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My Home Was Damaged in a Storm. How Long Will It Take for My Insurance to Pay?

Q. What is the proper wait time to give the insurance to answer your rain damage to your home? — Insured

A. It sounds as though water from a storm has entered and damaged your home and/or property.

We’re sorry to hear you’ve got a mess to clean up. The timing answer isn’t simple because it depends on what’s happened and where you already are in the process.

Determining if You’re Covered

The most frequent type of loss reported in the insurance industry is from water damage, said George Kiraly, a certified financial planner with LodeStar Advisory Group in Short Hills, New Jersey, via email.

“Whether the damage to your home will be covered depends on if the leak was caused by a ‘covered peril’ under your policy,” Kiraly said. “Most standard homeowners policies provide coverage if the cause is ‘sudden and accidental’ and will deny coverage if the cause is ‘maintenance-related.’”

If your particular loss is covered, the policy will reimburse you up to the maximum coverage, less your deductible, Kiraly said.

He offered this example: Let’s say that during a heavy rainstorm, water leaked through your roof. The roof is damaged, as are some fixtures in your home. Are you covered?

Yes and no, Kiraly said.

“You’re probably not going to be reimbursed for roof repairs because that’s a house ‘maintenance’ issue,” he said. “But the water damage to your home is covered.”

He said damage to your fixtures is also probably covered if you have a standard HO-3 home insurance policy — the most commonly purchased policy because it is the minimum coverage required by mortgage providers.

Figuring Out What to Do After Damage

Once a water loss has occurred, the single most important thing you need to do is mitigate the damage, Kiraly said.

“Do whatever you can safely do to prevent more water from entering the affected area and/or reduce ongoing damage,” he said. “For example, if you need to patch up or cover a section of damaged roof or have an area of your home pumped out, do so immediately and keep track of the cost so your insurer can reimburse you.”

Kiraly said if the damage is significant and you decide to file a claim, notify your insurance company as soon as possible. After you file the claim, you should hear from your insurance company within a day or two.

“The company should tell you about its claims process and any responsibilities you have,” he said. “Your insurance company will assign a claim adjuster to inspect the damages and determine coverage.”

He said you should cooperate with the adjuster and keep written notes about conversations regarding your claim.

The company should provide you with a copy of the damage estimate, he said.

If you need a contractor, your insurance company will probably be able to provide you with one who will do the work at the estimated price, Kiraly said.

“You are not required to use the company’s recommended contractor,” he said. “If all or part of the loss is not covered, the company must explain how coverage is excluded under your policy.”

You may only want to file a claim if the damage to your home is significant.

“There have been cases where some insurers have refused to renew the policies of homeowners who’ve made multiple water damage claims. These claims can mean high administrative costs for the insurance company,” he said. “Also, insurers worry that water damage can lead to mold problems, which can be very expensive to remedy.”

To avoid having your policy canceled for repetitive small claims, take the highest deductible on your policy that you can afford, Kiraly said. This will lower your premiums and also discourage you from filing small claims.

“Even if the damage is slightly above your deductible, it’s worth handling it yourself to avoid the possibility of it affecting your policy,” he said. “The question you should ask yourself when considering whether to report an event, would be, ‘Is the damage to my home and property significant?’ If not, don’t report it.”

[Editor’s note: In some states, insurers check homeowners’ credit standing when determining their premiums. Having a good credit standing can help you avoid paying a higher insurance premium, and you can keep track of where you stand by getting your free credit report summary every 14 days on]

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This Change to the U.S. Banking System Could Help You Save Money

A subtle change to the U.S. banking system is about to help workers get paid quicker, and it should soon help consumers avoid last-minute bill paying fees.

The change goes by the less-than-sexy name Same Day ACH, but it could save a nice amount of cash for consumers living on a tight month-to-month budget. ACH stands for Automated Clearing House, which is the name of the network banks use to move money between one another. It’s in need of an update.

Banks tend to batch process such transactions once per day, which is one reason bill payments can be frustratingly slow. That’s also one reason some bill collectors charge a $10 to $20 fee to take an immediate bill payment over the phone when a consumer is about to pay late. (Remember, late or missed loan payments can wind up hurting your credit. You can see how your payment history is affecting your scores by viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on

NACHA, the nonprofit which oversees the ACH Network, and the Federal Reserve are out to eliminate these consumer-unfriendly pay-to-pay arrangements. Same Day ACH — and the same-day bill pay it promises — should help a lot.

