Holiday Travel Roadway Safety Tips: Ever had to report pothole damage to your auto? If so, you are not alone

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Winter weather can be treacherous for the holiday driving season for several reasons. Not only is weather a factor but also the potholes and poor road conditions are contributed for at least $27 billion in claims and out of pocket consumer expenses in the last five years, according to a 2014 survey commissioned by Trusted Choice.

This same survey also found that 31% of car owners with pothole damage reported a claim to their insurance company while 65% who needed repairs paid out of pocket with a bill over $500.

Snow, ice and freezing rain in the winter months contribute to both poor road condition and accident hazards that impact insurance rates, as premiums are determined by past claims.Potholes and poor road conditions are not only inconvenient but also an expensive bi-product of harsh winters.

It is for these reasons that drivers are encourages to be cautious throughout winter while taking on the roads for holiday traveling.

Here are some safety tips on both topics addressed above

  • Pothole Safety
    • Keep an eye out: If you see other cars slowing, swerving, or moving lanes quickly. This could indicate a major pothole or road damage.
    • Report it: Report these road hazards to your state or local transportation department.
    • Avoid: Avoid the urge to swerve to miss the pothole at the last minute, this could swerve you into the path of an oncoming vehicle. This is much more dangerous than resulting damage from the pothole.
    • Document it: Treat it like a collision. If you suspect that you hit a pot hole, pull over to photograph, document damage and call in the claim.
    • Cover it: Check in with your agent to make sure you have the appropriate coverages for this event.
  • Winter Driving Safety
    • Keep your cell phone full charges
    • Keep a windshield scraper in your vehicle
    • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season
    • Use lukewarm water to pour windshield if it is frozen, never hot as it could crack
    • In the event your are stuck on the road, have a “winter car kit” available.
    • Winterize your car by having a mechanic check the  vehicle for any warning signs that any systems are compromised that would impede winter travel

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!!

Perks of Working with a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent

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To compliment this week’s radio show with Ray and Lynn. Here are some perks that make Independent Insurance Agents stand out from captive agents. These perks can help offer the most options, best fit and most positive impact on the wallet.

Independent Agents:

  • Independent Insurance agents are, independent, this means they do not represent just one company but numerous companies that they trust to offer the best solutions for their customers… Not limited to one company and their offerings.  (Captive Agents represent one company)
  • They do the shopping, the customer does not have to shop around to compare rates. The agent will do this for you, get the best rate, coverage and you can get all of your policies through one agency, in one place.
  • An Independent Insurance Agent has “your best interest” in mind. They are not tied to one company so they will look for the best company, coverage and price for you and your needs. This creates a sense of trust in your agent, which is the most important attribute you need in your insurance agent.
  • Independent agents have professionals in both Commercial and Personal Lines of business, if you own a business, you can have both your personal and business lines policies at one agency.

WTM is a Trusted Choice Independent Agent that has been in business since 1970. To hear more information regarding the above be sure to tune into 1160am as Ray Williams and Lynn Mathis further discuss this topic.

Black Friday Shopping Safety Tips

 

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Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, is all about being smart with your money and getting the best deals. But there is one thing you do not want to overlook: your personal safety.  While Black Friday brings out shoppers by the thousands, it also is the perfect place for thieves and pickpockets to lurk in order to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. So while you are making a map of the stores and deals you are going to scout out, make a personal safety plan as well.

To avoid being a victim, here are some ways to shop safe while you shop smart for bargains this Black Friday, November 29. This includes safety both inside the store and outside the store in parking lots.

