8 steps to preparing for a safe RV adventure

Nothing is more exciting than hitting the road for that epic RV adventure you have been planning for months. But dealing with RV maintenance issues or road side troubles during a trip is a real bummer, so make sure you check and double check your RV systems and route plans before leaving home.

In other words, your grandmother was right…an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Here are our eight ounces of prevention, or things you should always do before a trip, to avoid the most common RV travel hiccups.

1. Give those tires a complete check up

Tire trouble is the number one cause of trouble for RV travels, and this is simply because most owners do not practice routine tire maintenance. Inspect your RV tires before every trip, looking for cracks or bubbles in the sidewalls. If the tires don’t look like they are wearing evenly, have them inspected by a professional.

Also use the information printed on the tire to determine age. Most experts would argue that your RV tires should be replaced every 3-5 years, regardless of how many miles you have traveled.

Lastly, check your tire pressure when the tires are cold on each and every traveling day. Over-inflated or under-inflated tires are the primary reasons for blowouts, and this can be easily avoided by taking this simple precaution before hitting the road.

2. Check all the basic systems in the RV and perform all routine maintenance

No one wants to head out for a beach camping trip only to find that the air conditioning is not working properly. Before taking a longer RV trip, you should check every RV system and perform all routine annual maintenance.

Walk the entire outside of your RV, including the roof, and look for any signs of cracking or stress. This is the perfect time to caulk seams and make sure your antennas and satellite dishes are firmly connected. Check the entire plumbing system, filling up your holding tanks to make sure there are no leaks and running all the faucets and showers. Turn on the propane and test your hot water. Clean the air conditioning filter and scrub those coils with a toothbrush to make sure you stay cool even in hot summer temperatures.

All of this should be done well in advance of an RV vacation, so that you have time to schedule any needed repairs.

3. Treat your tow vehicle to a tune up

We have a standing appointment with our mechanic in the spring season before we leave for any extended summer travel. In addition to the basic oil change and fluid top offs, he double-checks our mileage and any upcoming scheduled maintenance. He also carefully examines our belts, filters, and battery.

The bottom line is that we would rather replace the timing belt according to an expert’s advice than have it snap on the side of the road, hundreds of miles from our reliable mechanic. Developing a relationship with a qualified service professional has made our time on the road relatively trouble free, even though we drive thousands of miles from home each year.

4. Know your true rig height and weight

At some point on your journey, you are bound to come across a height or weight restriction. Be prepared in advance, and never, ever make a wild guess about whether you can fit under a bridge. You shouldn’t even rely on rig specs, since some might not take into account your air conditioning unit or antennae.


With help from a buddy, use a measuring tape to calculate the height from the ground to the tallest part of your RV. Then also measure the width of the unit, making sure to notice any protruding pieces on the stairs or awning. Write your measurements down and store them in your vehicle. We also keep them in a notes app on our smartphone.

5. Double check that you have insurance and registration documents, as well as the appropriate coverage

It’s not easy to admit, but we have discovered missing vehicle registration and insurance documents at inopportune times. Papers get lost…it happens. Just make sure to double-check everything at least one week before departing on your trip. That way, you have plenty of time to track down a new copy if necessary.

We also review our roadside assistance and personal effects coverage in order to make sure we are protected in the event of an emergency.

6. Create a basic tool kit to override any automated systems on your RV

Automated tongue jacks, stability jacks, and slide-outs are super convenient. However, anything that is motorized could stop working at any moment. You don’t want to be stuck hundreds of miles from home and not be able to pull your slide in for departure.

Make sure that you know what tools you need to override any of the automated systems on your RV. Practice in advance so you feel confident in manually operating all of the features.

7. Research routes in advance, check any restrictions, and download or print out maps

We are a bit spoiled these days by GPS and smartphones, so sometimes we head out on the road less prepared than we ought to be. When traveling with an RV, you really need to research routes in advance to find out about height, weight, and propane restrictions. There are some highways that restrict recreational vehicles altogether, and some bridges and tunnels do not allow propane tanks. Discovering this information in advance is crucial.

