Monday, June 28, 2010

Tips for Saving Vacation Costs on the Road

Now that the summer travel season is upon us, it's time to think about piling the kids in the car and heading for some warm weather fun. But, with the economy still down and gas prices up, you may be worried about your vacation budget. Here are some ways you can save money and still have a great time.

Take some food and beverages with you. Put a cooler filled with water and other thirst-quenching beverages in the car with you. Bring some non-perishable snacks like granola bars or potato chips, too. That way everyone can keep hydrated and not hungry during the car ride. It saves you from a car full of grumpy passengers, cuts down on expensive restaurant meals, and allows you to reach your destination in less time.

Stick to a budget. If you haven't saved up for the vacation, it's not a good idea to run up your credit cards while on the trip. It may not seem like it at the time, but when you're paying big credit card bills each month for the rest of the year and beyond, it might keep you from having enough for the next vacation. Decide how much you can afford to spend, then live within that limit. If that means one less amusement park for the family, you can spend a day at the beach or at a nice park. Variety is the spice of life!

Save on gas. When you're travelling long distances by automobile, slow down a little. Even a small reduction in vehicle speed will mean rather substantial fuel savings. Driving 62 mph vs. 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption about 15 percent.

Drive efficiently. Don't be a lead-foot, and keep a steady rate of speed. If traffic is light, and you have it, use cruise control. This reduces your gas consumption, and also makes it easier on the driver, who doesn't need to constantly use the gas pedal or the brake. Anticipate traffic ahead and give yourself distance between the car ahead of you, so you can slow down or speed up without using the brake as much, increasing your fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent.

Have good tires. Keep tire pressure at the manufacturer's recommended level. Over- or under-inflated tires will reduce your gas mileage, and will wear out your tires much faster. A single tire, underinflated by 2 pounds per sq. inch, increases fuel consumption 1 percent. Worn tires are more prone to blow-outs or flats, causing delays on your trip.

Use air conditioning sparingly. If it's not hot, roll down the windows or just have the fan on. Air conditioning is a drag on your engine and reduces fuel efficiency.

Service your car before the trip. Regular maintenance helps fuel economy, and adds to engine life. Dirty fuel filters, air filters and low fluid levels can make your engine labor unnecessarily, and could mean breakdowns in remote, unfamiliar areas.

Travel light. The heavier your car is weighted down, the more gas you will use. Pack as light as possible, and avoid dragging trailers behind your car if possible. This can reduce fuel efficiency by more than 25%.

By doing a little pre-trip planning, you can avoid a lot of problems while on the road. Happy motoring!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Cellphone Law May Not Reduce Accidents

A new law went on the books that makes using a handheld cellphone a primary offense while driving. If you get a ticket, it won't become part of your driver's permanent record or be reported to your insurance company, but it's gonna cost you. The fine is $124 for texting or talking without a headset.

If you're under 18, the law is even tougher. You can't use a cellphone at all, even with a hands-free device, while behind the wheel.

There are some exemptions, such as transit and emergency vehicle personnel, tow truck operators and drivers with hearing aids. And if you're calling or texting to report illegal activity or summon emergency help, you will not be cited.

With distracted drivers causing more and more accidents, legislators are trying to crack down on the distractions. But does this new law actually help make the roads safer? Surprisingly, lots of research says no. Many drivers have invested in expensive hands-free devices such as Bluetooth headsets, but many researchers are saying that the problem is not that your hands are busy, but that your mind is distracted when talking on the phone.

"It's a 'feel-good law'. It makes people think we're trying to do something to address the problem," says professor David Strayer, of the University of Utah's psychology department.

He has been involved with the research that shows that cellphone-using drivers can be just as impaired as drunken drivers. And he's not alone in that conclusion. Other research institutions, notably the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that there is no difference in driver impairment between talking while holding the phone and a hands-free device.

When driving and talking at the same time, the brain gets overloaded with processing information, and the chances for an accident in that situation are many times greater.

So, before you go out and buy an expensive hands-free device, keep in mind the safest thing to do while driving is to keep both hands on the wheel and your mind focused on the road ahead.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SAV-ON Records Third Straight Month of Incredible PEMCO Policy Sales

For the third month in a row, SAV-ON Insurance is on a record-setting pace for selling PEMCO policies.
After establishing a new record of 84 new policies in March, SAV-ON obliterated that total, writing 111 policies in April. Continuing that torrid pace, they wrote 85 policies in May, for a total of 280 policies in three months! (These counts include not only auto insurance, but all lines of business that PEMCO insures.)
"We've been amazed at the number of PEMCO policies that SAV-ON has sold, and we hope they're able to continue this trend," said PEMCO Community Agent Supervisor Steve Milliren. "I can't say enough about the commitment, the loyalty, and the direction of the SAV-ON leaders, as well as the fantastic work done by their dedicated front-line staff. With their help, we're moving closer to meeting our customer growth goal."
In appreciation of SAV-ON's exceptional work, PEMCO sent balloons and congratulations to all the SAV-ON offices. They also treated SAV-ON employees to a Sounders FC soccer game on June 10th in an executive suite at Qwest Field, complete with catered food and beverages. In addition, each SAV-ON Insurance office will get a PEMCO lunch at the restaurant of their choosing!
How do they do it? With a focus on customer service, ongoing staff training and incentive programs to build customer referrals. Central to all this is the new "Client Care Center", which strives to contact customers nearing their renewal period, finding out if their insurance needs have changed, and making sure they have the best coverage at the lowest price. SAV-ON's biggest goal is to move customers from high-risk to preferred status drivers. Once they are preferred, they can become PEMCO customers.
"Our ultimate goal is to sell policies in the triple digits for PEMCO each month," Phil states. "We have a strong sales team, and we're excited about selling PEMCO policies. We really appreciate our partnership and the way PEMCO has helped us reach these heights."
June already has the makings of another big month, which would add to the lofty sales figures for a fourth straight month. With a dedicated team, and good, low rates from a terrific insurance company, who knows how long this could continue?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?

Some people think it doesn't really matter where they buy their insurance. But this misconception could be costing them money, service and protection. Buying insurance isn't like buying bread or milk. Insurance is an important safety net for your family, your home, your car or your business. Don't treat the purchase lightly!
There is a difference in where you buy your protection. Many people don't realize there are three sources for insurance:

•Captive Agents, who can sell you the insurance of only one company.

•Telephone Representatives, who can offer you the insurance of one company, and only on the telephone.

•Independent Insurance Agents, who represent an average of eight insurance companies, and research with these firms to find you the best combination of price, coverage and service.

Your Independent Insurance Agent:

•Is a licensed professional with strong customer and community ties.

•Gives you excellent service and competitive prices because your agent can access the insurance coverage from more than one company.

•Unlike other agents, is not beholden to any one company; thus, you don't need to change agencies as your insurance and service needs change.

•Assists you when you have a claim.

•Is your consultant, working with you as you determine your needs.

•Offers you a choice of insurance plans and programs.

•Is a value hunter who looks after your pocketbook in finding the best combination of price, coverage and service.

•Offers one-stop shopping for a full range of products-home, renters, auto, business, life and health.

•Can periodically review your coverage to keep up with your changing insurance needs.

•Treats you like a person, not just another number.

•Customer satisfaction is the key to an independent agent's livelihood. So, serving you is your independent agent's most-important concern.

There Is A Difference !

Compliments of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington