Distracted Driving: It’s not just about Cell Phones and Texting

distracted-driverTalking and texting on cell phones are the most frequently talked about concerns involving accidents and distracted driving, with texting now taking the lead over concerns about drivers who talk on their cell phones while operating a vehicle.

Among the concerns that cell phone use raises is that drivers often become so focused on the conversation they’re having that it distracts them from attention to the road. Several research studies have found that even intense listening on a cell phone can impair driver attention on the road. Cell phone use, even with a hands-free device, can create a situation where drivers develop a potentially lethal form of tunnel vision that creates what researchers called inattention blindness.

Researchers found that inattention blindness slows driver reaction time by 20 percent and that some tests subjects missed half the red lights they encountered in simulated driving.

They reported that the research subjects took in a reduced amount of information while on the phone. They missed things like swerving cars and sudden lane changes, which resulted in several simulated rear-end collisions.

Texting Takes Over As Bad Driver Behavior

Texting on cell phones is now considered an even more serious problem than talking on a cell phone, because it requires looking down at the message the sender is creating while moving fingers that should be on the steering wheel. In addition to not looking where they are going, text message senders are usually focused on their message—not on their driving. Experts tell us that taking your eyes off the road for even one to two seconds can make the difference between avoiding a crash and causing one.

Texting is a particularly serious concern because while 20 percent of drivers admit to texting, when you look at drivers in the age 18-24 year old category, 66 percent are sending or receiving text messages while driving. Add the distraction of text messaging to young driver inexperience and you’ve got a particularly lethal combination.

Currently only a few states outlaw texting while driving, fewer than those that prohibit talking on cell phones when driving, but more states are looking at making it illegal in the wake of a series of spectacular crashes with deadly results.

There’s no doubt having a cell phone with you when you travel is a great resource to use in calling for help or reporting trouble on the road. But whether you use a handhe phone or a hands free device, researchers and safety specialists agree that the only really safe way to use your phone—whether to call or to text message—is to safely pull off the road, stop and then make your call.

Stay safe wherever you choose to go on the road. Your safety is number one to us. For peace of mind on the road, contact Long’s Insurance Agency to talk about an auto insurance policy.

Stay Safe on the Roads This Memorial Day Holiday

TrafficStay safe by sharing the road

We have all encountered scenarios in which other drivers make us shake our heads. People often are quick to accuse other drivers of being reckless, but if pressed, they may admit to sometimes driving recklessly themselves. If unsafe driving is everyone’s problem, what is the solution?

Our safety professionals have put together three tips that can help make sharing the road safer while getting from point A to B.

Assume you are invisible
It can be easy to assume everyone else on the road is paying attention, following traffic laws, and can see you clearly. However, that is not always the case. Next time you are expecting another driver to respect your right-of-way or let you merge into another lane, do not assume they are on the same page.

Avoid competitive driving
Whenever you are on the road, resist the urge to drive competitively. Instead, go with the flow and drive defensively. See yourself as part of a community of drivers – all trying to get to your destinations safely. Your improved driving behavior may rub off on others and help create safer conditions for everyone on the road.

Control your emotions
It may be easy to react to aggressive driving by becoming aggressive yourself. But taking the high road is often the best route. Someone cuts you off? Take a deep breath and just let it roll off your back.

Here are some ways to help prevent your emotions from getting the best of you on the roadway:

  • Be patient when traffic delays slow you down.
  • Keep a safe following distance behind other vehicles. You never know when someone may stop short.
  • Avoid confronting aggressive drivers—be polite and courteous, even if others are not.
  • Use your turn signals and leave plenty of room when turning or changing lanes.

Contact Long’s Insurance Agency today for all of your auto insurance needs…  A free no hassle quote will give you strong peace of mind that you are protected on your next road adventure.  Contact us Today!!

 

Source: Travelers

3 Tips on Fireproofing Your Home

wildfire

Although wildfires are most common in the west, they can happen anywhere in the U.S. There are many ways to prepare your home for an unlikely fire that go beyond keeping a fire extinguisher handy—especially in the case of naturally-occurring fires caused by arid conditions and other environmental conditions. Discover key tips on fireproofing your house from The Hartford Disaster Prep page.

Do Your Homework

Knowing your area’s risk for wildfires is the first step in your process of fireproofing your house. If you know that your neighborhood is affected by wildfires often, and when they are likely to occur, do an inventory of the flammable items around your house. This includes landscaping; avoid keeping plants, trees or dead plants too close to the house during wildfire season for your area.

In addition to inspecting the exterior of your home, take a look around inside. Check that your smoke detectors are working and if not, replace the batteries. You’ll also want to keep an emergency kit with essentials on hand in the event you need to evacuate. In addition to an emergency kit, implement a routine practice of an emergency plan the entire family knows.

What to Take

Your emergency kit should include the following: first aid supplies, blankets and any personal items you may need (medications, toiletries, clothing) as well as necessities for any pets. For additional tips on disaster preparedness, check out The Hartford’s Center for Mature Market Excellence’s disaster prep guidebook.

