday, retirement might seem a long way off, but it’s probably not as far away as you think. If you’re planning to retire at age 60, Consumer Reports advises that you start your retirement planning in your 40s. Of course, there are many ways to do this, but a retirement planner can help you assess your readiness-to-retire and identify things you can do to be more ready. By having a few goals and thinking ahead, you can ensure that your golden years are just that: golden.

Financial adviser

Roth IRAs. HSAs. Price-earnings ratios. These days, personal finance is more complicated than a lunch date with boozy Aunt Meg, and most of us could benefit from a little professional assistance. Luckily, help is available in the form of financial advisers. Financial advisers help you organize your financial affairs, including savings, retirement provisions, tax treatment, and wills. The more organized your finances, the more likely they are to return a profit, and the more financially fit you’ll be.

Insurance coverage counselor

When it comes to organizing your finances, don’t forget your car insurance! By selecting the perfect amount of insurance coverage for your needs, you ensure that you don’t pay more than necessary. To make it easy for you, Esurance offers 2 car insurance coverage counseling options. You can use our online Coverage Counselor®, or call us at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to speak to a live expert who’ll help you determine the exact amount of insurance coverage you need.

No matter what your financial goals might be, these 4 financial pros can help you get there (and with nary a mention of “inner growth” or “self actualization”). What do you have to lose?


Tips from an Expert: The Perfect Bike Rack for Your Car

Many cyclists need to transport their bikes by car from time to time, and unless they have a spacious van or truck, it can be a difficult task — leaving chain grease on the backseats and a frustrated driver at the wheel. But with the help of a bike rack, transporting your bikes is a breeze. We’ve broken down the options to help you decide which rack is best for your car.

Basically, there are 3 different types of bike racks: the trunk rack, the roof rack, and the hitch rack. Some types don’t work on certain vehicles, so make sure to verify your car’s size and compatibility specs before making a purchase.

Trunk rack

Trunk racks typically hold between 2 and 4 bicycles and are attached to the vehicle through a series of adjustable straps and hooks. The bikes hang from horizontal arms that reach out from an A-type frame.

  • Pros: Trunk racks are simple, versatile, lightweight, and easy to install and remove. They also fold down for easy storage and can fit on both sedans and hatchbacks.
  • Cons: Would-be thieves can quickly cut the straps and remove the rack from your vehicle, making away with it and your bike. The rack may also damage your vehicle’s finish after sustained use.
  • Ease of installation: So easy a child can do it. If you don’t have your own children, you can hire someone else’s. Or just do it yourself.

Roof rack

There are 2 types of roof racks — one mounts onto a generic roof, and the other onto factory-installed rooftop rails. Be sure to check your vehicle’s roof to determine which of these options would be best for you. Most roof racks hold 2 bicycles, but 3- and 4-bike versions are also available.

Once installed, simply lift your bicycle onto the rack and attach it. Typically, this entails resting the wheels in metal channels and raising a stabilizing bar to hook to the bike’s downtube. Some racks, however, require that you remove the bike’s front wheel and then secure its fork to a mounting point on the rack.

  • Pros: Roof racks are the least susceptible to theft, and have the most streamlined look when not carrying bikes. Many roof racks are not bike-specific and therefore, can accommodate other attachments.
  • Cons: They tend to be awkward for shorter people and for people without a lot of upper-body strength. They also increase your car’s height when in use, and can be problematic at drive-thrus, garages, and other low overhangs.
  • Ease of installation: Medium difficulty. While handy people can generally install either type of roof rack on their own, it’s best to ask your local dealership to help you out.

Hitch rack

If your car or truck has a hitch receiver, you may want to consider a hitch rack. The most important thing to note before purchasing a hitch rack is the size of your receiver. Hitch receivers typically come in one of 2 sizes (1¼” and 2″), and your rack will (obviously) need to be the corresponding size.

This type of rack typically accommodates 2-4 bikes and is secured to the hitch receiver with a simple cotter pin. And though it’s much heavier than a trunk rack, it can be installed and removed very easily.

  • Pros: Because of its increased rack weight, it’s much less susceptible to theft.
  • Cons: On the flip side, its increased weight makes it cumbersome to install and remove, and it can only be used on vehicles with trailer hitches.
  • Ease of installation: They’re heavy, but simple to install and remove.

Once installed, remember to lock your bikes to the rack. Many racks include a hinged closure for each bike that accommodates a padlock. If yours doesn’t, use a chain or cable lock to loop around the bikes and rack to secure them to each other.

Always choose a lock that releases with a key instead of a combination, and make sure that chains or cables are thick enough to withstand cable cutters and have coverings to protect the finishes of your bike, rack, and car. And with any rack on which the bikes hang (such as the trunk or vertical hitch rack), secure the steering columns of the bikes so they don’t spin around and knock into each other or the car while you’re in motion.

Wherever you go, drive carefully and ride with a smile!

4 Tips for a Green Commute

To kick off the new year, we asked NativeEnergy — our longtime partner — to share a few insights with readers on how to make 2011 greener. They offered the following sage advice on how to achieve a green commute.

The holiday season is a time of giving thanks, giving gifts, and eating good food. As we revel in joyful excess, we also begin preparing our New Year’s resolutions. While many of us plan to lose those extra 10 pounds, we often overlook a different kind of weight: carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, a heat-trapping compound that contributes significantly to climate change. Unfortunately, transportation is a leading cause of carbon dioxide pollution in the U.S., and our commutes advance climate change daily. But if you’ve resolved to be a little more eco-friendly this year, there are several things you can do to reduce the impact of your daily commute. Here are 4.

1. Go 2-wheeled

Kill 2 New Year’s resolutions with one bike. If you drive a relatively short distance to work, consider cycling instead. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if you bike instead of drive to work once a week, you’ll save an average of 1,385 pounds of carbon dioxide annually! (This is based on a daily round-trip commute of 24.2 miles.) Not only will you green your commute, you’ll also get exercise and relieve stress. Plus, you’ll save money on gas and car repairs, not to mention that pricey gym membership.

2. Go with public transit

Most people know that public transportation is better for the environment than a bunch of cars on the road, but did you know that trading your drive for the bus can also save an average of $9,343 per year? A study released by the American Public Transportation Association calculated the cost of gas, unreserved parking for commuters, and public transit rates to determine this significant amount of annual savings. Think of all the things you could do with an extra $9,343.

3. Go remote

Can you wear pajamas, blast loud music, and chill with your cat at work? If you’re like most people, probably not. Working remotely, however, allows you to kick back in style while getting the job done. Plus, by reducing your car usage, you’ll contribute less pollution to the atmosphere. Ask your boss if you can work from home once in awhile — but don’t mention the pajamas.

4. Offset your commute

If you’re unable to avoid pollution by walking, biking, telecommuting, or taking public transit, you can still reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. With NativeEnergy carbon offsets, you can help sustain projects that reduce carbon dioxide.

How does it work? First, estimate the amount of carbon dioxide that your commute generates using this travel calculator. Then, offset that amount by purchasing carbon offsets, which support the construction of new carbon reducing projects. Easy as that.

So bike, bus, offset, kick it in your PJs, and drop some pounds (of carbon dioxide) in 2011!

More green resources to help you go green and live a more sustainable lifestyle in 2011

NativeEnergy: How carbon offsets work
EPA: Health and environmental effects of climate change