First Community Financial Group, Inc. Blog
High school is full of defining moments for Texas teens and two of the highlights for most are prom and graduation.
However, this time of year often sees other, more tragic defining moments - serious car accidents involving teens who are distracted or even under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
At First Community Financial Group, we want to help make this season one to celebrate for you and your teen. So, with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some tips that can keep your teen safe.
First, encourage your teen to follow these general safe-driving rules:
Absolutely no alcohol
Always use seat belts
No cell phone use (including texting) while driving
Of course, special events such as prom and graduation often present special circumstances. There may be dinner with dates before the dance, and parties before or after either event. It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations well before each event, putting some guidelines into place before your teen heads out for the night. Here are some ideas:
Make sure you know the itinerary of the evening, as well as who else will be with your teen. You should have contact information for everyone.
Have a way to contact your teen at all times. You may want to require them to check in with you once or twice over the course of the evening.
Set a curfew, whether they are coming back to your home or staying with a friend. If they are staying elsewhere, make sure the curfew will be enforced by a responsible adult.
Discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as facing pressure to drink, or accepting a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. It’s a good idea to provide your child with money for a taxi just in case.
Offer a “no-questions-asked” ride home, should they need one during the evening.
If you’re worried about your teen driving, consider alternate transportation. A car service or limousine will provide a responsible, experienced adult driver. You also will be able to limit changes to the itinerary and contact the driver.
Prom and graduation in Texas are special times in a teen’s life. And just a little common sense will go a long way toward making sure your young adult is around to enjoy the other milestones that are sure to come.
In the last decade, the number of auto insurance claims that arise from distracted driving accidents has increased significantly. By definition, this is an accident caused by the fact that the involved driver wasn’t paying attention to the road.
While the use of mobile devices is a big contributor to the rise in distracted driving accidents, it is only one cause of the problem. Many other distractions exist in every car that could divert the driver’s attention from the road. It’s your responsibility to monitor your habits to make sure you are only focused on one thing—the road around you.
Keep in mind these three common mistakes that can help you deduce if you are a distracted driver.
You Don’t Remember Where You Have Just Driven
Driving involves a lot of muscle memory, and when you drive the same routes regularly, then you are likely to form a habit of doing so. While your brain helps you remember what route to take, you might not actively register going through an intersection, stopping at a stop sign, or accelerating or decelerating to follow the speed limit. This could mean that you’re driving distractedly. You might simply be lost in thought, but it’s still a diversion from the road ahead of you. This distraction might occur in an instant, but in that brief time, you might have driven into a very dangerous situation.
You Are Engaged in Conversation
It’s perfectly fine to have conversations with others in the car. However, the road has to be your primary focus, and the conversation should be secondary. That’s why you should avoid having intense conversations, arguments or debates while in the car. Those things can wait until you get where you are going. Even though you can carry on a conversation while driving, a high level of intensity puts you at risk of getting into an accident.
You Engage in Manual Activities While Driving
There are a lot of other activities besides cell phone use that could lead to distracted driving. Some people apply makeup, eat or do other activities while driving. Keep in mind, even if you check your phone while stopped at a stoplight, this is still a distraction, despite that you aren’t moving.
These actions can all lead to distractions, and if you have an accident then the fault could lie with you. Often, if at-fault accidents result in insurance claims, then it is your liability coverage that will compensate all third parties (i.e. other drivers) involved in the wreck. Still, this can cause your auto insurance rates to rise, and sometimes your insurer will even cancel your coverage because you’re too high of a risk to insure. Rather than putting yourself in a situation where you could engage in distracted driving, it’s better to do what you can to avoid the risk.
Comprehensive vs. Collison Auto Insurance
Auto insurance is designed to provide you with financial assistance in the event of an accident, theft or other instance of vehicle damage. After all, you shouldn’t have to bear the costs of an accident entirely on your own.
There are a few separate benefits that the average policy will utilize to cover vehicle damage. Two of these are collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. You have to understand that these are equally essential, but still unique and separate benefits. Here’s how they work.
Collision insurance is often the type of physical damage insurance that is most familiar to policyholders. It will help you cover costs to repair or replace your vehicle following a wreck. You can use this benefit when an accident is your fault, since under the circumstances you won’t be able to file against another at-fault party’s liability insurance.
