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I Just Bought a New Car. What Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

Congratulations! After weeks of research, comparing makes and models, and taking test drives you finally bought that brand-new car you wanted. But before you take that well-deserved road trip, check one more item off your list: the right car insurance from Jones Family Insurance!

While some auto coverage options are essential whatever the age of your car, new vehicles may carry some additional risks you should know about. So before leaving the lot, give us a quick call to discuss the possible coverage options:

New vehicle replacement. Here’s how this coverage works: If you’re the original owner of a new car that is totaled or stolen within one year of purchase, you’ll be paid the full value of the car you lost or a comparable model. Without this policy, you may have to settle for something less than new.

Loan and lease coverage. Consider what could happen if you financed your new car and then it was totaled or stolen soon after buying it. Not only would you lose your new ride, you’d still be on the hook for your entire loan balance — which would be more than the car was worth. With loan and lease coverage, you’d get a check to cover the gap between what’s left on your loan and the depreciated value of your car.

Audio-visual and custom equipment coverage. If you’re an avid music fan who enjoys a custom sound system or DVD player, this coverage protects you for the full value of any A/V equipment not installed at the factory or dealership. It also covers such modifications as roll bars, certain custom engine parts, lift kits, special wheels, artwork, decals, and other personal touches.

OEM parts replacement. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are often preferable to other aftermarket parts because they are made specifically for your make and model of vehicle. So if you want your Honda repaired with Honda parts, or your Mercedes to only have official Mercedes parts, this coverage is for you. When you buy this optional coverage, it’s added to your existing Comprehensive and Collision coverage so that all repairs or replacements made to your damaged car will include new OEM parts where available.

You invested in a new car. So be sure your investment extends to the right auto policy as well. To learn more protecting your new vehicle, give us a call today at Jones Family Insurance. We serve North Port, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Cape Coral and Fort Myers Florida.

How to make sure your child’s car seat keeps them safe and secure on the road

Your child’s car seat is essential to their overall safety while they’re in your vehicle, but it can be easy to “set it and forget it” when it comes to a car seat, which can be detrimental to your child’s safety. As seasons change and children grow, there are some important things you should do to make sure your kids’ car seats are always prepared to do their job, whether you’re taking a quick drive to the store or heading out of town.

Consider these tips:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions. While installing a car seat might look pretty straightforward, it’s important to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, safety checks, and maintenance. Revisit the instructions if you’re moving your car seat or lending it to the babysitter so they can drive your little one around in their own vehicle.
  2. Readjust the straps as your child grows or as seasons change. When your child grows or starts wearing different clothing as seasons change, adjust their car seat harness and check its overall fit. The harness should always be snug enough that you can’t easily grasp and pinch a horizonal fold in the top of either shoulder strap. You should also check that the harness is snug around your child’s hips and torso. If you’re adjusting the harness in colder weather, check the fit before putting on your child’s thicker layers — with a coat on, it may seemlike the harness is snug enough, but it should actually be adjusted to fit snug to your child’s body, not to the coat. Note: It’s not always safe to put your child in their car seat wearing a heavy jacket, as the impact of a collision may cause the straps to compress the material, leaving the straps too loose to keep your child secure. Some heavier coats shouldn’t be worn in a car seat at all, while others may specifically be advertised as car seat safe. Do your research before putting your child in their car seat with a winter jacket on.
  3. Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, but know when it’s time for a change. In the event of a crash, your child will be best protected in a rear-facing car seat, so keep your child’s seat facing the rear of your vehicle until they reach the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight and height limits. Each province will also have its own laws in place that specify how long a child must be in a rear-facing car seat, so make yourself aware of those laws as well. When your child outgrows their rear-facing infant seat, you may want to purchase a larger rear-facing seat or convertible car seat for them to use until they’re ready to face forwards. Always follow your provincial laws and the car seat manufacturer’s instructions before changing the direction of your child’s car seat.
  4. Take note of the car seat’s expiry date and replace it on time. Every car seat has an expiry date, but maybe you’re wondering, “Do car seats really expire? Is there anything wrong with using my five-year-old’s baby car seat for my newborn?” The answer to both of these questions is yes — car seats really do expire, and it’s unsafe to use an expired car seat for a new baby. While there are several reasons you should never use an expired car seat, here are just a couple of important ones:
    • Car seat manufacturers incorporate the latest crash test data and technological advances in materials and manufacturing into their new designs, so your outdated car seat may be missing out on innovations and features that could amp up your child’s safety
    • The materials that make up a car seat can deteriorate after sitting in your vehicle for an extended period of time — especially if you live in Canada, where temperatures fluctuate significantly over the course of a year
  5. If a car seat has been involved in a collision, replace it. Whether or not your child was in the car seat at the time of the accident, there’s a chance that the seat’s safety capabilities have been compromised. Even if you can’t see signs of damage, you should properly dispose of the car seat and buy a new one — you’ll likely be able to claimopens a pop-up with definition of claim this purchase through your car insurance company. Never give away or leave a car seat at the side of the road if it has been involved in a collision.

