6 Tips For Driving In The Rain and Thunderstorms

Driving In The Rain

Driving In The RainDriving in the rain or during a thunderstorm can be pretty nerve-wracking for most people. Worrying about having an accident or being stuck on the side of the road can be very overwhelming. It can also be very dangerous. However, a few tips and adjustments can take away some of the anxiety and help you stay calm during your commute.

Driving in the rain and thunderstorms

If you happen to get caught driving in the rain or thunderstorm, don’t panic . There a extra precautions you can take to make your trip a safe one.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Turn on your headlights, wipers and defroster to increase visibility.
  2. Drive in the tracks of vehicles ahead of you and reduce your speed.
  3. Allow for increased space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
  4. If you hydroplane, hold the steering wheel straight and remove your foot from the gas.
  5. Do not use cruse control during inclimate weather.
  6. Pull off the road in an open area away from trees to avoid a lightning strike.

Helping you to avoid claims is just one of the many value-added services we provide. In the unfortunate event you do have an accident, we will help you through the process. Give us a call during business hours or click here to view our after hours claim contacts. 

5 Critical Defensive Driving Tips You Should Know

defensive driving

defensive drivingBeing a defensive driver entails utilizing various road skills to defend yourself against potential accident hazards. Using proper defensive driving techniques will help keep both you and other drivers safe on the road. With this in mind, be sure to implement the following defensive driving guidance the next time you get behind the wheel.

Eliminate distractions

The first step in being a defensive driver is to reduce distractions while you drive. As such, it’s important to make sure the road is your sole focus—avoid using your cellphone, adjusting the radio, programming your GPS, eating, drinking or applying makeup behind the wheel.

Remain alert

In addition to eliminating distractions, it’s vital to be fully aware of your surroundings on the road. This practice will help you better detect upcoming hazards, allowing you to respond as quickly and safely as possible. Check your mirrors often, and try to scan road conditions approximately 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. Specifically, keep an eye out for other drivers, nearby pedestrians and road obstructions (e.g., traffic cones or construction work).

Follow the rules of the road

This includes wearing your seat belt, obeying speed limits, using your turn signals and avoiding driving with excess passengers in your vehicle. Also, make sure you approach intersections with caution—never run a red light or stop sign. Even if you have the right of way, look around to confirm it’s safe to cross the intersection before doing so.

Avoid aggressive driving (and drivers)

Aggressive habits—such as switching lanes frequently, braking or accelerating suddenly, and tailgating other drivers—can increase your likelihood of being involved in an accident. Try to be as predictable and forgiving as possible by always leaving at least a four-second distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, avoiding abrupt lane changes and keeping a steady pace. If another driver is displaying aggressive habits, try to distance yourself from them or pull over when it is safe to do so.

Be extra careful in adverse conditions

In severe weather (e.g., heavy rain, snow and fog), road conditions can be significantly more dangerous. Take additional precautions by reducing your speed, increasing your following distance, braking earlier and using your headlights.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Your Vehicle

Even the most defensive drivers could contribute to an accident on the road if operating an unsafe vehicle. Make sure you keep your vehicle in good shape by taking it for routine oil changes and fluid checks, ensuring the tires are properly inflated and performing other maintenance as needed. For additional driving safety tips and auto insurance solutions, contact us today.

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim Following Weather-related Damage

Weather-related Damage

Weather-related DamageExtreme weather events, such as hail, wildfires, high winds and flooding can cause severe damage to your vehicle. Understanding how to file a weather-related damage claim can make it easier for you to be reimbursed for vehicular damage. Read on for further guidance.

Does My Insurance Cover Weather-related Damage?

Specific forms of auto insurance are required in most states. Depending on your location, required coverage may include liability insurance, personal injury protection insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, these coverages generally won’t help pay for damage caused by noncollision incidents, such as weather-related damages. Comprehensive insurance coverage is essential to ensure adequate financial protection from these events. Although this coverage isn’t typically required, it can help prevent costly out-of-pocket expenses if your vehicle is damaged from a storm or natural disaster.

How Do I File a Weather-related Damage Claim?

The following are general guidelines for filing a claim following weather-related damage to your vehicle:

  • Contact your insurance company. Report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible. Some insurers will set up emergency disaster relief programs to expedite claims following widespread disasters, such as major hurricanes and violent tornados.
  • Prioritize safety. Don’t risk driving a vehicle that could have serious problems. Although damage can be easy to spot (e.g., dents from hail), some damage may be difficult to notice without a proper inspection. Leave your car where it is and don’t attempt to drive it before an insurance adjuster arrives if there’s a chance it could have sustained damage.
  • Assess the condition of your vehicle. Make a quick assessment of vehicular damage if it’s safe to do so. Look for signs of extensive damage and indications that the car may not be drivable.
  • Document the damage. Gather visuals of the damage, such as photos and videos. You should also note anything that seems wrong (e.g., a strong smoke smell when driving). Provide this information to your insurance company to help them evaluate the loss.
  • Be patient. Auto insurance companies often receive a deluge of insurance claims following an extreme weather-related event, such as a wildfire or hurricane. Be prepared to wait and try to remain patient during the claims process.

