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With a string of warm days on the horizon, now may be the best time to winterize your car before another cold spell grips New England. While nobody expects to be stranded on a road in the middle of winter, OceanPoint Insurance urges motorists to be prepared in the event of an emergency so that their passengers and family can arrive at their destination safely.

In order to help your friends and family wait out the cold comfortably if your car breaks down, consider the following tips below:

Make an emergency kit

Any vehicle is prone to a breakdown in the winter, regardless of the make, model, and year of a car. If you or your passengers have to bunker down, every car should carry the following items: blankets, boots, water, flares, flashlights, engine coolant, washer fluid, engine oil, small shovel and a snow brush.

Your car should be mechanic checked

A stop at your service center can quickly determine whether you should swap out your current battery, which typically drains quicker during the winter months. If you notice that it is difficult to start on cold mornings do not put this off.  While you are there, you may also discover that you need an oil change or need to make fixes on heating or cooling systems.

Fill up the tank

Frozen fuel lines are one of the hassles of winter that prevent an engine from turning on. A simple solution is to have your gas tank filled to the halfway mark at the very least.

Ready up the winter tires

Many drivers swear that winter tires offer better traction, and their observations are backed by science. Winter tires are not made of the same material as all-season tires, and the tread on winter tires are specifically designed to provide better traction on mushy, slick roads. If you are comfortable driving with all-season tires, a mechanic can still change your brake pads if needed or alert you to worn tire treads.

Make visibility a priority

Many people may not know that there are windshield treatments available that make it easier to clear snow, rain, or dirt off the windshield. Visibility is an important component to automotive safety because the inability to see what is on the road is a leading contributor to accidents and injuries. Other ways to maintain visibility during the winter months is to ensure your wiper blades are in good condition, and that your windshield washer fluid is filled to the max and is of the winter solution variety. In addition, consider replacing any cracked windshields because the winter weather tends to exacerbate any preexisting abnormalities.

OceanPoint Insurance agents are available year-round to help you with all of your insurance needs. To learn about other dangers and how to protect yourself, visit our website at https://www.oceanpointins.com/news/

 

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shutterstock_137772059The increased proliferation of technology in all of our lives has created a new danger for those who take to the roads every day: distracted driving.

Talking on cell phones, operating navigation or audio devices and, especially, texting while driving create situations for drivers, passengers and those operating nearby or oncoming automobiles that can be extremely hazardous.

Numerous sources cite texting while driving as more dangerous than even driving while intoxicated.

According to Distraction.gov, the official distracted driving information website of the United States government, distracted driving is defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” These activities can include talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking, watching a video, adjusting a sound system, checking a navigation system, or even simply talking to passengers.

But by far the greatest distraction, because it involves visual, manual as well as mental attention, is texting.

During the daylight hours, at any time there are up to 660,000 drivers who are texting while behind the wheel, while a full quarter of teenagers respond to a text message at least once each time they drive.

A 2009 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that while texting a driver’s eyes typically leave the road for a full five seconds, or enough time at 55 mph to drive the length of a football field.

Distraction.gov notes that in 2013, 3,154 people were killed and 421,000 people injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. Drivers under the age of 20 make up 10 percent of all distracted driving fatalities, while drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of distracted driving deaths.

OceanPoint Insurance wants to make our clients and others – especially those who are the parents of teenagers or young adults – aware of the very real danger of distracted driving, especially the distraction of texting while driving.

For more information on the dangers of distracted driving and how to stay safe behind the wheel, call OceanPoint at 847.5200

 

More information is available from Distraction.gov (www.distraction.gov) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which hosts a texting and driving prevention website, “Stop The Texts. Stop The Wrecks” (www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org).

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Ride-sharing is the fast-growing system of offering your vehicle for personal transportation services and it is becoming increasingly popular as companies such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar continue to grow. These types of operations involve pre-arranged services using an online-enabled application to connect with potential passengers.

As this industry gains popularity and a wider array of programs are available, the potential gaps in insurance coverage for both drivers and passengers are concerning.

If you are considering providing ride-sharing services, you should note the following:

  • Operators/drivers must be licensed by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) and maintain a minimum of $1.5 million commercial liability insurance.
  • You must obtain a special Hackney Operator’s License issued by the DPUC prior to transporting passengers for hire in RI.
  • These services are required to be provided only in vehicles bearing “Public Registration License Plates.”

There are many potential gaps in personal auto policies that you should consider and it is crucial you speak with your insurance agent prior to engaging in ride-sharing.

