Tag Archives: insurance

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.

Let Us Know How We Are Doing!

Reviews and Referrals

Technology is constantly changing the way that businesses are run! Like all businesses, the insurance world is evolving to help better serve all of our clients. Part of this evolution is the importance of social media when it comes to connecting with our clients and finding ways that we can better provide our services.

This is part of the reason that we want to hear from you! The only way that we can be sure that we are providing the highest level of service to all of our clients is to hear what you really think of our insurance agency. Visit our Yelp and Facebook pages to let us know more about how your experience working with us has been! Your feedback is extremely valuable and helps everyone at Integrity First Insurance find better ways to communicate and work with our clients.

For more information on referrals and reviews at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California, contact us today! We would love to hear from you!

Local Events For Fun This August

Enjoying The Last Month Of Summer In Thousand Oaks

August beginning is bittersweet. On the one hand, it signals that last month of summer. On the other, it brings plenty of fun opportunities to head out with your community and enjoy the waning season. Here are just a few events worth checking out in the comings month!

  • Concerts In The Park At Chumash Park: Over the summer, Sunday evenings offer you and your family the chance to enjoy great live music with your community. On Sunday, August 2nd, Fortunate Son, a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, will take the stage, followed the next week by Alley Cats, where music meets comedy. Both of these shows will start at 6:00 p.m. at Chumash Park, where there will also be a Kidszone for the younger ones.
  • Arroyo Creek Half Marathon, 5k, & 10k: Get ready to get moving on August 9th! This annual event features beautiful runs along the scenic Arroyo Creek bike path in Simi Valley. The mostly flat course makes this a great event for beginners while providing the opportunity for advanced runners to top their own personal records.
  • Concerts In The Park At Janss Marketplace: The summer concert series is in full swing at Janss Marketplace. Upcoming performers at this Wednesday night series include Copycats (August 5th), Zepidemic, a Led Zeppelin tribute band (August 12th), Grunge Monkeys (August 19th) and Space Oddity, a David Bowie tribute band (August 26th). Come out for the free music, great food, and weekly fun at 6:00 p.m.

We hope you have a great time at these fun local events around Thousand Oaks! For all of your insurance needs in Thousand Oaks, Conejo Valley, and the surrounding California area, contact Integrity First Insurance today. As members of your community, we are here to help you set the right protections in place for your family.

Deductibles Explained

Deductibles 101

When investing in insurance, the word deductible gets thrown around a lot. While most people know that a deductible is part of their policy, they do not fully understand what it really is. Knowing exactly what your deductible is and how it will come into play when you make a claim can help to ensure that you choose the right deductible for your needs.

Your deducible is the amount that you will have to pay out of your own pocket before your insurance coverage will kick in after you make a claim. The point of your deductible is to help you share the risk of an accident with your insurance company. All insurance policies, from your health insurance to your homeowners insurance have a deductible.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to choose the lowest deductible policy to help save money when you make a claim, it may not be the best choice. Even though a low deductible means less cash out of your pocket after a loss, it can increase the cost of your policy, leading to much higher payments each month. When choosing the right price for your deductible, you should choose the highest amount that you can comfortably pay in the event of a loss to help keep your premiums as low as possible.

Your deductible is basically a way to help you control the cost of your premiums, as well as share some of the risk that your insurance company takes on when you open a policy.

For all of your Conejo Valley insurance coverage needs, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California. We will work with you to ensure that you have the protection that you deserve, all at the right price to fit your budget.

Checklist To Get Your RV Ready for Spring

RV Spring Prep

Spring is here, which means it is time to pull the cover off of your RV to get it ready for your first road trip of the season. To ensure that your RV is ready for all of your fun spring and summer adventures, keep this RV prep checklist in mind.

  • Look for leaks – water leaks can lead to serious issues. Take a look at the roof of your rig, as well as vents, seams, doors, and windows for signs of water damage. While you are thoroughly inspecting your RV, also check for any signs that a critter made your RV their home for winter.
  • Check the battery – storing your RV for a long period of time can mean big issues for your battery. Check the battery to ensure that it is working properly. Look at the connections, terminals, and battery trays for any signs of corrosion. Mixing baking soda with a little bit of water can help to clean off any corrosion that you find.
  • Clean your water lines – run fresh water though your entire water system to make sure that all lines and holding tanks are clean. While running water through, also check for leaks. If your RV has been sitting for many months, you may also want to clean out the water system by pouring 1 cup of bleach into the entire tank, and then wash it completely.
  • Check the propane – before you check your propane, make sure that there are no open flames nearby and that all appliances are turned off. Open the valves, and if you can smell propane, you have a leak that needs to be fixed.

Most importantly, before you head out on the road, review your RV insurance policy to ensure that it is providing the right amount of coverage. Contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your RV insurance needs.

Still Don’t Have Health Insurance? Don’t Worry!

Special Enrollment Period for Health Insurance

Even though the open enrollment period to invest in health insurance ended on February 15th, you still have a chance to enroll in a policy to ensure that you do not have to pay the fine. Covered California is offering a special enrollment period for those who were not aware of the tax penalty for not having health insurance in 2014, or learned that they may now face a fine in 2015.