How Same Day ACH Works 

The Same Day ACH rules adopted by NACHA won’t enable immediate payments like wire transfers. But the new rules will set up a system that requires banks to process transactions multiple times during the day, which is the next-best thing.

The new rules say banks that receive a payment order by 10:30 a.m. E.T. must settle it by 1 p.m. Payment orders received by 2:45 PM E.T. must be settled by 5 p.m.

The rules will take effect in three stages: The first set of rules become effective this week, requiring banks to receive same-day payments starting now. In stage two, banks will be required to originate such payments, which will clear the way for various consumer bill payment use cases, NACHA says. The entire implementation is scheduled to be completed by March 2018.

A survey conducted by NACHA earlier this year found many banks are ahead of schedule, so consumers may see signs of Same Day ACH at their retail bank soon.

Who It Will Help 

Initially, Same Day ACH will help workers more than bill payers. Starting this month, firms that use direct deposit to pay employees will be able to “clear” those payments more quickly as the first phase of Same Day ACH kicks in. Such payments are particularly crucial in certain situations, such as when an employee is fired. In nine states, discharged workers must be paid immediately. Same Day ACH will also enable quicker person-to-person transfers at banks.

Potential for Fraud 

Not everyone is happy about the change. Some banks have expressed concern that with increased speed comes increased potential for fraud.

“We know from other markets, such as the U.K., that the launch of faster payments is aligned with an uptick in fraud attacks and losses,” Erez Zohar, NICE Actimize vice president and general manager of Fraud & Cybercrime Management Solutions, told the Credit Union Times. “This means that U.S. financial institutions need to be prepared with fraud strategies on day one.”

Same Day ACH payments are limited to $25,000.

There are also concerns about added costs for banks to implement the change.

“While it is an incremental improvement for consumers, it comes with a major expense to financial institutions, as it will affect both the basic transaction processes in place and the technology that supports them,” credit union lobbyist Carrie Hunt wrote in a comment letter to NACHA in February 2015. But NACHA says consumers will benefit from the change, and that it’s a natural 21st-century banking upgrade.

“Same Day ACH is a game changer as it will enable new options for consumers, businesses and government entities that want to move money faster,” said Janet O. Estep, president and CEO of NACHA. “And will serve as a building block for enabling payments innovation in the development of new products and services … the industry’s commitment to modernizing the payments system and enabling a ubiquitous faster payment option can be fully realized.”

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Do I Own the Items I Bought With a Credit Card, But Didn't Pay Off?

One of the nice (and most dangerous) things about credit cards is the financial flexibility it gives you to buy things now and pay for them later. But because you’re using the bank’s money to make a purchase, do you actually own what you buy with a credit card if you haven’t paid your bill yet?

If you’re not paying your credit card bills, you’ve got bigger problems than worrying about the credit card company coming after all the stuff you bought with their money. With unsecured debt (like a credit card), it’s generally the money creditors want, not the things you got with it.

“In more than 20 years of working with people to resolve credit card debts, I have yet to come across any ownership challenges from the credit card issuers, or the debt collection agencies they place accounts with,” Michael Bovee, founder of the Consumer Recovery Network, said in an email. “You can be sued for unpaid credit card debts, and the result of that may be a money judgment. That judgment is generally seeking cash, and not physical items you purchased.”

Judgments — and all the negative credit events that may lead up to them, like missed payments, charge-offs and collection accounts — seriously hurt credit scores, and they can remain on your credit report for many years, especially if they go unpaid. A judgment can also result in wage garnishment, so you really don’t want to get to that point, if you can help it.

Unsecured and secured debt differ in that secured debts require collateral — an asset the creditor can repossess if the borrower fails to repay the debt.

“Credit card banks do not place a security interest in the items you purchase with their cards,” Bovee said. “It would show in your card member agreements if that were the case.”

Think of car loans and mortgages: If you don’t pay your loan, your lender will likely repossess your car or foreclose on your home. But with credit cards and other unsecured debts, like student loans and personal loans, the agreement between lender and borrower doesn’t specify collateral, because there’s not always something to repossess. What are they going to do, take your diploma? And it’s not like they can repo the food you bought on credit and already ate.

