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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A Deer in Your Headlights

A note to all of our Bieritz Agency clients and friends:

During the months of November and December our local populations of deer are migrating and mating, resulting in a dramatic increase of movement.  More deer collisions occur during these months than at any other time of year, so we urge drivers to be especially careful, particularly in the early morning and evening hours (times when many people are commuting to and from work).

Deer collisions can cause a great deal of damage and can also be lethal.  A “heavy” deer might weigh over 200 pounds, but even an eighty-pound yearling is capable of totaling a vehicle traveling at high speed.  According to New York Outdoor News, motorists hit over 80,000 white-tailed deer on New York roadways each year (the third highest rate of reported incidents in the U.S.), almost 20% of which happen during the month of November.

Deer tend to stick to certain major travel corridors, which they adjust seasonally to match their movements to food availability and other habitat needs.  Deer warning road signs often indicate areas where deer are often sighted or where multiple collisions have occurred.  A collision can be a car hitting a deer or a deer hitting a car.  Most people are aware that  when you see one deer, there is usually another.  This holds up not only when there are young fawns in early summer, but also during breeding season where bucks follow does or in later winter months when groups of males form “bachelor groups”.

Traveling at slower speeds increases your reaction time if a deer leaps out in front of your vehicle.  Scan the roadsides and watch for eyeshine in your headlights (only visible if the deer looks directly at your car).  Use high beams if there is no oncoming traffic and low beams if it is foggy or snowing.  If you see and successfully avoid deer, flash your lights at oncoming vehicles to warn them of a hazard ahead, and watch the behavior of cars around you as well – a car slowing suddenly could indicate a deer in the area.  Make sure your headlights, brakes and tires are all in good shape.  It is recommended to hit your brakes to try to stop and not swerve to try to avoid a collision.  Swerving out of the travel lane increases the risk of hitting another vehicle or losing control of the car.

deer-in-road-460x250

Because most of our local country roads intersect with wildlife habitat, our drivers have a greater chance of collision, so please keep in mind the above tips to help minimize your risk.  Damage caused by an accident with deer or other animals is covered under the optional comprehensive portion (not the collision portion) of an automobile insurance policy. If you would like to check your coverage, please give us a call at our Cooperstown, NY office at (607) 547-2951 and our Bieritz Insurance Agency staff will be happy to help you.  Safe driving to all from the Bieritz Team!

 

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What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance Policy?

The cost of Auto Insurance can be affected by a number of different factors.  Check out the full article at the link below and give us a call if we can help you with your policy!

The average yearly auto insurance premium is almost $800, but there is wide variation around this average. Many factors can affect your premium. Not all companies use all of these factors, and some might use factors not listed here…

Read the Full Article Here from the Insurance Information Institute

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National Safety Month – Distracted Driving

2014 GraphicJune is National Safety Month, so our team has decided to provide resources from the National Safety Council to help improve some general safety practices for all our friends and clients.

This week, we are featuring information and resources about distracted driving.

Using a cell phone while driving makes it four times as likely that you’ll crash – while using handheld or hands-free devices.

View Facts about Distracted Driving Here

The Great Multitasking Lie infographic
Provided by The National Safety Council

 

Employers have realized the dangers of cell phone use while driving and are taking action by passing policies to prevent cell phone distracted driving. The National Safety Council recommends policies prohibit both hands-free and handheld devices and apply to all employees. 

EMPLOYERS:  Download a Cell Phone Policy Kit from the National Safety Council HERE

This free kit helps employers reduce crash risk. It has all the materials you need to:

  • Build leadership support in your organization for a cell phone policy
  • Communicate to employees the crash risks and the need for a policy

Driving Down Distraction infographic
Provided by The National Safety Council

Visit us next week for information about Summer Safety!

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