Dec 3, 2019

Six Ways To Reduce Your Car Insurance Premium in Less Than a Year

We all want to save money on car insurance. If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, have you considered an attempt at lowering your premium? You might assume that your premium is set in stone, and there's nothing you can do about it. The truth is, you’re not as powerless as you may think.

Part of the solution is understanding how premiums are calculated, what insurers consider to be higher risks, and adapt your behavior accordingly. Other approaches are relatively simple takes on consumer smarts that you probably already use in your everyday life. You don’t need to become an expert on the insurance industry, but a little effort can go a long way when it comes to spending less money on car insurance.

We’ve been digging into the industry to give you a head start. Adopt a few of these measures, take a smart approach to your auto insurance, and within a year you can see some great changes to your premiums.


1. See What’s Out There


The obvious way to save on your insurance premiums is to shop around for the best deal. If you’re not happy with your current provider, take the time to research other options. Get quotes from as many companies as possible. Insurance companies look at your credit score when preparing your quote, but these are soft inquiries. Unlike hard inquiries, they won’t lower your credit score. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by shopping around.

Every insurer’s website will make it sound like that company is the best. That’s why it’s important to be discerning when looking at online information. Along with getting quotes, it’s wise to do some research on the provider. Look up the company on the Better Business Bureau to see complaints from past customers. The tried-and-true method of asking friends and family members for recommendations works too. Failing that, you can look for consumer reviews online.

2. Check Your Credit Score


A great credit score is necessary to make progress in the modern world. If your credit is suffering, you’re most likely paying more than you should for car insurance. As we mentioned, insurers use a customer’s credit score to determine their premium costs. Research has shown that people with good credit are less likely to file insurance claims.

Fixing bad credit can be a struggle, but it’s worth it. The time will pass either way, so make sure that everything you’re doing can help improve your future credit. Even if you’re already quite responsible, it’s still wise to check your credit report often. Mistakes happen, but if you can correct them quickly, they’ll be less likely to affect your premium.

If you’ve recently improved your credit, congratulations! You’ve accomplished something great. Now is the time to get quotes and ensure that you can save as much as possible.

3. Be Protective


Providers determine premiums based on many factors. One of them is the likelihood that your car will end up stolen. Your insurance company might be willing to lower your premium if you install an anti-theft device in the vehicle. The level of discount is often determined by the type of device you have. Immobilizers are extremely attractive to insurers because they actively disable the vehicle, therefore unless the thief has access to a transporter, your car’s going nowhere. Many insurers also look favorably upon GPS trackers, as these can assist in the recovery of the vehicle following a theft.

Likewise, you also may be able to get a discount for demonstrating that you’re a safe driver. It is common for insurers to lower your premium after you’ve gone a certain amount of time without filing any claims. While you can’t control the behavior of other drivers, you can make yourself a more attractive risk to insurers by putting effort into improving your own abilities. Most policy providers will provide discounts to drivers who have completed a state-approved defensive driving course. Often there are options to take a purely online course, but it is best to check with your insurer what their requirements are before booking lessons.

4. Drive Less Often


This option isn’t for everyone. If you work from home or otherwise don’t get out much, take advantage of the low-mileage discounts offered by many providers. Less time on the road means less risk of an accident or theft. Your premium should reflect the number of miles driven in a year. The threshold for a low-mileage discount can vary, but usually this clocks in at less than 7,500 miles per year. It may be the case that you’ve spent years only taking occasional journeys, but your carrier will not be aware of you average driving distances unless you let them know. Give them a call to discuss your usage, and inquire about the possibility of this discount.

5. Consider a Higher Deductible


This idea might seem counter intuitive at first, but by requesting a higher deductible, you can often save on your premium. You’ll be taking a risk that could result in owing more in the event of an accident. It’s also possible that you’ll never have an accident at all. This is really a case of spending some time carefully assessing the amount of risk you’re comfortable with. Look at the crime rates in any areas your car is usually parked for significant periods of time. Do you tend to drive on roads with higher accident rates? Honestly assess your own driving skill too — are you confident that you behave in a risk-averse manner? If you feel that there is a markedly lower chance of you making a claim, it may be time to raise that deductible.

