Congratulations to Ryan Corrigan for passing the Missouri Bar Exam! He is the son of Karen O’Connor Corrigan and grandson of Cheryl O’Connor, our agency owners. The O’Connor and Corrigan families enjoyed the very special private swearing-in ceremony last Sunday at Karen’s home presided over by Judge William Corrigan, Ryan’s grandfather.
August in Missouri is notoriously hot. Really hot – which can make for troublesome travel.
When the temperature increases, decrease your risk on – and off – the road with these safety tips:
- Check those tires. You’re already checking your tire pressure every month, right? Even if you are, keep a closer eye on them during the warm months. Heat can increase tire pressure rapidly.
- Keep cool under the hood and inside your car. If you don’t remember the last time you had your engine coolant checked and flushed (mechanics recommend flushing and refilling every two years), now is probably a good time – before you hit the road. Give your air conditioning a test run, too. If it’s not cooling you down, get it serviced.
- Act quickly if your car starts to overheat. When your car’s temperature moves above the halfway mark on the dashboard, try turning off your air conditioning and turning on your heat to give your engine a break. Pull over if it’s safe to do so, and give your engine even more of a break. Call for roadside assistance if there’s steam or smoke, and get away from the car if it’s smoke. More of a do-it-yourselfer? Be careful opening the hood of an overheated car, and don’t add coolant or water until the car cools down.
- See to the comfort – and safety – of your passengers. Within just 10 minutes of parking your car on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can hit 110 degrees. Don’t leave kids or pets in a parked car, even for just a few minutes, and bring plenty of water for the trip. The back seats and cargo areas of many cars don’t get as much air as the fronts seats, so make sure your kids, both human and furry, stay hydrated.
- Proceed with caution in an electric car. High temperatures (and cold ones, too) can reduce the charge of your battery, sometimes by as much as 40 percent. You’ll want to take that into account when planning a trip.
Different seasons bring different car maintenance needs. Follow these tips to help make sure you and your car both stay cool in the heat.
In the heat of summer, a power outage can be more than an inconvenience — it can be downright dangerous, especially if you don’t have a game plan to keep cool and minimize risks.
This list of tips can help you create that game plan, stay safe and maintain your sanity. Print it out and keep it handy; after all, if the power’s out, you won’t be able to fire up the computer for help!
- Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine; they can cause dehydration.
- If you feel overheated, dizzy or weak, rest in the coolest part of your home and wipe yourself down with a cool, wet cloth. Seek medical help if you don’t improve quickly.
- Minimize physical activity as much as possible.
- If you must be outside, use sunscreen and wear protective items such as a wide-brimmed hat.
- Don’t forget your pets! Animals need plenty of water, too, and shaded areas if they go outdoors.
- Cool showers (or better yet, a dip in the pool, if you’re so lucky) don’t just feel good in the moment. When you get out, the water on your skin will evaporate and cool you even more.
- Applying cold water or ice cubes directly on your wrists can have a wonderful cooling effect.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing or a wet shirt, and add a damp bandana around your neck.
- Use silk or satin bedding if you can — it will feel cooler than other materials.
- When the sun is out, keep the windows and blinds closed. At night, if it’s safe, open as many windows as you can to create a cross-breeze with the cooler air.
- Open your refrigerator and freezer as little as possible. It’s tempting to open the freezer and stand there, we know. But that will accelerate the spoilage of perishable food (24-48 hours for the freezer; about four hours for the fridge).
- Unplug your electronics and appliances. This won’t keep you cool, but you don’t want a surge to fry your computer when the power comes back on.
Finally, one of the best strategies for getting through a summer power outage is to distract yourself. How about reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to? Or writing a letter (yes, an actual letter) to that old friend? Try to relax, because the power will be back soon — along with your normal, hectic life!
Whether you were caught speeding (or worse), you’re looking for a discount on your car insurance, or you simply want to be a better driver, there are a wide range of defensive driving and driver improvement courses available these days.
But, which is right for you? Here are five tips to help you decide:
- Check with your state or municipality. If you’re taking training to avoid a traffic infraction, not just any course will do. You’ll need to take an approved course – ask for a list before signing up.
- Check with your insurer. The same goes if you’d like to potentially save on your car insurance. Your carrier may only offer a car insurance discount for completing certain courses. Also ask how much your discount will be — this will help when it comes time to choose a course.
- Choose the type of course. There are online and classroom options, typically ranging from 4-12 hours depending on the course material. And, there are advantages to each. Online courses offer convenience (and sometimes a lower cost), while in-person settings can provide more interaction.
- Determine how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to avoid a ticket (and a potential increase in your insurance premiums), the cost might not be much of an issue. If you’re taking a course to receive an insurance discount, however, make sure the total discount you’ll receive is greater than the cost of the course.
- Check out the reviews. Online review sites, such as Yelp, can show you what others thought of a course. Keep in mind, people who felt “forced” to take a course might have a biased opinion, especially compared to someone who took the course willingly.
No matter why you’re considering a defensive driving course, we’re happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. The biggest pro being, once you complete your training, you’re likely to be a little more careful the next time you get behind the wheel. And, that always pays off!