Minimize Damage

If there have been reports of wildfires nearby, it’s important to prepare your home even if you have been ordered to evacuate. Once your emergency kit is ready, and you know what you will take and leave behind, hose down the house, roof and surrounding area, (time-permitting, of course). Also be sure to turn off the gas to your house to lower your risk.

For a complete list of how to fireproof and prepare for wildfires, visit The Hartford’s Wildfire Safety page.

If your in need of Homeowner’s Insurance please contact Long’s Insurance Agency today for a free no hassle quote!  We can handle all of your insurance needs from Home and Auto, to Health and Life and your business needs.

 

Source:  thehartfordmile.com

 

 

 

Spring is Upon Us!! Finally!

driving in rainAs it appears that maybe winter has made its last appearance, Spring will bring rain…

How to Drive Safely in Wet Weather

Spring and summer showers may mean flowers, but wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year.

Here are some tips you’ll want to follow the next time you’re caught driving in the rain.

Safety starts before you drive, and your goal should be to see and be seen. Replace windshield wiper inserts that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe. Make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see you during downpours. Turn on your headlights whenever you drive.

Proper tire tread depth and inflation are imperative to maintaining good traction on wet roadways. Check tread depth with a quarter inserted upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. Check each tire’s pressure, including the spare, at least once a month… and be sure to check the pressure when the tires are cold.

Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather. Slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and allow ample stopping distance between you and the cars in front of you. Also, do these things one-at-a-time. Brake, then turn, then accelerate.

If you feel the car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Don’t panic, and avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.

 

Source: weather.com

 

Be Prepared, Have An Escape Plan!

FirefightersWhen firefighters arrive at a fire, they do a ‘scene size-up’ – identifying where the fire is, where it is spreading, and the location of the primary and secondary exits.  It’s a routine that can save your life – and you don’t need res suspenders and a helmet to do it.

Prior to a fire, have an escape plan and practice it!!  You’ve been hearing that since grade school.  But did you listen?  You should not only do drills at home (and in the dark), but also form a habit of familiarizing yourself with ‘points of egress’ everywhere you go.

If a fire does occur, remember this slogan:  Get Out, Stay Out.  Staying out is critically important.

 

Source: Men’s Health

The Weather Outside is Frightening

icy roadsIt has been snowing, nonstop, for three days. Just when I start to think it will never stop snowing, it stops. At this point, I am finally smiling again and feeling relieved. A day later, it starts raining nonstop. I am now regretting all of my wishes for the snow to go away, because rain and freezing temperatures during the winter season can only mean one thing—icy roads. Even if you happen to be Larry Pegram or a person who has lived in the Midwest your entire life, icy roads are nearly impossible to drive on safely.

The safest way to deal with icy roads is to avoid driving. As nice as it sounds to stay curled up on the couch, we all know that not driving during bad weather is not always an option. If you have to travel when the roads are icy, allow time for snow plows and sanding trucks to work on the roads.

Here are some great tips from The Weather Channel for driving safely this winter, especially on icy roads:

Driving safely on icy roads

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Even if you happen to be Larry Pegram or a person who has lived in the Midwest your entire life, icy roads are nearly impossible to drive on safely.

If your rear wheels skid…

  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse—this is normal.

If your front wheels skid…

  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck…

  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, non-clumping kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels to help get traction.
  • Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first—it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Be safe in your travels this winter season. If you’re in the market for auto insurance consider talking to Long’s Insurance Agency.

 

Source: Foremost Blog

Tips for Surviving Severe Cold Weather

Extreme ColdMuch of the country periodically experiences severe and sustained cold weather, with snowfalls interspersed with periods of melting and freezing. This can inflict considerable damage on homes.
Here are some tips and steps you can take to keep your home safe and make insurance losses less likely during extended severe weather.

  • Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
  • Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
  • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
  • If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
  • Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
  • If you have to leave your home on a trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time (or if temperatures are expected to remain below freezing), have the water system, including pool plumbing, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.

A Worst-Case Scenario

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Standard homeowners policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.
However, most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, while coverage for sewers and drains is generally offered as an endorsement to a standard homeowners insurance policy.
If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold can not survive without moisture.
Check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

If you are looking for Home Owners Insurance or just what someone to look at your current policy to ensure that you do have adequate coverage, give Long’s Insurance Agency a call!  It’s a free call for your peace of mind.  Now serving the greater Denver area!

 

Source: http://www.iii.org

Umbrella Insurance…Why should I have it?

Umbrella InsHave you ever heard about an Umbrella Insurance Policy and thought, I have no idea why I would need that?

Here are a few things to know about Umbrella Insurance:

  • A lot of coverage costs you very little.   $1 million in coverage can run as little as $250 to $400 annually.
  • An umbrella policy pays for legal fees and settlements above your regular insurance limits.  Without it, your wages and assets may be at stake.
  • Liability risks are everywhere.  Have a teen driver?  Host a lot of parties?  Got a pool, hot tub, or boat?  Employ a nanny or housecleaner?  You have risk factors.
  • You’re insuring against the worst-case scenario, so an umbrella is most useful for protecting your net worth.

