M-F, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
930 Hilltop Dr, Suite 100
Weatherford, TX 76086

M-F, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
930 Hilltop Dr, Suite 100
Weatherford, TX 76086

It’s an exciting and emotional time when a child – err, young adult – heads off to college. And, for many parents, a confusing time in regards to car insurance coverage and personal property coverage.

Should college students remain on the family’s auto policy? Do they have coverage for their belongings in the dorms? Let’s take a look at these and other issues to help clear up some of the confusion.

Wheels or No Wheels?

If you’re supporting your college student financially, you can still consider her a household member for insurance purposes. Yes, even if she doesn’t live at home or moves out of state, and even if she is older than 18. This means that:

  • If she takes a car to school, she can stay on your auto insurance policy. Be sure to tell her that lending the car to friends is out of the question!  
  • If she leaves the car at home, there’s likely no need for her to be listed as a daily driver on your policy. This could reduce your car insurance rates, especially if the school is more than 100 miles away from home.  
  • If she returns home for a weekend or holiday, she can still drive under your coverage. However, if she will be using the car for an extended period, such as during summer break, you should let your independent agent know.

Oftentimes carriers offer a Good Student Discount for students who maintain a high GPA, such as 3.0 or above. If your college student is remaining on your auto policy, be sure to talk to your independent agent about whether this is available for you.

Also be aware that, if your student owns her own wheels or you transfer ownership of a vehicle into her name, she will need to register and insure the vehicle herself. This is a great way to start building her insurance history!

What’s It All Worth?

Car or no car, your student is no doubt taking several thousand dollars’ worth of personal belongings with him to college: laptop, tablet, TV, smartphone, gaming equipment, books, wardrobe, luggage, etc. Some lines of study may even require costly gear, such as musical instruments or cameras. Your existing homeowners policy should extend some personal property coverage to your student.

For example, 10 or 20 percent of your personal property coverage may extend to your student’s dorm stay. So, if you have $100,000 of personal property coverage on your policy, your student has $10,000 or $20,000 worth of coverage. This may even follow your student to a foreign country if he’s studying abroad for a semester or longer, but be sure to check with your independent agent.

To make it easy to take advantage of this coverage in the event of a covered incident, be sure to:

  • Create an inventory of what your student is taking before he heads off to college and what it’s all worth. Include receipts, photos, serial numbers and as much other information about the items as you can.  
  • Itemize any items worth more than $1,000 since, in most cases, there is a cap on how much coverage particular items or types of items receive under your policy. Itemizing the valuables offers broader coverage and also broadens the coverage territory to anywhere in the world.

For students renting a house or apartment off-campus, or even a dorm on-campus, a renters insurance policy in their own name is another option. Renters policies are oftentimes highly affordable ($10 to $20 a month in some cases) and provide liability and medical payment coverages in addition to personal property.

What About Umbrella Insurance?

An umbrella policy covers all household members. If you have one, it gives your student even more liability protection in auto accidents and other mishaps, according to your policy.

It’s normal to be nervous when your kids head off to college. But, there’s no reason to be nervous about whether you’ve handled their insurance needs properly. Use this primer as a guide but remember that your own insurance coverage may differ, depending on your policy, your carrier and your state.

To further put your mind at ease, check in with your independent insurance agent for regular guidance. Trust me, there is no such thing as too many questions when it comes to keeping your young adult safely insured!

Pack for the Unexpected: Create a Vehicle Emergency Kit  

What do you need in an emergency kit for your vehicle? It could be as simple as a mobile phone to call for help or as complicated as a survival kit with canned water, blankets and dehydrated food.

You can buy an emergency kit, or you can take a sturdy box or case and assemble your own. Your needs will change depending on the kind of driving you do. An emergency kit for your daily commutes to work and the kids’ soccer field will be different from what you’ll want for a family vacation crossing long stretches of remote landscape.

To help you get started, we gathered the best recommendations from Consumer Reports, Edmunds.com and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for what the typical vehicle emergency kit should include:

