Thursday, October 16, 2014

Driving in Inclement Weather Takes a Different Approach

Now that Western Washington is entering the rainy – and occasionally snowy – season, driving a car is much more difficult. Driving down dry pavement in summer, with lots of light during the day and dry conditions that make it easier to see at night, makes for a less stressful situation. This changes drastically when the days are dark and cloudy, the rain pelts against your windshield, and the pavement is slick.

And, contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t much matter if you’re driving a four-wheel drive vehicle or not when the weather turns nasty. The amount of tire rubber that actually touches the road is miniscule (less than 10 percent). It's what is called the "tire-road interaction", and the interaction actually decreases at higher speeds. So having four of them activated is only marginally better than having two.

Car Care

All the skill in the world will not help much if your car and its equipment aren’t functioning properly. It’s important to have all your car’s functions checked by a certified mechanic before you get stuck, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent a breakdown or a collision due to faulty equipment.

Check your tires for wear. During the dry season, you may have had no problems driving and stopping with worn-out tires, but the minute the rains make the roads slick, you will find cornering and stopping is much more treacherous. You can easily check tread depth by inserting a quarter into a tire's deepest grooves, head pointing down. If you can see the top of George Washington's head, you have 1/8 of tread or less, and it's time to start shopping for new rubber.

Tire hydroplaning: left at 20 mph, center at 40 mph and right at 60 mph.
You probably won’t notice the worn tires until you need to brake suddenly and your car goes into a skid on wet pavement. If the tread is too worn, the water on the pavement is not channeled away by the tire, and your tires slide on a thin sheet of water that gets between your tire and the pavement. This is called “hydroplaning”, and will usually result in loss of control. Your stopping distance will increase, which can mean slamming into the car in front of you or running off the road. Either way, you’re in trouble!

Check your windshield wipers. Your wipers, which have probably been tucked safely away below the windshield most of the summer, are now suddenly called into action trying to keep your windshield from streaking with rain. After a summer of the sun beating down on the rubber blades, they may have become cracked or brittle. Check them now, before you get hit by a rainstorm while driving down a crowded freeway and find out they can’t keep the windshield clear anymore!

Driving Skills

Increase your spacing. When driving in bad weather, always give yourself more room to maneuver than you normally would. Your ability to stop on a rain-slicked roadway is greatly diminished. Leave more room to the car in front of you, and always give yourself an “out”. If something suddenly happens in front of you, where will you go? If you are near the road’s shoulder, you can turn off the road and onto the shoulder. If you’re in the fast lane, there might be a little bit of room between the lane and the barrier separating the oncoming lanes. Always be prepared for the worst, and you’ll give yourself a better chance of avoiding disaster.

Slow down. Not only is braking adversely affected by rain or snow on the road, but the ability to maneuver is diminished. Changing lanes, speeding up quickly and making turns are all more treacherous. Doing everything more deliberately and slowly is the best answer. Any quick maneuvers can cause your vehicle to go into a slide and you can easily lose control. Once the vehicle has lost its grip on the road, it is difficult for it to reestablish any control until the vehicle comes to a stop.  If your vehicle does begin to slip, pump your brakes -- don't slam on the brakes -- and turn your wheels into the skid. This can bring the vehicle’s front end back into alignment with the back and end the slide.

Stay focused at all times. With all the distractions that drivers have, it’s more important than ever to keep your eyes constantly on the road. Turn off your phone, don’t fumble with that cup of coffee that spilled, don’t try to change that CD that just ended! Every instant you take your eyes off the road is an instant that could cause a serious accident!

By being alert and focused while driving this winter, you’ll be safer and so will the drivers around you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Choose an Auto Insurance Deductible

When quoting auto insurance for clients, we frequently discuss how to choose the right deductible.  We'd like to take a few minutes to share this information here on our blog, too!

A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket when you have a claim.  For example, if you have a $500 collision deductible and have an accident, then you would pay $500 towards repairing your vehicle and insurance would cover the rest.

The deductible you choose directly relates to the amount of money you spend on premiums each month. The higher the deductible ($250, $500, $1000), the lower your monthly premium cost. 

So how do you choose?  Cheaper premiums or lower out-of-pocket expense?