Ideally, you’ll eventually pay off your credit card bills, so there wouldn’t be a question of ownership. (If you’re working toward that $0 balance, this free credit card payoff calculator can help you figure out how long it will take you to get there.)

One way to avoid the slippery slope of credit card debt is to keep your credit card balances under control, which can also help you maintain good credit. The less you use of your available credit the better: Experts recommend using less than 30% or, ideally, less than 10% of your overall credit limit if you want good credit. You can see how your credit card use affects your credit standing by getting a free credit report summary, updated every two weeks, on

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A Few Extra Pounds Can Hurt Your Job Chances, Study Says, Especially for Women

Getting soft around the middle may not just trigger a bout of self-consciousnesses — it could throw a wrench into your chances of landing a job. At least that’s according to a study recently published in the journal Plos One, which found weight gain can hamper a job applicant’s prospects, particularly if that applicant is female.

The team of Scottish and U.K. researchers, Dennis Nickson, Andrew R. Timming, Daniel Re and David I. Perrett, decided to explore whether a slight change in weight could turn employers off. What they found wasn’t pretty: “Employing a unique simulation of altering individuals’ BMIs (body mass index) and the literature on ‘aesthetic labour,’ the study suggests that, especially for women, being heavier, but still within a healthy BMI, deleteriously impacts on hireability ratings,” they concluded. Here’s how.


In 2013, a group of 60 men and 60 women were asked to imagine themselves as company recruiters reviewing snapshots of applicants. Each photo showed four men and four women, all white and lacking expression, and at various, digitally enhanced weights. Though the various weights fell within healthy BMI ranges, the changes were apparent to the untrained eye. Still, participants were assured that the candidates all had ideal resumes.

When asked to hire each, on a scale of 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely), for customer-facing roles or more independent jobs, the “recruiters’ ” responses were striking. (Keep in mind, they were asked to go on their gut, unlike what most human managers would be advised, given legal precautions.)

Thinner faces were deemed more employable than fuller ones, especially for the customer-facing roles. What’s more, the ‘original’ versions received an average score of 4.84, while the corresponding heavier ones averaged 4.61.

Larger women received even more of a knock, being rated 0.66 lower on average, compared to 0.26 lower for men. “For women, it seems, even seemingly minute changes to the shape, size and weight of the body are important,” the researchers said.

The Takeaway

So what’s a woman to do? Countering societal expectations is hard enough, and women currently earn less than men, dollar for dollar. The gender pay gap for women of color and mothers is even worse, according to The American Association of University Women, a think tank focused on promoting equality and education for all women and girls.

Fortunately, you can research employers ahead of time to find ones that will judge you based on work and not on appearance. And you should always do your best to prove yourself on the merits of your work. Because some employers check a version of your credit reports during the application process, particularly for roles that require government security clearance, it wouldn’t hurt to get your finances in order. You can take steps to clean up your credit by pulling your credit reports for free each year at and viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, for free on

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Are You Born With a Credit Score?

You may have heard that age impacts your credit, leading you to believe you’re born with a credit score. While it is true that age is a factor, it isn’t your age — it’s actually the age of your accounts that affects your credit scores.

So, no, you aren’t born with credit scores (and may not even have one until you’ve ventured a few years into adulthood, depending on your situation).

When Do I Get My Credit Scores?

There isn’t a certain age or time that you get a credit score, as each person’s path is a bit different. That being said, the first time we are legally eligible to apply for a line of credit on our own is at 18. However, because of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, anyone younger than 21 cannot be issued a credit card — which is a common entry point into the land of credit — unless they can prove they have a way to repay the loan or have a willing co-signer.

But just because you can get a credit card doesn’t mean it’s essential right away, especially if you are not ready to use it responsibly.

“The right time to establish credit is when you are financially stable enough to be able to manage it responsibly,” according to an email from Bruce McClary, the vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “That means being able to keep balances under control and make timely payments.”

I Don’t Know If I Have Credit Yet

“Credit is established by certain types of activity on a person’s credit report,” McClary said, such as whether you have a student loan or credit card. If you do, they’d appear on your credit reports.

To find out where your credit stands for sure, or if you have any at all, you can request a free annual copy of your credit reports from the three major bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — by visiting You can also check out a summary of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on 

How Do I Make Sure I Have Good Credit?

Once you have credit, it’s important to use it responsibly, as having good credit can benefit you immensely throughout your life.