There’s no better way to see the country than a road trip, and it’s also the way to travel if you’re looking to keep costs under control. To that end, here are a few ideas to help ensure you have a frugal good time out there on the road.
- Cut your gas costs. Planning your route in advance will help you estimate your gas costs for the entire trip. Then, when you’re on the road, use the GasBuddy smartphone app to search for the lowest gas prices near you. Of course, you’ll also want to stick to the speed limit and keep your tires properly inflated to help improve your gas mileage.
- Cut your food costs. Think about picnicking and cooking in rather than eating out. Packing healthy snacks in advance won’t just save you money, it may help save your waistline from the drive-through line, too. You’ll also get to explore the local grocery stores and see the different foods available in different parts of the country. Don’t forget your reusable water bottle to fill up at water fountains.
- Cut your lodging costs. Why not book a “room” outdoors? As long as you have room in the car for your camping gear, that is. Oftentimes you can book campsites in advance online. Look for campgrounds with nice facilities, such as showers and even Wi-Fi, and you won’t even sacrifice much in the way of comfort. But, you will save a considerable amount compared to staying in hotels. If the outdoor life just isn’t for you, look for last-minute hotel deals using apps from Hotels.com, Priceline, or Orbitz.
- Cut your entertainment costs. No matter where you’re headed, you can likely find some enticing entertainment options that are either free or low-cost. Check the official tourism websites of the cities and states on your route. Depending on the season, you might come across free concerts, lectures, or plays at local parks and libraries. Check with museums about free admission days – you may get lucky.
Whether you’re planning a long weekend or a couple of weeks on the road, we at O’Connor Insurance wish you happy travels! Remember, we’re here to handle all of your car insurance needs to help keep you on the go.
This summer, you might be headed out on a road trip to a state park or maybe just for a quick visit to the in-laws. But, if you lose your brakes, blow a tire, or experience another unusual (but not unheard of) problem, you could be headed for trouble.
So, let’s take a look at four situations you might face and some general guidance that may help you reach your destination safely:
- The brakes go out
Your primary concern, of course, is to work your way over to the shoulder and stop the vehicle. To do so, try to downshift smoothly through the gears, which should slow down the car. Once you’re off the road, try the emergency brake and, if needed, roll into something that will help bring you to a stop while going at a low speed. Always avoid high-speed collisions, if at all possible.
- The accelerator sticks
Quick action may help you get things under control here. Shift into neutral, which will stop the engine from powering the wheels. Doing this allows you to retain power steering and braking ability, so you can better control the car. You can try turning off the car (which will certainly slow it down), but it will be harder to control without power.
- A tire blows
The National Safety Commission advises drivers to not slam on the brakes. The car will want to veer toward the side of the bad tire, and braking can make it veer even more. Instead, concentrate on steering to the side of the road as you slow down gradually.
- An animal jumps into the road
There are more than a million collisions between vehicles and wildlife each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be mindful whenever you’re driving, especially around dawn and dusk, which are high-activity times for large animals. If you encounter a deer, moose or other animal in the road, hit your brakes and sound your horn. Try not to swerve — serious injuries and fatalities often occur when cars make extreme maneuvers to avoid animals.
We hope you never encounter any of these situations. But, if you do, keep your cool and respond safely. If you are still nervous about these risks, look up defensive driving videos on Youtube – they are surprisingly helpful and reassuring. If something does happen, we’ll be here to help you through it!
How many times has the following happened to you? You’re speeding down I-270 when you spot a highway patrol car. You quickly hit the brakes and slow down, relieved that you didn’t get caught … this time.
Now take a minute to think what could have happened if you hadn’t been so lucky.
First, your speeding could have hurt somebody — or yourself. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed is a contributing factor in more than 30% of fatal crashes and nearly 20% of non-injury accidents. That’s a big risk to take.
Second, getting a ticket could put a big hit on your wallet. Of course, that’s not nearly as important as the health and safety impacts of speeding, but in this economic climate, more and more people are watching every dime. And who wants to write a check to the state for speeding?
We want you to be safe. We also want to make sure you get a great price on the insurance coverage you need. Thankfully, easing up on that lead foot can help accomplish both.
How a ticket impacts your insurance
If you get a speeding ticket, that violation can stay on your driving record for three years or even longer. And because your driving history plays a large part in determining how much you’ll pay for insurance, the fewer tickets you have, the better.
Different carriers have different policies when it comes to checking your driving record and dealing with drivers who have violations. If you receive a ticket, and it’s your first in several years, you may not see much of an increase — depending on the severity of the offense. In fact, many states will allow you to enter a deferment program if it’s your first ticket, keeping the violation off your record if you complete a safety course and avoid further tickets.
But that second ticket (or third, or fourth …) can bring some serious financial penalties. While there are too many variables to say specifically how much each additional violation will increase your premium, it’s safe to say that the jump will be significant. Unfortunately, you can be stuck paying those higher premiums for years.
