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8 Tips To Get Your Car Ready for Summer

Always give yourself something to look forward to. The snow will soon melt, and the roads will be more inviting for driving adventures. Plan to get your car ready for summer!

The cold deters many drivers from doing vehicle maintenance during the wintertime. Keep an eye on the forecast to take advantage of warmer spring days to follow these eight car preparation tips.

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we want to help you get your car ready for summer by affirming you have the insurance you need. Contact one of our independent agents today to ensure your policy is road-ready.

Get Your Car Ready For Summer Adventures

A couple on a road trip smiling and looking at a map.

Warmer seasons are welcome after our cold Minnesota winter, but summertime can be hard on cars. The air conditioner must combat our heat and humidity. The tires expand, and the belts can wear more. Before summer arrives, it’s a good idea to give your car care from the ground up.

1. Get The Tires Ready to Roll

Change the snow tires off your car. Their construction doesn’t hold up well in the summer heat, so switch to all-season or summer tires.

A rule of thumb is to swap when temperatures reach the mid-40s °F. In our area, this usually happens from mid-March to mid-April.

If you have a mechanic do this, the shop should inflate the tires to their correct air pressure. You’ll want to confirm the air pressure about once a week throughout the summer.

Look in the driver-side door jamb for the recommended pounds per square inch (psi). It’s best to check the air pressure in the morning before driving.

Keeping the tires at their target pressure extends their life, improves fuel efficiency, and helps prevent blowouts.

2. Spring Clean Your Car

The Minnesota Department of Transportation uses mostly salt in its work to clear snow and ice from our winter highways. At temperatures below 15 °F, they also add other chemicals.

After winter driving, clean all this grime from your car. Get your car ready for summer with a thorough washing of the wheel wells and undercarriage.

After months of driving with dirty boots, clean the mats and vacuum the interior on a warm spring day. Place the cleaned mats in their proper spots to be sure they don’t interfere with safe driving.

3. Prepare the Wiper Blades for Summer Rain

windshield wipers on a car

Do you notice smudges not entirely clearing from the windshield after washing your car? Inspect the wiper blades to see if they need replacing.

Winter conditions wear out wiper blades and drain the wiper fluid from its use removing ice from the windshield. Summer wipers are made differently and better suited to handle the sun and heat.

Being able to see clearly keeps you safer on the road. Installing new summer wiper blades and filling up your windshield washing fluid will get your car ready for summer driving. There are even summer formulas that work better against bugs.

4. Stay Cool with A/C for You and Coolant for Your Car

You know summer’s coming when you finally get to turn the dial from heating to air conditioning! Run the A/C to feel if it’s blowing cold air and check for unusual sounds or smells. Note anything unexpected in case the system needs professional attention.

If the coolant levels are too low, your engine may overheat. When the motor hasn’t been running, check the coolant level in the overflow reservoir, or have a pro take a look at its level and chemicals mix.

Get your car ready to stay cool this summer. Keep you and your passengers cool with functioning air conditioning. Keep your car’s engine from overheating with the right quality and quantity of coolant.

5. Change the Oil

Depending on the oil your car uses, it’ll be due for a change every 3500 to 5000 miles. Refer to your owner’s manual for which kind your car needs and how often to change it.

During summer driving, check the oil level about once a week when the engine is cool in the morning. Dusty roads can clog the oil filter, so consider changing that at your midsummer oil change.

6. Lights, Brakes, and Battery Included

If an automotive shop changes your oil, they’ll also likely check your lights. You can do this yourself too with the help of another person. Change any burned-out bulbs.

Look in your owner’s manual for recommendations on professional brake inspections. Take your car in if you hear sounds when braking or if it’s taking longer to stop. It may be time for replacements.

Manufacturers intend modern batteries to be maintenance-free. An older battery may have corrosion around the terminals. You can clean this with a toothbrush and baking soda. If it returns, it’s likely time to replace the battery.

7. Swap Winter Gear For Summer Supplies

Just as you change your winter tires and wipers, change your emergency winter gear out for summer travel supplies. It’s almost time to store the snow shovel and sand and break out the bug spray!

