Road Hazards

October 8, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Posted in Auto, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In the auto insurance industry, a “road hazard” can be defined as anything on the road that poses a threat to a driver, placing drivers at risk of being in an accident. Some common examples can be road repair in anticipation of winter, potholes, uneven/unpaved roads, or a foreign object in the road, causing drivers to swerve and possibly lead to an accident.

The frequency of road hazard accidents is at a high, and it’s not just due to a higher population of pot holes; objects being transported on the road risk coming loose if they are not secured properly, in turn posing a risk to drivers and others around them. Now that autumn is upon us, leaves will soon be littering the ground and everyone will be doing fall lawn clean-up, driving to waste yards to dispose of leaves and branches. If yard debris is not tied down with ropes, tarps, or nets, a portion of the load can fall off the vehicle during transit, creating a risk for accidents as drivers may need to swerve to avoid the falling yard debris, or debris left behind in the road.

With the knowledge of road hazards in mind while traveling, please use caution out on the road. Practice road safety. Keep your speed within the speed limit and maintain a safe distance behind any vehicle to avoid upcoming potholes or debris in the road; there’s a chance the driver ahead of you will swerve to avoid such road hazards.

Be sure you know the specifics of what your auto policy covers in the event of an accident. Any damage to your tire or wheel as a result of a pothole is not covered by MA auto policy. In the event of a collision due to a pothole, or coming in contact with anything on the road, auto policies can provide coverage, but you may be subject to a deductible. If you have questions about your auto policy, or would like to discuss your policy coverage in the event of an accident caused by a road hazard, our client representatives are here to give detailed and helpful direction. Call us toll free at 888 – 850 – 9400.

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PROM AND GRADUATION SAFETY TIPS

May 13, 2015 at 4:53 PM | Posted in Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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It’s that time of year when we start to see very excited teenagers wearing prom dresses, tuxes, caps and gowns. Proms and Graduations are always a great reason for parents and their children to celebrate. Many will celebrate by attending or throwing parties which, more often than not, lead to the consumption of alcohol. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the number of traffic accidents and deaths for teens is higher than any other time of the year. Here are some tips to help keep you and your children safe during this exciting time.

ATTENDING PARTIES

For Youth:

  • Share all of your plans with your parents – give them locations and phone numbers
  • Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged
  • If you don’t have a cell phone, keep extra money on you in case you need to call for a cab
  • Always stay with a group of friends and watch out for each other
  • Don’t leave any of your food or beverages unattended
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs – if you do consume either, do not drive
  • Call your parents, a trusted friend or a cab for a ride – do not get in a vehicle that will be operated by someone who has been drinking or using drugs

For Parents:

  • Make sure that you know you child’s plans – get locations and phone numbers
  • Contact the adult hosting the party to verify that they will be home and that there will be no alcohol or drugs permitted
  • Arrange for transportation beforehand and let your child know that you are available to pick them up if they feel unsafe regardless of the reason or the time
  • Discuss the consequences of violating the school’s rules and your rules pertaining to prom and graduation
  • Agree on the time that your child should be home and let him/her know that you will be awake until they arrive

HOSTING A PARTY

  • Set clear rules in advance and discuss the consequences of breaking them
  • Parents should be present during the entire party – greet guests at the door to make sure they were invited and you know them
  • Watch for bags large enough for alcohol or drugs to be smuggled in – have guests leave their belongings in a room that you can monitor
  • Have snacks and non-alcoholic beverages in the area where the teens are congregated
  • Randomly wander through the area where the teens are congregated to say hello – be visible
  • Do not allow any teen who leaves the party to return

We hope that parents and youth work together to make Prom and Graduation one of the happiest, most memorable times in their lives by keeping everyone as safe as possible.

AVOIDING ROAD RAGE

May 6, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Posted in Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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There are days it seems that our society is on edge more than ever. One of the symptoms of many people’s anxiety & frustration is aggressive driving. Aggressive drivers endanger others by doing things like tailgating, switching lanes and making turns without using a turn signal, cutting people off when switching lanes, and keeping their high beams on when there is oncoming traffic.

Every time you get behind the wheel, defensive driving and eliminating distractions should come into play. By being alert and watching what others are doing, you help protect yourself and your passengers from harm should you encounter an aggressive driver.

If you do encounter an aggressive driver, it is strongly recommended that you never confront them. Fueling their aggression can turn into road rage which, in the past, has resulted in bodily injuries and deaths.

Here are a few suggestions on the best way to handle aggressive drivers:

  • Keep calm and do your best to get out of their way.
  • Avoid eye contact, blowing your horn at them, or responding rudely in return.
  • Do not challenge them by speeding up, blocking them, or tailgating them.

Allowing an aggressive driver’s anger to not affect you can be difficult and allowing a situation to escalate into road rage is never worth it in the end.