Finding and maintaining the right auto insurance policy is crucial to ensuring you’re financially protected from weather-related events. Work with Rinehart, Walters & Danner to ensure you have sufficient protection.

Contact Us

The agents at Rinehart, Walters & Danner are here to answer your insurance questions. Contact us today to learn more.

Did You Know Ohio Has A New Distracted Driving Law?

Distracted Driving Law

Distracted Driving LawAs of April 4, 2023, it is illegal for drivers in Ohio to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device. This is due to a new distracted driving law. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, at least 60,421 crashes and 209 deaths related to distracted driving have occurred in the past five years.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will only issue warnings to violators for six months, but beginning Oct. 5, 2023, they will start issuing citations. Members of law enforcement can automatically pull any driver over if they see a phone or other electric device in their hand.

Violations of the Law

Anything that involves using, holding or supporting a device while driving violates the new law. This includes the following actions:

  • Dialing a phone
  • Sending a text message
  • Looking at any social media
  • Video calls
  • Browsing the internet
  • Watching videos
  • Playing games
  • Recording video

The law does not apply to the following:

  • Wearing headphones/earphones
  • Using a device integrated into the vehicle
  • Using the speakerphone feature, as long as the device is not being supported by the driver’s body
  • Streaming audio and navigational apps; they must be set up before embarking, or use a single touch or swipe to activate.

Exceptions to the Law

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there are a few exceptions to the law, which include:

  • Drivers reporting an emergency to law enforcement, fire department, a hospital, a health care provider, or a similar emergency service
  • Drivers holding a phone to their ear only during phone conversations initiated with a single swipe or touch
  • Drivers using a cell phone or other electronic device when stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency or road closure
  • First responders (e.g., law enforcement, fire, and EMS) using electronic devices as part of their official duties
  • Utility workers operating a utility vehicle in certain emergency or outage situations
  • Licensed operators using an amateur radio
  • Commercial truck drivers using a mobile data terminal

Penalties

  • First-time offense—A fine of up to $150 and two points assessed to the driver’s license
  • Second offense in a two-year period—A fine up to $250 and three points assessed to the driver’s license
  • Third or more offenses in a two-year period—A fine of up to $500 and four points to the driver’s license, plus a possible 90-day suspension of the driver’s license

However, if the driver completes a distracted driving course, they may be able to reduce their penalties.

For More Information

Drivers can familiarize themselves with the new distracted driving law by reading it in full here. Contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency to learn how this law may affect you.

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month And We Have Prevention Tips For You

Distracted Driving Awareness

Distracted Driving AwarenessThe National Safety Council recognizes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This event is intended to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and encourage motorists like you to minimize potential distractions behind the wheel. Review the following article for more information on distracted driving and ways you can help prevent it.

Distracted Driving Overview

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving refers to any activity that may divert a motorist’s attention from the road. There are three main types of distractions that can interfere with drivers’ attentiveness behind the wheel, including:

  1. Visual distractions—These distractions involve motorists taking their eyes off the road. Some examples of visual distractions include reading emails or text messages, focusing on vehicle passengers, looking at maps or navigation systems, and observing nearby activities (e.g., accidents, traffic stops or roadside attractions) while driving.
  2. Manual distractions—Such distractions entail motorists removing their hands from the steering wheel. Key examples of manual distractions include texting, adjusting the radio, programming navigation systems, eating, drinking or performing personal grooming tasks (e.g., applying makeup) while driving.
  3. Cognitive distractions—These distractions stem from motorists taking their minds off driving. Primary examples of cognitive distractions include talking on the phone, conversing with vehicle passengers or daydreaming while driving.

Regardless of distraction type, distracted driving is a serious safety hazard that contributes to a significant number of accidents on the road. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that more than 2,800 people are killed and 400,000 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver each year—equating to approximately eight deaths and 1,095 injuries per day. Considering these findings, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Prevention Tips

Whenever you get behind the wheel, keep these distracted driving prevention measures in mind:

  • Put away your phone. Silence your phone and store it in a location that is out of reach while driving to lower the temptation to check it.
  • Plan your trip before you leave. Program your navigation system prior to hitting the road to get familiar with your journey and feel confident in your route.
  • Don’t fumble with your playlist. Select a radio station or plug in a predetermined playlist before driving to limit the need for music adjustments.
  • Secure passengers. Ensure kids are properly situated in car seats (if needed) with seat belts fastened. Keep pets stationary in the back seat.
  • Avoid multitasking. Never complete additional tasks—such as eating or personal grooming—behind the wheel.
  • Stay focused. Concentrate your mind on the road by keeping distracting conversations to a minimum and looking straight ahead.

