CheckRates FAQs

Got questions? We’ve got the answers right here whether you’re shopping for the best rates on car coverage or the best cell plan to suit your lifestyle, you’ll find answers to the FAQs right here. Just click on the product information you need, and remember:

CheckRates provides unbiased feature and price comparisons to make shopping for consumer loans and contract services easy and efficient.

Mortgage FAQs

What is an ARM?

It stands for adjustable rate mortgage. It’s a mortgage that allows for adjustments in the interest paid by the consumer. Adjustments are made at pre-determined intervals and are tied to some prominent lender index.

With an ARM your interest rate can increase or decrease, raising or lowering your monthly mortgage payments.

Should you get an ARM?

It depends.

Some ARMs adjust every three or even five years. And the upward adjustment is limited to a percent – usually 2% at the end of every adjustment period. So, you assume some risk that rates will go up, but the risk is limited to every three or five years and a max of 2% each adjustment period. That’s the downside to ARMs.

The upside to ARMs?

If you plan to move in three to five years, you’ll save a bunch in interest charges by going with a long-term ARM – say a 5-year adjustable. That means you’re getting the ARM rate for five years – ARMs always come with lower interest rates – and saving money every month.

Another plus for ARMs? They enable you to buy more house. Lenders don’t want to see total mortgage, interest and taxes consume more than 32% to 34% of your total income. More conservative lenders use an even lower percentage – as low as 25% of your total household income. However, recognize that you do risk a significant jump in monthly payments at rollover time – as much as 2% in interest charges alone. Plus, property taxes increase along with other home ownership expenses insurance , utilities, property maintenance and so on.

So, if you don’t have a clear and confident picture of your future earnings, you run the risk of living in a house you can no longer afford.

One other advantage. You have a LOT more clout with lenders as a homeowner than a potential buyer of a home. So, you can use an ARM to get you into the house and registered as the owner. When the term of the ARM is up, or at any time, you can switch to another mortgage product. Become the owner. It gives you a lot more power and control over your asset, even though the bank is a part owner by way of your outstanding mortgage balance.

Who should get a fixed rate mortgage?

Two groups, basically.

If you know this is the home of your dreams and the place you want to live for the next 20 or 30 years, the place you want to raise your kids – lock in to a fixed rate for the peace of mind it delivers.

The other group consists of homeowners who currently have ARMs. Again, as the homeowner you have clout. And, if you have a perfect payment history, you’ll find fixed rates a better, more secure mortgage product.

What are closing costs?

These are expenses associated with the actual transfer of the property from the current owners to the new buyers, and closing costs differ in each state and in each individual community.

In some regions, closings employ lawyers. In other places, paralegals and document preparation services handle the paper work.

Then there are recording fees, sewer hook-up assessments, association dues, tax escrow (often required by the lender), this tax and that fee. You can expect to be nickel-and-dimed to death at the closing as your new hometown, your state and even the feds all nick you for $300 here, $50 there and on and on.

General rule of thumb, assume closing costs will amount to 1% of the total you’re borrowing. If you use a closing attorney, that’s extra.

Should you use a local lender?

There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages. Using your local home town bank may benefit you if your good friends with the bank’s loan officer. But local banks tend to have higher borrower qualifications (and more of them) than the larger lenders, like the ones that “get you approved in just 15 minutes” over the phone.

However, your local bank may give you a bunch of goodies like a lower credit card rate, interest-paying checking accounts, free checking for life and other benefits. So, it pays to shop around and do some comparison shopping.

Do remember this: the local bank offers a few mortgage “products” – an ARM, a 15-yeared fixed and a 30-year fixed, so your options are somewhat limited. Also, if you don’t fit the local bank’s “borrower profile” ( a mathematical means to determine the reliability of a potential borrower), you will pay the $300 non-refundable application fee but not get the loan.

Is this a good time to buy a home?

There is never a bad time to buy a home, regardless of what’s happening in the real estate market. In fact, equity in homes accounts for 60% of the average person’s total worth. As the home appreciates, you’re worth more without having to pay tax on that appreciation until and unless you sell. And even then, if you roll over your capital gains into a new property in which you and your family live, no taxes.

Property ownership, at any time in the real estate cycle – boom or bust – offers tax benefits (mortgage interest comes right off your top line income), property taxes are also deductible.

