Question: You had a column some time ago on automobile insurance savings possible by deleting older cars from collision and comprehensive coverage. That presented a problem, though, when I started to renew my insurance on one 8-year-old car and one 3-year-old car with the Automobile Club of Southern California in order to save money.
When I tried to delete the older car from my policy, I was told that the newer auto would be assigned an additional cost because it wouldn't qualify for the discount in assigning two cars in those categories of collision and comprehensive.
As a result the total cost of the insurance isn't all that much different when you delete an older car and still have a newer one on the policy. And so the "savings" written about is minuscule.--L.H.
Answer: It's entirely possible. The advice we passed on, all hands agree, isn't always an automatic money saver. It's a competitive field out there in the automobile insurance field and companies approach these discount arrangements from a variety of directions.
Some, according to Tim Dove, regional manager in San Francisco for the Insurance Information Institute, sure enough, wipe out the two-car discount unless parallel coverage is carried on both of them. The Auto Club, however, according to Joe Pratt, chief actuary for the AAA, takes a "like lines" approach to the matter. In other words, if you cancel collision coverage on the older car, you will, indeed, lose the two-car discount on collision coverage on the newer car, but you'll retain the discount on the rest of your coverage--on your liability coverage, for instance.
And, of course, "savings" are very much in the eye of the beholder, Pratt conceded, and it's entirely possible that losing the two-car discount on collision coverage only could be substantial enough to offset the savings on the rest of the coverages.
Although no one we approached at the time of the original question made such a distinction, the savings achieved by dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage would seem to be most practical when a multiple-car insurance discount isn't involved.
Q: We recently bought a new teak dining room set. I'm wondering how the wood should be treated. It does not show any signs of shiny varnish.
About 30 years ago I bought some teak furniture that required being rubbed regularly with warmed raw linseed oil. Using regular furniture polish was a definite no-no. Through the years, though, housekeepers I've employed have used wax on it, and somehow the linseed oil theory has been lost.
It looks to me as if my new dining room suite is the same kind of teak. What is the current thinking about how this wood should be treated?--J.C.
A: I get the distinct impression that asking questions about proper wood finishing techniques is a little bit like trying to get a consensus on the perfect martini recipe.
At Ace Hollywood Wood Turning Co., 7823 Santa Monica Blvd., for instance, wood finisher Tony Ley makes the point that because you don't know what sort of finish the factory applied to the suite before shipping it, the safest course of action is to confine yourself to polishing it with water and a soft rag.
Back in fussier days, Ley adds, furniture factories routinely supplied buyers with information on the type of finish used and made maintenance recommendations. That was apparently the case when, 30 years ago, you bought your first teak dining set and got involved in the warm-linseed-oil regimen.
But at Blafer Wood Finishes, 3416 S. Orange Drive, Linda Livingston polled her fellow workers and found that the consensus favors the use of "any oil-based polish as long as the label specifically says it is for use on wood. "
In its latest study of furniture polishes, Consumer Reports sums the controversy up this way: "Which should you choose and use? As a rule, we don't think it matters much if your only aim is to keep the furniture presentable. But you should choose a polish that's easy to apply and that imparts only as much gloss as you want. There are exceptions to that rule, however. If, say, your dining table shows signs of blotchy wax buildup, it makes sense to switch at least for awhile to a product without much wax. Or if the table's finish has worn down so much that the raw wood is exposed to moisture, then a protective layer of wax would restore its appearance a bit and defer the day when refinishing is necessary."
And, as far as the "proper scent" in a furniture polish is concerned--that being the current buzzword in the polish business--Consumer Reports makes the point that all polishes smell the same to wood, which rates low in the olfactory department.
Q: In December of this year I will receive approximately $31,000. Certificates of deposit, mutual funds and money market funds have been suggested, as well as IRAs. I understand there are different types of IRAs, one of which is a "self-directed" account. What is to my best advantage?