Whether you and your family are driving to the zoo, the lake, or visiting relatives, you are part of the American tradition of the road trip. Part of the appeal of a road trip is all the fun along the way. So, to make sure you’re prepared for your spontaneous adventures check out these tips:
1. Take your vehicle in for maintenance
Oil changes, tire rotations and brake pad replacements are all great ideas before your big trip. Tell the mechanic about your road trip plans and approximately how many miles you plan to travel in your vehicle. They may be able to spot potential issues before you leave to avoid a problem on the road.
2. Review your auto insurance policy
It’s a good idea to review what your auto insurance covers before you hit the road. Things like road trouble service and rental car coverage may be important to know if they are included on your policy.
3. Check the weather at home and your destination
In the days before your trip, you’ll probably watch the weather forecast for your destination and route. However, it’s also a good idea to check the upcoming weather for your home.
The last thing you want is to come home and find that a tree has fallen on your house, or that your basement has flooded. See what the forecast says and ask a neighbor to check on your house once a day, especially if there’s bad weather. Be sure you leave them a reliable contact number.
4. Renting a vehicle? Make sure it's covered
If you decide to rent a vehicle for your road trip, contact your local insurance agent to learn about rental car coverages. Most rental companies will ask if you want to purchase insurance for your rental car. But, you may not need it. Your independent agent can check your existing auto policy for any coverages that may apply and can discuss coverages you may be able to add. One coverage to ask about is rental gap coverage.
Unless you've read the fine print on the rental contract you probably haven't heard of this coverage. Your local insurance agent will know and can help you feel confident signing your rental agreement.
Rental Gap Coverage: Let’s say you crash your rental car and it’s worth $20,000, but the rental company decides to sell it for $10,000 instead of fixing it. Without rental gap coverage, you are responsible for the difference.
5. Arrange roadside help before you go
Roadside trouble service can be a vacation saver and you don't have to be a member of an auto association to get it.
If you have any questions whatsoever, call Theodore & Associates today and we'll get you road trip ready!
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of daily life, from sheltering in place to lost paychecks. While car insurance is no exception, the good news is that every major provider has pledged to help Americans in need like never before. To separate fact from fiction, we spoke with experts and analysts across the country to determine exactly how the coronavirus crisis will affect your car insurance.
Is my insurer going to give me money back?
As of March 22nd, the number of cars on the road had fallen dramatically, about 20%, following the declaration of a national emergency in the U.S. Many of the largest auto insurance companies recently announced they will be responding to the lowered risk of auto claims with premium rebates for customers.
State regulators are also putting pressure on all insurers to step up to support consumers with measures like extended grace periods, so if your insurer hasn’t yet responded with meaningful actions, you can routinely check its website to catch updates or reach out directly.
Should I change my auto coverage because of COVID-19?
While you can definitely reach out to your insurance company to see if your lowered mileage could mean a discounted rate, keep the following in mind: Don’t cancel coverage you’ll need in the future. Canceling your car insurance, even if it’s only for a limited period of time, can have several negative impacts:
How can I lower my monthly payments?
Increase your deductible
Your deductible is the amount of money you agree to pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage will kick in. Increasing your deductible helps lower your premium because you’ll be on the hook for a larger part of any potential losses, but that also means saving on your bill now is something you’ll need to weigh with your ability to take that additional risk.
Reduce your liability coverage limits
Lowering your liability coverage limits can also help you save on insurance, but it will likely make a smaller dent than changing your deductible. Your car insurance coverage will have both bodily injury and property damage liability, or the maximum amount your insurance company will cover, if you cause damage to someone else or their property.
Switch to a usage-based plan
If you’re driving fewer miles than usual, you may want to consider a usage-based car insurance plan. While traditional car insurance is priced using factors like your age and claims history, usage-based insurance relies on driving data (usually gathered through an app on your phone) to determine how much you pay for coverage.
Many larger insurers are starting to offer usage-based options. This option would be best for users who are likely to benefit from a usage-based policy for the long-term, though. Switching insurers too often can signal that you’re not a loyal customer, which can mean you may be quoted higher rates from even other insurers in the future.
Will my future auto insurance premiums be affected by COVID-19?
