Tag Archives: California

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

Every driver is different, and most vehicles are different, too. Essentially, everyone’s auto insurance needs vary based upon an assortment of factors. Whether it’s simple liability or full coverage, Mercury recommends consumers purchase the insurance package that best fits their personal requirements.

Below are some key questions consumers should ask themselves when evaluating their car insurance:

  • Am I making payments on my car?

Lien holders will often require a vehicle owner to carry collision coverage so the car will be repaired (subject to the payment of the deductible) regardless of who caused the accident. This is the bank’s way of protecting its investment in the vehicle until you finish making payments on the loan.

  • How much of a deductible do I need?

Higher deductibles lower your monthly insurance rates, but they increase the amount you pay out-of-pocket in the event of a loss. The deductible you choose is the amount you agree to pay when you use your collision coverage, regardless of fault. Some companies will reimburse the deductible if the accident is not your fault. Mercury will often even waive your deductible if the accident is clearly not your fault, so it’s very important to assess how much you can afford to pay on short notice and use that to determine your deductible.

  • What are my driving habits?

History has a way of repeating itself. A driving record littered with broken headlights, dented doors and bent bumpers may require complete insurance coverage (see collision coverage). Additionally, drivers who make long daily commutes on dangerous, busy stretches of road may also want to increase insurance coverage to protect against possible collisions.

  • Where do I live?

Location. Location. Location. Take your environment into consideration when choosing your level of protection. Living in areas with high auto theft and vandalism rates make having comprehensive coverage more of a necessity than if you reside in Smalltown, USA. If you live in an area where harsh winters, packed interstates and narrow streets are the norm, collision coverage becomes more important because the likelihood of being in an accident increases.

  • What type of car do I drive?

More expensive lines of coverage (collision, comprehensive coverage) become less justifiable as the value of your vehicle decreases as it ages. In these situations, it may make sense to decrease your level of insurance coverage to save money, but ask yourself whether the savings are enough to offset the risk of potentially having a large repair or replacement bill.

  • How frequently do I drive my vehicle?

Do you commute daily or just use your car on weekends? How much mileage do you put on your car per month? The more you drive, the more likely you are to get into an accident. Take this into consideration when evaluating how much auto insurance you need.

  • Who uses my vehicle?

Is it a family car? Do multiple drivers use it? Not everyone may be as experienced as you, so consider who else will be driving your vehicle before purchasing auto insurance. Liability may be enough protection for you, but is it enough for your teenage son or daughter?

  • What can I afford?

Money talks, especially in today’s economy. Look for a plan that protects you and still fits within your budget. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing expensive auto insurance that doesn’t offer enough protection. Mercury offers a variety of insurance discounts, ranging from good student to multi-car, which make protecting your vehicle more affordable.

  • How much do I have to protect?

If you own a home, have multiple vehicles and there will be teenage drivers using your vehicles, you will probably want a lot more coverage because you have more to lose in a serious accident. Conversely, if you rent an apartment and own an older car, you may not need as much coverage.

Whatever your situation, it’s always a good idea to speak with an insurance agent. Insurance can be very confusing and a highly trained, professional agent is your best resource to help get the right coverage at the best price. Mercury only sells through independent agents, so you can be sure you’ll get excellent advice and a package specifically tailored to meet your needs.

Dangers of ‘Connected’ Vehicles

Mercury Insurance is launching a campaign to educate the public and policyholders about the dangers of ‘connected’ vehicles. Improvements in technology that often have the goal of making vehicles safer are turning cars into 4,000-pound computers on wheels, vulnerable to being hacked.

Mercury is providing this online informational site allows your customers and consumers to enter their vehicle make, model and year to score its vulnerability on a scale of 1 to 6 and learn about specific ways a hacker might be able to unlock or even take control of it.

https://blog.mercuryinsurance.com/how-hackable-is-your-car/

Tips for Protection

Forbes reports that by the year 2020, there will be 152 million connected cars worldwide. Connected vehicles transmit wireless signals and radio waves, making them susceptible to thieves who can, among other things, hack into a car’s electronic ignition and steal the vehicle. They can also remotely take control of the vehicle away from its owner while driving, which can lead to a potentially dangerous situation out on the road.