It is also important to download or print out directions in advance, since you can loose satellite or cell connectivity in many remote locations. Having a good old-fashioned atlas on hand is not a bad idea at all. Just make sure you remember how to use it…

8. Prepare your Sticks and Bricks abode for your absence

In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for an RV adventure, it can be easy to forget about your sticks and bricks home. Make arrangements so that your home does not look too empty and quiet while you are away on vacation. Pause newspaper delivery and hold your mail at the post office. Set some lights on timers, and arrange for a couple of neighbors or friends to stop by and check on the property.

You might also check out some of the new smart technology that allows you to control lights and temperature, or even respond to the doorbell, right from your phone no matter where you are in the country.

Big adventures can always bring some bumps in the road, but when you take the proper safety precautions, you increase the likelihood of a smooth, stress-free RV trip.

Happy trails!

source: https://www.progressive.com/lifelanes/adventure/8-steps-preparing-safe-rv-adventure/?fbclid=IwAR3RkhAFH4WiS-yDJzX0YGdt7-dIeo20OmURIz-8vW7BgJkVQZrLKnM3Nt4

Should I Buy a New or Used Car?

Before you decide whether to buy a new or used car, it’s important to consider the reasons you’re making the purchase.

If you’re simply looking for an economical mode of transportation, a used car may be an option. Price isn’t everyone’s top priority, however. Many buyers are willing to pay extra for a car that’s free of mechanical problems. Others like the idea of being a vehicle’s first owner.

Here’s a checklist of seven things to consider before you buy your next car.

1. Is Having the Latest Car Technology Important to You?

Car manufacturers have embraced new technology to improve the driving experience and improve passenger safety. The newer the car, the more high-tech features it’s likely to have. Are you looking for a Bluetooth stereo system that connects to your smartphone? How about a rear-view camera that makes it easier to back up? Do you want an automatic braking system that deploys when a collision is imminent? If so, you should think about buying a new car.

2. How Much Are You Willing to Spend on Car Insurance?

New cars are more costly to repair or replace than used cars. In general, the more you pay for a car, the more it costs to insure. If saving money on insurance is important to you, a used car may work out best. The Insurance Information Institute says agents can estimate how much your insurance will cost before you make your purchase.

3. Do You Want a Car That Enhances Your Image?

Many people view new cars as status symbols.2 Any car can take you from Point A to Point B, but a new car has more cachet. There’s nothing like the gleam of a factory-fresh paint job to turn heads. If impressing friends or business associates is a priority, a new car may be right for you.

4. Are You Prepared to Deal with Maintenance Issues?

While used cars cost less than new ones, they typically require more maintenance. The older the car, the more often you’re likely to visit the repair shop. According to Autotrader.com,3 you can minimize the chances of buying a used car with serious maintenance problems if you first have it inspected by a mechanic and obtain a vehicle history report from companies like Carfax or AutoCheck. No matter how well a car has been maintained, nothing lasts forever. If you dislike upkeep, you may dislike owning a used car.

5. Are You Aware of New Car Depreciation?

A new car begins depreciating in value the moment you drive it away from a dealership. New vehicles typically depreciate between 15 and 25 percent each year over the first five years of ownership.4 It’s not unusual for motorists to owe more on their new cars than they could recover if they resold them. If you’re not prepared to absorb this loss in valuation, you should consider buying a used vehicle.

6. Will a Teenager Be Driving the Car?

The modern safety technology that new cars offer seems made to order for inexperienced teenage drivers. The problem is that new cars are very expensive to insure for teens. That’s because inexperienced drivers are more likely than others to have collisions. If you’re buying a car for a teen, your challenge is to find a car that strikes a good balance between car safety and affordability. For guidance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides detailed safety ratings for vehicles manufactured since 2011.

7. How Much Time Are You Willing to Spend Shopping?

The process of buying a new car is fairly simple. You go to a dealership and pick the model you want. The car you choose should be in sound mechanical condition. According to Edmunds.com, new cars come with a limited warranty of at least three years and a power train warranty of at least five years. That means you won’t need to consult a mechanic before making your purchase. In contrast, finding a used car takes more time. You may visit numerous car lots before you find one that meets your standards. If you lack the time, a new car may work out best.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage. You can get a quote from Southwest Federal Insurance.