Ownership provides leverage. You are using the lender’s money to make money for yourself over the long term. When you sell that property for a profit, who keeps the profit? The homeowner, not the lender. So use the lender’s money to make money for yourself. Buy your home – now!

What is a mortgage broker?

A mortgage broker represents a variety of lenders offering a more varied menu of mortgage products. A broker is hooked in to many different sources including: local banks, nationwide lenders and smaller sources such as a home town bank in Dubuque offering the lowest mortgage rate available.

You’d never hear about this Iowan bank without the help of a mortgage broker. Also, a broker usually requires a one-time application fee. If one lender doesn’t work out, the broker moves on to other lending sources trying to find the best rates with a reputable, above-board lender. So, it’s more likely that you’ll find the right mortgage at the right rate with a broker who represents dozens of lenders.

Insurance FAQs

How do you find affordable health care?

There’s no such thing. All health coverage is expensive if you pay the premiums each month. This coverage can easily cost $2,000 monthly for older Americans living on fixed incomes.

The best way to keep health care costs low is to buy the insurance offered by your employer. The employer picks up some of the cost (not all, anymore, unfortunately) that could save you $1000s each year – especially if your family is still growing.

What can you do to lower health care rates?

If you’re a sole proprietor or small business person paying the bloated rates charged by health insurers, try these money saving tips:

1. Join an industry related professional organization so you get the group rate, not the individual rate. One group to look into is the local Chamber of Commerce. These local business groups often offer group policy coverage even if you’re a one-woman office. This can save a few thousand bucks annually. However, you will have to pay the organization’s annual dues so shop around.

2. Another thing you can do is assume more risk. You see, insurance is all about risk. (And you thought it was all about helping others. Common mistake.) The more risk the insurer takes on the more you pay.

So, if your co-pay for a trip to the emergency room is $50 with your current policy, up the co-pay to $250, $500, even $1,000 dollars. That way, you assume more risk for paying hospital and doctor bills. Instead of your insurer kicking in after the first $50 spent (it costs that much just to walk into an emergency room and breathe the air), you pay the first $100, $500 or $2,500.

This is great if you have some money to cover those expenses for you and each member of your family covered under the policy because the co-pay is figured on a per-patient basis.

But do the math. If you save $400 a month on your health coverage by increasing your risk and subsequent co-pay, figure out how many months you and your family would have to go before you start paying higher co-pays. That’s a savings of $4,800 annually – enough to more than offset bumping your co-pays up a few notches.

Finally, avoid frivolous trips to the doctor. Indeed, if you need medical help get it. But, if it’s a case of the sniffles or too much kielbasa at the all-you can-eat buffet, wait it out and save on future rate increases.

Do you need collision on your car insurance policy?

A common question and a simple answer. If you would pay to have your current vehicle repaired in an accident, you should have collision coverage. On the other hand, if you’re still driving a ’70 Matador (it was a car model), dump the collision coverage because when that Matador slides off the road, it’s going to be a scrap metal cube by the end of the day.

Drop collision if your car is an older, higher mileage vehicle and save. If that rust bucket is your only way to get to work, make sure your policy provides rental car coverage so you can rent until you buy that lime-green Gremlin (another old car model).

How long do infractions and accidents stay on record?

Every state is different. Every community is different. Every insurer is different.

For example, one insurer offers one-time accident forgiveness, which means your rates won’t go up if you have a fender bender. However, you can be sure that you’re paying for that benefit in your monthly premium.

Everything you’ve heard about the auto insurance business is true. They have office buildings filled with sharp-dressed legal eagles looking for the loophole in every claim.

And, if you are in an accident: (1) Expect premiums to increase to the point that you end up paying for repairs any way and (2) Don’t be surprised if your car insurer drops your policy at the end of the term, leaving you scrambling for new, higher-priced coverage.

Insurers are sharks who make tons of money by delaying claims (denial of claim through sheer attrition) and dragging their feet.

All insurers listed on have been thoroughly checked using A.M. Best as a yardstick. Best ranks insurers for services, resources held in escrow and other factors. All carriers listed on CheckRates have an A+ or better rating from industry watchdog A.M. Best so you can be sure the company will be there when you need them.

Who needs disability (long-term care) insurance coverage?

