Planning To Move? A Change of Address Could Save You Money on Your Insurance

Moving Could Save You Money Your Home and Auto Insurance Policies

car-girlWhen you make the decision to move, finding a suitable place is the first step. Whether you are a renter or preparing to buy your first home, house hunting is not an easy task and it requires an extensive search to accommodate all of your family’s needs. Although finances can play a key role in your decision, there are many other factors to take into consideration.

When you begin your search try to find a few places that you can keep in mind while you continue to shop around.

  • Do a quick inspection of each property to make sure that there aren’t any noticeable issues with wiring, water leaks, or any type of damage that may end up causing you to make costly repairs after you are settled in. The location of your new home is just as important as the structure itself.
  • To avoid the intimidation of moving into an area that you are unfamiliar with be sure to take the time to check out the neighborhood. Research the crime statistics in the area, compare the distance you will be traveling to and from your job, visit the schools, locate the town hall/police station, and find safe access to parks/lakes.  This will allow you to be more at ease with the safety of your family and your possessions when your move is finalized.

The next step in the moving process is choosing the best insurance plan for your new place. Renter’s/ Homeowner’s insurance and Auto insurance can be lower depending on where you choose to live. First, you should be aware of how your insurance rates are determined. Insurance companies use similar criteria when preparing your quote as you would use when preparing for your move. Each company uses the information differently which is why rates vary from each insurance company. Each insurer must file with the state the procedure on how they arrived at your current rates. They also must conform to that procedure. State regulations require the information used for the rates to be reviewed randomly.

When getting your Home and/ or Auto insurance quote, the rates are usually based on some of the following criteria:

Location:

Some neighborhoods experience more crime than others, there is a higher potential for theft and vandalism to your home and possessions in these areas. Some areas are more secluded and may experience less crime, but then the possibility for a fire or other disaster when the homeowner is away may go unnoticed in those areas causing more damage, so this also becomes a greater risk. Rates vary from state to state due to natural disasters. Some areas are more prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes.

Age/Construction:  

The type of construction, whether it is made of brick, wood, or concrete will have some bearing on your rates. Rates will widely depend on what the cost would be to replace the home if it was a total loss. Premiums are higher for homes that are made with higher quality materials and elaborate fixtures. If your home is older the wiring, water pipes, or the roof may be in need of repairs. You can invest in some remodeling/upgrading of the alarm systems, rewiring, roof repairs, upgrade the heating units, and replace old pipes to potentially lower your rates.

Since most insurance companies offer bundles for home and auto policies, you could save money on your current auto rates as well as your homeowner’s insurance when you choose to bundle. Auto insurance rates are calculated much the same way as homeowner’s. Where you live, what you drive, and your driving record will all be considered when getting your quote as well as some of the following criteria:

 Location: 

Certain areas are more prone to theft and vandalism than other areas. Many companies research the crime statistics in the area where you live and use it to base your rates.   Some more congested areas are also a factor since there is more of a chance for an accident in areas with more traffic. If you have moved to a place that shortens your weekly commute, and you are driving fewer miles, this also is figured.

Driver Age: 

Age helps to determine your experience as a driver. Younger drivers tend to be higher risks because they lack experience in many situations that can occur on the road. Other drivers that may be a risk are those who tend to not drive regularly. Often times their skills may not be as sharp. Driving records are also used in determining rates.

Type of Vehicle:

Vehicles that are sporty, fast, and expensive are generally highly rated and result in higher premiums. Sports cars usually result in high premiums because they are more apt to be involved in accidents that result in excessive damages and injuries. Vehicles that are more expensive may have higher rates based on how much it would cost to replace the vehicle if it was a total loss.

Lastly, make it a priority to notify the postal service of your move so that you will get your mail delivered to your new address. You should also directly contact your insurance company, bank, DMV, and the IRS. Mail is forward to the new address for up to 12 months. After that time period, the post office returns the mail to the sender unable to forward. The sender will need to track down your current address and resubmit the mail.  If there is no forwarding address on file, you will not get the mail. In some cities if your name is not listed as a resident on your current address, you may not get your mail delivered to that address. The postal service has made it easier than ever to change your address. You can go online, make changes on the phone, or stop into the branch.

If you have or are planning to move in Minnesota, talk with one of our agents for a Free Home and Auto Insurance Quote.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc. 

Help Curtail Aggression Behind the Wheel

Join Insurance Advisors, Inc and Safeco Insurance in taking a pledge to be a more courteous driver in Drive It Forward Fridays (#DIFF)

SafeCo drive it forward Fridays logoSummer travel season has started, and you have a chance to help make driving in and around Minnesota more pleasant and safer for everyone.

