winter driving tips - Spencer Insurance Agency, Inc

Winter is coming. Are you prepared?

car-snowed-in

Winter is right around the corner.  Are you ready?  Not sure what you need to do?  Well, I am here to help you.  Spencer Insurance Agency has a “Winter Tips” section on our website.  I rather see you out sledding or skiing than repairing your car or home.

Is your car ready for winter?

And don’t forget to prepare your home for winter. Do you remember the “Ice Storm” a couple years ago?  Read over our “Winter Storm Power Outage Tips.”

Do you find yourself inside more during the winter?  This is a great time to get your finances in order.  Check out our “Tips on financial planning this winter.”

We have some additional useful links in our “Winter Section” so check them out today.

Give us a call today at 215-885-2200 for an insurance review or answers to your questions.

We hope you have an enjoyable winter and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.   Make sure you share your holiday pictures with us.  Post them on our Facebook page or send them to us for our newsletter.  We love seeing magical moments with your families.

 

Have you check out our special “Winter Section” of our website?

car burried in snow

Cold, snow and ice make us want for Spring. Well Spring is not too far away.

Spencer Insurance added a “Winter Section” to our website with tips for teen drivers, tips on how to prepare for a Winter Storm power outage, and tips for getting your financial house in order. Take some time now while you are confined to the indoors to review these tips. Let us know if you find them helpful. Add your own tips by commenting below.

Driving in Inclement Weather

The Fall Colors have been beautiful the last few weeks.  Then all of the sudden I have a carpet of leaves on my front lawn, sidewalk and porch.

Driving down the street last weekend with the wet leaves covering the road reminded me that the leaves soon will be replaced with ice and snow.  This is the time to start thinking of ways to take the opportunity to teach your teen drivers how to drive safely in bad road conditions.

Parents should not avoid taking their children out during bad weather to teach them how to handle these conditions.  It is probably one of the most difficult lessons to administer.  The reason is that parents feel very uncomfortable putting their children behind the wheel in these conditions.  This is only natural as your instinct wants to protect your children.

However, eventually they will be driving in these conditions whether it is heavy rain, wet leaves, snow or ice.  It is better to prepare them for these conditions with a few lessons.

The tough part of this training is that it has to be done on a moments notice.  Depending on when your teen receives their permit you may not see snow or ice for a year or more.  So as soon as the opportunity presents itself jump on it.  It will be a valuable lesson for your teen.

When starting this lesson go back and remember the first lesson you gave your teen.  It was probably in some remote area like an empty parking lot.  That is a great place to start this
training.  Even though your teen may have been driving for a while they have not experience the effects of ice and snow on the car.

Take them out into that empty parking lot where you have some room to maneuver.  Have them brake on the snow and ice.  Show them it takes more time to stop when sliding on ice and snow.  Explain to them the importance of putting more distance between their car and the car in front of them when it rains, snows or is icy on the roads. Keep practicing braking, turning and steering through the snow and ice.  Discuss what black ice is.

Take time to go over safety checks with your teen.  Show them how to properly clear their car of snow and ice.  Make sure they remove all the snow from their car and not just the snow on the windshield.  How many times have you been behind a car or truck and snow blew off the top of their truck or car and landed right on your windshield blinding you temporarily

Show your teen how to get leaves and snow out of the area  surrounding your windshield wipers.  Have them make sure the wipers are free of snow and ice and that the windshield
washer fluid tubes are not blocked by ice and snow.  Make sure the windshield washer fluid is full and that you have a backup container in the trunk of the car.

Another tip is to put together a winter safety kit for each of your cars.  Use a small plastic container and fill it with the following items: blanket, spare gloves and hat,
small shovel, emergency flasher and flashlight, sand or cat liter, and windshield washer fluid.  Make sure you car also has an ice scraper and a brush to remove snow from the top of your
car.

Remember your teen’s inexperience and poor decisions are only compounded when they drive in bad weather conditions.  Take the time to practice how to drive in these conditions.  It is valuable time spent making your teen a safer driver.

