Ten Things to Do to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

As fall is approaching, it is time to start thinking about cold weather and what changes it can have on your daily life. As the winter months get closer, so does the threat of winter weather. Ensuring your car is prepared for winter weather is crucial for keeping yourself safe and your car in good shape. Here are the top ten ways to prepare your car for the winter.  

Change Your Oil/Schedule for Service

One of the most essential things to get your car prepared for the winter is to schedule for a full service appointment. This usually includes an oil change, tire rotation and a general checkup of the car’s basic functions. Regular servicing of your vehicles is a great way to ensure everything is working properly, which is especially important when preparing for winter. 

When getting your car serviced, talk to your mechanic about which oil is right for your car for colder weather. As the weather gets colder, oil tends to thicken and may not lubricate your engine as well. 

Check Your Heater and Defroster

The functionality of your heater and defroster are essential for getting through the winter. Have your mechanic inspect your heating system and defroster before the weather gets cold – just in case there is anything that needs to be fixed (before you actually need it). For example, a broken defroster can be dangerous in cold weather since it can obstruct your field of vision. 

Check Your Coolant Levels

Coolant helps to prevent your engine from freezing and cracking. It also ensures that everything stays lubricated and doesn’t become corroded. Check your coolant levels regularly to ensure proper function. You can test your coolant’s freeze protection by using a ‘coolant tester’ to make sure you are ready for cold weather. 

Check Your Tires

As the weather gets colder, the air pressure in your tires may decrease. Check your tire pressure regularly during the winter to ensure you are not at risk of getting a flat tire. Luckily, most newer cars can automatically detect low tire pressure and will notify you.

If you live in an area that is prone to heavy snow like ours, consider investing in snow tires. Snow tires will improve your traction so you can drive through snowy areas more easily. Snow tires can be used in the winter months as opposed to all-season tires which can be used for the rest of the year. If you are considering snow tires, make sure you are aware of any installation fees that may come with them. 

Test Your Car Battery

If you find yourself stuck in the snow, a dead car battery is a worst-case scenario. If you have an older battery, have your mechanic check the charge levels to ensure that it is working properly. Make sure the battery has enough water and that the connections are corrosion-free. Regardless of the health of your battery, always keep jumper cables in your car just in case (see our auto emergency kit recommendations below)

Consider Winter Wiper Blades

For heavy snow areas, it may be necessary to invest in winter wiper blades. Regular wiper blades can easily get covered with snow which affects their performance. Winter wiper blades are usually wrapped with a rubber casing that prevents snow from sticking. Luckily, they are affordable and can be used interchangeably with your regular wiper blades. 

Lubricate Areas That Will Easily Freeze

In extremely cold weather, certain areas in your car may freeze or become stiff. Window tracks and weather stripping are the first areas to freeze since water can seep in. Once that water freezes, it can freeze your door shut and lock you out of your car. Latches, hinges and door locks are also prone to freezing. Dry Teflon spray, silicone spray or graphite lubricant all work well for use on vehicle parts to prevent freezing. 

Have a Basic Survival Kit 

Regardless of the weather, it is essential to have a survival kit in your car in case of an emergency. This is especially crucial in the winter due to blizzard conditions and icy roads. Here are some must-have items needed for every car survival kit:

  • LED Flashlight
  • Jumper Cables
  • Hat, Gloves and Extra Shoes
  • Cat Litter or Safety Absorbent
  • First-Aid kit
  • Tire Repair Kit
  • Tire Chains
  • Shovel
  • Ice Scraper
  • Flares and/or reflective caution road markers
    (Note: if you are using road flares, remember to practice safety when lighting them. https://www.wikihow.com/Light-a-Road-Flare

Don’t forget to bring some bottled water with you on longer trips as well.

Know What to do in Winter Emergencies

If you get stuck in the snow or caught in blizzard conditions, make sure you know what to do during an emergency. If you are stuck, stay with your vehicle and call for help. Put on extra clothing to stay warm and run the car periodically. Use flares if need be and make sure to stay hydrated. 

Four-Wheel Drive

If you have a car with four-wheel drive, ensure that you know how to use your four-wheel drive system and that everything is working properly. Since four-wheel drive systems are not used in the summer months, make sure everything activates properly beforehand. 

Overall

Overall, gearing up for the winter months may require extra maintenance and preparation for your vehicle. Taking these steps will help keep you safe and secure during the winter months, while also ensuring your vehicle is in good shape. If you are looking for insurance for your auto, please contact us today for a free quote or visit our website to learn more. 

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Finding the Best Insurance Coverage for Your Antique Automobile

Just like a fine wine, some of our greatest material possessions gain value over time. This is true of exceptional antique automobiles. Your antique automobile must be protected in all ways, from suitable shelter to ample insurance coverage.

 

When insuring an antique auto, there are many considerations to make. Equip yourself by exploring the specific aspects of selecting antique automobile insurance.

 

Understand the Terminology

The first step is understanding the vocabulary used when discussing collectible antique vehicles. What is the difference between a classic, vintage and antique car? 

 

It is important to understand that there is not a single definition that is accepted in all situations. Many state Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV’s), insurance companies and distinctive car clubs classify the terms differently. However, there are widely-accepted distinctions between the categories that should be known:

 

 

  • Antique:  The Antique Automobile Club of America denotes an antique automobile as one being 50 years old or older. (Some organizations begin the distinction at 45). This classification includes the Veteran Era, the Brass Era, and the Vintage Era. 
  • Classic: The Classic Car Club of America designates cars between 30-49 years old as classic cars. 
  • Historic: Automobiles may be placed in the category of “historic” or “historical vehicle” if 25 years or older or 15 years or older and no longer manufactured. 
  • Vintage:  An automobile may receive this title if it was manufactured between the years 1919 and 1930. 

 

Understand the Qualifications

Does age alone qualify a vehicle for these classifications of distinction? Absolutely not. If this were true, every junkyard would be filled with antique and classic cars. To achieve the designation of antique, classic or historic, insurance companies are looking for these additional qualifications:

 

  • Limited Use: The vehicle cannot be used for everyday commuting or for running errands or other common purposes. The vehicle is driven rarely and for specific reasons. You may be required to show proof of ownership of a primary car for everyday use.
  • Properly sheltered: Many insurance policies require you to show that the car is adequately stored. The garage or building must protect your vehicle from the elements and the likelihood of damage or theft.
  • Increase of value over time: Unlike the majority of automobiles that depreciate in value due to customary use and wear, a distinctive antique or classic car will actually appreciate over the years. This vehicle is an investment worthy of the highest levels of protection.