Mercury Insurance recently connected with cybersecurity expert Craig Smith to learn how consumers can protect their vehicles against cyberattacks. The author of “The Car Hacker’s Handbook,” shared the following tips:

  • Remove dongles when the vehicle isn’t in operation. A dongle is a small device that plugs into the on-board diagnostics port under a car’s dashboard and can be used to monitor driving habits and a vehicle’s performance. Some companies offer apps that connect to them via Bluetooth to monitor driving habits that can help improve gas mileage or measure the miles you drive to set accurate insurance rates. Consumers who wish to use a dongle in their vehicles should try to use it sparingly and take it out of the car when it isn’t being driven.

Note: Since these devices can increase the risk of a cyberattack, Mercury doesn’t use this technology to monitor our customers’ driving habits.

  • Lock key fobs in a metal drawer or refrigerator. Cybercriminals can break into a vehicle to steal its contents by intercepting the key fob signal to open the vehicle, then tricking the vehicle into thinking the owner’s electronic key fob is closer than it really is. This type of attack involves amplifying the key fob’s signature and is mainly a concern when vehicles are parked on the street.

Placing keys in a metal drawer or refrigerator at night can help protect against this kind of hacking activity by blocking out or reducing the signal of the keys so that they aren’t transmitting when not in use. Parking in a well-let area will also help if you don’t have access to a garage.

  • Disable in-car wireless services. Remote hackers will look for vulnerabilities in a device that is capable of wireless communications that transmit through cellular or radio waves, such as Wi-Fi.Wireless systems like telematics, satellite or digital radio, internet, Bluetooth or wireless key fobs can provide entry points for attackers. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see what features the vehicle has and then decide which wireless systems are important and only enable those options. The other systems should be disabled.
  • Visit your service department if you suspect you’ve been hacked. There are no pre-determined signs if a vehicle has been hacked, so if your vehicle is performing strangely, take it into the dealership to discuss the problem. It could just be a normal configuration problem or a bug in the particular software version the car’s computer is using.

How Hackable is Your Car? Enter your vehicle details in Mercury’s infographic to see.

Additional Resources

Understanding Car Safety Ratings

Understanding-Car-Safety-Ratings

Although newer vehicles are generally more expensive to insure than older ones, consumers can often get discounts if their new vehicles have the latest safety features. Advances in crash and accident avoidance technology mean that consumers who buy a new vehicle equipped with the latest safety features are often less likely to be seriously injured in a car crash.

Safety ratings are a function of two major factors: prevention—how well the vehicle is designed to prevent an accident—and, crashworthiness—how well the vehicle performs in a crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks its Top Safety Picks based on good, acceptable, marginal or poor performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and evaluations of seat / head restraints for protection against neck injuries during rear impacts. Crash tests are conducted on a half-dozen types of vehicles, including large cars, mid-sized cars, small cars, minivans, mid-size SUVs, and small SUVs. You can also visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for a full report on recalls and defects.

Currently, some of the top-rated safety features are:

  • Adaptive front airbags
  • Side airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Knee airbags
  • Electronic stability control
  • Anti-lock braking systems
  • Brake assist
  • Tire pressure monitors
  • Back-up sensors
  • Park assist
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Smart headlights
  • Crash-alert systems (such as OnStar)
  • Built-in car seats

Technology is ever-improving, and, as time goes by, manufacturers and the government are standardizing these features. Doing your homework ahead of time and knowing what your options are can make the decision-making process smoother and get you into that new car faster!

Technology to Help Prevent Texting While Driving

technology-against-texting-and-driving

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that cell phone distractions while driving claim 6,000 lives and are the cause of 1.6 million crashes a year.