First, look at your emergency savings. Do you have enough cash available to cover a higher deductible if you had to pay it if you had an accident? If the answer is no, then you’re better off paying a little more each month to avoid a big deductible.

Compare the cost savings. When your SAV-ON agent runs a quote, they can show you several different options. Ask your agent to run the premium based on several different deductibles so you can see the actual dollar cost savings. Then figure if the dollar savings is enough to offset any deductible you might face.

You can always change your mind. If you’re short on cash now, but know you could afford more out of pocket next year, you can always change your deductible at that time. Keep your deductible in a comfortable range and you’ll always be well protected! 

Call us at 888-867-2866 for more information and a personalized quote It's free!

Monday, August 18, 2014

How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?

We get this question a lot. Tickets and accidents can cause expensive spikes in your car insurance rates and no one wants that.

The good news is that the higher premiums eventually drop off and your rate will go back down -- as long as you avoid any further trouble or accidents. The bad news is that it typically takes 3 years for that to happen.

If you get a traffic ticket, you may be able to avoid having a surcharge on your policy by taking a defensive driving course and getting the ticket removed from your record. This will depend on your past record and what the court offers, but it is a good option, since it will keep your rates from skyrocketing.

If your rates do go up, make sure you are taking advantage of all other discounts to offset the increase.  Bring all of your insurance to SAV-ON Insurance so you take advantage of our multi-policy discounts. Raise your deductible for awhile so you pay more out-of-pocket if you have an accident, get a lower monthly rate.

Have questions?  We're always available to help!  Just give us a call at 888-867-2866 and schedule a free review to see what is available and how we can keep your rates manageable even after an accident.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are You Driving a Used Vehicle That Isn’t Safe?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just released figures showing that many teen drivers are behind the wheel of vehicles that don’t offer good crash protection and lack important safety features. To help guide parents and teens to safer choices, it has compiled a first-ever list of recommended used vehicles for teens.

There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at different pricing areas, from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000.

The IIHS has these recommendations to consider when buying a used vehicle for a teen:

  • Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.
  • ESC is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
  • Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test, and four or five stars from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).

IIHS Ratings (Top 3 rated vehicles in each category.
For the complete list go to )

Best Choices: Recommended Used Vehicles Under $20,000

Large Cars....Price*
Saab 9-5 sedan (2010 and later)....$17,500
Lincoln MKS (2009 and later)....$15,500
Buick Regal (2011 and later)....$13,500
Midsize Cars....Price*
Toyota Prius v (2012 and later)....$19,100
Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (2009 and later)....$16,000
Honda Accord (sedan 2012 and later; coupe 2013-14)....$14,400
Small SUVs....Price*
Honda CR-V (2012 and later)....$18,100
Kia Sportage (2011 and later)....$13,800
Hyundai Tucson (2010 and later)....$13,100
Midsize SUVs....Price*
Volvo XC60 (2010 and later)....$18,000
Saab 9-4X (2011-12)....$17,800
Toyota Highlander (2008 and later)....$17,100
Large SUVs....Price*
Buick Enclave (2011 and later)....$19,900
GMC Acadia (2011 and later)....$17,800
Chevrolet Traverse (2011 and later)....$16,600
Chrysler Town & Country (2012 and later)....$18,100
Honda Odyssey (2011 and later)....$17,100
Toyota Sienna (2011 and later)....$16,400

Good Choices: Recommended Used Vehicles Under $10,000

Large Cars....Price*
Acura RL (2005 and later)....$9,700
Mercury Sable (2009)....$9,700
Kia Amanti (2009)....$9,500
Midsize Cars....Price*
Subaru Legacy (2009)....$9,900
BMW 3-series sedan (2006 and later)....$9,300
Mazda 6 (2009 and later)....$8,900
Small SUVs....Price*
Nissan Rogue (2008 and later)....$9,800
Ford Escape (2009 and later)....$8,700
Mazda Tribute (2009 and later)....$8,100  
Midsize SUVs....Price*
Mazda CX-9 (2007 and later)....$9,800
Ford Edge (2007-10)....$9,600
Hyundai Veracruz (2007 and later)....$9,600
Volkswagen Routan (2009-11)....$8,600
Dodge Grand Caravan (2008-11)....$8,200
Chrysler Town & Country (2008-11)....$8,100

*Prices, rounded to the nearest $100, were taken from Kelley Blue Book's on July 1, 2014, for the lowest trim level and earliest applicable model year based on the following criteria: vehicle in good condition, typical mileage and private party purchase in Arlington, Va.