 

Understand the Process

Once you have educated yourself on the terminology and qualifications for antique vehicles, you are ready to make a wise decision in insuring your automobile. Follow these steps to achieve maximum insurance coverage:

 

  • Know your own priorities and goals:
    Review your dreams and objectives in investing in an antique car. Do you want to enjoy the look and feel of your car for the pleasure of yourself and your family? Would you like to take the car for short rides and share it with friends? Are car shows and travel in your future? Have a clear vision of what you want from your experience in determining your insurance needs.
  • Select an insurance company that understands antique cars:
    Not all insurance companies are alike. Some companies have little knowledge or experience in protecting the specialized needs of car collectors or antique car enthusiasts. Shop for companies that have a great record in classic and antique cars (like us, Bieritz Insurance!).
  • Find someone who can answer your questions:
    Now that you know what you need and have narrowed your field of companies, find one that is willing to discuss all of your questions. Is the company capable of raising the coverage as the value increases? Are there members on staff that have a specialized knowledge of collectible vehicles who can address situations as they arise? Is there an adequate allowance for unique towing and repair needs?

 

Does the policy being offered allow for the number of car shows and travel that you will require? Coverage can vary widely on allowances for travel to car shows and other venues. These qualifications must be explicitly stated within the policy. Exclusions can be made that would preclude you from traveling to these shows, or may require towing to do so. 

 

You want to fully enjoy the privilege and pleasure of owning an antique vehicle. Educating yourself goes a long way in selecting the insurance coverage that is right for you. 

 

Don’t leave your specialized insurance needs to anyone but the professionals. We at Bieritz stand ready to share our extensive knowledge and insurance options with you. We will help you get the most out of your investment. Contact us today at our website at bieritzinsurance.com/contact-us

 

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Common Questions about Motorcycle Insurance

If you already have a motorcycle, are planning on getting your motorcycle license or are planning on purchasing a motorcycle in the near future, you may want to read this. Though motorcycles can travel on the same road that all types of passenger and commercial vehicles, insurance with motorcycles works a little bit differently.

 

Here is an overview of some of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle insurance.

 

How is a motorcycle insurance policy different from auto insurance?

There are a few key ways that motorcycle insurance is different from car insurance: 

  • It can be more expensive than car insurance depending on the type of motorcycle you purchase and the type of protection you want.
  • Personal injury protection is not mandatory but is a good idea should you have an accident.
  • You need added coverage if you plan on taking passengers. 
  • There are different coverage add-ons than with car insurance.

 

First and foremost, you should realize that motorcycle insurance can cost more than your standard car insurance. This is for the obvious reason that motorcycle drivers are at much higher risk of an accident than people driving passenger vehicles. Motorcycles are more costly to insure because motorcyclists are up to 27 times more likely to die in traffic accidents and have a 5 times higher risk of injury (Source iii.org). 

 

Unlike passenger vehicles, motorcycles offer virtually no protection to riders when they are on the open road. In the event of an accident, motorcycle riders are usually thrown completely off of their vehicles. This dramatically increases the likelihood of an injury. If a motorcycle is in an accident with a passenger vehicle, there is a far greater likelihood that the motorcycle driver will be seriously injured, more so than the passengers in a passenger vehicle. There is a form of personal injury insurance called PIP (Personal Injury Protection) that is made available to motorcycle drivers and motorists, which help cover you in the event of an accident involving a serious injury.

 

With standard automotive insurance, the passengers in your vehicle are usually covered unless you have basic liability coverage that states otherwise. Motorcycles are considered to be a mode of transportation for just one person, which means you need to add guest passenger liability insurance if you expect you are going to have passengers on your motorcycle. Bear in mind that this  insurance option covers passenger injuries, but only if you are not the person liable or responsible for their injuries. You can also add medical payments coverage which will cover injuries to your passengers regardless of the fault of you or the other driver.

 

What are some of the things you need to keep in mind when purchasing your policy? 

Keep in mind that the more expensive your motorcycle is, the more expensive your insurance will be. Make sure to ask your insurance agent or company about add-ons to your policy for passengers or special forms of insurance. If you aren’t going to be driving your motorcycle year-round, let them know so you can set up different insurance for the times of year you aren’t riding.

 

What if you Drive Your Motorcycle less than 6 Months Per Year? 

Insurance companies realize that you may live in a climate where it isn’t safe and it doesn’t make sense to ride your motorcycle 12 months out of the year. If that is the case for you, you can get laid up insurance. Laid up insurance offers insurance coverage for your motorcycle against fire, theft and other threats associated with storing your bike for cooler months of the year and putting your bike into winter storage. Keep in mind that laid up the insurance is less expensive than your normal insurance when you are riding, but you will not be covered by your insurance if you take your bike out during this time period when it is supposed to be stored.

 

Are there greater discounts for participating in safety courses? 

Taking and successfully completing a motorcycle safety course can give you greater discounts on your insurance rates. Make sure to ask your insurance company to see which courses they approve of, and how much completing those courses could lower your insurance bill.

 

Are there best practices for protecting your motorcycle? 

Make sure to park your motorcycle in safe, well-lit areas where motorcycle parking is designated or permitted. You may want to take a waterproof motorcycle cover with you to protect it when it is parked outdoors.

 

Motorcycles can be a great way to get around in the warmer months, but make sure you keep in mind the additional costs for insurance and safety equipment.  If you have more questions about motorcycle insurance, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance.  We will be happy to help you.  

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Benefits of Bundling Home and Auto Policies

 

When you’re in the market for insurance, the choices can seem overwhelming. If you’re looking for multiple types of insurance, it may make the most sense to bundle them or buy them all from the same company. This is often done with homeowner’s and automobile insurance. Depending on the company you are working with, you may be able to bundle additional insurance types, such as a personal umbrella policy. There are many reasons to consider bundling your homeowner’s and auto insurance together. 

 

 

Benefits of bundling

Just as with purchasing any insurance, you need to do your research to evaluate prices and coverage. Often times it makes sense to bundle for the following reasons: 

  • It is cost effective. 
    Most insurance carriers will offer a discount when you bundle your homeowner’s and automobile insurance policies. The actual discount varies by insurer but is usually between five and 25 percent – a great incentive for additional coverage and a solid discount.
  • It is convenient.
    Bundling your insurance policies together makes things much easier for you. It makes it easier to manage multiple policies as you may only need one login and password and it reduces paperwork. This also saves you time and headaches because you only need to deal with a single carrier instead of multiple carriers with multiple policies.
  • Making changes are easier.
    By working with just one company, changing or adding to your policies will also be much easier. Your agent will have a good handle on your situation and be able to make it easier to add insurance, apply discounts and add endorsements. This relationship will be more and more beneficial over time as things in your life change.
  • It can give you access to unique product tiers or more complex bundles.
    If you decide to combine all of your policies, insurers will usually offer more complex bundles or unique product tiers. They may offer one product package to cover all your insurance needs. Most home and auto insurers offer insurance in other specialized areas of personal property protection as well. Unique product tiers are helpful for cutting out paperwork, wrapping it all into a single bill and could reduce everything to just a single deductible.