Potential Coverage Gaps in your own Personal Auto Policy:

Most standard personal auto policies contain exclusions for livery – which essentially means driving for hire. Insurance companies might deny coverage to people that are driving passengers for payment based on the below exclusions or similar exclusions, but you should speak with your insurance agent to be certain which apply to you. All the exclusions below do not apply to a share-the-expense car pool.

Liability Coverage (Exclusion):

Liability Coverage is not provided for any insured’s liability arising out of the ownership or operation of a vehicle while it is being used for public or livery transportation.

Medical Payments Coverage (Exclusion):

Medical Payments Coverage is not provided for any bodily injury to the insured that is sustained while occupying the insured vehicle when it is being used as public or livery transportation.

Coverage for Damage to your Auto (Exclusion):

Loss to your insured vehicle or any non-owned vehicle, that occurs while it is being used for public or livery transportation will not be paid for.

You should contact your insurance agent about potential gaps in your personal automobile coverage that can arise if you are driving for one of these operators. You may need to consider buying a commercial policy with medical payments, comprehensive, collision and Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage to be certain that coverage exists for damage to you, your car and/or for damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist while you are driving passengers for payment.

To learn more about the risks of participating in ride-sharing and how to best protect yourself, please call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200.

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has implemented the Rhode Island Insurance Verification System (RIIVS) in order to verify automobile liability insurance for vehicles registered in Rhode Island. If a registered vehicle does not have an associated insurance policy for three consecutive months, you will receive an RIIVS notice from the DMV indicating that you are required to obtain insurance.

You will receive a notice if RIIVS is unable to verify the insurance information for your vehicle. Oftentimes data entry errors can occur. You may receive a notice, even if you have insurance, due to incorrect Vehicle Identification Numbers, name misspelling etc. on you’re your policy. We will be able to correct this information for you.

If you receive a RIIVS notice, and you currently have liability insurance, if you obtained liability insurance, or if the vehicle is not currently being operated, you must notify your insurance company or agent and we will report the required information electronically.

If the vehicle has been sold or registered out of state, you must turn in the plates to a DMV branch or submit an Affidavit for Cancellation of Registration for Lost Plates.

If you do not wish to obtain liability insurance, Rhode Island law requires that you cancel your registration and surrender the vehicle plates to a DMV branch office.

The first three month evaluation began on November 17, 2015 and will end February 7, 2015, at which time the initial notices will be sent out. If you do not take appropriate action upon receipt of the first notice, a second notice will be sent to you. If, after the second notice, you fail to comply, the DMV will revoke the registration of the vehicle and block your ability to obtain or renew a license or registration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact OceanPoint Insurance at 847-5200.

shutterstock_218240056Move-in day is over, and now you can finally relax. However, we understand that worrying about your child being safe while at college never really ends – so we’re here to help.

Though you may not be able to be with them everyday, it helps to know that you can still keep their belongings and personal property safe. Expensive items such as phones, laptops, TVs and iPods that often accompany most college students to school can be covered under your homeowners’ insurance. If any of these items were stolen or damaged, it would be very costly to replace them. However, you do have options available to insure your child’s security.

If your student goes away to school and is not taking a car with them, you may be thinking of taking them off of your auto insurance policy to save money on your monthly insurance bill. However, what if he comes back for Christmas break and wants the car to visit friends?

Fortunately, some auto insurers offer a discount on insurance for students away at college with no access to a car except over vacations, breaks and summer. If he or she meets certain criteria, you may be eligible for a Distant Student Discount. Requirements vary by insurance provider, but they typically must be at least 100 miles away from home, be attending school full time, and under the age of 23.

As a full time student, your child may also qualify for a Good Student Discount if they maintain a grade average of 3.0 or higher.

At OceanPoint Insurance, we suggest that you review your current homeowners and auto policies with your agent as soon as possible to adjust your coverage if need be and provide yourself with a much-needed peace of mind.

shutterstock_61395181We’re at that time of the year when potholes start turning up left and right. This year the roads are filled with them, and we find ourselves swerving all over the road trying to avoid them.  However, avoiding every pothole is easier said than done and many of them have the potential to cause serious damage to your car.

Often times we don’t see one, or it’s filled with water disguising itself as a puddle and we don’t have time to avoid it.

If you hit a pothole that causes damage to your car, are you supposed to pay for that? 

If you pay out of pocket to fix the damages caused by the pothole, you could be reimbursed for up to $300 to cover the cost of repairs. Depending on which road, whether it was a state or city road, you can file a claim with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), or the city and receive reimbursement, if your claim is approved.

To ensure proper reimbursement, you must follow these steps when filing a claim with RIDOT:

1. Within 7-days of the incident, the registered vehicle owner must submit a letter to RIDOT stating the exact time, date, and location of the incident.

  • The letter must be post marked or received within 7-calendar-days of the incident.

