Tag Archives: certified

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!

Insurance 101 for College Students … And Parents Too

college-student-insuranceMoving away from home to go to college is an exciting time for most kids. It’s their first real taste of independence, but this newfound freedom also comes with increased responsibility.

Mom and dad aren’t around anymore to nag you about the hours you spend on your smartphone or to wake you up for school in the morning, but this also means they aren’t there to fix problems either. What, for example, would you do if someone were to steal your precious smartphone?

Students can easily get swept away in the excitement and bustle of the college social scene, forgetting that not everyone they meet at school has the best of intentions. Crime exists in most communities, and college life is no exception. According to the FBI, 97 percent of crimes reported by college students in 2012 were property crimes and a whopping 41 percent of these crimes occurred on campus grounds.

Students bring many pricey belongings from home – electronics like laptops, smart phones, tablets, televisions and gaming systems are common dorm room items. They may also have a skateboard, bike, vehicle or combination of all of the above.

Another on-campus threat to personal property is fires. Firefighters responded to an average of 3,870 college housing structure fires per year1. These fires caused an annual average of $15 million in personal property damage and losses.

So, how can you protect your belongings while you’re away at school? The first step is to check with your insurance agent to see if your stuff is covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Some policies, like those offered by Mercury Insurance, will extend coverage to college students living away from home.

Another option is to purchase renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is designed to protect property owners in the event that their belongings are stolen or damaged in a fire. It will also provide liability coverage in the event someone is injured while visiting your apartment or dorm room.

To maximize your college experience, here are a few tips to protect personal property:

Cover personal belongings with an insurance policy. Students who live on-campus may have coverage available through their parents’ homeowner’s policy. Some companies have policy options that extend personal property coverage for students away from home. Students living off-campus may not be covered by their parents’ policy and should look into purchasing renters insurance.
Create an inventory. Record the value of all personal property to determine the right amount of coverage needed in the event of a loss.
Always lock doors. Talk to roommates and make sure to communicate the importance of securing personal belongings.
Conceal valuables. Never leave electronics or other valuables out in plain sight, and do not advertise their presence on social media.
Secure valuable electronics, like TVs and laptops, to stable fixtures with locking mounts in your room so they can’t be easily removed. Also, protect personal electronics with passwords to guard accessibility and discourage theft.
Use a bicycle lock when you’re out and about or for added security while on-campus. Steel and titanium locks are difficult to cut and provide thieves with a challenge. Reinforcing these locks with cable locks, which can be threaded through wheels, will provide extra security.
Install or activate an alarm if you have a vehicle on-campus. Insurance companies frequently offer discounts for vehicles equipped with anti-theft devices. Students with good grades – at least a B average – may be eligible for an additional discount as well.
Ensure your auto insurance is up-to-date. Coverage for vehicles left at home while in school should be maintained to protect the vehicle from theft or any damage that may occur while it is parked. This will also protect you if you forget to notify your agent to add coverage back to your vehicle when you return.

Consult with your local Mercury agent to learn more about renters insurance and they’ll help build the protection plan that best suits your needs.

The bottom line: with greater independence, comes greater responsibility.

1 The National Fire Protection Association reports this annual average occurred during the five-year period from 2009-2013.

The Top 5 Family Cars

2015’s Best Family Cars

When you have a family, you have specific needs for your vehicle. According to Parents.com, the cars on this list are the epitome of family friendly automobiles. They are responsive, spacious, and have excellent crash test ratings. If you are looking for a new vehicle for your family, keep these cars in mind!