Things to consider

  • The price of your home.
    If you have a higher value home, you could get a higher discount for bundling home and auto insurance.
  • The price of your vehicle.
    The opposite is true for a luxury vehicle, which can drive up bundled premiums. This is because of how expensive it can be to repair these types of cars. It could be better in this case to have separate policies.
  • Where you live.
    People who live in safer places will probably save more money than those in high-risk flood and other disaster areas.

 

Bundling your home and auto insurance can have great benefits, but it all comes down to your specific circumstances and working closely with your insurance agent. Contact our team at Bieritz Insurance today to find the best policies for you!

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Understanding Rental and Non-Owned Vehicle Insurance

Everyone wants assurance that he or she is fully protected on the road. Most drivers understand the need for comprehensive, reputable insurance when driving their own vehicles. When you must drive a rental vehicle or operate one that is not your own, having a clear understanding of insurance regulations and coverage in these situations is vital. Don’t be blindsided by finding yourself not as fully covered as you thought. Educate yourself on how insurance works for rentals and other non-owned vehicles, and find out why Bieritz Insurance Agency is a strong choice for all of your insurance needs.

Knowledge is Power

This cannot be stressed enough. Do your research before operating any vehicle that is not your own or lending a vehicle to others. Conduct a thorough review of your own policy, and take the time to call your insurance company to review your level of coverage, especially if you are considering lending your car to someone else. Clarify the specifics of your policy, such as deductibles, coverage limitations and coverage for rental vehicles.

Honesty is Key

When speaking with your agent, be forthright. Let your agent know the specifics of your situation, even if you are considering lending your convertible to your second cousin for prom. You may know that seems risky, and may not want to be upfront, but it is critical that you review the situation with your company’s representative as fully and honestly as possible. Factors such as age or the frequency of lending may affect the car’s coverage.

Basics are important

Clarify with your provider about how your insurance coverage works, so that there is no costly misunderstanding. Also, be sure to review how insurance is applied in the main categories of operating a non-owned car:

Coverage for Rented Vehicles:

Many rental companies will lure you in with a great weekly rate, then pressure you to add on rental insurance. If you have already done your homework and thoroughly reviewed your own policy, you will be ready to make a wise decision. Under most comprehensive policies, you have coverage for vehicles that are similar to your own. However, if you are on a blowout vacation that includes a luxury or brand new vehicle, your policy for your ten-year-old sedan may leave gaps. In this case, rental insurance is wise, even if it doubles the cost of the rental. Rental companies can tack on fees and penalties in the case of an accident that won’t be covered by the renter’s insurance. Also, if you are reserving and paying for the rental by credit card, the credit card may provide secondary or gap insurance. Take time to find out.

It is important to weigh out all of these considerations when renting any vehicle. Make decisions ahead of time so that you will not succumb to pressure at the counter.

Coverage for Borrowed Vehicles:

The basic rule of thumb is, insurance follows the car, not the driver. In most situations, the insurance policy on the car will cover the car when it is borrowed. A comprehensive policy should include situations of lending or renting the vehicle. A deductible will be required. It should be worked out ahead of time who will pay the deductible in case of an accident. An awkward conversation at the beginning is better than an angry confrontation later. In all cases, make sure that the vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance is kept conveniently in the glove compartment for easy retrieval.

What if the borrowed vehicle is involved in a major accident, such as causing the pile-up of several cars? In the event that an accident exceeds the limitations of the owner’s policy, a claim can then be filed with the driver’s insurance company in order to cover the gaps. This is why it is important not to lend to an uninsured driver unless you specifically purchase short-term insurance. This insurance, known as Endorsement 27, covers “civil liability for damage caused to vehicles of which named insured is not owner” and is provided by many companies.

Considerations of the proper insurance in times of renting, borrowing or lending a vehicle are important, yet complex. If you have need to rent or hire a vehicle, turn to the professionals for guidance. Call on Bieritz Insurance Agency to provide you with the information and insurance services that you need. We offer a wide-range of vehicle coverage products and possess the knowledge to help you make decisions that will save time, money and headache, even in most challenging situations. We have the ability to offer our clients a multitude of options because we work with over twenty providers to find exactly the right product to fit the need.

Contact Bieritz Insurance today in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or by email at agent@bieritzinsurance.com. You may also reach our office in Morris at 607-263-5270 or at agent@morrisinsuranceny.com.

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Commercial vs. Personal Auto Insurance –  Which One Is Right For You? 

The line between commercial and personal auto insurance policies can be a little blurry. If you’re a business owner, then you understand the importance behind every decision you make. If you’re wondering whether you should purchase commercial or personal auto insurance, we’re here to help. 

What is the main difference? 

 

The biggest difference between commercial and personal auto insurance policies is their liability coverage. Commercial auto insurance covers accidents that happen while you or your employees are operating a vehicle for business needs. Business needs could be things like transporting products, clients, or materials.  A commercial policy is also quite broad and can include many people. All of your employees can be on your commercial auto insurance policy as long as they all have valid driver’s licenses. 

 

Personal auto insurance is meant for the vehicles that you own and that you use for your own needs. Liability coverage will be lower because there will be less vehicles and people involved. The details of the policy will be pretty simple because it’s just for the few vehicles that you own. You can decide on specifics like comprehensive collision, underinsured driver coverage, and what liability limits are best for you. 

 

Commercial auto insurance 

Take a look at these tasks. If you use a vehicle regularly to complete tasks like these, then commercial auto insurance is definitely the best option for you. 

  • Transport products 
  • Transport employees and clients 
  • Charge passengers to ride in the vehicle 
  • Transport large loads for your business 
  • Use your vehicle with a tow 
  • Use your vehicle to perform a service that you’re paid for 

 

A commercial auto insurance policy can have higher liability limits than any personal policy. It can give you high protection if you are ever in any legal challenge regarding a vehicle accident. 

 

If you don’t own multiple business vehicles and your employees use their own vehicles to perform business services, there is an option for that situation as well. You can purchase a “hired non-owned” policy. This means that those vehicles will be protected, even though they are not owned by your business. Many business owners go this route because it’s cheaper and it eliminates some of the stress from their shoulders. 