Questions about Umbrella Insurance?  Contact Long’s Insurance Agency and we can help you determine what insurance policies are right for you!  Now servicing Greeley, Boulder, Longmont, Denver just to name a few.  Call us today!

Source:  Money

Costly Insurance Mistakes You May Be Making

MOney pinchingNational Survey Finds Many Consumers Are Making Costly Insurance Mistakes

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 19, 2013—A new national survey reveals consumers have an alarming lack of knowledge about their own insurance coverage. As the new year approaches, Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) say consumers should resolve to get their insurance coverage in order.

The independent survey conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” found that more than one-third, an alarming 38% of respondents, said they have never conducted their own research prior to purchasing an insurance policy. Almost 40% of respondents said they were not confident or only somewhat confident that they have adequate and appropriate insurance coverage for their needs.

“It’s critical that consumers understand the basics of protecting their family, home and property,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “This survey shows that many Americans may not even realize they are vulnerable to serious losses. A lot can happen in a year. The start of a new year is a perfect time to dust off your insurance policies and review them thoroughly.”

Since there are so many types of insurance available today, consumers should sit down with a reputable insurance professional to help sort through the confusion. The new survey also found that more than one-third of policyholders have not met with or even talked to their insurance agent within the last year.

“Keeping your agent updated on changes in your family or to your property is crucial to your financial security,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education. “A new baby, marriage, divorce, death, home renovation or a major purchase could significantly impact your insurance needs and costs.”

This broad lack of understanding can lead to serious and expensive insurance coverage mistakes. Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents identify the following as some of the most common errors they see.

Mistake 1: Not Knowing Your Limits.

Trusted Choice® agents report that too many customers don’t know the limits of their insurance coverage and don’t understand how inexpensive it can be to increase them. This is especially true regarding liability coverage.

“The limits of your policy dictate how much coverage you actually have,” explains Rusbuldt. “For example, an independent agent can increase the liability limits on a typical homeowners policy from $100,000 to $300,000 a year for as little as about $25 annually.” Not enough consumers have separate umbrella liability policies which can provide $1,000,000 of protection a year for as little as $130.

In fact, the new survey says only 29% of respondents considered coverage limits, or the amount of coverage, the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. Your coverage limits deserve a closer look.

Mistake 2: Disregarding Discounts.

A previous study by Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” showed that many consumers don’t take advantage of all the discounts that may be available to them.

“Many consumers foolishly throw money away because they fail to ask about insurance discounts for which they may qualify,” continued Flannagan. “Companies often offer some unique, regional, very specific and, at times, quirky discounts. When every dollar counts, some may be able to nickel and dime their way to big savings.”

Companies often have discounts on homeowners insurance for installing a security system, living in a gated community, updating the roof and/or wiring in a house, and remaining claim-free. Some of the more unusual discounts on auto insurance include discounts for teen drivers with good grades, graduating from certain colleges or universities, or carpooling. In addition, many companies are offering significant new discounts within the last five years that consumers may be unaware of. Check with your agent to see if any apply to you. These discounts can make a substantial difference in premium costs.

Mistake 3: You Can’t Take It With You: Consider Insurance in Estate Planning.

While your family gathers together for the holidays, it may be a good time to discuss your estate and final wishes.

Many people put their homes in trusts as part of their estate planning but fail to tell the agent that the trust owns the home. In those cases, the home is no longer insured since the owner is not on the policy. This can create major problems at the time of a claim.

Also, in order to avoid a larger estate tax bite, people sometimes don’t list valuables or collectibles as part of their estate. But these items require special coverage beyond a standard homeowners policy, or they won’t be insured.  If there is a loss on these items, your heirs won’t be compensated and will be deprived of part of the gift you intend to make to them. Making certain that everything is properly documented–and insured–is crucial to guaranteeing that your final wishes are executed after your death.

Mistake 4: Not Assessing Your Biggest Asset.

Too often, people do not properly protect their biggest asset—their home! That leaves them vulnerable to devastating losses. This is particularly true with regard to a change of occupancy. Selling, renting or leaving your home for an extended period directly changes the terms and conditions of your coverage. When there is a loss, your insurance company can deny the claim because you are no longer in control of what happens to your home. That could cost you everything. Homeowners should check with an agent to learn the time limit on vacancy or change of occupancy before it alters or cancels the terms of the policy.

In addition, not having certain specialty coverage could cost homeowners dearly. Failure to purchase sewer and drain back up insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, ordinance or law coverage, or to adjust coverage as property improvements are made could have detrimental consequences in the event of a disaster. Keep your agent apprised of any and all changes regarding your home, no matter how minor they seem.

Mistake 5: Taking the Cheapest Route.

The survey found that 25% of respondents thought price was the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. While price should be a factor in insurance decisions, choosing coverage based on price alone could ultimately be a costly mistake.  Insurance policies differ widely, with varying deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions. Alarmingly, about 61% of survey respondents said they were only somewhat familiar or not familiar with the details of their insurance policies.

Source: independentagent.com