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Let it Snow: Safety Tips for Driving on Ice

Driving on ice is extremely dangerous and poses unique challenges and risks. Even the most skilled drivers should avoid driving when the roads ice up. When the temperature gets close to freezing, you should start getting concerned. However, driving on ice isn’t always avoidable. What should you do when you’re required to drive on icy roads to reach your destination? Prepare  Equip your vehicle with chains or snow tires. Chains are by far the most effective and should be used where ice and snow remain on the roadway.  Correctly operating windshield wipers and defrosters are also essential to safety while driving in snow and ice conditions. Make sure to check them before you set out! Feel out the road by starting out slowly and testing your steering control and braking ability. Avoid spinning your tires when you start by gently pressing your gas pedal until the car starts to roll. Start slowing down three times sooner than you normally would when turning or stopping. Remain Calm  If you discover that you’re driving on ice, you must first and foremost remain calm. Never hit the brakes or make any sudden movements with the steering wheel, even if you feel yourself sliding. The best thing to do is to slowly take your foot off the accelerator. Slow down as much as you can without putting yourself in danger of being rear-ended.  Find a Secure Location  Find a safe and secure location to park your vehicle, such as a parking lot. It is not recommended that you stop on the roadway, including the shoulder. Unlike with snow where you can normally navigate through, when driving on ice, you should find a safe location to park as soon as possible.  Correspond with Conditions  Reduce your speed to correspond with conditions. There is no such thing as a “safe” speed range at which you may drive on snow or ice. You must be extremely cautious until you are able to determine how much traction you can expect from your tires. When stopping, avoid sudden movements of the steering wheel and pump the brake gently. Avoid locking of brakes on glazed ice as it will cause a loss of steering and control.  Take Other Precautions  Maintain a safe interval between you and the car ahead of you. Keep your vehicle in the best possible driving condition. The…
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Is Your Home Ready for a Flood?

The losses that homeowners have experienced from floods have been quite significant, while an increase in water levels have wreaked havoc throughout the Tri-State region – even in low-risk communities. Prepare your home for a flood with flood protection measures and with flood insurance, even if you don’t think that you’re in an active flood zone. Secure a flood plan that at its most basic, covers physical damage to the insured property from floodwater. You may want to consider additional coverage to insure the contents of your home. But before we talk about flood insurance, let’s look at ways to protect your home from damage. Food-Proofing Tips  Some flood-proofing work may be required in order to minimize flood damage. Here are some methods of flood control that will protect your home.  Install foundation vents. Foundation vents force flood water to flow through your home, instead of pooling up around it. This provides an outlet for floodwater and relieves the significant pressure flood water can put on your walls and basement windows. Apply coatings and sealants. Coatings and sealants applied to foundation, walls, windows, and doorways will help prevent floodwater from leaking into your house through cracks. Raise electrical outlets/switches. All outlets, switches, sockets, and circuit breakers should be at least one foot above flood level in order to prevent significant electrical damage in the case of a flood. Check pipe valves. Make sure that all pipes entering your house have valves to prevent a flooded sewage system from backing up into your home. Grade your lawn. If your lawn is graded toward your home, rainwater will then pool around it. Use a heavy soil that contains clay content and sand to adjust the regrade your lawn so that surface runoff empties into the gutter. Look at mulch and siding. Wet mulch can rot your house’s siding, resulting in leaks. Keep a space between your mulch and siding so that the base of your house can completely dry after rainstorms. Flood Insurance An insurance agent can help you determine your coverage, depending on your needs and the value of your home. Excess flood insurance is available for those who own a high-valued, expensive homes, which can provide broader coverage for both the structure and its contents, and may also provide money for additional living expenses while your property is restored. The…
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Your Car Breaks Down in the Middle of Nowhere. What Do You Do?