What to Put in Your Vehicle Emergency Kit

The 11 Basics

  1. Mobile phone and charger: With your roadside assistance or auto club emergency number easy to find.  
  2. First-aid kit: Include a variety of bandages, gauze pads and tape, antiseptic ointments or wipes, pain relievers and any specific first-aid needs for family members, including the furry ones if they travel with you often.  
  3. Flashlight: Waterproof, with extra batteries. Lights with flexible stands or mounts are particularly useful.  
  4. Warning signs: Flares, reflective tape or triangles, or battery powered warning lights to warn approaching vehicles.  
  5. Jumper cables: With clean clamps and undamaged insulation. However, if you’re not sure how to properly hook them up, don’t use them. A more expensive, but handy, option is a portable battery that comes with its own cables.  
  6. Tire pressure gauge: Check your owner’s manual or alongside the driver’s side door when it’s open for proper inflation guidelines.  
  7. Tire jack: A mat, tarp or length of cardboard is also handy for keeping yourself clean while changing a tire.  
  8. Tool kit: Screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, a multi-tool or a pocket knife — and duct tape. Even if you don’t know how to make the repairs, someone may stop by who does.  
  9. Work gloves and clean-up supplies: Water or hand cleaner and paper towels.  
  10. Maps: The power and signal needed for GPS may not always be available.  
  11. Emergency blankets, towels and coats: Pocket raincoats and space blankets are compact and inexpensive.

Beyond the Basics

If you’ve got the room and the desire, expand your car emergency kit with all or a few of these items:

  • Compressed tire inflator and sealant.  
  • Change of clothes.  
  • Water and food: Bottled water, protein bars or nonperishable foods.  
  • Automotive supplies: Replacement windshield washer fluid, motor oil, coolant, spare fuses.  
  • Spare cash.  
  • Pen and paper.  
  • Fire extinguisher: Consumer Reports suggests a multipurpose dry-chemical unit labeled 1A10BC or 2A10BC.

If you do suffer car trouble, get off the road and away from traffic. Turn on your emergency flashers and call for help, if help is available. And, remember, your emergency supplies won’t do you any good if you take them out of your vehicle. They may take up a little – or even a lot – of space, but, when you need them, you’ll be glad they’re there. They could even help save your life.

With warm weather and family events, the Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories. But before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first. If they're legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarterpounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.
  • Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
  • Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!

At the surface, car insurance can seem fairly straightforward. You buy a policy, and if you get into an accident, it comes to your aid – seems fairly plain and simple.

However, once you start digging deeper, a lot of questions can pop up. As independent agents, we always encourage people to dig deeper so they can better understand the process of purchasing insurance, filing a claim and more. The more you understand, the better you can select the coverage you need.

Let’s take a look at three of the most common questions people typically have about car insurance so we can shed light on some important issues.

  1. Coverages: Does auto insurance cover the car or the driver? An auto insurance policy can include many different types of coverages, so the answer is: It depends. Some coverages are for the car and others for the driver and passengers. Let’s look at some of the different types and what they cover (your own policy may differ):
    • Collision and Comprehensive: These two coverages are vehicle-specific. Collision is for vehicle damage sustained in an auto accident – your vehicle, that is. Comprehensive is for damage your vehicle sustains in other incidents, such as fallen trees, lightning, fire, theft and vandalism, as well as cracked windshields.
      Does it matter who’s driving? Oftentimes not. You and other members of your household listed on the policy are certainly covered, according to your policy terms. If you let a friend borrow the car, it’s likely still covered. This is why we independent agents say that collision and comprehensive “follow the vehicle” – the vehicle receives the same coverage no matter who’s driving, so long as the scenario does not conflict with your policy.
      Whether the coverage follows the vehicle into other countries, such as Mexico and Canada, is something you’ll want to check with your independent agent.  
    • Property Damage Liability: This is one of two auto insurance coverages that most states require drivers to carry. It is vehicle-specific and may apply when you damage someone else’s property, such as a car or building, with your vehicle. Hence, if you back into your neighbor’s picket fence or boat trailer, this coverage may help pay to repair your neighbor’s damaged property. Ditto if you rear end another vehicle – this coverage is for damage to other vehicles, not your own. It may also help pay for any legal fees associated with the claim.  
    • Bodily Injury Liability: This is the second type of coverage that most states require drivers to carry. When the actions of your driving result in injuries to others, whether it’s a bicyclist, a pedestrian, the driver of another car or a passenger in another car, this coverage may help with their medical bills. It may also help cover the cost of lost wages and pain and suffering of the injured party, as well as your legal fees if the injured person decides to sue for damages. This coverage typically follows you, the driver, from vehicle to vehicle, but you should always check the terms of your policy.  
    • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This coverage also typically follows the driver. It helps pay for your own medical expenses, as well as those of your passengers, if you are involved in an accident while driving. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. Some states require you to carry this coverage.
  2. Claims: Does a police report always determine blame in a car accident? It depends on the statutes in each state. In most cases, if a police report is available and it states who is at fault, the insurance carriers will abide by that. There could be extenuating circumstances, however, that affect the decision of the carriers involved.  
  3. Driving record: Can my insurance company check my driving history? Yes, insurance companies can review your driving history via both a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report and a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). The former details your claims history over the past five years, and the latter lists any driving offenses. The information on these reports can affect how much you pay for car insurance.

