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The first issue in the Springtime Auto Maintenance Series.

This Series is especially for those vehicle owners located in the vicinity of Maryland and Virginia who understand the value of keeping their car safe and protect their investment through on-going maintenance. As seasons change from the harshness of Winter to the renewal that Spring offers, assuring that your vehicle is road ready for spring and summer driving is important.

Maintaining your windshield wipers and changing the wiper blades on your vehicle regularly is more important than you might think.  Being a safe driver means being aware of your surroundings.  But, when the weather takes a turn for the worse bringing rain or when darkness sets in, you must be able to rely on wipers that leave your windshield with a consistent, clean clear wipe.  Otherwise, your obscured vision could cause you to collide with another vehicle or even drive off the road.

Your windshield wipers not only offer you clear vision during rain and darkness.  You must also rely on them to keep your windshield clear of road tar, mud spattering or other messy deposits like insects or bird droppings.  Worn wiper blades will not remove such debris.  Instead, they smear the mess and obscure your vision even more.  If you begin switching out your wipers regularly, you can avoid these problems and keep your eyes clearly on the road.

When to Change Your Windshield Wipers

When your blades are past their physical prime, inspection will show signs of wear such as cracking or discoloration, and they will not perform well – causing streaking or skipping.  The blades might squeak or chatter when they need to be replaced.  Some newer wiper blades come with a wear-indicator which will show  when they need to be replaced.   If your wipers don’t have a special indicator, the rule of thumb is to change them at least once per year, and every six months is preferable. So if you have been procrastinating about changing wiper blades, take a few minutes to make this a priority.  It could mean the difference in your family’s safety.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, PA, we want you to be safe and accident-free.  As you prepare your vehicle for spring and summer driving, don’t forget to assure that your auto insurance coverage is up to date.  If you have had changes in vehicles or drivers recently, check with your insurance agent to be sure that you are fully covered and are receiving the best rates available.

Are you one of those lucky people with some extra cash on hand – perhaps several thousand dollars from some windfall like an inheritance or a bonus? Perhaps you're thinking of how to best make it work for you? Have you thought about how your choice might impact your insurance?

If you don’t need it for high-interest debt or to create that emergency fund you’ve always wanted, then you might consider paying off an auto loan, student loan, or even your mortgage. Since these are likely lower interest loans, you won’t save a lot on interest, but you could free up cash in your monthly budget that you can put to better use. But even if you can’t pay if off, the next best thing could be to pay it down. By reducing the loan principal, you can likely reduce your monthly payments.  For much more on this, read Jean Chatzky’s (Fortune Magazine), to learn why you should pay off loans sooner rather than later.

And if you do pay off your car loan or mortgage, then don’t leave your insurance agent out of the loop. You’ll need to remove the lender from your auto insurance or home insurance policy. Just as important is to let your agent know if you get a new loan for a car or a home. Get all the details in this article from ERIE Insurance.

Insurance Tip

If it has been some time since you sat down with your insurance agent to review your auto and home insurance policies, then why not arrange a meeting now? Among other things, it will let you be sure that your policies are not listing outdated information such as lenders on paid-off loans. This will help you avoid having a payment for an insurance claim go to the wrong party.

Tags:  Insurance claims, auto insurance, home insurance, mortgage, auto loan

The Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, is a full-service insurance agency offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to all of Maryland (MD) and Virginia (VA) since 1969. Our experienced insurance agents welcome your inquiries and are glad to discuss your coverage needs at any time.


 

 

Planning a Great Summer Road Trip

We have all heard of the “Nightmare Road Trip” – where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Chances are that much of the trouble could have been avoided through advance planning. If you’re planning to take to the road this summer, then make a list and check it more than twice to be sure you have a safe, checked-out vehicle, well-packed bags, safety items and all those travel comforts to keep your passengers stress free.

ErieSense.com says: “A week or two before the big day arrives, make a list of everything you need to do and pack (and be sure you leave enough room so you can see out of your rear-view mirror). Here are some ideas to help…”

Read the entire article for a full list of tips and tricks to make your road trip a complete success every time.

Auto Insurance Tip

Just as important as a visit to your auto shop for a check-up of your car is a visit to your insurance agent for a check-up of your Auto Insurance to be sure you are properly covered for any problem before you hit the road. And, if you’ll be traveling in a rented vehicle, special insurance issues apply. So be sure to discuss your plans with your insurance agent to get the proper protection.

Here at Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are a full service insurance agency, offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to Rockville MD, all of Maryland and Virginia. Our experienced insurance agents welcome the opportunity to discuss your coverage needs and questions at any time.

 


Two new state laws became effective on October 1, 2013, that will change how people drive in Maryland.

Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat Use

An expanded seat belt law dictates that everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt including all back seat passengers.

