Pandemic car buying: Consumer strategies for the age of COVID-19 and beyond

frank lamjus

To buy a car, you need money. To have money, you need a job, unless you’re cruising on investments. So for many of the 40 million unemployed Americans — only the most recent, crushing count — happy talk about buying a car is bound to chafe. 

But while the pandemic is kneecapping new-car sales, which are expected to fall about 27 percent to just 12.5 million units in 2020, tens of millions of Americans will still buy a car this year. Used cars have generated 40 million to 45 million retail sales in recent years, dwarfing sales of new models. 

So whether it’s industry rah-rah or not, the pandemic has automakers and dealers pulling out all the stops to lure shoppers back. While it’s a buyer’s market, consumers need good advice to navigate it without tripping themselves up — including by falling for screaming “deals” that aren’t what they’re cracked

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Life Insurance Application Procedures Changing Amid the Pandemic

frank lamjus

While life insurance coverage is still widely available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some insurers are adjusting certain processes to accommodate the new norms created by social distancing.

Life insurance applicants have traditionally been required to pass a physical exam to get a policy. However, the need for social distancing due to the pandemic has led some insurers to begin offering significant levels of coverage without an exam. That was one of the findings of a recent conversation ValuePenguin had with two life insurance brokers from The Robinson Financial Group, a financial services company based in Skokie, Ill.

That sentiment was underscored by a recent survey by LIMRA, a membership group for insurance and financial services organizations. LIMRA found that insurers were implementing ways to do business while cutting down on face-to-face interactions throughout the entire underwriting process.

Implementing new procedures

With COVID-19 sickening millions of people across the globe and

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Borrowed time: Climate change threatens U.S. mortgage market

frank lamjus

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper in February concluded that homes in flood plains are overvalued by $34 billion because homebuyers don’t fully price in the high risk of climate-related disasters.

“There are some systemic risks here which need to be considered and evaluated — and right now,” said former California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “U.S. financial regulators are much further behind in that regard.”

And that risk is growing. Homebuilding and mortgage originations in floodplains have risen steadily over the years even as the number of flood insurance policies has fallen, according to data provided to POLITICO by First Street Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to determine the probability of flooding for every U.S. home.

Between 2006 and 2018, nearly 600,000 houses were built in 100-year floodplains, bringing the total to 4.1 million homes. In that same time period, 300,000 mortgages were added to homes in floodplains,

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39 Careless Ways Retirees Waste Money

frank lamjus

You’ve worked hard all your life, so you deserve to enjoy yourself in retirement. However, when you live on a fixed income, it’s important to keep track of where every dollar is going and not spend money carelessly. I spoke to financial experts and business leaders to find out the most common ways retirees waste money — so you know what not to do and can make better decisions that enable your retirement savings to last well into your golden years.

A financial advisor can be a great asset when it comes to retirement planning, but make sure you’re not paying them higher fees than you need to be.

“Investment fees can run 1-2% of your assets. For retirees with a million dollars invested that’s $10-20k a year,” said speaker, writer, teacher and financial coach Jillian Johnsrud. “If you’re only getting an hour check-in per year, that’s an expensive phone … Read More

How the Pandemic Alters Americans’ Financial Habits

frank lamjus

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of Americans into chaos, negatively affecting financial well-being alongside physical and mental health. As unemployment rates soar and money insecurities abound, a new NerdWallet survey finds almost half of Americans (48%) are indeed feeling less confident about their personal finances due to COVID-19.

In a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted online by The Harris Poll, we asked Americans how COVID-19 is affecting their finances — including spending and saving habits, feelings about homebuying and investing, and money plans for the end of the pandemic.

Key findings

  • Income impact: Close to 7 in 10 Americans (69%) say their household income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, including 80% each of millennials (ages 24-39) and Gen Zers (ages 18-23).
  • Stimulus saving: More than one-third of Americans (36%) plan to use/have used their stimulus check to save and/or invest; the
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5 financial weapons you can use to fight the COVID-19 economy

frank lamjus

As the coronavirus threatens the health and wealth of Americans, consumers are fighting back by arming themselves with basic financial tools they may have overlooked before.

They’re rushing to sign up for products and plans that will protect their incomes, lifestyles and loved ones from the virus and the severe economic fallout that has tipped the U.S. into its first recession in over a decade.

Here are five financial tools that have become essential during the pandemic. If you haven’t included them in your money strategy, maybe it’s time to make room.

1. Life insurance

Chompoo Suriyo / Shutterstock
The pandemic has raised awareness about life insurance.

The rising toll from COVID-19 is a reminder that life is fragile — which has led to surging sales of life insurance policies.

“We believe there are many people who have been putting off buying life insurance, and the pandemic is creating

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Is my online travel agency withholding an airline ticket refund?

frank lamjus

Q: I had a flight from Baltimore to Madrid scheduled on American Airlines, then I found out I needed surgery. So I contacted my online travel agency, AirTkt, to ask for a refund.

I filled out the paperwork and sent AirTkt a letter from Johns Hopkins stating that I would be unable to fly. American Airlines refunded AirTkt based on my medical letter. But now I can’t get AirTkt to refund me. I have a credit card that provides travel insurance, but it requires that I first request a refund from the airlines. Can you help me get my airline ticket refund? — Pamela Mazerski, Ellicott City, Maryland

A: I’m sorry to hear that you need surgery. At a time like this, everyone should be sympathetic to your situation. If, indeed, AirTkt took an airline ticket refund from American Airlines and didn’t send the money along, that would be unethical.

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Get Health Insurance If You Lost Job During Pandemic

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Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

If you’re one of the estimated 27 million people who lost their health insurance along with your job during the coronavirus pandemic, your chance to buy your own health insurance is approaching a deadline. 

Typically, after losing your job, you have 60 days to buy an Affordable Care Act plan through your state marketplace. That deadline is coming up for anyone who lost their job in April or May.

You have a bit more time if you elect to continue employer coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. That law allows you to keep your plan, though you will have to pay the full premium out of your own pocket. While you usually have 60 days after losing job-based insurance to choose COBRA, the Department of Health and Human Services said last month that it would permit COBRA

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12 Things Every Home Buyer Should Do

frank lamjus

Buying a home may be one of the biggest purchases you will ever make. The more you know about the home buying process, the more money, time and hassle you’ll save. And given the global health pandemic, there are certain precautions you’ll need to take to help protect yourself when the time comes to view prospective properties in person.

We’ve outlined 12 things you should prepare for now if you plan to purchase a new house in the months ahead. Take a look.

If you’re curious to know how much you can afford to buy, you can get prequalified for a mortgage by a lender. However, a prequalification is just an estimate of what a lender thinks you can afford, based on basic financial information you provide.

You’ll need to take it a step further once you’re ready to start seriously shopping for a home. You’ll want to get preapproved … Read More

Find Cheap Car Insurance in Los Angeles, CA (from $158/mo)

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How much does car insurance cost in Los Angeles?

Auto insurance costs an average of $2,632 per year in Los Angeles. That’s more than the statewide average in California ($1,868) and more expensive than the national average of $1,548. Keep reading to learn more about how much you can expect to pay based on your marital status, age, credit score, and other factors in Los Angeles.

CAR INSURANCE: LOS ANGELES RATES VS. STATE + NATIONAL AVERAGES
Los Angeles Average (annual) California Average United States Average
$2,632 $1,868 $1,548
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Los Angeles car insurance premiums by company

One of the most important determinants of your car insurance rates is the insurance company you work with. In Los Angeles, GEICO offers the cheapest rates for the average insurance customer. See below the best options for affordable auto

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