Help keep safety a priority at all times: “Stay alert, you won’t get hurt.” – and – “A little courtesy won’t kill you.” are great safety slogans to recall whenever you are behind the wheel.

Auto Discounts for Students

September 3, 2014 at 9:08 AM | Posted in Auto | Leave a comment
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Now that school is back in session, it is a good time to remind you of two important school related discounts that most insurance companies offer on auto insurance:

  1. Good Student discounts: A full-time high school or college student with a 3.0 or B grade point average may be eligible for up to a 10% discount on the vehicle they are rated on.
  2. Students Away at School discounts: A full-time student that resides at an accredited school at least 100 miles away from home may be eligible for an additional discount up to 15% on the vehicle they are rated on.

If you have a child in school, these discounts could save you money. Check with your agent to see if your child is eligible.

Back to School – Driving Safety Tips

August 20, 2014 at 9:54 AM | Posted in Reminders, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In the coming weeks children will be back in school and the school buses will be back on the roads, making the motorist’s commute seem longer. It is very important to follow proper procedures for sharing the road with school buses and when driving near school zones:

  • Be alert! Children may take more risks, without thinking, failing to look both ways when crossing a street.
  • It is illegal to pass a school bus with red flashing lights signaling when children are getting on or off the bus – and traffic must stop in both directions until this signal has been turned off.
  • Stop your car at least ten feet away from a school bus to allow sufficient space for children to enter and exit the bus.
  • Make sure you do not stop your vehicle blocking a cross walk. Be sure to leave plenty of room for pedestrians to safely access the cross walk without having to walk around your vehicle.
  • When warning flashers are blinking in a school zone, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a cross walk or at an intersection with no marked cross walk.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard if directed to do so.

The most frequent victims of auto vs. pedestrian collisions are the young, elderly, disabled, and intoxicated pedestrians. Children are often times the hardest pedestrians to see whether they are getting off a bus or crossing the road to go to school. Whenever you are behind the wheel — and especially when you are near a school bus or driving through a school zone — use extra care and attention, keeping yourself and everyone around you SAFE.

College-Bound Coverage

August 6, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Home, Reminders | Leave a comment
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Sending your child off to college can be a very emotional experience, making it difficult to remember everything that needs to be thought of while worrying about them leaving home. Insurance coverage is one topic that is often forgotten, although it is one of the most important topics. The proper insurance coverage not only protects the student but protects you, the parent as well. If your child is under the age of 24, is a full-time student, and was a resident of your household before moving out to school, some of your home and auto coverage may follow them if they will be living in the dorm.

Covering a student’s actions:
Your homeowner policy provides coverage for bodily injury or property damage that is caused by your child accidentally. Intentional acts are not covered. This only applies if they are in the dorm. This may be a good time to consider an umbrella policy to obtain additional liability coverage.

Covering a student’s belongings:
Your homeowner policy provides coverage up to 10% of your contents coverage for their belongings while away from your premises. This may NOT apply if they are living in an off campus apartment or fraternity or sorority house.  When it comes to electronic devices such as laptops and computers, you may want to specifically schedule these items.

If your child will be living off campus, they would want to purchase a tenant policy to protect their personal items and receive liability coverage. Some landlords are now requiring that they be listed on a tenant policy so they will be notified if it cancels during the year.

Covering student autos or driving liability: When your child takes a car to school, be sure they are listed as the primary operator and that you have notified your insurance agent of the town the vehicle will be garaged during the school year. Make sure your child knows not to let anyone else drive the vehicle, as this would negate any available coverage in the event of a loss.

If your student is not taking a car to school and there is a chance they may drive someone else’s vehicle, make sure you leave them on your policy as a rated operator. Should they be in an accident, your auto policy will provide them some coverage if the owner of the other vehicle did not carry enough liability coverage. There may also be discounts available to students away at school.

There are so many issues to consider as you help your child leave for college. Call us at 888-850-9400 and we can help you arrange for any insurance coverage needed before they go.

Great Tips for Eliminating Distracted Driving

May 14, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Posted in Reminders | Leave a comment
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This time of year provides added driving distractions, especially for newly licensed teens while behind the wheel. It is an exciting time of year for teens, with proms, graduations, and summer vacations on the horizon. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. Distracted driving is anything that takes your mind off the road, and it’s not just cell phone use. We all know what not to do. Start a conversation with teens, keep the following great tips fresh in mind and everyone can stay safe while driving:

  • Don’t eat or drink, put on makeup, play with the radio or anything other than focus on the road while behind the wheel – For safety’s sake take a few minutes to do these things before you get on the road.
  • Fatigue and daydreaming can be dangerous driving distractions – Always stay alert behind the wheel.
  • Angry or upset drivers are not only distracted but can also be dangerous – Don’t get behind the wheel until you are calm.
  • Texts and calls may seem urgent but can wait – Turn your cell phone off while driving, and only use your phone when you are off the road.

