Insurance Blog

School is back in session and many high school and college students will be driving more as they commute to and from school, which makes now a good time to remind your student driver about safe driving practices.

Every year approximately 3,000 teens in the United States were killed in car crashes and more than 350,000 were treated for crash-related injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center for Disease Control. Don’t let your student driver become part of this statistic – encourage him to stay focused while on the road and follow these safety tips:

  1. Always Stop When a School Bus Stops. Be alert for School Buses and students trying to cross the street and stop when you see a School Bus stopped or students trying to cross the street.
  2. Don’t talk on the phone or text while driving. EVER! Not only is texting or using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in many states, it’s also a dangerous distraction. Of those killed in crashes caused by distracted driving, 18 percent were the result of using a cell phone while driving. Using a cell phone while driving – even with a hands-free device – delays a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, according to the University of Utah.
  3. Always wear a seat belt and make all your passengers wear one, too.
  4. Abide by the speed limit. Going too fast gives you less time to stop or react. Excessive speed is one of the top causes of car accidents.
  5. Don’t drink and drive or ride with someone who has consumed alcohol. If you need a ride call a friend, family member, or taxi. Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens and one of three of these crashes is alcohol related.
  6. Keep the music down. Driving with the volume on the stereo turned up may seem harmless, but it can be just as much of a distraction as using a cell phone.
  7. Don’t try to squeeze too many people into a car. You should never have more people in a car than you do seat belts.
  8. Abide by all traffic lights and signs. Don’t run red lights or stop signs, and make sure the intersection is clear even if the light is green.

Keeping all drivers safe on the road is important and part of that means making sure the appropriate auto insurance coverage is in force. Call your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice independent insurance agent to help you find the right coverage for you and/or your student driver and answer any questions you have about the insurance. You should also ask your independent insurance agent about student driver discounts, such as the good student discount, which can save you 10 to 15 percent on your premium if your student has a B average. Student drivers who have completed an accredited driver education or training course may also be eligible for a discounted auto insurance rate.

Friday, 26 August 2016 20:45

The Ultimate 8 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

 Ultimate 8 Fall Infographic copy

With spring cleaning far behind, and summer fun all but over, it’s time to start fall home maintenance. Fall is the perfect time to perform important maintenance to your home so you’re not caught in the middle of winter with a drafty house or a malfunctioning heater. We’ve compiled the top eight fall home maintenance tips, along with what you can do to ensure your home stays warm and comfortable this winter.

  1. Heating System

It’s important to inspect your heating to ensure it functions all winter long.

For conventional heating systems, you may already have a contract with the installation company. Many HVAC companies offer a fall/spring maintenance program. If not, start with your water heater. Ensure that your water heater is protected from the elements. The most favorable locations for your water heater to be is the attic, basement, or garage, where it can be safely insulated. For your heating unit, check the filters, gas lines, and flame. Make sure that you have a proper flame and oxygen flow. There should be no cracks, kinks, or holes in gas lines.

For wood stoves, check and make sure that all stove pipes are clean. Take a wire brush and scrape to remove any buildup. Inspect your catalytic combustor, which is located between the fire and stovepipes. Use a small wire brush to clean out any ash buildup. Make sure you have removed all ash from the stove before lighting a fire. Inspect the outside of the stovepipe and stove, being sure to remove any debris. Be on the lookout for creosote, which is a yellow, oily matter that should be removed.

  1. Chimney and Fireplace

Chimneys and fireplaces cause some of the most expensive damage to homes. Build-up from creosote can easily ignite, causing a devastating fire. If you are unfamiliar with inspecting a chimney, it may be worth calling in a chimney sweep, which is usually quite affordable. Make sure to leave your flu closed when not in use, and always have a fireplace screen in front of open flames to protect your home from wayward sparks.

  1. Windows

Windows may be a continual source of frustration for homeowners. There are many seal repair kits available at local hardware stores. Walk around the interior windows, placing your hand near the seal. Check for any breezes flowing through. Do the same process for doors. When you find one, mark it with a sticker or other indicator so you can tally how many repair kits you need. If a window is improperly sized, cracked, or broken, it needs to be replaced.

For doors, you can purchase draft preventers and other seal kits to improve the seal. Every 1/8 of an inch can lower a room a whole degree, so it can really pay off to have updated, well-sealed doors and windows.