6. Drop Full Coverage


There's a misconception that it's best to keep all vehicles insured with a full-coverage policy. This isn’t always true. If you have an older car, you could consider switching to the minimum amount of liability coverage required by your state. When the value of the car is so low that it will be totaled in the event of an accident, a full-coverage policy is unlikely to be worth the cost.

If you currently have a high-priced comprehensive policy, and are reluctant to take your coverage down to the minimum required liability, it’s worth considering a point in between these poles. Many insurers also offer collision cover as an option. This doesn’t go as far as your full fire and theft cover, but it protects you in the case of damage caused by collisions with other vehicles and objects. It also provides cover for damage caused by hitting potholes.

As you can see, it’s possible to lower your insurance premium. The more you can improve your financial situation and track record in life, the more benefits you’ll receive. Insurance companies want to work with responsible, safe drivers who create as little risk as possible. Be on your best behavior and stay safe on the road, and if you don’t like your current insurance provider, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere.


Oct 22, 2019

5 Untold Advantages to Using Custom Checks for Making Business Payments

How are you paying for your business expenses these days? Have you switched over from using paper checks to using credit cards and digital payments? While there are undeniable advantages to using modern methods of payments, you should not discount using checks for your business expenses. In fact, there are still some distinct benefits that you can enjoy with using checks, so you should still consider getting blank checks for custom check printing your business checks.

Here are five amazing advantages that you can enjoy as a business owner who uses paper checks for their business expenses:

1. The Undeniable Paper Trail

Using paper checks leaves behind a paper trail and you can use this paper trail in two ways as a business owner. First, you will have an easier way to manage and keep track of your cash flow, particularly in terms of your business expenses. When you use checks to cover all your business expenses, you can use accounting software such as QuickBooks to easily and accurately track the cash flow. Whether you’re paying utilities or vendors, you will have an easier time seeing where the money is going as well as an accurate breakdown of all your expenses.

Second, you will be more secure and protected against possible instances of fraud! Custom printed checks, particularly those that are created to work with accounting software, have tons of built-in security features that will prevent check fraud. The checks are printed on special paper and with special ink, and they can only be printed by reputable, licensed printing companies.

2. Custom Business Checks Look Professional

The number one rule for SMB (small and medium business) owners is that they should keep personal and corporate bank accounts separate. Thus, paying your vendors and suppliers from a personal account looks highly unprofessional and may damage your company’s reputation.

When you use business checks with your company’s logo, on the other hand, you will be giving your checks, and by extension your company, an appearance of professionalism and legitimacy. It sends a signal that you are a responsible and business-savvy owner that knows how to keep their personal and professional finances separate and properly managed.

3. No Additional Fees

Digital banking and credit cards are convenient, but they come with a price: processing fees. Many companies that accept credit card payments use third-party companies to process these payments and in turn pass on the fees to the customers.

With checks, however, you and your vendor will avoid these fees. In general, there are no fees associated with processing checks, and if there are any fees, they are usually negligible.

4. Faster and Quicker Processing

In the past, people were hesitant to use checks because of the long processing times that were associated with using paper checks. The recipient had to physically visit their bank, wait in line, wait for the teller to verify and process the check, and then wait for the check to clear before the money could be deposited into their account.

These days, however, electronic check processing (ETC) has made the process fast, easy, and in some cases, can even be done in real time! If your vendor is using a check that’s compatible with ETC, they can simply use their mobile banking app to scan the check. The check will then be verified and the money will be deposited into their account. The whole process is done electronically, and during the process, the paper check will be voided. This means that there is also little to no chance of fraud occurring, as scanned checks will no longer be valid.

