Insuring Your Vehicle

Insurance agent cataloging damages.

Check out the Competition

You might be familiar with a few scenarios that could make your auto insurance rates change: You bought a new car, moved, got in a car accident, or even got married or graduated from school. In all these cases, it’s important to shop around for car insurance to ensure you’re getting adequate coverage — at the right rate — to meet your needs.

Even if you’re happy with your car insurance company, simply checking out the competition on a regular basis can help keep your current rate low because it indicates to your insurance company that you’re on the lookout for better deals, and your insurer will, therefore, be motivated to keep you.

Insurance rates and policy details vary widely by insurer and by person. If you get a quote from a dozen insurance companies, many of the quotes might look quite similar, while others might show your premium varying by hundreds of dollars. Even if your rates and coverage were equal among a handful of insurance companies, we remind you: It’s not all about price.

Insurance is intended to protect you when you need it — legally, medically, financially. You want to make sure you choose the company and service that meets your needs and has your back. If you’re not getting that support, you might consider changing insurance companies. MSN has a list of 12 things your insurance agent knows that you don’t: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/autoinsurance/12-things-your-auto-insurance-agent-knows-that-you-dont/ar-BB7QdgM

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Share the Road with Motorcycles and Bicycles

Watch out for motorcycles in traffic.

Bicycles

It is important to become aware of how to share the road with bicycles. They may not be easily seen in traffic, and drivers must be alert and extra careful when approaching them. Keep these pointers in mind when driving near bicyclists:

  • Bicycles are legally entitled to use the road and should be treated as vehicles.
  • Drivers must yield to bicyclists as you would for pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • Drivers must yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist when a bicycle path or bike lane intersects a road.
  • When approaching or passing a bicyclist, slow down and allow as much space as possible.
  • If you are about to make a right turn, do not pass a bicyclist immediately before the turn, slow down and let the cyclist clear the intersection before making your turn.
  • When making turns, watch carefully for bicyclists entering your lane.
  • Be especially careful if you see children riding bikes on the sidewalk. They may come onto the road.
  • Check for bicyclists in your path before backing.
  • Be especially cautious near schools or residential areas where bicyclists may be present.
  • When parking your vehicle, check your mirrors before opening your door. Use your right hand to open the door, so you will automatically look over your left shoulder for oncoming cyclists and pedestrians.

Motorcycles

Motorcycles have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles. Because of their size, they are also more difficult to see. Danger exists because the motorcyclist is exposed and has no protection should a collision occur.

  • Do not share a lane with a motorcycle. They have the right to use a complete traffic lane, and they need space to react to other traffic and road conditions.
  • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots, by turning your head and looking before entering or leaving a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
  • Before turning left, be alert for motorcycles by looking carefully to the front and sides of your vehicle.
  • When following a motorcyclist, allow at least a 4 second following distance or more in wet conditions. Motorcycles can stop quickly and may have to suddenly to avoid obstacles.

Here’s a downloadable PDF file that explains more on safety for motorcycles from the NHTSA: https://icsw.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/ShareTheRoad/images/ShareTheRoadwithMotorcycles.pdf

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Tips to Minimize Drunk-Driving on New Year’s Eve

Drunk driving is a terrible killer on our nation’s roads on New Years’ Eve.

This time of year is especially dangerous for drunk driving because of holiday celebrations and frequent parties. Here are some tips for drivers to avoid a DUI and keep roads safe this New Years’ Eve.

New Years’ Eve is a party holiday. As Americans prepare for festivities with family and friends, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) some tips to remind your customers that it’s dangerous to drive after drinking.

Drunk driving is a terrible killer on our nation’s roads. In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes. This time of year is especially dangerous because of holiday celebrations and frequent parties. In December 2013 alone, there were 733 people killed in crashes involving at least one drunk driver or motorcycle operator. That same year, 31% of all crash fatalities in America involved drunk driving.

According to the organization, it is important for drivers to choose their role before drinking begins: Will you drink, or will you drive?NHTSA recommends that if someone chooses to drive, they should not drink at all. For some people, it doesn’t take much to reach dangerous levels of intoxication. That’s why NHTSA started its “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” campaign: to inform Americans about the dangers of driving after drinking— even after drinking just a little. 

Plan well this New Years’ Eve: Designate a sober driver. If someone in your party plans on drinking at all, make sure they don’t plan on driving.

Here are some tips for drivers to avoid a DUI and keep roads safe this holiday.

