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Answer the question, Is your car insurance as cheap as it looks, before you renew the same old policy you've had for years. Compare online insurance companies before you renew with your old one.

Nobody looks forward to choosing their car insurance. Many people stay with the same company year on year to avoid endless phone calls or trawling quote comparison sites at renewal. Nowadays, however, many companies offer significant introductory and online discounts which only apply for the first year. What this means for the consumer is that shopping around makes good financial sense. But while it can be extremely tempting to go for a cheap policy, it's wise to know exactly what you're buying into.

What's Missing?

Sometimes one company will offer Fully Comprehensive coverage for the same rates as another's Third Party insurance. This should ring alarm bells, it's possible it's cheaper for a reason.

A car insurance policy booklet is divided into sections. The level of cover you have purchased will include some or all of these. Third Party Only is the legal minimum and included in all policies. Mandatory since 1930, it covers you for damage to another's person or property. Then Fire and Theft is added to that, followed by damage to your own car - Fully Comprehensive includes all three.

There are things we automatically assume to be part of a Comprehensive policy - European coverage, windscreen coverage, a courtesy car, coverage for driving other cars - but not necessarily so. Policies may have been stripped to the bare bones in order to appear cheap. The missing features may then be offered as chargeable extras, so take care.

If you are considering driving abroad, check what level of coverage you will actually have while out of the country. It might be lower than your normal level of coverage and you may only be allowed a limited time abroad. To increase the time or level of coverage would then be chargeable.

Auto Insurance Excesses

So you have a cheap policy that seems to give all the coveage you need. The next thing to check are the excesses. These are what you pay in the event of a claim, such as deductibles. Sometimes they can be high in order to keep the premiums down and there are compulsory excesses on top for categories of driver who the insurer perceives to be a higher risk. This may include young drivers, foreign drivers or those with points on their license - check which apply to you.

Extra Charges

Whether we want to believe it or not, it does cost an insurer to set up or cancel a policy, and to process your claims. As businesses, they will attempt to recoup the costs from the customer, probably in the form of cancellation fees or charges for amending your policy. If the premium is very low these charges may be higher to compensate. Some cancellation fees are even levied within the mandatory 14 day cooling off period, so be aware of what you're letting yourself in for.

Sadly the process of renewing your insurance remains a long, drawn out process and even higher premiums may not include everything so it's worth devising a checklist to use when you shop. Go in armed with your own questions and reduce your chances of unpleasant surprises later in the year.

Tesco car insurance has some special online Internet only "value" plans that might save you some money. So if you are looking for cheap car insurance check out Tesco and see what they can offer you.

Tesco: Love them or hate them there's no denying their reach across Britain. Their outlets have become a one stop shop for everything from a tin of beans to the latest smartphone. In recent years Tesco has even branched out into financial services, including car insurance.

The one thing Tesco's plans does well is keep costs down, especially if you're a regular shopper at their stores. Like the rest of their products, you can get a discount on Tesco's insurance policies by having a Clubcard. Tesco also counts one point on the card for ever £2 on insurance premiums.

Tesco claims Clubcard vouchers can be used to "pay" premiums, but this is a bit of a misnomer. Premiums must be paid in full with cash but Clubcard points can be applied to the balance to be refunded after payment. For example, if you have a £200 premium you can send in £200 and 5,000 points. Once this payment has been received you will receive a £50 credit. Tesco also discounts policies based on total premium cost up to 15% for card holders. For some drivers these discounts make the insurance far cheaper than other options.

Tesco Car Insurance Coverage

Basic liability and van coverage are similar to what you'll find with other companies. They also have an Internet-only "value" comprehensive insurance that lowers premium costs by raising excess payments. Extras like a courtesy car can be added to any of these plans at an extra cost, letting buyers pick which features they think they'll need. Additional discounts can be had by covering specific drivers instead of anyone who might drive the car.

Like Tesco Bank, Tesco insurance began as part of a partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Currently, policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, a subsidiary of RBS. Overall policy owners report more problems with Tesco-branded coverage than RBS's own offerings. Call centres are based in Britain, but claim processing can be hit or miss. However, this may soon change.

Here are some commercial fleet auto insurance tips. Get the
insurance tips for operating a safe fleet you need to ensure your buisness's vehicle fleet is insured properly and you are getting the cheapest insurance rates possible.