Baby wipes come in handy whether you have young passengers or not. Towels serve you well if you make a fun summer pit stop to wade in a stream. They’ll also become a picnic blanket if you get an ice cream treat.

Even with good air conditioning, summer driving can be warm. It’s handy to keep some water bottles in your travel pack to stay hydrated.

Some items can’t handle the heat. Put insect deterrents and temperature-sensitive medications like Epi-Pens in a grab-and-go bag to bring with you.

8. Confirm Your Insurance

This spring, get your car ready for summer. You’ll enjoy summertime driving with the peace of mind preparation brings!

Confirm that your registration and insurance paperwork is current and present in your glovebox. Call us at Lake Region Insurance Agency for a free insurance review and quote. We want to be part of your pit crew preparing for summer driving!

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Your Safety Guide For Older Drivers

Driving is a form of independence, and older drivers usually want to keep that autonomy as long as possible. But, as with all freedoms, there are responsibilities attached. The first week of December brings us Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. So it’s a perfect time to visit this topic.

If your driving habits are changing, contact Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free policy review. Perhaps you are driving less frequently or have eliminated a vehicle. Our team can make sure you aren’t paying more than necessary for your insurance.

Older Drivers Bring Experience and New Challenges

By the time a person reaches their seventies, they have likely been driving for more than half a century. That is a lot of practice and muscle memory built up. Compared to younger motorists, older drivers more often follow safe behaviors on the road, such as:

  • They are more likely to wear a seat belt.
  • They are less likely to drink and drive.
  • They are less likely to drive in bad weather.
  • They are less likely to speed.

These habits certainly help to keep mature drivers safe on the road. But, as people age, other risk factors begin to arise, including:

  • Failing Eyesight
  • Failing Hearing
  • Slower Reflexes
  • Taking Medications
  • Dementia

These issues likely contribute to the fact that older drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than middle-aged motorists. Because of these concerns, many states have different license requirements for mature drivers. The most common change is an increase in vision screenings and more frequent renewals.

Safe Practices for Aging Drivers

Eye exams might be more frequent for older drivers.

To stay safe while driving as you age, here are some health concerns to consider:

Eyesight

Make sure to get your vision checked every year. If you need glasses or contact lenses, always wear them while driving. And consider prescription sunglasses for sunny days if you notice your eyes becoming more sensitive to light as you get older.

If you ever notice fuzzy or double vision, see a doctor right away and do not drive until you get their approval.

Hearing

Many older drivers suffer from hearing loss, leading to unsafe driving situations. See a hearing specialist each year to ensure that you can hear sirens, trains, and horns while driving.

Medications

Any time your doctor prescribes a new medication for you, ask if you can safely drive while taking the prescription. Many medicines can lead to sleepiness or dizziness, making it unsafe for you to operate a vehicle.

Mental Confusion

Forgetfulness frequently increases with age. But if you find that you have a hard time remembering where you are going, it’s time to talk with your doctor. Confusion while you are on the road leads to mistakes that can be deadly.

How To Know When It’s Time To Turn In Your Keys

Most drivers know that they will have to give up their keys someday. But that knowledge doesn’t make it easier to accept the loss of independence.

Older drivers do not want to lose independence.

Recent data shows that more than 8000 traffic-related deaths involve older drivers. And adults age 75 and over are more likely to sustain injuries in a car accident, as well. So, knowing when it’s time to stop driving can be, literally, a matter of life and death.

Here are some signs that it may be time to stop driving:

  • You’ve had several near misses or crashes in a short time.
  • You’re getting lost going to places that are familiar to you.
  • You feel overwhelmed by road signs and the activity around you.
  • You’re accumulating dents from poor parking.
  • You take medications that make you tired.
  • Your doctor or family members express concerns about your driving.

Alternatives to Driving

Many people who don’t drive rely on family and friends for transportation. Of course, this option isn’t the same as driving yourself, but it is probably safer. And the odds are that you have several people who are willing and able to help.

If you do not have someone available to help with driving, taxis and ride-sharing services can be an excellent option. And some communities also have senior buses that take a group of older adults to the grocery store regularly. Some churches offer this option, too.

Online shopping and delivery can be the perfect way to get what you need without relying on others for transportation. Most major retailers offer this service.

