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Breakdown Cover – The Commuter’s Friend

You might have heard of breakdown cover or roadside assistance. What you might not know is that you will need a commuter policy in order to be covered if you drive your vehicle to work each day.

Levels of Breakdown Cover

Like many insurance policy types, breakdown coverage comes in a variety of types and levels. This means that you can select the type you need for your driving objectives.

The types are as follows:

  • Social and Domestic – Visiting friends, driving to the store, or going to personal appointments
  • At Home – Takes care of mechanical failure or driver error on your driveway or within ¼ mile of your home. Great for rundown batteries or locking your keys inside the car
  • Commuter – If you drive to work or even if you drive to the commuter parking lot and catch a train or bus, this is for you. Social will not cover this.
  • Holiday – Extended coverage for motor holidays, can include help with itinerary planning
  • European Holiday – Hotline in English, so you don’t have to negotiate repairs in an unfamiliar language, assist with border crossings, vehicle recovery if your vehicle isn’t ready to leave when you must return
  • Business – If you use your vehicle to make money, you need this. Business plans are typically a little more expensive than social, at home, or commuter.

Other Divisions of Coverage

In addition to these general sorts of cover, breakdown insurance can also be divided into:

  • Personal – Any vehicle you drive is covered
  • Vehicle – Anyone who drives your vehicle is covered
  • Family – Extends coverage to two or more related individuals
  • Business Fleet – Covers your company cars or trucks
  • Roadside Assistance – A licensed mechanic will make repairs on the spot that take thirty minutes or less. Delivery of gasoline or tires is included, but possibly not the cost of the supplies. Includes reasonable towing if the repair is not simple enough for a roadside process.
  • Assistance with Bill Pay – Usually only available to vehicles less than 15 years old, with fewer than 10,000 miles on the odometer. The vehicle should be in good repair at the time of application. Special rules, such as needing to apply while the vehicle is under warranty might apply.

Decisions, Decisions

Whew! That’s a lot of choices, and to make it even more interesting, you can select one or more categories for your breakdown cover policy – and should. Types of coverage and the names for them will vary from company to company but vehicles and human activities are similar across the board, so the differences are not too great.

Best Way to Select

Be honest with your agent when signing up for insurance. Tell him or her the number of miles you are likely to drive daily, whether you are a retiree or student and if you are picking up some extra dollars by moonlighting for Uber or delivering pizza. Inaccurate information about your activities can create disappointment by invalidating your policy. By giving your agent accurate information he or she can connect you with the best policy selections for you. Giving inaccurate information, such as minimizing the number of miles you normally drive when commuting, will make it difficult for your agent to advise you correctly.

Bottom Line

Breakdown policies are not usually included in your basic insurance policy, although they can be added. The cost for breakdown insurance is negligible compared with the cost of calling a garage directly and having to be towed in without a plan in place. In many cases, it is more affordable than taking the family out to dinner, especially if you have three or more children.

How to Make an Internet Micro Loan: Micro Finance Helps Entrepreneurs in Developing World

Micro Finance is a way of lending money to those in need in developing countries. Rather than going to a bank, the borrower applies to be listed on-line. Often their needs are modest – just a few hundred dollars to purchase a new industrial sewing machine for making shoes, or to equip and furnish a restaurant.

Not a New Idea

The concept of micro finance has been around for a long time. Self Help Groups have been a growing feature in the developing world, where it is often women who get together to form a fund as a safety net or to pay for schooling.

However the new face of micro finance is to be found on the internet where today’s technology allows borrowers and lenders to be brought together with ease. Another feature of micro finance is the use of internet banking to facilitate speedy and secure payments

How Micro Finance Works

Once the borrower is listed with an organisation, individuals can offer to contribute towards the sum requested – Kiva, for example, suggests a minimum loan of $25. Eventually, when enough individuals have offered to lend and the requested amount is achieved, the loan is paid out to the borrower.

The borrower repays the loan in instalments and this is either refunded to the lender in small amounts across the board to all of the conbtributors, or the whole sum may need to be repaid before each lender receives a full payment. There is a very low rate of default amongst micro finance borrowers – around 2 – 3 per cent.

Keeping the Money Active

At that stage there are two options; either to withdraw the original sum of loaned cash with or without interest, or to reloan it to another borrower. In practice most lenders keep their money in the pot. According to Mads Kjaer founder of MyC4 less than 0.5% of the €5 million invested so far has been withdrawn.

To Take Interest or Not?

Many lenders are involved in micro lending from purely altruistic motives; a small loan isn’t going to harm one’s finances but can mean a lot to the borrower in the developing world where the dollar stretches much further in terms of what it can purchase.