Long-term health care can break the bank in a few months. If you or your spouse or partner are injured, we’re talking tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands in medical expenses, rehab and therapy costs and lost wages.

If you live in a two-income family, both bread winners should carry LTC coverage to make up for lost income so you can keep the house and car. If yours is a one income family, insure the bread winner to the max to cover your monthly expenses.

Children don’t need disability insurance since their injuries are, most likely, covered by your family medical policy.

One thing you can do is to purchase an umbrella policy – a policy that covers your losses after all other policies have paid out their max amounts. The umbrella covers expenses above and beyond current coverage limits. Be sure to read the fine print, and again, go with an insurer with an A+ or better ranking from A.M. Best.

Should you work with a local insurance broker?

If convenience is an important factor in insurance shopping, the answer is a simple “yes.” These local companies sponsor a town Little league team and you run into the owner at the monthly Lions Club luncheon.

These professionals know the market, know you and your family and will look for ways to save on coverage. For example, by purchasing your homeowner’s coverage and auto coverage from the same insurer, you’ll save on both.

Finally, you won’t pay more using a local broker. They get their cuts from the insurer, not money out of your pocket.

What about renter’s insurance?

Again, it depends.

If you’re living in a refrigerator box with cinder block bookcases and not much else, you can forgo renter’s coverage. However, if you live in a nice place with lots of expensive furnishings and a 54” HDTV, yes, purchase renter’s coverage to protect you against burglaries, fires and other bad things. In fact, renters coverage is one of the better deals within the entire insurance industry. You get a lot of coverage for a low premium.

Insurance FAQs

What should you look for in a credit card package?

In a word – credit. The ability to make purchases using plastic at a reasonable interest rate. Unfortunately, many consumers opt for the frequent flyer miles credit cards, the rewards credit cards (upgrades to first class….ooooo). Well, friends, nothing is free and those so called free miles are built into the cost of that card somewhere. A quarter of a point more in interest, a $200 annual fee, restrictions and blackouts.

Here’s a good rule of thumb; Use your credit card to make purchases on the web and the real world. Pay off the balance each month to avoid finance charges and eat the $35 annual fee for the convenience.

Don’t mix credit borrowing with frequent flying, plasma screen TVs and other come-ons. Keep your credit separate and you’ll pay less in the end.

Go with the card that offers the lowest rate (watch out for teaser rates) and annual fees. Forget everything else.

Finally, read the fine print and the microscopic print. Here’s where you’ll discover that if you’re one day late with a payment, your 10.99% rate zooms to 29.75%. True story!

Credit lenders are not your friends. They are the enemy and most be approached as such. Read all the finest of print so you understand the rules to the letter. Pay off your balance each month to starve them of interest earnings and let the $35 annual convenience fee be your only credit card expense you incur all year. That’s $35 well spent.

What if your credit isn’t perfect?

You’re going to pay a higher interest rate from day one. Depending on just how bad your credit is will determine your credit options in the future. If you have a bankruptcy, you’ll pay more for the money you borrow than someone with squeaky-clean credit.

Start with one card with a $250 max. This will protect you from yourself when you feel some retail therapy is in order. Pay off the balance completely each month and, automatically, the lender, who now believes in you, will raise your limit to a $1,000. Now, that doesn’t mean you run out and buy a new dinette.

To clean up credit problems takes seven years but you can start today by showing a solid payment record and an ability to handle the responsibilities that come with credit card use.

What can you do to lower credit card cost?

Comparison shop.

The credit lending business is a jungle as you know if you receive daily solicitations to apply for this credit card or that one. So, rates are lower, annual fees are waived. In short, the lender makes it less expensive to borrow when you have to.

Use credit cards for emergencies only. Pay cash for everything else. Don’t have the cash, don’t buy the snowmobile. The last thing you need is more debt.

Finally, some people like to carry a dozen credit cards. Makes them feel important. But each one of those cards comes with an annual fee that can add up to $1,000 – just in fees alone if you go with those prestige cards.

Instead, maintain one card for personal and one card for business, if you record business expenses. If not, you don’t even need the business card. Keep the number of credit cards you carry to one – and use it only for emergencies.

If you don’t have a credit history, how can you get a credit card?

Easy. Credit card companies want to hook the bait as early as possible, which is why you see all those credit kiosks on campus during freshman orientation. You can sign up on a coffee table for a $250 balance card. No sweat.