As consumers, the great thing about working with independent agents is that you can call them up and ask them your own insurance questions, or ask for further clarification on the above. Trust us, there’s no need to be shy. Insurance is important, and we’re here to help you understand it.

Summer Means Fun and Sun—and New Driving Challenges  

Summertime is upon us. The sun is coming out of hiding, and the people will, too.

As crowds swell at the beach, in parks and even on roadways, it all makes for some challenging driving conditions. More people are out and about, whether on foot, bike or skateboard, or by car, motorcycle or RV, increasing the risk of an accident. And, the summer heat isn’t exactly kind to your vehicle.

Still, there’s no stopping the allure of a summer drive. To help keep yours safe, keep your attention on the road and on your surroundings, as well as on these safety tips.

Summertime Safety Behind the Wheel

Just like winter, summer has its own set of seasonal hazards that require your complete attention as a driver. Here are some to be particularly mindful of:

  • People: In your neighborhood, on city streets, in parking lots and especially around parks, beaches or any popular summer attraction, people are outdoors and often more focused on their enjoyment than on personal safety. Children are out of school; they might be playing in the street in a quiet neighborhood or chasing a basketball bouncing away from a driveway hoop. In summer, there is simply more human activity everywhere, and it’s up to you to slow down and stay alert.  
  • Bikes and motorcycles: Bicyclists and motorcyclists are also more active in good weather. Pay attention and take extra care in areas that attract cyclists.  
  • Glare: The sun’s glare is bright in summer, and even harsher when the sun is low and in your face. Have your sunglasses handy if you’re not already wearing them, and be ready to flip down the visor so you don’t spend even a second driving while blinded by the glare.  
  • Roadway obstacles: A busy roadway is no place for a sofa. But, with scores of people completing summer moves, you might just encounter one. Keep an eye out for roadway obstacles and plan as far ahead as possible on how to safely maneuver around them. Thunderstorms can further clutter the roads with debris, tree limbs or even downed power lines.  
  • Heatstroke: Finally, don’t forget the dangers of summer parking. Children and pets left in parked cars are vulnerable to injury or even death from heatstroke. At an outside air temperature of 60 degrees, a car’s interior temperature can reach 110 degrees, a lethal level for children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rolling down car windows does not provide sufficient cooling, so don’t be tempted to leave children or pets for even a minute. It can be lethal—and in many states illegal—to leave children and pets alone. To help keep your car cool for when you return, park in the shade or place a removable sunshade in the windshield.

Road Trip Safety

A road trip with family and friends can make a memorable summer—for both the right and the wrong reasons. Make it the right reasons with some careful planning and driving. There will be plenty of time for fun once you reach the campground, resort or cabin.

  • Inspect your ride: Have a mechanic give your car, bike or RV a full inspection before you go. Be especially mindful of coolant and oil levels to help protect your engine, and remember that tires often deflate with significant temperature changes, such as during the transition from spring to summer. If you have a bike carrier, car carrier or trailer attached to your vehicle, be sure everything’s secure before taking off.  
  • Pack your emergency supplies: We know space is at a premium when packing for a summer road trip, but don’t neglect to include some important necessities in case of emergency. This includes water, food, maps, first aid supplies, a tire pressure gauge and tire change kit, a flashlight, towels and jumper cables. Be sure to keep your phone charged and gas tank full in case of trouble. And, don’t forget plenty of games, books, snacks and activities to keep the passengers distracted—and keep them from distracting you.  
  • Plan your route: Map out how to reach your destination and how much time it will take to get there, and be sure to leave plenty of room for unexpected delays. Minimize those unexpected delays by checking the Department of Transportation websites of the states where you’ll be traveling for planned road work before you go.  
  • Check your insurance coverage: Is your insurance ready to help out if you injure a pedestrian on your summer drive? What if you crash into a tree or run out of gas? If you’re not sure for what types of scenarios you’re covered, check in with your independent insurance agent before heading out on your trip.  
  • Take your time: Don’t get frustrated when unexpected delays—or fascinating roadside attractions—put you behind schedule. Keep to the speed limit, and don’t risk shortcuts that aren’t clearly marked. Take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs and rest your eyes while kids run off excess energy, and switch drivers when you’re drowsy.

There’s no better time to be on the road than when the sky’s clear and the sun’s shining. We wish you safe travels and a wonderful summer!