back to school


Fall Driving Safety

fall drive

When most people think of dangerous driving weather, winter usually comes to mind, but fall has its fair share of dangers too.  Some of the things we love most about fall, like the beautiful leaves and cooler weather can lead to new dangers that you may not think of.  Keep these tips in mind in the fall, and stay safe on the road!

 Leaves – Everyone loves the beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves that come with the fall season, but they don’t stay on the trees for very long.  Once they fall to the ground and cover the road, they can hide potholes, cover pavement markings, and once it rains, they can make the road extremely slick which is not only a danger for drivers, but pedestrians as well.  Keep your windshield leaf-free to prevent them from getting stuck under windshield wipers in a storm.  Make sure to also be aware of leaf peepers on the road, especially if you live in a rural area.  These drivers may be distracted or make sudden stops, so use caution around cars that are traveling particularly slow or have out of state license plates.  Remain alert when driving in the fall, especially when it’s raining, use the same caution you would if you were driving over ice in the winter.

Frost – After a hot, humid summer, the cooler fall air is a refreshing change, but with the change in temperature comes another thing to be weary of, frost.   Temperatures may feel fair and refreshing during the day, but they can drop dramatically at night.  First thing in the morning, there may still be frost on the road so use caution, especially on overpasses, bridges, or roads that don’t get lit by much sunlight, as this is where frost tends to accumulate.

Tires – With the sudden changes in temperature, tires can contract and expand which results in them losing air pressure so you need to monitor them closely.  Under inflated tires can increase fuel consumption and effect the way the vehicle handles, it is also a major cause of tire failure so be sure to check your tire pressure once a month.

Fog – Fall can be a damp, wet season here in Massachusetts, and we will likely see a lot of dark, foggy mornings and nights.  Keep your lights on during these foggy days, but do not put your high beams on as this can distract other drivers and restrict their visibility.

Back to School Traffic – Fall means back to school season, and there are going to be more pedestrians, school buses, and traffic along with it.  Be extra alert and mindful of speed limits in school zones, and near areas where children tend to be such as playgrounds and athletic fields.  For more in depth safety tips during back to school season, check another one of our blogs which has a ton of back to school  driving safety tips.

Autumn creates some unique driving hazards that many would not typically think of.  Understanding these dangers will make you a better, and safer driver, so be sure to keep these tips in mind!

Photo By: Michael Sprague

 

Back To School Driving Safety

school bus

It’s that time of year again, back to school season is here! With back to school comes the return of school buses, school zones, and young kids running here there and everywhere.  What does that mean for drivers?  It means it’s probably a good idea to refresh your memory when it comes to back to school driving safety, so check out these helpful tips now that back to school season is in full swing.

  • School Buses – School buses are back on the road and it’s always good to have a quick reminder when it comes to the specific laws around school buses.  First off, they have red flashing lights and stop signs to alert drivers when they are about to stop.  School pupil transport vehicles have red flashing lights and “SCHOOL BUS” signs on top.  They use these signals as warnings letting students on and off.  If the lights are on and the sign is out, you MUST stop regardless of which side you’re traveling on, it’s the law.  The only exception is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided highway with a barrier between travel directions.  That is the only time you do not have to stop.  If you violate this law, a first offense can get you a $250 fine or even a license suspension.  Be sure to go slow even once the stop signs are away and the lights stop flashing, children can often times run out on the street and surprise you, so proceed with caution.
  • School Zones – When it comes to school zones, you should not be going any faster than 20 MPH.  Be conscious of children crossing the street, riding bikes, school buses, and crossing guards.  Keep your foot above the brake at all times and be prepared for anything, children can be unpredictable and may jump out in front of you when you least expect it, so slow down and stay safe on the road.
  • Crosswalks – When you come to a crosswalk, you must yield to pedestrians as they have the right of way.  Look both ways and double check for children in the area.  Children may expect to cross at a crosswalk whenever they want, especially if they are young.  Some may not look before they cross, so don’t assume that they see you coming.   You may think the coast is all clear, but that might be the exact moment a child runs across the street after their toy that rolled into the street.  Double and triple check before proceeding with caution near crosswalks, playgrounds, and of course school zones.
  • Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is dangerous enough as it is, and there’s no reason to be on the phone when you’re driving, but if you’re in a school zone or anywhere near an area that kids gather, it becomes even more dangerous because children have been known to unexpectedly dart across the street, so you need to give the road your full attention.  If you’re a new driver under the age of 18, any and all cell phone use while driving is against the law.  Texting and any internet related activities are illegal for all drivers, although if you are over 18 it is legal to make a phone call while driving, but try to avoid doing so if you’re in a school zone, near a playground, or any other area where children gather.