Significant violations can have a bigger impact as well. If you’re going 20 miles per hour over the limit, you’ll likely pay more than someone with a ticket for 5 mph over. Insurance companies know that speeding increases the risk of accidents, and they’ll view you as an increased risk — for good reason. In fact, if you have a serious violation, or too many tickets, your insurance carrier could drop your coverage altogether.
For younger drivers (typically under the age of 25), it’s especially important to avoid tickets, because companies already view these drivers as riskier than the general population.
And keep in mind, even if your premium doesn’t go up, having a violation on your record could prevent you from receiving the lowest possible rate on your insurance.
Of course, we think the best policy is simply to obey speed limits. Not only will you avoid tickets and possible insurance hassles, but your risk of accidents will decrease. Plus, you’ll get better gas mileage. Sounds like a good deal to us!
Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Americans spend about $11 billion each year on air conditioning? That might not be such a surprise if you’re the one who writes the check for your household energy bill every month.
Believe it or not, you can spend less on cooling costs while still keeping cool this summer. Here are five things to do before you reach to adjust the thermostat:
- Make sure your house isn’t part of the problem. If your home isn’t insulated and sealed well, warm air could be leaking in, sabotaging your efforts to cool things down. Make sure all cracks and openings are sealed, along with your ducts. The DOE says air loss through ducts can account for 30 percent of the energy a cooling system uses.
- Keep that breeze flowing. Natural ventilation is a great way to decrease the temperature in your home without using any energy. Open windows in the mornings or evenings when the air is cool and get a cross-breeze going throughout the house.
- Check that the heat isn’t on. You might be heating your house in the summer without realizing it. How? By using the oven, stove or other appliances that generate heat. Cook outside whenever you can, and use the dishwasher and clothes dryer at cooler times of the day if possible.
- Create your own personal cool zone. Cooling the whole house might not be necessary if you’re only using a few rooms. Set up fans (ceiling fans will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher), drink plenty of cool liquids and eat cold foods, which can help lower your body temperature. You might even consider wearing a damp shirt to stay comfortable or putting an ice pack on your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists.
- Don’t forget the basics. When it’s sunny outside, keep your curtains closed. Minimize your use of lights, as they generate heat. And, when the outside air is warmer than the air in your house, close the windows to keep the cool air in.
We can’t promise these tips will keep you just as cool as when you kick back and turn on the AC full-blast. But saving money every month? That’s pretty cool, too.
In today’s economy, everyone is pinching pennies. So why worry about umbrella coverage? Shouldn’t a home and auto policy leave you adequately covered?
Unfortunately, we live in a world of lawsuits. Large damages can be awarded, be extremely expensive and have long-term financial impact. Those lawsuits can come from unlikely sources, such as our furry friends.
Take Herschel for instance. Herschel is a much-loved, rather timid labradoodle who enjoys taking naps on the driveway while his owner mows the lawn.
Herschel watched from eight feet away as his neighbor, a 39 year old man, showed off his rollerblading skills to his kids. The man wiped out on the sidewalk in front of Herschel’s house and broke his leg. He required surgery, costing around $35,000 in medical costs and $18,000 in lost wages.
Fair or not, the man brought a lawsuit against Herschel’s owner, suing for $220,000 in damages. He alleged that Herschel had caused the accident by getting in his way, despite multiple witnesses to the contrary.
But Herschel’s owner was lucky–a jury vindicated Herschel. However, lawsuits such as these can easily exceed the limits on a homeowner’s policy, leaving the insured responsible for the remainder. An umbrella policy would prevent that, giving you an extra $1 million to $5 million in coverage.
Our furry friends can put your assets at risk in other ways as well. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with half of those occurring on the owner’s property. Dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute, account for about a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims, which only cover limited damages.
Protect what you love. Call us to talk about your umbrella options.
Memorial Day weekend can be a busy one for many. The three-day holiday that marks the unofficial start of summer is a great opportunity for family activities, which can leave little time for the original purpose of the holiday: honoring those who have died while serving in America’s armed forces.
The concept of Memorial Day dates back to 1868, then known as Decoration Day, a time to place flowers at the graves of our war dead. Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day, with the first national celebration occurring on May 30, 1868. In 1971, it was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress that also moved it to the last Monday in May.
There is a way, though, that you can participate in Memorial Day commemorations, and it only takes a moment. Here’s what to do: Pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silent reflection in honor and remembrance of those who have died in service to our nation.
Of course, there are other ways to honor our fallen heroes, too. Here are a few:
- Buy a Poppy From the American Legion Auxiliary. The organization has been selling red crepe-paper poppies for Memorial Day and Veterans Day since 1925. John McCrea’s 1915 poem, In Flanders Fields, which honors those who died in World War I, inspired this tradition.
- Display the American Flag. On the morning of Memorial Day, raise the flag to the top of the staff before lowering it to half-staff. Leave it at half-staff until noon, when you can once again raise it to the top.
- Visit a Veteran’s Grave. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains 131 national cemeteries, and many states have veterans cemeteries as well. Check the VA listings to locate a nearby cemetery, which will likely host a Memorial Day ceremony.
We hope you’ll join us in taking part in the moment of silence – known as the National Moment of Remembrance – and other Memorial Day traditions in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We will forever be grateful for their service.