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Tips for Improving Teen Driver Safety

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

When a teen gets his or her driver’s permit, it can be one of the most exciting and exhilarating feelings to experience. While some teens experience excitement and exhilaration, others experience anxiety and fear. These are all valid feelings. With this new opportunity will be great responsibility and the need for continued learning and safety. These teens still have a lot to learn about driving, and it really takes practice in order to get better at it.

We can equip our teens to succeed on the road and continue to learn through some basic, yet valuable, safety tips. When teens follow these tips or rules, they will be able to drive with less stress and anxiety while enjoying the freedom of the open road.

Teens struggle with distractions and learning to manage them as new drivers; therefore, focusing on the road instead of the distractions is a simple guideline to follow to remain safe while driving. When teen drivers have friends in the car, it is important for them to realize and understand that, while it is acceptable to talk or sing along to the radio while driving, their primary focus needs to be on the road. All of their friends want to remain safe as well, so they will certainly appreciate the driver focusing on the road first and foremost.

Not only are friends a large distraction for teen drivers, but technology is another. The typical teen driver has a smartphone, which can be a fatal distractor. In addition to talking on the phone, they also will be tempted to text while driving, look for music on the phone, or even check notifications from social media applications. Those are all extremely dangerous tasks for the experienced driver, so clearly the new teen driver would have amplified risk attempting these tasks.

It is important to set ground rules for your house in addition to any state laws that are set in place. State laws are in place to help, but they do not cover all aspects in this regard. Parents should follow up these rules with creating a contract for the teen driver and the parents. These expectations can change over time, but it is best to begin with restrictions from the start and relax them later as the teen becomes more experienced. The contract can be an effective way to ensure the teen understands what is expected of them through the restrictions, privileges, rules, and consequences. This would also be a good reference in the event the teen tries to break or bend the rules. This contract should be tailored to fit the specific needs of your family, but remain simple to ensure teen driving safety first and foremost.

Finally, a great tip to ensure teen driving safety would be to recognize and assess hazardous situations. In a region where snowy and icy weather is inevitable and can be dangerous, we need to be aware of those and other hazardous situations that could appear to be seemingly safe. Heavy rain can cause a driver to hydroplane or lose control. A teen driver on a dark or unfamiliar street can be perfect conditions for a potential accident. A very effective way to counteract these hazardous situations could include teen drivers not driving at all if they feel uncomfortable with a situation. When teens are faced with these situations, they lack the experience to know how to handle them properly. They could call a parent to pick them up or stay at a friend’s house.

With driving comes great privilege and responsibility. Additionally, in time teens will gain the necessary experience and knowledge to be informed drivers, as well as safe drivers. It is important to keep our teens safe on the road, as well as others that may encounter them while on the roads. It’s always safest to proceed with caution.

Claim Support II

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Seven Ways to Coach Your Teen Driver

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Do you currently have a teenage driver in your household, or do you have a child that will be getting their license soon? Research indicates that the greatest risk of auto accidents is among teenage drivers. Here are some tips for parents to pass on to their sons and daughters who are now getting behind the wheel for the first time.

  1. Establish initial ground rules for the use of the car. These rules, perhaps in the form of a contract, should include restrictions on the number of friends in the car, circumscribed use of the radio, where and how the car may be used, and curfew times. Curtailment of the right to drive should be spelled out.
  2. Ban cell phone use. Parents should emphasize that the cell phone must be turned off and unavailable while the teen is driving.
  3. Prohibit drinking and driving. Parents should emphasize that there are no exceptions to this ironclad rule.
  4. Keep distractions to a minimum. This includes talking with friends, eating, and flipping the radio dial.
  5. Practice defensive driving. Techniques include maintaining a safe distance from cars ahead of the driver, closely monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes, and taking a defensive driving class.
  6. Follow the speed limit. Research indicates that high driving speed is a significant contributor to fatal teen accidents.
  7. Choose a safe auto for your teen. Autos with excellent crash safety records and the latest safety equipment, including air bags and electronic stability control, could reduce your teen’s chances of being injured in an auto accident.

Copyright 2015
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

Personal Lines Policy Service Manager

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Motorcycle Safety Courses

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Motorcycle accidents are common but often avoidable with the right training and precautions. Where do you find out more? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, of course. Located at, you can now do some of your training online besides the numerous local classes offered in nearly every state.

As a seasoned rider, I took the class with my son so I could reinforce what they were teaching him. I was surprised by the fact that what I had been doing for years was incorrect. I had learned as most do, from watching others along with trial and error. I discovered quickly my current practices did not come close to being the best method. I now can control my motorcycle with greater precision in a variety of situations. This has kept me out of danger many times.

Take a minute to look at the MSF website, watch a few videos, and better yet, sign-up for a class. Experienced or not, you will become a better rider. The instructors at the courses are trained to provide the best possible assistance. Each year they learn updated methods to ensure they are teaching the most current and proper methods of motorcycle operation and safety.

MSF offers several different classes depending on your location. MSF providers all have basic and intermediate classes, both of which provide the bikes for your use. They also have advanced rider classes using your own bike. Many also offer scooter, trike, and in limited areas, off-road motorcycle classes.