Don’t forget to always check and re-check crosswalks before proceeding, go the speed limit or slower in school zones, avoid distracted driving, and be mindful of the laws associated with school buses.  We want drivers and of course pedestrians to stay safe on the roads, so keep these tips in mind this back to school season!

Photo By: Sean

Save On Auto Insurance When Your Child Goes Back To School!

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If you’re the parent of a young driver, you know how expensive it can be to add them on to your insurance policy.  Until drivers reach age 25 or have 6 years of driving experience, they are considered to be “inexperienced drivers” because they are more likely to get into an accident which is why adding them to a policy can dramatically increase the premium.  We know what you’re thinking, “If they’re going back to school and not driving a car, there MUST be a way to save on my insurance.” and you would be right!  If your child is going back to college and won’t be driving a car while they’re away, there are a few things you can do to lower your premium.

  • Drop them down to an occasional driver – If your child is going to school miles away and does not need a car while on campus and won’t have access to yours on a regular basis, list them as an occasional driver.  What this means is that they will not be the primary driver of any of the insured vehicles on your policy and it’s an easy way to save money on your premium.  This is also a good solution in case your child decides to come home for a long weekend or spring break and wants to borrow your car; that way they will still be covered on your policy.
  • Remove them from your policy – If your child won’t be driving a car at all you can choose to totally remove them from your policy.  This means that they will not be covered to drive any of the vehicles on your policy at all.  This will save you the most amount of money and is a good idea if your child is going to be away for the majority of the year.  If they do decide to come home for the summer and need to drive, you can always add them on to your policy again, it’s a simple change request that won’t take up much of your time.
  • Student Away At School Discount – If you don’t want to remove your child or drop them down to an occasional driver,  look into the student away at school discount.  Most carriers offer a 5%-10% discount if your child is away at school, although whether you are eligible or not depends on how far away their school is.  The majority of carriers require the school to be at least 100 miles away to receive the discount but it varies, so be sure to contact your carrier and find out if you’re eligible.
  • Good Student Discount – Parents, if there were ever a time to encourage your kids to make the grade, it’s now!  The majority of carriers offer a good student discount, meaning you can typically save 5%-10% on your premium if your child meets the carriers requirements.  Typically, they require students to be full time and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be eligible, although this also varies from carrier to carrier.  All you have to do is send in your child’s transcript and the discount can be applied.

Keep these tips in mind when your child is going back to school, they may end up saving you a significant amount on your premium!  When it comes to the student away at school and good student discounts, they can vary from carrier to carrier so be sure to give us a call to find out if you’re eligible and stay safe this back to school season!

Photo By: Images Money

 

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance Or Does A Homeowners Policy Provide The Right Coverage?

move in

Are you a parent sending your child back to college in a few weeks?  Whether they are living in the dorms or renting an apartment, we know they are going to need a lot of supplies and that you want them to be protected!  So, how exactly would you go about that?  Insurance is a great way to protect not only their belongings, but also their liability in case of a loss.   Insurance can be confusing though, when it comes to knowing what kind to get and how much it will cost you, there can be a lot of questions.  If you have homeowner’s insurance, it may extend the coverage to protect your child while they are away at school but that varies from carrier to carrier so call and find out for sure.  If your homeowner’s policy won’t extend their coverage, then you may want to consider renter’s insurance for your child.