We at Insurance Advisors, Inc are joining Safeco Insurance in asking drivers to participate in Drive It Forward Fridays (DIFF). To take part, drivers can visit www.safeco.com/diff or use the hashtag #DIFF on Twitter to pledge to be a more courteous driver and to share their positive driving actions.

“Helping to promote better driving makes the roads safer for everyone in our community,” said Patty Czock, Vice President, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

A new Safeco Insurance survey found that more than four out of five drivers have experienced others’ aggressive driving behavior, and it impacts them negatively.

Only 36 percent of those surveyed admitted to driving aggressively. Yet, 85 percent describe other drivers as aggressive, and 82 percent said it’s others’ behavior on the road that makes driving a negative experience.

Not all the news is bad. Of those surveyed, 72 percent said that they’d be willing to make at least one change to their own behavior to make driving more pleasant for everyone. So as the summer travel season kicked off, Safeco Insurance launched the Drive It Forward Fridays campaign to encourage drivers to take positive steps to counter negative driving behavior that can be dangerous.

Insurance Advisors, Inc. is proud to support Drive it Forward Fridays and we’ve made our pledge!

RV Insurance

If you are considering purchasing any type of camper, motor home, travel trailer or fifth wheel you will want to make sure you have the right insurance for it.

You may be able to bundle your recreational vehicle with your home or auto insurance policy, but it might not give you enough coverage.

RV insurance provides coverage on Class A, B, and C motor-homes, camper vans, and motor coaches.  Your insurance agent can also provide you with RV insurance for your travel trailer, fifth wheel and pop-up camper. Inform your agent if your RV is stationary on a lot or piece of land year round. Bundles the insurance penguin next to a RV.

Types of coverage offered are:

  • Comprehensive and Collision
  • Total Loss Replacement
  • Emergency Expenses
  • Towing and Roadside Assistance
  • Campsite/Vacation Liability
  • Full Time and Stationary Travel Trailer Program

For all your RV insurance needs contact Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Distracted Driving: Causes, Laws, and Prevention

Whether you want to admit it or not, you probably have driven distracted.  Many people believe that it is not an issue, but the statistics are starting to prove otherwise.  In 2012 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving related crashes.

No Texting While Driving sign with a crossed out phone in hand.Actions that create distractions:

  • Texting
  • Using a cellphone or smart phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player

There are three main types of distractions when driving:

  1. Manual – taking hands off the wheel
  2. Cognitive -taking your mind off the task of driving
  3. Visual – taking your eyes off the road

Cell phone use, specifically texting, uses all three types of distractions listed above at the same time. It is the reason why 41 states have placed limits or complete bans on such activity while driving a motor vehicle.

Minnesota’s Distracted Law

  1. Bus drivers are banned from all cellphone use (handheld and hands-free)
  2. Novice drivers are also banned from all cellphone use.
  3. All drivers are banned from texting

Facts about Cellphone Use:

  • In 2011, 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones
  • In controlled studies, those who text and drive spent 10% of their driving time outside their driving lane
  • Another controlled study showed that most drivers took their eyes off the road for 3 to 5 seconds while texting, (Traveling at 55 mph) The equivalent to the length of a football field.

 Among Teens Surveyed:

  • 77% of young adults are confident or somewhat confident that they can safely text and drive
  • 55% say it is easy to text and drive and 34% admit to texting while driving
  • 52% admit to talking on the phone while driving

Double Standard

  • 48% of young drivers have seen their parents on the phone while driving
  • 15% have seen their parents’ text and drive
  • 27% of adults admit they have sent or read text messages while driving
  • While you are driving approximately 1 in 5 drivers around you are reading or writing a text message!

Increased Risk Taking

Young drivers who text and drive are 2 times more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking and 5 times more likely to drink and drive themselves. Teens attitudes towards texting and driving is alarming.

Among those surveyed:

  • 97% of teens said texting while driving is dangerous but yet 43% admit to doing it
  • 75% of teens said their friends’ text and drive
  • 77% said they saw their parents’ text and drive

Texting and driving is difficult to prevent among young drivers when they see other adults and their own parents doing it.

Set the Example

Both young drivers as well as adult drivers have excuses for texting and driving.  Some feel the need to “stay in touch” or feel the pressure to “keep working” even while driving.

Show your family that you care about them by setting the example of not texting or doing other things that take your eyes off the road while driving. Young adults may not show it but they are watching your every move. They emulate what they learn from you and if what you do is good enough for you, it will be good enough for them!  Set the standards high!