Jones Family Insurance serving Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers Florida

 

Top Reminders for Teen Drivers

If there’s one thing that research points out, it’s that teens are, literally, the worst drivers. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teenagers, and the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among teens aged 16-19 than among any other age group. So while your teen is probably thrilled to be driving, and you’re probably thrilled to not be driving them everywhere, it’s important to continue teaching them how to stay safe and smart on the road. Luckily, teenagers are stubborn but still pretty impressionable. Here are the most important things you can instill in your brand new teenage driver, and guidelines to have them follow.

Start slowly: A teenager with a brand new driver’s license is even more likely to get into an accident than her slightly older counterparts. For the first few months, limit excursions to simple trips during the daytime with few or no passengers.

Wear a seatbelt: Despite all our warnings, many teenagers are going to get into accidents. Wearing a seatbelt greatly reduces their chance of death or serious injury if they do. The best way to instill this habit is to insist that your children wear a seatbelt 100 percent of the time, well before they become teenagers and for you to do it as well.

Don’t text: Distracted driving has become just as deadly as driving while tired or intoxicated. Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of crashes involving teen drivers. Show your teen how to use smartphone settings for driving, and teach them never to text and drive, period.

Set rules about passengers: When it comes to driving with a teenager, not all passengers are created equal. Teens are much more likely to have an accident when they’re transporting other teens. In addition, some provisional licenses have limits on the number or type of passengers a teen can drive with. Be crystal clear with your teen about who they can have in the car and under what circumstances, and don’t be afraid to say no to letting them drive with certain friends.

Practice for peer pressure: When the risk is of looking uncool or not fitting in, it can be overwhelmingly hard for a teenager to say “no” to giving an obnoxious friend a ride home, making an extra stop, or to getting in the car with someone who has been drinking. Brainstorm and practice for these difficult situations so that your teen will be able to hold their boundaries and confidently say no when it really matters.

Make it safe to call: Your teen needs to know that, no matter what, they can call you for help if they get into a situation where they can’t or don’t want to drive.

Don’t speed: Speeding and tailgating greatly increases the chance of an accident for a teen driver. Make sure your teen knows that getting there late is OK if it means getting there safe.

Respect road conditions: Driving at night or in bad weather are two high-risk scenarios for new, young drivers. Of course, it’s important that your teen gets to practice in difficult conditions, but make sure they know to be extra-vigilant and that it’s perfectly acceptable to wait for things to improve.

For all of your insurance questions, call or Jones Family Insurance today. Serving All of Southwest Florida.

Basics of car maintenance: 8 tips to follow

We rely on cars a lot in our day-to-day lives and sometimes we put them through a lot… hot summer days, icy winter conditions, kicked-up rocks, potholes and more. Because your car may be one of your biggest expenses, knowing the basics of car maintenance can help you save on car costs. Even the basics, like changing your oil, checking your tire pressure and getting scheduled inspections, will help your car run smoother down the road.