2. You have up to 60-days to provide the following:

  • A copy of a police report, a tow receipt or an auto club report verifying the incident
  • A copy of the valid RI registration for the vehicle
  • Copies of itemized, paid receipts with a proof of payment provided; the current odometer reading must be on the repair bill

If the damage occurred on an Interstate highway, and your car was not disabled or you do not have a tow receipt or auto club report, often times the State Police is the correct agency from which motorists should seek a pothole incident report form.

There are no guarantees with any claim made to RIDOT, and the pothole claim law only applies to cars registered in Rhode Island. The pothole law is only effective for non-residents if their vehicle is registered in a state that has a reciprocal pothole law (such a state would afford similar protections to Rhode Island-registered vehicles in its state).

If you choose to file a claim with your auto insurance company, you should know the damages would only be covered if you have collision insurance and that your deductible would apply. Make sure you take pictures of the damage right away, and if it is safe you should take a picture of the pothole as well to help process the claim.

For more information on pothole damage reimbursement and for help when filing a claim call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200.

RI Auto Insurance

RI Auto Insurance QuoteMany RI Auto insurance policies boast their “low prices” or  “extra savings” when switching to their policy. At OceanPoint, we always try to find the best price for our customers, but we do so keeping in mind that auto insurance isn’t just about protecting your vehicle – it’s about protecting your loved ones inside your vehicle.

When determining the right coverage for you, we often take into consideration two important coverages that are more about you and your loved ones, than about the vehicles damaged in an accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage will protect you during an accident with someone who does not have any auto insurance or did not have enough insurance to cover the damages. This coverage can pay for your medical bills as well as those of the passengers in your car. Depending on the laws in your state it can also cover the damages to your vehicle, pain and suffering, loss of income, or loss of care and services.

Bodily Injury Liability covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other special damages incurred from an accident in which you are legally responsible for accidently injuring someone else.

The next time you’re tempted to go with an insurance policy that can lower your rates by reducing your coverage, remember, your policy is meant to not only protect your vehicle, but also to protect those you care about inside it.

For more information about the coverages associated with your RI auto insurance policy,  Contact OceanPoint Insurance.

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Simply put, uninsured motorist coverage protects you financially for bodily injury, including death, from an accident caused by a driver who does not have car insurance. It includes you and any family members who may be in the vehicle at the time of the accident. The intent of uninsured motorist coverage is to pay for medical costs and loss of work but not the physical damage to your car, as it would be covered under the collision part of your insurance policy.

There are many scenarios when you may be in a car accident where you are not at fault, yet you would not be protected if you don’t have uninsured motorist insurance coverage. An uninsured motorist might be:
  • Someone who has car insurance but coverage for this accident is denied,
  • Someone who does not have a driver’s license.
  • Someone whose driver’s license has been revoked.
  • Someone driving a stolen car.
  • Someone who may have let their car insurance lapse because they couldn’t afford the premium.
  • Someone whose auto insurance has just been cancelled.
  • The driver who speeds away from a hit and run accident.

Damages recoverable with uninsured motorist coverage include those amounts you would be legally entitled to collect if the at fault party could be identified and had insurance, up to the limit on your policy. Many states, including Rhode Island, have laws that address whether uninsured motorist coverage may be required and how it works.

Types of Damages that Are Covered

Medical Bills:

Most health insurance plans include substantial deductibles and co payments. Even if you have what seems to be adequate health insurance, the direct costs of injuriesfrom an accident with an uninsured motorist can result in severe financial hardship. This exposure is multiplied when more than one member of a family covered under an auto insurance policy is involved in the accident. Even if you live in a state requiring No Fault (or Personal Injury Protection) coverage, the limits there may not be enough to pay all the bills from a serious accident.

Other Legal Damages:

Depending on the laws of your state, damages may be recoverable from an at fault party for pain and suffering, loss of income, or loss of care and services. If the at fault party is not found or does not have insurance coverage available, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay damages as a court would award you, up to your policy limit.

How Much Coverage You May Need

Consider buying uninsured motorist limits at least equal to your auto liability limits. While carrying less may be allowed, uninsured motorist rates are usually far lower than the rates for liability coverage. If you want to purchase lower uninsured motorist limits or even to avoid purchasing uninsured motorist coverage altogether, you may be asked to sign a statement to the effect that the coverage was offered and declined.

Considering the potential damage from an accident with an uninsured motorist, if you don’t already have high limits on your medical coverage, you should look into buying as much protection as you can afford and that the insurance company allows.

As your independent insurance agent, we can help you make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place in case you’re unlucky enough to meet an uninsured motorist. Call us today at 401-847-5200.