(NC)—When small businesses first get underway, it is common to have one or two vehicles as the primary methods of transportation for the company. And while this may work in the short term, transportation requirements can change dramatically as a business grows. Once a business is operating five or more commercial vehicles, that business is also managing a fleet.

“When business owners become fleet managers too, they need to review their commercial auto insurance policies to ensure they are properly covered and getting a good rate,” says Paul Lucarelli, fleet director at RSA Canada. “At the same time, take advantage of the risk management advice an experienced fleet broker and insurer can provide to help prevent accidents and contribute to the overall success of a business.”

According to Transport Canada, approximately 75 per cent of crashes result from driver error. The following tips from RSA Canada will start small business owners on the right path towards operating a safe fleet and ensuring they have right fleet insurance coverage in place:

• Assess Your Needs

How large is your company? How often are your vehicles on the road? Determining these answers will allow you to choose the best coverage for your business.

• Research, Research, Research

There are a number of options and plans available for commercial fleet insurance. Know the playing field before committing on the dotted line.

• What Type Of Vehicles Are You Insuring?

Depending on the values and types of vehicles that require insurance coverage, you may want to consider varied coverages and limits to provide the right coverage for the best price.

• What Are Your Intended Uses For The Vehicles?

Are they all going to be used for the same purposes? If not, you may be able to have a varied plan that allows you to save money.

• Invest In Driver Training

Make sure you're promoting a culture of safety in your organization. Well-trained drivers mean lower insurance rates and fewer accidents - that means fewer claims.

• Manage The Maintenance Of Your Fleet

This will result in a better performing fleet, reduce your potential for down time, and decrease your insurance rates.

• Work With An Experienced Fleet Broker And Insurer

Take advantage of their loss control expertise. Loss control officers can help you identify areas for improvement, save you money and help you prevent accidents.

Auto insurance fraud is targeting the health care system and that hurts everyone. When people file fraudulant claims against a car insurance policy, every one who pays for an auto policy ends up paying the price. Find out what is being done by insurance companies and health care practioners to prevent insurance fraud.

(NC)—Health care practitioners are on high alert to pinpoint and prevent identity theft. Common scams involve fraudsters stealing signatures, forms, and patient information to bilk payments from auto insurance companies.

This type of fraud is currently on the front burner of the insurance industry regulator, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) with its recent initiatives to assist, guide and protect health care professionals from becoming targets. Take a look at the recently launched e-brochure on this topic easily downloaded at In the Auto Insurance section look for the publication Insurance Abuse and Fraud in Health Care Services: Everyone Has A Role To Play.

You will see that through the illegal use of a practitioner's name (or other identifiable information) fraudsters have been obtaining payments for health care services that were never provided. As the fraud is uncovered, the practitioner unwittingly becomes the subject of a police investigation leading to any number of consequences, from reputation damage to legal costs. As well, every Ontarian is a potential target because patient information is also being used to falsify the claims.

Warning Signs

With heightened awareness of such scams, health care practitioners are advised to be on watch for suspicious documents and suspicious activities. Other advice includes: never sign blank treatment and assessment documents; always maintain exact records of the treatments provided; always record payment decisions made by insurance companies; never give personal information to a third party for processing invoices; always inform the Regulatory College when relocating; and immediately report suspicious activity. Each health care practitioner should be a gatekeeper to prevent identity fraud.

FSCO reports that the government's Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force is examining the scope of insurance fraud in Ontario. Building on current government initiatives, representatives from the insurance industry, academia, justice and the public are addressing, among other priorities, the nature and extent of such criminal activity, as well as proven strategies to curtail this opportunistic activity.

As their e-mail in-boxes filled with daily deal offers from Web sites like Groupon, Lea Pische and Edwin Hermawan, a pizzeria waitress and a former lawyer living on the Lower East Side, finally decided to buy one: a discounted Skillshare class on how to start a business. Their business plan? It was a service that would unsubscribe people from all those daily deal e-mails.

Three months after its introduction, has 7,800 unsubscribers, a number that nearly doubled in the last month. Ms. Pische and Mr. Hermawan tapped into deal fatigue, a malady that has been afflicting the small businesses that offer daily deals and is now hitting consumers too.

Daily deal services — like Groupon, LivingSocial and Google Offers — took off because they seemed to offer something for everyone: small businesses got a novel way to bring new customers in the door, shoppers got a discount and the deal providers got a large cut of every sale.

