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How to properly use mirrors for safe driving

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You know what they say about mirrors, right? “Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest insurance mascot of them all?” Some would say it’s me. I won’t confirm or deny, I’ll let you be the judge! [EDITOR’S NOTE: He may be a good mascot, but he’s certainly not the greatest employee of them all!] Mirrors can save your life. By reflecting lasers that are about to burn you, like what happens in countless space/sci-fi movies? Sure, why not. (Seriously, where do I get these readers from? Such vivid imaginations!) I was actually referring to your rear-view and side-view mirrors in your car. You know, the things that help you see things not in your immediate peripheral vision? Yes…those.

Many people simply take their mirrors for granted as they don’t notice something around them and get in an easily-avoidable accident. Don’t be one of those people! Instead, use the following tips to make sure you’re making best use of your mirrors for a safe driving experience:

  • Adjust your mirrors before you drive and be sure to readjust each time you change your seat alignment. Don’t do it while you’re driving, keep your eyes on the road!
  • When adjusting your side-view mirrors, move them so you can’t see your own car, but so you’d be able to if you adjusted your mirrors just a tad more.
  • Know where your blind spots are. While following Step 2 will minimize them, most cars will always have blind spots somewhere. Once you know where they are, be sure to periodically check them, especially before you change lanes!
  • Use the “night setting” on your rear-view mirror when driving at night if available. This will minimize glare.
  • Be sure to look in your mirrors often while driving. No – not to look at your beautiful face, to look at the road!
  • Clean your mirrors before you drive. Your side-view mirrors can accumulate dirt and ice fairly easily (in the winter, anyways) – you don’t want to get in a preventable accident because you couldn’t see out of your mirrors! And even though your rear-view mirror probably doesn’t get as dirty, it still collects dust – clean that one too!

Max

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How do I prevent a flat tire?

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Are you familiar with the term sai? Of course you are, you say! It’s the small sword-like weapon made famous by the angriest of the Ninja Turtles, Raphael! And I say, no, that’s not right. And you say, yes it is. Raphael was the one with the red bandana who was always sullen and didn’t use a wooden stick, ninchuks, or a sword. And I say your knowledge of TMNT is impressive, but irrelevant. I’m talking about tires! Oh, right. That’s why spelling is important. I meant to type…psi. As in, Pounds Per Square Inch. If the tires on your car aren’t properly inflated, not only might you get subpar gas mileage, but you’re more prone to get a flat tire.

Obviously, the first step towards determining if your tires’ PSI are acceptable is by figuring out what they are now. We recommend waiting until you’ve stopped driving for at least 15 minutes – warm tires may give you inaccurate PSI readings. Remove the cap on your tire valve and press a tire gauge onto the uncapped valve. If you hear the sound of air escaping, you’re not pressing hard enough. Set the gauge back to zero and try again…rinse and repeat until you don’t hear the air. That’s your accurate reading. Do this for all four tires.

Once you know your PSI, now is the time to determine if the levels are right. On some cars, you can look for a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door; that says what the optimal PSI is for that specific car’s tires. If not, check the owner’s manual. If that’s not possible, look for an online owner’s manual. For your last resort, remember this number: 33. 33 PSI is a safe bet for most, but not all, cars. Don’t put much weight towards the number on the tires themselves; for most tires, that’s the maximum PSI allowable. You don’t want to overinflate. While tires are certainly tougher than balloons, what happens when you put too much air in a balloon? It pops more easily. Tires are no different (though again, it takes a bit more to pop a tire than balloon).

Now that you know the problem (PSI is too high or low), time to implement the solution! To increase your PSI, take off the tire valve cap and add air. You can do this at practically any gas station, or you can purchase your own air machine. To decrease your PSI, push on the thin metal stem in the center of the valve. Your fingers may be too wide to reach it, so I recommend using a pencil. Also, do this near an air machine, in case you let out too much air. Be sure to put the caps back on your tire valves, and off you go!

While this won’t eliminate any possibility of a flat, it’ll certainly help. Plus, chicks dig properly inflated tires. Or that’s what my mechanic tells me!

Max

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Is Google a search engine or car company?