In Store Safety:

  • Use credit cards to avoid large amounts of cash that are irreplaceable. Only take one credit or debit card with you, in the event that your wallet is stolen,you’ll only need to cancel one card. You may even want to consider onetime or multiuse disposable cards.
  • Keep purses zipped and close to your body and never leave unattended in shopping carts. Men, carry your wallets in front pockets.
  • It may be a good idea to keep a list of account numbers for your credit cards in a safe place at home.
  • To avoid “shoulder surfers”, do not take out your credit or debit cards until directed by the cashier, as credit card information can be gathered by looking over your shoulder while in line at check out.
  • For visibility, make sure you do not overload yourself with more than you can carry. As this is an easy way for your purse to be snatched without your knowledge.
  • If you are shopping with children, plan in the event that you are separated in the store. Have a “designated meeting area” . Point out employees and mall security, in case they get lost. Have them memorize your cell number, home number and address.

Out of the Store Safety: Parking Lots and on the Road

  • Park as close to the store as possible in well-lit areas.
  • Have your keys in your hand when you leave the store, heading to your car.
  • Make a mental note when you go into the store as to where you are parked, in order to head straight to your car with keys in hand when you leave the store.
  • Lock all doors, roll up all windows, even if going into a store for a short time.
  • Keep all packages out of sight, put in trunk or take packages home between stops to avoid having to leave them in your car while shopping.
  • When backing out or your parking spot , be aware of other cars, pedestrians and motorists who speed through the aisles.

In addition to reviewing these safety tips, you should also review your coverages with your insurance agent. Make sure you have the proper coverage if an accident or theft does occur. WTM would be happy to review your coverages with you or answer any questions that you may have regarding this.

Happy Shopping!

Top 27 IIHS Best Rated Child Booster Seats

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Buying the best booster seat for your child can be very confusing. IIHS(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) started rating booster seats six years ago to help with the process.

Highlighted below are the “BEST BET”, top rated, boosters which start at about $25.00 and go up to $370. This depends on latch capability and different features.

The BEST BET booster looks at belt lines to make sure that it lies flat across the child’s upper thighs and crosses snugly over the middle shoulder. They are correctly positioned for any car, minivan or SUV and are designed for children between 4-8 years old.

 

Check out 2014’s stop 27 list for BEST BET child booster seats.

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Baby Trend Hybrid No Back (backless)
  • Britax Frontier 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pinnacle 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pioneer 70 (highback)
  • BubbleBum Neon (backless)
  • Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Solana (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 (highback)
  • Evenflo Chase (highback)
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 (highback)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 (highback)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (highback mode)
  • Kids Embrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (highback mode)
  • Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (highback mode)
  • Recaro Performance Booster (highback)
  • Safety 1st Store ‘n Go (highback mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ‘n Go No-Back (backless)
  • Safety 1st Summit 65 (highback)

 

Re-Blog: IIAG’s 12 Exclusions Found on some Auto Policies-Topic of this Week’s Radio Show

Re-Blog-IIAG’s content and blog cited below for the 12 exclusions listed.

To accompany this week’s radio show on 1160am, “Covering Your Assets” , Ray and Lynn discuss IIAG’s list of 12 exclusions included in some auto policies that you may not know about.

Here are a dozen auto insurance exclusions or limitations you won’t find in the “ISO-standard” personal auto policy.

 

  1. Undisclosed household residents are excluded. How many of your insureds have “boomerang” kids living at home that you’re not aware of?
  2. Business use of non-owned autos is excluded. Have you ever borrowed a neighbor’s car or made a business stop in a dealer loaner auto?
  3. Business use of ANY auto is excluded. Do any agency employees ever run to Staples or the post office on agency business?
  4. Use of ANY non-owned auto is excluded. Better not drive anyone’s car but your own.
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  5. Vehicles over 10,000 pounds in GVW are excluded. Have you ever rented a U-Haul truck or an RV thinking your liability coverage extended to the rental?
  6. Any type of delivery is excluded. Denied claims include pizza, newspapers, Mary Kay cosmetics and yes, even the delivery of insurance policies to customers by an agency producer.
  7. Permissive users only get minimum limits. This can apply to people who borrow your car or even unlisted household drivers.
  8. “Street racing” is excluded. Google “street racing” and see how often people are killed or critically injured in the process.
  9. Criminal acts are excluded or limits reduced. DUIs or even speeding tickets may preclude coverage.
  10. Medical payments only include licensed physician fees. One insured incurred a $25,000 “life flight” helicopter fee that would not be covered, even in part, by a policy with this exclusion.
  11. Theft without evidence of forced entry is excluded. One insured had a four-figure vehicle theft loss denied because he left his keys in the car.
  12. Sales tax is not covered under loss settlement. This cost one “same coverage” insured more than $2,000 out of pocket for sales tax on a replacement auto.