Keep your car a well-oiled machine by following these eight maintenance tips:

  1. Check the oil. One of the most important things you can do for your car is to make sure the engine has the right type and amount of engine oil. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations. Routine oil and filter changes can remove particles and sludge and keep your engine in peak condition. The frequency of oil changes varies by vehicle, but a general recommendation is every 3,000-7,500 miles. You can check the oil level between oil changes using the dipstick – make sure your car is turned off before doing so. See other tips for safely checking your oil, too.
  2. Test the battery. Car batteries last an average of two to five years. You can promote longer battery life by testing the output voltage level with a car battery tester or multimeter. The battery voltage reading will show how “charged” the battery is. Consult your owner’s manual or mechanic if the battery test indicates it’s not at an optimal level.
  3. Top off fluids. From lubricating to cooling, your car’s fluids have important jobs to do. Refill fluids at the start of summer to prevent overheating, and check the levels again at the end of fall.
  4. Run the heater and AC. There’s nothing worse than turning on the air conditioning for that first hot day, only to have more hot air blown your way. Malfunctioning climate control could mean larger issues like a leak in the system. Keep your car comfortable and your heater/AC running smoothly by testing it periodically.
  5. Check the tire pressure. As the temperature rises and falls throughout the year, your tire pressure can fluctuate. Improperly inflated tires can affect a car’s handling, lower your gas mileage, increase wear and even lead to a blown tire. Check the recommended psi on the sticker commonly found inside the driver’s door. If there’s no sticker adhered to the driver’s door or side, check your owner’s manual. Adjust tire pressure accordingly. While you’re at it, check your tire tread and look for other wear or damage.
  6. Inspect the brakes. The best way to care for car brakes is by sticking to the suggested maintenance schedule from your car’s manual. Following a routine car maintenance schedule can prevent catastrophic brake failure and expensive repairs.
  7. Repair scratches and rust. Scratches can lead to peeling paint, peeling paint can lead to rust and rust can lead to structural damage on a vehicle. Improve your car’s appearance and longevity by fixing scratches and rust when they appear.
  8. Keep an emergency kit. Be prepared at any point by storing a car emergency kit with extra fluids, cables, tools, a spare tire and more in your trunk.

Along with following the basics of car maintenance, protect your vehicle with an auto insurance policy. Get your auto insurance quote at Jones Family Insurance. Serving Punta Gorda to Fort Myers.

Important Developments Regarding PIP Insurance

PIP insurance or Personal Injury Protection, has the world of motor vehicle insurance providers on tenterhooks as the Supreme Court rules against an insurance company and in favor of the Florida Hospital Medical Center in the 5th District Court of Appeal. Personal Injury Protection(PIP) is mandatory insurance coverage for all registered vehicle owners in the state of Florida and serves to cover up to $10,000 in medical bills, damages, or losses stemming from a motor vehicle accident regardless of which driver was legally found at fault. Nevertheless, not everything is as simple as it seems as insurance providers as well as healthcare providers are all looking out for their best economic interests.  Thus was the underlying basis for the PIP case brought on by the Florida Hospital Medical Center, which held the Progressive Insurance Company liable for $200 in unpaid reimbursement for medical services rendered to one of their policyholders. A Progressive Insurance customer, a car accident victim, suffered personal injuries that accounted for $2,781 in hospital expenses. According to the official court records, his PIP insurance policy had a $1,000 deductible which the hospital subtracted before calculating the total amount using the formula under Florida PIP law. It turns out that the insurer did not apply the same method for determining the legitimate amount owed to the hospital and reached a total amount due of $868. This $200 difference, brought-on by subtracting the car accident victim’s  $1000 deductible, prompted the legal battle by the Florida Hospital Medical Center. The case, which has insurance providers around the USA on edge, ruled against the formula used by the insurer company to calculate the amount owed. The decision was based on the grounds that the insurance company should apply the deductible to the overall charges in line with the statutory provisions. The ruling will ultimately lead to all insurance providers in Florida ultimately having to pay more to hospitals and healthcare practitioners treating motor vehicle accident victims.

So where does PIP stand now? The new rule states (in a nutshell) that the deductible needs to be exhausted at the start. Statutorily, the minimum deductible is $1,000, so the first $1K is the responsibility of the insured person and the insurance provider doesn’t have to pay it. Until now, the insurance company was spreading out the deductible.

Get your Auto Insurance from Jones Family Insurance. Serving from North Port to Fort Myers Florida

Why Did My Car Insurance Rate Change?