Most drivers are well aware that an increase in claims can spike car insurance rates, but the economy as a whole is also closely tied to an insurance company’s business.
Will auto insurance claims be affected by COVID-19?
With social distancing measures in place across the country, insurers are making sure their employees and customers stay safe by keeping the claims process digital. This may be a big change from a typically hands-on process or you may not see a change at all.
What if I can’t afford my auto insurance payments because of COVID-19?
If you are struggling with your car insurance premiums, you should contact your insurer. Many are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic with programs to assist policyholders.
For more information, please contact Theodore & Associates today.
As you make your way through your spring cleaning checklist, don’t forget to dig out your insurance policies and look them over. Below are some of the reviewable elements of your home, life and auto insurance policies.
1. Make sure you’re not overpaying for insufficient coverage
Experts say the top insurance mistake is being underinsured, which happens when you fail to update your coverage as your property, lifestyle or needs change.
Take the time to assess those changes and determine where you need to adjust your insurance coverage. For example, if you like to entertain at home, consider increasing your liability coverage and purchasing a separate umbrella policy.
Umbrella liability policies typically offer a minimum of $1 million of additional liability protection and cost just a few hundred dollars a year.
2. Pay attention to increased rates
Insurance companies don’t always tell you how much your rates increased on renewals. While doing your spring cleaning, grab last year’s documents and compare the rates for yourself. If your rates rose by five percent or more, call your insurance agent and ask them to explain the increase.
Knowing whether the increase resulted from changes in your risk profile or from general increases in the marketplace can help you negotiate and shop for comparisons.
3. Learn how to lower your premium
You may be eligible for discounts that can lower your homeowners insurance premium. Our golden rule is to ask! You may miss out out savings if you don’t ask what is available.
4. Make sure you have enough personal property insurance
Most people do not take the time to inventory their personal possessions, and often do not have enough personal property insurance as a result. Homeowners should be careful not to overlook their belongings as a way to keep insurance costs down.
It is very likely that you have added new belongings to your home over the last year. If so, now is the time to inventory those belongings and ensure you have the right type of coverage for the actual value of your property.
Most consumers automatically accept the amount of contents coverage named in their policy. Instead, read the policies carefully to make sure there are no gaps in coverage, and check the dollar limits and excluded causes for personal property.
It is in your best interest to raise the dollar limit if necessary, as it will help you better replace or recover the value of your possessions if disaster strikes.
Having an updated list and video footage of your belongings could help you recover the true worth of your belongings.
If you have a life insurance policy, you should make sure to review its principal points at least once a year, including beneficiary, benefit amount, term, loans and cash value.
1. Update your beneficiaries
Many of us forget to update our policies when circumstances change. Life events such as marriage, getting divorced or having children should prompt you to update your beneficiaries. The beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy will trump any other documents you’ve created outlining your beneficiaries, so ensure that they match!
2. Review the term of your policy
If you have term life insurance, it’s important to know when the term ends. An annual review will prevent a term policy expiration from sneaking up on you. If you are caught unaware, you may face a major premium hike.
Some term policies may be convertible to permanent insurance on their anniversary, which others may be convertible at the end of their term.
3. Assess the amount of your policy
Make sure the amount of your life insurance policy is still appropriate for its intentions and for your financial situation.
Take time to evaluate what you intend for the benefits to cover. Are you hoping to fund your burial expenses, or provide college tuition for your children? Does your policy provide sufficient coverage for these needs? If not, it may be time to look into additional coverage.
If your personal wealth has increased significantly in the last year, you may consider more life insurance in order to protect your family from estate taxes.
1. Reassess your comprehensive/collision coverage
If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, take time to make sure the limits are adequate, or whether you still need it. If you don’t have the coverage, consider whether it’s time to add it.
If you’re driving an older car worth less than $1,000 – or less than 10 times the insurance premium – having comprehensive or collision coverage may no longer make sense. Dropping either the comprehensive or collision coverage may reduce your premium.
2. Ask about any new discounts.
Ask about any discounts that you may qualify for, such as:
For questions about your insurance or to get a quote, contact us today!