For more tips on teen driving safety visit: www.spencerinsurance.com and click the “Make your Teen a Safe Driver” banner.

Cold Weather Survival Tips

It has been one cold winter so far.  This is the time I like to plan our summer vacation on the lake.  Summer will be here before you know it.

However,  February and March can still be cold months, so here are some Cold Weather Survival Tips.

Prolonged exposure to low temperatures, wind and/or moisture can result in cold-related injury from frostbite and hypothermia. Here are some suggestions on how to keep warm and avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

Dress properly– Wear several layers of clothing to insulate your body by trapping warm, dry air inside. Wool and polypropylene best trap air and do not retain moisture. Choose a coat with a wind and waterproof outer layer.

The head and neck lose heat faster than any other part of the body. Your cheeks, ears and nose are the most prone to frostbite. Wear a hat, scarf and turtleneck sweater to protect these areas.

Frostbite: What to look for:

The extent of frostbite is difficult to judge until hours after thawing. There are two classifications of frostbite:

  • Superficial frostbite is characterized by white, waxy or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas. The skin feels cold and numb. The skin surface feels stiff and underlying tissue feels soft when depressed.
  • Deep frostbite is characterized by waxy and pale skin. The affected parts feel cold, hard, and solid and cannot be depressed. Large blisters may appear after rewarming.

What to do:

  • Get the victim out of the cold and to a warm place immediately.
  • Remove any constrictive clothing items and jewelry that could impair circulation.
  • If you notice signs of frostbite, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and to keep them from sticking together.
  • Slightly elevate the affected part to reduce pain and swelling.
  • If you are more than one hour from a medical facility and only if refreezing can be prevented, then frostbite can be rewarmed by immersing the area in lukewarm, not hot water (100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit). If you do not have a thermometer, test the water first to see if it is warm. Rewarming usually takes 20 to 45 minutes or until tissues soften.

What not to do:

  • Do not use water hotter than 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Do not use water colder than 100 degrees Fahrenheit since it will not thaw frostbite quickly enough.
  • Do not rub or massage the frostbite area.
  • Do not rub with ice or snow.
  • Do not apply a heat source to frostbitten skin.

Hypothermia– Hypothermia occurs when the body loses more heat than it produces. Symptoms include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature. Severe hypothermia may cause rigid muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heartbeat and respiration, and unconsciousness.

Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and seeking immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim’s head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position.
Finally, the best way to avoid frostbite and hypothermia is to stay out of the cold. Read a book, clean house or watch TV. Be patient and wait out the dangerous cold weather.

 Feel free to pass these tips on to your friends and family and relax, summer will be here soon and we will be complaining about the hot weather.

Winter Driving Tips

Wow! Remember the snow storms of last winter?  I think we had enough snow for a couple of years but here we go again, winter will be here soon.  This is the time to start thinking of ways to take the opportunity to teach your teen drivers how to drive safely in bad road conditions.  These tips are meant for everyone especially the parents of teen drivers.  Teen driver education is very important and does not stop once your child is licensed.  You need to continue to monitor their progress and continue to teach them safe driving skills.

 Parents should not avoid taking their children out during bad weather to teach them how to handle these conditions.  It is probably one of the most difficult lessons to administer.  The reason is that parents feel very uncomfortable putting their children behind the wheel in these conditions.  This is only natural as your instinct wants to protect your children.

 However, eventually they will be driving in these conditions whether it is heavy rain, wet leaves, snow or ice.  It is better to prepare them for these conditions with a few lessons.

 The tough part of this training is that it has to be done on a moments notice.  Depending on when your teen receives their permit or license you may not see snow or ice for a year or more.  So as soon as the opportunity presents itself jump on it.  It will be a valuable lesson for your teen.

 When starting this lesson go back and remember the first lesson you gave your teen.  It was probably in some remote area like a empty parking lot.  That is a great place to start this training.  Even though your teen may have been driving for a while they have not experience the effects of ice and snow on the car.