5. Some Businesses/Vendors Just Prefer Checks

In some cases, you will still encounter businesses, companies, or organizations that prefer using checks over digital or credit card payments. Generally, government offices and utility companies prefer using paper checks because of their universal acceptance. This is especially true if you’re living in rural areas where there are small, locally-based banks. In these areas, many businesses are also not equipped to handle debit or credit card payments because it is expensive to set up these payment processes.

Of course, there are also cases of old-fashioned businesses where the business owner just prefers to use checks. If you’re dealing with elderly business owners, it is a common occurrence that they want checks or straight cash.

Finally, some business owners prefer checks because they don’t want to deal with processing electronic payments. 

May 20, 2019

3 Essential Things to Know About Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property

Company’s Intellectual Property
As a business owner, it is essential that you are protective of all aspects of your company from your employees to your assets and on to your intellectual property (IP). The latter brings about the most challenges; however, as it doesn't comprise a material thing which presses the issue — how can you successfully preserve an idea, concept or representation?

Luckily, there is a whole system of intellectual property laws that work to keep your unique business concepts and industry knowledge private to ensure that you can sustain a competitive advantage. To learn more, read on for three essential things to know about protecting your company’s intellectual property.

1. Understand why it is necessary to protect your company's intellectual property. 

Too many business owners are unaware of how crucial it is for them to be taking steps to protect their company's intellectual property as thoroughly as possible.

Not only do your IP rights establish your business as different from your competitors, but they also enable you to offer your customers something new and different and constitute an indispensable component of your marketing or branding.

Additionally (should you choose to go down this route), your IP rights can be sold or licensed rendering a significant revenue stream and also utilized as security for loans.

When you adequately protect your IP rights, you are securing them against breach by others and conclusively defend in the courts your single right to adopt, make, market or import it.

Other companies or individuals won't be able to use, produce, sell or import anything under those IP rights without your permission, and you will earn royalties if and when you choose to license them.

2. Know the types of intellectual property protection. 

Generally, there are considered to be three main types of intellectual property protection:

Trademarks – Applied to safeguard logos, company names, phrases, and symbols;
Copyrights – Adopted to preserve original works;
Patents – Utilized to guard manufacturing or design processes.

When it comes to trademarks, by registering yours, you maintain exclusive rights to the usage of it, and no one else can violate that right. The basic rule is that one trademark cannot smear another or cause any confusion.

Copyrights are similar to trademarks in that they offer long-term protection; however, copyrights preserve the rights creators have to their original works (such as literature, music, drama, art, movies, and architecture). In other words, they protect the ways concepts are expressed.

Last but not least, patents serve to guard the fundamental ideas and creations of the entrepreneur. Patents focus on protecting the mechanisms, systems, and elements surrounding the concepts and are usually considered to be the toughest of the laws shielding intellectual property.

3.  Obtain professional help. 

As with many legal aspects, it is highly recommended that you start working with a professional lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you are covered from the get-go.

Furthermore, consulting with a legal professional will help you to map out where you intend to sell your goods and services in an effort to think long-term and be proactive about preparing filings for those districts as soon as possible.

A good IP lawyer will help you ascertain what IP you need to protect, as well as assist you in writing up clear non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), thoroughly documenting your business ideas, and effectively utilizing IP designations (such as “patent pending,” “TM,” and “©”).

Together, you can generate a plan that covers all bases and also demonstrates to your competitors and others in the industry that your brilliant ideas are yours —and yours alone.

Do you think you are doing enough to protect your company's intellectual property?

If so, do you have any tips or strategies to share with other entrepreneurs? If not, what do you think are the biggest challenges you are facing concerning this topic?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Author Bio: Sharon Danso-Missah is the Head of Marketing at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the Middle East, with 17 offices across nine countries. Established in 1989, they are a full service commercial firm combining knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure all clients have access to the best legal solutions that are commercially sound and cost effective.