Today, distracted driving kills more people than drinking and driving, and research has shown that drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to use cell phones while driving.

So, what is being done to combat this epidemic? Educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving is important, but it clearly isn’t enough. What can we do? One place to start is technology, because technology can play a powerful role in helping to remind drivers to refrain from using their cell phones while they’re on the road. Here’s a look at three inventions designed to put an end to distracted driving.

1. The SMARTwheel

The SMARTwheel is a high-tech steering wheel cover that was designed by six New Hampshire teens with the goal of ending distracted driving.

The idea came about when 14-year-old T.J. Evarts noticed that his friends who had recently gotten their licenses were often using their phones while driving. Knowing how hazardous texting and driving is, Evarts set out to find a way to deter his friends…and the SMARTwheel was born.

The cover easily slips onto the steering wheel and tracks when a driver has both hands on the wheel. Removing one or both hands from the wheel triggers a buzzer and flashing lights. The device even records trip data and grades driving habits using a mobile app connected to smartphones through Bluetooth so parents can track their teen’s driving habits.

2. ParentBlocked

ParentBlocked is a smartphone app that allows parents to disable and control their children’s cell phones at certain times of the day through remote access.

The app was created by concerned single mom, Lisa Mullins, who worried that her teenage daughter would be too tempted to use her cell phone while driving.

It allows parents to approve downloads and pick and choose which features they want to manage – for example, parents can disable texting and social media sites when teens should be focused on other activities, like driving. PB Safe Driving Mode will automatically shut down cell phone functions if your teen is moving faster than 10 mph but still allow emergency calls.

3. Drivesafe.ly

DriveSafe.ly is a mobile app that eliminates reading and typing on smartphones by using iSpeech software. The app reads text messages and emails aloud and drivers are able to respond to messages through speech.

Tech entrepreneur and iSpeech founder Heath Ahrens is the creator of the hands-free app, which is compatible with Bluetooth and radio transmitters. It also comes with a customizable auto-response. These features keep drivers connected while reducing distractions and promoting safe driving.

Distracted driving takes lives and these apps can help make a difference. We encourage all parents to visit the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge website where they can find resources and tools to reinforce the message and encourage safe driving habits and behaviors. There is even a Drive Safe Agreement for parents and teen drivers to sign.

 

Distracted Driving

distracted-drivingTexting, cell phones, eating and other distractions are causing an increase in traffic accidents

OMG! This is nothing to LOL about. Texting while driving is a leading cause of accidents for teenagers and it claims thousands of lives each year. 1 Texting while driving also reduces a driver’s reaction time so much that it’s the same as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent, which would make you legally intoxicated.2

Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident when texting and driving. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in traffic accidents involving distracted driving, including texting, with an estimated 424,000 people injured.3

Distracted driving is more than texting. Distracted driving occurs any time a driver takes their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel or their mind off their primary task, which is driving safely.

Activities that can cause distracted driving include:

Texting
Using a cell phone or smartphone
Eating or drinking
Talking to passengers
Grooming (shaving, applying makeup, etc.)
Reading
Reading a map
Using a navigation system
Watching a video
Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, this is similar to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. 4 Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers. 5 Those simply aren’t good odds.

At the very least, a traffic accident caused by distracted driving is certain to lead to an increase in a driver’s car insurance rates.

These common sense steps can help prevent accidents and save lives:

Text messages can wait until your car is turned off.
Pull over to the side of the road to read that map.
Input the address into the navigation system before you leave.
Don’t blast the radio.
Allow enough time so you can eat at the restaurant and not while you’re driving.

Car Insurance Thousand Oaks CA

Do I Need Car Insurance Before Buying a New Car?

Find out what your Thousand Oaks, CA auto insurance needs for a new car.