Credit: http://www.iiag.org/Information/Pages/News/TheDecPage/Article%201.aspx

Halloween is almost here! Here are some tips for a fun, safe and spooktacular Halloween

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With Halloween coming up on Friday,  there are important safety tips to keep in mind for any potential hazards that could be in disguise this Halloween.

WTM Insurance would like to help better prepare families for some of the more spooky Halloween hazards.

Here are a few safety tips for adults and children alike to keep in mind this Halloween:

  • Dress-Up Scary and Smart– Make sure costumes do not have any sight or hearing obstructions. Materials should not be too long as to create a tripping hazard. Avoid accessories that are sharp or have uneven edges. Use hypoallergenic  make-up  and make sure costume materials are not flammable.
  • Avoid Road Frights: Consider decorating your car as well in order to be more noticeable to children who may be crossing the street. Drive below the posted speed limits during trick or treat hours. Watch for children in dark costumes.
  • Use Treasure Map: Accompany or know which houses your children or teens are allowed to approach in your neighborhood. Only go to familiar areas and go online to make sure there are no offenders in your area.
  • Two Goblins are More Scary Than One: Travel in groups and stay in well-lit areas.
  • Create Accident-Free Yard Haunts: Clear all paths to the door of any debris, lawn furniture or other obstacles that could trip or hurt visitors. If you are going all out and expect a lot of visitors to view your yard haunt, additional insurance should be considered even if for the single night.
  • Light up the Jack-O-Lanterns: Preferably with a battery charged light. If lit with a candle make sure they are out of the path of trick-or -treaters where a costume can be ignited.
  • Candy Police: Instruct your children not to eat any candy until they have brought it home to be inspected. This gives parents an opportunity to look for any problem candy and a pick at the best candy! Never eat any unwrapped candy items. Candy should only be collected  from trusted neighbors and pre-approved areas.

Have a fun and Safe Halloween!

 

Pumpkin Carving, The Fun and Safe Way

Some tips to carry on the fun tradition of carving pumpkins safely.

Some things to keep in mind to avoid injuries and practice pumpkin carving safety.

Tools of the Trade-Pumpkin carving kits are readily available in stores and provide proven and tested quality carving instruments with small tools that are less sharp and dangerous.  The smaller instruments are also easier to use and control, rather than knives. Do no use kitchen knives.

Age Appropriate:  Kids under the age of 14 should not do the carving and cutting. They can draw the designs but should not use any of the sharp tools.

Good Environment: Avoid carving on any slick or unsteady surfaces. Be in a well-lit area where you can see where you  are carving.

Alternatives: for small children under 14, consider ways of decorating that do not involve sharp tool such as painting and decorating the pumpkin.

Mold Prevention Tips

Mold loves to grow where moisture is present. Mold spores drift through the air and land on moist surfaces such as damp wood, paper, carpet, food, ceiling tiles, insulation, drywall, wallpaper, or fabric they can grow and spread.

Mold can cause respiratory issues, asthma and allergies, particularly in infants and the elderly.  While we can’t eliminate mold, to avoid potential harm to buildings and occupants, here are some steps to keep mold from growing in our working and living areas.

  • Clean up spills immediately and inspect sinks and cabinets for standing water
  • Keep areas of window condensation clean and dry
  • Do not put carpet in bathrooms
  • Repair leaky plumbing, windows, etc
  • Use a dehumidifier to maintain a relative humidity
  • Maintain roofing, roof gutters, and drainage systems properly
  • When repainting in moist rooms, use a mold inhibiting agent in the paint
  • Repair cracks in basement walls and slope landscaping away from the building
  • Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans, and open a window, when steam and moisture are in the air

 

Fire Prevention Home Safety Tips, for Upcoming Fire Prevention Week: Oct 5-11

 

In preparation, for fire safety week the first week of October(5-11) here are some home safety tips and facts for you to keep in mind throughout that year.

