Eyes on the Road
Do you remember your first destination after you got your license? One of the most exciting times for a sixteen-year-old is passing their DMV exam and earning the independence to drive alone. It’s also a great time for parents since some of the “chauffeuring” duties are transferred to their teen. While driving alone is thrilling, it also comes with enormous responsibilities that teens sometimes underestimate.
Our intent is not to scare teen drivers or their parents, but to educate you with the facts and ways to ensure safety while driving. Your teenage years are your highest risk years from a driving standpoint. Teens are four times more likely to get into an accident than adults are, and it is the number one cause of teenage death. As sobering as that fact is, it’s important to understand inexperience and age DO factor into driving capability. More years on the road usually increases awareness and experience. As little as two years can really change the statistics: sixteen-year-olds are twice as more likely to get into an accident than eighteen-year-olds.
This is not to say that all sixteen-year-olds should be banned from driving – or even that all teens are bad drivers. There are several ways that new drivers can increase safety and decrease distractions. Here’s what we suggest:
- Eliminate Distractions: Ditch the food, the GPS and definitely the cell phone when driving. Two eyes on the road are necessary no matter how old you are. Changing stations, volume or songs also counts as a distraction!
- Be cautious at night: The hours of 9:00 p.m. to midnight are the most common times a teen will get in an accident. Try to lessen or eliminate driving after dark during your early months and years of driving.
- Choose your passengers carefully: Along with time of day, number of passengers also increases risk of accident. In fact, you are three to five times more likely to get into an accident with just one passenger in your car versus being along. Avoid the distraction and allow passengers only when necessary (and make sure they understand you need to focus on the road!)
Parents of teen drivers also play a critical role in new driver safety. You are the biggest enforcer of state laws, as well as any additional rules you want applied. Common measures parents usually take include:
- New driver completes certified driver’s education course
- New driver spends certain number of hours driving in the car with their parents (We suggest some parent-supervised driving at night and during bad so that your teen will feel more comfortable in these situations).
- Parents impose a curfew for early months of driving where the teen is home by 9 pm
- Parents set maximum number of passengers (or no passengers at all)
Most experts also recommend new drivers have a midsize car or larger when first starting out. Parents and teens should check to ensure the newest and most updated safety technology is present in the car, especially side airbags.
And of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention car insurance coverage! You can give Penny Insurance a call for a quote that will provide the best and most appropriate new driver coverage.
Congratulations new driver! We hope you’ll take your safety and the safety of others to heart, and keep both eyes on the road.
Our third and final home series discusses loss prevention during any construction or renovation projects you have planned. While we’d like to think construction companies and contractors would have these measures in place, here’s a short checklist to get your conversation about construction-related losses started.
- Confirm your contractor, and any other vendor, is adequately insured. Your contractor should be able to provide you with a certificate of liability (and it should state the liability for any one occurrence equals the total insured value of the project!).
- Ensure proper storage and disposal of hazardous materials. Used construction materials are highly flammable and should be removed daily, along with any solutions and rags used by painters. You should also enforce a strict no smoking policy with anyone who works on site.
- Secure your construction site. Keep unwanted visitors out using motion-activated lights, perimeter fencing, gates/chains on the driveways and security guards, if necessary.
- Consider fire safety options:
- Install a residential sprinkler system to protect your home against a major fire.
- Ensure a number of portable extinguishers are available throughout the worksite.
- Include fire and burglar alarms in planning phases:
- If you are renovating your home, do not disconnect your fire or burglar alarms. Have smoke detectors covered with plastic bags or tops that can be removed at night after work is completed for the day.
- If you are building a new home, install a temporary system as soon as a phone line and temporary power are available. You can also get your home wired for a security system more easily during the construction phase. Follow up with proper installation, when possible.
These are simple tips often overlooked in building or renovation processes. Penny Insurance, along with Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, wants your home protected at all times, even when you’re not residing there!
Old & Historic Home Maintenance
Some of the most beautiful and treasured homes have been in families for decades and may be a part of historic districts. Proper maintenance, renovation and repair are vital in preserving the home and its value, but this doesn’t have to be costly. Routine inspections can help you avoid unexpected repairs and reduce the risk of loss in an older home.
When’s the last time you havve gotten on a ladder to clean the gutters? Inspect the roof? Chubb suggests these periodic inspections:
- Check exterior walls for cracks and peeling, including in the paint and on siding.
- Clear gutters and downspouts. You can improve drainage around the foundation of your home by directing downspouts away from the house.
- Inspect exterior doors and windows for proper caulking and weather stripping.
- Inspect decks, terraces and balconies. According to Chubb, deteriorating conditions in these areas can lead to interior water damage.
- Check mortar walls and chimneys. If there are loose bricks, cracked mortar, damp walls or damaged plaster, you need to replace before the damage gets worse.
- Inspect the roof and flashing. Don’t forget to check the areas around chimneys and skylights, especially after severe storms.
Although it may seem like a lot of space to cover, you’ll definitely want to focus on these key areas:
- The Basement: Inspect walls and floors for cracking or dampness. Remember you should never store valuables in the basement since it is prone to excessive moisture.
- The Attic: Ensure proper and updated insulation is installed in your attic to reduce damage from moisture and save on energy usage.
- The Chimney: Your chimney should be inspected AND cleaned on a regular basis to avoid future deterioration.
- The Insulation System: Older homes have less insulation, particularly around their pipes. To avoid pipes freezing over and bursting, you must maintain a comfortable heating temperature at all times. Install low temperature sensors and water leak detectors to alert you of any problems. Also, if you’re leaving your home for an exterior time, Chubb recommends you shut off your main water supply to protect your pipes.
When dealing with repairs or improvements of any kind, always consult with a licensed electrical, plumbing, heating, roofing or other area specialist for an evaluation before beginning any project. You will also wanted to see if they have any experience working on historic or older homes to ensure you’re getting the best and most reliable service!
Home Insurance Series: Security Solutions
For homeowners and tenants, protecting their loved ones, home and valuables is of utmost importance. Thoughtful planning can make a big difference in burglary prevention, and includes items beyond installing a security system for your home. Here are some starter tips Chubb Insurance recommends:
- Lock all doors and windows. It may seem like a no brainer, but a number of homeowners neglect to make sure doors and windows are locked when they leave the home. Also, routine checks should be done to ensure all locks are functioning.
- Install programmable timing devices for interior and exterior lights. According to Chubb, a well illuminated home is less of a target. Motion sensors are preferable outdoors to help with illumination.
- If your home is protected by a security system, display a sign to deter burglars. Eight out of ten burglars will not rob a home with a sign posted.
- Store valuables and important documents in a safe or vault. The best kinds of safes are permanently fastened to the floor and fireproof. Very important documents and items may also be more secure in a bank vault or security box.
- If you’re planning on leaving town, make sure your car is locked and all valuables properly stored inside your home. Chubb suggests leaving a car in the driveway to discourage burglars.
Above all, be careful what you post on social media. Pictures of your home should only be shared so that family and close friends can see them, and avoid posting about leaving town. All of these simple tasks can go a long way in protecting what you love the most!
Over the next weeks, Penny Insurance will share other tips for your home, courtesy of Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.