If you have never ridden anything other than a bicycle, that’s OK too. The basic class assumes you know nothing about clutches, shifting, starting, or handling a motorcycle. But by the end of the 20-hour program, you will indeed have a much better understanding and a good skill set to start riding. Many of the classes end with a test that even qualifies you to obtain your motorcycle classification without further testing.

Best yet, Pekin Insurance® offers a discount on motorcycle insurance for all riders who successfully complete any of the MSF classes. So why not take a class this spring, sharpen your skills, and save money at the same time. Check out today!

Sales Training Manager

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Get your Motorcycle Ready for Riding Season

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Even though it is still cold outside, spring is around the corner. This means spending more time outside, enjoying the warm weather, and breaking out that bike that has been sitting for the past few months. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your motorcycle after winter hibernation.

Check your owner’s manual for exact specifications on your motorcycle.

1. Put fresh fuel in your tank. If gasoline has been sitting in your tank all winter, then it has very likely deteriorated. Running your bike on stale fuel is harmful to the engine, especially on high-compression engines. It is also possible that condensation has formed in your tank. Take a look in your tank for any rust, debris, or condensation that could harm your bike. To be sure that fresh fuel is running through your tank, fill it up with a high-octane fuel.
2. Check your battery. This should be done a couple weeks in advance of spring so you don’t have to wait longer to have your first ride if your battery is toast. If your battery is dead, then use a battery charger that automatically starts up and turns off on its own.
3. Check your tire pressure. Don’t try to squeeze out every mile possible on your tires. Look for flat areas on the tires as it is very possible that air has seeped out of them over the winter. Make sure that tire pressure is up to specifications. Remember that your tires are there to keep you safe, and it is a good idea to replace them if necessary.
4. Check your oil and oil filter. If you didn’t change your oil before winterizing your bike, then change it before breaking it out for spring. All motorcycles are different, so take a look at your owner’s manual for your exact instructions.
5. Brake fluid should also be checked because it attracts a lot of moisture. Be sure to check and top off your brake fluid levels. Brake chains also need to be checked for wear. It is also good for your bike to add coolant to appropriate levels.
6. Finally, give your bike a good cleaning and you will be ready to go!

Colin Seidel
Personal Lines Claim Representative

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Avoid Those Cell Phones While Driving

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

At any given daylight moment in the United States, nearly 700,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA reports that an estimated 421,000 people were injured in auto accidents in 2012 involving a distracted driver, a 9 percent increase from the prior year. And 31 percent of American drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages while driving at least once within the 30 days prior to the survey.

Cell phones, and particularly smartphones, are considered one of the leading driver distractions. As a result, more communities are placing restrictions on drivers’ use of cell phones. You should always be aware of the state and community guidelines regarding the use of cell phones and hands-free devices.

The following tips are offered to motorists with regard to cell phone use in vehicles:

  • You should wait until the car trip is complete before placing a call. Your cell phone’s voicemail feature should answer a call while you are driving.
  • Consider keeping the cell phone completely out of reach in your car to keep the temptations from usage at bay.
  • Absolutely essential calls should only be performed while stopped. However, it is not wise to pull over on the side of the road where a rear-end collision is possible. Instead, you should pull into a parking lot to perform this task.
  • If you have to make a call, take advantage of speed-dialing capabilities.
  • At a minimum, you should never drive and talk on the cell phone during stressful, emotional, or complex discussions since the risk of an accident is heightened during such times.
  • You should never text message while driving.

Copyright 2015
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

Senior Personal Lines Underwriter

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What To Do After an Auto Accident

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Most people are unsure of what steps to take after the unfortunate event of an auto accident. Whether you’ve hit an animal or another vehicle or slid into a ditch, curb, or any other type of property, the activities that take place after the accident are of the utmost importance for you as an insured, but also for the insurance company. You should always have your insurance card, scratch paper, and a writing utensil in your vehicle.

Below you will find a handy checklist or playbook to follow when you find yourself in a multiple vehicle accident. Following the list below will ensure that you take all necessary steps to provide your insurance company with any requirements your policy dictates:

1. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and take note of your own well-being and the well-being of any passengers, then check for injuries of anyone involved outside of your vehicle.
2. If an ambulance is needed, call immediately.
3. If no one involved in the accident is injured, immediately call the police. Regardless of where you are or who’s at fault, a police report is a necessity that should accompany every accident of any type.
4. If the accident is in a congested, high-traffic area, move your vehicle and any other vehicles to a safer place. If another vehicle is involved, write down the license plate number before moving to another location.
5. For accidents involving multiple vehicles, speak to the drivers and write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers. (Most of which could be found on an insurance card.) If the driver does not own the vehicle involved, ask for the owner’s information as well.
6. Never sign anything written by another person involved in the accident. You should only sign documents given to you by the police.
7. Take notes of the accident scene, i.e. the streets of an intersection, traffic controls (signs or signals), and where the damage is on each vehicle involved. If you have the ability to take photos, DO SO! You can never have enough photos when preparing to present an insurance claim.
8. Recognize any potential independent witnesses that may have seen what happened. An independent witness is someone who observed the accident whom you have no previous association with prior to the accident.
9. Never discuss the details of what happened in the accident to anyone but the responding police department. Provide only what you know happened. This is not the time for assumptions or educated guesses on what was going on. Make sure when dealing with the police department that your voice is heard. This is a crucial time to speak up.
10. Report the accident to your local insurance agent.

Personal Lines Claim Representative I

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