How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

When choosing which car you may want to purchase, be sure to consider the weather.  Walking in the cold is not usually fun, and driving in it can be dangerous.  If your region gets snow and/or ice during the winter (not to mention the wind and rain of this cold season) there are some features you may want to consider that will make driving safer not only for you but for others on the road as well.

Electronic Stability Control (“ESC”)

ESC uses sensors and a microcomputer to monitor your steering. It will apply brakes or modulate engine power to help you keep control of the car. They are very effective in reducing crashes. In fact, there was a study from Highway Loss Data Institute showing that ESC reduces fatal single-vehicular crash risk by 49% for cars and SUV’s.*

Antilock Brakes (“ABS”)

This feature has been around for a while so you may already know what it does and how important it is.  Your ABS keeps your brakes from locking up which is needed on black ice or wet roads.  Think of it like an umbrella. It is better have one and not need it than need one and not have one.

Adaptive Headlights

It is very hard to drive when you cannot see the road during winter.  Adaptive headlights help to solve the problem.  They have small motors that adjust the headlights, moving them to light up where you need them most like around curves, and helping in fog and rain.

Forward Collision Warning and Auto-Braking

Sometimes reaction time is everything — the sooner you react, the more chance you can involve a crash.  This feature helps you have a faster reaction time.  If its sensors detect something is getting to close to the car, it will auto-brake to aid in avoiding a collision. This may be very helpful especially for older people or when a person gets distracted.

LED tail lights

LED lights are not only brighter but they also last longer. With LED tail lights, you can be seen easier during heavy snow, rain or fog.

Snow chains

Snow chain are not actually a “feature” per se, but they should still be considered for a car in winter.  They fit on your tires to make driving easier in the snow. They also help you maintain control of the car, and you may find it easier to drive up and down hills.


* Highway Loss Data Institute

Protecting Contents of College Students Away From Home

Protecting Contents of College Students Away From Home

College is expensive enough without finding out too late that an accident or theft isn’t covered under parents’ current policies.

Coverage of personal property

Most homeowners policies provide 10 percent of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured while it is at a residence other than the insured residence.  That means if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory – provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of a insured.  Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics my require special coverage or insuring it as a “scheduled item”.

Liability coverage

There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.

Renters insurance

If a student’s needs can’t be met under their parents’ current policy, don’t forget about the asking for a Renter’s Insurance quote.

What Should You Do If Stranded During a Blizzard

What to do if you are Stranded in a Blizzard

Imagine for a moment, you’re stranded in your car in the winter and the snow is piling up.  There could be many causes.  There are things you could have done to prevent getting stranded, but you don’t have time to dwell on those.  You have to stay warm and wait it out.  What should you do?

Make sure the exterior exhaust of the car is clear of snow. If the exhaust gets plugged up, carbon monoxide can build up.  It’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. It could kill you if you are exposed to it for too long.  Keep that exhaust clear.

If there is shelter nearby, go there.  However, if there is nothing around, the best thing to do is stay put to avoid getting lost. If it’s night time, not only can you not see, but it’s also colder which makes it even riskier to go on foot. While you are in your car, it’s good to have some blankets with you and and possibly put on some extra clothes.  You need to save gas, so only turn on the car to heat it up and then turn it off. You don’t know how long you will be there.

Make sure you have water around to keep yourself hydrated.  If water is not available, you can get some snow and melt it. Don’t eat the snow itself as it will drop your core temperature. Also, if you have a flashlight and some batteries those will be useful for other people to spot you. Flares can help in the same way.  Finally, keep your hazard lights on to make it easier for people to spot you.

Hopefully you will never have to deal with being stranded like this, but it is always good to be prepared for such an event. Drive safe everyone!

Travelers Enhanced Auto Options

Travelers Has Enhanced Their Auto Options

Deeper Account Discounts Are Available!

Travelers policyholders can receive an account discount by combining Boat, Homeowner, Personal Article Floater or Umbrella policies with their existing Auto policy.

Safe Driver Discount: Customers who are clean — no accidents, violations or major comprehensive claims ($1,000 plus) for five years in their households — could see better rates.

Annual Auto Policy:  We offer the convenience of choosing either a 6- or 12-month auto policy.

Checking multiple companies to find the one that offers a feature like this one is a great benefit of having an independent insurance agent. Click here to contact Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc., or call us at 865-922-3111.

Tips for Driving During the Winter

winter driving - commuter traffic

Staying safe on the road is always important for you, your family who may be with you and also for other drivers.  Many winters offer driving challenges such as slippery roads and other instances that can cause accidents. Here are a few tips to help you win the challenge of the wintery roads.