May 17, 2019

Is Your Car Insurance Premium Affordable? Here’s What You Should Know!

Car Insurance Premium


One of the important questions that makes people feel perplexed is how financing a vehicle affects your car insurance rates. Well, the answer relies on how is insurance going to affect you?

Is having auto insurance is all about protecting the vehicle from the road accident or crashes. However, on the wheels, things, like being involved in an accident or getting a traffic ticket, are not just the deciding factor for care insurances. 

There are things like credit score, geographical locations, and more that will decide your much you will pay for your car insurance.

Have a look at common factors that will help to determine your car insurance premium:

The Type Of Vehicle You Own: 

Of course, the insurance of a luxury car vehicle like Mustang and Mercedes would be higher than the insurance rate of a normal car. But, why? This is because a high priced car has high repairing and replacing cost than other regular models.

Moreover, the high-octane cars can easily barrel down the road 100 mps, putting the driver and the vehicle at the risk of car crashes. This, in turn, can increase your insurance rates as the insurer often look at how safe the vehicle is to drive and how well the driver has kept it.

Some insurance provider also looks at the amount of damage your vehicle can have on other vehicles. So, if your vehicle model has a high chance of putting damage, the insurance provider will charge more for liability insurance. However, a car with high-end security features might qualify for the discounts.

Overall Driving History: 

The better and improved your driving record, lower will be your very cheap car insurance. If your car has suffered more accidents and you have been in serious violations, you likely pay more. Apart from the accidents and traffic tickets, driving with an intoxicated can, reckless driving and more can get into your insurance premiums.

Where You Park Your Vehicle Also Matters: 

The location where you park your car equally contribute to the rise and fall of insurance rates. While setting rates, the insurer judge where you have parked your car and how you have kept it outside the office. Car owners who like in areas where there’s a chance of vandalism, theft, and accidents are high; they will pay high debt than the other small-town or rural areas.

While setting car insurance rates, the insurance providers will look at your ZIP code to identify the neighborhood crime rates. Other location factors, which affect your car insurance rates are:

• What kind of weather will hit your region
• How much vehicle insurance frauds occur in your locality
• How much car repairs cost in your area

Driving Routine: 

Do you use your vehicle for long commutes regularly? If yes, your insurance provider will ask you to pay high for your car insurance. Why? Because more miles of travel will contribute to more risks and more car crashes.

Vehicle Credit History: 

How efficiently you handle your credit score affects not only your mortgage or credit card but also on how much total amount you spend on the car insurance. Your credit report, payment history, credit utilization, and more will also define your vehicles insurance rate. Not-so-great credit score can also trigger a whop in insurance rates. Also, keep in mind that credit-based insurance is not the same as the normal credit score that you apply for a car loan. A normal credit score will examine how likely you repay the load, but the credit-based insurance score will consider credit history.

Driver’s Age: 

Younger drivers having little to no-road experience will have to pay a steeper price to get behind the wheels. But, why? This happens because the teen is a higher risk of road accidents and crashing than the drivers of another age group.

Now that you know how the insurance rates vary to keep the above tips in mind and get affordable car insurance.

May 15, 2019

5 Reasons why businesses should use a utility management company

Management Company
When you think about running a business, rarely do people feel compelled to consider utilities. In fact, most business owners often consider this aspect of business operations one of those opportunities to save money. While it is a fact that one can save money by running their utilities, it is equally important to note that it comes with a price. If you compare a business owner who opts to hire a utility management company and one who opts to do it on their own, the stark reality is that hiring utility companies enhances efficiency.

In essence, utility management companies help in boosting creativity and creating time for a business owner to think about other things apart from managing basic utilities. In this article, we are going to shed light on 5 reasons why businesses should use a utility management company.

According to the team at UMC Solutions “Many businesses have a lack of both time and skill to process a large number of complex utility bills, in the majority of cases outsourcing this time and skill to a specialized utility management company will provide a positive ROI.”