4 Things to Consider When Changing Your Auto Policy
Whether you are adding a vehicle or a new driver, updating your address, or considering a new insurance provider entirely, the process of making changes to your auto policy can be intimidating. Read on for things to keep in mind when adjusting your auto policy.
1. Let Your Independent Agent Do the Work for You
As with any important decision, consider talking to a local expert who can help you navigate the decisions involved in switching to a new car insurance company. While paying the lowest possible rate may seem attractive at first glance, any responsible agent will explain that getting the coverage you need should be one of your top priorities.
For example, if you frequently drive with your dog in the backseat, you might ask your agent whether or not your dog is covered in the event you are in an accident. A professional independent agent can recommend an auto insurance policy that automatically covers any potential pet medical bills if you get into an accident. Not all insurance companies include this coverage. This is an example of how protecting what matters most to you is more important than the savings you get from buying insurance online. The foresight to look ahead and anticipate coverage needs is one of the many benefits of working with an independent agent.
2. Ask the Right Questions About Insurance Carriers
It’s important to balance between being price-conscious and making sure your insurance needs are met. To ensure you receive the correct coverage to meet the needs of you and your family, ask these questions when you speak with your local independent agent:
3. Mind the Policy Gap
Timing is everything as you don’t want to be without coverage between policies. Fees might be involved if you change insurance providers mid-policy term, or discounts may be offered if you shop for a renewal prior to your expiration date, so you’ll want to plan your insurance switchover accordingly.
Failure to avoid a gap in coverage can have serious legal and financial repercussions, especially if a disaster strikes when you’re between insurers. Additionally, a lapse could mean that insurance carriers will charge higher premiums in the future.
4. Follow Through
Once you’ve switched, make it a point to stay in contact with your local agent. Make sure that your previous policy has been canceled. Avoid billing mistakes and credit bureau issues by obtaining written confirmation from your previous insurer that your policy has been cancelled.
If you are moving to a new state, plan to visit with your insurance provider. Because insurance laws vary by state, you’ll want to complete changes prior to your move.
With the right insurance carrier watching out for you, making the switch should be a straightforward process. And, Theodore & Associates is always here to help!
Football season in the south brings with it a whole host of seasonal activities for football fans, from game-day tailgates and sports bar outings, to friendly bets and bowl parties. At Theodore & Associates, we want your football season to be both exciting and safe, so as you cheer your team to victory, consider the following tips.
Game day insurance tips
Here are a few pointers for making sure your insurance provides an additional safety net on game day:
If you’re like most people, you start up the car every morning and get ready to fight traffic on your way to work. But wouldn’t it be nice to read a book on your commute instead? Or check your email? Even send a few texts?
Today, that’s not possible for drivers. (Actually, it is possible, but it’s dangerous. And way too many people do those things and worse behind the wheel).
Tomorrow, however, self-driving cars might give us all the ability to do those things safely. And two amazing concept cars at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas provided a glimpse of an exciting future.
Each January, thousands of people from across the world attend CES to see the latest innovations in technology. Sam Affolter, senior director of research and innovation at Safeco, was there this year — and he’s intrigued by where the auto industry is headed.
“One of the coolest displays at CES was Toyota’s Concept-i car,” Affolter said. “It has a digital assistant called ‘Yui,’ an artificial-intelligence personality that customizes itself based on the different people in the car.”
With inward-facing cameras, Yui (pronounced “U-E”) identifies who’s in the car and where they’re sitting, and will recommend switching to autonomous mode when its facial-recognition technology senses the driver is distracted or sleepy.
It also learns your habits and preferences, Affolter said. “I prefer to be moving rather than stuck in traffic — and Yui will pick up on that and recommend routes that may be longer but with less congestion.”
Honda also made a big splash at CES with its NeuV, which stands for “New Electric Urban Vehicle.” Private vehicles are not in use 95% of the time, and Honda says the NeuV (pronounced “New-V”) could make good use of that extra capacity. It can function as an automated ride-sharing vehicle, picking up and dropping off customers at local destinations when the owner is not using the car. And when it’s idle, the NeuV even can sell energy back to the electric grid.
“It’s important to note that neither of these cars is rolling off the assembly line,” Affolter said. “They’re just examples of the possibilities.”