Take a pledge that no one in your family will text or partake in other types of distracted driving.

Pledge that all family members will practice these steps to safe driving:

  1. You will not send or read texts while driving
  2. Before you begin driving you will inform family, friends or others when you plan to arrive at your destination.
  3. You will stop in a safe location to check voicemail or read text.
  4. You will have your passenger take your calls or read your texts.
  5. When driving alone you will turn off your phone or put it on vibrate before you begin driving.
  6. Wait to text or call someone until they are no longer driving.
  7. Stop talking to or texting someone if you learn that they are driving.
  8. Pull off the road to a safe location or wait until you’ve reached your destination before eating or applying makeup.
  9. Pull off the road to a safe location or wait until you’ve reached your destination to check emails, text, change CD’s, adjust the radio, surf the web on your cellular device, I-Phone, or I-Pods.
  10. As a passenger you will ask a distracted driver to drive safer.
  11. As a passenger you will help the driver by staying alert for dangers and not distract the driver from keep their eyes on the road.

Apps to control Phone Usage

Many parents are looking for ways to keep tabs on their young driver’s cellphone use while behind the wheel. It would be a good idea to place these apps on all family cellular devices. Especially if all of you have pledged to not use your phone while driving but are having a hard time sticking to the pledge!

You can find many Apps for your cellular phone that help you control the use of it while driving. What the apps are capable of doing vary from what type of controls you want on the phone. Some apps will read your text and emails to you as you are driving and automatically respond to the messages without you having to even pick up the phone.  One app tracks your texting, tweeting or Internet use while you drive. Other apps will completely block you from using your cellular device while the vehicle is in motion.  One app will even place your calls, texts and emails on hold while you are driving but still allow you the ability to place a “911” call in an emergency.

Your insurance agent can also be a good resource on ways to control or monitor cell phone use. They may even have a young driver’s program that will help reduce your insurance rates.

Free Claims Process Tip Sheet!
Free insurance claims process tip sheet.

Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Sources: Distraction.gov
EndDD.org
Drive-safely.net

 

Minnesota Auto Insurance: What to Do After a Car Accident

No one plans to have an auto accident but it does happen. If it happens to you, here are some steps to take to determine if you need to file a claim and when to involve the police.

When to file a claim

Two cars in a crashDetermine how much damage your vehicle has sustained. Was it just a fender bender? Filing a claim may increase your auto insurance premium. If the damage was minor and will cost less than your deductible to repair it, it is usually best to go ahead and pay for the repairs yourself.

Is a police report needed?

If injuries are involved, call 911 immediately. If it is determined that everyone is okay, call the non-emergency police number. You must have a police report in order to file a claim.

Your next step is to call your insurance agent.  If it is determined that you are not at fault your insurance company can act as your advocate and will take on the responsibility of dealing with the other driver’s insurance company.

Get the Details

  • If possible, move the involved vehicles off the roadway to avoid another accident &/or injuries from happening.
  • If available, use your phones camera to take pictures at the scene, including the damage to both vehicles. Include a picture of the other vehicles license plate.
  • Exchange names, phone numbers and insurance information. You can copy the information from the other person’s insurance card or take a picture of it as well.
  • If the police are involved request a copy of the police report. If you don’t receive a copy of the report at the time of the accident, you can request a copy from the courthouse.  Accident reports are public record and are available to anyone for a small fee.
  • The other insurance company will call you to verify your information and ask you questions regarding the accident. Write down the date, time and the name of the person calling you from the other insurance company. Let your insurance company know that the conversation took place.
  • Complete all paperwork sent to you regarding the accident and return it promptly.  The sooner the claim is filed the quicker you can get any necessary repairs made to your vehicle and get you back on the road again!

Download our free claims process tip sheet!
Button for our free claims process tip sheet.

Insurance Advisors, Inc.
Sources: Autoinsurance.org
Money.msn.com/insurance

Potholes and Vehicle Damage

Dogging potholes: The Midwest’s Spring Pastime

It is that time of year in the Midwest for the dreaded pothole!!!  As we finally thaw out from a bitter winter, we now have to switch gears from keeping our vehicles from sliding into ditches and other vehicles, to avoiding that potential vehicle damaging pothole.

Avoiding potholes is obviously the best practice but not always possible.  Here are some tips to help prevent damage from potholes:

  • Maintain proper tire pressure, this will keep the tire from pushing in towards the rim and damaging it if you do hit a pothole.
  • Keep a good distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you so you can identify potholes ahead of time and avoid them.
  • In inclement weather reduce your speeds so you have ample time to drive around the potholes.
  • Avoid that water! Accumulated water puddles in the street may be covering a pothole underneath it.  The size and depth unknown until you hit it.

