Tag Archives: policy

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.

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:

Using a cell phone or smartphone
Eating or drinking
Talking to passengers
Grooming (shaving, applying makeup, etc.)
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!

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.

Protecting Yourself Against Uninsured Motorists

How To Protect Yourself Against Uninsured Drivers

Ideally, everyone does what they should. As you know from the parent who did not pick up his or her carpool shift or the coworker who made you miss the deadline, though, that is not the reality in which we live.

In the same way, everyone should carry at least liability insurance to step in and protect you if they cause you or your vehicle damage out on the road. This is not just a moral responsibility; the law requires that drivers carry this type of coverage. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that many people simply break the law and are driving around uninsured.

What can you do? Are you left exposed to financial burden because someone else has not taken the time to secure liability insurance? Fortunately, no! You can safeguard yourself against these types of drivers with uninsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance will step in to pick up the tab if you get into an accident with a driver who is not carrying any type of insurance. You can also get underinsured coverage to protect you when the other driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your damages.

This all may sound well and good, but you might think you are not willing to pay for extra coverage to protect against someone else’s mistake. The good news is that uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most affordable types of auto insurance out there, making it easy and cheap to fully safeguard yourself and your car out on the road.

Want to learn more about how this type of coverage could step in to safeguard you against irresponsible drivers? Do not wait to contact Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks. We are here to craft the best auto insurance policy for your needs.

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.

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!