February 2020

Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud

Eighty billion dollars. That's how much insurance fraud costs American consumers each year, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. This amount of money could buy new vehicles for 2.4 million people (which would cover every driver in Oklahoma.)

This alarming cost takes many forms. It might involve staging an accident to make false injury claims. Or it might include inflating damages to get a higher insurance payout.

Whatever scam is involved, the cost of the fraud ultimately gets passed along to consumers as they are forced to cover false claims, investigations, legal activities, and (potentially) higher insurance premiums.

To protect yourself from these costs, take the following precautions against insurance fraud.

Drive defensively: Never tailgate. Other drivers may take advantage of the situation to stage an accident.

Report accidents: Even if the damage is minor, always report any auto accident to the police. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report. This will provide proof if the other driver tries to make false claims down the line.

Document everything: Take pictures of the vehicles involved in an accident. These images will document what damage (or lack of damage) is present to prevent false claims or exaggerations. Additionally, record the details of the incident. This should include license plate numbers, contact info and driver's license numbers of all drivers, and contact info for any witnesses. 

Avoid scammers: If anyone appears at the scene of an accident and attempts to guide you to an attorney or a specific doctor, turn them away. This is a red flag that they are attempting insurance fraud. The same is true for doctors who insist that you file an injury claim even if you're not hurt. If this is the case, you may need to find a new doctor.

Consult quickly: Regardless of fault, report auto accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible. We're here to help you navigate any claims and protect you from insurance fraud.

When Can I Deduct Car Insurance from My Taxes? 

Taxes weigh on everyone's minds, and many are looking for deductions relevant to their circumstances in order to reduce or eliminate an onerous tax bill. Oftentimes, we are familiar with deductions related to our homes or businesses but are less certain about one daily part of our lives: our cars.

Do you use your car for business-related purposes?

While pure personal use of your vehicle is not tax-deductible, there are certain situations where you may be able to deduct car insurance premiums from your taxes. A word of caution: commuting to and from work in a personal vehicle does not qualify for a tax deduction.

The two most common ways to deduct car insurance premiums are:

1. If you are self-employed and the vehicle is used to further your business (such as a house painter using his truck to complete jobs)

2. If you are an employee but your employer does not reimburse you for business-related expenses related to your case (such as a personal assistant getting an employer's dry cleaning or driving an employer around town)

Are there any other deductions when it comes to my vehicle?

Yes, you may also be able to deduct other costs such as fuel, parking fees, car repairs, and even depreciation if your costs are more than 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Every penny counts, so don't miss out on auto expense deductions that could benefit you this tax season.

Of course, consult with your CPA or accountant to determine exactly what you can deduct.

Worth Quoting 

This month, some famous quotes on the topic of the past:

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.
Bil Keane

The past becomes a texture, an ambience to our present.
Paul Scott

Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.
Mattie Stepanek

Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.
William Wordsworth

Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to plan for in the future.
Arnold H. Glasow

Study the past, if you would divine the future.

Quick Quiz

Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just email us and submit your answer.

Which woman founded modern nursing and was nicknamed "Lady with the Lamp"?

First 10 responders will be entered into drawing for 3 Starbuck's gift cards.

Last month's winners were: Brenda MendozaCinda WoodardMayra Mendoza

Weather Forecast: High Chance of Auto Claims

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

While it's not the official motto, this inscription found on the James Farley Post Office in New York City is often referenced as the slogan for the US Postal Service.

But how do those drivers manage to keep their trucks on the road and safely deliver all the mail? They most likely follow some of these best practices for navigating roads in inclement weather.

During heavy rain, don't try to drive on a flooded road. Just six inches of water can cause you to lose control, and it can stall most cars. Keep in mind that it's hard to tell the depth of the water, and the road below it may be washed out. If your vehicle starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, keep the wheel straight, and brake softly if necessary.

Hail is another element that can cause havoc on the road. If you encounter hail, don't try to plow through it. As soon as it is safe to do so, pull over to the shoulder of the road.

Better yet, attempt to find shelter to minimize the damage to your vehicle commonly associated with hail. As you stop, allow plenty of room for braking.

When the roads are covered in snow, the best thing you can do is slow down. Drive slowly, accelerate and decelerate slowly, and put more distance than usual between your car and other vehicles.

Of course, if you're not on the Post Office payroll, you might have the option to simply stay home during inclement weather, which is highly recommended.