Whether you’re choosing a flashy sports car for yourself or gifting your loved one with a new ride, deciding on a new car is a fun process! Selecting the make, model, and even color can sidetrack you from switching your auto insurance coverage. But when exactly do you need to purchase auto insurance when buying a new car?

Simply put, you don’t need auto insurance before you buy a new car, but you will need it before you drive the car home from the dealer’s lot.

If you know the exact car you’re going to buy, you can call your insurance agent with the information. After selecting the appropriate and available coverage for you and that specific vehicle, your agent can add the new car to your existing insurance policy.

Some people are more impulsive! They find themselves at an auto dealership wanting to buy a new car and immediately drive it home. For this situation, your auto insurer would still have to be called, but it can be done from the dealership. Supplying the agent with the necessary information about the vehicle, with the intent of driving the car off the lot immediately, means an insurance binder can be issued. This insurance is then effective immediately. It will serve as your insurance policy for the new car until your agent can add the new car to your existing policy.

If you don’t have an auto insurer because you don’t have a car currently, the car dealership may be able to refer you to one. This circumstance is a little trickier to work around as you’re not updating a current policy, so an insurer is unlikely to insure you over the phone then and there. To be prepared for this, establish a relationship with an insurer before you buy the shiny, new set of wheels.

Never drive a car without auto insurance! If you can’t get insured right away, leave the car at the dealership. For the best value of auto insurance within the Thousand Oaks area of California, contact Integrity First Insurance Services!

Holiday Recipe Thousand Oaks CA

Holiday Favorite: Candied Pecans Recipe!

Crunchy, sweet, salty – these pecans impress all!

Who doesn’t love pecans around the end of the year? From pecan pie to sweet potato and pecans, to candied pecans, they are a fall favorite and winter must-have! This recipe for candied pecans is not only simple but creates an incredibly satisfying and moreish snack!

Alongside your fire-roasted chestnuts, add these nuts to your Christmas table!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound pecan halves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
  2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Whisk egg white and water together in a separate bowl until frothy. Toss pecans in the egg white mixture. Mix sugar mixture into pecan mixture until pecans are evenly coated. Spread coated pecans onto a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until pecans are evenly browned, 1 hour.

From Integrity First Insurance Services, we hope that you enjoyed this recipe as much as we did! Before the festive season kicks off, secure your insurance services from us in Thousand Oaks, California.

Flood Insurance Thousand Oaks CA

Warning: Winter Storms Are Coming, Get Flood Insurance Now!

Prepare your home and business for predicted floods and storms.

While the weather is dry and sunny in Southern California, be warned that it’s not due to continue: El Nino is coming and this winter is predicted to be a wet one! Despite California not being known for it’s rain and flooding, this only makes our land more precipitation-intolerant. The land has been in such a drought that experts say that when it does rain, the land will become overwhelmed with water and flooding will occur quite rapidly.

What are viable flood defenses that you can put in place to protect your building? You may be turning your homeowners insurance policy, expecting that to cover damages in the event of flooding – but you’ll be disappointed. Standard homeowners insurances don’t provide any flood insurance coverage whatsoever. Due to the extensive damage and destruction flooding can do to a house and belongings, insurers smartly decided to withdraw this coverage, instead setting up flood insurance as a stand-alone policy.

Luckily, your Californian flood insurance policy would apply to homes, condos, mobile homes, businesses and rentals that are in flood zone areas. At Integrity First Insurance Services, our flood insurance policy can offer:

  • Building, contents, replacement cost coverage
  • Standard flood insurance coverage
  • Optional excess flood coverage
  • Affordable rates!

Before you rule out any additional coverages, ensure that you select the best policy, at the best price for your home and belongings. Luckily, personal property needn’t be lost forever and your home can be restored without breaking the bank!

Serving the Conejo Valley within California with quality insurance, contact Integrity First Insurance Services, located in Thousand Oaks.

Holiday Home Decorating Safety Tips Thousand Oaks CA

Making Your Home Decorating Safer This Holiday

Don’t start decorating before securing safety!