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What’s the one thing about cars that hasn’t changed over the years? They’re all on four wheels? Nope – not unless you don’t consider stretch limos cars. They run exclusively on gasoline? Someone tell that to all those people driving electric and hybrid cars down the block. The answer is…they’re only driven by people! Well, if you call my ex-girlfriend a person. I’d call her more of a [EDITOR’S NOTE: What Max meant to say is he’d call her more of a wonderful human being who deserves only the best. Max is a very um, professional blogger. Moving on!]

Correction: that was the answer. But now that Google has officially received a driver’s license in Nevada, it’s all changing.  No, silly, companies can’t drive cars. But cars made by Google can drive…cars made by Google. That’s right – Google has begun creating cars that don’t require somebody to steer, apply the brakes, or really, anything.  While I think it’ll be a little while until this becomes commonplace, this experiment just may drastically change everything we know about cars. As a representative of a pretty sweet auto insurance provider, I must say – these changes are exciting, and raise a lot of questions.

Would insurance rates fall (robots don’t get distracted) or rise (human drivers aren’t at risk for massive hacking attacks)? Would people even get driver’s licenses anymore? If Google’s now in the automotive business, is this just their next step until they get into everything from pet grooming to shoe-shining? Plus, some people would still prefer to drive themselves – would one human in a sea of robots be able to cause a massive pile-up? I simply don’t know. But I’m certainly interested to find out!

Max

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What emergency supplies does my car need?

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You know me – I’m all about being prepared, especially as it pertains to driving. That’s a big reason why I recommend protecting yourself with top-of-the-line auto insurance. But protecting your finances is just one aspect – there are other ways you can make sure you and your car are protected. All drivers should prepare themselves by carrying crucial supplies. Here are some of the more important items I recommend you carry:

  • Potable water and non-perishable food: If you’ll be stranded for a long time, you may get thirsty and hungry! If you have to choose only one, choose water – the human body can go much longer without food than without water.
  • Sand: This could actually be a number of items – gravel, crushed limestone, kitty litter, cement mix, etc. But the logic is all the same. If your wheels are stuck, pour some right in front of all of them to help you get some traction. Then, once you have momentum, you can move!
  • Raincoat: If you have to leave your car for any amount of time, this can make your life much more comfortable! I advise raincoats over umbrellas since they allow full use of your hands.
  • Flashlight and batteries: If your car breaks down in the dark, how else will you be able to see? Some flashlights actually drain a little bit of battery power even when not in use; to optimize efficiency, keep your batteries outside of the flashlight and insert when needed.
  • Script for the hit 1920s Broadway musical “No, No Nannette”: There is absolutely no reason to have this. Just making sure you’re paying attention (:
  • Blankets: If you’re in a cold environment and need to wait to be rescued, keeping yourself warm could save your life, or at least prevent frostbite and unhappiness.
  • First aid kit: In case of injuries, treating them as best as you can until the professional help arrives may be crucial.

These are a few of the first items that came to my mind. Do you think I missed anything? And what’s your favorite 1920s musical? See you in the comments!

Max

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Mommy, where do stretch limos come from?

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Prom season is just around the corner – you know what that means! Students in high schools across the country will be sporting their finest (rented) clothing and painting the town red! Some of them may even be wearing outfits made out of duct tape! And they all know the proper way to travel – in an unnecessary long car with a partition so passengers can’t see the driver. That’s right, in stretch limos! America, haven’t you always wondered how that came about, when people started thinking “I’m going to a classy occasion, I better go in a car that can’t fit into many driveways?”

America in unison: “No!”

Great! Me too! The first limousinewas built all the way back in 1902, so the chauffer could sit under a covered compartment. The first “stretch limo”, e.g. the type that we all know and love today, first came about in 1928 so big bands could ride in style together. You know, like Benny Goodman? I remember listening to his music like it was just…almost 100 years ago. Fine, you caught me. I remember nothing about him. Happy?

Moving on… Inspired by such famed heroes as Benny Goodman [EDITOR’S NOTE: Max, we just caught you in this exact lie. Please don’t pretend you know anything about him again.], Americans began deciding to drive around in limos whenever they needed to go somewhere in style. Large-scale car manufacturers such as Lincoln and Cadillac used to make limos themselves, but there just wasn’t enough demand for them to justify altering their productions of scale, so now they’re made by individual limo companies. Although maybe if we shot up the demand, more stretch limos would be on the streets. You heard it, America. Demand our stretch limos! Let’s start right now! Call everyone you know!

Max

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