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Tips For Taking A Road Trip With The Kids

road trip

Taking a road trip with the kids can really test your patience and planning skills.  Fending off constant questions like “Are we there yet?” and “When’s the next bathroom break?” can get old pretty quick, so you’ll want to make sure your kids have plenty of things to occupy their time while in the car.  To help you out, we’ve listed some tips that will definitely come in handy if you plan on road tripping with the kids this summer.

  • Make sure kids are comfy.  What your kids are wearing on their road trip can make a big difference to how the trip goes.  If kids are uncomfortable you’ll hear about it, probably over and over again.  Put them in something that they like to wear such as pajamas or shorts and a t-shirt, and save the dressy clothes for your arrival, odds are something will end up spilling on them anyways during the trip, so at least you won’t dirty up one of their nicer outfits.
  • Be strategic about your departure time.  It may be easier to travel with kids during certain hours of the day, for example, if your kids can sleep through the night in the car, you might want to wait until after dinner and drive through the night so you reach your destination by morning.  You’ll probably avoid tons of traffic too, which is always a plus.  Working with their schedules, nap times, and meal times will make the trip easier for you and them.
  • Keep them occupied.  This will help you keep your sanity and theirs, make sure you have plenty of coloring books, toys, games, movies, and snacks.  You’ll also want to charge any electronics they may use, such as tablets or portable DVD players before you leave.
  • Be prepared for anything, and we mean ANYTHING.  You want to make sure you have a first aid kit, wet wipes, paper towels, extra clothes, diapers, batteries, car chargers, trash bags, a flashlight, and extra drinks and snacks in case the ones you already packed spill.
  • Take a break.  It’s inevitable that little ones and even older ones will want to stretch their legs and take a break from the car.  Find a local park and have a picnic so you can have something to eat and they can run around and burn off some energy.
  • Get kids involved in the trip.  If your kids are old enough to suggest landmarks they want to see or places they want to visit, let them!  It will make the trip much more enjoyable for them and you may even visit a place that you wouldn’t have chosen on your own, and end up loving it!
  • Make sure your driver’s license, registration, and insurance are all up to date and haven’t expired.  These are all extremely important to have any day, but especially if you’re going to be driving a long distance.  If you don’t have a membership to AAA, you may also want to consider that.

With these tips, your next family road trip should go smoothly and be a blast for everyone!

Photo By: Deb

Save At The Pump With These Gas Station Finder Apps!

gas station

I’m sure all of you have noticed the recent spike in prices at the pump.  We know that every penny counts, especially if you are a frequent driver which is why we’ve come up with a list of the top gas station finder apps!  Check these out and scroll through the listings of nearby stations until you find the best price available. Prices don’t appear to be changing any time soon (unless they keep going up) so download one of these apps and start saving!

GasBuddy – If you’re against paying for a gas app, this is the one for you.  GasBuddy has all of the typical components of a gas app, it utilizes the GPS in your smartphone to determine your location and the location of gas stations in your area.  It lists the gas prices and also lists any amenities at the station such as bathrooms, pay at pump, and food.  You can sort your search results by price or by distance if you’re simply looking for the closest station.  Once you select the station you want to visit, you can get directions to the gas station via the iOS’s built-in Maps app.  Users can create accounts with this app and update prices and amenities of the gas stations in the area.  This is a great resource, however, updates are not always timely or accurate and sometimes nearby gas stations are missing from the list all together.

SmartFuel – This is one of the best gas station finder apps out there, IF you are willing to pay.  You do get a free 30 day trial with this app, but after the 30 days is up you need to subscribe to the service, which ranges from $4.99 for 6 months, to $14.99 for 24 months.  While the price can be a turn off, if you subscribe for 24 months that only costs about 62 cents per month.  If you’re a frequent driver you will likely save more than that by using the app anyway!  Reviews describe this app as being highly accurate, and drivers can even bookmark their routes to make the search process easier.  The listings even have the prices for all types of gas at the station, whether it be regular, mid-grade, premium unleaded, diesel, or E85 ethanol.  If you’re willing to pay, this app could save you big bucks in the long run.

