Category: general

The Rising Cost of Car Insurance

There has been a lot of coverage in the papers recently about the rising cost of car insurance – there’s even a protest planned about it in Dublin on the 2nd of July. Insurance companies have claimed that this is due to the rising cost of awards and legal fees given out in courts. This is disputed by the legal professions however.

Who to believe? And what can you do about your insurance? Well one thing is to shop around. Never go direct to an insurance company – always use a broker. But more than that, never just go to one broker, ring around a few. And I mean ring, it’s much easier to get a deal when you ring. Get a quote from the broker over the phone and then tell the broker what the quote was from the other (as long as it’s lower) and repeat until you’re sure it’s the lowest possible. Other than that there’s little you can do. Insurance companies all have different risk profiles that they price in but keep those profiles secret.

A more radical proposal would be to take the power out of their hands altogether. At the moment the law states that you must buy insurance from a private provider. This means that companies have a captive market. What if you didn’t have to do that? Why not follow a model like in New Zealand? There your third party insurance is part of your road tax. Better again, it is also priced into fuel so that the more you drive (or the bigger engine) the more insurance you pay for. Sounds fair!

You can still buy more comprehensive insurance but it’s a lot cheaper and it takes the power away from insurance companies who can no longer charge what they like. The only drawback is that the risk is not fully priced in for particularly bad drivers. That could be adjusted for; if your record is bad you may be charged more to tax your vehicle for example.

It’s something to think about – let us know if you dis/agree!

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The Curse of Keyless Entry

This recent video of a car being stolen from a the driveway of a house without the keys demonstrates a new and rising trend amongst car thieves.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/watch-moment-keyless-bmw-stolen-from-driveway-of-dublin-home-34668315.html

For many years the improvement in car security features meant that car thieves had to break into your house to get the keys to start your car – now they need merely stand outside.

So how are they doing it? It’s a simple concept – many new cars come with keyless entry or ignition. You need only have the key on your person for you start or open the car. This convenient system is based on radio signals given out by the key and received by the car. If the signal is strong enough it must mean you’re nearby. Or are you? What the criminals here are doing is using a signal repeater to amplify the weak signal given out by the key so that the car thinks it’s much closer that it actually is. So although your car keys are on the hall table, the car thinks they’re right beside it.

The equipment needed to trick the car is relatively simple to buy or assemble so as criminals cotton on, this will be come more widespread. When it first started happening many people were disbelieved by their insurance company when their car was stolen and were never compensated. That’s still a risk today.

What do I need to know about it?

As a car owner you need to know that it may be possible with your car. Don’t worry though, it’s simple to prevent by keeping your car key in a metal container – like a biscuit tin – that prevents the signal from escaping.

If you’re buying a car you should know that this type of theft is possible. Although most of the cars stolen this way will be broken for parts it is always wise to check two things when it comes to keys:

  1. Is there two of them? – You don’t want the car stolen later that week by the ‘seller’ using the second one.
  2. Can you turn the ignition of the car off and back on again? If you can’t, walk away then and there.

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Transferring Ownership – the RF101

One of the most common mistakes we’ve seen when people buy or sell a vehicle is the transfer of ownership. This can range from a simple mistake, a mix-up of responsibilities or just plain old criminal intent.

When a vehicle is sold you must transfer the legal responsibility for it to the new owner – called the registered owner. This can be done easily in Ireland by filling out the back of the vehicle logbook (the RF101 aka Vehicle Registration Certificate) with the details of the new owner and then both parties signing it.

The two main problems that can befall buyers and sellers are failing to send the logbook to the NVDF (National Vehicle & Driver File) and incorrectly filling out the form.

As a seller your big pitfall is failing to send the logbook to the NVDF. Sometimes a con artist may try to pressure you into handing over the logbook when they pay for the car. NEVER DO THIS. They will most likely never register the car in their name and will continue driving it around and racking up fines in your name for which you are now legally responsible.

To avoid this make sure to ask for identification such as a driving licence and check that it matches the name and address of the buyer.  Then send the logbook to the NVDF YOURSELF.

As a buyer, make sure that you put the correct details on the logbook and sign in the correct position. If you make a mistake here you may not have full legal ownership of the vehicle you buy! When the seller sends the logbook to the NVDF it shouldn’t take longer than a couple of weeks to receive the new one in your name. In the meantime, you can check if they have sent the logbook by heading over to http://www.motortax.ie, selecting the Vehicle Transaction Enquiry option and entering the vehicle registration number. It will show if or when the change of ownership was received.

We can provide a sample contract for both parties that makes this process easier and more accountable for both sides – just tweet us @TrustHubHQ for a copy!

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What is clocking?

Clocking is the slang name for the crime of altering the odometer of a vehicle. It will almost always take the form of ‘rolling the clock back’ on a vehicle to make it appear that it has done less mileage. Criminals do this to increase the value of the car when they sell it. They don’t care that they’re ripping off buyers and possibly putting your safety at risk. When a car has been clocked you don’t know whether parts that are scheduled to be replaced at certain mileages have been replaced. So apart from risking your safety with an unroadworthy car, you may also end up paying far more fixing your car than you planned on.

Clocking only became a crime two years ago in Ireland but that doesn’t mean it has stopped. It has meant that criminals got a bit smarter about it and make it still harder to spot. It is estimated that 15% of cars are still clocked. Our advice is to:

  • Get a car history check – but make sure you do it on the right car eg. one verified by TrustHub.
  • Get a mechanic to have a look at it
  • Check the NCT certificate and the mileage history printed on it – TrustHub automatically does this for you.