Insurance rates fluctuate. It’s a fact of life. However, we get that it can still be a bit frustrating to witness a price increase when you’re least expecting one. That’s why we’re here to help lift the veil and do our best to explain a few reasons why your rates may have changed.

Basically, the concept of insurance is built on shared risk. A rise in claims tends to affect all drivers. All insurance companies, including us at Elephant, use a number of factors to determine your auto policies and how much they have to cost. Many factors are based on events in your life—perhaps you recently purchased a new car, or you’ve added a new family member to your policy.

Unfortunately, however, some factors are beyond your limits of control. For example, a spike in drivers filing auto insurance claims in your area can lead to a jump in costs. Or, the sheer volume of drivers on the road—and inevitable increase in accidents and fatalities—can lead to an increase as well.

Let’s review a few more reasons:

Your Vehicle(s)

Different types of cars cost different amounts of money to insure. There’s no way around it. Newer cars, for example, are loaded with the latest safety features to keep costs low. Older cars, on the other hand, are statistically more prone to mechanical failures. Plus, the more people you have on your policy, the more it will cost to keep everyone insured.

Seem obvious? Maybe. But it’s worth mentioning that no two cars—or drivers—are the same. (Yup. This is the time to talk about your teenage son who’s racked up a few speeding tickets.) Thinking of buying a new car? Let us know if you’re shopping around to see how that new model will affect your current rates. Similarly, give us a call if you’re adding a new driver to your policy.

Your Location

Have you ever moved to a new home and noticed a change in your rate? That’s because insurance companies use zip codes to determine rates based on factors like accidents, theft, vandalism, and more. Even if you move to a new part of town just a few blocks away, if your mailing address has a different area code, you may notice a change.

It’s also important to note that policies also vary from state to state. According to this list, Michigan and Maine are the most and least expensive states, respectively. Why does insurance vary by state, you ask? Again, there are numerous factors at play. Each state has different minimum liability requirements, costs of living, and population densities. And because requirements differ for each, drivers are left with differing policy costs.

Your Environment

It may not always feel fair, but rates aren’t always centered on your individual choices. What’s going on around you—your location, the environment, the market—can impact your rate. You may have a perfect driving record, but there are still other drivers on the road. You may take extra precaution to stow away your car, but that doesn’t always stop break-ins. What do these scenarios indicate? That life happens. But that you also may live in a high-risk area. Unfortunately, higher risk means higher rates—and a subsequent change in your policy.

Certain natural environments are riskier than others as well, as certain areas are more prone to inclement weather or natural disasters. If you live in a location that experiences frequent tornadoes, hurricanes, or flooding, we have to anticipate a correlated chance of having to spend more money to cover damages to your car. This means (you guessed it) higher rates for you.

New Technology

Vehicle technology is undoubtedly improving. Many cars now come standard with improved, state-of-the-art safety features, which is a net positive for drivers. Surprisingly, however, this improvement in technology can actually have a negative effect on your insurance rates.

While this may seem like an oxymoron, improved technology can actually lead to higher repair costs. While state-of-art technology certainly makes the driving experience safer and more reliable, the many computers, sensors, cameras, and other bells and whistles can be expensive to maintain and replace. And higher repair costs result in higher rates across the board for all drivers.

Learn more at Jones Family Insurance. Serving Punta Gorda and Fort Myers, Florida.

Six Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance – #4

The cost of homeowner’s insurance is one of those unavoidable expenses that comes along with owning a house.  How much you’ll pay for insurance varies depending on your location and the age of your home.  It can feel like a big expense, but knowing you’ll be reimbursed if something happens to your most valuable investment can be priceless. Plus, your mortgage company may require that you keep a certain level of homeowner’s insurance as well.  There are typically four parts to a normal homeowner’s policy you’ll see on your quote that you should make your agent explain to you. 

4th — Up your deductible. I say this because typically the lower your deductible the more you will pay for insurance.  In our company we like to talk to you the insured to find out about your background and your financial stability. We do not do this to be nosey but like I said before we treat everyone like family and if we know your situation we can fit you with the right deductible that can inevitably save you money on your policy.  So when we talk to you about your deductible we talk to you about repairs and what repairs you would be able to pay out of pocket for and which ones you’d need to exercise your policy for.  

 

Contact us at www.JonesFamilyIns.com