Fuel Finder – Fuel Finder has the same features mentioned in the apps above; nearby stations based on GPS, directions to these gas stations, and pricing of course.  Nearby stations are displayed in a list or as nearby points on a map, and you can search up to 10 miles away.  Fuel Finder does have a very unique feature called “On Fumes” which really sets it apart from other apps.  This feature is something you can utilize when you’re running extremely low on gas.  You simply tap the “On Fumes” button and it will provide you with directions to the nearest gas station regardless of price, and also provides a directory with phone numbers to helpful services such as AAA and insurance company help lines.  While you don’t have to subscribe, you do have to pay a one time fee of $2.99 to download the app.  While it does have occasional errors and sometimes fails to list certain gas stations it is typically reliable and the “On Fumes” feature is something you won’t find in other apps.

RoadAhead – Not only does this app provide you with listings for the nearest gas stations sorted by price, but it also lists nearby hotels, rest stops, and restaurants!  If you’re on a long drive, this app will definitely come in handy if you’re looking for a snack or need to use the restroom.  The app typically relies on GPS to locate you, however if you can’t get a signal you can select the state you’re in, the highway you’re on, and the next exit.  Some complaints about this app are that the GPS sometimes fails and there are occasional crashes.  If you can deal with that, then this app is a great resource whether you are driving cross country or just on a day trip to the beach.  The best part?  It’s free!

Once you decide which app is right for you, download it and hit the road!  All of these apps will help you find the nearest gas station, or you can sort through them by price.  Whichever one you choose, you will definitely be thankful you have it when you need to fill up!

Photo By: valeehill

 

 

 

Are You Saving On Your Insurance In The New Year? Find Out What Discounts You May Be Eligible For!

It’s a new year and we’re busy writing new policies over here at MassDrive, but we want to make sure that you know what discounts you could be getting so you can save as much as possible!  There are many discounts available however the percentage that you can save does vary by carrier and is different for everyone, however there is an average range that most companies use and we’ve come up with the following breakdown of discounts:

  • Companion Policy Discount:  This is typically the largest discount you can get on your auto and homeowner’s policies and you get it simply by having your auto and homeowner’s insurance with the same carrier.  You can also receive this discount with renter’s or condo policies as well!  This discount can save you up to 10% on your auto policy and up to 20% on your homeowner’s, renter’s or condo policy!  Some (not all) companies even offer you a discount if you have your auto policy with them and a homeowner’s policy elsewhere, however this discount can only be applied to homeowner’s policies (not renter’s or condo) and is much smaller, typically only up to 4%.
  • Good Student Discount – This discount applies to both high school and college students and can usually save you about 10% on your auto policy but can even get as high as 15%!  However, there are some stipulations; the student must be full time and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  The other catch is that they have to have less than 6 years of driving experience to be eligible.  If you’re a student with your own policy or are a parent with a student on your policy, definitely ask your agent about the good student discount!  If you meet the requirements, it’s an easy way to save big bucks on your policy!
  • Low Mileage Discount – The less you drive the more you save!  The discount you can get varies and is broken down into tiers based on your annual mileage.  You can typically get the biggest discount (up to 12%) if you drive less than 7,500 miles.  After that the next tier is 7,501-10,000 miles, then 10,001-12,500 miles, but if you drive over 12,501 miles you won’t receive a discount from most companies.  The discount gets lower as you move past each tier but is a great way to save!
  • Pay In Full Discount – This one is pretty self explanatory, if you pay your auto premium in full you can save up to 5%!
  • AAA Discount – If you’re a AAA member you are eligible for up to a 5% discount with most insurance companies!  AAA is a great service to have, you never know when the unexpected may occur and you may need a tow, which can be pretty expensive if you have to pay for it out of pocket.  Getting the discount is simple, you just scan a copy of your membership card and send it over to your agent and the discount can be applied.
  • Advanced Issue Discount – This discount is a great incentive to start shopping early for insurance!  If your policy is issued at least 7 days before the coverage become effective, you can save up to 5% on your policy!
  • eDocument Discount – Receiving your policy documents electronically can get you up to 5% discount on your policy!  Go green while saving yourself some green!
  • EFT Discount – This typically goes hand in hand with the eDocument discount, but you don’t necessarily have to have both.  EFT (electronic funds transfer) allows the carrier to take your monthly payment directly from your bank account, and it can save you about $60 per year!  If you choose to remain on a standard payment plan where the bills are mailed to you, most companies charge a $5-$6 installment fee each payment (most policies typically have 10 payment installments), so the savings can really add up if you’re on the EFT payment plan which may charge a minimal to no installment fee.
  • Multi-Car Discount – If you have more than one car, you can save up to 8% by having all of your vehicles on one policy.
  • Good Driver Discount – This is offered to drivers that have a good driving record and varies from case to case.  It is based on your SDIP rating, or how many points you have on your record and can be one of the biggest discounts available to drivers depending on your record.