There are also some clues to look out for whatever you choose to do. The average privately owned car does 17,000 km (10,500 miles) a year. One used for business may have 24,000km (15,000 miles) on the clock. If a car has substantially less mileage on the odometer than comparable examples look for:

  • excessive wear on the pedals
  • a shiny/worn steering wheel
  • worn gear knob
  • heavy wear and tear on the seats – for example sagging springs and worn seat covers

In general, you get a better deal when you buy and sell privately but you still have to keep your wits about you. Use TrustHub to help you buy and sell your car with confidence.

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What happens to stolen vehicles?

You may have seen some statistics on the number of stolen cars in Ireland – the good news is that they’ve on a downward trend. There is a lead lining to this cloud though as most stolen cars for sale are now have been stolen with their keys by breaking into the owner’s house. In 2014, there were nearly 8,000 vehicles stolen from their owners but what isn’t apparent is the recovery rate. The Gardai actually recover the majority of cars but sometimes they recover them after you’ve already bought one.

What does this mean? It means that you as the buyer lose the car and all the hard-earned money you paid for it. You’re left with no wheels, no cash and no comeback. The car will be returned to its lawful owner – many times that will be the insurance company that paid out on a claim. I have personally dragged cars off of driveways when they’ve been discovered to be stolen. It gave me no pleasure to do so and I’ve dealt with some very upset people but it had to be done. That’s why TrustHub exists – so that people like you never fall afoul of car criminals. We make sure the car you’re looking at isn’t stolen and we’re the only ones who can do that. No car history check is capable of doing the same.

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What is a lemon?

While I was writing another blog I suddenly wondered why an unreliable car was called a ‘lemon’. One quick Google later: In America a pool hall hustle was called a lemon game (1908); while to hand someone a lemon was British slang (1906) for “to pass off a sub-standard article as a good one.” Or it may simply be a metaphor for something which leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.

It’s first known use in relation to cars was this Volkswagen beetle ad:

volkswagen lemon

 

When dodgy dealer has a sub-standard car and wants to get rid of it the best thing they can do is tell you as a buyer as little as possible about it and hope you don’t find out for yourself.

Car criminals rely on both pressure tactics and knowing things about a car that you don’t. This information unbalance is what TrustHub fights. We give you the ability to show that the car is owned by the owner for at least three months and that it’s not stolen or otherwise untrustworthy. That way everybody involved is left, not with a bad taste in their mouth but, with a good deal in their pocket.

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What does cloning or ringing a car mean?

The big difference is the amount of effort that a car criminal has put into changing the identity of a vehicle. Cloning is generally accepted to mean putting a different registration plate on a vehicle. That means that there could be two cars with the same registration driving around – one is a ‘clone’ of the other. The real owner can be blamed for the actions of the cloned vehicle and vice versa.

A ‘ringed’ car is also called a ‘ringer’ in the trade. That’s when a (sometimes stolen) vehicle has its identity changed much more comprehensively – usually to match a vehicle that has been crashed or written off. Sometimes, two crash-damaged cars will be welded together to make one new vehicle!

With either scenario false documents are often produced by the criminals concerned. These documents can be hard to tell apart from real ones – in fact they may be real ones! Sometimes criminals will successfully re-register a vehicle with the authorities and sometimes they use official, but blank, stolen documents.

TrustHub can help stop you accidentally buying a stolen car – just look for the lock.

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What’s the best public place to meet?

We previously wrote that meeting a public place is often the safest for both buyer and seller, particularly with TrustHub verification, but where exactly should that be?

This will vary depending on the time and day. In general, you want to meet in a busy, well-lit public space that you can drive to. It also helps if there is a working CCTV system there that you can park under. Examples of such places may be town centres, shopping centres or a large company car park but it will often depend on the time of day. A gym car park may be busier at night than during the day and a shopping centre the opposite. Meeting during the day at the weekend may mean a company car park will be deserted.

Some people meet outside Garda/Police stations but remember that many times the officers may be too busy to notice what’s going on outside or they may out and about.

So try to find the right balance between the amount of lighting, number of passersby and local CCTV surveillance. Criminals want to avoid all of them. TrustHub verification can also help alleviate any concern and mean you can meet anyone, anywhere at anytime.

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Meet at yours, theirs or in public?

When you’re buying or selling a car privately there’s an obvious problem: where do you meet? The advice is contradictory depending on which side of the deal you’re on.

If you’re buying – meet in the driveway of their house so you can be sure they own it.

If you’re selling – meet away from your house so that strangers don’t know where you live and can’t return to steal the car at a later date.

Confusing eh?

For both buying and selling – bring someone else with you.

That last piece of advice is interesting: what happens if they bring someone with them? Do you then bring two people? Do you tell them that you can both bring four people for back-up? Where does it end? It ends if a vehicle is TrustHub verified and there’s less of a need for that arms race. Both sides should exercise caution sure, but as a buyer you can rest assured that who you’re meeting is accountable with TrustHub.

Anyway – where to? Many people end up meeting in public places to stay safe but that’s often where car criminals want to meet as they don’t want to be traceable. Sometimes of course, with significant distances involved, it’s good to meet up halfway between you. TrustHub let’s you safely meet in public places now that the buyer knows that the car has been TrustHub verified. You as the seller no longer have to tell potential buyers where you live. Everybody wins.

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How is TrustHub different from a car history check?

If you’re buying a car, history checks are great – we recommend getting one – but they can’t tell you everything. For example they don’t tell you that the car you’re checking is actually the car you’re being sold. Criminals often replace the registration plate on a car so that if you do a history check it comes back clean. If you were to history check the real identity of the car you might get a shock!

Your car is only half the story – TrustHub shows you the other half. When you’re selling your vehicle, TrustHub checks your identity so that you can show you and your vehicle are trustworthy. In return you get to display the TrustHub verified logo so that potential buyers can easily spot you in the crowd. Everybody wins.

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