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Wash Winter Away

snow4Spring is here! This past winter was a doozy. Harsh temperatures combined with record rainfall did a number on the streets and cars of Washington and Oregon. Potholes became wider and deeper, while the salt that layered the roads for the icy temperatures stuck to our cars like glue. Now that the worst is behind us, it’s time to get our cars back to normal.

The salt that is laid on the streets to combat icy conditions can damage your car if left on for too long. It can eat away at the undercarriage without you even knowing it. Washing your car regularly can help avoid this issue. Make sure you pay extra attention to the underside of your vehicle to ensure it has been fully washed as well. A good, high-quality wax treatment is also a good idea to seal your fresh wash and protect the finish of your car throughout the upcoming months.

Take the time to inspect your car’s battery. Salt can and dirt can find their way up into the engine area and create a layer of residue on your battery. Keep your vehicle’s battery in tip-top shape by taking a rag and some mild cleaner to it every 3 months or so.

It’s time to change out your winter tires. As soon as the snow season ends, it’s a good idea to retire the winter studded tires for the season and put back on the regular, all-weather tires.

Change out your wiper blades. Snow, ice, salt and dirt can wear wiper blades down quickly. Change them out for fresh ones so you’ll be prepared for the summer storms that the Pacific Northwest is known for.

Before summer hits, check your auto insurance policy for any discounts. Call a local Vern Fonk Insurance Agent today to see how you can save money on your car insurance rates. It’ll only take a few minutes and you could end up saving hundreds of dollars on car insurance.

Is Your Car Insurance The Right One For You?

Finding the right car insurance policy is very important. Not all policies are created equal. Sometimes you won’t know if you’re in the right car insurance policy until it is too late, and there has been an accident. Staying on top of the ball and reviewing your auto insurance policy regularly is a step in the right direction towards car insurance bliss.

Ask your friends and family members what car insurance company they go through. For some this is a no brainer, but others don’t ever think to ask. If you feel you can trust your family and friends, and they happen to like the insurance company they’re with, you may like them too! Also, check social media sites and blogs to read reviews and complaints about each company when shopping around. Research the companies you have narrowed your choices down to and see if you can find advice on specific agents to see.

If you are in the process of shopping around, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. As we said before, not all policies are the same, but when comparing prices make sure the policies you are comparing are similar. Make sure the policies are for the same amount of time, coverage amounts, and have the same add ons.

If good, friendly service is important to you, find a local agent that can be your go-to man/woman to get the job done. They’ll be able to take care of all your questions and personalize your policy.

As always, talk with an experienced agent. Vern Fonk works with hundreds of local and national car insurance companies to find our clients the best rates and the best coverage. Give us a call today!

New Year Auto Insurance Tips

new yearIt’s a new year! Time to reflect on last year and make resolutions for the future. Your car insurance policy probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when making plans for your future, but we think it should be towards the top of your list to review. A thorough review of your car insurance policy can help save you hundreds each year on auto insurance premiums.

The first thing you should do is review your coverage amounts on your current auto insurance policy. Do you need to add more coverage or reduce coverage amounts somewhere else? Do you want to add towing coverage or rental car reimbursement if you don’t have it already? Small changes in these amounts can dramatically change the amount of money you’ll pay each month (or 6 months) and also keep you covered where you actually need it.

Take the time to try and find any car insurance discounts you may be eligible for but you’re not currently getting. Every year each car insurance company changes and adds new discount programs. Ask your agent if you qualify for any additional savings.

Are you liability limits high enough? Each state in the U.S. has a minimum requirement of a certain amount of liability coverage per policy, and it’s important to make sure you’re covered at least that amount.

Can you afford a higher or lower deductible? Changing your deductible amount up or down can also save you money on your insurance premium. If you can afford a larger deductible amount it may make sense to raise it. If you can’t afford your deductible if you were to get into a crash right now, it’s too high. Talk with an insurance agent in Washington or Oregon to see what deductible works best with your household budget.

Take the extra time (it shouldn’t take too long) to review your car insurance policy. If you need help, call an agent at Vern Fonk and we’d be happy to help you find a great auto insurance policy for the year 2014!

Winter Driving Tips

Car on Snow-Covered RoadDriving in the winter can get crazy, especially around the holidays. Traffic, especially in the Northwest, get especially congested around Christmas. 2013 has proven to be one of the craziest winter weather years across the nation. Extreme temperatures can hit at any time leaving the roads dangerous for even the most experienced drivers.

Keeping your family, yourself and your car safe should be your #1 priority while navigating the slippery winter roads. As we posted before, taking care of your vehicle can save you a lot of worry and even prevent accidents. Take your car in for a tune up before every winter season.

Your car’s breaks are one of the most important feature to helping you stop quickly and safely. If you know you’re slipping and you don’t have antilock breaks, pump your breaks to get traction if you find that your car is slipping.

snow5The best advice to winter drivers is to keep a safe distance between them and the cars in front of them. Even if you are very confident in winter conditions, other drivers might not be so experienced, so giving yourself some room to make calculated driving decisions is very important if something were to happen. Keep at least a 10 second buffer in front of your car, this way if you hit some black ice you’ll have more time to react and make a good route to get to safety.