How To Talk with Someone About Their Driving

Talking with a loved one about their driving can be difficult.

Many adults have to navigate this change with their parents or other loved ones. They are watching for signs that a person’s driving habits are no longer safe. Situations like the following raise enormous red flags:

  • Your grandfather confuses the brake pedal with the gas pedal and runs into the garage door. 
  • Your mother experiences decreased mobility and ‘helps’ her foot from one pedal to the other by lifting her leg with her hand. She hasn’t caused an accident yet. 
  • Your elderly uncle misjudges the distance between his car and a building and scrapes his door.

Whether it’s the ability to stay focused, to move quickly between pedals, or something else, diminished driving skills result in accidents. And if you are worried, you need to speak up to the person.

Nobody wants to have this conversation. Be gentle and stick to the facts. Explain which actions and behaviors you find worrisome. Talk through the potential consequences with the person and encourage them to make the choice while they are still in control. If they cause an accident, they may have no say in the matter.

Many older drivers are more open to the idea of stopping driving if it comes from their doctor. Ask your loved one to discuss any potential barriers to safe driving with their physician. 

While You’re on the Road, We’ve Got You Covered

Whether you’re ready to hang up your license or plan on driving for years to come, we are here to serve. With auto, home, life, and health insurance plans, our team has something for everyone.

Our offices in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, have friendly agents ready to help. Contact Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free review of all your policy needs. 

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Prevent Drunk Driving This Holiday Season

As we head into the winter season, thoughts turn to frivolity, festivity, and seeing family and friends. Parties are a significant part of the holidays, but they also can be the prime scene for too much imbibing. Knowing how to prevent drunk driving is the key to celebrating safely.

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, our job is to help you protect you and your loved ones. Through comprehensive insurance policies, we offer you the coverage you need for peace of mind. And we encourage you to stay safe this holiday season by following these crucial tips.

An Urgent Crisis

Recent statistics show that there are over 10,000 fatalities caused by drunk driving each year. More than 10,000 families each year experience this horrific loss. As well as earning you a criminal record, drunk driving can cause untold heartbreak and devastation. 

What Counts As Drunk Driving?

In the state of Minnesota, as in most other states across America, a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above constitutes drunk driving. If a driver is younger than 21, there is no tolerance at all. If you are not yet 21 and are driving with any alcohol in your system, it will count as a drunk driving incident.

Blood alcohol content determines drunk driving legal consequences.

Different places use varied terminology to mean the same thing:

  • Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired – DWI
  • Driving Under the Influence – DUI
  • Impaired Driving

No matter what your state calls it, these are all phrases that mean driving drunk. And they all lead to significant trouble.

What Are the Consequences of Driving While Impaired?

With someone dying every 50 minutes as a result of drunk driving, the primary consequences are self-explanatory. When you drink, your cognitive ability and response times become significantly compromised. You become a hazard behind the wheel.

As well as the moral and safety issues, the legal ramifications of drinking and driving can be life-altering. You could lose your license for a while or even permanently. 

This loss will have a significant impact on your daily life since you’ll lose a lot of freedom and flexibility when you can’t drive. Most drivers find themselves with very high insurance rates following a conviction if they can get insurance at all. 

In addition, a conviction will likely come with fines and maybe even a jail sentence. And it could cost you your job and future employment prospects. Professional and personal damage to your reputation is also a likely consequence.

A drunk driving arrest carries significant consequences.

How Do I Know If Someone Is Driving Drunk?

The truth is that you cannot always tell if a driver is impaired. But there are a few warning signs that can alert you to a problem. If you see any of these while on the road, call the police to report it:

  • A driver who is drifting, weaving, or making overly wide turns
  • A driver who narrowly misses another vehicle
  • A driver on the wrong side of the road
  • A driver with very delayed responses at stop signs or stop lights

If you are riding in a car, and your driver is exhibiting any signs of impairment, ask them to pull over. Get out right away to keep yourself safe.

How Can I Prevent Drunk Driving?

Impaired drivers rarely recognize that they shouldn’t be driving. Alcohol naturally reduces inhibitions and hinders decision-making. So to prevent drunk driving, the key is to act and plan before anyone has a drink.

Use taxis or ride-sharing services when drinking.