If you’re not familiar with renter’s insurance, insurance expert Bill Suneson was nice enough to explain a lot of the things you need to know, which have been summarized  below.

When a student moves into a residence hall, typically the terms of the housing agreement make it clear that the school is not responsible for stolen or damaged person property.  Further, the student becomes personally liable for any damage caused to the dorm or residence hall. The same applies to most rental agreements if a student moves into an apartment off-campus.  Without the proper insurance, students and families can incur a significant financial loss if they cause unintended damage to their residence or suffer a loss to their personal property.  For example, if someone breaks a window or steals some of your child’s personal property from their dorm or apartment, without insurance they would have to replace those items or repair the damage with money out of their own pocket.

Renters insurance is an easy and affordable way to protect a student’s personal property against theft, water damage, fire, etc.  It is not uncommon for a laptop computer or bicycle to be stolen from a dorm and most low deductible renters insurance plans would provide a quick replacement.

Another benefit?  A renters insurance plan protects students if they are personally liable for causing damage to their residence.  Colleges or landlords will promptly bill students for their portion of the loss. Just think about how easy it is to inadvertently triggers a sprinkler system if there was a small fire from cooking in their kitchen.   These things happen all the time, and without the proper coverage, students may find themselves with a hefty bill.

Renter’s insurance is a great resource and will allow parents to sleep soundly knowing their child’s belongings, and financial future are  protected.  Yes, most homeowner’s insurance policies do extend coverage to students when they are away at college. However, parents should review their policies closely before a student leaves for college as some policies may have certain limitations.  For instance, policies may limit coverage to students attending college full-time or living on-campus.

However, most homeowner’s policies have high deductibles and families are unlikely to file claims such as a $500 bike theft because the payment would not exceed their deductible.  Also, home insurance rates are increasing and filing small property or liability claims generally result in higher rates for the family over time.

With deductibles as low as $100 and most premiums less than $150, renters insurance is usually both valuable and affordable for students even though some coverage may exist through their parents’ homeowner’s policy.  As a parent, spend a few minutes going through your homeowner’s policy and decide with your child if renters insurance is something you want to invest in.  You may decide that your homeowner’s policy is enough and you don’t want the extra coverage, but after thinking about how much your valuables actually cost, you may decide that renters insurance is right for you in which case be sure to give us a call for a quote!

Photo By: Nazareth College 

School’s Back In Session, Don’t Forget These Rules Of The Road!

Back to school season is here!  You know what that means?  More school buses, student drivers, and school zone speed traps to look out for.  In case you need a refresher course on some of the rules of the road we’ve listed a few below, pay close attention, you never know when there might be a pop quiz!

School Zones always come up quickly and it’s important to slow down and follow the speed limit for the safety of the nearby students as well as yourself.  Don’t forget:

  • The speed limit in a school zone is 20 MPH.
  • School zones have a sign with the posted speed limit and either flashing lights during the hours that the speed limit is in effect, or will state those hours on the school zone sign itself.
  • Don’t forget to keep an eye out for crossing guards or any nearby children that are walking or riding bikes.

Now that students are back in school, school buses are back on the road!  Bet you missed seeing them on your morning commute right?  Similar to fire trucks, there are a few specific laws that apply to these vehicles while driving:

  • You must keep a distance of 100 feet between your car and a school bus.
  • You must come to a complete stop behind the bus if the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended, regardless of what side of the road you are on.  This is so students entering and exiting the bus can safely cross to either side of the street.  You must remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.
  • A first violation of this law can lead to a license suspension and a fine of $250, so pay attention and keep your distance!