 Take them out into that empty parking lot where you have some room to maneuver.  Have them brake on the snow and ice.  Show them it takes more time to stop when sliding on ice and snow.  Explain to them the importance of putting more distance between their car and the car in front of them when it rains, snows or is icy on the roads. Keep practicing braking, turning and steering through the snow and ice.  Discuss what black ice is.

 Take time to go over safety checks with your teen.  Show them how to properly clear their car of snow and ice.  Make sure they remove all the snow from their car and not just the snow on the windshield.  Remember Pennsylvania passed a law making it clear that you need to remove the snow from your entire vehicle. “Snow or ice can cause injury or death to another person,” state officials said.  If you do not follow the law by removing snow from the tops of your car the fines could range from $200 to $1,000.  How many times have you been behind a car or truck and snow blew off the top of their truck or car and landed right on your windshield blinding you temporarily

 Show your teen how to get leaves and snow out of the area surrounding your windshield wipers.  Have them make sure the wipers are free of snow and ice and that the windshield washer fluid tubes are not blocked by ice and snow.  Make sure the windshield washer fluid is full and that you have a backup container in the trunk of the car. 

 Another tip is to put together a winter safety kit for each of your cars.  Use a small plastic container and fill it with the following items: blanket, spare gloves and hat, small shovel, emergency flasher and flashlight, sand or cat liter, and windshield washer fluid.  Make sure you car also has an ice scraper and a brush to remove snow from the top of your car.

 Remember your teen’s inexperience and poor decisions are only compounded when they drive in bad weather conditions.  Take the time to practice how to drive in these conditions.  It is valuable time spent making your teen a safer driver.

 For more tips on teen driving safety visit: www.teendriverinsurance.com/spencer.

Tips to reduce snow claims

Wow!  Did I hear 47 inches of snow in one week here in Philly? 

There are several things you should do to prevent claims on your auto and home insurance.

Your auto insurance:

  • Since many back streets are still snow covered and that snow is packed and like ice, you need to allow a lot more time to stop.  Also, be aware of your surroundings and think about your options should you start to slide.  This happened to me a few years back when I was driving into a busy intersection and slid down the hill.  I was headed right for the busy cross street but was able to turn my car into the curb to stop my car.  That could have been a disaster.
  • Also remember that the snow becomes very hard after a couple days.  The melting during the day followed by the freezing at night makes the piles of snow the equivalent of a stone wall.  Remember this when you are parking or backing out of your driveway.  The snow which earlier was soft now is rock hard and can cause severe damage to the body of your car.  Also watch the undercarriage of your car.  The snow that has been accumulating and not plowed is also becoming hard and could do serious damage to the undercarriage of your car.
  • Clear all the snow off your vehicle.  I saw a van yesterday that had about a foot of snow on the top of the van.  This snow becomes hard and when it blows off your car and hits the car behind you could cause a serious injury to that driver. (Not to mention that PA passed a law last year which fines a driver if snow from their car damages another car.)
  • With this much snow the plows have pushed the snow to the side of the roads.  Many times this makes the inside lane more narrow.  Be aware of this as you drive.

Your Homeowner’s Insurance:

  • Remove the snow from your decks and the roof of your garage and shed.  Snow becomes very heavy and could cause a deck, garage or shed to collapse. Remove the snow if you can do it safely.
  • Look at the trees in your yard to make sure the trees are not bent over and scraping your home due to the heavy load of snow on them.
  • Clear your walks and make sure you put some salt down. The snow melts during the day and the water can freeze at night.
  • Make sure all your outside drains and sewers are not blocked by snow.  If the snow melts this could cause a flood. 
  • If you have a fire hydrant near your home make sure that you shovel out the hydrant so the fire company can respond faster to a fire.

With more snow in the forecast it is time to be proactive to prevent losses. 

If you have Teen Drivers, this is a great time to take them out in the snow so they can practice.  Start in a deserted parking lot first so the teen driver can get comfortable in the snow.

