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Temperature Rising

summerIs your car ready for the high summer temperatures?  We all get so excited for summer, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, but do you take the time to check your car out and get it ready for the extremes you’ll be putting it through?  It seems like most people in our area take road trips and generally use their car more in the summer because we all want to enjoy the sunshine while it’s here.  Here are a few tips you can use to make sure your car is in tip top condition:

  • Check all the hoses and belts - Hoses and belts can crack and wear down over time. They are what keep the moving parts of your engine running and if one breaks it can take out an entire system. Make sure they are looking good and attached properly.
  • Check your fluids - Fluids are what make everything run smoothly. Check your engine oil level, antifreeze and coolants, windshield fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Overheating is a major issue for most cars in the summer and keeping your vehicle hydrated with the right fluids is key to making sure that doesn’t happen to you.
  • Inspect your tires - Most people think good tread on your tires is just important in the winter. This is very wrong. Tires should be inspected for even tread wear and bald spots and bulges. The correct tire pressure is also important. During the summer more tires are seen blown out on the side of the highway because of people neglecting to take care of them.

These are just a few of the things you can do to protect your car from the heat this year. Remember to drive safely, stay calm and don’t give in to road rage. Having the right auto insurance policy will help ease your mind, especially one that has extra towing or roadside assistance coverage. Call a Vern Fonk Car Insurance agent today for a fast free car insurance quote.

Do I Have Full Coverage?

The term “full coverage” can be a little confusing and misleading. The term Full Coverage in car insurance just means that you have a good combination of Liability, Comprehensive and Collision coverage on your car insurance policy. A well rounded policy can help cover you in nearly any scenario possible.

Collision Coverage. This type of coverage helps pay for damages from actual collision accidents. The collision could be with another vehicle or object (piece of property). Collision coverage covers just your vehicle and gives you the foundation for your full coverage policy.

Liability Coverage. In Washington and Oregon, there are required state minimums of Liability Coverage that must be on your car insurance policy. A lot of times just having the minimum coverage on your policy isn’t enough.  If you get into an accident, and you’re at fault it covers the damages and injury expenses you caused to that person or their property.  Medical bills and car repair bills can add up quickly, especially if more than one other person is involved, so increasing your coverage amounts to the maximum level can be wise.

Comprehensive Coverage. Comprehensive coverage is a great tool to have if something other than a collision happens to your vehicle. It covers you if something due to weather, natural disasters or falling objects damage your car and even covers damages done from fire, broken windshields, theft and vandalism.  Comprehensive coverage is the last piece needed to have “full coverage”.

Those are the 3 major coverage types for coverages to get you started with a “full coverage” car insurance policy. There are many more coverages that you can add to your account to cover you in all situations. Other common types of additional coverages could be:

Uninsured motorist coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage
Personal Injury Protection
Roadside assistance / towing coverage
Rental Car Reimbursement

Depending on what “full coverage” means to you, you’ll need to mix and add different coverages to create a car insurance policy that works for your driving needs and your budget.

Don’t Give In To Road Rage

accidentHeavy traffic along the freeway and highway can test even the calmest of drivers’ patience and temper. Aggressive driving and road rage is a major contributor to serious accidents. Keeping calm and avoiding potential infuriating situations can help you stay clear of the results of road rage.

Road rage “involves a criminal act of violence”. This is what sets it apart from aggressive driving. Aggressive driving can involve speeding, tailgating and even running red lights. Aggressive driving is one of the biggest contributors of all accidents, especially those resulting in fatalities. Experts say that 56% of fatal crashes were caused by “aggressive behavior”.

A lot of insurance companies can exclude liability coverage for at fault accidents caused by road rage. If you are overcome with road rage, and get in an accident, your car insurance company may not pay for the damages.

Road Rage is on the rise. Since 1990 the reported incidents of road rage have increased by over 50%. Teenagers under the age of 19 are typically the most common offenders.

How can you keep yourself from raging? There are many things you can do to stay calm. Here are a few of our suggestions:

#1 Plan Ahead - Leave your home early to allow your self extra time to reach your reach your destination. People often stress more when they are running late and  it’s out of their hands.

#2 Don’t - Don’t give in to the other “annoying” drivers. Don’t glare, gesture offensively, flash your headlights, tailgate, or honk your horn. Don’t park blocking people in or blocking driveways.

#3 Do - Do gesture “I’m sorry” to someone you may have accidentally cut off, avoid eye contact with other drivers, drive the speed limit.

Just remember that it’s not worth it to get all worked up. Most “annoying” drivers don’t know that they’re being annoying, and yelling, gesturing and getting upset can only make the matter worse. The other driver will probably not even notice you trying to “teach” them the right way to drive, and your actions do not end up doing any good.