“Credit can be a powerful tool that leads to opportunities, but if mismanaged, it can slam the door on important goals, like home ownership,” McClary said. “Even a minor misstep when starting out with credit can leave some lasting damage that takes a long time to offset.”

To achieve a good credit score, there are certain precautions you can take with your finances.

“Don’t take on more credit than you can manage and always keep a sharp eye on your account activity to avoid costly billing errors and to respond quickly to suspicious activity,” McClary said. “Along with other positive financial habits, that will help maintain a healthy credit profile.”

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How to Escape Low-Yield Bank Savings Options

By Kirk Kinder

Learn more about Kirk on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

There’s no doubt that the returns you can find on cash holdings these days are less than attractive. Traditional bank savings vehicles — such as checking accounts, savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit — often yield less than 1% per year. Longer-term CDs — say three years — occasionally yield closer to 1.5%.

You don’t have to accept those paltry rates. There are some ways you may be able to get better returns without taking on too much additional risk.


The first option is I savings bonds, or I-bonds. They’re issued and guaranteed by the U.S. government, and their returns consist of two components. The first is an interest rate that remains fixed for as long as you own the bond — currently at 0%. So why in the world would you want one? The answer is the second component of the return: a variable inflation rate, hence the “I” in I-bond. The rate is adjusted twice per year.

Over the past few years, the total return on these bonds has surpassed 3% at times. The inflation component has returned just 0.85% during the past year, but that still beats the returns you’d receive on many money market accounts and even some long-dated CDs. The gains are also exempt from state and local taxes, and you can defer federal taxes until you redeem the bonds.

But there are downsides to I-bonds. First, you can only buy $10,000 worth each year. Married couples can bump this up to $20,000. You also have to hold I-bonds for at least one year, which means they’re not an appropriate place to keep immediate living expenses — but then, neither are longer term CDs. Finally, if you redeem the bonds within the first five years, you won’t receive the last three months of interest. Even with that penalty, they often still yield more than traditional bank savings vehicles.

Peer-to-peer lending

Another option is peer-to-peer lending. These platforms let you play the role of the banker, loaning money directly to borrowers. With the banks cut out of the equation, you receive a higher return and borrowers pay lower costs.

Peer-to-peer lending platforms conduct credit analyses on borrowers, and you can review each borrower’s profile before deciding whether to invest. You can also diversify your investment by making several small loans or asking the company to pick loans for you using credit or interest rate criteria you set. Of course, these investments aren’t backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. the way checking, savings and money market accounts and CDs are.

Prosper and Lending Club are two of the most popular peer-to-peer lending platforms; they’ve been around since 2006 and 2007, respectively. The industry is still quite new compared with the traditional banking system, so it has its growing pains, and you should be sure you’re comfortable with that before investing. That said, Lending Club and Prosper have successfully loaned individuals billions of dollars.

Lending money to people you don’t know or losing federal backing might scare you. But peer-to-peer companies have years of data on default rates, which are quite low for the highest-graded loans. According to Lending Club, less than 1% of the total issue amount of A-graded loans was charged off between Q1 2007 and Q2 2016. And with annualized returns of about 5%, those top-graded loans still trump traditional savings options even with the risk of default.

The loans’ potential illiquidity is another downside. Platforms exist to sell the loans, but you might not find a buyer or get the full value of the loan. And peer-to-peer lending isn’t authorized in every state. Ask your state’s securities regulator if it is in yours.

Even without FDIC backing, and acknowledging the default risk and lack of liquidity, peer-to-peer lending is worth considering as an alternative to savings options such as money market accounts and CDs.

Escaping low yields

If you have three to six months of emergency savings safely socked away, you can consider investing any savings beyond that in these alternatives. You still need to keep enough cash in your checking, saving or money market accounts or short-term CDs to cover immediate expenses, but if you’re looking to escape the low-yield universe of bank savings accounts, you may want to explore these options.

Kirk Kinder, CFP, is a fee-only financial planner and the principal of Picket Fence Financial with offices in Maryland and Florida.

This article also appears on Nasdaq.

The Most Affordable Time of Year to Buy a Home

While it may be more convenient to buy a home in the summer before school starts, waiting until fall or winter can save you big dollars, a new NerdWallet study found.