● Cost saving

Well, most business owners think that running all the errands associated with the business is a way of saving money. While this seems plausible, the reality is that one may be losing out. Hiring utility management companies brings knowledge and experience needed in identifying efficient utility providers at the most affordable price. Utility management companies have what it takes to ensure that your business gets the best possible service that might cost you more without your knowledge.

● Time saving

In addition to reducing overall utility-related costs, hiring utility management companies frees up one’s time to focus on the core business objectives. In this case, time resource needed to manage utilities promotes focus to other critical matters. For example, can you compare having to think through the process of settling water and electricity bills with creating a platform for growing business opportunities?

● Ease of tracking the markets

Utility management companies help businesses to track market trends with ease. This ranges from the customer behavior to existing products and services. Management utility companies will give you a glimpse of utility service providers without having to look into what each company does. For example, utility management companies know which service providers are using the latest technology and its impact to your business. This makes it easy for the business owner to make a quick decision without having to struggle with the hassle of digging into an uncommon world of utility providers.

● Promotes internal organizational structures

In addition to managing utilities, businesses that hire these companies have the freedom to align their structures in line with the emerging business demands. Utility management companies tailor utility needs in line with account management practices. This enhances coordination and allows for effective response to emergencies as well as strategy.

● Simplify business operations

In a world business where competition is driving businesses owners towards complexity, it is critical to identify areas that can enhance ease of managing business operations. This calls for investing in specialized companies to manage elements within business enterprises that can limit or hinder performance. Specialist knowledge associated with utility management companies comes in handy to boost performance and create a steady platform for growth.

Mar 30, 2019

The 5 Key Factors That Made Norway 2018’s Most Prosperous Country

Image credit: weforum.org
Norway is one of the few countries in the world that has been receiving various accolades year in and year out. In 2017, Norway was considered the “Happiest Country in the World” by LexisNexis. Norway also never fails to make it into the top tier in various lists detailing the most beautiful countries in the world.

However, there is one accolade that the country is proud of getting nine times since 2007: the “World’s Most Prosperous Country.”

The Legatum Prosperity Index is an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute, whose mission is to “create the pathways from poverty to prosperity, by fostering Open Economies, Inclusive Societies and Empowered People.” This index shows how countries from different parts of the world have veered toward or away from a higher standard of living or prosperity.

Each country included in the study is evaluated according to nine important pillars or factors which are:

Economic quality
Business environment
Governance
Personal freedom
Social capital
Safety and security
Education
Health
Natural environment

What Made Norway Top the List


Norway ranked impressively high in five pillars of the Legatum Prosperity Index which propelled it to the top of the list. These five pillars or factors are:

1. Safety and Security


Norway ranked first in terms of safety and security.

This pillar measures how well citizens and properties are protected. This also evaluated by how safe and secure the citizens feel on a personal and national level.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since Norway ranked second on the 2018 Gallup survey of the world’s safest countries to visit.  The survey showed that both locals and tourists feel safe in this country.

Additionally, Norway has a relatively low crime rate, especially when compared to other Western European countries with large populations. Norway is a peaceful nation where civil unrest is almost nonexistent.

2. Governance


Norway ranked third in this pillar. This factor pertains to a country’s performance in the following key areas:

Effective governance
Democracy and political participation
Rule of law

Norway follows a parliamentary constitutional monarchy system where the executive branch is headed by the prime minister and exercised by the king's council and the cabinet.

The country got a high rating for the adherence of its citizens to the rule of law. In addition, Norway received high ratings for the quality and relevance of regulations they have implemented.

Lastly, the nation scored high in terms of the efficiency, impartiality, and accountability of its government.

3. Social Capital


The country also ranked third in terms of social capital, a pillar which measures the extent to which people trust and support one another and have the support of their family, friends, and other people. 

It evaluates the depth and quality of personal relationships, social network support, norms, and people’s civic participation.

