Tag Archives: Auto Insurance

Prom and Graduation Driving Safety

Teen driving tips to keep prom and graduation safe

 High school is full of defining moments for Milwaukee area teens and two of the highlights for most are prom and graduation.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we want to help make this season one to celebrate for you and your teen. So, with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some tips that can keep your teen safe.

First, encourage your teen to follow these general safe-driving rules:

Absolutely no alcohol or drugs

Always use seat belts

No cell phone use (especially texting) while driving

Special circumstances

Special events present special circumstances. There may be dinner with dates before the dance and parties before or after an event. It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations well before each event, establishing guidelines before your teen heads out for the night.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Know the itinerary of the evening, as well as who else will be with your teen.
  2. Have a way to contact your teen.
  3. Set a curfew.
  4. Discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as facing pressure to drink or accepting a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving.
  5. Offer a “no-questions-asked” ride home should they need one during the evening.
  6. If you’re worried about your teen driving, consider alternate transportation

Prom and graduation in southeastern Wisconsin are special times in a teen’s life. And just a little common sense will go a long way toward making sure your young adult is around to enjoy the other milestones that are sure to come.

Winter Tire Tips

Do You Need Winter Tires?

 Snow and slush. Freezing rain. Black ice. Are your tires ready for all of that?

When driving in Milwaukee in the wintertime, your tires just might be the most important safety feature on your car. The right ones can get you to your destination safely. The wrong ones? Well, just look over in the ditch during the next storm.

So how do you figure out what’s best for your vehicle? Here are a few things to know about winter tires:

1.      Winter tires really are different than regular tires. Winter tires have deeper tread, along with siping (slits in the tread blocks). This increases the number of edges that touch the road, resulting in better traction and handling. They also stay softer than other tires do in cold weather, thanks to special rubber compounds designed specifically for winter use.

2.      All season or dedicated winter tires?  Winter tires are better in deep snow than all-season tires, however, sometimes you can find an all-season tire that does well in light snow.

3.      You still need to check the pressure — once a week.  Once a week? Yes, once a week! If your tires are underinflated, they are at risk of failing. In winter, if they’re overinflated, your traction will be significantly reduced.

4.      You still need to check the tread, too. An inexpensive tool found at auto-parts stores can be used for this, or you can use a penny. Stick the coin into the groove of the tire, with Lincoln’s head down. Is some of his hair hidden? Good. Can you see all of Abe’s hair? It’s time for new tires. Right now.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee we know that nobody wants to spend too much time thinking about tires. The good news is you don’t have to. Just a little bit of preparation, along with some routine maintenance, will keep you driving through Bay View, Milwaukee, Greenfield, etc. all winter long.

Over the river and through the woods in Milwaukee…

Millions of Americans will do some traveling this holiday season – the majority of it by car. Winter weather creates a unique set of challenges on the roadways, whether you’re simply driving around Oak Creek or headed to New Berlin.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we’d like to help you not only enjoy your holiday season, but help ensure you’ll be around for future holidays, too! So please take these winter-travel safety tips to heart.

Prepare your car for winter

Before leaving on your trip in SE Wisconsin, give your car a thorough check-up. Do wipers need to be replaced? Are your fluid levels where they should be? Tires in good shape? And – we know you’ve heard this before, but bear with us – your car should have an emergency kit. Pack it with jumper cables, blankets, a first-aid kit, flares, water, a flashlight, etc. A shovel and sand are good ideas as well.

Before you leave

Know where you’re going and check weather conditions along your planned route. Let someone know your itinerary. If your car has snow or ice on it, make sure it is completely cleared off before you depart. Don’t forget to clear your headlights and other lights, along with the roof – ice and snow blowing from your car could create a hazard for other drivers.

When you’re on the road

Are roads snowy or icy? Take it slow. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, and make sure you leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road. Watch for ice patches on bridges, overpasses, and shady spots. Remember, having four-wheel or all-wheel drive does not mean your car will stop or steer better on ice.

Of course, sometimes it’s best not to drive in snow and ice at all – stay home if you can.

If your vehicle becomes disabled

Nobody wants to think about being stranded on the side of the road in a storm, but it happens to thousands of people every year. If your vehicle is disabled, be sure to stay with it. Run your engine and heater for short intervals, and open one of your windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Light two flares (remember that vehicle emergency kit? Now’s the time to use it) and place one a safe distance from both the front and rear of your vehicle. Note your location with mileposts, exit numbers or cross-streets, and call the authorities or a tow truck.

We hope you enjoy your holidays with friends and family, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year!

Teen Driving Safety

Talking to Your Teen About Safe Driving

When teens begin to drive, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council, the sobering statistics start to pile up:

• Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens ages 14 through 18.
• A teen’s crash risk is three times that of more experienced drivers.
• Being in a car with three or more teen passengers quadruples a teen driver’s crash risk.
• More than half of teens killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

You can help your young driver make better decisions behind the wheel. Set a good example yourself. Have a serious discussion about the following issues, all of which have a large impact on the safety of teen drivers:

• Speed: According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, speeding continues to grow as a factor in fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Thirty-three percent of such accidents in 2011 involved excessive speed. While a lot of emphasis is rightfully placed on the risks of driving under the influence or while distracted, the danger of speeding is just as important.