  • Even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk or having a crash. If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Plan; designate a sober driver before the party begins.
  • When you know you’ll be drinking, leave your keys at home or give them to someone else.
  • If you have been drinking, do not drive — even a short distance. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or use a transportation network service such as Uber or Lyft. You can also try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location, so they can be picked up.
  • Walking while impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement when it is safe to do so.
  • If you see someone you think is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them get home safely.
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Be Cautious on the Road During the Holidays

Encountering one of these sobriety checkpoints
is probably going to be a part of your new year if you’re on the road. 

The odds of getting into a driving accident increase during periods when there are more cars on the road, such as rush hour, or when driving conditions are less than optimal, as during periods of inclement weather. But when the number of alcohol impaired drivers increases, the odds skyrocket. Research into periods when motorists are most vulnerable to accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers offers an instructive road map for avoiding those times when driving risks are the greatest.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA), between 2001 and 2005, 36 fatalities occurred per day on average in the United States as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. At certain times of the year, such as summers and holidays, those numbers rose dramatically. During the Christmas period, for example, an average of 45 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurred each day and soared to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday. All these numbers would almost certainly be lower if breathalyzer use were more widespread. 

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that 40% of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers — a 12% increase over the rest of the month of December. According to the NHTSA, 2,597 people lost their lives due to motor vehicle traffic crashes during December 2010. The NHTSA also found that an average of 36 fatalities occurred each day in the U.S. 2001 and 2005 as a result of crashes involving an alcohol impaired driver. That number increased to 45 per day during the 3-day Christmas period and jumped to 54 per day over New Year’s holiday period.Predictably, driving danger is higher than average during other holiday periods, too. According to the NHTSA, during Labor Day weekend in 2010, 147 people in the U.S. were killed as a result of drunk driving, which represented 36% of all highway fatalities during that period.

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Prep Your Pet

This Uber driver takes treats.

Traveling with a pet by car involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. Here are a few car travel safety tips to help you prepare for a smooth and safe trip.

  • Prep your pet for a long trip. Get your pet geared up by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. If you’re traveling across state lines,bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record. While this generally isn’t a problem, some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings.
  • Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Secure your pet’s crate so it will not slide or shift in the event of an abrupt stop. If you decide to forgo the crate, don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window, and always keep him in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle.
  • Prep a pet-friendly travel kit. Bring food,a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents. Pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Be sure to pack plenty of water and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure, and always opt for bottled water. Drinking water from an area he or she isn’t used to could result in stomach discomfort.

Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

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Wet Driving

Wet Driving

When we talk about driving tips, we must realize it all begins with the driver – yes you. You can have all the safety features one can buy in a vehicle, but the most important safety feature is your own common sense. It must dictate your driving at any moment, during clear weather, rain, or snow. All road conditions change and if you don’t adapt you’re likely to harm others or yourself.

Allow me to give you a perfect example. I was driving on the Florida Interstate where the speed limit is 70 MPH. Road conditions during that time was hard rain, reducing visibility to about 200 ft. For these road conditions it was safe to travel around 55 MPH. I’m equipped with new wipers, clean windows and the tires are in great condition. Despite the rain, there was no standing water lying on the roadway and I felt I was in complete control at that speed under those conditions… until I looked into my rear-view mirror. Coming up behind me was a vehicle traveling around 75 MPH. I saw at least three children in the vehicle. The driver was disregarding her own common sense, for those children, and the vehicles around her. It didn’t take my years of experience to see that it was reckless driving.

Wet Driving Tips:

  • Use Common Sense.
    When it rains, adjust your thinking.
  • Turn on those headlights.
    It’s the law.
  • Beware of hydroplaning.
    Your tires lose traction with the road due to excess water on top of the road.
  • Turn off cruise control.
    You can hydroplane while you’re in cruise control, your car will actually go faster.
  • Slow down.
    Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions.
  • Consider taking a driving course. 
    Sign up with us here.
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Fall Driving Hazards

Fall Driving Hazards

While fall brings a lot of beauty to the area, it also brings plenty of unique driving hazards. When you’re out on the road this fall, make sure you keep an eye out for these fall driving hazards and know how to handle them safely.

  1. Deer

Fall is one of the more active times for deer because it’s their migrating and mating season. If you live in an area where there are a lot of deer, you’re more likely to encounter deer on the road in fall. Be especially cautious at dawn and dusk, since this is when they are often out foraging and grazing. If you see a deer standing on the side of the road, slow down and pass it with caution. Also keep in mind that deer travel in groups, so if you see one, there are probably more hanging around nearby.

  1. Low Tire Pressure

Fall is a time for fluctuating temperatures. While daytime temperatures are still warm and comfortable, nighttime lows can get quite chilly. The rubber in tires expands and contracts with these temperature changes, causing them to lose pressure. Low tire pressure can lead to poor handling, lower gas mileage, and an increase in the risk of a flat tire. Keep an eye on your tires and check the pressure occasionally to make sure it doesn’t get too low. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check the pressure on your spare tire.