In Norway, a study was released in 2017 showing that there has been little change in the number of locals who have people whom they can count on for help when the need arises.

With this in mind, it is safe to say that Norwegians have good personal and social relationships and they are more likely to help someone in need. They are also more open to making cash donations and volunteering to aid others.

All these efforts go a long way in pushing and maintaining the country’s prosperity status.

4. Education


In terms of education, Norway ranked fourth.

This pillar takes into account the country’s quality of education, the people’s access to education, and human capital.

The Norwegian public education system is considered one of the best in Europe. The general level of education in Norway is even higher than the European average.

The country has done a great job of maintaining the quality of education in both public and private schools. Because of this, many Norwegians are well-educated and the number of adults with at least an upper secondary level of education continues to grow.

5. Economic Quality


Lastly, Norway ranked seventh in terms of economic quality.

This factor rates countries on:

Openness of economy
Economic opportunities
Financial sector efficiency
Foundations for growth
Macroeconomic indicators

Norway is one of the few countries with an inclusive economy that continues to perform well. The country has the lowest income inequality score in the world. Because of this, Norway has a number of the best companies to invest in the long term.

The country is also successful in translating economic growth into high and rising living standards. Moreover, Norway is a consistent performer in terms of creating jobs for the majority of the population and reducing poverty.

With its great track record and continuous effort, Norway is on the right track to landing on the top of this year’s prosperity index as well.


Feb 18, 2019

How to choose the best investment for you

Investing can be an exciting venture to undertake and a great way to boost your overall income. Whether you’re trying to save for a more financially stable retirement or you simply want to reach certain financial goals, investing is something everyone should consider at some point in their lives. When choosing the best investment to undertake, there’s a range of options you could go for, with different benefits to each. From property to stocks, here’s a simple guide on how to choose the best type of investment for you.

One of the most popular investment types is property investment, with over two million property investors in the UK alone. There are a whole host of benefits that come with investing in property, the main ones being the opportunity to generate more immediate returns on your investment along with large returns from capital appreciation. If you choose to purchase a property for buy to let purposes, you’ll be able to generate a consistent amount of income each month through tenants rental costs, with higher rental yields bringing in better returns. Then, once you decide to sell your property later in life, you could find that the property has actually increased in value thanks to capital growth, leaving you with an attractive return on your initial investment.

Of course, while property investment can offer some attractive prospects, this is largely dependant on the area you choose to invest in. In London, for instance, the property market is in a declining state, with a decrease in house price growth and low average rental yields of 3.05%. This means that those investing in a buy to let property in the capital aren’t likely to see the returns they’d like. In property hotspots like Liverpool and Manchester, on the other hand, the property market is thriving. Those who choose to invest in these cities can expect high rental returns, a strong level of rental demand, and a lot of potential when it comes to capital appreciation. Some property companies based in the north-west such as RW Invest even offer opportunities with rental yields as high as 7 and 8%, with much more affordable prices than many other UK cities.

While property investment can be a great path to go down, stocks and shares are often the preferred investment type for many. With this form of investment, you’re able to buy small fractions of a company which entitles you to a return on investment if the company’s value rises over time. While stocks and shares allow you to spend less money on an investment, there’s often more risk involved compared to property. Without the right knowledge, you could come out of your investment with less money than you started with. For those who don’t have much cash to spare but are keen to get involved with this type of investment, a stocks and shares ISA is a good option. A number of companies such as Moneybox have started developing app’s for this purpose to provide an easy and hassle-free way for people to try investing, instantly investing small amounts of users money into global companies through simple tracker funds.

There’s certainly a lot to think about when deciding which investment route to take. To put things in perspective, it’s worth comparing the track record of each investment type. For instance, between 2000 and 2017, research showed that the average UK home’s value significantly outperformed the Financial Times-Stock Exchange. While both investment types can bring good results for the investor, information like this suggests that for those looking to make a big impact on their financial status, investing in the UK property market may be the best route to take.