Typically, your collision coverage will pay for the cost of your repairs, minus the cost of a deductible. If the vehicle is totaled in the accident, then the policy will often pay the cash value of the car at the time of the loss, minus the deductible cost. This might not be the full cost necessary to buy a new car, but it will represent a settlement for the value of the vehicle lost.
Factors like your chosen deductible, the value of your vehicle and your driving habits will influence the cost of your collision coverage and your overall premium. Plus, if you have a tarnished driving record, then you are likely to pay a higher premium overall because you have a higher likelihood (in the eyes of the insurer) of filing a damage claim.
Aside from collision coverage, comprehensive coverage is a separate physical damage benefit that is designed to cover vehicle damage from hazards other than collisions. Unlike its name might suggest, it does not include collision coverage as part of its benefit. You must purchase these two benefits separately in order to get full coverage.
There are many cases in which comprehensive coverage can pay for vehicle damage. For example, if a tree falls on your car during a storm, then this is the benefit that will pay for the repairs. If your car were to catch on fire (even while you are driving it), then this is another circumstance in which your plan will cover you.
Physical damage insurance is not a benefit that any driver should be without, and it’s easy to see just how much assistance this plan can provide you in the event of vehicle damage. This coverage is so essential that many vehicle lenders will require drivers to purchase this coverage if they finance their car purchases. By having this coverage, you can better guarantee that you won’t default on your loan payments just because of damage to or loss of your vehicle.
Contact one of our agents today to get a free quote for your auto, ATV, boat or RV!
10 Tips for Safe Driving
When you drive recklessly, it impacts more people on the road than just yourself. In fact, other drivers, their passengers, your passengers and even pedestrians on the road can be affected by the decisions you make behind the wheel. Therefore, you have to treat driving as the potentially dangerous activity that it is.
Your ability to drive safely directly relates to your insurance rates and the continued validity of your driver’s license. The better you avoid hazards, the better you can avoid higher insurance rates and other driving penalties.
To prevent a license suspension or auto insurance rate increases, practice the following 10 safe driving tips:
If you need a little assistance getting through a rough patch with your auto insurance rates, contact us for more information.
there are many ways to save money on auto insurance. Many vehicle owners assume they will get the lowest rate available as soon as they request a quote. That is not always the case.
Being a smart driver means knowing what discount options are available to you. You may find a wide range of savings opportunities to help reduce your premium. Nothing is more important than being a safe driver. These five areas can help reduce costs, though.
#1: Don’t text and drive.
Consumer Reports found that insurers are raising rates for drivers who text and drive. If you receive a citation for this, you can expect your rates to jump. The organization found drivers saw a 16 percent increase in their rates when they had a citation. Any type of distracted driving citation could raise your rates.
#2: Driving less can cut your costs.
You know driving less and walking or biking more is good for the environment. It can help you save money, too. If you do not drive your vehicle often, let your car insurance company know. They will likely ask you for your approximate yearly mileage.
#3: Be picky about discounts offered for technology.
Technology is a growing area of development in vehicles today. In the future, car insurance providers will have more data to make key decisions about just how safe a driver is.
Let your insurer know about the technology your vehicle offers. This includes things like collision preparation systems, IoT connectivity, and features like driver alertness monitoring. Connected vehicles may also be able to allow their insurer to track their driving. In doing so, they could see a cost savings for reduced driving.
#4: Get a new policy when you are an older teen.
Here’s a surprising way to save on auto insurance for your teen. As your teen reaches 18 and 19 years old, have the teen request a new quote from a new insurer. Doing so could help them save. Also, note that girls tend to qualify for lower rates sooner than boys.
#5: Going green could cost you green.
Electric vehicles are still very expensive. If you have a hybrid vehicle, you will often pay more for insurance compared to the same model in standard design. This may change in the future. However, you may want to consider this before you buy a new electric car.
Talk to your auto insurance provider or the agents here at our office to find out which discounts can help you save. Ask for the money savings – they do not always give you ever discount.
When your car brakes, then you are initializing a complex system of mechanical components that will work together to bring your vehicle to a stop. The average car weighs about 3 to 5 tons, and the fact that your brakes help stop this heavy machine within a few meters, countless times per year, is a testament to their reliability. You need your brakes to always be there for you at a moment’s notice.