• Alcohol: If drivers are under 21, driving with any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal. It’s as simple as that.

• Seat belts: Teens don’t use their seat belts as frequently as adults, so it’s important to set a good example and always have yours on. Seat belts are the simplest way to be protected in a crash.

• Phones: Distracted driving is dangerous driving, especially for an inexperienced teen. That means no calls or texting when behind the wheel — no exceptions.

• Passengers: The risk of a fatal crash goes up as the number of passengers in a teen driver’s car increases, according to the NHTSA.

Of course, any driver needs to have a good grasp on the laws and rules of the road and, because teens don’t have much experience, it’s important to have regular conversations about safe driving. How teens drive doesn’t just depend on them. It depends on you, too!

Winter Storms

Winter Storms Ahead: Are You Ready?

We admit it. As insurance professionals, our picture of winter isn’t always cozy. Winter storms mean traffic jams, hillsides turning to sheets of ice, and cars sliding around like hockey pucks. Cold temperatures can cause pipes to burst, ice damming on your roof, and other damage. Heating your home with fireplaces and space heaters can increase the risk of fire.

A picture-perfect winter requires a few precautions

Here are a few tips to help reduce weather-related hassles this winter.

Winter-proof your car with good snow tires, new wiper blades, antifreeze, and emergency road supplies.

Keep your attic cool to help prevent ice dams. Insulate the attic floor and make sure it is well-ventilated.

Do not overload circuits with holiday decorations or space heaters.

When winter storms hit, be smart

If you do not have to drive, stay put. If you must drive, make sure you’ve winterized your car and have a full tank of gas.

When the air is cold, keep bath and kitchen cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate around pipes under sinks. If pipes do freeze, let them thaw normally—they’ll be less likely to burst.

And if the power is out, make sure you avoid leaving candles or fireplaces burning unattended. If you use a portable generator, follow the instructions and do not use it indoors.

Know what your insurance covers

We want to help you rest easy.  You will be more relaxed when you know you have prepared your property to lessen the chance of winter storm damage. Check your insurance policy to see what is covered and to confirm the deductible you have chosen.

If you have any questions about your coverage, call us at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee and we will help you review your options.

Insurance Tips for College-Bound

A Few Tips for the Parents of the College-Bound

College is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft, not covered by your insurance policy. If you have a student heading away to school, here are a few tips to help get the most out of your coverage.

HOMEOWNERS (varies by state)

  • Personal Property:  Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total homeowner policy’s personal property coverage while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 of personal property coverage at your residence equals $10,000 in coverage off premises). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics, require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended if your child lives off campus in an apartment.
  • Documentation:  Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts.

AUTO (varies by state)

  • Car Stays Home:  Keep your child listed on your auto policy if they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks as a “student away from home over 100 miles”.
  • Car at School:  Make sure to notify your agent if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered.
  • Driving a Friend’s Car:  Generally, students are covered if they are listed on their parent’s policy and are not regularly using the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary to the insurance for the friend’s vehicle which would be the primary coverage.
  • Discounts:  A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount (typically need a 3.0 GPA or better). Distant student discounts may also be available. Drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education may also get a discount.

Call us at 414-744-6614 or e-mail info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com and we can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage. We’re here to help!

Five Ways to Get your Car Stolen

Five sure-fire ways to get your car stolen

 Most people would say their car is one of the most valuable assets they own, however, some people make it easy for thieves to drive off in their pride and joy.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we don’t want you walking out your door to an empty driveway or leaving Mayfair Mall only to find some broken glass left behind in your parking space. So take care to avoid these five mistakes.

 

  1. Leaving your car running … and unattended. We know it can be chilly in the mornings and who wants to wait in a cold car while it warms up? Well, a thief certainly won’t mind the chill — as he’s driving away in your car while you’re finishing that cup of coffee in your kitchen. If your car is running, you should be in it.
  2. Keeping a spare set of keys inside the car. Law enforcement agencies say this is a great way to turn a car prowler into a car thief. They’re already breaking into your car to get a phone, laptop, etc. What do you think they’re going to do when they find a set of keys?
  3. Leaving valuables in plain sight. Seems simple, but we’ve all made this mistake. You’ll just be in the store for a second, after all, so who cares if you leave your smartphone on the front seat? Or items from your other errands in the back seat? Be smart — if you have to leave items in your car, put them in the trunk, or at least hide them as best you can. And do it before you get to your next destination.
  4. Leaving your car unsecured. The best thieves can work wonders with a window that’s left open even just a crack. While the worst thieves can steal a car that’s been left unlocked.
  5. Assuming nobody would want to steal your car. Think your car is too old or too undesirable for a thief to bother? Scrap metal is worth money, so never assume that your car is safe — even if you think it’s just a “junker.”

 

Keeping thieves away helps to keep everyone’s insurance costs down, so avoiding these mistakes not only will save you hassle, it will save you money as well. So stay safe, not only on the roads, but in the parking lots as well!