Note: Some listed models include a “built after” date. This applies when a manufacturer makes changes to improve safety in the middle of a model year. Information about when a specific vehicle was manufactured can be found on the certification label typically affixed to the driver door or near it.

--> For more information, go to

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Top 10 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance

Looking for ways to keep your auto insurance premiums manageable? Today we'll
share 10 ways you can save on your insurance without sacrificing coverage.

1. Driving Record
Your driving record plays a big role in how much you pay for insurance. By keeping a
clean record for 3-5 years, you can save hundreds of dollars! Be a cautious driver, don't speed, and you'll lower your premiums. SAV-ON's 'Smart Driver' program is tailored to helping you get preferred rate insurance. Call us to find out more.

2. Defensive Driving Programs
Defensive driving courses are an easy way to achieve an extra discount. They can also help keep a ticket from showing up and messing up your clean driving record. Make sure to call us before taking the class if you're using it for a discount so we can verify that your policy qualifies.

3. Get Good Grades

If you're a high school or college student, keeping your grades up can earn you substantial savings on your insurance. Being a responsible student usually means being a responsible driver, and insurance statistics back that up.

4. Anti-Theft Devices
Installing an alarm or other anti-theft device can lower premiums on your vehicle. Make sure to discuss all features with us, sometimes even power locks and a remote can count!

5. Your Credit Score

While insurance uses a different formula then the credit bureaus, your credit still affects
the rate you pay. Good credit can save you hundreds -- or even thousands -- on your
premiums! Make sure to review your credit report on a regular basis and have any mistakes

6. Where You Live
Rural areas pay less for insurance than the big cities do. It's all about risk and with a
large population, there is more chance for an accident. Therefore, where you choose to live can impact your rates. Consider visiting with us before purchasing a home if you're concerned about the costs (it is based on the zip code).

7. Your Vehicle
The vehicle you choose to purchase also makes a difference! Some vehicles cost a lot
more to repair than others, such as luxury cars, which drives up their rates. Easy way to avoid buying a money-sucker? Call us first and let us quote the vehicle before you sign on the dotted line.

8. How Often -- and Far -- You Drive
If you take public transportation and only drive on the weekends, you'll pay less than
someone with a long commute. Make sure to review your annual mileage and daily
commutes with us (especially if they change) so that you can receive the extra savings.

9. Raise Your Deductible
A higher deductible (your out-of-pocket cost in a claim) means a lower monthly rate. If
you have $1,000 in savings and could afford to use it if you had an accident, then you'll
save on your insurance cost by having a $1,000 deductible instead of a $250. We can
help you review the costs and benefits in your specific situation.

10. Your Agent
And the best way to save? Work with a local agent! You'll get the coverage you need
plus you'll have an advocate working on your behalf to find the best rate, all the
discounts, and an easy explanation of any gaps in your coverage. It's the best way to control your risk, maximize your savings, and protect your family.

We want to be your insurance agency. Call us at 888-867-2866 to discuss your policy today. We'd love to save you some money!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Graduating and Heading Off On Your Own? Make Sure You're Covered!

Whether you're graduating from high school and going off to college, or graduating from college and heading into the business world, big changes are inevitable. This is even truer if you are leaving your parent's home and heading off on your own.

graduates celebrating
While the exhilaration of being independent and the freedom that comes with it is great, there is a corresponding increase in your responsibilities, too. You need to find -- and pay for -- a place to live. Then you will probably need to furnish it, feed yourself, clothe yourself and keep your car in good running order, as well as other expenses. But, don't forget insurance!

Auto Insurance

First, you must have liability insurance. It's required by the state and pays to fix the vehicle of anyone you might hit or to fix property that you might damage in an accident. Liability coverage fixes the other person's car.

If you want your car to be covered then you'll need comprehensive and collision coverage. This is sometimes called "full coverage". It costs a little bit more but protects your vehicle. You'll be required to have this if you are paying off a car loan.