However, everything mechanical will have problems from time to time. Periodically, you will need to have your brakes serviced, repaired or replaced. Consider six of the warning signs that will usually indicate that it’s time for a brake check:
You Hear a High-Pitched Squeal
Brake pads contain a metal component known as an indicator. Over time, the pads will wear down and expose the indicator. At this time, the exposed indicator will rub against your rotator, causing a loud, high-pitched and unmistakable squealing sound. This is a clear indicator that you need to change your brake pads.
The Brake Warning Light Turns On
Your brake warning light is designed to turn on when problems within the braking system are detected. Sometimes, the light will come on and turn off sporadically, which can make drivers feel tempted to ignore the signal. However, even one light-up of the brake light is an indicator that you need to make an appointment with the mechanic.
The Brake Pedal Goes to the Floor
Sometimes, you might be depressing your brake pedal only to feel the pressure give way and the pedal goes to the floor. This could mean that you have a bad master cylinder. You need the master cylinder to work appropriately to have appropriate brake pressure.
Your Brakes Pulsate
Brake rotors sometimes become warped or corroded, which can lead to you feeling a pulsating vibration when you try to stop the car. You might need to replace the brake rotors or to have them turned. Turning involves smoothing the rotor by shaving metal off.
Your Brake Fluid Looks Milky
At times, condensation in the line can make your brake fluid have a milky color. At this time, you should change the fluid because letting it stagnate could do damage to the master cylinder and wheel cylinders. Your owner’s manual will include directions to help you locate the fluid container under your hood.
Your Brake Lines Are Rusty
Rusted brake lines can become disjointed and cause fluid to spill. Brake lines have a very thin protective coating that will wear out over time, and which can expose the metal under the coating to rust. A small amount of rust is okay, but heavy flaking or bubbling rust is not.
Avoid costly repairs and possible brake failure by recognizing the signs of problem brakes. If your brakes feel weak and require more stopping distance than usual, get them checked.
What to do after a flood
Anyone who's been through a flood knows that recovering after this kind of disaster isn't easy. You're forced to accept that irreplaceable family treasures and memories may be gone forever, your furniture is destroyed, potentially along with your home. It's a devastating and emotional moment and a lot to take in all at once. But you know the only thing you can do is move forward, and begin the steps needed to restore your home.
As soon as the floodwaters recede, you can return to your home as long as officials give the OK to do so. Before entering your home, however, make sure it is safe!
Tips for staying safe upon return:
Bring waterproof boots, a first aid kit, cleaning supplies and a battery-powered flashlight with you before entering the house! You never know what you'll run into.
Tips for claim reporting: Another important step to take when recovering from a flood is reporting your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. While flood coverage is typically not provided under most homeowners and renters policies, flood insurance may be available to you through the federally regulated program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you need assistance to locate your flood insurance carrier, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). A claims adjuster should contact you within a day or two after report of the claim, depending on the severity of the flood event.
When reporting a claim, you should have the following information available:
When the adjuster arrives, they will inspect your property including taking measurements and photos and give you an overview of the NFIP flood claims process. Remember that some flood insurance claims are more complex than others. Some may be opened and closed quickly, while others may take weeks or even months to resolve.
If your vehicle was also damaged in a flood event, it's best to call your auto insurance provider to see if you're covered for the loss.
Contact us today for a free Flood Quote.
The days are short. The air is cold. And, roads are often slick with rain, snow or ice.
It’s winter driving season in Texas. And, while most people know what to do to try to avoid an accident, many don’t know what to do after one. It’s vital knowledge to have, because the aftermath of a crash can be just as dangerous as the crash itself — especially when it’s cold and snowy.
Here are five things to do (or not do) if you’re in an accident this winter to help keep yourself and others safe:
1. Make sure everyone’s OK — then get off the road if you can. The safety of everyone involved in a crash is the first concern, of course. So, check on the occupants of each vehicle and call for emergency assistance if it’s needed. Then, if the vehicles are drivable, get them off the road as soon – and as carefully – as possible.
2. Stay in your car if you can’t safely move away. If you can’t get your car off the road, but you can get off the road, wait until there’s no traffic around and then move well out of the way. Otherwise, stay in the car so you’re protected from other vehicles.
3. Stay visible — and warm. Turn on your hazard lights and put up road flares so other vehicles know something is wrong. And, grab your vehicle emergency kit (you have one, right?) for blankets and extra clothing. If you’ve run off the road and you’re still in your car, make sure nothing is blocking your exhaust pipe. Otherwise carbon monoxide may build up.