For additional driver safety tips, contact us today.

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5 Tips For How To Navigate The Auto Insurance Marketplace In 2023

auto insurance marketplace

Auto rates increased an average of 9% for drivers in 2022, with 1 in 5 US drivers reporting multiple auto rate increases over the 12-month period, according to Insurify. Unfortunately for drivers and auto insurance consumers, these rate increases are expected to continue in 2023. More accidents, rising medical and litigation costs, more frequent and severe natural disasters and inflation-driven auto repair costs are all expected to contribute to continued auto rate increases in 2023. In fact, US drivers are expected to spend on average $1,895 more in 2023 for the same coverage they had at the end of 2021, said Insurify.

As drivers struggle to find affordable coverage, having an experienced insurance agent on their side will be crucial to help navigate the rapidly changing marketplace. Continue reading for guidance on using an agent to navigate the auto insurance marketplace.

Tips for Auto Insurance Buyers in 2023

Although many of the factors contributing to rising auto rates are out of your control, there are several things you can try to help reduce the cost of your premium increases. Consider the following tips to help keep your auto rates down:

  • Bundle your home and auto insurance. By purchasing multiple insurance policies from the same insurer, you could save up to 25% on your auto premiums. Ask your insurance agent to help you find eligible bundling discounts.
  • Find the right vehicle for your budget. Higher-value vehicles are typically more expensive to repair or replace, leading to higher insurance costs. While several factors may affect your auto premiums, purchasing a vehicle with a lower MSRP could help you find less expensive coverage. Before buying a new-to-you vehicle, ask your insurance agent how much you can expect to pay for auto coverage.
  • Increase your deductible. Raising your insurance deductible is one way to offset rising premium costs, but keep in mind a higher deductible will increase the amount you have to pay out of pocket after an accident. Consult your insurance agent to find out if a higher deductible plan is right for you.
  • Consider a low-mileage plan. Driving fewer than 5,000 miles a year might make you eligible for a low-mileage auto insurance policy. These policies can lower your auto rates. Report your actual mileage to your insurance agent to see if this type of plan could be right for you.
  • Ask your agent to help you find the right policy. Your insurance agent can help you shop around and compare multiple auto insurance quotes to find the right policy for your needs and budget. If you have a good driving record, less expensive insurance options could be available with a new insurance carrier.

We’re Here to Help

As you navigate the auto insurance market in 2023, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Your insurance agent can help you search for eligible discounts and bring your auto policy into alignment with your coverage needs. Contact Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency today to learn how we can help you navigate the challenging auto insurance marketplace.

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Tips to Avoid Trouble When Buying Used Vehicles

Buying Used Vehicles - Rinehart Insurance

Buying used vehicles can be a great way to save a little money. However, make sure to be cautious when purchasing a used vehicle. To avoid purchasing a car with hidden problems, consider the below tips when shopping.

What to look for

  • Excessive wear and tear in the interior, regardless of what the odometer says, is a clue that the car has seen some miles. Look for: Break pedal pad worn through the metal beneath – Driver’s seat outer edge is worn through – Water leaking directly under the floor mats
  • Damp, musty odors are indications of leaks in the windshield, weather stripping or heater core
  • Cars that ride lower in the front as compared to the back indicate worn springs
  • Vehicles that bounce when pushed on indicates worn shocks and struts
  • Tires with worn outer edges from the front end represent the need for an alignment
  • Clanking noises when the vehicle is in gear points towards a problem with the drive shaft universal joints
  • Repainted body panels, Check this by looking at the colors of adjoining panels to see if they match the front fender
  • Motor oil that is not full indicates that the engine may be leaking or burning oil
  • Knocking and ticking sounds that increase as the engine speed increases represent major problems and costly repairs
  • Transmission fluid that is black or brown may indicate internal damage
  • Banging, grinding or squeaking noises indicates a damaged or broken transmission mount

Be Wary of Mileage Tampering

Do not be fooled by the mileage on the odometer. To see if the instruments have been tampered with, look for fingerprints or scratches inside the plastic covering. Mileage numbers that don’t line up properly on the odometer offer another fraud clue. This may be a crude attempt at getting you to buy a vehicle that has far more miles (and problems) than what the low mileage would suggest.

Whether new or used, purchasing a vehicle is an investment. Make sure yours is properly covered by calling our office today to do a policy review.

4 Tips You Need To Know When You Do Winter Vehicle Storage

Vehicle Storage

Vehicle StorageWhen winter comes and brings the snow and cold with it, it’s time to think about vehicle storage. You should store your recreational vehicle – or any vehicles that won’t be in use – to avoid damage from the harsh weather and roads and to ensure it’s in good working condition for spring.