Auto insurance policies are typically for six months. You can pay in full or make monthly installment payments, but you always want to make sure your insurance is paid on time. If not, you run the risk of not being covered if you have an accident. (You'll not only be on the hook for repairs, but you'll get a no-insurance ticket, which can get very expensive!)

Renters or Homeowners Insurance

You're moving into a place you'll call home, whether it's an apartment, condominium or house. You have electronics, furnishings and other valuables that you are now responsible for. Whether you rent or own, if you get burglarized, there's a fire or other damage, if you're not covered you lose it all! Some policies will even pay for you to live in a motel for a time while your place is being repaired if it is uninhabitable.These policies also cover belongings left in your vehicle that are damaged or stolen, whereas auto insurance will not.

While it's another expense each month, renters or homeowners insurance will come to your rescue should these unfortunate things occur. Rates are quite reasonable, too.

Keep Your Costs Down

How can you lower your insurance cost? Having a good credit score, not getting into an accident, and having regular insurance reviews will keep your cost manageable. Let our agency work with you to create an affordable plan that will protect you while also giving you the most bang for your buck.

Going off on your own is daunting enough. Don't leave yourself vulnerable to financial setbacks when you're just getting started. Insurance coverage protects you from the unforeseen events that can cost you dearly.

Give SAV-ON a call at 888-867-2866 to get started today!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to Shop for a Used Car

Start simple. Take a look at how much you can afford and what kind of car you want. Of course, your budget will limit your options, but you can narrow it down to an economy car, a truck or a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) based on your needs. Although less important, you might create a list of colors that you want or, more importantly, don’t want. While this has nothing to do with the operation of your auto, you’ll tire of climbing into an orange car every day if you can’t stand that color!

Here are a few important considerations when selecting a used car:

Private Seller vs. Dealership

At a dealership, you need to negotiate a few things: The car’s final selling price, the amount the dealership is willing to give you in trade for your old car (if you have one to trade in), and, if you aren’t paying cash for the car, the interest rate on the loan. The advantage of working with a dealership is that you are dealing with a business, so they have a reputation to uphold, and there are laws that govern what they can and cannot do. They surely don’t need any bad publicity from an unhappy customer, but they also are in business to make money, so they need to have to build in a little profit, too.

A private seller has more room to negotiate, so the selling price might be lower, but they will want the money ‘up front’, so you will need to work with your bank separately if you need a loan. And, while you probably can get the same car for less through a private seller, you need to take precautions against being sold a previously damaged car, or even a stolen car. Make sure to check the various online websites for the approximate value of the kind of car you’re looking for.

Accident and Maintenance History

Running a vehicle history report is very important. You can see if the car you want has been involved in an accident or sustained other damage, and how extensive the damage was. A service history will help you determine how well the automobile has been cared for. Whether you are purchasing from a dealer or a private party, insist on seeing the service records for the car. Take a look at its history of oil changes, tire rotations, and any brake jobs or transmission overhauls that have been done.

Certified Pre-Owned vs. Used

Purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle from a dealer can give you peace of mind, since you’re getting the backing of the dealer and a limited warranty. If you’re buying from a private seller, make sure to get the car inspected by a licensed mechanic for any pending problems (transmission, brakes, engine) BEFORE handing over the money. Even though it will cost some money to have this service performed, it’s better than buying the car only to find out it needs thousands of dollars in repairs.

Need a Car Loan?

If you go to a dealer to buy your used car, don’t just settle for whatever loan rate the dealer presents. Shop around at your bank or credit union to see what rate and length of loan that they offer. Most dealers make a good deal of their money through higher rates on loans. Bring a couple of other quotes with you when you finalize the deal at the dealership. If not, you may end up paying twice what the car is worth over the life of the loan!

One Owner vs. Multiple Owners

A one-owner car is usually the best buy, especially if they have complete maintenance records. Since they bought the car when it was new, chances are they took pride in it and kept it looking and running well. A car with multiple owners has a lower value, since subsequent owners are not going to be as diligent in maintaining a used car. So, before you become the second, third or fourth owner of the car, make sure to check that vehicle’s resale value.