Once you build up a payment history, you’ll work your way up the lender ladder until you have a $10,000 credit limit – and you’re only paying $35 a year for that. Customers like these drive credit companies nuts. The lenders prefer the buyers who max out their dozen cards, pay the minimum balance each month and take cash advances from one card to pay off another card.

Here’s one important fact to take with you always: you can never borrow your way out of debt.

What should you know about credit card interest rates?

They go up an down – and without notice, so check your credit statement to see what you’re paying. Some lenders slam you for a single late payment by boosting your rate from 10.99% to 29%+. No notification from the lender. They got you where they want you.

You can often transfer these balances to a different lender who will charge you a teaser rate that rolls over but is short-term fix to the greed of credit card companies (29% interest! Are you credit card CEOs totally nuts???)

Know that rates can change without notice Read the microscopic print below the fine print. Know that you’ll get nicked for service fees, late fees (even if you pay on time at a bank branch, the transaction doesn’t clear for several days (they must be using abacuses to do the math)) so you pay the late fee even though the bank received payment on time.

Talk about a scam. Bottom line is this, shop, compare and find the credit card that just gives you credit. Forget these package, frequent-flyer deals and other come-ons. Watch teaser rates become humungous as time goes by, even if you pay on time. Some cards even ding you for an inactivity fee. That takes a lot of gall, but these credit companies know we can’t live without them so they can do pretty much whatever they want within government regs, which favor the lender. Big surprise.

And that means it’s up to you to do you homework, pay off your total balance every month and you’ll drive the credit card companies nuts. It’s a great feeling. You’re going to love it.

Student Loan FAQs

What lenders are available for student loans?

There are lots of sources for student loans, from the bank on Main Street to online resources that’ll get you a check fast, but payments may start immediately – while you are still attending classes so, again, read the fine, fine print.

If you go with a bank, you’ll pay a little extra in processing but rates are low because these loans are guaranteed by the federal government so if you bail, the lender still gets its money from the feds. Then the feds come after you so pay off the loans, okay? It’ll make your life simpler.

There are also government programs that provide subsidy student loans matched by the college or university.

Should you work with the financial aid department?

Are you kidding? These are the pros from Dover. If there’s a scholarship, they’ll find it. If rates are better at one lender than another, they’ll tell you. They can also cobble together some work-study to offset borrowing.

Talk to the financial aid folks as soon as you arrive on campus. Before is even better.

How long do you have to pay off a student loan?

Terms vary, of course.

Many student loans are available that don’t require repayment start until nine months after final graduation, i.e., if you go to grad school monthly payments aren’t required.

Other lenders offer interest only loans to students. One thing to keep in mind. Legitimate lenders know that the loans they make are guaranteed by the U.S. government. So, even if a lender signs up a deadbeat who doesn’t repay the loan, the bank or other lender isn’t out the money, the taxpayers are.

This is a critical point to keep in mind when discussing your school financial needs with a lender outside of the school you attend. Because the student loans provided by private lenders (banks) are guaranteed, they should be available at preferential rates, i.e. lower than a typical student loan thanks to that guarantee.

If a potential lender doesn’t offer the lower rate student loan, look for a lender that does. It shouldn’t break the bank to get your certification or degree so shop around and know your lender.

What about student loan rates?

They change with the cost of money. Banks borrow money from the federal government to lend to students. The bank gets a break on interest for this cash infusion and receives assurances from the feds that they’ll cover any losses.

This means the lender takes less risk. Therefore you should look for a loan at least 2% lower than prevailing consumer loans and 3%-4% below “normal” rates isn’t uncommon.

Shop around for the best rates. You’ll be paying these loans off for years so even a quarter point interest drop is a money saver.

Credit Report FAQs

Who provides credit reports?

There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each of these credit reporting agencies collect credit-related information on you and make it available to retailers, banks, car dealerships and other lenders to determine your credit worthiness.

What is a credit score?

It’s a number between 300 and 850 that is developed independently by the big three reporting agencies. Miss a credit card payment and your overall credit score could drop 30-40 points – for missing a single payment.

Miss a mortgage payment and your score could drop more than 120 points.

People with credit scores below 500 are considered high-risk. If your credit score is between 500-650, you fall in the moderate risk category. A credit score between 650 and 850 is considered a good credit risk.