  • Always name a designated driver. One of the best ways to prevent drunk driving is to plan who will be the sober driver. Do this before heading out on the town. By having a designated driver selected well in advance, you avoid the temptation to drive at the end of the night. Instead, the plan is already in place, and everyone knows their role.
  • Plan to use a ride-sharing service. If you know you plan to imbibe, don’t take your vehicle out at all. Instead, use a ride-sharing service from door to door so that there is no chance for you to consider driving once you are drinking.
  • Protect those around you. If you see someone who was drinking head for their car, you need to take action. Take their keys from them if necessary to help ensure that they do not drive away. They may be angry right then, but it is better than the alternative. Never get into a vehicle with anyone who has been drinking. Refusing to ride with them not only protects you, but it also can make them reconsider their ability to drive.
  • Always report your suspicions. If you suspect there is a drunk driver on the road, call the police. Provide as much information as possible, including location, travel direction, car make and color, and license plate number.
  • Offer alcohol-free options. If you are hosting a party, you can do your part to reduce the risks and help prevent drunk driving. Ensure that there are plenty of alcohol-free options to help your guests make the right decision and stay safe. Have space available for people to sleep if needed.
  • Pay attention to other dangers. Alcohol isn’t the only substance that impairs drivers. Marijuana is legal in many states, and driving under its influence is just as dangerous and illegal.

Lake Region Insurance Agency Works to Keep You Safe

Here at  Lake Region Insurance Agency, we want to help you stay safe on the roads. Drinking and driving can have serious, life-altering consequences, so please be careful this holiday season.

We also want to help protect you by offering a wide range of insurance policies to cover you, your family, and your belongings. Our independent agents work in Cokato, Wilmar, and New London, MN. Call or stop in to see us for a free insurance review.

Enjoy your holiday season safely and securely. No celebration is worth risking your life or someone else’s. Make a plan, pay attention, and get home safe.

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Will a Car Accident Raise My Insurance Rates?

If you’ve been in a fender bender or other collision, you may wonder, “Does a car accident raise my insurance rates?” While it’s possible that a serious accident could increase your costs, not every incident will do so.

Lake Region Insurance Agency is ready to help you secure the best insurance policies at prices that fit your budget. 

Our independent agents in New London, Cokato, and Wilmar, MN, offer high-end service and small-town values. Contact us today to enjoy a free policy review, and we’ll make sure to find the coverage that’s right for you.

How Do Companies Determine Auto Premiums?

As with any coverage, car insurance rates revolve around risk. The more risk an insurance company takes on, the higher the premiums rise. 

Several factors go into setting your auto insurance rates. Some are under your control, and others are not. The top rate influencers include:

  • Value of Your Car The age, condition, make, and model of your car impact its value. And the value helps determine the cost to insure the vehicle. Something with a higher value to replace or repair will carry a higher premium.
  • Policy Type – Every state requires vehicle owners to carry a liability policy. It helps to protect you if there is a car accident where you are at fault. If you add comprehensive coverage, you’ll pay a higher rate. This insurance covers your repairs, property damage, and medical expenses you incur, regardless of who was at fault. It also kicks in if someone steals your car or if it sustains damage due to fire, vandalism, or natural disasters. If you owe on a car loan, your lender will require you to carry comprehensive insurance.

Your type of policy helps determine your premium.

  • Deductible – The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance carrier pays your claim. Lower deductibles lead to higher premiums and vice versa.
  • Location – If you’re insuring a car in a place with high crime rates, hazardous roads, or icy weather, you may have to pay higher premiums. The same is true of densely-populated areas.
  • Driving record – If you’ve had previous accidents or moving violations, you probably will pay higher premiums than someone with a squeaky clean driving record. Speeding tickets can impact your insurance rates if you’ve gotten several within three years.
  • Age A driver’s age is one of the most significant factors in determining auto insurance rates. Young drivers require the highest premiums of any age group. People ages 16 to 25 can pay up to four times as much for insurance than their more mature counterparts.
  • Gender Teenage boys and young men are, statistically, riskier drivers. Because of this fact, insurance companies mitigate their risks by charging these drivers significantly higher premiums. Once a man turns 25, his premiums will drop if he has kept a clean driving record.