  1. Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, and First Aid Kits

Every six months, replace batteries in all the detectors in your home. Check the expiration dates on your first aid kit and fire extinguisher, and that each is up to date and in a convenient place. If you don’t have a fire escape route, this is a good time to draft one.

  1. Indoor Pipes

Winterizing pipes is one of the easiest, most valuable ways to protect your home over the winter. Most home repair stores carry fitted insulation that can easily wrap around any size pipe. If you can’t afford to do every pipe in your home, give priority to the pipes that are closest to the outdoors, or most likely to freeze. It’s also a good idea to shut off water to any area that won’t be used, and to check pipes for leaks or cracks that may grow larger with the varying temperatures of fall.

  1. Yard Maintenance

Fall leaves may be beautiful, but these can slowly rot, causing huge backup and damage in gutters. This backup will cause water to spill over the gutter and into your yard and walking areas, which can cause damage to your home and make walking conditions dangerous. Disconnect all garden hoses, and store them coiled and flat in a cool, dry place. If possible, turn of water to all outside faucets and drain them to protect the outside pipes from damage. Also, store any outdoor furniture that may become damaged from snow or ice.

  1. Roof Inspection

A roof inspection may seem overkill, but harsh winter winds and heavy snow can take a toll on your home. It may be a good idea go up to your rooftop to check for any broken tiles or cracks. It’s important to take care of any damage now to avoid repairs during the cold winter months.

  1. Stock Up on Winter Supplies for Your Home

Before prices on winter gear soars, stock up on winter items such as snow shovels, firewood, or sidewalk salt. It’s better to have the supplies now than to have to run to the store during a snowstorm!

These fall home maintenance tips are quick, easy, and affordable. It is always a good idea to brush up on home repair insurance coverage as you’re making improvements and renovations. As the adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - especially when it comes to home repairs.

Student Car Insurance

5 Little Known Ways College Students Can Save Money on Car Insurance                                                               

You might think you have your act together when it comes to student car insurance. College life is hectic and money is always short. To lighten the load, you did your homework to get the best possible rate. Or did you? Sure, your GPA is great, but there are other factors too. Knowing them could allow you to shave dollars from your premium and keep precious cash in your pocket. This is what goes into determining your car insurance rates.


5 Factors That Influence Auto insurance Rates for College Students

Besides your age, gender, and grades, the biggest factor that influences student car insurance is whether you take your car to school. That is because where you keep your car and how much you drive it is one of the primary ways insurance companies determine how likely you are to get into an accident.

You will need to carefully evaluate where you live and how much you drive before you decide if you’ll drive your car to school. Here are some other things to consider:

infographic about 5 factors of auto insurance for college students

1. Location. This could be a big one. If your school is in a more rural area, you will pay lower rates. Urban areas and big cities always carry higher insurance rates. The reason is relatively simple. More cars on the road, more obstacles like pedestrians, and narrow through streets all mean there is a much greater potential for you to be involved in an accident. States like New York and New Jersey have the highest car insurance rates, whereas states like Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Maine are among the lowest (Bankrate.com). There may be a bit of relief, though. If you happen to live within 3 miles of your school or job, you could qualify for a mileage discount.

2. Type of Car. Your sports car might look good on campus, but in the long run, the student car insurance rate could eat you alive. If you can, go for a larger vehicle. They are more substantial, usually made of steel, and much easier to repair. They also carry lower premiums. It may seem like insurance companies pick and choose which models to charge higher premiums for, but the law and their reasoning are sound. Sports cars are always higher because they have a large claim history (drivers like to go fast and are often involved in wrecks) and they have a much higher chance of being stolen. This is why driving a minivan may not be sexy, but is a great choice if you want a lower insurance rate. Also, newer cars like sedans and compacts give you better rates, since they require much less maintenance and have better safety features.

3. Credit History. Insurance companies will examine your credit history as a predictor of your likelihood of getting in an accident. A good credit rating could save you around $1,000 per year in premium costs. If you have a poor rating, expect a higher premium.

4. How Much Driving You Do. This one is cut-and-dried. If you can prove that you will be driving much less, then you could save a bit on your premium. To further compound the savings, try to stay on your parent's insurance plan if possible.