Next time you’re shopping for insurance, give us a call at MassDrive!  All of our agents are extremely informed and will make sure you are getting as many discounts as possible!

Photo By: sunshinecity

Make Good on Your New Year’s Resolution: Ways to Save on Massachusetts Auto Insurance Rates

Save on Auto Insurance

With 2012 right around the corner, many of us are dreading the credit card bills that can hit us hard after the holiday season.  While there may be many resolutions you aspire to achieve in the coming year, one that MassDrive can help with is saving you money on your auto insurance without adding risk to your everyday life.

At this time of year, expenses are at their highest for most people, which forces them to be more thrifty in their everyday life.  For many drivers, they turn to their auto insurance policy to cut corners. Lowering coverage or selecting only liability are definitely effective in lowering the price of an auto policy, but they also limit the driver should there ever be an incident. Luckily, these are not the only ways to save money on your MA auto insurance rates.

The majority of drivers are unaware of the numerous auto insurance discounts that are available to them when it comes to their auto policy. By doing some research and asking your auto insurer, you can start off the new year on the right foot and get cracking on that save money resolution for 2012:

  • One popular way to save money is by combining an auto and home policy with the same insurance carrier.  This typically results in up to a 5-12% total savings on the policy while also making it more convenient for the insured by having all of their information in one location.
  • Other common insurance discounts can be applied if the insured is willing to: pay in full, list multiple cars on the policy, or by having low mileage on their vehicle.  These factors typically result in a discount of up to 5-10%.
  • An increasing amount of carriers are now also giving discounts for drivers who choose to shop for insurance early. Insurance companies believe that drivers who apply early are more responsible and more likely to make payments on time.  These drivers are rewarded with up to a 5-10% discount depending on the date which they apply for insurance.  To receive this discount, drivers must commit to a policy at least seven days before the effective date, depending on the carrier.
  • Going green can also save you some green! Many carriers, including Progressive, offer discounts of up to 3% for those that are willing to go paperless. This saves trees and money, so what’s not to love about this discount? AAA or motor club members are also eligible for a discount, which varies by carrier but is roughly 5%.
  • Have a child that is away at school? If they are listed on their parent’s insurance, their policy may qualify for the student away at school discount.  Full time students can also help their parents save money by maintaining a GPA of 3.0.  Both situations allow for up to a 5-10% discount to be applied to the policy.

During this time of year, finances are especially tight for many drivers; however, utilizing these tips will help you ring in the New Year by saving on your Massachusetts auto policy! By asking your agent about these auto insurance discounts, you will be on your way to successfully completing one resolution!

Discounts & Saving Money on Auto Insurance

When shopping for auto insurance the ultimate goal is to find a reputable company and the lowest premium. While searching for insurance on the web or over the phone it is important to remember carriers will offer different discounts for various reasons. Saving money on your auto insurance is easy, when requesting a quote ask if the following discounts apply to you:

  • Low Mileage Discount: Those who drive less than the average driver are more often than not eligible for a low mileage discount. The magic number is commonly 7,500 miles or less per year however some carriers offer discounts for those who drive less than 10,000 even 12,500 per year. This key discount can make a significant difference and is important to ask about.
  • Auto Club Member: Drivers who belong to an auto club, such as AAA, are usually eligible for additional discounts and in some cases may increase your current auto policy limits with NO extra charge!
  • Good Students: Not only will good grades get a student into the college, graduate program, or aspired career – they can also give young drivers a discounted rate on their auto insurance.
  • Continuous Insurance: Drivers with a continuous record of auto insurance policies are often eligible for discounts.
  • Completed Defensive Driving: Once successfully completing a defensive driving course, motorists should be eligible for an additional premium discount.
  • Companion Policy: Drivers who purchase a companion policy, meaning those who bundle their auto and home, condo, or rental insurance together, are eligible for discounts on both policies. Drivers who sign companion policies through MassDrive may save up to 5% on their auto insurance and up to 20% on a home owners policy.

