Getting the Most from Your Breakdown Cover

When it comes to getting the most from your breakdown cover, a little knowledge, some careful reading and dedicated upkeep on your vehicle all count. Just a little preparation and talking with your agent can help you know exactly what to do and what to expect.

Don’t Miss the Fine Print

Whether you have an At Home policy, Basic Domestic, or Business, there are two important words to consider: Human Error. This applies to those irritating little things such as leaving your lights on, locking your keys in the car, or putting the wrong kind of fuel in your vehicle. Some policies cover these as a matter of course, but others exclude those events from covered items. Oh, they might come out and charge up that battery, but they will charge extra. It is good incentive to develop thoughtful habits, but it is also something to be aware of before signing on for coverage.

Pets or Animals

If you have pets or animals that you transport regularly, check to see if your vehicle will be covered. Some companies will not. Even those that do might have rules for restraint. You might need to invest in a special safety harness or hard-shelled carrier in order to meet your insurer’s needs. (Those are safer for your pet, too.)

Keep Up the Maintenance

Good maintenance is an essential part of qualifying for your breakdown coverage. Not all companies are sticklers about this, but some will let you know if they think you are using your breakdown insurance instead of the local garage for basic maintenance events. Or to put it another way, one worn fan belt is oversight, a worn fan belt every six months is an indication that the owner isn’t taking care of the vehicle.

Match Your Cover to Your Driving Habits

Breakdown coverage comes in a variety of types, even from a single company. It can range from At Home cover which is for your own drive or within ¼ mile of  your home to coverage that will take care of you as you travel from one country to another in Europe. If you are a retiree or a person who works at home, you will need very different coverage from a medical equipment salesman who travels from one end of the nation to the other while transporting products for demonstration.

Avoid Auto-Renewing Your Policy

If you auto renew your policy, you could wind up paying for more insurance than you need. For example, if you have retired you might no longer need to pay for commuter insurance. If you took that vacation in Europe last year, but this year you are taking a staycation, you could find yourself paying for European travel coverage that you will not use. Your renewal date is a good time to reassess your coverage and make changes that reflect your life-style changes.

Well-Worth the Trouble

It is well worth the trouble to check the fine print on a policy before you sign up or renew it. Breakdown insurance is almost always a money saver in the long run, but even so, you don’t want to pay for too much insurance or discover that you have too little insurance. “Just right” is the type of coverage that will work best for you.

Take Home Message

The take home message here is that breakdown cover can save you money on roadside emergency repairs. It can help you move along toward your destination, even if your vehicle develops mechanical difficulty along the way, but it works best when you have the right policy for you.

Learning the Meaning of Credit

Hard Lessons My Mother Almost Taught Me

When my identity was stolen at 23, I was shocked, confused and lost. I grew up in a household where saving came secondary, but it was ok as long as you didn’t get a credit card. That is obviously not the healthiest financial philosophy. But the parallels between being careful with a credit card and the overall importance of a credit score never registered until I received a phone call from a creditor claiming I owed £1,000 on a loan I never opened. Fast forward through 6 months of proving who I was and finding out more about credit than a financial planner. It was a hard lesson at that age, but a great one. It forced me to get a healthier outlook on finances and taught me the simplest lesson on dealing with credit:

  1. Check your Credit.

It’s yours, it’s free and it matters. Don’t be afraid of what you will find. If you wait until you get the unexpected creditor phone call, no turning back. Each year, the government gives one free credit report to consumers (that’s you), but you have to go get it: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp . Also consider investing in a credit protection service. It is another bill, but the peace of mind is priceless. If you don’t want to shell out the cash every month, check your credit report on a bi-annual basis from services like freecreditreport.com which offers one free credit report and additional reports for a small fee.

  1. Don’t be afraid of credit cards…be afraid of willpower

Building credit is one of the best things to do. Credit cards with good interest rates and rewards programs can not only build your credit but you can earn discounts and rewards like airline miles. The key is to use your credit wisely and watch your willpower. It is very easy to use as an extension of your wallet for some cute shoes or great music, but understand the true purpose of credit, to prove your fiscal responsibility and purchasing power. Don’t spend more than you can pay back and use it for larger purchases. Used wisely the purchasing power of good credit can get you very far with very little.

  1. Make a budget and stick with it

That way you know when, were and how to most appropriately use your credit. It can be overwhelming to chart and track every little purchase, but it answers that age old question “where did it go”. Take the extra step beyond your check registry and start to track your purchases. Use online banking coupled with a budget spreadsheet (templates are extensive on the internet and through standard software) to start tracking and once you get into the groove, it becomes routine!