Full car in a deep pothole.What parts of our vehicle can be damaged by hitting a pothole?

  • Tires, potential puncture, damage or wear
  • Wheel rim damage
  • Shocks & Struts
  • Suspension
  • Steering alignment
  • Exhaust system
  • Engine damage

Have your vehicle inspected if you think you have damage from hitting a pothole.

The collision coverage on your auto insurance policy will usually cover damage to your vehicle due to a pothole.  Call your agent to get exact coverage information.

By: Christine Gaffron, Insurance Advisors

Sources: Insurance Information Institute
Firestone Complete Auto Care

New Traffic Intersections

woman driverNew Intersections in Minnesota

Many states have begun to build two new types of intersections to help with traffic congestion and safety; Roundabouts and Diverging Diamond Interchanges. When you drive across the United States you can experience these new intersections in states like Missouri, Utah, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming to name a few.

Minnesota’s Department of Transportation opened Minnesota’s first diverging diamond intersection in October of 2013 in Pine Island, MN and opened a second one on October 16, 2013 in the Baxter/St. Could area.

Diverging Diamond Interchanges (DDI’s)

A Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), also known as a Double Crossover Diamond Interchange (DCD), is becoming more common where intersections meet highways.  DDI’s/DCD’s are built above the freeway or highway, and require less land to be built on.  It also reduces the amount of time needed for traffic to get through the intersection by reducing the number of perpendicular intersections at each interchange. Pedestrians also benefit by having less corners to navigate.  The pedestrian has access on each side of the intersection and a main crosswalk access is in the middle of the intersection. Concrete barriers provide protection to the pedestrians from potential harm.  The cost of building a DDI is far less than a conventional loop and ramp intersections.

Roundabouts

Roundabouts are a circular intersection with a central island.  Traffic travels in a counter clockwise motion.  Approaching traffic must yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Roundabouts eliminate intersection conflicts because there is no perpendicular or opposing direction turns to have to deal with like at a normal four-way stop intersection.

European cities have used various types of roundabouts since about the 1900’s.  Cities and townships in Minnesota are beginning to use more roundabouts to control intersections. Roundabouts reduce crashes at busy intersections where accidents occur at a higher rate or where more than two intersections come together. Accidents at roundabout intersections have been known to be decreased by 39 percent for all crashes and decreased by as much as 89 percent for fatal crashes. Roundabouts provide smoother traffic flow. Also, when traffic is not idling at an intersection, vehicle emissions and fuel consumption is reduced by as much as 30%

When approaching a roundabout:

  • Slow down as you approach the roundabout.
  • For multi-lane roundabouts, as with any intersection, get into the appropriate lane as you approach the roundabout.
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the roadway.
  • Watch for signs or pavement markings that require or prohibit certain movements.
  • When entering a roundabout, yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Do not cross into the roundabout until all traffic from the left has cleared.
  • After entering the roundabout, drive in a counter-clockwise direction until you reach your exit.
  • Do not stop, pass or change lanes within a roundabout.
  • If an emergency vehicle approaches, exit the roundabout immediately and then pull over.

Since diverging interchanges have reduced traffic delays by 60 percent, improved safety to pedestrian and bicyclists’ access and lowered construction costs, MN Dot will continue to build DDI’s throughout the state where this type of interchange fits the areas traffic needs best.

Source: Minnesota Drivers Manual

Ice Fishing Safety

Minnesota Ice FishingA very popular winter past time in the upper Midwest is Ice Fishing.   There are many ways of enjoying fishing on a frozen lake in the winter.  You can walk out on the lake, drill a hole in the ice and start fishing with nothing but the blue sky above you.  You can fish in a portable ice house that protects you from inclement weather. Or, once the ice is thick enough, you can put a more substantial ice house out on the lake at the beginning of the season and leave it there until the required removal date at the end of fishing season. Ice house removal dates vary from year to year so check with your state’s DNR for the specific ice house removal deadline.

Before venturing out on frozen ponds, lakes or rivers CHECK the THICKNESS and CONDITION of the ICE! Be aware that snow covered bodies of water may not be safe.  Snow acts as a “blanket” preventing water from freezing completely.  The snow may also be hiding cracks or open water.

When going out on the ice keep some sort of sharp object close at hand that you can use as a spike to jab into the ice and help pull yourself out of the water if you fall in.  It could be as simple as a screw driver, ice chisel or hand spikes purchased from the store.  It is also a good idea to wear a life vest, which may help keep you buoyant if you do fall into the water.  However, DO NOT WEAR the life vest in an enclosed vehicle.

