Next time you’re reading a book, stand up and try to walk around while doing so. It’s tougher than you’d think, right? Simply reading and responding to texts, checking the weather, or putting in an address into GPS while driving creates an even more distracting environment.
We know that accidents caused by distractions are severely underreported, but we do know that at least a thousand people are injured each day by distracted drivers, with nine of those people dying. Drivers between the ages 18-24 are at the most risk, and startlingly 20% of that age group does not see texting while driving as a distraction.
So what can we do?
1) It should go without saying, but just wait until you park to do anything with your phone.
2) Teach teen drivers the importance of paying attention to the road at all times. If you have a specific worry with your child, research blocking programs that shut down text functions while a vehicle is in motion.
3) Take the safe driving pledge as a family. Younger kids may get a kick out of being on “cell phone/distraction” patrol in the car.
4) Spread the word! If you’re in a car where someone is texting and driving, let them know it’s not safe. Sure, you may feel funny at first, but safety is so much more important than being a little awkward.
We still aren’t sure exactly how many accidents are caused by distracted driving, but we do know that putting any distractions down while behind the wheel WILL lower your risk of being involved in a fatal car accident. So take the pledge and advocate for safer roads.
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 O’Connor Insurance, we are here to help. 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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!
The call of the open road is at its strongest during the summer – and so is the call of the convertible. If you’re one of those drivers who has long dreamed of dropping the top and heading across Missouri and beyond, we have some buying tips for you.
And before we forget, make sure you’ve got plenty of sunscreen!
Of course, you want to be safe when driving your new car, so here are a few things to look for in a convertible, according to Edmunds.com.
- Roll bars: Generally, convertibles offer some sort of roll bar to protect passengers should the car roll over.
- Airbags: Side airbags that deploy from seats can be an optional feature on less-expensive convertibles and something you should consider. Some of these airbags offer extra protection for the head.
- Rear-view cameras and sensors: When the top is up, it can be difficult to see out of the rear window. Cameras and sensors can provide added safety.
Hard or soft top?
You have two main choices when it comes to tops: Soft, which can result in more road noise and may be more susceptible to damage, and hard, which often look better but add weight and take up more trunk space when down. (A third option is a completely removable hard top, such as those found on some Jeeps.) This choice is largely a matter of personal preference, though cost can be a factor.
You’ll also want to test the top for leaks – regardless of whether it’s a soft or hard top. Spray water where the roof connects with the windshield and where the glass meets the roof along the sides. You’re looking to make sure no moisture gets inside.
If you’re planning to drive your convertible frequently (and why wouldn’t you?), there are some practical things you should take into consideration:
- Wind noise: When you have the top down at highway speeds, you might find it difficult to hear the stereo system. If you’ll be driving a lot with the top down, getting the upgraded stereo might not be worth it. Then again, a better stereo can have more power, allowing you to actually hear your music.
- Putting the top up/down: A motorized top, of course, makes everything easier. But they are more complex. Be sure to test out the top and how long it takes you to put it up or down, especially if it’s a manual process. After all, if it starts raining suddenly, you want to be able to get the top up as quickly as possible!
- Luggage space: Most convertibles aren’t large to begin with, but trunk space is even smaller when the top is down. If you plan to take your convertible on vacation (or pack golf clubs or other bulky items), it’s a good idea to really take a hard look at the trunk space before you buy.
- Passenger space: Do you need to take more than one passenger on many of your drives? If so, a roadster (two seats) isn’t an option. But even if the convertible you’re eying has four seats, hop in back and check the comfort level. If you aren’t comfortable, your passengers probably won’t be, either.
According to Edmunds.com, there are certain features that truly make a difference in convertibles, such as wind deflectors, heated/cooled seats and sun-reflective upholstery. Certain features, such as heated seats, can make your convertible much more comfortable to drive on cooler days when they come.