There are a few other laws that we wanted to point out that are good to remember especially when there are more students on the roads:

  • It is state law to yield to pedestrians at cross walks, whether they are already crossing or waiting to cross.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 (students, that means you!) are prohibited from using any and all mobile devices while driving, the only exception is to report an emergency.
  • Junior operators (drivers between the ages of 16 1/2 and 18 who have had their license for less than 6 months) are prohibited from driving between the hours of 12:30 AM – 5:00 AM unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Junior operators are prohibited from carrying passengers under the age of 18 (except for siblings) for the first 6 months of driving, this is an attempt to minimize distractions.

These are some of the most important rules to remember, especially now that students are back on the road!  Keep these laws in mind next time you are driving through a school zone, at a crosswalk, or behind a school bus.  Although these laws may slow us down at times, they save lives and benefit the students as well as the drivers!  Don’t forget to make sure you are properly insured!  Contact us at MassDrive for a quote and ask our reps about the different types of coverage you would need to make sure you are totally covered in case of an accident!

Photo By: Svadilfari

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Child Going Back To School? Find Out What You Need To Adjust On Your Insurance!

Back to school season has begun and college students are packing their bags and heading back to school where many will be without a car.  If your child is on your insurance policy and even if they have their own policy there are certain steps that need to be taken to ensure that you are not overpaying on your policy.  These simple changes can save money on your policy and there are even certain discounts that can be applied for students!

If your child is going away to school and will not have access to a car at all, the best thing to do is call up your insurance company and have their operator status changed to “excluded”.  Basically this means that your child is still listed on your policy, but is not insured to drive unless you change their operator status back to “included”.   Doing this will also save you big bucks, since younger drivers are inexperienced, they typically bring a premium way up, but once you list your student as excluded, your premium will likely go down significantly.  However, if they do drive your car while they are listed as an excluded driver and get into an accident, it will not be covered by your insurance.

If your child is going away to school and you choose to keep them on your policy, they are still able to drive and will be covered should they get into an accident, but if they go to school more than 100 miles away most insurance carriers offer an away at school discount.

If your child has their own insurance policy but they won’t be using a car while away at school, it’s best that they keep it active because cancelling a policy can have negative ramifications later.  If you do cancel a policy and then attempt to sign up for another one a few months or years down the road, most insurance companies will require you to pay the premium in full.  There are some that won’t, however someone that does not have prior insurance will have a higher premium than someone who has maintained insurance.  The best thing to do in a situation like this is to have your child maintain their policy, but lower the coverage to as low as possible.  If they won’t be using the car, there is no risk of an accident but lowering the coverage will make the payments less expensive.

If your child has their own policy and is driving their car to an out of state school and keeping it there, within 30 days they must get an insurance policy in that state or they will be committing insurance fraud.  This means that if they did get into an accident in a state where they are residing but do not have a policy they can potentially be sued for damages.  They need to change their license plates but may not be required to change their driver’s license state, however that varies by insurance companies.

Now you know what to adjust on your policy once your child leaves for school, and you also know what they have to do if they have their own policy.  However, whether your child has their own policy or not, definitely ask about a good student discount!  Most carriers offer a discount if a full time student is on your policy with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and same goes if they have their own policy.  So, call up your insurance company and find out exactly what your best option would be!  As always, if you are looking for insurance in Massachusetts or New Jersey, give us a call at MassDrive!  Our agents would be happy to help you out and we are open until 9PM on weeknights!

Photo By: Siena College

Driving Back To School? Make Sure Your Car Is Ready!

Back to school season is officially here!  For those of you driving back to school, you’ll want to make sure your car is ready for the journey, especially if you have a long way to go.  Preparing your car is is essential for your own safety as well as the life of the car, if the car has not been properly maintained and is then put to the test during a long trip it could possibly lead to some big problems.  To avoid expensive repairs follow these simple tips to make sure your car is ready to hit the road!