With so many factors in the mix, it’s no wonder there is confusion about how much an accident can impact your costs.

Do Car Accidents Raise My Insurance Rates? 

Car accidents don't always make your rates go up.

Not all car accidents are created equal. Obviously, a bumper tap in a parking lot does less costly damage than a head-on collision.

If you bump another car from behind, or you lightly scratch an adjacent vehicle in the parking lot, take a deep breath. You may be in the clear for insurance rate hikes if your accident claim is minor. 

When you know that you’ve damaged another car, make every effort to contact the other driver. You’ll need to exchange insurance information and get repair estimates. If the repair costs come in below your deductible amount, it might make sense to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket rather than filing a claim.

In more severe collisions, the insurance companies will view the police report and any related evidence, like videos, photos, or witness statements. They’ll determine fault, which could include more than one driver, and look at all the costs incurred because of the accident.

The insurance carrier will decide whether your rates will increase after processing your claim.

Your Driving Record Matters

If you are filing your first-ever claim, the carrier may not give you a higher premium. Remember, they set these based on risk. 

If you have a stellar driving record otherwise, a first claim may not impact your rates. Again, the severity of the accident will also be a factor. Any accident claims that you file stay on your record for three years, even if you were not at fault.

Reduce the likelihood of another costly incident by remembering to:

  • Observe the Speed Limit
  • Drive Defensively
  • Always Wear Your Seatbelt
  • Never Drive Distracted

Distracted driving is treacherous.

Accident Forgiveness and No-Fault Insurance

Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness or no-fault insurance. A no-fault policy covers medical expenses incurred by either party, no matter who is at fault. Your premiums may still increase after an accident, depending on the size and scope of the claim.

You also might be eligible for an accident forgiveness policy for your vehicle. You’ll likely pay a higher premium or extra fee for this coverage. But your rates won’t elevate if you file an accident claim, no matter who’s at fault.

It’s smart to look into all your policy options when insuring your car. If you’ve had a prior accident, you may save money in the long run by purchasing an accident forgiveness policy.

Let’s Save You Some Money

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know that the worst can happen no matter how careful or cautious you are. Trust our independent agents to help you shop the market for the best rates possible. We serve our customers, not the insurance companies.

Our clients are also our neighbors, so we serve Greater Minnesota with pride and care. We’ve been a trusted insurance partner for decades, and our values guide all of our interactions with clients.

Call or stop in for a free coverage review and a quote for the policies that meet your needs. Our team is eager to help.

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Dealing with Aggressive Drivers on the Road

Tailgating. Spontaneous swerves in no-passing zones. Flashing the high beams. Leaning on the horn and flipping a one-finger salute. Running red lights or jumping stop signs. When dealing with aggressive drivers, you are likely to encounter these behaviors and more.

Protecting yourself on the road takes effort and planning. Be sure you have coverage in place in case the worst happens, and you find yourself in an accident. The Lake Region Insurance Agency independent agents are here to help.

Visit our website today for a free quote and insurance review. We’ll make sure you can breathe easy no matter what or who you encounter on the roads of Greater Minnesota.

Alarming Aggressive Driving Statistics

Here is a stark reality check. The vast majority of car crashes are due to human error. And about a third of those are a result of road rage.

Incidents involving angry horn honks, sudden lane changes, rude hand gestures, and cursing are far too common. Even more concerning, almost 40% of these incidents involve firearms.

With those aggressive driving statistics, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of at least some of this behavior. In fact, statistics indicate you may have even dished a little of it out, as well. 

Having a game plan for dealing with aggressive drivers and managing frustration while driving is crucial. This planning can help keep you and others safe. Working through a highly-charged moment on the road requires some thought ahead of time. The temptation to engage with an aggressive driver can be strong, but with preparation, you can navigate it carefully.

Tips for Dealing With Aggressive Drivers

You cannot control every driver around you, no matter how conscientious and skilled you are behind the wheel. So how do you stay safe when someone else drives aggressively and unpredictably?

Here are several tips that allow you to go high when others go low. And often, non-action may be the name of the game when it comes to escaping road rage accident-free.