Low Insurance Rates

Finally, before you sign on the dotted line for your car, call SAV-ON Insurance to see what the cost of car insurance will be. Although used cars cost less to insure than new cars, some models can be considered luxury or classic cars and will mean a higher premium than what you may think. Also, if it’s considered a sports or high-performance car, those rates will be higher, too. Call us at 800-867-2866 to get a quick quote on your insurance and feel confident when you finally get the car you want that it will be a good match!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Teen Drivers: How to Keep the Cost of Insurance Down

Your teen has just passed their drivers test. Now you face the unenviable task of trying to find affordable car insurance for him or her. We’ve all heard the horror stories. Your friends and co-workers will warn you about the hundreds and even thousands of dollars they’re spending to let their kids drive. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

With a little bit of knowledge and planning you can drastically cut your costs.  Here’s what you need to know:

1. Buy an older car for cash. 

This probably isn’t what your teenager was hoping to get, but it’s the best way to keep your insurance manageable.  By "older", we don't mean a beat-up old clunker, just a used car that has been been cared for well. Check the various car checker websites to make sure it hasn't been in an accident or had any other bad mechanical issues. The seller should provide any major maintenance work done on the car, and when it was completed, in the form of receipts or work orders. If they can't, walk away from it.  If you pay cash and avoid a car loan, then you can choose more reasonable limits then the lending institution will demand.

2. Take an approved defensive driver training course.  

Certified defensive driver training courses will qualify your teenager for additional discounts! This is not the same as a school-sponsored drivers education course or one of many private drivers ed schools out there, which are mandatory in Washington if your teen wants to get their license before turning 18. Defensive driver training courses are for all ages and typically a one-day course that concentrates on defensive driving and "watching out for the other guy". After successful completion, get a copy from the course instructor and bring it in when you add your new driver.

3. Get good grades.

Good grades reflect a more responsible driver.  Drop off a copy of your teenager’s latest report card to see if they qualify for a good student discount.

4. Include your teen as an additional driver on your policy.

Don't take out a separate policy for them, as they will be considered ‘high risk’ and pay extremely high rates because of it. Adding them to your policy will certainly cause it to go up, but considerably less than an inexperienced driver having his or her own policy. Most responsibly-insured parents will have a solid insurance history which will qualify for a big discount, something a new driver will not have.

How do you pay this big premium increase? If your teen has a job, have them pay the additional portion of the premium. Then they have a stake in driving responsibly, and If they get in an accident and rates increase, then they are on the hook for the additional cost. This teaches them a valuable life lesson about being responsible and owning up to their mistakes.

Yes, young drivers will raise your insurance costs, but it doesn’t have to be terrible.  Schedule an appointment to sit down and discuss your policy with your SAV-ON agent.  We’ll review all of your options and any discounts you qualify for. Call us at 888-867-2866 today.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Car Insurance: Why Liability Protection Is So Important

Have you ever looked at your insurance policy and wondered just exactly what it is you are paying for?
In Washington state, drivers are legally required to carry liability insurance, unless you drive a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or a "horseless carriage over 40 years old" (seriously; look it up).  But many people don’t really understand what that means or how it works. 

In simple terms, liability insurance pays to fix damage that you cause to someone else. 

On your auto insurance policy, this is split into three pieces.  Here is an example:

Bodily Injury:  50/100
Personal Property: 50

Let’s say that this was your coverage amount and you hit another car in an accident.  Your insurance would pay up to $50,000 per person for injuries up to a total cap of $100,000.  And it would pay up to $50,000 in property damage to fix the other car. 

Remember, liability only covers the person that you hit.  It doesn’t cover your vehicle or anyone inside your car. 

There are many different amounts of liability coverage.  We work directly with our clients to determine how much you need.  This will vary based on factors like how many assets you have, your income, and home value. 

Not having enough liability insurance is one of the biggest financial mistakes you can make!  Carrying only the Washington state minimum of 25/50/10, could leave you open to a lawsuit.  Think about those cars you’ve seen on the road worth easily over $40,000!  If you don’t have enough property damage coverage, then you are at risk. 

There is also liability coverage on your homeowners or renters insurance.  It pays if someone is injured on your property due to your negligence.  One common example is a dog bite.  This is another time when it’s good to have enough liability insurance!

This is a general overview of liability insurance. If you have further questions about how liability insurance works, or you need help determining the right amount of coverage for your family, give us a call at 888-867-2866 for a no-obligation review and quote.