Above all, you’ll want to choose the convertible that best fits how you’ll use it. If you’re lugging golf clubs (and golf buddies) around in the summer, you probably don’t want a roadster. Conversely, if your idea of a great weekend is to toss a duffle bag in the passenger seat and hit the road, smaller may be better.
One of the great – and annoying – things about buying a car is the sheer number of options out there. But if you get frustrated, remember one thing: You’re buying a convertible. Your friends are probably envious!
And when you buy that convertible, give us a call. We’ll make sure you’ve got the right coverage – and we’ll probably be envious, too!
Have you heard? The Great American Solar Eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017!
This full solar eclipse will traverse the United States from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. The last total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast-to-coast was 99 years ago in 1918. Missouri is projecting especially heavy volume – up to a million eclipse visitors! As a result, streets and highways across the state will be susceptible to very heavy traffic in the days before and after the eclipse. Take a look at this map of the eclipse path and review the tips below to stay safe and maximize your enjoyment of the eclipse.
If you plan to travel:
* Arrive in your viewing location at least one day-or ideally two days-in advance of August 21. Some interstate highways in or near the path of totality may become parking lots on the morning of the eclipse.
* Be aware of distracted drivers. Leave plenty of space between yourself and the car ahead as there may be drivers on the road who are unfamiliar with the area.
* If you have not yet secured lodging, plan to camp or take an RV. There will be plenty of temporary campsites on farms and empty lots.
* Be as self-sufficient as possible. Keep your gas tank topped, and if safely possible, carry extra fuel. Bring plenty of water, food, and toilet paper. Don’t forget sun-screen and hats.
* If you absolutely must stay in touch with family or work, rent a satellite phone. Cell phone systems may be overwhelmed. Carry extra cell phone batteries/chargers and bring an old-fashioned paper map in the event limited cell service disrupts navigation apps. It may be helpful to download a traffic app to stay informed of real time traffic data.
* Bring eclipse glasses, and be sure to grab them now before shortages occur. You’ll need these to watch the partial stages of eclipse. Learn how to safely view the eclipse.
* Get good eclipse maps of the path. These will be invaluable if you need to relocate, and they’ll make a great souvenir of the event!
* Watch the weather report on your local TV station in the days before the eclipse. Broadcast meteorologists will be giving eclipse weather forecasts. Try to relocate to another area early if your target destination has a poor weather prospect.
For those not travelling:
* Stock up on necessities up to a week ahead as stores may run low on supplies.
* Avoid the areas of peak congestion as much as possible. Consider rescheduling non-critical appointments to a day and time after the eclipse has ended.
Finally, enjoy the eclipse! This is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime experience-the next solar eclipse to touch only American soil won’t occur again until January 25, 2316!
*This article is from Progressive Insurance, and reprinted with minimal changes. *
There’s nothing quite like taking a road trip in an RV. Whether you’re headed to somewhere nearby (like Lake of the Ozarks) or somewhere across the country this summer, we want you to get the most out of your travels.
But before we get to travel tips and how to find the best places to stay, we want to remind you about safety. As with any vehicle, maintenance is important. After all, even though you can hang out in your RV if it breaks down, who wants to spend their road trip on the side of the road? We encourage you to visit www.safeco.com and click on the “Insurance 101” tab. The “Consumer Tips” section has a wealth of information on RV safety.
With that said, it’s time to hit the road!
General travel tips
- Have a plan (and maps or a GPS). One of the reasons you’re traveling in an RV, no doubt, is for the adventure. But while the freedom to go wherever you want can be exciting, getting lost isn’t (at least for most people). You’ll cut down on frustration if you know where you’re headed.
- Pack the right things. We’ve all forgotten to pack something while going on vacation. And buying new items at your destination can add up. So make a packing list, and remember that it’s not all about clothes and toiletries. Don’t forget your favorite road music or DVDs to watch at night. If you’ve got kids with you, be sure to pack games and other things to entertain them.
- But don’t pack everything. Of course, just because you have an RV doesn’t mean you should bring all of your possessions on vacation with you.