Driving with any vehicle issues means you are taking a chance of making it to your next destination. Car troubles can be anything that includes a tire blow out to overheating of the engine. No matter what type of problem you are having, there is always a chance you will end up stranded on the side of the road. This can be both frustrating and dangerous. The best thing you can do is to have a plan if you find yourself broken down.  Use Your Hazard Lights or Emergency Flashers When you know you are going to have to pull off the side of the road, the safest way to do so is to alert any other drivers. You can do this by using your hazard lights that each vehicle is equipped with. The button is usually an orange or red triangle. This will cause your lights to start to flash in unison and is a great way to indicate to other passing drivers that you are stopping or there is trouble with your vehicle. Leave the lights on until the tow truck pulls up. Figure Out Your Location Now that you are safely pulled off the side of the road and you have your hazard lights on, you must know where you are. You can’t just call for help without any idea on where the tow truck has to pick you up. If possible, use the GPS on your phone or in your car to find your location. You want to be able to give the most accurate location to the tow truck operator so they can easily find you. This will also keep the amount of time you’re waiting on the side of the road to a minimum, lessening the chance that you’re involved in an accident or other dangers.  Exit the Car Safely Depending on where you are located, the traffic around you could be heavy. The cars that are passing may still have a hard time seeing you on the side of the road. Your safety is most important and that is why you should be careful when you are exiting the car. If possible, get out of the passenger side of the car so that you are not walking out in the oncoming traffic lane. A popped hood is the universal sign of a vehicle…
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What to Do After Your Car’s Been Broken Into

Discovering that your car has been broken into can feel quite horrible. Unfortunately, no matter how diligent you are, break-ins are always possible. They may seem almost inevitable even when you have taken extra precautions. Even if you’ve hidden away your valuables, locked your car, and parked in a well-trafficked spot, it’s still possible for a crook to target your car. If a break-in does happen, it’s important that you know how to handle it quickly and efficiently. First and foremost, remain calm so when you call the police and your insurer they can better advise you. Document & Report Take plenty of photos of the damages and make a list of any items stolen right away. It is important that you figure out what was taken from your car as soon as possible so you can notify the police and determine which items need to be replaced. In addition to money and electronics, it is common for license plates, license plate tabs or auto parts such as tires, rims, or catalytic converters to be stolen as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for those missing items. Report stolen license plates immediately so you will not be on the hook for speeding tickets or toll rides taken by the perpetrators. Serial numbers on your electronics or features such as Apple’s “Find My iPhone” tracking tool can actually be very useful for law enforcement. If you store any credit or debit cards or financial documents in your car, you will want to notify your bank to request new cards as soon as possible and be on the lookout for potential identity theft. If you choose to file an auto insurance claim, be sure not to move the vehicle until after a police officer has come and made their report. Be prepared by having these handy to file a police report: Your driver’s license Vehicle registration Car insurance ID card Photos of the damage List of stolen items Preventing Additional Break-Ins A car with one or more broken windows is an easier target for auto theft, so try to avoid parking your vehicle on the street. Consider parking it in a secure garage or another secure location until your car doors and windows are fixed and in safe working order. Parking indoors will also protect your car’s interior, as will…
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What Causes Teen Car Crashes?

The traffic accident rates for 16-to-19-year-old drivers exceeds any other age group. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.  Driving is a privilege, not a right. It’s important that teens own the newfound responsibilities that come with driving. There are specific causes that make teenagers such risky drivers, and understanding these causes is the key to helping your teen to stay safe on the roads and prevent themselves from becoming part of the above statistic. Poor Hazard Detection The ability to detect hazards in the driving environment is based on perceptual information-gathering skills and identification of potential threats. It takes time for young individuals to acquire this ability, which is why teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter distances from the front of their vehicle to the front of the next. Low Risk Perception Risk perception is the ability to subjectively assess the degree of threat posed by a hazard and one’s ability to handle the situation. Young drivers tend to underestimate the crash risk in hazardous situations and overestimate their ability to avoid the threats they identify. Risk Taking Teenagers tend to take more risks while driving partly due to overconfidence in their driving abilities. Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, running red lights, violating traffic signs/signals, making illegal turns, passing dangerously, and failure to yield to pedestrians. Teenagers also tend to wear safety belts less often than older drivers. Lack of Skill New drivers have yet to fully master basic vehicle handling skills and safe-driving knowledge they need to drive safely. Vehicles are intricate machines and it takes time to properly maneuver any potentially dangerous machinery. Alcohol and Drugs Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a common cause of serious crashes, especially fatal ones, involving teenage drivers. Teenagers who drink and drive are at much greater risk of serious crashes than older drivers with equal blood alcohol concentrations. Passengers For teenagers, the risk of being in a crash dramatically increases when they transport passengers and the risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases. Passengers who are same age peers may distract teen drivers and promote risky behavior….
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The Three Main Types of Auto Insurance Coverage, and Why They’re All Important