Contact Us!

 At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time shopping 12 top rated companies for you. Just give us a call at 414-744-6614 or send us a note at info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Preparing for Winter Weather

Fall is quickly slipping away, but there’s still time to get ready for winter weather. Extreme cold is always a possibility here in the Milwaukee area, so we at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee have compiled some tips to help you stay safe and limit damage.

Preparing your home

  • Perform basic winter maintenance — insulate your attic, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and insulate water pipes that run along outer walls. When temperatures drop, keep the cabinets under sinks open to allow warmer air in.
  • If you use a fireplace or wood stove, have the chimney or flue inspected each year. Make sure your house has working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test them monthly.
  • Check your emergency supplies and ensure that you have adequate food and water, along with a battery-powered radio, in the event of an extended power outage.
  • Never use gas-powered generators or barbecue grills indoors. These can allow deadly carbon monoxide to build up.

Preparing your car

  • Have your vehicle serviced according to manufacturer recommendations. Check the antifreeze level.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full, which helps avoid ice in the fuel tank.
  • Replace wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  • Make sure your tires are in good shape and have the proper air pressure.
  • Check to confirm your battery has a good charge, your heater and defroster are working well, and that your emergency lights are functional.

Preparing yourself

  • Always wear temperature-appropriate clothing, such as hats, gloves, scarves, etc. Remove any wet clothing immediately. And keep spare clothing or a blanket in your car trunk throughout winter in case you are stranded.
  • Stay hydrated. You might think this is more important when it’s warm outside, but it’s just as vital in winter.
  • Be mindful of physical exertion and the amount of time you’re spending outdoors. Shoveling snow is hard work, so don’t overdo it!

Winter is a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to snowmobiling and skiing as much as you are. So get your house, car, and body ready, so you can have a great season!

Contact Us!

 At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 414-744-6614 or send us a note at info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com  We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Driving after Dark

A little extra caution can go a long way while driving at night

 Summer has ended, and while fall and winter have their own pleasures — including football, skiing, holidays with family — longer nights mean increased danger on the roads.

You might drive well at night, but consider this, nighttime driving accounts for just 23% of vehicle miles traveled, but more than 50% of fatalities for vehicle occupants 16 and older occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Safety Commission (NSC).

We’re big advocates for safety at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee and thought it would be helpful to take a look at why night driving is more dangerous, and what you can do to decrease that danger.

What’s dangerous about night driving?

  1. Decreased vision. We won’t go into all the biological details, but parts of the eye work differently at night. Your peripheral vision is actually slightly improved, but it’s more difficult to focus on objects ahead of you. Traveling between well-lit areas and darker roads creates issues as well.
  2. Driving too fast for your headlights. Depending on vehicle speed and headlight setting, many people “over-drive” their headlights. That means, by the time they see something on the road, it’s too late to stop in time to avoid it.
  3. Impaired judgment. Whether due to drowsiness or the use of alcohol or drugs, it appears that drivers at night often don’t use good judgment. According to the NSC, 66% of fatalities at night involve vehicle occupants who weren’t wearing seat belts.

So what do you do?

Sometimes, there’s no way around driving at night. Here are some tips to help you make a safe trip — whether you’re just running to the store, or you’re headed all the way to the Dells for a weekend.

  1. Make sure your vehicle’s lights are in good working condition. Headlights, turn signals, taillights, etc.
  2. Avoid speeding. Leave a bigger cushion between you and other cars than you would during daylight hours and give yourself more time for the trip.
  3. Be more aware of your surroundings. You shouldn’t be using your phone, messing around with the radio, or trying to find something on the floor while you’re on the road during the day — and distractions are even more deadly at night.

 Of course, if you’re not comfortable driving at night, the best thing is to avoid it altogether. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a ride from a trusted safe driver or waiting for the sun to come out!

We’re open during the day!

When you’re driving around during the day, stop in at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee for a review of your coverage. We won’t keep you after dark, we promise. Or just give us a call at 414-744-6614. We’re here to help!

Preparing for College

Insurance Tips for Back-to-School Time

College is expensive enough without finding out that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current insurance policies. As you get your children ready to head off to school, there’s one vital item to add to your list – a review of your insurance coverage. It’s important to keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions about Wisconsin policies, or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!

HOMEOWNERS (may vary by state and individual policy)

  • Coverage of personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10% of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s.  For example, 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 an insured.
  • 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.  See your specific policy language for details.
  • Ensuring adequate coverage:  Contact us to get specific answers and information about Wisconsin coverage. It’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school by keeping photos and/or receipts.
  • Renters insurance: For apartments or houses off-campus, renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular homeowners policy does not cover a student’s personal property. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.”  Landlord policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.

AUTO (may vary by state and individual policy)

  • Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, he/she may qualify for a distant-student discount.
  • Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a student (listed as a driver) while away at school, however, you should check with your insurance company to make sure. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
  • Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their own policy or their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
  • Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications (typically a 3.0 GPA).

Going away to school is an exciting time for students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. We’re happy to discuss your coverage and options — just give us a call (414-744-6614), email (info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com), or stop at our office!