 

Both corporate companies and independent contractors need auto insurance, but the policies will differ slightly. Corporate companies will need to insure thousands of people because of their size, while independent contract companies will mostly likely be insuring a lower number of people. Liability coverage will most likely need to be higher for corporate companies. These specifics can be ironed out with your insurer based upon the policies that are offered. 

 

Personal auto insurance 

Personal auto insurance will only cover accidents that happen while you’re driving for personal reasons. These personal reasons can be things you do every day, like commuting to work or going to the grocery store. These policies only insure the owner of the vehicle and immediate family members that are added to the policy. You can add several people to a personal policy, but it’s not meant for twenty people. Commercial policies are designed for those high numbers. 

 

In some cases, personal auto insurance will be enough for some sole proprietors. If you only use your vehicle for business purposes very infrequently, your insurer may be able to change your personal coverage slightly to meet those needs. You may end up paying a little bit more per month, but having protection is definitely worth it. This all depends on who your insurer is and what kind of adjustments they can make for you. 

 

Heavy-duty vehicles 

If you use a heavy vehicle for your business, then you will need a heavy-duty vehicle policy. Insurers have different policies for these vehicles because their weight will cause more damage in an accident than a “normal” vehicle. Any vehicle that weighs more than five tons or transports more than a one-ton load is considered heavy-duty and will require special insurance. These vehicles include tow trucks, buses, cement mixers, and semi-trucks. 

 

If you use these heavy vehicles in your business, your policy will need to have a liability limit high enough to cover damages. If you’re unsure about your policy and what its liability limits are, you should speak with someone from our team – we are happy to answer any of your questions. 

 

Looking to purchase insurance? 

Contact Bieritz Insurance Agency today! We offer an assortment of products for all your insurance needs. Our staff is dedicated to working with you to procure the best possible policy at the best price. Our offices are located in Cooperstown and Morris, New York. You can contact us at our Cooperstown office at (607)-547-2951 or at our Morris office at (607)-263-5170. Click here to find out more about our company and to make an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Understanding Automobile Collision Insurance

When it comes to automobile insurance, it’s important to understand your policies. You want to have enough coverage should something happen, but at the same time you don’t want to pay for coverage you don’t need. There are different options available to you and it’s important that you understand them.

collision insurance

Collision insurance coverage is something you need to consider as part of your policy. It has many benefits, but it needs to be under the right circumstances. There are certain things you need to understand about collision coverage and things you need to evaluate about your own vehicle before you decide about moving forward. Take a look at the information below to see what you need to do.

What you need to know about collision insurance coverage

– It’s optional. 

The first thing is that you need to understand this type of coverage. Collision insurance coverage is not required by state law like other types of insurance. For this type of coverage, you can decide for yourself if it’s something you want. If you still have a loan though, your lender will probably insist that you maintain collision coverage and may add it to your loan if you don’t purchase it. 

– What it covers.

Collision insurance can help you in certain accidents. If you have a collision with either another vehicle or hit a stationary object, your vehicle could have a lot of damage. Collision insurance helps to repair or replace your vehicle in these cases. 

This type of insurance is also very helpful in case the other person caused the collision and is uninsured. You may have issues getting the funds from someone who isn’t insured, so collision insurance will be able to help you in this case.

– There is a deductible. 

Usually you would be able to choose the amount of your deductible when you buy coverage. Your deductible should be an amount that you can easily pay in the event of an accident. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be, so keep that in mind. 

– There is a limit. 

Keep in mind that there is a limit to the amount that your collision insurance will pay. It will only pay up to the value of your vehicle. It is possible that your vehicle could cost more to fix than it is valued. 

Do I need it?

– Consider your specific vehicle. 

The decision to drop collision coverage is not one to take lightly. It is also one that is different for everyone and depends on your individual circumstances. 

When deciding whether or not to have or drop collision insurance, you need to know the actual value of your vehicle. This is a great place to start. Most people are likely to drop this coverage once their car is at least eight years old, according to analysis from Insurance.com. If you decide to drop your coverage, it should mean that you’re able to function without the car or you can replace it on your own.

Personal finance writer Kathy Kristof suggests to weigh the coverage cost against the replacement cost. If you pay 10 percent or more of the replacement cost of your vehicle for collision coverage, you might want to consider dropping it. In order to determine this, you need to know the worth of your vehicle.

– How to figure out the value of your vehicle. 

Kelley Blue Book is an authority on vehicle value. You will need to do is enter in your vehicle’s year, make, model, mileage and zip code. Then answer some questions about your specific car and you will be able to determine your car’s trade-in value.

– Consider your savings and budget.

When you make any sort of purchase, consider how the cost will affect your budget. You should also take into account how much you have in your savings. Could you replace your car if you had to on your own?

Collision insurance can be a valuable asset in times of need. Make sure you understand your policy and if your vehicle should be covered under this protection. Work closely with your insurance company to fully understand what you need. Contact our Team for more information.

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Understanding Collision Coverage and How to Decide If You Need It

collision coverage

Auto insurance is a necessity in some states and can be extremely beneficial in specific circumstances. With that said, every driver has different needs, so finding the right coverage is necessary to ensure you are protected financially, but at the same time you’re not overpaying for coverage you don’t need. If you drive an older model car, it can be tempting to drop your collision coverage to save money. Find out if you should consider dropping collision on your auto insurance.  

 

Understanding the Types of Insurance

There are several types of insurance with each intended to address different needs. Some states require drivers to carry specific types of auto insurance coverage. After you have whatever policies you are required to carry, you can adjust the other coverage you choose to have.

Liability

Liability coverage pays for damage to other vehicles, people and property you caused while behind the wheel. For example, liability coverage could pay the medical or repair bills if you hit a pedestrian, another vehicle or a mailbox. Most states require drivers to carry liability coverage at a minimum.

Collision

Auto collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. Your collision coverage will pay the repair bills for damage to your vehicle if you caused the accident. If other drivers are involved and their vehicles are damaged, those repair costs fall under your liability insurance. If another driver hit your vehicle and that individual is found at fault, then their insurance policy would cover the cost to repair your vehicle.

Comprehensive

Many auto insurance policies also offer comprehensive coverage. This is coverage designed to cover damage caused by something other than an auto accident. Vandalism, hail or a tree branch landing on your vehicle are the sorts of things covered by comprehensive coverage.