That may be a good thing, because it’s going to take time for people to get used to the idea of giving up control.
Both Yui and NeuV help break this barrier by acclimating drivers to the AI system in ways that can build trust, according to Affolter. Providing accurate, helpful information and recommendations over time increases the chances you’ll say “OK” when Yui or NeuV offer to take the wheel when you look tired or appear distracted.
“These innovations are paving the way to a more driverless future,” Affolter said. “It’s going to be really interesting to see where it leads us.”
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
You’ve heard all the talk about driverless cars — but unfortunately, we’re still years away from living in a world where you just tell your car where to go, kick back and relax with a book (or, more likely, your phone).
But even though our driverless future has yet to arrive, and you still have to pay attention when you’re behind the wheel, technology actually plays a big role on the road already. And nowhere is that more apparent than the new safety features that make today’s cars safer than ever.
Those features might be even more important now, because drivers aren’t necessarily better these days. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2015 ended a five-decade trend of declining traffic fatalities — the 7.2% increase in deaths from 2014 was the largest jump since 1966.
Of course, we all know the basics of being a good driver: be alert, don’t speed, avoid distractions, remain mindful of the conditions, etc. While newer safety features aren’t a substitute for any of those things, they can be an excellent supplement to good driving habits.
So when you’re shopping for a new (or new-to-you) car, look for vehicles that have the following options recommended by the NHTSA. They might even help you save on your insurance!
Forward collision warning: These sensors in the front of the vehicle will warn you of an impending collision, giving you a chance to brake or steer clear.
Automatic emergency braking: Working with forward collision warning sensors, this will automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision.
Lane-departure warning: This uses cameras to keep track of your car’s position on the roadway; if you begin to drift from your lane unintentionally, an alarm notifies you.
Backup camera: These cameras, which are becoming standard equipment in more vehicles, automatically activate when the car shifts into reverse, giving you a view behind the car.
Electronic stability control: This is now standard on models 2012 and later, but if you’re purchasing a used car, consider one that offers this feature. It helps you keep control in slippery conditions and on curves — according to the NHTSA, it reduces the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about 50% and the risk of a fatal rollover by 80%.
Other features that may be available, depending on the make and model of car you choose:
Finally, don’t forget things that have little to do with technology, but still have a big impact on safety — such as the car’s size and weight, structure and restraint systems, and its NHTSA safety rating. To look up the cars you’re considering, visit Safercar Safety Ratings.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
As crowds swell at the beach, in parks, and even on roadways, it all makes for some challenging driving conditions. More people are out and about, whether on foot, bike, or skateboard, or by car, motorcycle, or RV, increasing the risk of an accident. And, the summer heat isn’t exactly kind to your vehicle.
Still, there’s no stopping the allure of a summer drive. To help keep yours safe, keep your attention on the road and on your surroundings, as well as on these safety tips.
Summertime Safety Behind the Wheel
Just like winter, summer has its own set of seasonal hazards that require your complete attention as a driver. Here are some to be particularly mindful of:
Road Trip Safety
A road trip with family and friends can make a memorable summer for both the right and the wrong reasons. Make it the right reasons with some careful planning and driving. There will be plenty of time for fun once you reach the campground, resort, or cabin.
There’s no better time to be on the road than when the sky’s clear and the sun’s shining. We wish you safe travels and a wonderful summer!
For more information, visit the Safeco blog.
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:
For more information, visit Safeco Insurance®.
Today, as car sharing has grown in popularity (well over a million people are members of various services in the U.S., according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC)), the number of options has grown, too.
You can borrow a company-owned car (think Zipcar or Car2Go) for a few hours at a time or for a daily rate, returning it to the spot where you picked it up or a drop-off area in a designated zone. You can even rent cars from other individuals—and rent your car to them.
There are benefits and drawbacks to car sharing—just as there are when driving your own car everywhere. But is sharing right for you? Here are four things you should consider before you get started.
There’s a lot to like about car sharing, but there’s a lot to think about, too. Don’t hit the road before you weigh the pros and cons—and make sure you’re protected.
For more information, check out SafeCo's website.