To determine the most affordable time to buy, NerdWallet analyzed the past two years’ worth of listings and sales in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas using data from NerdWallet found that home sale prices — the amount a buyer actually pays — in the nation’s largest metro areas typically peak during the summer, dip in the fall and are lowest in winter, potentially saving off-peak buyers thousands of dollars.

Key takeaways
  • Summer is typically the most expensive time to buy. In the majority of metro areas analyzed, home sale prices peak in June and July. Inventory is also highest those months, but so is competition.
  • Sale prices fall in autumn. Home listing prices don’t fall dramatically once summer ends — they only decrease less than half a percent in the fall. But sale prices take a noticeable dip. In the 50 metro areas, home sale prices dropped 2.96% on average — that’s a drop of $8,300 on the median home — from summer (June through August) to fall (September through November).
  • Home sale prices are usually lowest in winter. If you can wait a little longer to buy, hold off until January or February, when homes cost 8.45% less on average than in June through August. January had the cheapest sale prices in 29 of the 50 metro areas, and February had the cheapest prices in 19 areas.
Where prices drop the most

The degree of seasonal decreases in home sale prices varies across metro areas. In our analysis, the metro area of Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut, experienced the largest drop in price from summer to fall at 8.2%. The Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio, metro area had the second-largest drop at 8.0%, and the Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama, metro area came in third with a 7.6% drop in price from summer to fall.

“If your circumstances give you the freedom to be able to choose the best time to look to sign a contract on a new home, there’s no question that the market dynamics favor you the most to do that in the dead of winter, ideally in January or February, right before the activity starts to heat up,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for

To see the most affordable time to buy a home in each metro area and view the full methodology, read the full report.

Emily Starbuck Crone is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @emstarbuck. Daniel Tonkovich is a data analyst at NerdWallet. Email:

Strangest Government Regulations Around The Globe


Even though it may seem like we invented it in America, bureaucracy can be found all around the world. Just because our system produces some of the most mind-numbing sets of regulations imaginable does not mean that other countries are not capable of producing equally bad ones. Here are a few examples proving that when it comes to senseless rules, we are not alone. I Don't Want Half of an Egg – The European Union proposed draft legislation in 2010 to standardize the sale of all groceries by weight. Items were to be individually weighed to verify the accuracy of the label. That may sound reasonable until you think of things like a dozen eggs or prepackaged bags of bread rolls. Even without that issue, the costs would be enormous — not that bureaucrats are gen...

Yahoo Confirms Massive Data Breach: What You Need to Know

Yahoo confirmed a massive data breach Thursday that compromised an estimated 500 million users’ personal details.

The announcement follows a Yahoo investigation into claims that a hacker going by the name “Peace” was trying in early August to sell the usernames, passwords and dates of birth of Yahoo account users on the dark web.

The investigation found that “certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor,” Yahoo said in a news release. “The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.”

The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected, Yahoo said. Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo’s network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.

Yahoo is notifying potentially affected users and has taken steps to secure their accounts. These steps include invalidating unencrypted security questions and answers so they cannot be used to access an account and asking potentially affected users to change their passwords. Yahoo is also recommending that users who haven’t changed their passwords since 2014 do so.

Keeping Your Information Safe

If you ever have reason to believe a password to any of your accounts has been compromised, it’s a good idea to change it immediately. And you’ll want to do that across any account that shares the same password (not a best practice, by the way) as the affected one since hackers who obtain one username and password may try to use it to gain access elsewhere.

Remember, to keep passwords long and strong by using alphanumeric characters and phrases that can’t easily be guessed via social media (like, say, your pet names.) And, if you ever have reason to believe your personal information was hacked, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit for signs of identity theft. You can view a free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on

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2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell: Back to the Future, Again

Review: 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell

One of only two fuel cell electric cars on the U.S. retail market, the Toyota Mirai — like the plug-in electric Tesla — aims to marry creature comfort and cutting-edge technology.

What you’ll like: Responsive luxury car for the long-awaited “hydrogen highway.” Super-comfortable seats, edgy look, space-age dashboard and years of free fuel.

What you won’t like: Little access to that free fuel — only a handful of stations, almost all in California. Pricey. Small trunk.

What you don’t know: There’s a better chance of getting blown up by the gas tank in your car than the hydrogen tank in the Mirai.

Price: $57,500 sticker price, $499 a month to lease — but tax incentives and other perks bring both down. Details below.