Premiums and Deductibles

Any discussion about auto insurance needs to address premiums and deductibles. A premium is the bill you pay just to have insurance coverage. A deductible is the amount of a claim you are responsible to pay. Once you pay the deductible, your insurance policy will cover the balance. For example, if you cause an accident that results in a $500 repair bill and you have a $250 deductible, you pay your deductible and then your insurance provider will pay the remaining amount.


Finding the Value in Collision Coverage

Collision coverage may not be worth it for you; although, going without may not be a good idea either. A couple factors can help guide you when deciding whether or not to carry collision coverage: your savings and your vehicle. Dropping collision coverage means you need to foot the bill if your vehicle is damaged or be willing to take the loss.

Pay for Repairs

If you have enough of a savings and can afford to make repairs to your vehicle then you may not need collision. This may be an easier decision for owners of older vehicles, because older cars are usually less expensive to repair. Opting for used parts can be a great way to keep costs down and keep repair work in an affordable range.

Cut Your Losses

Collision may be an unnecessary expense for older vehicles with a low value. If the cost to make repairs is greater than the value of the vehicle, most insurance companies will not pay for the repair work. When selecting coverage for an older vehicle with a diminished value, pay attention to how much coverage you choose and consider if it is even worthwhile to have coverage.

Dropping collision coverage can be a great way to save money. This can be particularly helpful if you plan to purchase a new car in the near future. You can use that money saved on collision to put towards your new vehicle.

Other Options

You do have other options if you’re not comfortable completely dropping your collision coverage. You can always adjust your deductible. Deductibles and premiums tend to balance each other out. Opting for a high deductible will decrease your premium, but going with a lower deductible will increase your premium.

You can choose to go with a lower premium which will save you money throughout the year. However, a low premium means a high deductible. If you tend to not have accidents, this can be a good plan to ensure you still have coverage, but you’re not paying a lot. When ever you go with a higher deductible you need to be prepared to cover that cost if you should have an accident.

Finding the Right Fit

Dropping your collision auto insurance can save money. There are a number of reasons why it may make sense to drop your collision coverage. Typically, this is only a good idea for safe drivers of older model vehicles, but each case is different. When you understand your needs and circumstances you can determine what coverage makes the most sense for you and go from there.  If you have questions about your auto policy, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance and we will be happy to assist you!

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Is December the Best Time to Buy a New Car?

For many people, shopping for a new car is a process. Because this is a massive purchase that will last for many years, it’s imperative that you find the perfect vehicle for your needs. However, if you’re not too savvy, then how can you be sure that you’re going to get a great deal?

Fortunately, automakers and dealerships are always adding incentives to help move their stock and get people into their vehicles. Thus, if you know the best time of the year to buy a car, you could wind up saving big time as a result.

So, with that in mind, here are the best times to buy a new car.

During a Sale

It may seem obvious, but the fact is that more than a few people miss out because they don’t time their shopping experience with a dealership’s sale. Even if one isn’t happening right now, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be one later on in the year. Most dealerships have quotas that they need to fill, meaning that sales are always around the corner.

At the End of the Month

Although there are particular times of the year when buying a new car is best (more on that in a bit), if you’re going to buy one during the peak season, you want to avoid the beginning of the month.

As we mentioned, dealerships typically have quotas, which means that at the end of the month they are more motivated to sell a car than at the beginning. Thus, if you wait a couple of weeks and pick your time right, you could wind up with a lower price tag or bonus incentives to get you behind the wheel.

The Holiday Season

Usually, auto manufacturers announce their upcoming lineup in September. That means that dealerships have to be aggressive to move their inventory to make room for all of the latest makes and models.

Between October and December is an excellent time to buy a car because you can usually save a lot on this year’s models. Also, this is often when dealerships start offering their year-end sales, which makes it even more enticing for the average buyer.

Although all three months are great for car buying, December is usually the best. Here’s why.

Christmas Savings – because everyone is shopping around this time, dealerships know to take advantage as much as possible. Thus, they will offer more discounts or incentives, particularly for peak shopping days, such as Black Friday.

Slower Traffic – usually, people want to buy a new car in the Spring and Summer months because it’s much nicer out. However, that means that you have to compete with everyone else to ensure that you get the best deal. During December, however, that foot traffic slows down, which enables you to get more personalized attention. Usually, having more one-on-one time, coupled with lower sales numbers means that you can get a better sales experience.

New Year’s Eve – once the calendar year has finished, that’s it for quotas and sales counts. Thus, the closer you wait until the end of the year, the better the deals can get. Motivated salespeople are going to offer greater incentives, so being patient can pay off substantially.

Other Considerations When Buying a Car

Although picking the best time of year to find a new vehicle is an excellent way to save money, that shouldn’t be your only concern. As we mentioned, buying a car is a process, and you want to make sure that you take as much care with your purchase as possible.  Thus, keep these factors in mind as well.

Current Vehicle

What is the state of your car right now? Does it have a few good years left, or is it hanging by a thread? If it’s the latter situation, then you’ll have to be a bit more aggressive in your search, since you don’t want to be stuck with a lemon and have to buy something right away.

Trade-In Value

If your current vehicle is in excellent condition, then what can you get for it? Be careful to consider how much you may owe on the car, especially if it’s more than it’s worth (in this case, it’s upside down).  A great way to check on this is to run your make and model through a car evaluation site like Kelly Blue Book. Also, talk to dealerships about any trade-in offers they may have. Some places may have better incentives than others, so don’t be afraid to shop around.

Insurance

As you already know, buying a car is not a one-time purchase. No, we’re not referring to making monthly payments (although that is a consideration). Instead, we’re talking about all of the other costs and expenses that come with owning a vehicle.  Insurance rates should be a factor when buying a new car. In fact, you should talk with your insurance agent first to get their input on what will be the best for your premiums. Some makes and models are better than others, so you want to make sure that your rates aren’t going to increase as a result.

Contact Bieritz Insurance

If you’re ready to buy a new car, contact us today, and we can help you find a model that will keep your rates low. We know that the experience can be exciting, but it’s crucial to do your due diligence first so that you can be proud of your purchase. We’re here to help!

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Teaching Your Teen to Drive

teaching your teen to driveHaving a new driver in your family can be a nerve-wracking experience.  As a parent, your mind somehow jumps to all of the things that can possibly go wrong, and how your newly-permitted driver is yet unequipped to handle different situations in a car.  Teaching your teen to drive takes patience and the ability to be objective – you need to provide guidance instead of criticism. We hope the following five tips will help you as you wind your way through these sometimes stressful moments!

