Five Expensive Distracted Driving Don’ts

Everybody has seen ads in the Chippewa Valley, as well as the Twin Cities metro area, discouraging texting while driving in recent years, but were you aware that there are many other distracted driving behaviors that can lead to disaster? And these are expensive mistakes, because they tend to lead to accidents, whether they involve just your car, or worse, another car.

  1. Grooming – brushing teeth, putting on makeup, or just looking in the mirror on the back of your visor to see if there’s anything in your teeth.
  2. Reading – reading a map, reading a book, reading directions on the back of an envelope, or reading that memo from work.
  3. Watching Videos – watching anything other than the road and traffic around you is going to cause problems, but trying to watch videos may be the worst.
  4. Eating – a study has shown that the worst culprits are soup, tacos, chili dogs, hamburgers, and coffee or soda.
  5. Adjusting the radio or CD player – some steering wheels have controls for this, but even those cause distraction.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

You may “just” get a ticket for weaving because you are distracted. The ticket won’t be cheap, and will include additional surcharges, which are used to fund a number of Wisconsin projects and programs. In addition to your ticket, the Wisconsin DMV will assign anywhere from 2 to 6 points for your violation. If you earn 12 points within a one year period, your Wisconsin driver’s license will be suspended, or even revoked.

Finally, if you actually do get into an accident, and it is judged to be your fault (which it will if you have been distracted by the following actions, texting, talking on the phone, or any other distractions), your insurance premiums are bound to increase. This means that not only do you have costs at the time of your violation or accident, but you will have continuing costs for years to come. This is in addition to the cost to your psyche if you have injured somebody, just to pry that cap off your soda, or select your favorite song on the CD you’re listening to.

As you are working with your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent on drawing up your policy, be sure to discuss what the consequences of various types of tickets and other violations could be. Then, make sure everybody on your policy knows and understands them, and knows not to drive while distracted, in order to avoid the many serious consequences.

Auto Safety Tips

Maintenance

Auto safety begins with proper maintenance. Be sure to get regular oil changes at your Chippewa Valley dealer, or a full-service shop that will also check and top up all fluids. At the same time, have your tires rotated, and your spare tire checked for damage. Between maintenance checkups, if your check engine light happens to come on, don’t ignore it! Bring your car to your trusted mechanic.

While Driving

  • Follow the traffic laws. Wisconsin traffic laws can be found here. One important law to follow is to restrain all passengers. Children under 12 should be in the back seat, and child safety seats should be used as required. Pets should also be restrained while driving, whether in a carrier or a specialized pet seat belt.
  • Don’t drive when you are tired. If you start thinking it would be logical and safe to close your eyes for the count of 2, or 3, or anything, pull over, and rest before continuing. If you have taken medication that says “Don’t operate heavy machinery,” do not drive a vehicle.
  • Try not to drive in bad weather. If you absolutely must, leave in plenty of spare time, and drive as slow as you need to in order to feel safe. If a sudden burst of even WORSE weather comes up, pull over and wait it out, leaving your lights on so other drivers can see you.
  • Be careful when changing lanes. Look in the rearview mirror, side mirror, and blind spot, while signaling that you are going to change lanes. If a driver rudely speeds up to close your spot, allow them to pass before changing lanes. Never act on road rage—your own or someone else’s.
  • Obey the speed limit, unless the traffic around you is driving significantly faster. It can be safer to go 5 mph over the speed limit than to drive too slow.

In Case of Accident

If, despite all your best efforts, you get into an accident, think safety first. Be very careful where you meet the other driver. Keep your temper. Exchange insurance information and take as many pictures as you can. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately. Your next call (or first call if no injuries) needs to be to your Baldwin Woodville agent. Your agent will tell you exactly what to do, and help you through the entire process of dealing with the results of the accident, no matter who was at fault.

Prepare for Your Family’s Spring Break Road Trip

Taking a spring break road trip with your family is a great American tradition. Preparing properly for your trip is essential. You need to pack well, plan to have at least one other driver, and budget wisely for everything, including fuel, as gas prices vary greatly in different regions. Also, be sure to contact your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent before you leave, to see if they have advice, or just to let them know where you will be in case anything happens. A lot of planning goes into a successful road trip.

Vehicle Preparation

Family on Road TripYou want to spend your money on having fun, as opposed to renting a vehicle, so if you’re going to drive the family SUV, station wagon (do they still make those?), or minivan, you definitely need to ensure the vehicle is in good condition before you take off on your trip.

Schedule a checkup where you regularly get car maintenance done, and tell your mechanic of your plans. They will know to change the oil, check and top off all fluids, test the battery, test the brakes, and inspect your tires. Then follow any suggestions they make to prepare your vehicle for a long drive.

In addition, stock your vehicle with an emergency kit that includes blankets, flashlights, jumper cables, and a good first-aid kit, among other items. It’s also a good idea to have maps of the roads you will be traveling. Yes, physical maps. You will use GPS mostly, but what if you are in an area with a weak signal and get lost?