Gallery (click to expand) What’s different about the Mirai

There’s been talk about the “hydrogen highway” for years, a network of hydrogen fueling stations filling up cars that emit only drops of water so clean you could drink it. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But that vision of the future is 10 years away. And it’s always been 10 years away.

Until now.

Toyota, along with Honda and Hyundai, is putting its money where its corporate mouth is, finally offering a car powered by electricity generated by a fuel cell. The 2016 Toyota Mirai is now for lease or sale for those who can afford the high price tag and have a sense of adventure. The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell is already available for sale and lease in California, and Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell is expected to enter the market by the end of 2016.

The Mirai, a luxury sedan loaded with high-tech safety features, stickers at $57,500. But that price is reduced substantially by many factors we’ll discuss later. It can travel up to 312 miles on a fill-up and takes about five minutes to refuel from a growing network of hydrogen fueling stations around Los Angeles and San Francisco. Two “connector stations” — one along Interstate 5 and one on the 101 freeway in Santa Barbara — make it possible to drive the Mirai between L.A. and the Bay Area.

The Mirai is, in a sense, an electric car that gets its power from a fuel cell rather than from electricity stored in a battery. The main advantage of the fuel cell car over an electric car with a battery is faster fill-ups and a longer range.

How it drives

The Mirai is a midsize luxury sedan with touch screens, mounted in a swoopy dashboard, that provide stats on the driving experience, including fuel efficiency and battery charge levels (yes, it has a battery to briefly store electricity from its regenerative braking system, which activates a generator while braking or slowing down). The leather seats are comfortable and provide strong lateral support as if the car was built to be driven hard on winding roads.

A touch of the go pedal gives a surge of acceleration typical of electric cars. The Mirai’s drive train makes an assortment of soft sounds — whining and buzzing — many of which are typical of electric cars. Overall, the engine noise is nearly silent and the road noise is very low, delivering a solid, upscale ride.

On a very short test drive, the suspension was firm but comfortable, handling potholes with ease. The brakes were spongy and unresponsive, which is typical of hybrid and electric vehicles, due to the regenerative braking technology.

What’s included

The front-wheel drive Mirai comes in only one trim level, so the only decision you need to make is among the four available exterior colors. The sedan is packed with advanced safety features such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. It also comes with several other perks:

  • Free fuel for 3 years, or up to $15,000 worth, whichever comes first.
  • An 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for the fuel cell components.
  • Free maintenance for 3 years/35,000 miles.
  • Roadside assistance for 3 years.
  • Complimentary rental car for trips outside the network of hydrogen fueling stations (up to 7 days per year).
  • Carpool stickers for the HOV lanes.
Pricing: A Nerd crunches the numbers

Leasing: Most customers will lease the Mirai, because technology is progressing quickly, and after the three-year lease is over, more advanced cars will be available. The lease payment is $499 a month for three years with $3,649 due at signing, totaling a pricey $21,613 for three years of ownership. But wait — a California Air Resources Board (CARB) rebate of $5,000 wipes out the down payment while also covering almost three monthly payments, bringing the ownership total cost to $16,613 for three years.

And it gets even better. Compare the Mirai, with its free hydrogen perk, with the similar-sized Toyota Avalon, which says has a $1,350 annual gas bill, and that adds up to a savings of $4,050. Now the out-of-pocket three-year total is only $12,563, or a monthly cost of about $350 (excluding registration and insurance costs).

Buying: Discounts and lease deals may pop up in the future. But for now, figure you will have to pay the sticker price of $57,500. Toyota sweetens the deal by offering 0% financing for 60 months. Furthermore, a $7,500 “Trailblazer” rebate and the $5,000 CARB rebate bring the price down to a still-pricey $45,000.

Knock off another $4,050 you don’t have to spend on gasoline, and you are at $40,950. Some buyers might also be able to use the $8,000 federal tax credit, which would bring the Mirai to an optimistic final price of $32,950 — about the price of a 2016 Toyota Avalon.

Nerd’s-eye view

There are many unknowns in the future of the fuel cell car. Perhaps the biggest is the availability and cost of hydrogen. If the hydrogen highway expands across the country and the cost of the fuel cell technology comes down, it could signal a clean alternative to gasoline-powered cars. But cheaper electric cars are already available, and charging stations are more plentiful. So you have to wonder whether the viability of fuel cell cars will perhaps remain 10 years in the future, after all.

Philip Reed is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:

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