Saturday, May 21, 2011

Motor Insurance Renewal

Very often,for a propsective car buyer,the initial car price and COE is what attracts and claims a buyer's attention. Little thought or focus may be placed on maintainance costs of car ownership since the focus is on monthly installment. Thus a prospective carbuyer in Singapore needs to factor in the running costs as this adds to the initial monthly installment and may cause stress to marginal income owners who are on a tight budget. One big ticket item is Motor insurance Premium which has increased almost over 50% over the last 3 years due to escalating claims.

With our VW Golf Sports approaching a year old, it was time for insurance renewal. As is the trend of price increase, we received a notice from renewal from our original insurance appointed by Volkswagen Singapore at the time of car purchase. We were not too happy with the increase from $1050 to $1380, an increase of over 30% within one year and given that we have made no claims in the past 3 years from previous insurers. Luckily, there have been inroads made by local firms specializing in personalised insurance solutions, offering to source out for buyers better priced insurance and financial packages for their needs. Among them are Compare express, RNS Consultancy, Direct Asia and Motor Insurance Singapore.Just by spending about 2 minutes on a simple form usually online, you can get as many as 12 or more quotations. This is enough for you to determine if your current insurer is the cheapest…or not.

In comparing motor car insurance quotes, you will need to consider your profile as a driver, your financial budget, your needs when making a cliam, insurance company track record of filing and claiming and other factors such as to identify the insurer that favors your car-driver profile the most. For example, one insurer prefers Toyota while another prefers Hyundai. Certain insurers may prefer insuring drivers between the age of 35 to 45 while another may prefer drivers above 50 years old. These differences arise due to the claims experience (history) of the individual company.

For us, we laid down what we wanted for our next motor insurance. At least 20% lower premium, option to repair at the authorized agent workshop, Loss of use benefit, provision for authorized driver at no additional cost, a insurance firm with track record. For us, we will willing to accept higher excess ( the initial amount you need to co-pay first in repair costs before insurance claim can be made)to ensure lower premium because we felt that for small claims up to $2000, we were willing to pay that on our own rather than make an insurance claim and lose the No claim and safe driving discounts plus high possibility of increase premiums which will certainly amount to more than $2000 in the long term. It is not worth making a motor insurance claim if the amount is within one's budget and means to settle it privately since insurance claims record in Singapore stays with a person for 3 years and insurance companies will hold that against you as a reason to up your premium or worse refuse to insure you if you have made claims amounting from $25 000 upwards.

We selected RNS consultancy because they were prompt and offered courteous good service and feedback to us. Roy who attended to us came back to us within a day was willing to help us negotiate with the prospective insurance company for better deals after we told him about certain things that other firms were offering at the same price. With his recommendation and our own assessment, we selected Chartis which is a 90 year old international insurance firm with 58 years operating in Singapore.Our insurance premium was lowered by 20%. While excess was $2000, there is an ongoing discount of $600 off the excess for first claim if you choose to repair at one of the recommended workshops offered by Chartis so you only need to pay the first $1400.
If you choose to repair at your own workshop or at the authorized agent workshop, Chartis allows for it but there is no discount for excess so you have the choice. Note that only drivers with 50% No Claim Discount (NCD) entitlement are given the $600 repair excess. For NCD less than 50%, drivers will enjoy a S$300* repair excess waiver.This also applies only if the car is 3 years or newer.

There is a loss of use benefit of $94.00 a day so you can claim public transport costs or rent a replacement car.For new car owners, there is 100% Indemnity with New-for-Old Replacement where in the event of a total loss of the insured vehicle due to accident, Chartis will pay you the full purchase price to buy a brand new car (of the same make and model) if the insured vehicle is less than 12 months old from initial registration. There is also personal Accident Cover of up to S$50,000 for the insured. This benefit pays over and above other personal accident or life insurance in the event of death or permanent disability due to an accident while traveling in a car. This means added benefit for the driver and his/her loved ones too. There is also the usual provision of cover for thrid party claims including those caused by the driver's passengers, flood, windscreen and sunroof damage, 24 hour free breakdown towing in Singapore, claim for replacement of vehicle lock and car key in event of break in with excess of $50.

All in all, it is an attractive insurance offer for us. Roy also provided immediate responses to our queries, was upfront about limitations of benefits, no hard sell and personally came to our place to settle the administrative and financial requirements for us, even on a public holiday.