The leading causes of homes fires are: cooking, heating, electrical equipment, candles and other smoking materials. In light of this list, here are some ways to protect your home

  • Check Electrical Cords: replace or repair any damaged cords
  • Attention Smokers: Smoke outside, if you are smoking inside, use deep, wide ash trays on a sturdy table
  • Smoke Detectors: Make sure yours is working with fresh batteries
  • Heating Equipment: keep all flammable items within at least 3 feet of the heating equipment
  • Cooking Safety: Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food
  • Candles: blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed

 

 

Should I buy additional Insurance on a Rental Vehicle?

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You’ve probably been at the rental-car counter, listening to the representative ask if you want to purchase the company’s insurance. And the thoughts start racing through your head. “Is this a rip-off? Doesn’t my regular auto policy cover me? What about my credit card? Why didn’t I figure this out before I left on my trip?”

 

At WTM, we are here to help. And while not every situation is the same, we’ve got some general tips that will help you make an informed decision the next time you’re standing at that counter.

 

1. Know your personal auto policy.

Because insurance policies vary, it’s a good idea to give us a call — before you rent a car — to make sure you have the coverage you need. In many instances, your personal auto policy will provide coverage for a rental car — but that coverage may be limited to the value of the car you own, rather than the one you’re renting. Of course, if you don’t have a personal auto policy, you’ll need to purchase coverage from the rental company.

 

And keep in mind that in the event of an accident, many rental companies will charge fees beyond repair costs. They may assess a loss-of-use fee for each day the car is unusable, as well as charge you because the value of the car has decreased. Not all insurance policies cover these fees.

 

2. Also know your homeowners or renters policy.

If you’re traveling with expensive electronics or other valuable items, you probably want to consider what coverage you’ll have in the event they are stolen. Your personal auto policy and/or credit card coverage likely won’t provide protection for this scenario.

 

3. Check your credit card protection.

Most credit cards will also provide some coverage, but often payment is limited to reimbursement of your personal auto policy deductible (after that policy pays for repairs). Generally, loss-of-use and other fees are not covered, but it’s important to check with your credit-card provider to determine their policies. And while some cards may offer additional protection for a fee, usually coverage is limited to damage to the car, not liability for any injuries to others. Remember, to receive any sort of benefit from your card, you must use that card to pay for your entire car rental.

 

4. Consider any unique circumstances.

Are you renting a car in a foreign country, or for more than a week? You’ll definitely want to get confirmation of coverage from both your insurance carrier and credit card company because different rules might apply. Also, no matter where you are, vehicles such as trucks, RVs or exotic sports cars often aren’t covered under standard agreements. And if you’re using a car for business purposes, your personal coverage might not apply. Finally, if multiple people will be driving the car during your trip, make sure your coverages will apply to them.

 

5. Learn about the insurance offered by the rental car company.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, rental companies offer four main types of coverage.

A Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) relieves you of responsibility if your rental car is damaged or stolen. This may also provide coverage for loss of use.

Liability Protection provides protection from lawsuits if you are sued after an accident.

Personal Accident Insurance covers you and passengers for medical bills after an accident. You may not need this if you have adequate health and auto coverage.

Personal Effects Coverage protects you if items are stolen from your car. You generally are covered for this under your homeowners or renters policy, but keep in mind that the loss must exceed your deductible for you to receive payment. If you have a high deductible, it may make sense to purchase this coverage from the rental company.

 

When you go on vacation, you don’t want to stress out about insurance. So give us a call before you leave. Then, when you head over to the rental-car counter, you can stop worrying about your coverage — and start enjoying your trip!