  • Stay out of the way. If a road hog needs their space, give it to them. It’ll be a temporary inconvenience for you and could save your life and ensure your passengers’ safety.
  • Resist the invitation to the crazy dance. You may want to hold your ground and not let the other driver get away with bad behavior. But, challenging a reckless or aggressive driver on the road is dangerous. Speeding up, staying level, or “revenge-passing” only puts you at more risk and escalates a bad situation. Stay in your lane, drive the speed limit, and keep your breathing slow and calm.
  • Keep your eyes ahead. Making eye contact with an angry driver can appear confrontational. We know you’re not a marshmallow, but you also don’t have to prove it. Allow a temporary situation to remain short-lived by keeping your eyes focused on the road.
  • Buckle up. Of course, we know you had your seat belt on before your key hit the ignition, right? Being strapped in when confronted with an aggressive driver provides extra safety. If things get out of hand, and you have to maneuver your car quickly, you have a level of protection in place. Always use your seatbelt and stay safe. Be sure that everyone in your vehicle does the same.
  • Ignore, breathe, and focus. That hand gesture someone just offered? It’s unimportant in the grand scheme of life. Instead of returning the “greeting,” focus on the road. Let them pass while you take several slow, deep breaths. Although you can certainly report them later, you need to remain calm in the moment.
  • Record and report. Once it is safe to do so, it’s okay to pull over and report the car to the authorities. If you have a passenger who can help you record or remember the license plate number, that will be useful information for the police. 
  • Stay put. Remain inside your vehicle when road rage rears its ugly head. Sometimes there is a temptation to get out at a light and deal with the other driver. This rarely, if ever, ends well. Your car is likely the safest place to be, assuming you keep your cool in a sensitive situation.

 

 

Tools to Avoid Raging 

Rush hour traffic, accidents, construction delays, and detours can cause the most level-headed drivers to lose their cool once in a while. So what do you do if you’re the one feeling the rage?

We’ve all had those moments of extreme annoyance. We’re late for an appointment and stuck behind a person driving 10 miles below the speed limit. It’s really difficult to stay calm.

Try out a few of these behind-the-wheel calming techniques, and give the drivers around you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Allow more travel time. If you leave your house a few minutes earlier for an appointment, you’ll have some wiggle room if you get in a gnarly road situation on the way.
  • Play relaxing or enjoyable music. Sing along, loudly and poorly, if necessary.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply. When you feel yourself getting tense, slow down your thoughts, and remind yourself that you’re not alone in your frustration. Getting angry and exploding might give you temporary satisfaction, but could cause real harm and long-term damage to all parties. If you need to pull off the road to walk, stretch, or let off some steam, do that. 

Call Lake Region Insurance Agency

If you’ve been in an accident from dealing with aggressive drivers, call your Lake Region agent right away. We are by your side through each step of your claim for a fair settlement, speedy processing, and quick pay-out. When the road becomes not-so-friendly, your friends at Lake Region can help you get back on track.

If you aren’t sure about your auto coverage, call us today for a free car insurance review and quote. Our friendly agents in Cokato, Willmar, and New London, MN, are here to help. As independent brokers, we can shop from multiple providers to find the best fit for you. 

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The Ins and Outs of Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

Your teenager is learning to drive. It’s both exciting and scary because you want to give them freedom while also keeping them safe. And on the practical side, you now need to think about car insurance for teen drivers. 

Start your new driver’s journey the right way. Call Lake Region Insurance Agency for a free policy review and quote. Our agents in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, are happy to partner with you on this exciting next step.

How to Choose Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

Insuring new drivers can be expensive. They haven’t proven themselves yet, so insurance companies see them as a higher risk. As a result, they charge more to insure teenagers than experienced drivers. 

But rates vary from one company to the next. How do you decide which policy to buy? 

You could search online for hours, comparing policies, and landing on numerous spam email lists. This plan is a time-consuming and potentially frustrating way to get protection.

The better option is to talk with your independent insurance agent. Independent agents can search from a variety of plans and policies. They do the comparing for you, weed out the poor choices, and bring you the best options.

Your agent will help you choose the policy limits that are right for your family. Depending on your budget, you might consider increasing your deductible to lower the monthly premium. Be sure to discuss all of the possible options with your agent. In an accident, if damages exceed the value of your policy, you may be held responsible for the difference. 