Use these tips if you plan on vehicle storage this winter:

  1. Clean your car—Thoroughly cleaning your vehicle inside and out not only makes it look nicer, but also prevents dirt and acidic materials from eating away at your car and causing it to rust.
  2. Change the fluids—Having clean oil, fuel stabilizer and brake fluid, and a full tank of gas will help protect your car while it’s in storage and will help it run smoother when spring comes.
  3. Protect your car—The best way to prevent the winter elements from damaging your vehicle is to keep it covered, whether it’s in your garage, a local storage facility or at a family member’s home. If you plan on keeping your vehicle outdoors, consider using a weatherproof car cover.
  4. Check tires and brakes—Inflate your vehicle’s tires to their maximum air pressure, so they can slowly deflate as the temperature drops. Also, don’t engage your parking brake as it may become frozen. Instead, use chocks (wedges placed under car tires) to ensure your vehicle doesn’t roll away.

Start it Up

Even in storage, it’s wise to start your vehicle periodically for 10-15 minutes to get the proper oils and coolants running through it. If your vehicle has a cover on it, remove it and roll down the windows before running. If your vehicle is stored in the garage, ensure that the garage door is open and the windows are down for proper ventilation before starting your car.

Don’t forget to call you insurance agent to discss your auto insurance coverage as well. 

What You Need To Know Before You Lower Your Auto Insurance Limits

Auto Insurance Limits

Auto Insurance Limits

The cost of living can be pretty expensive. Everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and lower expenses. Auto insurance premiums are one expense many would like to lower. While you may be tempted to lower your auto insurance limits, make sure to weight out all the risks. 

Determining Which Coverage You Need

An auto insurance policy is designed to provide you with a level of protection in the event you are involved in an accident. This includes protection against property, liability and medical costs. Understanding the different parts of coverage is important when selecting your auto insurance limits. 

  • Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
  • Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. 
  • Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. 
  • Underinsured motorists coverage pays for property damage and bodily injury caused by another driver whose coverage is insufficient to cover damages suffered.  

Selecting the correct liability limits is fundamental. On your auto insurance policy you will see your limits listed something like this – 100/300/50. In this example 100/300/50 means you are covered for up to $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $300,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $50,000 in property damage per accident.

Many states have minimum liability limit requirements. You may be tempted to reduce your liability limits to the minimum legal level. Or even dropping underinsured motorists coverage. While it may reduce your premium, it could also subject you to substantial risks. 

Collision Coverage – Know The Value Of Your Car

Your policy will not pay for repairs that exceed the value of your vehicle. For this reason, if you are driving a vehicle that isn’t worth more than a few thousand dollars, it may not make sense to purchase collision coverage. Your agent can help you determine if collision insurance makes sense for you. 

Top Ways To Save On Your Auto Premiums

  • Consider raising your deductible.
  • Keep up your good driving record.
  • Drive less to qualify for a low-mileage discount.
  • Drive a car with safety features such as anti-lock brakes and airbags.
  • Install an anti-theft device.
  • Ask about our multi-policy discount. 

We’re here to help. Accidents happen to cautious drivers too. Having adequate auto insurance limits can save you from serious financial burden should you be involved in an accident. We can help you determine which auto insurance coverage is needed and what limits to purchase. 

9 Ways To Save Money On Gas

save money on gas

save money on gasI think it’s safe to say, we all have been feeling the pain of high gas prices. Regardless of the price of a gallon of gas, it is always great to be able to save money on gas. Often, the small things we do can add up to big fuel savings. If you are looking to spend less money at the pump, here are some easy things you can start doing today. 

  1.  Lighten your load—Extra weight decreases gas mileage.
  2. Avoid long idles—Idling for only one minute consumes the same amount of gas that is required for starting your engine.
  3. Plan your trip ahead of time—Consolidate your trip to places that are close to one another.
  4. Open the windows—Instead of blasting the air conditioning on a hot day, open the windows or use your car vents, which circulate outside air.
  5. Get your oil changed—Stay up-to-date on oil changes. They should be done approximately every 3,000 miles for conventional motor oil.
  6. Drive slower—You can improve your gas mileage by nearly 20% by driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph.
  7. Maintain your tires—Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned and perform regular maintenance checks on your tires.
  8. Drive smart—Be sure to accelerate gradually from a dead stop, rather than stomping on the gas pedal.
  9. Verify your rating—Make sure you are selecting the right octane rating at the pump.

Prioritize Fuel Efficiency When Buying Your Next Vehicle

Considering buying a new or used vehicle? Before making a purchase, check the gas mileage ratings of similar vehicles of interest to you. Then, narrow down your options on a model that is fuel-efficient in the size category that meets your needs.

For additional fuel efficiency tips and auto insurance solutions, contact us today.

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