Those in the field looking for motor insurance renewal, do spend some time to canvass for quotations from the various companies on offer and choose one that you are comfortable with and trust in.

Those keen on contacting our motor insurance provider can look up on their own or call up Roy at 91699306.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Software update to RNS510C LED GPS Feature

(Above) Our RNS510C LED GPS detecting location of speed cameras and speed traps

Thanks to Jimmy CBX, we received a complimentary v3 software upgrade to our car's RNS510C LED GPS navigation. With the version 3 upgrade, the GPS detects and features on the display the locations of traffic cameras, speed camera and potential speed trap areas. It also shows the location of the main fastfood restaurants -BK, Mcdonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and petrol stations such as SPC, Shell, Esso, Caltex. You can select to show only those points of interest that you frequent too. The update also features an updated road map to replace the older map with new roads added in. While it is not the most current, there is some improvement in the number of roads featured and updated expressway links. We will be updating soon from Jimmy the Version 4 which has locations of DBS and POSB ATMs.

(Above)SPC Petrol station detected and displayed.

This service is free for all of Jimmy's RNS510customers although you can make a small token donation to thank him for keying in the coordinates of the new points of interests and traffic points.You can contact Jimmy at 91777305 if you want to update your RNS or you wish to purchase a RNS unit from him. Good service deserves good referrals.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother's Day makan

As with every mother's day, we will bring mom for a makan treat. For this year, she had a craving for German fare and we brought her back to Brozeit at Vivocity.We started the meal with two different soups - Soup of the Day ( Mushroom soup) and French Onion Soup.

(Above)Rich Mushroom soup

(Above) Fresh warm soft bread straight from the oven. Well baked as it doesn't disintegrate when you dipped it into the soup.

(Above)Onion soup with cheese dumplings

Both Gayle and myself really liked the French Onion soup with it's sweet and rich onion soup and generous serving of cheese dumplings within the soup. Since all of us are fans of German sausages, we ordered quite a bit of the sausages as the main course - Nurnberger pork sausages and the Wurstelplatte - sausage platter for 2 featuring juicy and meaty platter of spicy chicken sausages, pork sausages, pork cheese sausages and garlic pork sausages accompanied by sauerkraut and mustard.

To complete the meal, we ordered Schweinshaxn - crispy pork knuckles(above). Highly recommended if you are in the mood for meaty stuff. Just be careful when cutting into or biting into the sausages as they are so juicy and bursting with richness.

To round off a balanced meal, we ordered the Meeresfruchtesalat seafood salad(above) with mixed vegtables crowned with seared tuna, smoked salmon, fresh prawns accompanied with sour cream and house salad dressing which added zest to the salad dish.

After our heart meal, we introduced mom to the wonderful fruit tarts at Fruit Paradise - the Fruit Tart shop located at vivocity too. We will let the pictures do the talking but our favorite was the grapefruit orange tart which was refreshing and juicy to the bite which accompanied the tart crust very well and also the strawberry nutty caramel, sinfully rich,sweet and addictive.

(Above)Blueberry Tart

(Above) Grapefruit and orange tart

(Above) Chocolate Strawberry Tart

(Above) Nutty Caramel Fruit Tart

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Appliance shopping(Part II) - Philips Small Star HEPA Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

Our next appliance buy was to replace our current vacuum cleaner that was losing it's vaccum power and was overheating very fast and there was a lingering burning smell. It has been is use for two years. We did some research and decided that we wanted hard bag vacuum cleaners. Hard bag vacuum cleaners are those that deposit dirt and debris into a container instead of a vacuum bag. These hard bag vacuum cleaners, also called bagless vacuum cleaners, and usually include HEPA (Those with the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) technology, enable the users to reduce dust which includes allergens filters that more efficiently remove dirt particles) dust, pollen from the air passing through the vacuum cleaner and make a good choice for households with allergy sufferers. This was important to us as we are susceptible to dust allergy.

Another important thing was silent operation, better construction and fit of the wand attachment so that the attachments don't loosen and come off after some time and spill out dust while you are vacuuming. Suction power was important too and we were looking for at least 1600W.