You can also think about adding an umbrella insurance policy. Umbrella insurance is an all-purpose, rainy day policy. It could help cover you in the case of a lawsuit for damages beyond what your other insurance policies cover. 

It’s also an excellent idea to include your teenager in conversations with your insurance agent.  They will start to learn about the financial responsibility that goes along with driving and the repercussions for things like speeding tickets.

How to Reduce Teen Driver Insurance Rates for Your Family

There is no shortcut for gaining driving experience. It must come with time. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the expense of new driver insurance.

  • Utilize driver education. An experienced professional instructor can reduce new driver stress for your teen and you. And a certificate from a state driver education program may qualify them for a discount on their insurance. 
  • Add them to your insurance instead of getting a separate policy. Some parents want their child to have their own policies. But it is usually less expensive to add your teen to an existing plan instead.
  • Get them a safe car. Does your teen want the newest, fastest car? Of course they do! But combining a new driver with a fast car is both dangerous and expensive. Get them a safe car to drive to save your dollars.
  • Ask your insurance agent about discounts for good grades. Students who focus and learn well tend to be better drivers. And most insurance policies reward good grades with lower rates.
  • Consider some tracking. There are several devices available that will inform you if your teen starts driving dangerously. There is no need to be sneaky, so make sure to tell them about it. Knowing that someone is paying attention might keep them from driving recklessly. 
  • Make sure the policy assigns your teen to the right car. Some vehicles cost more to cover than others. If your insurance policy adds your teen to your most expensive car, your rates will be higher. But, keep in mind that your teen can only drive that specific vehicle. If they have an accident while driving a different car, your insurer might assign penalties and increase your premiums. 

Talk With Your Teen About Safe Driving.

The best insurance plan will take care of damages when they happen, but it’s better to avoid them altogether. 

Talk to your teen driver about these critical safety rules:

  • Don’t text and drive. They’ve heard it before, but keep telling them. Texting while driving causes deadly accidents. Set a good example by tucking your phone away when you’re behind the wheel.
  • Don’t drive tired. People who drive with too little sleep perform a lot like people who drive drunk. Slower reactions from sleep-deprived brains cause many accidents every year.
  • Don’t drink or use other drugs while driving. Of course, you hope your teen isn’t drinking alcohol yet. But the fact remains that many teams do. Create a plan with them to get home safely. Talk to them about choosing a designated driver. Make sure they know that you will come to pick them up at any time to keep them safe.
  • Don’t speed. Speeding is a factor in over 22% of all fatal car crashes. It accounts for more deaths than impaired driving.

Remind your teen about the common sense things they need to do each time they are behind the wheel. Safe habits might be second nature for you. But your new driver may need several reminders before crucial actions become habits. 

  • Slow down in adverse conditions. You know that feeling when your tires lose traction? Your new driver may not have experienced that yet. Talk to them about taking it easy on icy roads and what to do if they start to slide. 
  • Wear your seatbelt. Just do it. Every. Single. Time. 
  • Let faster drivers pass. Remind your teen to avoid engaging with reckless drivers. They should know to let speeders get past them and never try to race another driver.
  • Recognize when conditions are too bad for driving. Winter in Greater Minnesota can be vicious. Have you ever gone through the type of storm that makes you turn off your radio? Then you know that sometimes you just need to stay put until the clouds clear.

Remember, the best way to teach your new driver good habits is to follow them yourself. Make a contract with your teen and be clear about the consequences of breaking it.

Your child is on the road to independence, so let’s keep them covered on their journey. Make sure to call Lake Region Insurance Agency for a comprehensive review. We are experts at helping parents understand car insurance for teen drivers.

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Does My Car Insurance Cover Me In a Rental?

Ahhhh, vacation! You step off the plane, stretch your legs, and get ready for the fun to begin. But first, you have to get your rental car. And when you do, they’ll inevitably ask if you want car insurance for the rental.

If you’re not ready for the question, and your brain is already in vacation mode, you might not know what to say. Do you purchase unnecessary additional insurance and potentially waste valuable money? Or do you decline and risk not having coverage, hoping there’s no damage to the car? 