Sleep

It is important to get enough sleep to avoid driving while fatigued. You need the extra focus during the winter months to keep an eye out for hazards like black ice (which can be tricky to spot) or other cars that may lose control. Getting plenty of sleep will also sharpen your reflexes so you can react fast enough to prevent an accident.

Make sure you have enough gas

Consider having at least a half full of tank of gas before driving out during the winter.  If you get stranded , it can be your life saver to keep you warm until help arrives.

Keep your eyes on the road

Don’t let distractions divert your attention from diving. Just keep your focus on the road. Phones are a frequent diversion. Don’t text and drive!  If your kids noise or actions are sidetracking you from driving, it is best to pull over, deal with the situation then move on.

Seat belts

There is a reason why wearing your seat belt (and having your passengers wear them too) is urged so often. Aside from the law which requires us to wear them when driving, seat belts work most of the time. They save lives! Winter months get cold and roads can (1) stay wet longer due to the lack of heat or (2) become icy so having a seat belt on while driving on ice can be a lifesaver.

Properly inflated tires

This is another recommendation that most people know all know but is easily forgotten. We get gas but sometimes we don’t think about our tires.

You should know the information about your tires, such as its size and especially your max PSI (how much air should be in your tires). Having a tire gage will help you know what psi is in your tires. When your tires are inflated properly, they perform better, and it helps them last longer.

Clear up your driving record

Save Money by Clearing Up Your Driving Record

Since 2010, Progressive auto insurance customers can request from their agent to remove accidents or violations that have expired midterm on their policies. This saves Progressive customers money.  The requirements are:

  1. The customer must request the review.
  2. Accidents or violations must be more than 35 months old at the time of the request.
  3. Rated drivers on the policy must have no new accidents or violations in the policy term.

Checking multiple companies to find the one that offers a feature like this one is a great benefit of having an independent insurance agent. Click here to contact Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc., or call us at 865-922-3111.

What is ABS and What It Does for You

emergency braking car on wet road

When you are considering which car to purchase, you should factor in ABS.  Many people don’t know that ABS (anti-lock braking system) makes a difference:

  • Since ABS, there has been a 35% decrease in frontal collisions on wet roads.
  • There has been a 9% decrease in frontal impacts on dry roads.
  • In controlled test conditions, 58% of drivers without ABS strayed from their intended path after braking and only 24% of drivers with ABS did the same.

As you can see, ABS is a very good feature to have.  It comes as a standard feature on many cars, but sometimes it is an add-on. As you look at cars, think of ABS like an umbrella. It’s better to have one and not need it rather than need it and not have it.

You might have heard someone say, “I pushed the brake pedal, and they locked up!” When your wheels lock up, you skid, you can hear the screech of the tires and often you see smoke and/or skid marks on the pavement.  Skidding isn’t good, but it is especially dangerous in rain, snow or ice. When it happens, you are at serious risk for losing control of the car and having an accident.

To “unlock” your wheels, you need to lessen the pressure on the brakes until the wheels start spinning again.  If you drive a car without ABS, instead of pressing on the brake and holding it, you need to apply pressure until just before the wheels would lock up.  If the wheels lock up or you are trying to keep them from doing so, you lessen pressure on the brake and then apply it once again (which is called “feathering”).  In the midst of bad weather or bad drivers around you, it’s not always easy to do.

That’s where ABS comes in.  ABS is designed to keep your wheels from locking up when you press the brakes.  With ABS, a computer will handle all that for you using wheel speed sensors, hydraulic units and electronic control unit. All these combined make up an ABS.

ABS is very useful in bad weather or during an emergency when you need to suddenly stop your car. It takes care of feathering your brakes so your wheels don’t lock up. (The ABS use sensors to monitor your brakes and keep them from locking at a sudden braking.) As a result, you maintain better control of your car in order to avoid a wreck.

Items You Should Have in Your Car During the Winter

Items You Should Have in Your Car During the Winter

Getting stuck in the snow is not fun, but it could happen during the cold winter days.  It it happens, you need to be prepared.  Here are a few helpful items to include in your car so your winter driving can be as stress-free as possible:

Booster cables

Booster cables should be something you keep in your car year-round but especially in winter. Having a dead battery near night time is dangerous. Not only do the temperatures drop rapidly, but also makes it harder for you to see the road. Having booster cables gives you the right tool to jump start your car.