Tires – Check the pressure on your tires before a long journey, if the tire pressure is too low it can cause heat build up which can cause the tire to pop at high speeds, this is extremely dangerous to both yourself and other drivers.  Your owner’s manual will tell you exactly what the tire pressure should be and most gas stations have an air pump you can use if the pressure is low.  You should also check the tread, which you can do by placing a penny (the edge with Lincoln’s head pointing down) in one the grooves of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.  Driving with bald tires is dangerous as they provide much less traction, especially in the rain and snow.  In case anything should happen to your tires, it is always a good idea to have a spare.  Make sure it is fully inflated and that you have all of the necessary equipment to change it.

Maintenance – If your car is scheduled to have anything done to it such as an oil change or tire rotation, take care of it before your trip.  You want to make sure that your car is in the best shape possible and getting these simple tasks taken care of can save you from some potential problems on your journey.  It’s also smart to have any major repairs done before you leave, you don’t want your car to break down in an unfamiliar location and then have to get it fixed.  There are a lot of other little things to look out for as well such as windshield wiper fluid, make sure that you are stocked up and have enough for a long journey!

Emergency Kit – An emergency kit can come in handy should anything happen to your car while driving.  Make sure that it contains a flashlight which can be handy in many situations, food, water, blankets, tools (such as a pocket knife), first aid kit, and lightsticks which are visible from a mile away and last from 8-12 hours.  You should also make sure that you have all important documents that you may need such as your owner’s manual and registration, you never know when they will come in handy or you may need them!

Pack Carefully – If you have a lot to pack, make sure that it is evenly distributed throughout the car to make sure that the car isn’t too heavy on one side.  If your car is too heavy it can tilt too far to one side when you are making turns and causes the tires to wear out differently.

Unless you’re a mechanic, there are certain tasks that may be difficult to do yourself.  Driving long distances can put a lot of wear and tear on your car so it is best to make sure it is in the best shape possible before you leave.  Taking your car to a mechanic to get checked out may be a good idea, they can also look at other important parts of the car such as the battery, air filter, engine, and check to make sure the engine coolant, air filter, engine oil, and transmission fluid are up to par before your trip begins.  Most importantly make sure that you are insured correctly before you leave!  You don’t want to get into an accident and then come to find out that you have to pay for something that you originally thought you were covered for!  Call or click on MassDrive for a quote today, we work with many major insurance carriers throughout the state and will work to give you the lowest quote we possibly can.

Other than those tips there is nothing left to say but enjoy your trip!  We wish everyone a happy and safe ride back to school this year!

Information from: Samarins.com

Photo By: sheadonato

 

Back To School: Driving Safety Tips

As back to school season begins the simple fact is you will encounter more cars on the road. From additional youth drivers to parents returning from a summer vaca you may notice an increase in traffic throughout the day and especially in the mornings. Now is a great time to review safe driving techniques with your children, teenagers – even take a refresher yourself:

  • Silence your cell: With the new distracted driving legislation this should be a no-brainer. If caught texting and driving you can face a steep fine or even a suspension of your license!
  • Buckle-up: Elementary, but necessary for safe driving. Parents should ensure all children are buckled and situated in car-seats appropriate for their size. Remind your teenagers seat belts are a must, they won’t “look cool” when they find themselves without in an accident.
  • Reverse: Looking over your shoulder and checking all mirrors should be automatic before placing your vehicle in reverse. This is especially important when children are present.
  • School-buses: Know when a school bus stops and its red stop sign or flashing lights appear children are boarding or exiting the bus. Be on the look out for children crossing the street even after the bus has moved on.
  • Be Alert: Avoid driving when you are exhausted or feel fatigued. When you are not able to pay full attention to the road you may miss crucial directions or signs and will be putting other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians lives at risk.
  • School Zones – SLOW DOWN: School zones generally have a lower speed limit than other surrounding areas. There is a rhyme and reason to this and these lower speed limits should be obeyed.
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