But signs of deal fatigue are everywhere, raising questions about whether Groupon and its competitors can continue their hyper-growth.

In the last six months of 2011, 798 daily deal sites shut down, according to Daily Deal Media, which researches the industry.

When Groupon reported its second-quarter results this week, it said that active customers — defined as people who purchased a Groupon deal in the last year — grew just 1.1 percentage points, a significant slowdown from customer growth rates in previous quarters. While traffic to Groupon was higher at the beginning of 2012 than last year, it was down almost 10 percent in May and June from the same months in 2011, according to comScore.

Shares of Groupon have fallen 82 percent since it went public in November, and the company is now worth just $3 billion, half of what Google offered to buy it for in 2010.

Gilt City, a daily deal service owned by Gilt Groupe, laid off employees and closed offices in six cities earlier this year. Google Offers, whose membership has plateaued in some cities, has had to team with 35 other deal providers to supplement its own selection and help other companies reach customers. Facebook and Yelp were quick to jump on the fad, but backed off last year. Groupon is searching for alternative ways to make money, like buying movie tickets, watches and other goods and selling them to shoppers.

“Many of the other competitors have retreated or scaled down ambitions,” said Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. “There are no real barriers to entry, but there are fairly significant barriers to success.”

One of those barriers is keeping merchants happy. Though small businesses were excited at first about a new way to attract customers in a post-Yellow Pages world, many soon soured on the daily deals. Customers who bought deals overwhelmed the businesses, spent the bare minimum and never returned.

The scene on a three-block stretch of Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Ore., is a snapshot of what is happening nationally, as merchants grow increasingly wary of daily deal services even as more daily deal salespeople try to court them.

Muddy’s Coffeehouse, which serves coffee and granola in a purple-trimmed Victorian home, offered $24 of food and coffee for $12. It paid Groupon half of that. Muddy’s succeeded in drawing crowds — but ended up losing money.

“I pretty much had to take a loan out to cover the loss, or we would have probably had to close,” the owner, Dyer Price, said. “They don’t warn you that you’re going to get hit really hard and that you have to be prepared. We will never, ever do it again.”

A few doors down, Mississippi Studios & Bar Bar, a former Baptist church that became a live music club and burger and cocktail restaurant, offered a Groupon deal but said it slowed down the bartender, who had to complete paperwork for each coupon, and brought in customers who did not return.

“It was a huge boondoggle for us, and we were counting down the days until it was over,” said Kevin Cradock, co-owner of Mississippi Studios. He said he had a better solution for local advertising. “We still do the old-school thing,” he said. “We print these posters and hire kids on bikes to put the posters up.”

He also tried Google Offers, whose deal was easier to process because Google sent an Android phone to scan coupons, but it did not attract repeat customers, either.

The story was the same elsewhere. Kevin Stecko, founder of, offered a Groupon deal for $20 off a $40 order, of which $10 would go to Groupon. Initially, the results looked good: 971 coupons were sold, and almost all of the customers were new.

But Mr. Stecko said he lost $2.96 per order on average, and only nine of the customers who used the Groupon deal had bought something else from the site since then. (He made some money, though, he said, because 14 percent of people who bought coupons did not redeem them.)

“It devalues your product,” said Rafi Mohammed, a pricing consultant. “You get people who come in who are very price-sensitive, who aren’t going to come back and pay full price.”

Groupon has added tools to help merchants with some of their most common complaints, like a scheduler so they can avoid an overwhelming rush of customers. The company said that in the last two quarters, half of its offers were from businesses that had previously used Groupon.

But that might not matter if shoppers continue to tire on daily deals.

Tamara Koedoot, 47, a real estate agent in Portland, has spent about $100 on four deals a month for several years. But lately, it has been testing her patience, partly because she said businesses discriminated against her for using coupons.

“As soon as they find out you have a Groupon, they don’t even want to work with you any longer, so that’s a turnoff,” she said.

Ms. Koedoot has cut back on buying deals because she has lost money when coupons she bought, like one for a Spanish language course, expired, or when she could not get restaurant reservations before the expiration date.

“My thoughts have definitely changed, and I think my friends are kind of feeling the same way,” she said. “We’ve got to quit buying so many of them because it’s like, ‘We’ve got this Groupon, we have to go now.’ ”