Sources:
1 http://www.iii.org/press-release/buying-a-new-car-or-truck-consider-auto-insurance-costs-and-protect-your-loan-when-trading-up-091713
2 http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/research/top-14-status-symbol-cars-at-bargain-prices/ss-AA6AJry
3 http://www.autotrader.com/car-shopping/4-questions-to-help-you-decide-on-a-new-or-used-car-167808
4 https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-fast-does-my-new-car-lose-value-infographic.html
5 https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/should-i-buy-a-new-car-or-a-used-luxury-car.html

ways to save on your home insurance

By Stephen Donohue and Atlantic Insurance & Benefit Company

This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of local independent agents and aimed at helping you understand insurance coverage and other important issues

If you feel like you’re paying more for homeowners insurance than you used to, you might be right. Over the past 20 years, these rates have increased over 50% – and U.S. homeowners pay an average of $952 annually, according to ValuePenguin, which provides consumers with research and guidance on financial topics.

You want to make sure your home is protected, but you don’t want to pay more than you have to, either. Here are eight things you can do to make sure you get the best deal on homeowners insurance:

Shop around. Rates can vary dramatically from one company to another – and there are hundreds of different insurers that offer homeowners insurance. If you haven’t researched the market in the past 24 months, it makes sense to shop. Your local independent agent can help, and since they aren’t tied to one insurance company, they can offer you plenty of options.

Increase your deductible. Many policies are written with a $500 deductible, but depending on where you live, you could save 10% or more by increasing your deductible to $1,000. This one change can help significantly reduce or even eliminate your annual premium increase altogether. And some people opt for even higher deductibles, all the way up to $5,000 – but they need to be diligent about keeping funds set aside in case they need to file a claim.

Don’t file small claims. If a homeowners claim would cost less than $1,000, it probably doesn’t make sense to file it. Insurance companies track customer claims, and even a claim of a few hundred dollars could cause a client to miss out on “loss-free” discounts.

Don’t file small claims. If a homeowners claim would cost less than $1,000, it probably doesn’t make sense to file it. Insurance companies track customer claims, and even a claim of a few hundred dollars could cause a client to miss out on “loss-free” discounts.

Maintain good credit. In most states, insurers offer discounts to applicants with high credit scores, so keeping a solid credit history can lower your insurance costs. To protect your credit rating, pay your bills on time, keep outstanding balances low, and monitor your credit report regularly.

Review your policy carefully. You likely are eligible for a number of discounts and credits, so make sure you get them! Homeowners often receive discounts for having newer homes, multiple policies with the same company, good credit and a clean claims history. Even your proximity to a fire hydrant might save you money. And if your situation has changed, let your insurer know immediately as you could be eligible for even more discounts.

Look into group insurance discounts. Some organizations offer special insurance programs to employees, usually with discounts of 5% to 10% and features such as payment via payroll deduction. You also may qualify for discounts if you are a member of a union, auto club, alumni association, or professional group.

Improve your home security and safety. Deadbolts, burglar alarms, and other security devices are all ways to keep your home safe and potentially lower your insurance costs. For example, an alarm that connects to police, fire, or other monitoring stations can save you as much as 20% on your homeowners premium.

Keep in mind that different companies offer different discounts, and your options might vary depending on where you live. An local independent agent who knows your market can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your needs.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage. You can get a quote from Southwest Federal Insurance.

Driving Safety

Our driving safety tips will help you develop safer habits that can protect you, your passengers and your vehicle.

We give you the facts about safety equipment, and we keep you informed about the most important driving safety tips, including how to handle accidents and emergencies, how to keep your family safe when you’re on the road, and more.

Driving safety tips and resources include:

Cell phone safety

Though we don’t recommend it, if you must use your cell phone while you’re behind the wheel, follow these cell phone driving safety tips.

Safety equipment

Get the facts on seat belts, air bags and head restraints to make sure you’re properly protected every time you hit the road.