Minimum Clear Ice Thickness for these scenarios:

Walking                          4 Inches

Snowmobile or ATV       5.5 – 6 Inches

Automobile                     8-12 Inches

Pickup/Truck                  12-15 Inches

Transporting Ice Houses

In Minnesota wheeled fish houses have to be licensed as highway vehicles, registered with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and follow all rules of the road during transport of the house on public roads.  They require proper lights and trailer lights.  The width of the wheeled fish house may not exceed 102 inches or 8.5 feet.  If your trailer weighs more than 3,000 pounds it is also required to have brakes.

Fish House Safety

At the beginning and during the fishing season you should check your fish house for safety hazards.  Most fish houses are heated with propane fueled heat sources.  Check your propane tank for leaks at the connections to any gas lights, stoves or heaters you may have it connected to.  Check the hose lines for leaks as well.  Keep your propane tank outside the fish house.

Check to make sure you have adequate ventilation inside the fish house for the type of heater you are using to heat your fish house.  Vents may need to be checked for birds nest or other debris after being stored for the off season.  If the vent is on the roof, make sure you keep it clear of snow!

Equip your ice house with a Carbon Monoxide Detector, as well as a Smoke Detector and a Fire Extinguisher!

Always check with your insurance agent on coverage for your ice house and your fishing gear.

Be Safe and Good Luck Fishing!

*Source: MNDNR

Don’t Let Your Driving Routine Become Routine

Distractions are everywhere – and we hear daily about the dangers of distracted driving.  But letting your daily drive get too routine can also be a hazardous distraction when you’re driving.

Driving HabbitsHave you ever arrived at your destination and realized you didn’t remember  much about getting there? It happens to the best of us even when we think we’re practicing good, responsible driving techniques. This experience is usually referred to as highway hypnosis or automatically, which is the ability to do routine things, like walking, speaking, repetitive work tasks and driving without  thinking about the many details that go into each effort. That leaves our minds free to converse with other passengers, to think about what we’re going to do when we reach our destination or to plan a project or activity.

Can it be dangerous? Definitely. A recent review of articles on highway crashes attributed to inattentive driving include the following:

  • A Colorado woman killed when her motorcycle was rear-ended.
  • A Wisconsin woman killed when a driver drifted off the road and struck her as she walked alongside the highway.
  • A Florida bicyclist who suffered a closed head injury, spinal fracture, ear damage and a shoulder fracture when hit by a truck.

While it’s difficult to determine how many accidents can be attributed to driver inattention, some experts estimate it may be as high as a million crashes  a year. So how do you limit the likelihood that you’ll find yourself driving on auto pilot? Here are some tips to help you avoid reaching your destination wondering “How did I get here?”.

  •  Don’t drive when you’re tired. It’s a lot easier to get hypnotized by the road when you ‘re tired. And worse yet, you risk falling asleep at the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 100,000 crashes – including over 1,500 fatal accidents are caused annually by drivers who drove when they were too tired to get behind the wheel. Open windows if you feel sleepy  or stop and get a soda, coffee or water to drink.

Focus on driving.  Easier said than done when the kids are fighting in the back seat and you’re running late. But it’s better to pull off and settle the fight than to put your driving on auto and run into the car in front of you when it does a quick stop – all because you were trying to stop the kids from fighting.

Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Driving Safety: Winter Survival Kit

Always Carry A Winter Survival Kit!

winter survival kit for car

Safe winter driving and lowering distractions can only go so far. Accidents happen. Everyone should carry a Winter Survival Kit in the car. In an emergency, it could save your life and the lives of your passengers. Assemble winter survival kits for all of your vehicles. Keep them inside the vehicle where they will be readily accessible. The kit should include:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper/ broom
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery powered radio
  • Water
  • Snack food/ energy bars
  • Matches & small candles
  • Extra hats socks & mittens
  • Emergency flares & reflectors
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt, sand, or cal litter for traction
  • Booster cables
  • Cell phone adapter to put into lighter
  • Fluorescent distress flag & whistle to attract attention

Kit Tips

  • Reverse batteries in flashlight to avoid accidental switching and burnout.
  • Store items in the back seat in case the trunk is jammed or froze shut.
  • Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold

Winter Survival Tips

  • Keep your gas tank half full.
  • Tell someone where you’re going.
  • Stay in your vehicle – it’s a good shelter.
  • Avoid overexertion.
  • Let fresh air into your vehicle