4 reasons it's time to refinance your auto loan

Bills are a lot like bad weather. They’re going to come anyway, so you might as well not try to fix them, right? For some bills, that’s the case. For others, though, you can make a big difference in your monthly budget with a little legwork.

One of the bills you can change is your car payment. Refinancing your vehicle loan can lead to a lower If any of these factors have changed since you bought your car, you owe it to yourself to check out your refinancing options. Let’s look at some common life changes and when they might be caused to look at refinancing. Read on to learn about three scenarios where refinancing makes sense for your car or truck:

1.) Your credit improves

One of the biggest factors in determining your auto loan status is your credit score. When your lender is building a loan package, a credit report is pulled as a central part of that process. That number helps define your interest rate, whether or not you’ll have to pay a premium for insurance, and what other fees your lender might charge.

It’s worth keeping a copy of the credit report your lender pulled. That can let you see if your credit score has improved. It can take as little as nine months of steady repayment to boost your credit score, and that could result in a cheaper loan if you refinance.

If you didn’t have much experience with credit when you purchased your vehicle, refinancing can do you a world of good. Interest rates as high as 18% are common for borrowers who have little to no credit history. Having even a few months of solid payments on your side can cut that rate in half or more.

2.) You didn’t shop around before you borrowed

Many people feel railroaded throughout the car-buying process. They pick a car they like, then they are told what the price is, what the monthly payment is and everything else. It may seem like the choice of lenders for your car loan is predetermined.

Dealers tend to have a smaller range of lenders with whom they work exclusively. Those lenders know they have limited exposure to competition so they can charge slightly higher fees and interest rates. By doing your own comparison shopping, you can save quite a bit on both the loan and any ancillary insurances or warranties you may have purchased. Dealer rates tend to be 1 to 1.5% higher than those offered at smaller lenders, like credit unions.

If you’ve never shopped around for a car loan, it’s definitely worth doing. By getting multiple offers, you can ensure you’re getting the best price available for your loan. Try to do your shopping inside a 15-day period. Otherwise, the multiple checks on your credit could negatively impact your credit score.

3.) You need to change your monthly payment

You may be in a much better financial situation now than when you bought your car. You may have a better job or more security. You may have paid off a credit card or other debt. All of these things free up how much you can pay per month.

Most people don’t go into the refinancing process looking to increase their monthly payment, but you can save yourself money in the long term by committing to a faster repayment plan. If you can afford to pay more per month now, you can pay off the balance on your car faster. Shorter term loans usually also have lower interest rates, since the lender assumes less risk in making the loan. Once the car is paid off, you’ll have all that money to devote to other saving or spending priorities.

On the other hand, if money is tight, it might be a good idea to refinance into a longer term. While you might end up paying more in interest, you can reduce your monthly payment and save the money you need right now.

Your Turn: What do you do to save money on your car payment? Let us know your best tips and tricks in the comments, and don’t forget to stop by [CREDIT UNION] to find out how refinancing can improve your financial life!

How to File a Car Insurance Claim



Getting into a car crash can be stressful and cause panic, even if you are protected with car insurance. Many folks have coverage, but don’t know what to do after an accident and don’t know how to file a car insurance claim. Keep calm and read on.

The car insurance claim process may seem daunting, but it is easier than it appears. Here is some information on what to do after a collision and how to file a claim with little hassle.

Things You Should Know Before the Worst Happens

No one plans to get into an accident, but it’s important to know what your policy covers in case you have file a car accident injury claim or any other insurance claim. Read through your policy so you always know where you stand. Know how much liability coverage you have and if you have collision and comprehensive coverage. If you notice any coverage you want that isn’t included in your plan, contact your insurance company to get it added to your policy. Reading over your policy can also inform you on how to best file an auto insurance claim with your insurer if you cannot proceed with traditional methods.

After the Accident

There is a whole guide on what to do after getting into an auto accident and there are some steps that take priority before filing accident claims. In short, pull over and park away from traffic if possible, check yourself and others involved in the accident for injuries, call the police to report the accident, and exchange insurance information with the people involved with the collision. Also, take pictures of the accident scene if you are able, write down license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the collision, and write down the names and contact information of any witnesses.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Regardless of whoever caused the accident, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and file a claim. There should be a national or local phone number on your insurance card that you can call. When you speak with your insurance representative, ask if there are any particular forms you need to fill out or other information they need in order to swiftly process auto accident claims. Knowing what information you’ll need to obtain, usually items such as repair bills and the police report, will save you from making follow-up phone calls later on.

Take Your Car to a Repair Shop

While most state laws prohibit insurance companies from favoring specific auto body repair shops, many will provide you a list of local shops that are backed by repair and labor guarantees. Ultimately, you will be the one to choose which repair shop will fix your car. Make sure you know what your settlement amounts are before signing off on an estimate for repairs. You don’t want to end up paying beyond your policy’s limit if you can help it. Keep and make copies of all paperwork.