Blankets

If you get stranded and there are no other cars around, you may be sitting in the cold for a while.  As  it gets darker, the temperature drops. It is wise to have some blankets to keep you warm until help arrives.

Flashlight and extra batteries

Having a Flashlight is another must-have item in your car year-round. Put simply, it lets you see in the dark “to help put those booster cables on.” A bright flashlight also makes it easier for people to spot/see you if it gets too dark.  Be sure to keep some extra batteries in the car and replace them periodically.

Extra clothing

Having extra winter clothes in the car is also useful for a couple of reasons. If you get stranded, you might have to walk for help.  If you have a flat tire or other situation in which you have to get out of the car during bad winter weather, it is nice to have warm, dry clothes in case you step in a puddle of partially-frozen water or slip in mud or snow.  Being cold and wet is no fun.  It’s a good idea to have extra clothing with you.

Food

Take some food with you in the car in case you are stuck waiting for help to come.  You might also consider keeping some non-perishable food in the car during the winter months as well.  Think of them as your emergency stash.  If you are in a remote area, be sure there are at least some high calorie foods in your “stash.”  Just like batteries for your flashlight, be sure to replace the foods periodically.

Auto Insurance Made Easy

Be prepared with the right coverage before you need it.

Understanding insurance can often be like trying to learn a foreign language. Many find it confusing and intimidating.

Fortunately, there’s help. Here is a quick reference designed to help you understand some of the most common kinds of coverages. The reference was put together by The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies.

Liability

Liability covers bodily injury and property damage (BI/PD). This covers your legal liability, up to the dollar limits you select, for damages caused to others in a covered vehicle accident. In most states today, liability insurance is mandatory.

Under BI/PD, your insurance company pays for damages to an injured person and for property damage that you are legally obligated to pay as a result of an accident. If your policy covers you in the event you’re sued after an accident, your insurance company will pay for a lawyer to defend you.

Liability limits generally appear as three numbers, for example, 25/50/25 or 100/300/100.

  • The first number refers to the maximum amount, in thousands, that your insurance company is obligated to pay for bodily injury per person.
  • The second number is the maximum that would be paid out for bodily injury per claim.
  • The third number represents the maximum amount your insurance company is obligated to pay for property damage you cause.

Collision

When you buy collision coverage, your insurance company pays for damages if your vehicle collides with another vehicle or object. Collision coverage involves a deductible amount you select when you purchase your policy. This amount is what you are required to pay before your insurance company starts picking up the tab. Remember, the deductible amount is the amount you need to pay in the event of a claim.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive covers damage caused by events other than a car collision such as fire, theft, vandalism, hail or flood. It also covers damage caused by your vehicle colliding with an animal. And if your car is stolen, it will cover the cost of a rental, subject to a daily limit. Like collision coverage, a deductible usually applies.

Medical Coverage

Depending on the state in which you live, you may have available to you Medical Payments coverage or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. While these both work differently, they provide coverage for medical care provided to you as a result of a car accident.

Four Questions to Get the Right Auto Insurance

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Using the right tool for a job is key to success in any profession. Experts say the same principle applies when selecting an auto insurance policy. Having the right type of policy can help ensure that you, your employees and your business are all protected in the unfortunate event that one of your vehicles is involved in an accident.

If you’re a business owner and you or your employees use a vehicle for business-related deliveries or to carry certain materials to and from a job site, you may need a commercial auto insurance policy that’s tailored to more closely suit the needs — and risks — of a business vehicle operator.

Here are some questions that can help you determine if you might need a commercial auto policy instead of a personal auto policy.

1. Do you need more liability coverage than your personal auto policy provides?

Generally, a commercial auto policy provides higher limits of liability, but less or no coverage in areas that are typically not associated with commercial auto risks.

2. Do you need special coverage for situations associated with con-ducting business?

Commercial auto policies also usually offer certain coverages — such as hired and non-owned auto coverage and coverage for towing a trailer for business use — that are not available with personal auto policies.

3. Do you need to list any employees as drivers?

You can do this with a commercial auto insurance policy.

4. Do you use your vehicle for business purposes?

If you use your vehicle for things like pizza or newspaper delivery, catering, door-to-door consulting service, landscaping or snowplowing service, logging business, day care/church retreat van service and/or farm-to-market delivery, you might need a commercial auto policy.

Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc. is an independent insurance agency — trained, licensed insurance professionals who offer personal service and advice. We can help match you with the type of policy that best suits your needs and those of your company.

Do you have an insurance question or would you like more information about which coverage is right for you?  Click here and fill out our contact form or give us a call at 865-922-3111.