Avoid that uncertainty and potential extra cost. Be ready to get straight to the fun on your next holiday by contacting Lake Region Insurance Agency. We are the independent agent you need for all of your Minnesota insurance needs. We can make sure you’re covered for every step of your vacation, as well as your daily life.

Should I Pay for Rental Car Insurance from the Rental Agency?

Here’s the thing that rental companies would rather you not know: most car insurance companies cover their drivers when they are in rental cars.

Female Motorist Involved In Car Accident Calling Insurance Company Or Recovery Service

But that doesn’t mean you always have coverage in these situations, so you need to do a little research. Some details will help you decide what to do, including your current level of car insurance coverage and which credit card you use to pay for the rental car. Some credit cards offer coverage when you rent a vehicle. These pieces of information are important to know before you go to the rental agency.

Different Types of Rental Car Insurance

Before you decide whether or not to purchase rental car coverage, you should understand the different types of car insurance. Policies are not all interchangeable, so it’s essential to know what coverage you already have.

Here are some of the typical kinds of car insurance you will see:

  • Liability Protection – This is the most common form of insurance because most states require that every registered car has at least this level of protection. Liability coverage can include both bodily injury and property damage liability. It helps to cover medical or legal costs if you injure another person or damage their property while driving. Sometimes this is called Supplemental Liability Protection by rental car companies because it supplements the coverage you already have with your personal auto insurance.
  • Comprehensive and Collision Damage – This coverage kicks in if there is damage to another vehicle or a stationary object when your car is in an accident. It may also include theft and vandalism. With personal car insurance, this is optional when you own your car outright, so you may or may not have it already.
  • Personal Protection – This coverage may also be called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It covers medical costs incurred by the driver or passenger due to a car accident. Generally, this coverage is already included if you selected liability in MN, under a personal auto policy.
  • Personal Effects Coverage – This type of insurance will cover reimbursement if any of the renter’s items are stolen out of the vehicle. Many people find this coverage unnecessary because most homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies cover items stolen from a car. But again, check these details ahead of time so that you know what you want to do.

Before You Purchase Rental Car Coverage

When you need to decide if you should purchase additional rental car coverage, find out the following information. It will allow you to make the best decision for your specific situation. For each question, contact your insurance agent to verify coverage.

Do you have full coverage already?

If your personal auto policy includes both comprehensive and collision coverage, then you likely have rental protection for a variety of situations such as:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft of vehicle
  • Damaged windshield
  • Fire
  • Damage from hail or lightning
  • Collision with an animal
  • Damage from hitting another vehicle or a fixed object like a pole or a tree

Be sure to check with your agent. Even if you have full coverage on your personal car, it might not extend to rental vehicles. If this is true for you, consider purchasing the rental car company’s Collision Damage or Loss insurance.

Do you have liability coverage? How much?

If your auto policy includes liability insurance, which it must in most states, you’ll want to know its limits. This coverage kicks in to pay for the other driver’s injuries if you are at fault in an accident.

If you only carry the minimum amount of coverage required by the state, you might want to consider increasing it. Or you could purchase the supplemental liability insurance from the rental car company.

Do you have renters or homeowners insurance?

If you’re concerned about theft of your personal belongings, you don’t necessarily need to purchase the rental car company’s Personal Effects insurance. Most people already have a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Both types of insurance cover items stolen from vehicles. As long as the item stolen would be covered in your home, it likely will have coverage in the rental car. But double-check with your insurance agent before you decide about the rental company’s policy.

Sometimes You Need the Rental Agency’s Coverage

It’s a wise choice to buy rental car insurance in some instances:

  • You don’t own a vehicle, so you don’t carry car insurance.
  • Your credit card doesn’t provide any rental car coverage in its perks.
  • Convenience is worth the cost.
  • Your car insurance has low coverage limits.
  • The additional expense is worth the peace of mind it brings to you.
  • You didn’t check coverage with your insurance company before traveling.

Learn More About Car Insurance

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we are independent agents who are here to serve you. Because we can offer a wide range of products from many companies, we can find the right fit for your insurance needs. Whether you’re planning the trip of a lifetime or need some advice on day-to-day coverage, our team can help. Call or stop by our offices to learn more.