Car accident tips

These driving safety tips can help ease your stress if you’re involved in a car accident.

Emergency kit checklist

Make sure you have the right driving safety items in your car before you have a roadside emergency.

IIHS car safety ratings

Certain cars have higher safety ratings. Click the link above to see more on IIHS safety ratings.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage. You can get a quote from Southwest Federal Insurance.

How to Lower Car Insurance Costs

Having enough car insurance to cover potential losses is important for any car owner, but no one likes to spend more money than necessary. Consumers can take advantage of the fact that insurance companies are highly competitive. The Insurance Information Institute notes that annual policy costs can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the make and model of the car you drive and the insurance company you choose.1

Here are five tips for reducing your car insurance costs:

1. Seek Multiple Insurance Quotes

Before you buy car insurance, get at least three insurance quotes. The more comparisons you make, the better chance you’ll have of saving money.

Each insurance company has its own formula for calculating car insurance rates. They place different levels of importance on such factors as the type of car you drive, annual mileage, your age, your gender, and where you garage your vehicle(s).

Be sure to compare apples to apples when shopping for car insurance, advises Edmunds.com.2 Some less expensive policies may lack the coverage you need. For example, comprehensive protection pays to repair car damage from mishaps other than collisions, such as vandalism or fire. If you want this type of protection, you must buy a policy that includes this coverage.

2. Ask About Discounts


You’ll miss an opportunity to cut car insurance costs if you don’t ask about discounts. They’re available for a variety of reasons, such as meeting low-mileage thresholds, having a good driving record, using anti-theft devices, and completing driver education courses. There also are loyalty benefits for staying with the same company for a certain number of years. Teen drivers often receive discounts for getting good grades.

You can’t take advantage of discounts if you aren’t aware of them. To make sure you’re saving as much as possible, CBS News suggests that you ask your insurance agent or carrier to tell you about all available discounts.3

How to lower car insurance quote

3. Pay Your Bills on Time

Car insurance companies often consider credit histories when setting their rates. If you have a low credit score with the three major credit bureaus — EquifaxExperian and TransUnion — you may be penalized. Many insurers rely on credit bureau information when creating their own credit-based insurance scores for consumers.

A good way to improve your credit history is to pay your bills on time. Under federal law, you can obtain one free credit report each year from each of the major credit bureaus. Review your credit reports carefully to make sure they don’t contain errors.

Be aware that not all states allow insurers to use credit information to calculate car insurance rates. According to the Insurance Information Institute, states that restrict the use of credit histories in auto insurance rates include California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.4

4. Consider Using the Same Insurer for Multiple Policies

Many insurance companies will reduce your rates if you purchase two or more types of insurance from them, such as car and homeowner policies. This is known as “bundling.” It offers the convenience of having just one insurance company to contact if you have questions about policies.

Bundling can save you money, but it isn’t always the best alternative. Before you agree to bundling, Equifax suggests that you shop around to see if you can get a better deal by purchasing your policies from separate carriers.5

5. Choose Your Car Carefully

Before you buy a car, it’s important to make sure you choose one that you can afford to insure. Insuring inexpensive vehicles costs less because they’re less costly to repair or replace following accidents.

According to Forbes, the cheapest types of cars to insure are family-oriented minivans and sports utility vehicles.6 New vehicles are more costly to insure than used ones.

Your insurance rep can help you determine the insurance costs for various makes and models that interest you.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage. You can get a quote from Southwest Federal Insurance.

Sources:
1 http://www.iii.org/article/how-can-i-save-money-auto-insurance
2 http://www.edmunds.com/auto-insurance/10-steps-to-buying-auto-insurance.html
3 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-you-missing-out-on-car-insurance-discounts/
4 http://www.iii.org/issue-update/credit-scoring
5 http://blog.equifax.com/insurance/do-i-really-save-money-bundling-insurance-policies/
6 http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2016/02/23/the-cheapest-2016-cars-to-insure/2/?ss=vehicles#775418ea161c

How to Choose Car Insurance in 4 Steps

Because there are so many companies selling car insurance, sorting through all the choices to find the right policy for you and your family can be a challenging task. With each carrier claiming to offer the best value, it’s easy to feel confused. At first glance, all of the policies may look the same, but there are important differences you may need to consider. Your goal should be to find one that includes all the benefits you need at a competitive price.