- Be prepared for anything. You should have a first-aid kit in the RV, as well as some tools for smaller repairs. And if you’re traveling a long distance, why not bring some local items from your hometown to give as gifts when you make new friends?
- Limit the driving. It’s tiring enough driving a car hundreds of miles a day, let alone an RV, so give yourself plenty of rest and don’t overdo the driving.
Want to bring your car?
Taking a car along with your RV can give you a lot more flexibility on your vacation. But it can also make the driving more stressful, so keep that in mind. According to towingworld.com, there are three main options to bring your car with you:
- A trailer: This of course, allows you to raise the car completely off the ground. They’re generally more expensive than other options, but keep wear and tear to a minimum for your car.
- A tow dolly: This lifts the front wheels of the car off the ground. They’re useful if you can’t tow your car with all four wheels down, and can be easily used for front-wheel drive vehicles without another device to make it towable.
- A tow bar: The most popular choice, because of its convenience. It’s the option with the least amount of equipment, and usually the least expensive; it also takes up less space than dollies and trailers. Note that not all cars can be towed with four wheels on the ground, so check your manufacturer’s recommendations.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for a campground or RV park, you’re in luck – there are seemingly endless options across the country. But how do you know which ones are good or safe? Plenty of online resources have information on various parks, including the ones below:
Wherever you stay, you’ll want to take some steps to prevent crime. RVs can be inviting targets for thieves, because they usually contain more valuables than cars. Always lock your doors when you’re away from the RV and keep valuables out of sight or locked away. If you’re parked for the night in a non-camping area, such as a parking lot, try to stay in a well-lit area and keep the door facing the light. Finally, try to make fuel or convenience store stops during the day, if possible.
You’ve got a summer full of fun ahead in your RV. We wish we were coming with you! Here’s hoping for smooth and safe travels.
Good manners when you’re behind the wheel – not everyone has them. But, that doesn’t mean you have to get caught up in the rush and the fury. Instead, use these tips to help keep road rage incidents out of our local headlines and, most of all, help keep you safe.
- Manage your expectations and reactions. When you expect courteous or traffic-free roads, you set yourself up for disappointment and aggravation. Instead, realize that you can’t control other drivers, and you certainly can’t control traffic. You can, however, control how you react to those things. So, do so calmly. Don’t take the actions of others personally, even if they do seem deliberate.
- Remember, driving is not a race or a contest. Give yourself plenty of time for your trip so you’ll be less frustrated when traffic backs up or a driver cuts in front of you.
- Be a good example. Sure, other drivers do annoying and even dangerous things. But, what about you? If you engage in any of these behaviors, it’s time to stop.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Passing someone and then hitting your brakes immediately.
- Making obscene or frustrated gestures.
- Excessive honking.
- If you see road rage, steer clear. Move away from drivers acting aggressively or dangerously, particularly if they’re angry at you. Don’t pull over to have a confrontation with the other driver, and call the police if you feel the situation warrants it.
- Can’t manage your anger? Get help. Anger management resources, such as classes, books or podcasts, can help you decompress. It may make your time on the roadways more peaceful for everyone.
The dangers of road rage are real, as you may have experienced for yourself. So, do your part to help keep anger off of our roads. You’ll be a happier driver – and person – because of it!
High school is full of defining moments for teens and two of the highlights for most are prom and graduation. However, this time of year often sees other, more tragic defining moments – serious car accidents involving teens who are distracted or even under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
We want to help make this season one to celebrate for you and your teen. So, with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some tips that can keep your teen safe.
First, encourage your teen to follow these general safe-driving rules:
Absolutely no alcohol
Always use seat belts
No cell phone use (including texting) while driving
Of course, special events such as prom and graduation often present special circumstances. There may be dinner with dates before the dance, and parties before or after either event. It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations well before each event, putting some guidelines into place before your teen heads out for the night. Here are some ideas:
Make sure you know the itinerary of the evening, as well as who else will be with your teen. You should have contact information for everyone.