As the scouts say, “Be Prepared”. Keep an emergency kit in your car, and keep your gas tank full. Also, make sure your car insurance policy covers your car and your inhabitants from accidents. Having a good auto insurance policy is important all year round, but it is especially important in the winter, when most accidents happen.

Car Winterizing

iStock_000005417609XSmallMost of us prepare our homes for the winter season, by cleaning air filters, gutters and insulating pipes and windows, but have you thought about winterizing your car?  The harsh cold months can really take a toll on your vehicle. Have you ever noticed when you jump in your car on a cold winter morning how it feels a little sluggish? A properly working vehicle is essential for safe driving and staying away from accidents.  Keep your driving record clean with these great winter car tips.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your car during the winter is by keeping a well stocked emergency kit somewhere easily accessible inside your vehicle. Many times when your out and about a surprise winter storm can catch you off guard and you find yourself stranded. Make sure you have a flashlight, extra food, blankets and water for emergencies. Always have a spare tire and the tools needed to make the swap. Keeping extra engine oil, engine coolant and washer fluid bottles is always a good way to be prepared.

suburbanGet your four-wheel drive system checked out at a mechanics before the season starts to make sure everything is working properly. If you have 4WD on your car chances are you don’t use it very often during the rest of the year. Nothing is worse than a faulty 4WD system when you were counting on it getting you out of your snowy driveway or even a ditch.

While you’re getting your 4WD system checked at the mechanics, have them check your belts and hoses for any damage or leaks. Colder temps can weaken these car parts and when they break or snap you’ll be out of luck.  Also, have them test your battery and make sure it is not time to get a new one, and make sure you have the right kind of oil in your car for the temperatures in your geographical area.

Woman on a Cell Phone in a Snow StormAlways keep your gas tank full. If you get stranded having extra gas can help you from freezing to death. Also, empty tanks can cause condensation buildup that can eventually lead to water freezing in your fuel lines and it can block the gas from getting to your engine.

Use your best judgement when venturing outside. If a large storm is coming, stay inside if you can. Keep yourself out of harms way when possible.  Avoiding accidents on wintery roads can save you a lot of money in the long run on your car insurance premiums and accident deductibles.

Winter – Safe Driving Essentials

Well, winter is here, and it may be a little earlier than we expected, but we’ve got to deal with the harsh weather and prepare for the worst. Winter can be a very dangerous time of year, especially for drivers.  As always, using common sense and defensive driving techniques can help you avoid collisions and keep you safe. Here are some other tips for surviving driving in the winter:

Take your car in for a check up. Have a mechanic check your battery, brakes, and fluid levels. This will help you survive in case you get stranded, need to stop on a dime, and keep your car running in optimal condition. A quick check up be the difference between freezing to death and surviving a winter storm.

Keep you gas tank full. Try not to let your gas tank go below half a tank.  This can help your engine parts from freezing and also help you stay warm if your car gets stranded during a storm.

Look into getting all weather tires.  If you can, install snow tires or all-weather tires to make sure your car gets a good grip on the road.

Be prepared. Keep an emergency kit in your car somewhere (usually the trunk).  It is surprising how many people do not have emergency supplies in their vehicles. Store blankets, extra clothes, first aid kit, flashlight, matches (preferably waterproof), jumper cables, chains, extra food (non perishable) and a tool kit.

Drive safely. This may seem like a no brainer, but many people think they are above bad weather driving and drive too fast and recklessly. Always drive a little slower than you think and allow plenty of space between you and the driver ahead of you for stopping. Don’t slam on your breaks if it’s icy out (pump them), and always keep an eye out for pedestrians.

Review your insurance policy. Go over your car insurance policy and make sure you’re covered. If an accident were to happen because of bad weather, you want to make sure you’ve got adequate coverage and an insurance company that will take care of you quickly during these busy times.

As always, use your best judgement and don’t go outside if you’re not comfortable. Stay inside if you can, and always keep safety in mind.

Teen Car Insurance

Car insurance rates for teenagers can be a startling misfortune for their parents. There are, however, ways you can help reduce the car insurance premium for your teenager. Car insurance premiums for teenagers are typically at least double the amount that a typical adult would pay. Younger, less experienced drivers are more likely to be at fault for an accident, and car insurance companies know they are taking on a bigger risk by insuring these drivers.

If you want to make sure you are getting the best car insurance rate for your teenager, you should shop around different companies and also keep in mind these tips:

Send in a report card. Many insurance companies will offer “good student discounts” for drivers currently enrolled in High School or College. Keep those report cards (if they’ve got good grades :) ) and send them in to your insurance agent to be sure you get the best car insurance rates.

Drive Safely. It’s important for every parent to sit down and talk to their teen about safe driving. Texting and driving has become such a problem and is the culprit for countless accidents and even deaths. If your teenager keeps a clean driving record (no tickets or accidents – whether at fault or not) your premium should stay down at the lower level of the rate tier.