Stay Calm
No matter what happens, it is important to remain calm.  Yes, grab the uh-oh handle and step on the imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side of the car if you must, but take a deep breath and remain calm.  Dealing with situations on the road are stressful enough for a new driver and losing your cool won’t help.  If you need to calm yourself, find a good place to pull over and take a walk around the car until you are ready to continue.

Talking to Your Teen Respectfully (i.e. Don’t Yell – Ever)
Instead of saying “You need to slow down more around corners”, maybe go with something along the lines of “How do you feel you handled that last turn?”.  Your job as a driving instructor is different from that of a parent.  Your job is to get them to think for themselves about what they are doing and how to make adjustments to stay safe on the roads.  Be respectful and make them think.

Allowing Them to Learn in a Multitude of Situations
Yes, it is snowing and the roads may be slick.  It’s dark and foggy and the visibility is poor.  It’s pouring rain out and the windshield wipers are a bit wonky on the car.  It’s rush hour and there’s a lot of traffic on the highway.  There’s always a good excuse to opt to not allow your teen to drive, but dealing with these situations will help to make them better drivers.  Knowing how to handle a snowy roadway or a busy highway is important and the only way for them to learn to navigate these situations well is by giving them the opportunity to practice.  It may not be the most comfortable experience for you, but it is important for them.

Know the Rules of the Road
If you passed your test 30 years ago, you should definitely take a look through the manual as a refresher. Knowing the rules of the road will be part of the drivers test and if you aren’t familiar with the rules (some things may be different), you can’t  adequately guide your teenager – and you may even mislead them into thinking that something they are doing is okay when it is not.

It’s Not About How to Operate a Car
Driver education is not about how the car works.  Things like how to change a tire or checking the fluid levels, tire pressure, etc. are important to know, but it’s a different part of the new driver training.  Every car is a little bit different in where things are, how they handle, etc., but it’s also mostly the same.  Operating a vehicle and driving safely are two different things.

Focus on the Main Things:
The four main items to spend your time on are speed, space, observation and communication.  If you can get your teen to be thinking of these whenever they get behind the wheel, you will be well on your way to training a safe driver.  If they can master these four things during their training, then you have done your job.

Extra Bonus Insurance Tip: A teen or young adult with a learner’s permit in New York State accompanied by a licensed adult supervisor does not need to have their own insurance policy. Once they become a licensed driver, they should be added to your policy or you can consider getting them their own insurance.

If you have any insurance-related questions, please feel free to contact our team at Bieritz Insurance – 209 Main Street in Cooperstown (607-547-02951) or at Morris Insurance, 128 Main Street in Morris (607-263-5170).

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Storm Season Driving Safety

Most of the summer months are dedicated to storm season.  In between the days that are perfect for the beach, with blue and yellow skies, are days full of heavy rain, winds, and flooding, with the occasional–for Upstate New York–hailstorm, tornado, and hurricane.  These weather conditions, in combination with increased vacationing travel, road work, and presence of motorcycles and bikes on the roads, contribute to a higher average of fatal accidents taking place in the summer rather than the winter.  At times like these, we find ourselves wanting to know how we can maximize driving safety.  Below, you will find a list of summertime storm hazards, and ways you can alter your driving to better ensure safety in each of them.

But first, here are a some general staples for driving in severe weather:

  1. Knowing the weather conditions and predictions for where and when you are traveling can help you mentally prepare for potentially unpleasant conditions.
  2. Planning a few back-up routes can also contribute to less stress.
  3. Limiting noise distractions from various devices and conversation can make room for more focus.
  4. You can always choose not to drive at all or to wait out the storm off the road.
  5. Slowing down and increasing the travel distance between surrounding vehicles can minimize the threat of hydroplaning and can allow more comfort, space, and time to react to traffic and road conditions.  
  6. Cleaning your windows and checking your wipers once a month, checking the washer fluid once a week, and checking your lights and signals every day may be time-consuming, but it can contribute to feelings of ease during a drive if you don’t end up worrying about visibility–either your ability to see out of your windows, or your car’s ability of been seen.
  7. Newer cars may have front lights that engage when the windshield wipers are on, but the back lights don’t activate as well, so turning on the regular lights enables your vehicle to be seen from both directions.

 

Summertime Storm Hazards & Safety Tips

  • Strong Winds – These can turn automobiles over, especially larger ones, or move them across lanes into each other or off the road.
    • Winds may be more forceful in open areas, highway overpasses, tunnels, and tunnel-like spaces such as between mountains, so it may be helpful to know and stay alert in these areas.  .
    • While driving, locate and try to maintain distance from larger vehicles and motorcycles.
    • Hold steadily onto the wheel, especially if you are occupying a larger vehicle.
  • Heavy Rain – This can inhibit visibility and threaten your control over steering and braking if there is enough water and you start to hydroplane
    • If you wait for a half hour after the rain begins, the oils and dirt that may have made roads more slippery for hydroplaning will have dissipated.  
    • Try to follow in the tracks of the car ahead of you to reduce the likelihood of hydroplaning.
    • Avoid making fast turns and stops.  Don’t use cruise control because you can’t reduce speed to keep traction by taking your foot off of the acceleration.
    • If you hydroplane, steer in the direction you want to go, and don’t step on the gas or the brakes until you have regained control over steering.  For more on recovery from hydroplaning, see our article on Driving Safely in the Fall and Winter Months. 
  • Hail
    • Get off the road completely.
    • Don’t leave your car, and wait for the storm to end.
  • Moving Water – This could cause you to hydroplane, run over hidden dangerous debris like power lines, and it could cause your engine to stall if it brushes up against water.  
    • Don’t drive through more than 3 inches of water.  
    • Drive slowly.
    • Turn around and find a detour.
  • Hurricane – In addition to much of the above, remember to keep your gas tank full so you don’t end up stranded.  Keeping first-aid supplies, clothing, water, and snacks in your car can be of help in the event that you are.
  • Tornado – These debris-wielding, strong, and rotating winds can do an enormous amount of damage.
    • Seek indoor shelter first.
    • Otherwise, get off the road completely.
    • Stay away from bridges and tunnels because the wind may be more powerful there.
    • If you can’t safely reach an area that is lower than the road, stay in your car, belted in, with your head below the windows and covered by your hands and a blanket, if you have one.
    • If you can safely get to a place that is lower than the road, lie there with your hands over your head.

So much in life is unpredictable.  Tornadoes and hurricanes may not be so prevalent in Upstate New York, but our summer travels take us everywhere, and we’ll never know when situations will call for us to use what we’ve learned.  We can also never be certain that what we’ve learned will fully protect ourselves in such conditions.  In the aftermath, insurance can support you, wherever you are.  Request a quote on automobile or life insurance from the team at Bieritz Insurance Agency today!