However there are also microfinance companies that will charge interest; in some cases as much as 40 per cent APR once fees have been added. This is a benefit for the lender and for the organization that manages the loan and may incentivize more people to become lenders, but may create ethical issues for others.

One very successful micro finance company asks for a donation towards the administration costs to be paid by the lender, not the borrower.

Criticism of Micro Finance

Micro Finance has been criticized as it offers governments a way of opting out of their own responsibilities in terms of social and business development. It remains to be seen what will happen to micro finance in view of the current credit crunch.

401(k) Loan Rules: How Does Borrowing From 401(k) Plans Work?

Although the aim of 401(k) plans is to build income for retirement, some people find another use for their savings by taking out loans against them. If a plan allows borrowing, this may seem a relatively easy way to access a quick loan during your working life. What are the 401(k) loan rules and how does borrowing from a plan work?

401(k) Loan Rules, Tax and Borrowing Limits

A loan from a 401(k) plan is not subject to tax if it meets criteria set by the IRS. You can borrow up to 50% of the vested balance up to a maximum limit of $50,000. Borrowing must be paid off within 5 years, although this period may be extended if the money is used to buy a main residence for the first time. Repayments have to be made at least once a quarter and must be made in more or less level amounts.

Do All 401(k) Plans Allow Loans?

Although all 401(k) plans can allow loans, not all of them do. The rules set on borrowing may also vary from plan to plan which could see additional criteria added to standard IRS guidelines. So, for example, one employer may offer loans for any purpose; another may rule that loans can only be used for specific purposes (i.e. for medical costs, college expenses or to buy a first home). Those considering 401(k) loans should, therefore, check if they are offered by plans and if there are any additional specifications to consider.

How Does Borrowing From a 401(k) Plan Work?

Each plan will outline the application process for a loan. This may involve completing a form or applying by phone. It does not involve a credit check. Loans from 401(k)s must be repaid with interest as outlined by the plan. Repayments can be deducted from pay checks or paid from bank accounts but will not be made with pre-tax dollars as with plan contributions. If you don’t pay off your borrowing to schedule, then the borrowing may be viewed as an early withdrawal, at which point you may be liable to income tax and a 10% penalty. If you change job or are laid off, the loan may become due more quickly.

Are 401(k) Loans a Good Idea?

There are advantages and disadvantages to borrowing against a 401(k) plan and it may be wise to think hard about the pros and cons before applying for a loan. Although this can seem to be an easy and cost-effective way to borrow, it may have an impact on retirement income in the future. In some cases, if loans are not an option, then a hardship withdrawal may also be worth considering.

Introduction to Small Business Loans

Do You Need Cash for Your Business?

One of the most difficult things about starting a small business is finding enough money to get your business up and going on the right foot. Utilizing a small business loan can be a good way to have enough capital to start your business out right. Applying for small business loans can be a bit complicated and intimidating. However, with some good preparation you can get the right loan for your business.

The first step in starting any small business is to write a business plan. You will need your business plan to attain a small business loan. Don’t even attempt to apply for funding of any sort without having completed your business plan. It is simply a waste of your time. You also want to make sure that if you are going to write a business plan that you do a good job of it and make it as professional as possible. There are many articles online and books available at your local library to help you with writing it.

The main requirements for getting small business loans are; personal credit rating, your business plan, your experience in your business, your education and if you are a start-up or existing company. Small business loans come in many forms. They can be signature loans, no document loans, collateral loans and no-collateral loans. Which is right for you is determined by a number of factors including the length of time you need the loan for and your personal credit history. The better your credit history, then the better the loan options you have. With a small business, you are your business; therefore your credit effects your funding options.

When applying for a small business loan you will want to consider how much money you will need to start your business, or how much capital you need for your existing business. You will have to show the lender, in writing, exactly how you plan on spending the money you are borrowing. The lender will want a detailed break-down of your expenses dollar by dollar.

When applying for your small business loan you will have to show the lender that your business is strong enough to last long enough for you to repay your loan. You will need to have a written cash-flow projection to show how you will repay your loan and how the loan will help your business to succeed.

Going into the process of shopping for a small business loan it is important to understand that lenders want to give you a loan. However, they need to be shown that you know your business, that your business is sound, and that you will be around to pay off the loan when the time comes. You can show this to lenders through a strong business plan which should include all of the information in this article if you are looking for funding for your business.

Just as with personal loans, you may not receive the first small business loan you apply for. Do not let this stop you. Move on and look for another lender or choose a different loan type. Listen to the reasons you did not receive the first loan you applied for and see if you can improve upon the issue for your next try. Best of luck to you and your business!