Boating Safety Tips

Boating season is here in Texas and our area lakes. Whether you’re headed out to Lake Lewisville, Grapevine Lake, Granbury Lake, or Ray Roberts Lake in Denton, here are some tips to help make your boating experience safe!

Wear a coast guard approved life jacket while boating.

Keep a fire extinguisher on board and check the expiration date before each boating season.

Don’t drink and boat. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

Fuel your boat properly and always run the blower 5 minutes after fueling to eliminate gasoline vapors.

Check the weather. Weather can change rapidly on the water. Tune in to your local weather station, or visit the NOAA website for up to date weather information.

Participate in the Vessel Safety Check  (VSC) Program, a free public service offered by U.S. Coast Guard Auxilliary and the U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations. Learn more at

Be safe and enjoy your time on our North Texas area lakes!


What is Personal Injury Protection for Car Insurance?

If you’ve sustained injuries by a vehicle or due to an automobile accident, having personal injury protection is valuable. Personal injury protection is an addition to car insurance that pays for medical treatment but in some instances will also cover other damages, such as wages lost if you can’t work because of the injuries. This type of insurance coverage is paid without regard to which party is at fault, so legal liability isn’t a consideration. That’s beneficial as, when you are seeking medical treatment covered by personal injury protection, there is less red tape to go through and your insurance premiums won’t be affected.

Personal injury protection varies from state to state. It isn’t offered by insurance companies in all states, yet some states where it is available actually require it as mandatory coverage, Florida being one such state. The items and services personal injury protection covers differs in individual states, as well. Some states might recognize and pay for treatments by a chiropractor, for instance, while others may not. Coverage in each state will depend on the definition of what is “reasonable” within that state. Other variables attached to personal injury protection insurance are things like coverage limits, starting as low as $1,500 and going as high as $250,000 and being based on the injuries and the state in which the insurance was issued.

Is an adjustable rate life insurance policy right for you?

You know you need life insurance to provide financial protection to your family in case you should unexpectedly die. But you have a tight household budget today. You’re worried that you won’t be able to afford the high premiums that come with many life insurance policies.

Fortunately, you have an option: an adjustable rate life insurance policy.

This type of life insurance policy allows you to change your coverage based on the current needs of you and your family. With such a policy, you may be able to change the policy’s face amount and, at the same time, the size of your regular premium. When the face amount of the policy is lower, your payments, too, will be lower. As you increase the policy amount, your payments, too, will rise.

Adjustable rate life insurance policies give you the opportunity to tailor your life insurance coverage to meet your current financial needs. For instance, if your household budget is tight and you’re struggling to pay your children’s tuition and your mortgage bills each month, you can reduce the face value of your policy to leave you with smaller premiums.

If your financial picture improves, you can increase the value of your policy and the size of your regular payments. You can also increase the coverage amount of your policy as you age and your risks of suddenly dying increase.

Meet with your independent insurance agent to determine if an adjustable rate life insurance policy is right for you and your family.

Tips for Teen Drivers

Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility. Consider that over half of all motor vehicle accidents could be avoided if drivers make intelligent driving decisions. As new drivers, you are most at risk because you lack the experience (and sometimes the maturity) to make intelligent decisions at critical times. Strive to form good driving habits early, and they’ll last a (long) lifetime!

We want to help you think about things that you can do to make your driving as safe as possible. Consider the following:

Consider these sobering statistics on teen driving:

  • Automobile accidents are the number one killer of our nation’s youth.
  • Drivers under the age of 20 were involved in 13% of all accidents, yet they account for only 5% of all drivers.
  • 5,000 teenagers die each year from auto accidents.
  • Alcohol is responsible for almost half of all teen motor vehicle deaths.
  • 25% of all teen accidents involve speeding.
  • Half of all teenage traffic fatalities occur between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 3:00 a.m. Sunday.
  • In one year, drivers 19 and under were involved in close to 3 million motor vehicle accidents.
  • The price of a bad decision can include injury to yourself or others, loss of life, loss of life style or loss of personal freedom.