Follow these four steps for finding the best car insurance policy for you:

1. Determine the Level of Coverage You Need

The cheapest policy may not be the one you need. Inexpensive plans may not provide collision coverage, which pays to fix your own car following an accident. They may not offer comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to your car not caused by auto accidents, such as natural disasters, theft or vandalism.

The nonprofit Insurance Information Institute notes that all states except New Hampshire require property and bodily injury liability coverage.1 A policy that offers only the minimum amount of liability protection required by law may save you money, but it probably won’t cover the legal claims that can stem from serious accidents involving property damage or injuries.

Remember that not everyone’s insurance needs are the same. For example, if you’re leasing a car, you may need gap insurance. If the car is totaled, gap insurance covers the difference between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the outstanding balance on your lease.

2. Review the Financial Health of Car Insurers

Everyone wants a good deal on their auto insurance policy, but low rates won’t do you any good if the company you choose isn’t around to pay its claims. Online reports from independent ratings companies, such as A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, can help you determine your insurer’s financial health, says Investopedia.2

Each ratings agency uses its own standards for evaluating insurance companies and their financial health. 

3. Compare Several Car Insurance Quotes

You can shop for insurance by going online, using the telephone or working directly with insurance agents. A report by Bankrate says getting multiple quotes is important because prices for the same level of coverage vary greatly.3 That happens because insurance prices are based on risk. Each carrier has its own formula for measuring the policyholder’s risk for filing claims.

Some insurers rely heavily on insurance scores to determine how likely policyholders are to file claims. Other companies may give more weight to the type of car you drive and how expensive it would be to repair following an accident.

Where you live also can be a factor in determining what you pay for car insurance. If your ZIP code has a higher-than-average rate of car accidents, your insurance costs could be higher. 

4. Ask About Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts, notes MarketWatch.4 If you have a teen with good grades on your auto policy, he or she may qualify for a reduced insurance rate. Some insurers offer discounts to drivers who meet annual low-mileage thresholds or take driver education classes. If your car has an anti-theft device, that also could qualify you for a discount.

Be sure to ask to request a list of all available discounts. It could make a big difference in how much you pay for your policy.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage. You can get a quote from Southwest Federal Insurance.

Sources:
1 http://www.iii.org/article/auto-insurance-basics-understanding-your-coverage
2 http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/insurance-company-credit-rating.asp
3 http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/tips-for-getting-car-insurance-quotes.aspx
4 http://www.marketwatch.com/story/11-little-known-car-insurance-discounts-2013-10-22?page=2

10 Ways to Save on Your Car Insurance

Car insurance is a necessary expense for many people, and there are a variety of ways to save on this household cost once you know what it takes. To get started, gather your personal information, determine your budget and then consider the insurance coverage that you think will best safeguard you and your lifestyle.

Here are 10 ways to save on your car insurance:

1. Gather Specifics About Your Car and Its Primary Drivers

One way to begin the process of shopping for car insurance to get the most value for your money is to gather all of the information an insurance carrier needs to offer you the best possible rate. Start by compiling this basic information before you shop for quotes:

– Make and model year of your car. You’ll find it on your car’s registration.

– Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. This is located on the inside of the driver’s side door pillar.

– Your car’s safety features, including lane departure warning system, forward-collision warning and a back-up camera.

– The anti-theft devices you use, including such mechanisms as an electronic tracking device or a steering wheel lock. Along with understanding the anti-theft features, you’ll want to take note of where you will be parking your vehicle. Consider the difference between parking your car in your garage versus parking it on the street or in locations outside of your home.

– An estimate of how many miles you drive annually, plus your home and work addresses.

– A list of everyone who will drive the car, their ages and any driver safety courses they have completed. Many insurance companies also want to know who in your household is of legal driving age, what their license status is (such as whether they have a learner’s permit or a suspended license, for example) and whether other drivers in your household have their own insurance. Depending on the state, this can help the insurance agent determine who should be listed and considered for your quote.