Also included is the provision that all children under eight years old and under 57 inches tall must be secured into a child safety seat, regardless of their weight. These are both secondary offenses. So a police officer must have some other primary reason for stopping you. But, citations can be costly – up to $50 for each unrestrained person inside the vehicle at the time.

Hand Held Mobile Phones

Starting on October 1st, holding a cell phone in hand to talk while driving is no longer a secondary offense and the police may perform a traffic stop for no other reason than seeing you holding a phone while driving. Although Maryland became a hands-free state in 2010, it was then a secondary offense to drive with a cell phone in hand, meaning that a driver could not be pulled over exclusively for talking on a hand held phone. To be able to ticket for a secondary offense, a police officer would have had to have some other primary reason to pull you over.

Now, drivers who are ticketed for using a handheld phone will face a fine of $75 for a first offense, with second and third offenses coming with fines of $125 and $175, respectively.

Auto Insurance Tip

If you have not done so recently, this might be a perfect time to contact your insurance agent to review your auto insurance policy. This assures that you will have the best coverage at the best rate available as you take to the road.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are always available to help you explore your auto insurance options.  Why not contact us at your convenience?

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Maryland’s highest ranked area on the NICB’s Hot Spot list of vehicle thefts is the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson area, ranking 93rd with 6,736 thefts in 2012.

Now Maryland is offering assistance to its residents who want to take steps to protect against auto theft. Any Maryland resident who is concerned about the rate of vehicle theft in their area and who does not typically drive their vehicle between 1AM and 5AM may now take advantage of the state’s “Watch Your Car” Program. This program is aimed at preventing vehicle theft and apprehending auto thieves.

To participate, you would register your vehicle for this program with the Maryland State Police. You will then receive decals to be placed on both the front and rear windows of the vehicle. Having these decals in place gives officers permission to stop the car to verify whether the driver is the actual owner or an owner-authorized driver. The “Watch Your Car” program is free public service administered by the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council; and, once registered, you may opt out at any time.

Learn more about the Watch your Car Program

Auto Insurance Tip

What sort of insurance protection do you have in the event your car is stolen? If you don’t know the details, you will want to check with your insurance agent to be sure that your vehicles are fully covered for theft and other claims by your current Auto Insurance policy. Auto theft can happen to anyone even if precautions are taken.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, we pleased to answer all your auto insurance questions and assist you with a review of your policy to be sure that you have the coverage and rates that best benefit you. Why not contact our office at your convenience to speak with a professional insurance agent who can help?

 


 

Maryland's Kids In Safety Seats Program

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injuries and death among children in the United States. In fact, on average in Maryland, 8 children under age 16 are killed and 3,200 seriously injured every year as motor vehicle passengers according to 2010 statistics.

In an attempt to reduce the injuries and death among Maryland’s children, the state passed a Child Passenger Safety law, effective October 1, 2013, applicable to both in-state and out-of-state vehicles, and requiring the following:

  • All children under the age of eight years to ride in an appropriate child restraint,* unless the child is 4’9” or taller.
  • Every child from 8 to 16 years old who is not secured in a child restraint must be secured in the vehicle’s seat belt, in every seating position in the vehicle.

Get the details regarding the Child Passenger Safety Law

Kids In Safety Seats (KISS)

KISS is a state-wide, non-profit program funded through a federal grant. The program is designed to help people to people to obtain and use car seats and booster seats correctly each time a child rides in a motor vehicle.

Kids In Safety Seats (KISS) provides a variety of services to Maryland families who are striving to keep their young passengers safe on the roads. Among them are:

  • Reduced cost purchase and special needs loaner programs
  • Training
  • Car Seat Inspections
  • Information Clearinghouse

Auto Insurance Tip

As you consider this important safety issue and assure that your vehicle is in compliance with Maryland’s new Child Passenger Safety Law, it is also a good time to check with your insurance agent to be sure that you have the best coverage to meet the needs of your family.

Feel free to contact our office at your convenience to have a Howley Insurance agent help you explore your options and offer you the peace of mind in knowing that you have a secure auto insurance plan in place.

 


 

Make It a Safe Halloween

Are you one of the many that looks forward to Halloween all year. Maybe you start planning months in advance. This spooky holiday is among the most festive and fun-filled. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for kids walking the roadways. So, if you or your children will be out and about, there are some precautions to heed.

ErieSense.com warns of “Halloween safety dangers, like tripping and fire hazards” but suggests that “you can lower the risks of something bad happening with a few precautions”.

Read the entire ARTICLE for a list of tips to help keep your Trick or Treaters safe and happy.

Homeowners Insurance Tip

If you are expecting visits by trick or treaters or perhaps hosting a Halloween party at your home, you will want to be sure your Homeowners Insurance policy offers you the full protection you will need in the event of an accident on your property. The time to confirm that your coverage is in place is well before the event. So act now, by contacting your insurance agent for a policy review.  

Here at Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are a full service insurance agency, offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to Rockville MD, all of Maryland and Virginia. Our experienced insurance agents welcome the opportunity to discuss your coverage needs and questions at any time.