Have a way to contact your teen at all times. You may want to require them to check in with you once or twice over the course of the evening.
Set a curfew, whether they are coming back to your home or staying with a friend. If they are staying elsewhere, make sure the curfew will be enforced by a responsible adult.
Discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as facing pressure to drink, or accepting a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. It’s a good idea to provide your child with money for a taxi just in case.
Offer a “no-questions-asked” ride home, should they need one during the evening.
If you’re worried about your teen driving, consider alternate transportation. A car service or limousine will provide a responsible, experienced adult driver. You also will be able to limit changes to the itinerary and contact the driver.
Prom and graduation should be special times in a teen’s life, and just a little common sense will go a long way toward making sure your young adult is around to enjoy the other milestones that are sure to come.
You keep your car filled up with gas so you don’t get stranded on the side of the road, and your phone charged so your loved ones can reach you. But, what kind of safety measures do you have in place for more extreme scenarios?
What if you lost everything you owned in a fire at your house or your apartment? What if your car was stolen? These situations are scary, but your insurance can help you through them, and much more, so long as you have the right coverage in place.
So, what’s right for you? Whether you’re starting out on your own or starting a family, these tips can help you begin to understand the level of insurance you may need.
Consider What You Own – And What It’s All Worth
Could you imagine having to replace all of your personal belongings at once? What about having to do so from memory and on your own dime? It would be both a difficult and a costly task. So, make an inventory of your belongings and their value to minimize the former – the free Safeco Home Inventory app can help. And, be sure you have enough insurance coverage, whether you rent or own a home, to minimize the latter. It’s known as “personal property coverage,” and you want enough of it to replace all of your belongings if it were to come to that.
Take Your Lifestyle Into Account
Drive an expensive car? Repairs are likely costly, so be sure to carry full coverage. Own a home with a lot of custom features? Be sure your homeowners policy takes them into account. The way you live can help you save, too. For example, if you take public transportation to and from work even though you own a car, you may pay less for your insurance.
Talk to Your Independent Agent for Ease, Choice and Advice
As an independent agency, O’Connor Insurance offers a choice of carriers and options, plus personalized advice to help make sense of it all. Plus, we make it easy by doing the research and the work for you.
Remember, we’re here to help. Contact us today with your insurance questions and needs.
America’s roads are full of cars — but often, they’re also full of wildlife. That’s why an estimated 2 million vehicle-animal collisions happen each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Fall and winter constitute the most dangerous periods for these incidents, but you should be vigilant year round. Visibility is reduced, thanks to the shorter days and inclement weather, and it’s also migration and mating season for many animals. But, you can still take steps to decrease the chances you’ll hit an animal. Here are five things to do:
- Be particularly alert at dawn and dusk. Visibility is low at these times, and animal activity is high.
- Keep an eye out for signs. If you’re in an area where wildlife is common, you may see posted warnings.
- Watch your speed. Avoiding any kind of collision is easier if you’re travelling at an appropriate rate of speed. It’s not just about the speed limit – in certain conditions, driving under the speed limit is more optimal.
- See an animal? Look for more. Missing one animal doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, so to speak. There are probably others around.
- Don’t swerve. If possible, don’t make any wild maneuvers. You could end up hitting something worse than an animal — like another car — or going into a ditch or down an embankment. Use your brakes, use your horn, and use your good judgment.
Sometimes, though, collisions just can’t be avoided. If you do hit an animal, here’s what to do next:
- Call 911 for assistance, especially if there are injuries to you or passengers.
- Don’t touch the animal. They can be dangerous, even when hurt.
- Document the accident scene and the damage to your car.
- Get in touch with your insurance carrier or with us.
Keep in mind that the same attributes that make for safe everyday driving can also help you avoid animal collisions: Remain alert, maintain a safe speed for conditions and avoid distractions. Also, be sure to carry adequate car insurance in case something – animal-related or otherwise – does happen.