If Something Does Happen

What if, after all your planning and preparation, you end up getting a ticket in Tallahassee, getting into an accident in Albuquerque, or have your car stolen in Sacramento? This is where your good relationship with your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent will be key.

Because you have a professional, helpful agent at Baldwin Woodville, you shouldn’t have to worry. Your agent will let you know who you should contact in your current location, which details are covered by local and/or Wisconsin insurance laws, and if your insurance needs to be adjusted to cover another state’s liability limits.

Taking a family spring break road trip should create some of the best memories for your family for years to come. Preparing for the comfort, health, and safety of your family is the best way to enjoy your time, free of worries.

Home DIY Safety and Upkeep Tips

Owning a home can be rewarding, but it can also be expensive. If you have recently purchased a new home and stopped by Baldwin Woodville Insurance to get a Wisconsin home insurance plan, then you may think you have all your bases covered. You are partially correct. Now that you have your new home and a coordinating Wisconsin home insurance plan, it is important to take some steps to eliminate the risk of having to file a home insurance claim.

DIY Home Maintenance

Tree Felled on a House

There are a variety of DIY home maintenance steps you can take to making sure your home stays in tiptop shape. One such step is insulation. Particularly with harsh Wisconsin and Minnesota winters, it is important to protect your home and your belongings from the elements. Imagine waking up on a cold Monday morning only to find a flooded basement. Your pipes have frozen – no hot shower for you. In addition, frozen pipes generally also mean a mess from burst pipes.

This entire scenario can be eliminated with insulation. Properly insulating crawl spaces and areas around pipes can prove to be a tremendous help. You can also find pipe wrap to help ensure that -40 degree wind-chill doesn’t stand a chance against your pipes.

Another helpful home upkeep tip is keeping an eye on nearby trees. While they may add valuable shade for your home, trees that are dead, dying, or simply too close may pose serious threats to your house. Be sure to trim back tree branches that are constantly coming in contact with your roof, siding, or windows. If you do have a nearby dead tree, felling it or calling a company to do so could end up saving you from a tree in your living room someday.

Keep Your Foundation Strong

A commonly overlooked DIY home maintenance project is gutters and downspouts. The integrity of your home relies greatly on its foundation. Clogged gutters and improperly placed (or missing) downspouts can cause standing water around the foundation of your home, eventually wreaking havoc. Simply keep gutters clear of debris, and be sure there are no locations of standing water around your home’s foundation.

Vents & Exhaust

Burning House

Yet another commonly overlooked DIY home maintenance project is checking and cleaning dryer and exhaust vents on your home. While your Wisconsin home insurance is likely to cover fire damages should these vents become clogged and cause a fire, avoiding a potential house fire altogether is definitely a better option.

If you’re unsure of what’s in your Wisconsin home insurance policy or you’re looking for something better, get in touch with Baldwin Woodville Insurance today.

Choosing the Right Auto Insurance for You

Choosing the right auto insurance for your needs can be difficult, especially when you don’t understand the meaning of some of the insurance types. Working with any of the insurance agents at Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services is a great way to make sure you find the insurance that works best for your particular situation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel confident going in. Understanding your insurance options is a great way to prepare for a meeting with your agent. There is no definitive answer as to what the right auto insurance is, but you can work with your agent to find what’s best for you.

Liability

Liability coverage is required for all drivers in Wisconsin. This insurance will pay for any damages to another driver that you cause in an accident. Because Wisconsin is not a “no-fault state,” the person at fault must be determined at every accident. You don’t want to wind up being the one at fault and having to pay your damages in addition to the damages to the other cars involved.

Liability insurance protects you from having to pay out of pocket for pricey repairs to other’s vehicles. Liability is as much for you as it is for the drivers surrounding you.

The state of Wisconsin requires all drivers to have a minimum liability coverage per accident for $25,000 for injury or death per person, $50,000 total for injury or death to multiple people in a single accident, and $10,000 for property damage.

Collision

We all make mistakes, and collision coverage is there for you when it happens. Collision coverages pays for damages to your car, even when you are the “at-fault” party. This does not include storm damage or other impact damage. For that, look to comprehensive insurance.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive coverage takes care of most other damage that happens to your car. While another person’s liability will cover damages when they’re at fault, and collision will cover damages when you’re at fault, comprehensive covers damages that are out of your hands. This can include various incidents such as vandalism, theft, hitting an animal, and natural disasters. However, comprehensive typically does not cover freezing or breakdown damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Unfortunately, not everyone gets the best liability coverage. If a driver damages your car and they don’t have or don’t have enough of liability coverage, then you may not be able to get the payout you need to fix it.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re struck by an uninsured or underinsured vehicle. This coverage begins to work when your damages and costs go beyond the limits of the at fault driver’s liability coverage. Depending on your plan, it can also pay for medical expenses and lost wages.

In Wisconsin, you must have a car insurance policy that meets the minimum coverage requirements per accident of $25,000 for injuries per person and $50,000 for total injuries per accident.