Driving safely during the months that include snow, blinding storms, ice and slush takes preparation and the proper mind-set. What considerations do drivers need to make during the coldest of seasons? Well, there are several areas that really need your attention.
Preparing Your Car - Cold weather makes it necessary to make sure that your vehicle is ready to stand up to its rigors. A stalled car may be an irritating inconvenience in warm or moderate weather. However, the same circumstance could literally endanger a driver's life when it occurs in a winter storm or during extremely low temperatures. Your goal should be to minimize the chances of a vehicle breakdown by having a qualified mechanic inspect the following:
- Tires (tread wear, alignment, and traction by maintaining air pressure)
- Radiator and coolant system
- All fluid levels
- Hoses, clamps and belts
Preparing For Emergencies - Wintertime calls for drivers to be ready to handle weather conditions and the likelihood of being stranded. The following items are important for dealing with routine and emergency winter driving situations:
- ice scraper
- snow brush and small shovel
- jumper cables and drive belts
- small or basic tool kit
- metal cup or small container (in order to melt snow for drinking water)
- extra clothing (coat, boots, gloves)
- heavy blankets
- car phone, cell phone or citizen's band radio
- extra gallon of antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid
- a dry support for a car jack such as small, sturdy wooden board
- Non-perishable food
- first aid kit
- Salt, sand or cat litter
- extra quart or two of motor oil
It is also helpful to keep plenty of fuel in your car or truck's gas tank to avoid running out during weather related snags in traffic or if you must pull off the road
Young drivers are expensive to insure. Such drivers, particularly teenagers, frequently cause traffic accidents because of their lack of experience and because, due to their youth, they tend to be distracted, risky drivers. If your household is about to add a new driver, make sure that he or she understands that, besides endangering themselves and others, poor driving habits can result in higher premiums or a canceled policy. Here are some methods to help minimize the cost of a new driver:
· Have your child complete a driver training class. The class’ cost is easily offset by lower insurance premiums. You also gain a more competent young driver.
· Ask your insurer if it gives discounts to students with good grades.
· Urge….URGE against texting and driving
· Find a company that charges a rate according to the car your new driver usually drives instead of assigning him or her to the most expensive vehicle.
· Try to discourage or delay your child’s driving to school. Insurers charge a lower premium for less frequent driving.
· Build a long-term relationship with your insurer. Some companies reward longevity by forgiving a driver's first accident or minor traffic violation.
· Increase your physical damage deductibles or, for older vehicles, eliminate this coverage.
· If your child owns a vehicle, he or she should have a separate policy. However, if you share the cost of the car and its insurance, it may make sense to also own or co-own the vehicle. Your ownership interest lets you take advantage of a multiple-car discount.
· Think carefully about giving a young driver his or her own car. Coverage for young drivers who have full-time access to a vehicle is very expensive. Make sure you balance the considerations of convenience, cost and safety.
Don’t pursue lower premiums blindly. It's important that your young driver is protected from the financial consequences of causing a serious accident. Further, you may need to protect yourself since you could also be sued for an accident caused by your son or daughter. You might consider getting higher limits of liability by purchasing an umbrella policy. Talk to an insurance professional about more strategies to keep your new driver affordable.
You may be frustrated with car insurance premiums and factors that cause increases, such as:
- Your insurance company's overall loss experience (due to more claims)
- The increased value of newer model cars, particularly SUVs and models with smart car features
- Increases in judgment amounts awarded in auto lawsuits
- Increased business processing and administrative expenses
- Auto loans lasting longer, meaning increased auto repair costs for older cars
- If your home and auto insurance are with the same company, is a discount available?
- Does my coverage take full advantage of the discounts offered by my company?
- I have more than one car; am I getting a credit?
- Does it make sense to change my deductibles?
- Do my cars really need physical damage coverage insurance? (An important consideration for older vehicles)
- Do lifestyle choices such as drinking or smoking affect my premium?
- My son or daughter is on the honor roll, does this affect my premium?
- Did you know that my car has special security features?
- Did you know that my son took Driver's Education?
- Does the company have accurate information on how often and how far I drive?
- Am I with a standard carrier or do I qualify for any preferred program?
- Is my vehicle charged an additional premium because of its type or performance?
- Do I qualify for a loss-free history or policy longevity discount/