It is time to shoot the ground hog!  I don’t think I can handle six more weeks of a winter like this.

For more tips check out our website: www.spencerinsurance.com

For Teen Driver tips check out our website at: www.teendriverinsurance.com/spencer

You should be outraged!

In December there were three fatal accidents in our area taking the lives of six teen passengers.

 In 41 states there are Teen Driver Laws that limit the number of passengers that can be in a teen driver’s car.  Sadly, Pennsylvania is one of nine states without a law limiting the number of passengers in a car operated by a teen driver.  What additional motivation does the PA Legislature need to pass safer Teen Driver Laws?

It is time to call our State Representatives and Senators and tell them to pass safer Teen Driver Laws.

There are several laws pending to make Teen Driving safer.  Banning texting and limiting the number of passengers in a car driven by a Teen Driver are no brainers yet they continually get defeated when they come up for a vote.

As a parent my heart goes out to the parents of these teens.  A Johns Hopkins University study stated that the chances of a 16 year old dying in a car while a teen driver increased 39 percent with a single passenger, 86 percent with two passengers and 182 percent with three or more passengers.  In the December accidents that claimed lives of the six teen passengers two of the cars had six passengers and the other had three passengers.

Car accidents are the number one cause of death of teenagers.

As parents we are responsible for our children’s safety.  Even if the Pennsylvania legislature will not help us out we should enforce our own laws with our children. 

Number 1: No one is allowed in our vehicles unless they wear a seat belt (even back seat passengers)

Number 2: Outside of your household members, there should be no more than one other passenger in the car driven by your teen driver.

Number 3: No texting or using a cell phone while driving unless you are calling 911!  Parents, be aware that children learn by your example.  Practice what you preach.  Pull over to talk on the phone. At the very least use a hand held device.

Lastly, have your teen driver sign a contract that lists the consequences to any actions breaking your laws.

Visit our website at www.teendriverinsurance.com/spencer for a copy of a parent/teen contract and more tips on how to help your teen driver become a safer driver.  His or her life may depend on you!

AND, call your state rep and senator today and tell them to pass laws designed to help keep your teen driver safe.

Can I drop auto insurance on my seasonal or broken down vehicle?

roulette_wheel3Don’t Take that chance! Don’t drop your auto insurance on a seasonal vehicle unless you have surrendered your tag to PennDOT and talked to me.  Pennsylvania allows you to drop your auto insurance on a seasonal vehicle as long as it is not registered. 

 If you do not surrender the tag you could have severe consequences.  Pennsylvania law states that if you do not have auto insurance on a registered vehicle you can be fined, however that could be the least of your worries.

 Pennsylvania courts have ruled that if you have an uninsured registered vehicle and you are involved in an accident you do not have any first party benefits.  First party benefits include medical, work loss and funeral expenses.  This applies NOT ONLY to the uninsured car but any insured cars you own.

 If you are in an accident with a car you have insured and registered your insurance company can deny you first party benefits if they find out you have another car that is registered but not insured.  You can go online and get details of a case, Progressive v. Anthony Kennedy.

 This is why I do not recommend dropping your auto insurance on a seasonal vehicle.  The penalty is too severe.  You may have good intentions but if you forget to return the tag you put yourself in a very vulnerable position.

 It is not unusual for clients with antique and classic cars to store their cars for the winter.  The snow and salt is not good for the vehicle so they keep it in the garage. However, then  a beautiful sunny and warm January Saturday comes along and they can not resist the temptation to drive the classic car with its top down, UNINSURED and EXPOSED to a lawsuit!

  Another risk you run, even if you return the tag to PennDOT, is that your classic or antique car could be destroyed by a fire in the garage or someone could hit your car on your property.  Your homeowner’s insurance will not cover the car in the event it is destroyed by a fire, vandalized or stolen.