Make note of the above discounts. If your agent or the online quote generator does not ask about them, you may not be receiving the best quote. When receiving a quote it’s also important to realize your date first licensed and driving record have a great impact on your premium. If you have not been asked about your first licensed date or verified your driving record, you may not be receiving a final quote. Ask your agent if you are eligible for additional discounts and if they have verified your record to ensure you are receiving an accurate quote.

For a free quote comparison, give your friendly MassDrive agent a call today!

Auto Insurance for Rental Vehicles

When picking up a rental vehicle the concierge, more often then not, will offer additional auto insurance through the rental business for an additional fee. Many drivers blindly decline or accept this coverage without checking into their own auto insurance policy. Depending on the coverages you’ve chosen for your own auto insurance policy, you may or may not already be covered.

If you’ve purchased collision coverage on your own policy, it should cover the damage you cause to any car you’re driving. Many auto insurance policies however state that your auto insurance policy is in excess to any other coverage present. Meaning if you were to purchase auto insurance from the rental dealership, your own policy would kick in after the purchased rental auto insurance. It is also important to remember your own auto insurance policy will require a deductible to be paid out before your insurance company starts paying the bills.

Comprehensive coverage will also likely cover you while driving a rental vehicle and include fire, theft, vandalism and accidents involving an animal. It’s important to remember yet again that your insurance policy requires a deductible and is in excess to any other insurance, such as additional rental insurance if you choose to purchase it.

If you are involved in an accident and found at fault while driving a rental vehicle, your own policy’s liability insurance will most likely pay damages you caused someone else as well as medical expenses accruing in direct result of your negligence. Much like collision and comprehensive coverage, your own auto insurance policy will be in excess of any other auto insurance present.

If you do not carry your own auto insurance policy, or have no comprehension or collision coverage, purchasing insurance from the rental dealership is a good idea. If you choose to purchase insurance through the rental business be sure to ask about discounts. If you are a member of a public radio station, AAA or another type of club you may be eligible. Drivers may also be eligible if they will be keeping the rental vehicle in a garage or driving in a safer neighborhood with less traffic.

Always play it safe, give your local auto insurance agent a call and ask what will and will not be covered while driving a rental. If you’re looking for auto insurance give MassDrive a call where we compare quotes through various carriers finding you the best policy for the best price.

Managed Competition = Driver's Savings

Before 2008 Massachusetts auto insurance rates were set by the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance by the fix-and-establish system. The previous system relied on zip code and driving record to determine rates, in the new deregulated system carriers use their own methods of calculating rates and has in result increased competition saving driver’s money on auto insurance.

With managed competition new advantages have surfaced in the Massachusetts auto insurance market including: additional insurance companies, independent agencies have gained additional carriers to represent and the state has experienced a decrease in number of uninsured motorists. From the early 1990s through up to 2008 the number of insurance companies offering private passenger auto insurance had fallen from 35 to 19, however in the first year of managed competition nine companies entered Massachusetts’ auto insurance market. According to the Department of Insurance average premiums per vehicle on the road have decreased 8.2 % in the first year alone!

Under managed competition insurance providers can give additional discounts previously unavailable. For example an insurance carrier can give a driver discounts for holding a AAA membership or owning a home. It is important to also realize that providers may chose to or not to impose surcharges for traffic violations but cannot use at-fault accidents that took place more than six years prior to your policy effective date.

Although it is important to note auto insurance is under managed competition. This means although auto insurance companies may chose to set their own rates, the state of Massachusetts must approve them. Insurance carriers may also offer differing discounts, almost necessitating a driver shop differing carriers. Start shopping today by calling MassDrive where a representative will compare insurance quotes from multiple carriers for you!

Older Drivers Get to Know Their Limits

As the baby boomers age the number of drivers 65 years or older rise on the road. Although new drivers joining the 65 + grouping drive further each year than generations before them, from 1997 – 2006 elderly drivers have experienced fewer fatal accidents than the same age groups in the past.