  1. Wet Leaves

The colorful fall leaves are beautiful while they’re still on the trees, but once they start to drop, they become a hazard on the road. Leaves cover road markings, which makes it hard to see lane lines and important warnings. Additionally, wet leaves are slippery, and they make it hard for tires to get good traction. If you find yourself on a road covered in wet leaves, be sure you increase the distance between your car and the car ahead of you in case you need to stop suddenly.

  1. Shorter Days

Another trademark of the changing season is shorter days. The lessening daylight means you might end up making your evening commute at twilight or even in darkness. Therefore, you need to be extra alert for children, pedestrians, and bicyclists, who will be harder to see during your drive home. Also, remember to turn your lights on so your vehicle is more visible to pedestrians and other drivers.

  1. Wind Gusts

This changing season can bring unpredictable weather, including wind gusts. Not only can those strong gusts blow leaves and other hazards directly into your path, they can also make it hard to keep your own vehicle in your lane. Make sure you check the forecast before you leave so you know what conditions you must deal with during the day.

Even with these unique driving hazards, fall is a wonderful time of year to get out and take in the scenery. Keep these safety tips in mind so you can reduce the risks and enjoy everything this season has to offer.

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Aggressive Driving

Aggressive Driving

Driving on busy, crowded roadways can be stressful. But aggressive driving is never the answer. Aggressive driving is defined as “the act of operating a motor vehicle in a selfish, bold or pushy manner, without regard for the rights or safety of others.” Here are tips on how to avoid it:

  • Relax first before heading out.
  • Give the roadway your full attention.
  • Try to give other motorists the benefit of the doubt.
  • Refrain from driving slowly in the left lane.
  • Don’t take other people’s driving behaviors personally.
  • Give yourself plenty of time for traveling and factor in delays.
  • Know that you may be delayed.
  • Take a deep breath and accept it.
  • Slow down as conditions warrant
  • and keep a safe following distance.
  • Avoid making any gestures that might anger another driver.
  • If another driver is determined to get in front of you, just let him or her.

If you are confronted by an aggressive driver, make every reasonable attempt to get out of the person’s way.

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Black Friday Driving

Black Friday Driving

It’s hard not to pass up Black Friday deals since they only happen once a year. However, with over 70 million or more people out shopping today, the stores aren’t the only places that appear to get congested. The roads and parking lots do too.

According to data from Progressive Insurance, car accidents increase to 34% on Black Friday! Be sure to be cautious around truck drivers. They are working hard to bring items to businesses that are then brought to you. With that being said, here are some tips to follow when on the road today!

Slow Down:

You may think that it’s worth speeding to arrive to your destination, but you are only putting yourself and other drivers around you at risk for a car accident. Be sure to take your time when on the road to reach your destination safely.

Check Your Blind Spots:

Be sure to check all your blind spots when switching lanes. Make sure there are no cars in that lane or that no one is switching into that lane. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Avoid Distractions:

Data shows that majority of Black Friday car accidents take place in parking lots. Please be sure to look out for other drivers when pulling in to the parking lot. Also please refrain from using your cell phone while driving. Distracted driving is the leading cause of motor related accidents in America.

Get a Good Night Sleep:

Some Black Friday shopping deals take place around midnight and the early morning hours. It is crucial that you are well rested, so you are alert at the wheel. Feeling drowsy while driving is like drunk driving. Not only does it impair for awareness and reaction time, but it also impairs your judgment at the wheel.

So, remember to slow down, don’t use your cellphone when driving, and be sure to get a good nights sleep in order to get through not only Black Friday, but this crazy holiday season.

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Hands Free Driving

Hands Free Driving

Car companies and phone companies would like you to believe that hands-free driving is the answer to cell phone safety. The truth of the matter is that the conscious mind holds one thought at a time… think about that, only one thought. If you’re talking on your hands free phone, then you have no idea about what’s going on right in front of you.

About 100 people die every day, usually due to distracted drivers and… speed. If your only thought is in the phone conversation, how can you maintain a safe speed? Don’t forget, the speed rules do apply to you.

Driving at 60mph, your closing speed with oncoming vehicles is 180 feet per second your brain is not focused on the cars approaching while you’re listening and talking on the phone. The top attribute of a great driver is that they see everything that is going on around them, at all times. Average drivers looking out the windshield miss over 50% of what is going on around them. Now imagine how much that number must go down for those very same good drivers, while their on the phone.

What about voice to text? Studies show that voice texting is more dangerous than just texting.

Pull in a safe area, keep your doors locked to text or make a call.

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