When you’re paying your bills every month, you may pay for auto insurance without giving a lot of thought into what it actually does for you. The reality is that auto insurance isn’t one single thing; there are three main types of coverage (and some other optional coverages too). All three of these are important and they work together to make sure you’re protected. Let’s discuss the three main types and what they offer you. Liability Liability insurance, which is further divided into property damage liability and bodily injury liability is the coverage that pays for another driver’s expenses in case of an at-fault accident. If, for example, you hit another vehicle and were found at fault, your liability insurance would kick in and pay for the car repairs and any medical expenses that were accrued. Liability insurance is required by law in order to drive your vehicle. Collision Collision insurance is the coverage that pays for your own expenses if you are involved in an at-fault accident. In the example above, if you had collision insurance your insurance would pay for the repairs or replacement of your vehicle. If the accident was not your fault, and instead was the fault of the other driver, his or her insurance should be the one that will pay for your damages. In the unusual case where the other driver isn’t covered, your “uninsured motorist” policy would come into effect, if you had chosen to purchase it. Comprehensive Comprehensive insurance is the type of coverage that pays you for anything that is NOT a standard car accident. Comprehensive covers you in case of theft, vandalism, fire, acts of war and other incidents. In most of these cases, there may not be someone that could directly take the “blame” for the damage. However, with comprehensive coverage, you will not have to worry because your vehicle will be covered for repair or replacement. These policies can be quite different from one another. Your comprehensive policy will detail exactly what would be included. While you may not look forward to paying for car insurance, the peace of mind and protection it provides you is something you can’t live without. If you’d like more information about affordable and effective coverage, check AJ Benet’s auto insurance options, including our Youthful Driver auto insurance policies. We look forward to protecting you and…
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The Auto Insurance Claims Process, Step by Step

An auto insurance claim is a request made to an insurance company for compensation for damages sustained after a car accident, or for representation or intervention on the insured’s behalf when they are liable for damages. If you are involved in an accident, you will want to make a claim. When it comes time to file an auto insurance claim, a lot of people aren’t always in the best head space. Car accidents are incredibly nerve-wracking, and trying to coordinate all of the necessary information and figure out what costs you are responsible for can be stressful on anyone. Rather than waiting until the accident has already happened to try to figure everything out, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with our guide to the claims process now. That way, if an accident ever does happen (though it hopefully won’t), you’ll be ready to go and make the process as short and painless as possible. 1. Contact the Police After a car accident, contact the police and have an officer take down the details of the accident in the police report. You may be shaken up after an accident and not be in a position to assess what’s happened. If the other party becomes difficult, the police will be there to make sure you’re safe and that emergency service personnel are there to assist with injuries or hazards. 2. Contact Your Insurance Agent Having your car accident information ready will help you keep track of the information needed to file your claim. Be prepared to provide accident details to your insurer. Call your insurance company from the scene of the accident while waiting for the police or after you are safe. They will walk you through the next steps. If your car is not drivable, your insurer can advise you on transportation for you and your car. If you have this coverage on your policy, they can arrange for your car to be towed, and get you a rental car. If you do not call them, you won’t know how they can help and you may spend more money than needed. They will then open the claims file. A claims professional will represent you in any discussions with third parties involved, investigate the circumstances, handle vehicle repairs and rental arrangements, and get the claim settled. That’s what your insurance company…
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Who Really Causes the Most Car Accidents? Common Stereotypes Explored

There are many stereotypes around the question “Who causes the most car accidents?” Some people claim that women are statistically worse drivers than men, while others claim that men cause more accidents. Some say that newly-licensed teenagers are the biggest dangers of the road, while still others feel that senior citizens above a certain age should not be driving. The truth is, we can all be accident-prone and are constantly at risk out there on the road. No matter who you are, it’s always crucial for your safety and your finances to be careful on the road and secure Auto Insurance before driving. Let’s explore a couple common stereotypes that have been in the talk for quite some time now. Men vs. Women The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did a study for findings based on the idea that men tend to engage in certain riskier behaviors on the road than women. Men’s statistical bad driving tends to stem from deciding to err on the opposite side of caution. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an analysis showing that nearly twice as many men 34 years or younger die in speeding crashes than women in the same age bracket. It was also found that more men drink and drive, get traffic violations and are deemed responsible for a greater portion of car accidents. That being said, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, men also drive a lot more miles than women which could be why men cause 6.1 million accidents per year, while women cause 4.4 million per year. On average, men drive 16,550 miles and women drive 10,142 miles per year according to Federal Highway Administration. Therefore men drive about 30 percent more miles than women. Yet, they’re implicated in slightly less than 30 percent of car accidents. Men do cause more accidents, but they are slightly less at-risk than women, by a small margin. The conclusion? We can all be risky drivers at times, and no one should consider themselves one hundred percent safe from car accidents. Seniors vs. Teens Mistakes are expected from young drivers, but the first few years are pretty risky. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety drivers, ages 16-19 are three times more likely to crash than drivers over 20. The United States Census Bureau found that teens cause about…
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Do You Have a Teen Driver? Here’s How You And Your Family Can Prepare