Drive a Modest Car. Every teenager wants the coolest car at school. If you want to save money on car insurance, it isn’t wise to buy a brand new vehicle for a teenager. An older car (one that is cheap to fix if damaged) will typically be cheaper than newer cars with more features to fix.

Follow these tips when looking for insurance for your family and hopefully you can save some money to use for your teenagers college! Call a Vern Fonk Insurance agent today to find out how you can save 40% or more on car insurance.

Why do I Need Car Insurance?

Auto insurance is one of the most important purchases someone can make to help safeguard themselves as well as their loved ones. Buying car insurance is a great way to plan for the future and it helps keep you on the path to succeed. Auto insurance can protect you from very expensive and unfortunate accidents.

Car insurance is a tool for success. It can help you:

  • Protect the investment you made in your car
  • Pay for costly medical bills if you’re in an accident
  • Pay for costs accrued from a lawsuit if you’re in an accident
  • Protect your home and property from any damaged caused by a car accident
  • Protect from costly repairs on your car from vandalism
  • Drive through life at ease, knowing you’ll be covered if an accident were to happen. A great stress reliever

Having a basic car insurance policy is required in every state in the nation. Not all auto insurance policies are the same, and it’s important to know exactly what you’re paying for. Skimping on some coverages, just to save some money monthly, can end up costing you a fortune in the long run. Make sure you’ve got the best coverage amounts for your situation in your policy today.

Does a DUI Affect my Insurance Rates?

If you’ve ever received a DUI or DWI, you know that it is a challenging experience to go through. A DUI or DWI on your driving record can mean that you’ll end up paying for it for years after your legal problems have been over.

DUIs Show Up on Driving Records

Depending on what state you live in, if you’ve received a DUI, it can stay on your record for many years.  This means that auto insurance companies will be able to see that you have received a DUI along with any other driving infractions (speeding tickets, reckless driving, accidents, etc).

DUIs Can be Seen as “High Risk”

Insurance companies assess the risk involved for each driver they insure.  The number of infractions one has against themselves raises the amount of “risk” that the insurance company thinks you’ll be.  Insurance companies typically charge more for high risk drivers.

Some insurance companies will not insure “high risk” drivers with DUIs on their record. Vern Fonk Insurance in Washington and Oregon will find you an insurance policy no matter what your driving history looks like.  We are able to find the cheapest rates for “high risk” drivers with DUIs or DWIs on their records.

Vern Fonk Insurance specializes in the “high risk” car insurance market.  We believe everyone deserves a second chance and that they should be able to get insurance at an affordable price.

Call us if you have any other questions about DUIs or DWIs on your record. We can find you the cheapest car insurance rates today!

Retired Cars

Fashion styles come and go.  What’s “in” one season is “out” the next.  The same is pretty true for cars.  Some cars are American classics and will stand the test of time (like the corvette or Mustang), but most will have their time in the sun and quickly fade away.  It’s fun to take a look back on vehicles we’ve seen come and go.  We’ve listed a few models that had their time but have been sadly discontinued:

Mercedes R-Class
Mercedes has always been known for it’s luxurious, upscale, classy cars and SUVs.  The word “mini-van” doesn’t really fit into this category.  Mercedes tried their hand in disguising the mini van as a luxury SUV, but it really just ended up looking like a minivan! At over $50,000 it was an expensive stretch that most soccer moms were just not willing to take. In 2012 they discontinued them.  If you’re dead set on buying one, you can still find hundreds of new vehicles unsold on Mercedes’ lots across the US.

Saab 9-7x
Saab, known for it small zippy cars, tried their hand in the SUV business with the 9-7x.  It looked almost identical to the Chevy TrailBlazer, and the only thing that read “Saab” about it was the logo on the back.  The car was priced too high for the value and failed miserably in sales leading to a quick and painful discontinuation.

Ford Crown Victoria
When you see a Ford Crown Victoria, one of 2 words come to mind: cop or cab.  These cars were used for years as police vehicles and cabs in cities across the United States.  The Crown Victoria is known for its reliability and toughness.  You can purchase a used one and expect it to last you a while.  It was discontinued in 2012.

Honda Element
The Honda Element was a popular car for outdoor enthusiasts and dog owners because of it’s dynamic interior arrangements.  This unique boxy mobile was one of the first of it’s shape and size.  Bikes can be placed inside, standing straight up along with kayaks and all your camping gear.  The Element’s design didn’t change much in the 9 years it was being produced which opened up the hole for competitors to create their updated versions of the small “boxy” SUV.

These are only a few samples of the recently discontinued car and SUV models from US motor companies.  Car insurance rates on these vehicles won’t change just because they have been discontinued, and owners of these vehicles and others will still need good auto insurance policies that can help cover them in the event of an accident. Speak to a Vern Fonk Insurance representative today about finding cheap car insurance in Washington or Oregon today!