With this information, an insurance carrier can suggest the best coverage and rates for you and your lifestyle.

2. Research How Much Car Insurance Costs Before You Buy or Lease

When you buy or lease a car, it can be tempting to get a brand-new car or trade in your practical family vehicle for a sports car. Just keep in mind that the type of car you drive may impact your insurance coverage and rate. Be sure to check the cost of insurance before you finalize your car purchase or lease. Insurance rates may vary widely depending on the type of car, repair costs, safety record and many other subjective points.

3. Research All Car Insurance Coverage Requirements

Each state has specific requirements for car insurance coverage.3 Coverage may become more complicated when a financial institution owns the vehicle you drive, so if you’re taking out a loan to make the car purchase, keep in mind that the lender may require you to have specific insurance that might otherwise be optional.4 One example is collision insurance that pays for the repairs of damage to your car sustained during an accident. Another example is comprehensive coverage, which typically covers the loss of the car for theft, fire and other damage due to non-accidents. Find out what coverage you need and the cost before you buy or lease.

4. Decide What Additional Coverage You Need

It may seem counter-intuitive but buying additional car insurance coverage may save you money.5 Weighing the options for additional coverage will help you to ensure you are well protected. Consider how your finances might be impacted if you’re involved in an accident, and the injuries or damages exceed the amount covered by insurance. You purchase car insurance to help protect against the potential costs of a theft or accident, so be sure to talk to your insurance agent or carrier for professional guidance on the appropriate level of coverage for you.

In addition, there are other coverage options that may save you money. What if your financed car is totaled? Can you afford to pay the entire loan? In this case, you may want to consider GAP insurance, which covers the difference between what your vehicle is currently worth, which is what your standard insurance typically will pay, and the amount you owe on it.

5. Save Money with Accident Forgiveness

Having a clean driving record is one thing that typically can help you to qualify for lower premiums. But there are times when even a good driver can have an accident. You may want to consider looking into potential savings through Accident Forgiveness and Minor Violation Forgiveness, if available in your state. These optional features can help you avoid a premium increase following your first covered accident or minor violation. There are also other features that can help provide peace of mind, such as Decreasing Deductible and a Total Loss Deductible Waiver. Ask your insurance agent about these plans, if you fit the bill as being a responsible driver because of your good driving record. Some carriers – in select states – also offer a program that uses smartphone technology to capture and score driving behavior of drivers covered on your policy, which could result in savings both in your first term and at renewal. It’s another option to explore when you’re a good driver and looking to save on your car insurance.

6. Determine What Car Insurance You May Not Need

If you own an older car and are looking to trim your expenses, you may consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage. You’ll want to consider how much your older car is worth when you consider the cost of your premium including collision and comprehensive coverage. Be sure to also consider your individual driving situation to base your cost-cutting efforts on all the factors that could help you determine if this is a wise choice for you. With an older car, you may be paying premiums that total more than your car’s value. Typically, if your car is worth less than 10 times the insurance premium, it may not be cost effective to keep that part of your coverage.

7. Life Cycle Events Can Save Car Insurance Costs

One thing you can count on is that life will sometimes bring changes in your lifestyle and circumstances, so it’s smart to consider how these changes may or could affect your car insurance costs. For example, did your child go away to school? Perhaps there’s a Student Away at School discount you can explore. Did you buy a home? Maybe you can explore a Multi-Policy Discount and get the benefit of bundling your policies. These are some of the events that may help lower your car insurance rate. It’s a good idea to notify your car insurance agent when you have a major life event such as these, to have a conversation to ensure you’ve got the best coverage for your current life needs.

8. Choose the Deductible That Is Right for You

Your car insurance deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. The lower the deductible, the less you’ll pay out of pocket if an accident occurs. Selecting a higher deductible may lower your car insurance premiums.

For example, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and have an accident causing $2,000 in damage, you would pay the first $1,000 of a covered loss before insurance kicks in.