 
Give me a call to discuss your options on how to properly cover a vehicle that is seasonal or out of commission for a short period of time.  I will discuss your situation and tell you the best way to reduce your risk.  There may be some very affordable options for you. You may be able to get an Antique car policy which would reduce your premium substantially.  

 Another reason to reconsider dropping your coverage: You may be getting a multi car discount. You could lose the discount, causing the premium on your other cars to increase and you might not save as much money as you expected.

 If you decide to surrender your tag and drop your insurance, go to our website at www.spencerinsurance.com and check out our Resources page and Links to get the information and form you need to surrender your tag properly or get a seasonal registration from the state.

 Many times the premium savings you receive by dropping your insurance on a vehicle is small compared to the risk you take of being sued without insurance.  Then the “True Cost of Insurance” becomes much greater!  Call me today to make sure you are not being penny wise and pound foolish!

Teach your teen to drive in ice and snow!

car burried in snowThe Fall Colors have been beautiful the last few weeks.  Then all of the sudden I have a carpet of leaves on my front lawn, sidewalk and porch. The leaves always seem to fall the week after our township scheduled our leaf pick up, but they will be back again in a couple weeks and our township does a great job picking up the leaves.

 

Driving down the street last weekend with the wet leaves covering the road reminded me that the leaves soon will be replaced with ice and snow.  This is the time to start thinking of ways to take the opportunity to teach your teen drivers how to drive safely in bad road conditions.

 

Parents should not avoid taking their children out during bad weather to teach them how to handle these conditions.  It is probably one of the most difficult lessons to administer.  The reason is that parents feel very uncomfortable putting their children behind the wheel in these conditions.  This is only natural as your instinct wants to protect your children.

 

However, eventually they will be driving in these conditions whether it is heavy rain, wet leaves, snow or ice.  It is better to prepare them for these conditions with a few lessons.

 

The tough part of this training is that it has to be done on a moments notice.  Depending on when your teen receives their permit you may not see snow or ice for a year or more.  So as soon as the opportunity presents itself jump on it.  It will be a valuable lesson for your teen.

 

When starting this lesson go back and remember the first lesson you gave your teen.  It was probably in some remote area like a empty parking lot.  That is a great place to start this training.  Even though your teen may have been driving for a while they have not experience the effects of ice and snow on the car.

 

Take them out into that empty parking lot where you have some room to maneuver.  Have them brake on the snow and ice.  Show them it takes more time to stop when sliding on ice and snow.  Explain to them the importance of putting more distance between their car and the car in front of them when it rains, snows or is icy on the roads. Keep practicing braking, turning and steering through the snow and ice.  Discuss what black ice is.

 

Take time to go over safety checks with your teen.  Show them how to properly clear their car of snow and ice.  Make sure they remove all the snow from their car and not just the snow on the windshield.  Remember last winter Pennsylvania passed a law making it clear that you need to remove the snow from your entire vehicle. “Snow or ice can cause injury or death to another person,” state officials said.  If you do not follow the law by removing snow from the tops of your car the fines could range from $200 to $1,000.  How many times have you been behind a car or truck and snow blew off the top of their truck or car and landed right on your windshield blinding you temporarily

 

Show your teen how to get leaves and snow out of the area surrounding your windshield wipers.  Have them make sure the wipers are free of snow and ice and that the windshield washer fluid tubes are not blocked by ice and snow.  Make sure the windshield washer fluid is full and that you have a backup container in the trunk of the car.  .

 

Another tip is to put together a winter safety kit for each of your cars.  Use a small plastic container and fill it with the following items: blanket, spare gloves and hat, small shovel, emergency flasher and flashlight, sand or cat liter, and windshield washer fluid.  Make sure you car also has an ice scraper and a brush to remove snow from the top of your car.

 

Remember your teen’s inexperience and poor decisions are only compounded when they drive in bad weather conditions.  Take the time to practice how to drive in these conditions.  It is valuable time spent making your teen a safer driver.

 

For more tips on teen driving safety visit: www.teendriverinsurance.com/spencer.

 

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