Cooperate With Your Insurer

Depending on the severity of the accident, you may be required to give your insurer additional information. They may call the repair shop to discuss the estimate for repairs or send an insurance adjuster to inspect the car. You may need to send copies of any legal papers or settlement offers you receive in relation to the accident. This can help your insurer defend you if you are sued as a result of the accident. It may seem like a hassle, but it is all in the interest of providing you the protection you purchased.

Keep Records of All Related Expenses

If you get a car estimate, hospital bill, a bill for a rental car, or any other expense related to your car accident, you need to be able to show proof of it to your insurance company. Keep any and all receipts or paperwork that indicates how much you paid or need to pay. You should also write down and report anything that could be considered lost wages. This can help you get reimbursed properly for these expenses.

Keep and Store Copies of Paperwork

This has been mentioned previously multiple times, but it bears repeating. It is important to keep any and all paperwork related to your accident in order for your insurance provider to refer to it when filing your car insurance claim. Keep the originals and make copies of any forms, bills, or other items related to your accident. You should also consider keeping your records organized in a file and kept in a safe place in your home.

If You’re Dissatisfied, Talk to Your Insurance Agent

If your claim has been processed and you aren’t satisfied with your payout, don’t be afraid to talk things over with your insurance provider. You can both review what was outlined in your policy agreement and see if there was any information that was overlooked or forgot to provide. It could also be an opportunity to update your insurance policy to include certain coverages that weren’t available to you in this instance.

How Many Cars Can Be Insured on the Same Policy?

Is there a limit to the number of cars that can be insured under the same policy? How many vehicles can you cover under one policy? Today, we’re answering all your questions about multi-car insurance policies – including how to save money on a multi-car insurance policy.

Multi-Car Insurance Is an Easy Way to Save Money

If you live in a household with multiple vehicles, then it’s in your best interest to insure your cars under one policy (unless, of course, your spouse has a DUI or some other major incident that would cause insurance rates to rise).

That’s why multi-vehicle insurance policies exist. Multi-car insurance policies are built for households with two or more passenger vehicles. These vehicles are covered under a single policy. You pay less than you would if you insured each car individually, and you save even more money by bundling vehicle insurance with your home insurance or life insurance.

The benefits of a multi-car insurance policy are obvious. However, there are certain requirements to qualify for a multi-car insurance policy.

Requirements for a Multi-Car Policy

There’s one obvious requirement for qualifying for a multi-car insurance policy: you need to insure two or more passenger vehicles on the same car insurance policy.

To do that, you’ll need all of the usual information – like the VIN and lienholder information (if applicable) for any vehicles, as well as the driver’s license numbers for all drivers. The information required for a multi-car policy is no different from a single-car policy, aside from the fact that you’re listing multiple vehicles.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Vehicles Under One Policy?

Insurance companies almost always have a limit to the number of cars you can cover under a single insurance policy.

Typically, insurers allow you to cover a maximum of four of five vehicles under a single policy.

Other Restrictions with Multi-Car Insurance Policies

There are certain other restrictions you may need to know about with multi-car insurance policies. Some companies offer a discount only if the insured cars are in the same household and insured by related parties. If you’re living with unrelated roommates, for example, then you may not qualify for a multi-car insurance policy.

Other insurers, however, only require everyone to live at the same address, and they don’t care whether or not you’re related.

Another important thing to note is that you could qualify for a multi-car insurance discount in the middle of your term. Some people instinctively wait for the end of their term to add a new vehicle, when they could be taking advantage of the discount immediately.

Does the Coverage for Each Vehicle Need to Be Identical?

This is where things get a little tricky. Typically, insurance companies require all vehicles under a multi-vehicle policy to have the same amount of liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. This is done to ensure there’s no confusion regarding how much liability coverage each vehicle has.

In other words, if you have a liability limit of 100/300/50 on your first vehicle, then you need to have those same limits on your second vehicle.

This isn’t just your insurance company being nitpicky: state laws often require liability limits to be the same for all vehicles under a single policy.

Policyholders, however, are free to adjust collision coverage and comprehensive coverage between vehicles. You might want full coverage on your brand new SUV, for example, while getting rid of collision and comprehensive coverage on your 10+-year-old vehicle.

You can also add, remove, or adjust add-ons however you like – including things like rental car reimbursement or custom car coverage. You’re totally free to add this to certain vehicles under your policy but not others.

There’s one important thing to remember with all this: the insurance company insures your vehicle, not the driver. If your primary vehicle has full coverage, but your secondary vehicle has no collision or comprehensive coverage, then that doesn’t change when someone else drives it.

You Can’t Insure Cars and Motorcycles Under the Same Policy

The only other restriction you need to know about is that motorcycles and cars cannot be covered under the same multi-car insurance policy.  Motorcycles require a motorcycle policy – not an auto policy. However, you may still be eligible for a discount by ordering through the same insurer for both policies.