Ways to prevent accidents

While no one has full control over the circumstances surrounding a motor vehicle accident, there are things that can be done to reduce your chances of being the cause or being involved in one. Here are some smart decisions you can make while you’re behind the wheel:

  • Drive defensively. If you assume that other drivers are not as skilled and thoughtful as you are, you will instinctively become more careful and cautious when on the road.
  • Try not to speed. When you speed, you have less time to react, less time to make the right decision.
  • Never drink and drive. Alcohol can seriously impair your decision-making skills and reaction time.
  • Take the keys away from friends who have been drinking.
  • Adults can set an example by practicing safe driving habits.

Ways to keep insurance premiums for teens as low as possible

A number of factors are taken into consideration when insurance companies set rates for automobile policies. Among those factors are the type of vehicle and the age, gender and driving record of the insured. Companies pay close attention to the number of accidents a driver has had and the traffic tickets (from speeding, running a stop sign, etc.) received. In their view, past performance serves as a meter for future behavior — therefore, these drivers pose a higher risk.

Source: Insurance Information Institute;

Overview of Gap Insurance And How It Protects Car Owners

When you lease a car or receive a car loan, you want to make sure you are fully covered in case you are in an accident during the early stages of the lease or loan. That is where gap insurance comes in handy. Gap, known as Guaranteed Auto Protection, offers additional insurance protection when you owe more on the car in regards to the lease than what the car is actually worth.

How Gap Insurance Works

If your car is completely totaled when involved in an accident, theft, or a natural disaster such as a fire or flood, your insurance company may pay only what they determine to be the actual cash value of the car. Yet your loan or lease payment may be more than the actual cash value that the insurance company gives you.

In this case, gap insurance will cover the difference amount that is left on the loan or lease that wasn’t covered by the insurance company. This type of insurance prevents you from owing money to the lender.

For example, you purchase a vehicle for $25,000 with a $1,000 down payment and monthly payments of $325. However, you get into an accident five months later.

You already paid $1,625 plus your down payment of $1,000 for a total of $2,625 on the loan. This means you still owe $22,375. The insurance company determines that the actual cash value of the car is $21,000. This means you still owe $1,375 on the loan. Luckily, you have gap insurance that will pay the $1,375 so that you won’t have to take the money out of your bank account.

Gap insurance is ideal for people who lease vehicles or get an auto loan when they will owe more on the lease/loan than what the cash value is on the car. If you do not have gap insurance, you might pay a huge difference that can put a strain on your finances.

How do I get an insurance binder?

An insurance binder is a written, temporary proof of coverage, usually good for thirty or sixty days. The insurance agent usually provides a binder if they cannot print that policy in-house.

In Texas, binders are frequently used for commercial policies. The insured negotiates rates and coverage to within a few days of renewal, or opening a new business, and the insurance company cannot print the policies on time. The agent then provides a binder outlining coverage in force.

Binding coverage usually involves signing applications and depositing premium with the agent. Read the binder carefully and be sure all desired coverage appear on the binder. Each schedule does not require enumeration; for example, each vehicle does not need to be listed, but the business automobile limits of liability and physical damage coverage should be outlined.

If you are switching carriers, attach your old policy to the new binder to reference fleet, property, and liability schedules.

The same is true for homeowners and automobile policies. A binder is completely legitimate; however, it’s getting more rare that an agent doesn’t just produce the policy in-house. If you receive a binder, attach the replaced policy as a scheduling device.

Do keep track of time. The binder expires in a relatively short timeframe. Either ask for a new binder or the policies fifteen days before your binder expires.

Why Your Insurance Company Matters?

Many people find an insurance company when they purchase a vehicle or a home, select a policy, and pay premiums for years without analyzing their coverage or comparing similar policies from other insurance companies. Although you may feel comfortable keeping your insurance with the same Texas insurer for a decade or more, you could be doing yourself a disservice.


Your insurer’s reputation is very important, as it gives you an idea of how your insurance company may react in the event of a claim. When you get into a car accident or experience a catastrophic event that causes property loss, the last thing you want is a hassle from the insurance company. Instead, it is important to periodically review your insurer’s reputation with other customers, the Texas Department of Insurance and the Better Business Bureau. Find out how quickly claims are handled, and whether or not your insurer has a history of dropping customers who make more than one claim.