4. If you’re stranded, stay put. Running off the road in a remote area is scary, but resist the urge to try to walk for help. You risk getting lost, especially during a storm, if you set off on foot.
5. See a crash? Don’t always stop to help. Being a Good Samaritan could cause more problems than it solves. So, if those involved aren’t in immediate danger, call 911 and let the professionals help with medical aid and traffic control.
It’s not always easy, but keeping a cool head after an accident will do more than help everyone get through a stressful situation — it will help keep everyone safer, too.
And, remember, if something does happen on the road this winter, your First Community Financial Group agent is here to help with your auto accident claim. If you’re unsure whether you’re carrying the right coverage, contact us now and let us review your policy before it’s too late!
Safe drivers are cognizant of the risks of the road, aware of their surroundings, and committed to paying attention to the changing situations around them. Still, many people get behind the wheel when they are too tired to be truly committed to their driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates nearly 700 drivers were killed in accidents related to drowsy driving in 2019.
Driving when tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. As a result, you’re likely to be labeled a high-risk driver, which could signal a lot of red flags to your auto insurer. Because of this added challenge, you are likely to see your auto insurance rates rise. Therefore, you are doing yourself a financial favor by avoiding getting behind the wheel when you are tired.
What are a few of the ways that you will be able to tell if you are too tired to drive?
#1: Notice Your Physical Signs of Drowsiness
Your body is your roadmap for life; it tells you when you are tired and need to rest. At minimum, you are tired if you are yawning often, or dozing off in the middle of a given task. In other words, if you were alone for just a minute, then you would fall asleep. Therefore, if you need to sleep, then you shouldn’t try to go for a drive, instead. You could doze off behind the wheel—one of the worst possible times for you to do so.
#2: You Cannot Remember Driving
Perhaps you have been driving for quite a while. However, you don’t remember the last few miles you traveled, or maybe you can’t remember whether the last stoplight you went through was red or green. If you are having trouble remembering where you just went, then you are driving distracted, and this might be a clear sign that you are too tired.
#3: Your Lifestyle Makes You Prone to Tiredness
Even if you feel fine at the start of a drive, that doesn’t mean you won’t get tired the longer a drive goes on. After all, numerous lifestyle factors might drive you to become more tired during long drives. Some of these risk factors include:
You do not want to file car insurance claims for accidents caused by being drowsy. In the end, an at-fault accident claim might drive your rates up significantly. If you had a hard day or did not get any sleep, it is important not to get behind the wheel until you have rested up.
Money can be a bit tight, especially with inflation out of control. But even in these situations, it’s important that you pay your auto insurance premium. There are severe consequences of driving without auto insurance.
When you own a vehicle, maintaining at least the minimum auto insurance is a requirement. Liability insurance is necessary to cover any damage you cause if you are in a car wreck.
Additionally, if you are driving without minimum coverage, you may get a ticket if an officer of the law stops you. As a consequence of getting pulled over, you’ll might have to pay court costs, a lawyer, your auto insurance premium, and a fee for letting your coverage lapse. In the end, a lapse in your insurance could make your financial situation worse.
Your Finance Company Requires Auto Insurance
Many people finance their vehicle purchase, instead of paying cash for their car. These agreements often requires you to maintain full coverage continually. Full coverage includes liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance coverage. Full coverage protects both you and your finance company. If you are in a wreck, full coverage will help you get your car repaired or replaced, which protects your finance company’s interests too.
You Could Get into a Wreck
Statistically, there are more distracted drivers on the road than ever before. People are driving and responding to text messages, having phone conversations, or changing the radio station. All of these behaviors prevent them from committing their undivided attention to the highway. At any moment, a distracted driver can crash into you. Or, if you are the distracted driver, you can crash into someone else. If this happens while you don’t have auto insurance, then you are in for a big surprise; your insurance won’t pay for repairs.
If you hit someone else during a lapse in coverage, your insurance company won’t cover the damage. You will be responsible for paying to repair their vehicle. The costs of doing so can easily cost thousands of dollars, which could bankrupt the average driver.
Additionally, if you are the victim, getting into a wreck without insurance is still an inconvenience. After an accident, a settlement can take weeks or months, leaving your vehicle disabled the entire time.
The takeaway is, never drive without car insurance. Call us today for a free car insurance quote.