Obtaining a driver’s license and getting behind the wheel of the family car or their own is exciting for your teenager, while you may have many concerns and anxiety about road safety and auto insurance. Speak to an agent to help guide you through this life milestone, so you understand how to insure young drivers on their auto policies. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Certain steps must be agreed upon and fulfilled to gain and maintain that privilege. It is so important that new drivers grasp that concept and understand just how much maturity is needed to stay safe out there on the roads. Teens must realize and accept the newfound responsibilities that come with driving, and there are things that you can do to make this transition a smooth one. Stress the Importance of Practice Driving is not a skill that can be mastered quickly. Take an active role in teaching your child how to drive and give them as much behind-the-wheel time as possible.  Your teen’s driving school should provide experience with various types of road and traffic conditions and you should reinforce what they’ve learned outside of class as well. Having your teen practice in a car that is in good condition and good working order is important.  Make sure they know how to operate mirrors, knobs, seats, safety systems and other key features. Remember that everything should be adjusted before they put the vehicle in gear. Ban Electronic Devices Emphasize that your teen must never use their phone or any other type of electronic communication device while driving. Calls and text messages can wait until they’ve arrived to their destinations. Do you want their cell phone turned off while their driving?  Can they use Spotify in the car? Be sure to be very clear what rules they are expected to abide by. Reminder: do not call or text your child when you know they are driving. If you set a good example for them, they are more likely to follow along. Teach Responsibility and Maturity   Most teens are focused on the driver’s license itself and have no idea about what else goes into maintaining a vehicle. They should have a basic understanding of the maintenance involved with the vehicle; this includes things such as oil changes, tire rotations, new tires and proper fluid…
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Businesses with Benefits: Do You Know the Group Health Insurance Laws?

Group health insurance refers to a single policy typically issued to a business with employees, covering all eligible employees and sometimes their dependents. The rules are quite different for group coverage versus individual coverage, mostly because the insurer’s risk is calculated differently. With groups such as businesses, insurers determine a premium price based on risk factors balanced over the entire group, using general information on members of the group, such as age or gender. Health insurance is one of the most important benefits an employer can provide to attract and retain employees. Many candidates look at healthcare insurance as in deciding to accept an offer. Keep in mind, healthy employees makes for a healthy business. Where health insurance differs from other group benefits is that there are certain laws governing its implementation in the workplace. Do you know what’s legally required of your business? What’s Required? While there is no law requiring small business owners to provide health insurance, the Affordable Care Act has guidelines that business owners should be aware of. If you choose to offer coverage, there are regulations you will have to follow. Large companies (with 50 employees or more) may face penalties if they do not offer coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Some employers who offer coverage pay the full premium, while others require employees to pay a portion. When considering what portion of the premium to pay, employers should be aware that the Affordable Care Act offers small businesses tax credits to help offset the cost. Small businesses (with 2-50 full-time employees) are guaranteed group coverage should they choose to purchase it, regardless of the employees’ health status. Owners are generally counted as employees, so sole proprietorships with one employee usually fall into this category, as do partnerships without any employees. Typically, if an employer offers group health coverage to any full-time employees, the employer must offer coverage to all full-time employees. This applies to part-time employed as well. How Coverage Applies Coverage applies regardless of the medical condition of the employees. In other words, any eligible employee can’t be denied coverage based on previous medical problems, known as pre-existing conditions. Any dependents (spouses and children) of eligible employees are generally eligible for coverage under a group plan. Dependents cannot enroll for coverage unless the employee has enrolled. Under the Affordable Care Act, group…
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