After scouting around, we headed back to our familiar haunt at Mega Discount at Kallang and purchased the Philips Small Star 1800W Vacuum Cleaner. What sealed the deal for us besides it's better suction power was it's small and compact design with large easy to use buttons which you can use your feet to depress without bending down. Also the Small Star featured chrome wand which makes for better fit of the hose and attachments. Importantly, it was bagless and the dust would be gathered into a container that can be removed for easy disposal of the dust collected.The container can be washed and cleaned easily. In addition, the HEPA filter prevents particles and allergens from flowing out with the air backflow passing out from the vacuum during operation. The Small Star also comes with big rubber wheels for easy maneuvering of the vaccum and retractable long power cord.We got a slight discount off the vacuum cleaner's retail price of $140.

(Above)Recessed grooves to better grip and lock the wand and it's extension and attachments.

(Above) Chrome quality wand for better and durable fitting of hose and attachments.

(Above) Big buttons for easy activation of retractable cord and on/off switch.

(Above) large rubber wheels make it easy to move the vacuum around.

(Above) easy to open and large opening for easy removal and cleaning of dust and container respectively.

(Above)Smooth operating retractable cord

Appliance shopping(Part I) - Braun Sommelier Electric Kettle

After over 3 years, there is a need to start changing some of the appliances we had bought when we first shifted in. To make sure that this is not a painful exercise in the monetary sense, it's good to gradually introduce replacement appliances over the long term gradually. For this time round, we decided to replace our current plastic electric kettle for better health reason and due to wear and tear.

For electric kettles, we did some research and found that most websites tend to provide the followng summary recommendations:

Auto Shut Off
Auto shut off is a handy feature that most electric kettles have. This means that the kettle automatically turns off once the water is boiling. This saves energy while it acts as a safety feature to prevent water evaporisation and overheating that damages the kettle heating mechanism while preventing fire hazards.

Design of kettle Spout
If you fear pouring boiling water, either because of burns or spilling, ensure that the spout's design is well contoured and proportionate with a rounded spout end to prevent dribbling of the water being poured out.

Electric kettles can be made of glass, plastic or stainless steel. A glass kettle allows the user to easily see how much water is left in the kettle, while a stainless steel kettle holds the heat longer than the other varieties. Plastic kettles are often the least expensive.

Water Level Indicator
If you like to know exactly how much water you're boiling, look for an electric kettle that has the number of ounces printed on the side or handle of kettle. While this may not make much difference for tea, if you make hot chocolate with too much water, it can taste less rich and more watered down.

In addition, we wanted a stainless steel electric kettle for health's sake as we have read that while research remains inconclusive, plastic kettles may release
bisphenol A (BPA), a cancerous agent when their plastic parts come in contact with the heating water.

After some window shopping and comparing, we decided on the Braun Sommelier Stainless Steel electric kettle. This kettle made by Braun, an established 90 year old German electrical appliance company, a subsidiary of Procter and Gamber.This kettle line has undergone extensive reliability and endurance testing by P&G’s Global Center of Excellence for Devices . The kettle is run in repeated time-lapse cycles, during which all aspects – from switch, through lacquering, to electronics – undergo automatic reliability checks and is expected to last beyond consecutive boiling of 10 000 litres of water. This got our vote for reliability and product quality.

We were impressed with the safety feature which is that the kettle has an auto stop safety system that switches off the kettle when water is completely boiled; if empty (as in the switch is accidentally depressed); the kettle is lifted up from docking base; the kettle lid is opened during operation.

The handle is made of high quality plastic that is cool to the touch even after boiling. The spout is wide enough to fill in the water without having to open the lid making it convenient. There is two easy to read water indicators so you can see it from either side of the kettle. The kettle has a rapid boiling system for fast boil and is able to bring to boil a liter of water within 3 minutes saving electrical consumption. The heating plate is stainless steel and can be cleaned. There is also a removabe scale filter at the spout entrance to filter the water as you pour it out. The base is rotatable and has cord storage. The Sommelier kettle is also aesthetically modern and won the Red Dot Design award in 2004.

(Above) Large contoured buttons on top for easy operation - one is for the lid opening action and the other the operation switch.

(Above) The removable water filter and stainless steel internal construction and base can be seen.

(Above) Well designed spout ensure water pouring out flows smoothly and precisely without side flow thus preventing harzardous spilling and dribbling of hot water.

(Above) Easy to see and read water indicator markings on left and right side of kettle.

We went to Mega Discount at Kallang Leisure Park and got it at a cheaper price than the retail price of $140 at major electronics stores. Those who are looking for a quality stainless steel kettle can consider this. After all, it's worth the investment for health's sake.