As we all know, winter driving in Massachusetts is a nightmare, don’t let the current unseasonable warmth fool you, last year’s record snowfall of 110.6 inches, just over 9 is probably still fresh in your mind. Remember, 85% of that snow happened between January 24th and February 22nd 2015. It may already be mid-December, but there’s still plenty of time for another record to be made. That’s why it’s imperative that you prepare early, as not to get caught with your pants down, like we all did last year.
As we all know, winter driving in Massachusetts is a nightmare, don’t let the current unseasonable warmth fool you, last year’s record snowfall of 110.6 inches, aka just over 9 feet, is probably still fresh in your mind. Remember, 85% of that snow happened between January 24th and February 22nd 2015. It may already be mid-December, but there’s still plenty of time for another record to be made. That’s why it’s imperative that you prepare early, as not to get caught with your pants down, like we all did last year.
Top 4 Car Insurance Tips
- Active coverage - Make sure you’re up to date with your coverage, your insurance is active, and premiums covered.
- Liability coverage – Maybe now might be the time to splurge on a little extra liability coverage, it’s important to remember those with more assets tend to need higher limits. Liability coverage protects your personal assets from being seized in the case of a law suit should you be found at fault for an accident.
- Theft/Comprehensive coverage - or comprehensive coverage. The last thing you need is for a large chunk of ice to fall off the roof of a brownstone and not be covered. Likewise, you might want to make sure that you’re covered in the case of vandalism or theft of your personal items. Remember, many cars were stuck for weeks, buried in ice. A lot can happen from rust damage, to a stolen floor mat.
- Roadside assistance/Towing – Emergency roadside assistance is often overlooked, until you need it. Make sure you’re covered in case of towing, fuel delivery, lockout service, or just in need of a jump start. Wintertime in New England is hard enough, without being stranded in the middle of nowhere due to a dead battery.
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Winterize Your Car
Why not be proactive rather than reactive? Prepare your car for the worst case possible now, rather than later. Schedule a tune-up, get that oil change, and make sure everything checks out. The last thing you want this winter is for you to be stuck at a auto garage waiting or repair work while it’s 20 degrees outside. Or worse, stuck relying on the T service, we all remember how much of a nightmare they were last year, don’t believe it’ll be any better this year. Here are 8 things Consumer Reports recommends you do:
- Battery Check – Make sure that there’s no obvious signs of wear, or damage to your battery. Double check that the cables are securely attached to the terminals. If you have a maintenance-free battery, check that its levels are fully charged, if not, you might want to have it professionally tested, and charged. If your battery is more than five years old, you might want to consider replacing it.
- Break Check – Break checks are vital, especially in the winter time. A car that pulls to one side or anther while breaking, or one that makes awkward grinding noises should be taken to a mechanic for inspection immediately!
- Emergency Kit – All vehicles should have an emergency kit. In it should include a flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, reflective emergency gear, a distress signal, first aid care, basic tools, a warm blanket, water, and a fully charged emergency cell phone, if not at least a fully charged cellphone charger.
- Fluids Check – Double check your fluids levels; coolant, transmission, brakes, power steering, windshield washers, etc.
- Maintain Hoses & Belts – Check your vehicle’s hoses and belts are all in working order. Make sure there’s not obvious wear or tear. You can do this by pinching and feeling around. There shouldn’t be any soft spots, budging areas, or kinks in the hoses. Also make sure to check all the belts for worn spots, cracking, or fraying.
- Oil Check – Remember to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual, he manufacturer should recommend an oil to use for wintertime specific to your vehicle. Remember, engine oil thickens in the cold, if you don’t use the proper oil, you could be causing unforeseen stress, even damage to your car. Typically, a multi-viscosity oil, with a viscosity index including a W (winter use) should be used.
- Tires – Old, partially warn down, or deformed tired are extremely dangerous. They reduce your ability to gain traction, or stop in snowing driving conditions. Considering new winter tires that are specifically designed for extra grip during showy or icy conditions.
- Visibility – Maintaining optimal visibility should be obvious, however, it’s not always that simple. Make sure your windshield wipers don’t leave streaks, or residual particles behind. Check to see if the rubber of the wiper blades are clean of debris, cracks, cuts or nicks. Don’t be hesitant when it comes to replacing your wipers, and remember never use your wipers to remove ice from your windshield!
Car Rentals & Rental Insurance
Let’s face it, not everyone owns a car, especially if you’re living in Boston or Cambridge. Sometimes it’ just easier to use the occasional Zipcar, Rent-A-Car, or even Uber or Lyft. Of course you don’t have to worry about rental insurance if you’re Ubering or Lyfting somewhere, but you might want to consider it if you use a car rental service. Most car rental companies offer the following services:
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – A CDW or Damage Waiver (DW) is in essence rental collision insurance. It covers the cost of repairs or damages to the vehicle should you get into an accident.
- Liability Insurance - Liability insurance covers bodily injury, or property damages to another person should you be at fault for an accident.
- Personal Accident Insurance - Personal Accident Insurance protect you and your passengers in the event of an accident.
- Personal Effects Coverage - Personal Effects Coverage covers theft of your personal items, or other various individual items within the car.
Not everyone needs or should have rental coverage. Matter of fact, if you currently own a vehicle, you should double check your policy, because it might already take care of the collision waiver clause, liability, and personal accident insurance for rental cars. Additionally, your homeowners or rental insurance might already cover you for your personal effects should they be stolen or lost while you’re using a rental car. Rental insurance might not be the most glamorous of purchases, but it might be end up being one of the smartest decisions you make this winter. Hindsight is always 20/20, however, when thousands of dollars are at stake, why take the chance. Make sure you stay current with your insurance
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