Although the causes for this decline are not clear the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiled statistics and believes it may be due in part to a greater self awareness. According to the Institute drivers are limiting their own driving more often as they age and develop physical or cognitive conditions. Some impairments that come with age include a greater limitation in vision, hearing, and flexibility as well as medication side effects.

Many elderly drivers are pushed by their friends and family to hand over their keys; which may also contribute to the decrease in elderly accidents. In these cases the older driver will need to ask family members for rides or depend upon public transit. This may be difficult when someone needs to get to and from church, the pharmacy, grocery shopping, and other places throughout the week.

Older drivers, all drivers for that matter, may attend safety driving courses to increase road safety and awareness. Although some drivers need to be taken off the road, these classes may instill the extra caution and safety tips elderly drivers need to be safe on the road. Driver-safety classes are offered by AARP, AAA, and other organizations touching on defensive driving, new traffic laws, and safety tips. A new bill passed through the Massachusetts House of Representatives last week and is currently pending in the Massachusetts Senate that would require elderly drivers to take a vision exam every few years to renew their license. Measures such as these will increase everyone’s safety on the road.

Right to Repair Legislation

Today’s vehicles are becoming more and more complex as computers and technology advance. From a vehicle’s computer to ignition systems, cars as we know them have developed into something we could only dream of 10 or 20 years ago. While these advancements in technology may increase a drivers’ safety, comfort, and auto reliability it has also created an opportunity for auto manufacturers to require basic services and repairs to be completed only by the manufacturer’s dealerships.

Auto dealerships currently own the codes to decipher what is wrong with specific vehicles, leaving independent auto mechanics at a loss as they are unable to repair them without this vital information. The Right to Repair legislation would require exclusive auto manufacturers to share the same codes, data, and tools supplied to their own dealerships with independent mechanics. The passage of this act would allow consumers to choose how and where they service their vehicle, whether it be through an auto dealership or an independent maintenance shop.

Auto manufacturers and dealerships see this legislation as a threat to their lucrative service business. Some of the opposed include: Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, and the Automotive Service Association. Lobbyists opposing this new bill have congregated on Beacon Hill urging the the Joint Committee of Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure to dismiss the bill in their executive meeting today regarding the Right to Repair legislation.

The legislation however has many supporters as well including: AAA, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM), the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Massachusetts Independent Automobile Dealers Association (MIADA). Massachusetts residents struggling with their own economic downturns are looking for a more affordable way to repair their vehicles than visiting dealership service centers. This is not only a local issue, the European Union has passed a Right to Repair and Canada has a piece of similar legislation underway. Keep your eyes open for additional news on the Right to Repair legislation, it very well may effect you or someone you know.

Road Rage and Ways to Combat Frustration on the Road

A recent nationwide study revealed driver habits and the cities that have the most aggressive drivers.  According to the study, if you live in major city on either coast, you’re more likely to expirience or witness road rage.  Miami tops the list as the worst cities for aggressive driving, followed by New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington.

 

While you may find yourself caught in the heat of the moment when the car in front of you cuts you off; road rage can have deadly consequences.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 66% of all annual traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving actions (ie: passing on the right, running red lights and tailgating.)

 

AAA’s website offers three rules that if followed, should reduce one’s chances of encountering or becoming an enraged driver.

  • “Don’t offend” Obey the rules of the road and be courteous of other drivers.  If you are driving slow in the left lane, and notice that someone wants to pass you, let them.  Do not tailgate or cut off other drivers and do not make gestures.
  • “Don’t engage” Do not make eye contact with an enraged driver and refrain from antagonize an already angry driver, as this would only exacerbate the situation.
  • “Adjust your attitude” It’s possible that the car in front of you, driving slow in the left hand lane, did not notice that you were trying to pass them.  It’s not about winning, if someone cuts you off; do not try to one up them.  Before getting angry, try putting yourself in the other driver’s shoes.

 

About CPA Staff

Mike is in charge of the 'colors and shapes' of Next Generation Insurance Group as well as the front-end development of the site (like this page). A long time standing deck enthusiast, Mike does his best work up-right and rocking out, with the occasional riff of air guitar, to heavy metal bands. Mike attended Northern Kentucky University, is a founding member of Team Do Stuff and a skilled home brewer.

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