Welcome to the November 2008 edition of the InsuranceHotline.com Insider newsletter.
Winter is almost here, and so is the rough weather that can catch drivers off guard. Snowstorms and icy roads make it harder to control your car and to safely reach your destination. However, there are ways you can protect yourself on the roads this season. In this edition of the InsuranceHotline.com Insider, you'll find everything you need to know about safe winter driving.
Remember, nothing makes you feel more secure behind the wheel than knowing you're paying the lowest rate for your car insurance. How can you be sure that you're paying the lowest rate?
Visit InsuranceHotline.com to compare against quotes from over 30 of Canada's top insurance companies. It's fast, easy, unbiased and free!
Nine Winter Driving Tips
How prepared are you to get behind the wheel this winter? Check out these nine tips on playing it safe and smart on the road this season.
1. Drive free and clear. Before heading out, clean snow and ice off your whole car to maximize your visibility. Make sure to clear your headlamps, taillights, turn signals and side-view mirrors.
2. Check your gas tank. Extreme weather may get you stuck in traffic, or require you to change routes or turn back, so you should always have at least half a tank of gas.
3. Wear your seatbelt. It sounds obvious, but in many car accidents, people are found to be not wearing them. Make sure you and all of your passengers are protected. Also if you or your passengers ages 16 and under are found not wearing a seatbelt, you could receive a moving violation and your insurance rates could increase.
4. Leave early. In winter, it often takes longer to get places. Check local weather and road conditions before leaving, and give yourself enough time to reach your destination.
5. Slow down. Snowy weather affects visibility, and icy roads make it harder to control your car. Ease up on the gas peddle and take more care while driving. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead.
6. Wear shades when needed. If it's snowy outside and the sun's really bright, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and prevent eye fatigue.
7. Carry a cellphone. If your car stalls and you get stranded, your cellphone could save your life. But try using it only in an emergency - talking on the phone while driving is already illegal in several provinces and there is currently similar pending legislation in Ontario.
8. Play it safe. Avoid driving in freezing rain. If you do, you'll find your car slipping and sliding on black ice, which can be dangerous. Same goes for blizzards: no matter how good a driver you are, it's not worth the risk. Take a train, bus or cab instead.
9. If your car stalls"¦Unless you know exactly how close you are to help, stay with your vehicle. Try to conserve fuel and stay warm. Keep one window slightly open to let in fresh air. Watch out for exhaust or carbon monoxide problems. If you can, access the supplies in your car's emergency kit (see our last story). If you have a phone, call for help. Turn on your four-way flashers.
Following these tips should help keep you safe this winter, but they won't keep you safe from high insurance rates. For that, you'll need to visit InsuranceHotline.com to get a free quote, and to compare rates from over 30 insurance companies to ensure you're paying the lowest rate possible.
Seven Steps To Winterizing Your Car
With winter fast approaching, is your car ready for the cold? Follow these seven steps to help your vehicle tackle the elements and to keep you safe this coming winter season.
1. Check your antifreeze mixture. Shoot for a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water inside your radiator to prevent the mixture from freezing. Use an antifreeze tester - a simple, inexpensive tool available at your local auto parts store - to check the mixture. If it's off, drain and refill your cooling system.
2. Make sure you can see clearly. A blinding blizzard is not when you want your windshield wipers and wiper fluid to fail you. Wipers work well for about a year, so if it's time, invest in some new ones. Also, don't forget to top off your windshield washer reservoir regularly.
3. Get a proper oil change. Cold weather can lead to thicker engine oil, which won't lubricate the engine well enough. So if it's time for your car's tune-up, don't delay! During the oil change, make sure the oil used is the right thickness for your vehicle. Check your owner's manual for oil recommendations for different temperatures.
4. Inspect your battery. Did you know a vehicle's battery power can drop up to 50% in extreme cold? Make sure the battery has enough water, and its posts and connections are free of corrosion. If your battery's more than three years old, get a certified repair shop to test it.
5. Check your tire pressure. To maximize your traction on wet or snowy roads, you need properly inflated tires. But cold weather contracts the air in your tires and decreases your tire pressure. Check your owner's manual for your correct tire pressure, then use a tire gauge to check you current levels.
6. Consider using snow tires. They may cost extra, but experts say winter tires are worth the investment. Optimized for snowy and icy road conditions, snow tires give you better driving traction than all-season tires. Some insurance companies offer a discount if you use winter tires.
7. Check your four-wheel drive system. Most people don't use 4WD until winter hits, so make sure it's working properly. On slippery roads, 4WD will give you more traction. Make sure all drivers of the car know when and how to use it.
Plan Ahead for Emergencies
Will you be ready for anything on the road this winter? It's a good idea to stock your trunk with a winter driving emergency kit, just in case your car stalls. You can buy a car emergency kit at most stores that sell automotive products, but if you want to make one yourself, or enhance one you've already bought, here's what you'll need:
- Water bottles
- Non-perishable high-energy food, such as canned nuts, granola bars, chocolate, dried fruit and hard candy
- Extra gloves, cap and boots
- Extra set of warm clothes
- Ice scraper
- Small shovel
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Windshield washer fluid
- Windshield wipers
- Jumper cables
- Inflated spare tire
- Tire-changing equipment
- First aid kit
- Matches in waterproof container
- Salt or sand, to create traction when stuck in snow
While you're planning ahead for emergencies, why not plan on saving more money on your car insurance? Simply visit InsuranceHotline.com to get a free, no-obligation quote, and to compare your current rate to the lowest rates available at over 30 insurance companies.
Q)If I slide on black ice and get into an accident, do insurance companies consider you at fault? A)Yes. Your insurance company expects you to always be in control of your car and drive according to weather conditions. While an attending police officer may not charge you, it doesn't mean your insurance company won't find you at fault for the accident. Insurance companies apply fault based on the Insurance Act's "Fault Determination Rules". Have a question you'd like answered?