Top 5 Family Vehicles:

  • Chevrolet Malibu: This car offers strong fuel economy paired with quiet power for a comfortable ride for your family. There is plenty of legroom for taller family members and a large trunk for all of your family’s belonging. If you want to go green, there is a hybrid version of this car to suit your needs.
  • Chevrolet Equinox: This is a larger vehicle that may be more practical for your family, if you need more space. It also has a sliding and reclining second row for added comfort.
  • Ford Fusion:  This car is the perfect example of a passenger car with a roomy interior and great driving dynamics. Some available features include voice activation, self-parking, keyless entry and start, blind spot monitoring, and much more.
  • Honda Accord Hybrid: This car is one of Honda’s best sellers. It is extremely reliable and is easy to drive, which is always a plus. It includes a rear-view camera, a dual-zone climate control, and blind spot monitoring. Plus, it’s a hybrid, so it is earth friendly.
  • Honda Odyssey: With a variety of optional features like a split-folding third row seat and a Pandora interface for streaming music. This stylish and well-equipped minivan is perfect for large families!

For all of your auto insurance needs throughout the Conejo Valley, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California. We can give you the protection you deserve, at the right price for your budget. Give us a call today!


If Life Lowers Your Income, Covered California Can Help With Keeping Up Your Health Insurance

In a perfect world your income would increase throughout life, but who lives in a perfect world? Employment loss or divorce can result in a decrease in income. Even happy events like marriage or the birth of a child adds another mouth to feed, effectively lowering income. If you find yourself in an income-changing situation, Covered California may be able to help you obtain federal premium assistance so you can maintain your health insurance coverage while reducing  costs.

Open enrollment for obtaining federal premium assistance is October 1 through March 31 but in the event of life-changing events, “special enrollment” is available throughout the year, but you must apply within 60 days of the event. Whether you are eligible for a subsidy or not, plans available through Covered California meet the levels of coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and match those of the outside market.

Should you find yourself in need of information, contact Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, where Jason Mayling, certified by the State of California, can guide you, as he has many others in this time of health care reform.

Certified California Agent Jason Mayling will Help you Understand New U.S. Health Care Laws

Jason Mayling can help you understand current United States health care reform laws. He will let you know whether or not you can keep your current policy. If not, he will guide you in choosing coverage that complies with the Affordable Care Act.

Mayling, a certified representative of Integrity First Insurance, will also explain details regarding your contract. As a result, you don’t have to be one of the persons feeling overwhelmed by current Obamacare legislation. You’ll know exactly what to expect, even if you have an existing condition that could affect your current expenses.

Changes in health care regulations are meant to help people easier understand their policies. However, you might still have questions. A certified specialist can make obtaining the right coverage much easier.

If you’re currently seeking health care in Thousand Oaks, California, please contact Integrity First Insurance today.

Under The Affordable Care Act Can Californians Keep Their Existing Doctors?

Many folks who are getting ready to buy insurance from Covered California are concerned about keeping the doctors and other health care providers who have taken care of them until now.

This is an excellent question, and cannot be answered with certainty. Although there are a great many plans available in California, they are sold by the zip code you reside in. Many of the plans have provider networks – but even if your doctor was participating in Anthem Blue Cross (for example) in 2013 does not mean s/he will continue. Or, if s/he remains with Blue Cross it may be in a plan you prefer not to buy into.

There are so many plans from so many insurance companies with so many providers that finding one with your doctor could be challenging. For instance, one plan may be for sale in your zip code that has a smaller panel and excludes your doctors.   Choosing a plan is confusing, but Jason Mayling, President of Integrity First Insurance is a certified insurance agent who will be glad to personally assist you in making your health insurance selection. Call him at (800) 696-9193 for help.

January 1, 2014 Millons to Join Rank of Health Insured

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) a sure thing, many people in California will be buying health insurance for the first time.

One question many have is when coverage begins. If you buy insurance before December, 23 2013 your coverage will begin on January 1, 2014. On January 1, 2014 millions will have health insurance for the first time either through the exchange or Medicaid.

The California State Exchange is highly successful and offers numerous plans for folks in most zip codes. With varying premiums, subsidies and deductibles, novice health insurance buyers who are confused and need help can contact Jason Mayling of Integrity First Insurance. Jason, a certified insurance broker and president of Integrity can help you choose the best plan for you. Call him at (800) 696-9193.