The special enrollment period runs from now until April 30th, and gives people the chance to be covered with the right health insurance policy if they are not already. In order to qualify, you must prove that you were not aware of the penalty for not having health insurance by selecting the “Informed of Tax Penalty Risk” on the Covered California website.

Along with the new special enrollment period, there are other qualifying life events that can qualify you for a special enrollment period so that you can sign up for health care. Some of the most common qualifying life events include:

  • Getting married, entering into a domestic partnership, or getting a divorce.
  • Having a child, putting a child up for adoption, or adopting a child.
  • Moving your permanent residence to a different state that does not offer the same health plan that you are currently enrolled in.
  • Having a change in your income that effects your eligibility for cost sharing reductions or other government assistance.
  • Being a member of a federally recognized Alaska Native or American Indian tribe. If you fall into this category, you can change your health insurance plan, or enroll in a plan once a month.

Contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your Conejo Valley health insurance coverage needs.

Important Information About Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment Deadlines and Information

With the recent changes to health insurance, we understand the difficulty Americans may face in navigating the Affordable Care Act and ObamaCare guidelines. At Integrity First Insurance Services, we want to the make the process as smooth as possible, so we have gathered some useful information for you to properly acquire health insurance coverage for the New Year.

Open Enrollment Deadlines

The Open Enrollment period is open from November 15th, 2014 until February 15th, 2015. During this period you can sign up for a new healthcare plan or you can update your existing plan to fit any new needs you may have. After this period, you cannot sign up for healthcare though the Marketplace until the Open Enrollment of the next year.

Penalties: Health insurance is mandatory, if you do not sign up for health care coverage, you may be subjected to a fine. The penalty is 2% of your annual household income, or $325 per each adult in your household and $162.50 per each child under 18, whichever is more. This penalty fee appears on your federal income tax return for the year you do not have coverage.

Exceptions: You may qualify for a Special Enrollment period if you have had a significant life changing event occur, such as a marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, etc. There are also some exceptions that will allow you to avoid the fine if you do not invest in a policy. Some of these situations include:

  • If you are a member of a federally recognized health care sharing ministry.
  • If you are a member of a federally recognized religious sect that has religious objections to insurance, including Medicare and Social Security.
  • If you qualify for a hardship exemption.
  • If you do not have health insurance coverage for less than 3 months out of the year.
  • If the lowest price health coverage that is available to you will cost more than 8 percent of your total household income.
  • If you do not have to file a federal income tax return because your total income is too low.
  • If you are eligible for health services through an Indian Health Services provider or are a member of a federally recognized tribe.

For all of your health insurance needs throughout the Conejo Valley, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California. Please call our certified agent, Jason Mayling for any questions or concerns you may have about your health insurance coverage for next year.

Do Not Miss These Awesome Ventura County Events!

Ventura County Holiday Events

The holiday season means tons of cheery festivities to get you in the holiday spirit. With so many events going on, it can be hard to pick which ones to attend. Here are some recommendations for fantastic holiday happenings in Ventura County. Join us in celebrating the holidays at one of these joyous events!

38th Annual Ventura Harbor Holiday Parade of Lights & Fireworks

On Friday, December 12th and Saturday, December 13th Ventura Harbor is proud to present their Holiday Parade and other holiday festivities. This two-day event is one you will not want to miss! The theme for this year is “Holidays Across the World”. Parking and admission for this event is free and it includes:

  • A carnival for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Seaside shopping for your last minute holiday gifts.
  • Dining opportunities with a seaside view.
  • A lighted boat parade at 6:30 p.m.
  • A spectacular fireworks show at 8:00 p.m.
  • A Winter Wonderland and Holiday Marketplace from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Ventura County Ballet Company’s 16th Annual Production of “The Nutcracker”

The Ventura County Ballet Company is proud to present this classic Christmas story production, with national and international professional dancers as well as students from the Ventura County Ballet Company. This fantastic performance takes place on Saturday, December 13th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 14th at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center. Do not miss your opportunity to see America’s most beloved holiday fairytale brought to life. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for Seniors, and $10 for children 10 and under. Get your tickets here.

Contact Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your Conejo Valley insurance needs. We encourage you and your family to check out all of these exciting events in the local community!

Air Bag Recall Affecting Millions of Vehicles

7.8 million vehicles are being recalled due to defective air bags, which can cause serious injuries or even death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered the recall, which affects many automakers because the air bags by Takata can explode with too much force, throwing plastic and metal shrapnel into the vehicle.

Some of the automakers that have been affected by the recall include BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, and Mitsubishi and includes models that were made between 2000 and 2008. The problem with the air bag seems to be linked to the chemical within the air bag that causes it to inflate. If the chemical comes into contact with any moisture, it explodes with too much force and can burst without warning.

The link between moisture and the defect is especially concerning for people who live in hot, humid areas. The NHTSA is urging people who live in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida to take their car into a dealership to see if it is one of the vehicles that is affected by the recall.

If your car is one of the affected vehicles, you should receive a notice in the mail. You can also take your car into a dealership and get it checked out or contact the NHTSA with your vehicle VIN number. If your car is an affected vehicle, it may take a while to get the problem fixed since there are not enough extra air bags available to place in every vehicle.

For all of your Conejo Valley auto insurance needs and to ensure that you are protected from any unfortunate situation, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California.