Cost is a major factor in choosing an insurer. Premiums can change over the years, as can the amount of coverage you need. Life events, such as credit history, claims history, driving records and the addition of young drivers can all affect a premium. The insurer that provided you with the lowest premium when you started driving or purchased your home may not be the most affordable option now. It is important to shop around and compare the rates of insurers periodically. It could save you hundreds of dollars in premiums each year.

What is the Rate of Return on Car Insurance?

The term "rate of return" generally refers to the return on an investment you make, such as a certificate of deposit or a treasury bond. In some cases, you may also hear this term discussed in relation to life insurance. Though any form of insurance can be considered an investment in your future, it is somewhat difficult to calculate the rate of return for a car insurance policy. While life insurance and investments will eventually pay the purchaser a sum of money, car insurance policies only pay out in the event of an accident. For this reason, it isn’t possible to determine the exact rate of return.

In most cases, investors calculate the rate of return in order to decide if an investment is worth their money. Instead of calculating the rate of return on possible car insurance policies, drivers should consider the price of the policy, its level of coverage, and their personal preferences. For example, if a driver is insuring an inexpensive or old vehicle, it may not be wise to purchase comprehensive coverage. If something happens to such a vehicle, it may be cheaper to simply buy a new one. Conversely, owners of brand new or very expensive vehicles often benefit from higher levels of coverage because they could not easily afford to replace the insured car.

Make Safe Driving a Habit


 Habits become a part of the way you live – and very much a part of the way you drive. That’s a problem – because we not only develop good driving habits but also bad driving habits.
If a collision occurred every time a driver did something unsafe, bad driving habits wouldn’t develop. All too often though, a driver gets away with something – poor judgment or behavior. So they do it again and again! The unsafe behavior becomes a bad habit that may eventually cause a serious crash. But good driving can be just as habit-forming as bad driving. If you do something correctly often enough, before you know it, it becomes a good habit! Here are some good driving behaviors to help you get into the good driving habit.

Getting Rid of Bad Habits
The best way to get rid of bad habits is to replace them with good habits. Don’t climb behind the wheel and start right off. Instead, start off right! Get in the habit of checking out your vehicle before you start your driving day.

  • Look for oil, water or fuel leaks and for cut or worn spots on tires.
  • Make sure the instrument gauges, windshield fluid and wipers, heater and defroster are working properly.
  • Test your horn and check your turn signals and headlights.
  • Keep all the lenses and mirrors clean.
  • Get in the habit of getting rid of distractions when you make your pre-trip check.
  • Clear the dashboard of papers or items that could cause glare or distract you. Store or secure loose items safely, including laptop computers.
  • Keep change for tolls within easy reach.
  • Check mirrors and get comfortable by adjusting your seat before you drive.
  • Don’t talk on a cell phone while driving – it’s a significant distraction and a bad habit. Make it a good habit to use the cell phone only when you aren’t driving and safely parked.

A bad driving habit might get started on purpose –but it often ends by accident. For example, the driver who “plays” the red lights by maintaining vehicle speed while approaching an intersection, hoping the light will change and it won’t be necessary to slow down. They get pretty good at it. And that’s too bad. Because before long it’s not a game anymore – it’s a habit that leaves the driver wide open to unexpected danger – like another driver on the intersecting street who tries to make it through the light at the last second.

The result? Maybe a crippling or even fatal crash. And the end of a bad driving habit. Get in the habit of slowing down when you approach a traffic light. If the light is green, approach with caution in case it changes. If the light is red, slow down and be prepared to stop in case it doesn’t change. If the light is changing from red to green, slow down to give the intersection time to clear.
Slow down for all intersections – especially those without a traffic signal or sign. As you approach, look carefully for other traffic and pedestrians. Keep your foot poised over the brake so you can react quickly if you need to. Even if you have the right-of-way, never assume the other driver is going to give it to you. Slow down and be sure!

To learn more about making safe driving a habit, continue reading this article here. You’ll be glad you did!

Posted By: Beth Tracton-Bishop, The Hartford