5. Driving Record. This is the most important factor by far. You are young and full of potential. You are also squarely in the high-risk category. Even a speeding ticket will make your insurance rate skyrocket, simply because you are already in a category with a higher risk. Make sure your driving record is as clean as possible so you can get the best rate.

Finally, consider getting a huge break on your insurance by leaving your car at home. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars. The best way to accomplish this is by trying to remain on your parents’ insurance policy. Most insurance companies will allow you to stay on your parents’ policy if you:

  • Are under 25 years old
  • Attend a college or university within 100 miles of your home
  • Attend a college or university more than 100 miles from home, but drive your vehicle only when you are home for school breaks

The number of miles that you drive in a year also heavily influences how much you will pay for car insurance. If you keep your car at home rather than at school, you will drive less. If you must bring your car to school, use mass transit as much as possible, live on campus if you can, and consider carpooling where possible. Restaurants and other entertainment options are not beyond the scope of possibility if you take advantage of public or mass transit. Besides, you are there to learn after all, right?


What Discounts Are Available to College Students for Car Insurance?

As a student, you may be eligible for several discounts.

Resident Student Discount. This echoes what was mentioned previously. Choosing a school that is far away and only driving when you’re home on break is a dream come true for your insurance company. They will usually give you a nice break for this, since there's much less chance for you to be involved in an accident.

Early Signing Discount. This is something you can take advantage of, but it is time-sensitive. If you're shopping for new car insurance before your current policy has lapsed, there are insurers that will give you a discount for not procrastinating.

Multiple Policy Discount. If you need other types of insurance, consider using the same insurance company for them. For instance, if you need renters insurance, getting both your renters insurance and auto insurance policy from the same company will make you eligible for a discount.

Other discounts that college students might be eligible for include:

  • Good student discount
  • Safe driver discount
  • Pay-in-full or automatic payment discount
  • Driving school discount
  • Anti-theft discount
  • Safety equipment discount
  • Data tracking discount

Ask one of our Trusted Choice agents about these discounts when you shop for your policy.


What Car Insurance Coverage Is Necessary for Students Away at College?

Even for students away from home, good car insurance is a necessity. While you’ll want to buy the most affordable student car insurance available, you shouldn’t limit your coverage to your state’s bare minimums. This could leave you at risk if an accident occurs with one of the nearly 13% of uninsured motorist roaming the roads. In some states, that's as high as 25%, according to the Insurance Research Council.

infographic young drivers alcohol percentage

Remember, you can be the most responsible driver to ever hit the road, but that still won’t protect you from the actions of those around you. According to recent statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 33% of drivers 21 to 24 years old were involved in fatal alcohol-related accidents. This is the highest of any age group. Furthermore, consider the fact that 18% of all college-age drivers report driving under the influence at some point in time, while just over 37% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were reported to be binge drinkers, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The bottom line: Just because you might be responsible doesn't mean everyone else is. At the very least, you must carry your state’s mandated minimum liability coverage. But is that enough? Not likely.

To ensure you are protected, auto insurance for college students should include the following types of coverage with appropriate coverage limits:

  • Collision coverage is protection for physical damage to your vehicle when it hits or is hit by another vehicle or object, such as a tree.
  • Comprehensive coverage pays for losses from almost all other types of damage to your vehicle other than that resulting from a collision, such as theft, fire, vandalism, weather, birds or animals, glass breakage and so on.
  • Medical payments coverage, or personal injury protection, helps pay for medical, dental and funeral expenses for you or your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are in an accident involving a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have auto liability coverage. It takes the place of liability insurance that the other driver should have, but does not.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if another motorist is at fault for a collision but does not have enough insurance to cover your losses.

How Do College Students Find the Best Car Insurance Rates?

The best car insurance for you as a college student will provide protection not only for liability risks, but also for injuries, collisions and other types of risks to you and your vehicle. And it will provide all of those things at a price that that isn’t burdensome.

First, contact one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP agents. Your agent should be able to find quotes from numerous reputable insurance companies so that you can find the combination of coverage and price that best suits your needs and budget. When comparing quotes, make sure that the coverage and limits are the same for each quote. It doesn’t pay to compare apples to oranges.

Our local BWP Trusted Choice® agents can help you find the student car insurance you need, and will help you save money by finding all of the discounts that you are eligible for.  

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Hudson, MA - 978-562-5652

Wayland, MA - 508-358-5383

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