How to Stay Safe in a Whiteout

Winter driving can be hazardous at best. But when snow and wind combine to produce a whiteout condition, your driving survival skills become most important. Obviously, if your forecast includes such conditions, the best course of action is to stay off the roads. But if you must drive, then heed these tips for safety:

  • Gradually slow down, bringing your speed down to what is suitable for the conditions. Not only will visibility be reduced, you will need more time and distance to stop or turn on the slippery roads.
  • Make all inputs to steering and braking smooth and gentle. Accelerating, braking or turning suddenly will could result in a spin or slide when traction is lost.

In “12 Tips for Driving in a Whiteout”, ErieSense.com offers, “In many parts of the country, driving through wind and snow is just a part of your average winter. However, it’s not every day that you get caught driving in a whiteout… Drivers are often caught off guard when snow is being blown across roadways and visibility becomes virtually nonexistent. If weather conditions are bad enough, make an executive decision to stay home.”

Read the entire article to learn driving in a winter whiteout and how to best protect yourself.

Auto Insurance Tip

We all know we should be prepared in advance by having a survival kit in the car when driving during bad winter weather. Being prepared also means knowing in advance that you have all the insurance coverage you’ll need in case an accident does occur. Be sure also to take along your insurance agent’s phone number and your auto insurance policy information, just in case. A brief visit with your agent should assure you that you are sufficiently covered for your circumstances.

The Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, is a full-service insurance agency offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to all of Maryland (MD) and Virginia (VA) since 1969. Our experienced insurance agents welcome your inquiries and are glad to discuss your coverage needs at any time.


 

Black Ice – A Major Driving Hazard

Black ice is the sudden freezing of the surface of roads and walkways. Because of its unexpected nature and the fact that it is can be nearly invisible, it is a particular challenge to drivers. Unless you are a highly-experienced road warrior, you might want to learn more about black ice.

How Does Black Ice Form?

When light rain or snow falls onto a frozen concrete or asphalt surface, instant freezing occurs, producing a thin layer of clear ice that is nearly invisible to drivers. The black road surface shows through the ice – thus the name “black ice”.

Why is Black Ice so Dangerous?

Because of its smoothness, it is more slippery than regular ice that has a more irregular surface which allows for more traction. Because of its tendency to be invisible, a driver may not even be aware of it until they are already driving on it. So there is no time to avoid it.

What Roadways Are Most Prone to Black Ice?

Patches of roads that are heavily shaded by trees and buildings as well as tunnels and underpasses will be more likely to have black ice since they do not warm as quickly. In addition, bridges may often have black ice since they are higher elevations more exposed to winds.

Can I Safely Drive on Black Ice?

When conditions are right for black ice, the best advice is to use extreme caution and slow down and discontinue your cruise control. If you sense that your car is on the slippery surface of black ice, be sure to steer carefully not making any sudden, sharp motions with the steering wheel.

How Can I Recover From a Skid on Black Ice?

Once you are into a skid, the technique you’ll use to recover depends upon what type of vehicle you are driving – whether it has front- or rear- wheel drive, all-wheel drive with or without antilock brakes. See “How do I recover from a black ice skid in a front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive car?” from ErieSense for great advice. 

Auto Insurance Tip

No matter how experienced a driver you are or how cautious you try to be, accidents do happen. Before you take to the winter roads, be sure that your Auto Insurance offers you complete coverage. It is too late to do so, once an accident occurs.

Here at the Howley Insurance Agency, we are always glad to speak with you about any insurance needs. Why not contact us for a no-obligation policy review or to discuss your options.

 


 

Ol’ Man Winter has not been kind to us. Even though we welcome the end to ice and snow and the polar vortex they rode in on, we now must deal with the dreaded potholes they have left in their wake. Now, that same ice and snow has left us dodging potholes as we drive on our roads.

Potholes are more than just a nuisance. If your vehicle hits a pothole, you could be left with major damage and large repair bills. So would that repair bill be covered by your insurance? The answer is a strong “Maybe”. If your auto insurance policy includes the optional Collision coverage, then the damage to your vehicle sustained by hitting the pothole would typically be covered up to the limits of your policy and after the Collision deductible has been met.

But sometimes the damage is not limited to just your own vehicle. Potholes might cause you to lose control, and you might hit another car or perhaps even a pedestrian. Damages to the other car or the pedestrian are not covered by your Collision coverage but by your Liability coverage.

Auto Insurance Tip

Before you set out on pothole-damaged roads, check with your insurance agent to be sure that your auto insurance policy includes the Collision coverage to protect you as well as to check on your Liability coverage limits in the event you need them.

Find out more about what auto insurance policy typically covers.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we can answer all your insurance questions. Why not sit down with us to review your coverages and policy limits to be sure you are protected just in case you need it.

 


 

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