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A purchased or leased vehicle starts depreciating in value once it leaves the car lot. Up to 20% of value can be lost within one year. The amount of a loan, when financing a new car using a minimal down payment, will most likely exceed the market value of the vehicle in it first few years. If your vehicle is evaluated as being totaled by your insurance company, in the event of an accident, they are only liable to cover the current market value of your vehicle. Luckily you have the option of covering the “gap” between what you owe and the current market value of your vehicle with GAP Insurance.

Example:
2012 vehicle cash value: $25,000
Loan balance: $27,000
Payoff without GAP: $25,000  you owe: $2,000
Payoff with GAP: $27,000  you owe: $0

You will most likely be offered GAP Insurance or GAPS at the car dealer but are better off buying the coverage from an insurance agent who can offer it at a better rate. Typically, adding GAP insurance along with collision and comprehension would only increase your rate by about $20 a year.  Requirements involved in purchasing GAP insurance and maximum loss limits for GAP to kick in vary from state to state. The Truth in Lending Act, which promotes the informed use of consumer credit, excludes GAP premiums from financial charges if it was not required by a creditor, premiums were disclosed in writing and the consumer can provide a written request for the coverage.

The annual Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released their top picks for 2015 as a result of their latest survey. The number of vehicles earning the IIHS “Top Safety Pick Plus” has since doubled for 2015. A total of 71 cars have been named a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus. 38 cars have been honored with the “Top Safety Pick” and 33 cars have been awarded “Top Safety Pick Plus” and are considered top tier. Consumers have more to choose from when it comes to the safest vehicles of 2015 and who doesn’t want to feel safe in their vehicles? Parents are among the most concerned when it comes to choosing a car based on safety ratings.

As this is the third consecutive year that the IIHS has used tougher safety measures many car makers have stepped up to the plate and turned around negative ratings that they had received in the past. Honda CR-V and Toyota Prius V are two vehicles that have shown vast improvement in ratings.

The list of 2015 Top Safety Pick Plus vehicles include: Subaru Outback, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Subaru Impreza, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Forester, Acura MDX, Acura TLX. Toyota Prius, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz M-Class,  BMW 2 series, Audi A3, Volvo S80, Volvo XC60, Volvo S60, Volvo V60, Chrysler 200, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Lexus CT 200H, Lexus RC, Lexus NX, Toyota Camry, Toyota Sienna, Acura RLX, Toyota Highlander, Mazda 3, Mazda 6, Mazda CX-5, Toyota Prius V, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti Q70, Infiniti Q50

A complete list of Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus vehicles can be found here: www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/TSP-List

The Mountainview based search giant, Google, introduced an auto insurance comparison shopping site in 2012 to the UK. It is now working its way to our market with a 26 US state launch in the works. Apparently the launch hasn’t been easy as the launch date keeps getting pushed back. In any case if you know Google, you know they will succeed and continue to branch outside of their core business. Google is slowly but surely in the process of extending its umbrella to a canopy in order to reach more markets and industries. The comparison shopping site implementation is nothing new to Google as they already have a travel destination compare and book system and commodity price compare system available.

The website that will be available to the American public will give them access to an insurance comparison shopping site. Those who are interested in utilizing the website have the opportunity to compare policies and buy coverage. Some known insurers are already working with the website which includes Dairyland, MetLife and Mercury.

The site will be called Google Compare and host a variety of insurance carriers. While the UK version of the site offers 125 different auto insurance options, the company has been making US insurers aware about the opportunity for two years in an attempt to build onto their roster in time for the launch.

The first availability of the website will be in California and is projected to launch sometime in the first quarter of this year. The other states that include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  Moving forward with this program will most likely push online insurance middlemen already offering this type of business with an unfavorable drop in sales

Sony Pictures chief executive, Michael Lynton, compares the cyber his company is dealing with to having your house robbed or burned to the ground. Even though the media had a field day with the cyber crimes committed against Sony, Lynton says the instance is less of a disaster than anticipated. Fortunately the cost associated with the breach will be completely covered by insurance.

The attacks that surfaced on Nov. 21, about seven weeks ago, have been traced and pinned on the North Korean government by the U.S. government. Experts have estimated damaged caused by the breach to cost up to $100 million but Lynton reassures that the damages are “well within the bounds of insurance.”

What happened?

• Cleaned out loads of data
• Online distribution of email
• Disclosure of sensitive employee data
• Pirated copies of new movies

The attacked allegedly launched by hackers employed by the North Korean government as determined by an FBI investigation was in response to the release of “The Interview.” The comedy film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen depicts the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Un. North Korea denies being behind the attack but sees the film as an “act of war.” Despite its rocky start, the film is currently playing in theaters.

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