Stay calm and plan your route before hand. Be prepared and do not engage in other negative behavior. Remember the statistics about accidents and road rage and how they can effect your car insurance coverage. Stay safe out there!

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage is a common term you’ll hear in the auto insurance world. It is one of the most misunderstood terms in the industry. This type of coverage actually doesn’t cover your injuries from a car accident, it helps cover you from the financial burden.

An example to illustrate this would be if you were at fault in an accident that resulted in the death or injury of any other person involved. Bodily injury liability coverage would protect you against the financial responsibility of medical bills, which can add up quickly. It would help pay for the person’s bills and help you avoid going bankrupt.

The typical state minimum for bodily injury liability coverage is $100k/$500k.  This means that it will cover one person’s costs up to $100k, but if there are multiple people involved it will go to a maximum of $500k together.  So the smaller amount covers one person per claim and the larger is for everyone involved int he accident that is injured.

The higher your coverage amounts are for bodily injury liability, the more expensive your premium will be. Having larger limits can be very helpful as these days medical bills can add up quickly. If your coverage limits are reached, and there are still medical bills to pay, the injured person can sue you for the rest of the costs.

If you have any questions about bodily injury liability coverage call Vern Fonk today. We’re the Northwest’s experts in auto insurance.

Parents of Teen Drivers – Safety Tips

Girl DrivingEvery year the number of teen driver related accidents goes up. Sadly this leads to an increased death rate for drivers under the age of 18. It has been reported that teens are three times as likely to be involved in fatal car accidents than all other drivers in the United States.

There are many reasons why teens are at a greater risk and they all mostly come down to maturity. Parts of the brain that control our judgement ability and inhibition aren’t fully developed until a person reaches their mid twenties. Drivers are more inclined to act impulsively without concern of consequences (judgement) when driving down the road. Most teens feel invincible and don’t stop to think that their actions could easily harm others or themselves.

Parents can be a huge influence over their teenager when it comes to driving, whether they think they are listening or not. Typically the vehicle actually belongs to the parent and is their responsibility. Teaching your children that driving is a privilege is important and it can be revoked at any given time. Having regular “talks” with your teen, or even having them sign a written “contract”, can help establish the ground rules and consequences for misbehavior.

Cellphones have become a huge issue with drivers of all ages. Teenagers are at the most risk due to their high usage of texting. Teach your children that any text can wait and that their phone should stay in their pocket or purse until they reach their destination.

Drinking and driving is also a big concern for many parents. Teens aren’t oblivious to the dangers of driving while intoxicated but it still happens. Installing a back up plan with your child, if they were to get in a situation where they needed a ride is crucial to keeping your teenager safe.

Keeping the communication line between you and your driving teenager is extremely important. Teenagers are very impressionable and often follow by example. If you do not have any children, but you know teens, express your feelings on the subject and share your safe driving tips and tricks.

After Accident Checklist

accidentLet’s say you’ve been in a car accident, big or small, what do you do first? Car accidents can get pretty chaotic, even if it’s just a minor fender bender. Following the basic steps lined out below can help make filing your insurance claim fun as smoothly as possible.

Safety first. Before thinking about car insurance, take a minute to make sure everyone involved is safe. If there are any injuries call an ambulance immediately. Make sure your cars are out of harms way, and if they are still running, move them off to the shoulder or a safe area. Stay calm, getting upset can only make the situation worse.

Get off the Road. If the accident is a minor fender bender it is okay to move the cars off to the side of the road. If your vehicle will not move, or it will cause further damage to move it, leave it where it is and get to a safer area. Once you’re in a safe area it is okay to start gathering information from the other driver.

Get the driver’s information. Speak to the other driver involved in the accident. Make sure they are okay, but be careful what you say.  Admitting fault and other parts of your conversation could be used against you when insurance companies get involved. Your car insurance company will need the other driver’s information to start processing your claim.  Here are some of the key things about the other driver to write down somewhere:

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Year, Make Model of their Vehicle and their License Plate Number
  • Their Insurance Company Name and Policy Number

It can also be helpful to take photos of the damage done to your vehicle, their vehicle, the location where it happened and a picture of the people involved with the accident.  If the accident was larger and there were other “witnesses” to the accident, get their information if possible too.  If there was a police officer involved with the accident get their information and the police report number if applicable.

Beautiful happy woman driving her car in the eveningAfter you have gathered all the information you should be able to start the claim process. Call your insurance company immediately and start your claim.  With the right car insurance policy, filing a claim should be pretty fast and easy. Your insurance agent should be able to help you figure everything out and get you back on the road soon.

 

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.