Always put safety first. You should be in complete control while driving, be sure to tell passengers that you need to focus on the road. One little distraction could cause an accident with major bodily injury or even death.

Don’t become another tragic statistic, nothing is as important as the rest of your life.

Stay alert and stay safe!

Seasonal Vehicle Coverage

April 9, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Posted in Auto, Camper, Insurance Policy, Motor Home, Motorcycle, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Specialty Policy, Travel Trailer | Leave a comment
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It is that time of year again. The motorcycles, campers, and collector cars and other recreational vehicles are starting to make an appearance now that the weather is better. Here are some insurance reminders before you take them out:

  • Motorcycles: If you decreased your coverage when you put your motorcycle away last winter, don’t forget to increase coverage before taking a ride. When deciding what coverage to put on your motorcycle, Medical Payments is very important to you and anyone that is on your bike at the time of an accident.
  • Campers: They can be covered under your auto policy, but you will get much better coverage at a comparable price if you insure your camper on a travel trailer policy. It includes things like towing and roadside assistance, accessory coverage for awnings, etc… and campsite liability if stationary.
  • Collector Cars: If you have a classic or collector car that is at least 15 years old, you will want to make sure you have collector car insurance coverage. The coverage is designed for the special needs of the car collector. It covers everything your regular auto policy will cover in the event of a loss but the method of determining the value is an agreed value rather than an actual cash value — there is no reduction taken for depreciation. Since a collector or classic car is only driven for a short period of time each year, the premium is usually much lower than a regular auto policy.
  • Off Road Vehicles: Whether you drive an ATV or a golf cart, you could potentially injure someone or cause property damage. You need coverage that will respond to any situation. Some of the extras on a recreational vehicle policy include: Equipment coverage, helmet and safety apparel, and trailer coverage.
  • Watercraft: Boats of all sizes and jet skis need the proper coverage as well. Physical damage to the vessel, liability to other boaters, medical payments, and trailer coverage are just some of the coverages available under a watercraft policy.

No matter what your passion is, make sure you and your family are protected with the right coverage before you experience a loss.

Commerce Insurance Company “DriveAdvisor” Program

March 26, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Posted in Auto, Personal Insurance, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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Insurance industry statistics show that the risk of having an accident for newly licensed drivers is highest during the first few months of getting their license. Teen drivers (16-19 years old) are three times more likely to crash than drivers over 20. It is so scary to see your child drive away when they first get their license because you know they probably aren’t experienced enough to avoid accidents. Thankfully, technology is advancing to help us help our children become better drivers when we can’t be with them on the road.

Commerce Insurance has launched the DriveAdvisor Program for new drivers to help them learn how to reduce their risk of having an accident. After you install a device in the vehicle and register online, the program offers driving tips and allows you to receive online feedback and insight about driving patterns, how often they break too hard, or accelerate too quickly. With this information your children can improve driving habits and reduce the risk of having an accident.

Here are some highlights of the program:

  • The program is free to drivers who are insured with Commerce Insurance Company, are licensed less than 3 years, or that have 5 or more SDIP points on their record.
  • Enrolling in the program does not affect your insurance premium and you can stop using it at any time.
  • The device plugs into your vehicle and you register it online in just minutes.
  • It allows you to identify unsafe driving habits that you and your family members can work on together.
  • New drivers develop good driving habits and become safer drivers for the rest of their lives.
  • The device provides trip maps and shows you where driving incidents are known to occur.

Call us at 888-850-9400 if you are interested in learning more about this valuable program.

Pothole Damage to Your Vehicle

March 12, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Auto, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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The extreme fluctuations in temperature this winter created more potholes than ever! Not only are there more of them, but many of them seem like mini sinkholes. If you’ve sustained damage to your vehicle from a pothole, there are some actions you can take:

  1. You can try filing one with the city or town where the damage occurred, but be aware that most of them will never pay out on a claim for pothole damage.
  2. Your auto insurance will cover pothole damage if you carry collision coverage. Keep in mind – your collision deductible will apply and you will be surcharged if the cost of the damages exceeds $500. Filing a claim under your
    auto insurance is a good idea only if the damage is extensive.
  3. A proactive option is to purchase the tire warranty at the time you buy tires for your vehicle. When you purchase a tire warranty, the tire manufacturer usually covers any repairs to the tire. However, the warranty will not cover damage to the tire rim or your vehicle. If you need to replace a tire that is under warranty, they will give you a credit for any remaining tread towards the new tire. This is especially important if you have all wheel drive and don’t have the option of replacing just one tire at a time.

The best way to prevent pothole damage is to keep your speed down and avoid the pothole altogether. Some cities and towns have hotlines that you can call to report pothole locations, which is a great start to repairing some of some of the worst potholes out there.

Drive safely and steer clear of those pesky craters in the roads.

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