9. Compare Car Insurance Companies and Costs

With many things we buy nowadays there are choices. Many of us wouldn’t think of buying a product or service without comparing prices, the value you get for your money, and the reputation of the provider. You may want to consider using the same philosophy when you purchase car insurance. Do your homework and then talk to your insurance agent or carrier about what your needs are.

10. Ask Your Agent About Available Discounts

It’s a good practice to check in with your insurance agent at least annually to find out if you are eligible for a better car insurance rate. You may receive discounts if you bundle coverage, such as buying insurance for your home and car from the same company. As mentioned earlier, safe driving records and extra safety features on a car may also lower rates. Ask your insurance agent about any new offerings or gaps in your coverage to determine the best coverage for you.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage. You can get a quote from Travelers or find an agent here.

Sources:
1 
https://www.iii.org/article/what-determines-price-my-auto-insurance-policy
2 https://www.iii.org/article/8-questions-to-ask-before-buying-auto-insurance
3 https://www.dmv.org/car-insurance.php
4 https://www.iii.org/article/insuring-leased-car
5 https://www.iii.org/article/auto-insurance-basics-understanding-your-coverage
6 https://www.iii.org/article/what-gap-insurance
7 https://www.iii.org/article/how-can-i-save-money-auto-insurance#Reduce%20optional%20insurance%20on%20your%20older%20car
8 https://www.iii.org/article/choosing-an-insurance-company
9 https://www.iii.org/article/how-can-i-save-money-auto-insurance

5 MYTHS ABOUT HOME INSURANCE

Homeowners insurance includes many myths and preconceived notions that can make the home buying process confusing and intimidating for first-timers. However, demystifying homeowners insurance may be easier than you think. Take these five common home insurance myths into consideration before buying your first home to help ensure a smooth process.

Myth #1: The surrounding neighborhood doesn’t affect the price of home insurance.

Contrary to popular belief, the cost of a home’s insurance premium is influenced by its surrounding area. Each neighborhood has a record of multiple factors that insurance companies take note of, including prior insurance claims and crime rates in the area.

Based on statistics provided by the FBI, the state, and other departments, each community is given a grade by insurance companies. The frequency of crimes, like burglaries and vandalism, within a community is compared against the city’s population. Neighborhoods with lower grades are considered higher risk, and homes within these areas will often have higher premiums.

Myth #2: External home fixtures don’t affect the price of insurance.

The physical structure of a home isn’t the only factor involved in home insurance. When it comes to calculating premiums, insurance companies consider every potential risk on the property. Homes with trampolines and swimming pools carry a higher risk of claims due to injury or property damage and are subject to higher premiums.

Dog owners may also be surprised to learn that they could face higher premiums. Although many domesticated dogs are friendly, insurance companies pay close attention to the risk of bites and other injuries.

Myth #3: Older, cheaper homes will have lower insurance premiums.

Though an older home may have a lower sale price, it may have a much higher insurance rate. Older homes are considered high risk to insurance companies for many reasons. Homes built in the ’80s and before may have outdated plumbing, and water damage and leaks are among the most common home insurance claims.

Another concern with older homes is the wiring system. Older homes may have aluminum wiring installed, which is susceptible to fire. Outdated wiring systems also may not be up to current state code, which can further drive up the price of a premium.

Myth #4: Homes within the same neighborhood will have the same premium.

Though the neighborhood a home is located does influence its premium, many factors could cause one house to pay a vastly different amount than even the one next door. For example, brick houses are at lower risk of fire damage than homes with wooden frames. However, homes with fiber-cement siding are fire resistant and have an added benefit of being termite proof.

It’s important to note that homes within earthquake-prone zones are evaluated differently. Brick houses are more prone to damage from earthquakes and will pay higher premiums than homes made of other materials within these areas.

Myth #5: Once a premium is calculated, the price is fixed and can’t be changed.

A homeowner has plenty of options to reduce the cost of their home insurance premium. Updating the roof to hail-resistant shingles, for example, will impress an insurance company. Additionally, installing security features such as a fence or alarm system will decrease both the risk of claims and the cost of your premium. Installing a sprinkler system to reduce the risk of fire damage is another way to make an insurance company happy, and they’ll reward you — by lowering your premium.