Whether you decide to deck your home out in Santa’s grotto attire, or opt for minimal lights and ribbons, holiday decorations are going up in almost every home! This time of year is prominent for festive home décor and, unfortunately, injuries.

A simple Christmas tree and a few scented candles add cheer to any home and seem completely harmless… Right? In two years, there was an annual average of four deaths and $18 million in property damage from Christmas tree fires. For candles, there were around 130 deaths and $360 million in property losses, annually. Suddenly, these decorations seem less than joyful.

Don’t fall victim to simple safety mistakes! Use the following tips to prevent fires this year:

  • Buy a fresh Christmas tree and keep it well-hydrated. Let it stand in a bucket of water for two days before bringing it into the house. A well-watered tree means it will dry out less and be less of a fire hazard.
  • Place your tree away from all heat sources. Fireplaces, vents, and radiators can rapidly dry out live trees and increase the risk of flammability.
  • Look for a ‘fire resistant’ label when buying an artificial tree. It indicates that the fake tree is more resistant to catching fire.
  • Place candles on a stable surface. Choose a place where children and pets can’t reach or knock over candles.
  • Only use approved lights. These are ones that have been tested by nationally-recognized laboratories, such as UL.
  • Check your lights before using them! If there are any broken, frayed, or cracked wires on your decorative lights, discard the set.
  • Never burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as the wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Check your fire alarms. Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Take precautions. Always extinguish fireplace fires, candles, and turn off all holiday lights before leaving the house or going to bed!

While you’re wrapping up your house like a holiday present, you’ll want to check that your property has the proper protection it needs. With the increased risk of festive fires in the home, review your homeowners insurance before hanging up those holiday lights! Contact Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your insurance needs this season!

Local December Events Thousand Oaks CA

Local December Events You Don’t Want to Miss!

Check out these Ventura County festive fun events!

When it comes jolly holly holiday fun, Ventura County offers plenty of events to keep the family entertained and involved all the way through December! Whether you like to get festive from food, crafts, or a charity event, read on for a handful of local December happenings that will get you into the spirit of the Christmas season!

  • Winterfest Event in Oxnard
    Sat, Dec 5, 12 pm – 4 pm
    John’s Lutheran School, Oxnard
    This event is the perfect way to prepare for the Christmas season with family and friends! Bring the whole family down to play in the ‘snow’, visit Santa Claus, enjoy delicious food and beverages, play games, make crafts, and browse the local vendors’ booths! Don’t leave your little ones at home – this event has many activities for children in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade! Bag your carnival ticket by visiting the school in November!
  • Santa’s Village Holiday Carnival in Camarillo
    Sat, Dec 12, 9 am – 2 pm
    1605 Burnley St, Camarillo
    This carnival offers games, inflatables, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and local vendors with gifts and food to enjoy! Stick around for the special visit from Santa Claus! The 54th Annual Camarillo Christmas Parade will take place at 10 am, starting as Las Posas and Temple Avenue and ending at the Camarillo Community Center. It will host floats, bands, autos, and so much more!
  • Santa to the Sea Half Marathon, Relay & 5K in Oxnard
    Sun, Dec 13, 8 am – 12 pm
    Nyeland Acres to Channel Island Habor, Oxnard
    This 8th Annual event begins with the half marathon at the giant Santa located at 2801 Ventura Blvd, Oxnard and ends at Marine Emporium Landing in the Channel Islands Harbor. In addition to the marathon, there is a 5K race, 2-person relay and a kids 1K run. This event has been awarding scholarships to deserving locals since 2009. Partially funded by grants from the Gene Haas Foundation and the Oxnard College Foundation, approximately $122,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to 300 current Oxnard College students!

From Integrity First Insurance, we hope that you and the family have a great time getting festive in Ventura County, California! We ensure that you have the quality insurance coverage so that you can thoroughly enjoy the holiday season without a worry! Contact us in Thousand Oaks, California today!