A credit score isn’t just calculated on missed payments or outstanding debt. The score is determined on how you manage debt. It’s possible to lose points on your credit score because you don’t have enough debt! Maybe you have one credit card and you pay it off monthly. Your credit score could be lower than someone with 10 credit cards who carries thousands in debt. However, if all payments are made on time, the credit bureau awards good payment records, but may deduct points for not carrying enough debt.

What if you find a mistake on a credit report?

Fix it – and fast.

If you find an error in your credit report (one client found his credit report showed he owned a home a few time zones away which wasn’t true), you must contact the reporting agency in writing immediately. The credit agency, by law, must check out the complaint. If you still can’t get a mistake removed from your report, or a charge is being contested, you can require the credit agency to post your side of the story – a good idea if you can’t get rid of a blemish on a credit report.

Also, check all three credit reporting agencies since each develops an independent profile. So, you may have a credit score of 550 at TransUnion, 625 at Equifax and 640 at Experian.

Who has access to your credit report?

Just about anybody. In fact, when you receive your credit report it must show which companies and individuals have asked to view your credit history. It’s mostly lenders building mailing lists to solicit your credit card business, but it could be a landlord, an employer, a shop in town. Unfortunately, your sensitive, personal information is available to anyone with a credit agency account and your Social Security number.

That’s why it is so important to stay on top of your credit. It’s how the rest of the world sees you – a credit score. By law, credit reporting agencies most provide a free copy of your report any time you’ve been turned down for credit.

You can also receive a free credit report annually. It’s the law and you should go pro-active in maintaining accurate credit records to ensure your good name as a borrower.

How are credit reports used today?

They’re used by business and individuals who might be lenders of money or become stakeholders in your financial situation – a hospital, for example, or your new landlord.

They’re also used to generate the mounds of junk mail we all receive each day in the mail box. If you’re bombarded by offers from lenders, it’s because you have a good credit history and those lenders – banks, credit card companies, mortgage companies, etc. – love borrowers with a long, positive payment history.

These reports are also used by Human Resources departments to gather information on potential new employees. Once again, your sensitive data is available to just about anyone so clean it up, monitor your reports and consider signing on with one of those credit watchdog companies that notifies you of any credit report activity.

Cell Phone FAQs

What are your cell phone options?

Phone companies offer a variety of plans with limited minutes, unlimited minutes, unlimited weekend and night minutes (night starts at 9:00 PM for many cell providers), roaming charges, no roaming charges, access to music downloads, your stock portfolio and the entire world wide web.

Before signing up for any plan, determine how you’ll use this cell phone. Many people have dropped their land lines and use cellular service exclusively. Others want to be able to text their friends in history class, track their packages on the fly and so on.

The three prime factors to consider when selecting a cell provider are:

• Does the provider have good coverage in your area? Some are better than others.

• Number of free minutes (and they go faster than you think)

• Number of features like web access, email downloads, texting, streaming video and so on. Obviously, the more features the more expensive the hardware (the cell phone) and the more bandwidth you use, meaning higher monthly cell phone bills.

What if you just need “emergency” service?

Most service providers offer “emergency plans” for those who want to stay connected in case the car won’t start. These aren’t chit-chat plans and if you go over the allotted minutes you’ll pay BIG TIME. However, this is ideal for the security it provides. As long as you’ve got your cell and a nearby tower, you can summon help.

What about service contracts?

Two ways to go here.

You can sign a contract with a service provider. The contract is usually for 24 months with a stiff cancellation fee if you opt out before the end of the contract.

This contract will detail all features and limitations. Expect the features to appear in bold type on the home page. Also expect the limitations to appear in the finest of fine type. Time to pull out the magnifying class.

Things to look for: hidden fees like inactivity fees or connection fees. Also look for the slam – the big penalty fee for an early exit. It’s usually a whopper.

Put together a list of questions based on your reading of the contract. Most of these contracts have enough legalese and boilerplate to discourage any consumer, but you must take the time to read everything, develop your questions and then contact the service provider for answers. If you don’t get the answers you’re looking for, keep shopping for the right provider.

The second option is the pay-as-you-go plan. You can buy your cell phone at Wal-Mart or even the local drugstore chain. The package includes a telephone, an activation number and pay as you go billing. No contracts.