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What to do After an Auto Accident

No matter how careful we are as drivers, car accidents are a fact of life: millions occur in the United States each year.  As such, it is important to be prepared for them, even as we do our best to avoid them while behind the wheel.  

car-accident-1660670_640Stock your car with…

  • Safety Tools: carry cones, flares, and warning triangles to warn traffic, a phone for calling for help, a flashlight for night light, and a first aid kit.
  • Emergency Information: carry a list of contact numbers, documents with information about any particular medical conditions that are pertinent for you and your family, insurance cards to exchange, and instructions about what to do after an accident.
  • Recording Tools: carry pen, paper, and a disposable camera to collect information and to record what happened.

Stock your brain with…

  • Appropriate Medical Knowledge: know how and when to use a first aid kit, and understand that it might take time for injuries to present themselves.  Call an ambulance when in doubt about the extent of your own or another person’s injuries.  A loss of consciousness can indicate a concussion or a closed head injury.  A person who is unconscious or who has neck/back pains should never be moved unless there is a more pressing threat to their safety – and only then, by supporting their neck and back or moving them as little as possible.
  • Insurance Information: know your coverage in regards to towing and renting cars.
  • Instructions about what to do after an accident.

Your priority should be health and safety.  ⅕ car accidents lead to death.  Don’t leave the scene.  Breathe and try to be calm.  Once you are aware of your own injuries and you are able to, check on your passengers.  Check on the other drivers and passengers.  Set up cones, flares, and warning triangles to avoid further collisions.  Move vehicles out of traffic, and if you can’t, remain inside of them with seatbelts fastened and the emergency lights on.  Always call the police.  Call an ambulance if you are unsure about your own or anyone else’s injuries.  

Most car accidents only involve property damage.  There are many legal and insurance matters to take care of in this respect, even while still on the scene.  

While still on the scene…

  • Talking to the Police: Don’t apologize or say the accident was your fault.  State only what you are certain of and tell the officers if you don’t know something.  Don’t make guesses.  Ask the officer for their name and badge number so that you can retrieve their report later for your insurance company.  You must get your report from the state police if the accident took place on a highway.  Make sure the statements of other passengers and drivers are factual as well.
  • Collecting Information: Record the situation – the date and time of your accident, the specific location where it occurred including road names and landmarks, the speed limit of that road, the direction of travel of you and other drivers at the time of the accident, the visibility and weather conditions during your accident, as well as any road hazards.  Take pictures of damages to your car and document all injuries.  Ask all drivers and passengers what they saw, and get their names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information.  If the driver’s name is different from that of the person listed on the insurance information, establish the relationship and take down that person’s information if they aren’t already a passenger in the car.  Ask any witnesses what they saw and if they know of any other accidents happening in the same place, and also collect their names, phone numbers, addresses, and how they are connected to the area (residents, workers, passersby).  
  • Don’t Decide who will Pay for Damages: Even if the accident is minor, injuries can present themselves after some days and weeks have passed, and thus the amount needed to pay could be a lot more than expected.

Soon after leaving the scene…

  • Obtain the Police Report: If it comes to it, it can help you prove fault.
  • File a State Vehicle Accident Report: They are available at police stations and on the DMV website.  They help insurance companies speed up the claims process.
  • Call your Insurance Agent:  Tell them what happened and what the damages and injuries are, and go over the police report with them.  
  • Get a Property Damage Valuation: This will be available through your insurance company.  Before and after photos of your vehicle are helpful for this.  
  • Call an Attorney: They may be able to help you get a proper damage valuation as well.  They will protect your rights and make sure that evidence is not destroyed.  It may do well to consult them before giving statements to insurance companies.  Also consult them before signing settlement contracts.  Don’t settle too early.  Don’t tell any attorney or insurance agent other than your own about the situation.  If someone else calls, refer them to your attorney or your insurance agent and ask them to arrange an interview.  Let your attorney and insurance agent know that someone called you.  
  • Keep Track of Your Health Care: Make a list of all the health care providers you’ve visited and all of the resulting expenses.

Car accidents happen.  No matter how much or how little personal or property damage is involved, the process for claims and settlement takes time.  Knowing what to expect and having guidance for what to do in these situations can relieve some of the panic and help avoid consequences of being unaware.  If you have any questions, our team at Bieritz is here to help!  Contact us in Cooperstown at 209 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326 (607) 547-2951 or in Morris at 128 Main Street, Morris, NY 13808 (607) 263-5170.

 

 

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Driving Safely in the Fall and Winter Months

The wet and snowy road conditions characteristic of the fall and winter months in the north are driving hazards that can cause skidding (sliding) and hydroplaning (in which a car drives on top of water).  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to avoid incidents such as these in the present and coming months:

snow-1281636_1280

 

  • First of all, eliminate distractions in order to focus.  Phones should be silenced, turned off, or stored away where they can’t be reached so attention can be devoted to the road.  You are allowed to ask passengers to silence their own devices if they are distracting you as well.  It may also be helpful to set up a 5 minute quiet time at the start of your journeys before turning on music or talking in order to get a feel for the road conditions and how you might need to drive that day.

 

  • Prepare your car for the season.  Lots of fall rain and winter snow requires effective wiper blades for on-road awareness.  It also requires tires with effective grip.  Worn-down tires are more at-risk for hydroplaning over wet leaves, and they won’t be able to guide the car out of trouble as easily as tires with good grip.  Furthermore, whereas regular tires in the winter cold become stiff and more breakable, snow tires are made out of softer rubber that can better adjust to the surface of the road.  They also have special grips that latch onto snow and ice on the road, decreasing the likelihood of skidding and providing more traction in guiding the car out of it.  
  • Drive slowly this season, slower than you would in the warm and dry months.  Drive slowly through puddles, if they can’t be avoided, and over wet leaves to prevent hydroplaning.  Do the same through snowfall; on hills, shifting into a lower gear can help the car stay attached to the road, and thus prevent skidding.  Additionally, approach overpasses, bridges, shady areas, and curves with caution.  The first three may be more at-risk for morning freezes, while curves are often places that people find themselves driving too fast.  Rain and snow can make these situations more dangerous.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the cars ahead of you in order to allow yourself enough braking time and to minimize potential damage.
  • If snowfall or leaves cover road lines, do your best to stay aware of and within them.
  • Brake gently to avoid hydroplaning and skidding.
  • If rain or snowfall makes you uncomfortable, pull over onto the side of the road in a safe location, turn on your emergency lights, and wait until the rain or snow passes or until you feel you can drive confidently again.  
  • Lastly, in the event of skidding or hydroplaning, try to remain calm.  Do not touch the gas or the brake, but steer gently in the direction you want to go.  If your rear wheels are sliding, steer to the right or the left depending on where they are sliding, and then straighten the wheel when the car itself straightens on the path you want to take.  Once you regain better control of direction, gently brake if the front wheels have been sliding, or gently accelerate if the back wheels are the culprits.  This is for the purpose of redistributing the weight of the car to the wheels that have been skidding in order to return some of their traction.