Now that you are armed with insider knowledge about the way homeowners insurance works, you can begin the hunt for your first home with confidence. If you have questions about homeowners insurance or are interested in quotes, an independent insurance agent can help you. Visit trustedchoice.com to get matched up with an independent insurance agent today, so they can help you get started on your journey.

five ways to lower your auto insurance bill

It’s easy to lower your insurance costs — especially if you have a great driving record, or don’t mind having higher deductibles.

Who doesn’t want to pay less for car insurance? Billions of dollars are spent on ad campaigns to convince you to “switch and save” — but the truth is, many people can find savings no matter who their insurance company is. According to the Insurance Information Institute and other experts, here’s how you can, too:

1.Drive safely. Accidents, speeding violations, and other incidents on the road can put your safety at risk, of course. But they also can hit your wallet pretty hard, because some can cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket. On the flip side, many companies will give you a discount if you don’t have an accident or moving violation over a set amount of time — so not only will you not pay more than you should, you could pay less than you would otherwise.

2.Make sure your coverage fits your life (and your car). If you can afford higher deductibles — that is, the amount you have to pay before your insurance kicks in — you can save significantly on your premiums. The Insurance Information Institute says raising your deductible from $200 to $500 could drop your overall cost by as much as 30%. You’ll also want to consider dropping collision or comprehensive coverage if your car is old and worth far less than it once was.

3.Pay your bills on time. And not just the ones from your insurance company, either. Most carriers use credit information when they’re determining how much your coverage will cost, so it pays to have a good credit history. Other things that can impact your standing include your outstanding balances and how much available credit you have.

4.Ask about discounts. There are all kinds of discounts available for drivers — including some you might not have realized. Do you own your home? You might save on your car insurance. Do you purchase your homeowners and auto policies from the same company? You’re probably already getting a discount for that. If you don’t drive much, you could be eligible for a low-mileage discount. The list goes on and on (literally), so make sure your agent helps you get the savings you deserve!

5.Shop around. This goes for cars and insurance policies! Your car has a big impact on how expensive your insurance will be, so if you’re buying a new one, be sure to do your research on how much it costs to repair that particular model, the likelihood of theft, etc. And when it comes to insurance, an independent agent can help you get quotes from a number of insurance companies — they’ll make it easy to weigh your options and find the right balance between coverage and cost.

How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind and Rain

Driving in conditions that involve strong wind or heavy rain can be relatively common and may not be the most pressing safety concern for many drivers, but Travelers safety professionals know that driving in severe weather can significantly increase the risk of a dangerous situation for you, your family and other drivers. Severe weather demands your undivided attention, so be sure to reduce driving distractions by turning the radio down and turning off and stowing your phone to help you keep your attention fully on the road. Keep in mind that sometimes the best decision you can make is to avoid driving altogether and to stay off the road completely until the weather clears.

Driving in Heavy Winds

Wind may not seem like it can present a significant risk, but strong wind deserves special consideration from drivers. Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas for concern also include highway overpasses, tunnels and “road cuts” through mountainous areas that can act as funnels for wind. The following tips can help keep you on the road and safe if you encounter heavy winds.

1. Anticipate gusts. Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather.

2. Notice larger vehicles. Be aware of large vehicles on the road such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.

3. Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.

Driving in Heavy Rain

In addition to the potentially poor visibility that accompanies most heavy rain, drivers should be ready to protect themselves against hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle is traveling too fast in heavy rain conditions, causing the vehicle’s tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the surface of the road. This has the potential to make steering and braking difficult and could even lead to losing control of your vehicle. Follow these tips to help you stay safe while driving in heavy rain.

1. Take your time. Slow down to help avoid hydroplaning. Also, one of the most dangerous times to drive can be soon after it begins to rain. The rain can cause oils on a roadway to rise to the surface and make conditions slick. Waiting a while after rains begin, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.

2. Turn your lights on. Turning on your headlights can help you to see more clearly and also helps other vehicles see you. Many states require the use of headlights during rain.

3. Give other vehicles more space. Add 1-2 extra seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you, and the cars behind you, more time to react to traffic.