These plans tend to cost more on a per minute basis because you can switch providers at any time. You aren’t locked in to a contract and you’ll pay for that with higher monthly rates. But, it is another option. It’s convenient and you only pay when you actually use the cell (plus the usual service fees which aren’t bad).

What about reception quality? Which is best?

Verizon, Cingular, Sprint – which offers the best coverage? Well, different service providers have better coverage in some areas of the country while others localize coverage to the eastern seaboard or the Midwest.

The best way to determine who covers your area best? Ask friends. When people stop over, ask them to see how many bars they get from your home. The stronger the signal, obviously, the better.

In all cases, you can expect drop outs, dropped calls, static and other interference regardless of which carrier you use. It all depends on how close the caller is to a cell tower and how close you are to a cell phone.

How do you choose the right plan for you?

Don’t buy more than you need. If you don’t intend to use your cell as a music download, iPod type device, don’t pay for this feature or service. If you don’t intend to video tornadoes or tsunamis, skip the video feature. You’ll pay more for the device and more for the bandwidth this data dense info takes up getting from there to here.

Pick a phone that suits your personal or professional needs. The options are endless. For example, let’s say you run a small plumbing business servicing a client base in a few, geographically close communities. You’d benefit from the walkie-talkie feature some cell phones offer. This allows you to talk directly to your crew working on another job. No phone connection needed.

Consider all features. Select the ones you’ll use; cross off the list the features you won’t use. Then go with the plan that best suits your cellular needs.

Dish TV FAQs

Do you have to buy the equipment?

Not usually. Dish companies usually offer free installation and a free digital video recorder (a Tivo-type recorder). However, if you do run into problems, you will get hit with repair and maintenance costs – and that can be very expensive.

Do you need a separate dish for each TV in your house?

Used to but not anymore. A single dish can be hooked up to four different TVs throughout the house and deliver four different signals.

What about instillation?

Wait for promotions. Expect to pay anywhere from $299 to $499 instillation otherwise. Instillation is usually a freebie during promotions – and a darned nice one at that.

Who maintains the dish?

The service provider, if there’s a bug in the system. Most plans guarantee clear reception or the company will fix the problem. The key is to define clear reception.

On the other hand, if a hurricane blows your TV dish receiver into another county, you may be on the hook for replacement costs. Again, read the fine print.

Is dish better than cable?

A moot point in some areas. There are still large parts of the country where cable isn’t even an option so the dish is the only way to go.

However, if you do have a choice, you’ll find that dish services generally deliver more channels than cable but most of those channels won’t interest the majority of viewers. (The Classic Golf Channel runs old golf tournies from 20 years ago. You have to be a dedicated fan to watch golf live! Watching Arnie’s Army from 1968 has limited appeal.)

How many dish providers are there?

Lots. Dishnetwork, Satellite Sales, All American Dish, Sun Satellites and dozens of other companies, some regionalized, some national and some international. And each offers a different plan. That’s why you have to do your research to find the best deal to fit your viewing interests.

Is dish cheaper than cable?

Basic dish packages can be had for as little as $19.99 a month. You still get a bunch of channels, but you may have to pay extra for access to local news and other local stations ($5 a month is typical).

Dish plans vary in cost and offer more alternatives to cable. For the most part, yes, dish is cheaper than cable under routine circumstances. However, as you choose from the a la carte menu of programming offered by dish companies, you can get your monthly costs up there pretty fast.

The other drawback is service. Cable companies are notoriously bad at delivering good client care. But at least you know the repair truck is somewhere near you. Not so with a dish provider. It could take a couple of days before your dish is realigned depending on where you live.

Couch potatoes take note.

Can you record my favorite TV shows?

Yep. Today, dish companies offer DVRs as part of their basic packages. They have to to compete with on-demand cable.

Can you see local channels at no additional cost?

You’ll pay extra but not a great deal. One dish provider in Northern California charges an extra $5.00 a month to carry local channels.

What about reception?

Cable TV is delivered by telephone or fiber optic lines so as long as the lines stay up you’ll continue to receive a clear signal.

Not so with a dish antenna. Reception can be affected by rain, snow, branches of trees, sun spots and other natural phenomenon. You’ll pay more for cable and receive less. However, cable tends to deliver clearer signals even in bad weather.

This one is strictly a judgment call.

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