Driving always comes with some hazards, but in the northern hemisphere, there may be more times in the fall and winter that require particular caution.  Do your best to stay aware of road conditions and drive as they demand of you.  Make sure you are comfortable, focused, and prepared to take on the road and its hazards.  In this way you can do your best to maintain your own safety, that of other drivers, and that of each your own passengers.  

 

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Travel and Rental Car Insurance

Do you need to purchase extra Rental Car Insurance on your trip?

businessman-805880_640Summer vacation travel season is here!  If you are planning on heading out of town and using a rental car for your trip, you might find some of the information here helpful.  

Typically, when you are renting a car while on a personal vacation, your regular auto insurance policy will cover you for most of your needs. If you are traveling for business, your personal auto policy will not cover damage if you are renting for a business trip.  If you have insurance for auto, renter or homeowner, you are likely already covered for liability, personal accident and personal effects coverage.  The only coverage you might consider adding is additional collision damage insurance for a rental car.  You can purchase this coverage to also include loss of use charges should a vehicle need to be repaired after an incident.  This coverage can often be purchased through your private insurance provider for a minimal daily charge – far less than the upsell through a car rental agency.

If you are not covered by a private policy, you may be able to add rental car coverage through your major credit card account.  Check with Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express through the phone numbers on the back of your cards.  To receive the coverage through a credit card company, you must charge the entire rental on the credit card and decline the supplemental collision damage coverage offered by the rental company. It is important to note that you can’t have both.  Coverage through the credit card company may have additional restrictions based on the length of the rental term, the type of vehicle you are renting, or what country you are renting from.  

Another option is to purchase special travel insurance for your trip, to help cover your trip investment.  Travel insurance helps to cover your trip investment if you have flight cancellations due to illness, injuries, weather incidents or other travel related issues.  It can help you replace lost baggage, theft of property, tour operator bankruptcy, and more.   Travel insurance also has the option for adding collision coverage for a rental vehicle as part of your vacation insurance package.

What rental car insurance can do is protect you from a surcharge on your policy premium for a claim on an accident when driving a rental car.  It also can protect you from ‘loss of use’ charges when the rental car has to be off the road for repairs.  If you are declining additional coverage, always make sure you take the time to read the fine print on your rental contract before signing for your vehicle, and make sure that it indicates that you are declining the additional insurance.  

If you have any questions, check with our team at Bieritz Agency before your trip so we can help to advise you on what makes the most sense for you.  We offer two convenient locations in Cooperstown and Morris.

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Auto Insurance for College Students

collegelotIf your child is leaving home to attend college, make sure you check with your auto insurance
provider to see if there are any updates required to maintain your policy because of this change.
It is not recommended to drop a college student from your policy when they leave for school for several reasons.  First, continuous coverage will benefit your child when they are no longer listed on your policy and purchase coverage on their own.  Second, your child may need to drive when they return home during school breaks or if they drive a friend’s car while at school.  Third, having your child listed for coverage on your policy protects your child in the event of any auto-related accident while they are away, as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
Some companies also offer discounts for your full-time college student drivers.  If your child maintains a grade average of 3.0 or higher, you can provide a transcript and submit for consideration.  You may also qualify for a discount if your child is attending college 75 miles or more away from home.
Students who are taking a car that you own to school can remain on your policy (likely less expensive than under their own policy as a young driver), but you should notify your insurance company of the new address where the vehicle will be located.  If it is in a less populated area, you might end up with a lower rate.  If your student is traveling with their vehicle out of state, make sure your current policy meets the minimum insurance requirements for that state.  If your student owns the vehicle and holds the title, it is likely that they will need to obtain their own insurance.
If you have a student that is attending college and you have questions about their Auto Insurance, call us today at 607-547-2951 in Cooperstown or in Morris at 607-263-5170.

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Insuring Your Teen Driver

Your teenager just received their driver’s license!  This is likely one of the most exciting and joyful moments in the life of a young person, and one of the most stressful and worrisome moments for parents.

Attractive Brunette Holding Keys in Vehicle MirrorFrom the student’s perspective, a driver’s license represents some very big things:  freedom (the ability to go where you want, when you want); independence (not having to depend on parents or others to get there); responsibility (for ones’ self, for passengers, for a car, for gas, for others on the roadways).  The driver’s license is one of the milestones in the transition from youth to adult.

From the parent’s view, the addition of a newly licensed driver in the family is more of a mixed bag.  While there is undoubtedly some relief in the ability to share the driving load, there is likely some trepidation as well. 

The addition of a new driver in your household also means changes to your insurance policy.  Adding a teen to the family insurance policy is cheaper than purchasing a separate policy, but any infractions may result in increased rates on your premiums.

In New York State, you can expect your policy to increase by about 53% when you add a teen driver; this is actually one of the lowest surcharges in the US, and a bargain compared to New Hampshire, where it’s 111%.  While these percentages represent state averages, there are other factors that will influence this rate, so it is always best to get a quote specifically through your agent.

Rates will typically drop for each year of experience your new driver accrues without any violations, accidents or claims, lowering to about half the original amount when the driver turns 19.  In some cases, good academic grades and successful completion of driver safety courses can also help to bring the rates down.  The kind of vehicle your teen driver is using will impact your rate as well: less sporty/less flashy vehicles with high safety ratings are less costly to insure.

As a parent, you have the ability to start conversations about safe driving habits with your teens early in their driving education. These conversations are influential to their future driving success!  A National Young Driver Survey found that teens are 50 percent less likely to speed, 71 percent less likely to drive after drinking and 29 percent less likely to use their cell phones while on the road if they have parents who actively talk to them about the dangers associated with these behaviors. (CDC- CDD.GOV/ParentsAreTheKey)

There are also a stream of new auto safety apps for smartphones to help lessen distractions while driving.  Most of these will automatically detect the phone’s GPS location and determine if it is moving at speeds above 10mph.  If moving, it will hold all phone notifications until the end of the trip.

If you have a teenager that will become a new driver soon, give us a call at Bieritz Insurance (607)547-2951 and we’ll help you navigate your insurance options – no GPS required!

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