Test driving a car is one of the most essential phases of car shopping. Helpful tips to follow when you’re ready to start test driving cars.
Source: Tips for test driving a car
Test driving a car is one of the most essential phases of car shopping. Helpful tips to follow when you’re ready to start test driving cars.
Source: Tips for test driving a car
By Alex Buczynski on
The arrival of summer signals another season altogether: motorcycle season.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect opportunity to bring your bike out of the back of the garage. (Or wherever you had it stored to protect it from the winter weather).
In addition to your usual rides, there are plenty of events for you and your two-wheeled baby to enjoy. Here are 12 motorcycle rallies during Summer 2018 you won’t want to miss (we picked one from every state we do business in).Read more
Can’t make it to a rally this year? Then get in the spirit with Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day on June 15.
Finally, don’t forget to insure your bike. Like your home or your vehicle, your motorcycle is a valuable asset that needs the right protection. A local ERIE agent in your community can advise you about the right coverage and give you a free quote.
by Erie Insurance on March 29, 2018
“Some people see driving as a time to relax and unwind and let their minds drift off, but that’s actually one of the worst things you can do,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. “Most people know about the dangers of texting while driving, but daydreaming while driving is an almost invisible distraction – people do it automatically without even realizing the risk.”
The Erie Insurance analysis of police data from 2012-2016 showed the majority of drivers who were distracted were “generally distracted” or “lost in thought.” In fact, police report that 61 percent of distracted drivers were daydreaming at the time of a fatal crash, compared with 14 percent of drivers who were distracted by cell phone use. Erie Insurance did a similar analysis five years ago and revisited the data to see if the types of distractions had changed over the years. The analysis found the distractions were largely the same.
Here are the top 10 distractions involved in fatal car crashes:Read more
To help drivers avoid daydreaming while driving, Erie Insurance reached out to Paul Atchley, Ph.D., an internationally recognized cognitive behavioral researcher. Atchley has studied distracted driving and worked with numerous national safety organizations to reduce it.
“One effective strategy to counteract daydreaming is to keep your mind alert with so-called passive forms of engagement, like listening to a radio show or a podcast,” Atchley said. “The beauty of passive engagement is that your mind will automatically tune it out when it needs to. So, if something out of the ordinary suddenly happens in your environment, your brain won’t even hear what’s on the radio anymore. It will be fully focused on the task at hand.”
Dr. Atchley cautioned against listening to a playlist of songs you’ve heard again and again, which is not recommended. Listening to something too familiar could actually encourage your mind to drift off.
Atchley offers these additional tips to help drivers keep their attention on the road:
April is dedicated to Distracted Driving Awareness. It’s important to think about all the ways we can be distracted while driving all the time. “We’re always looking after our Customers; we want to not only insure their cars but also protect their lives,” said Bloom, “so that’s why we’re drawing attention to the dangers of distracted driving, including driving while daydreaming.”
Looking for ways to keep yourself from driving distracted? Check out Atchley’s tips on staying alert when you’re behind the wheel.
by Erie Insurance on
Before you can get the life insurance coverage you need, you need to understand why you need it. While there are many reasons to buy life insurance, the most common reasons include:
Life insurance for final expenses is worth considering—after all, the National Funeral Directors Association reports that the median price of a funeral with a casket is more than $7,000. Funeral directors say families without enough funds are forced to cut back on the service or ask friends and family for donations. A modest term life insurance policy can unburden your loved ones by taking care of these expenses.Read more
How much life insurance you need is based on two factors: your salary and the number of years until you retire. An insurance agent will also account for any other factors such as Social Security benefits, your partner’s income and your savings. Always aim to buy the amount you really need—but also remember that something is better than nothing when it comes to life insurance coverage.
Life insurance can pay off an outstanding mortgage so your family can enjoy the home they love without the burden of outstanding payments.
These are the three most common reasons people purchase life insurance. Yet there are many other reasons for buying life insurance, such as building or leaving an inheritance, saving for retirement, protecting student loan co-signers and more.
Life Insurance=Love Insurance
February is Insure Your Love month and the campaign is coordinated each year by Life Happens. Make sure to connect with your ERIE Agent to insure your love with life insurance.
Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. Life Happens Pro furthers its mission of educating the public by making its resources customizable and putting them directly into the hands of agents.
by Carolyn Sennett on March 15, 2018
Tax deductions are a way to lower your taxable income, so you can decrease the amount of taxes that you owe the government. Thinking about the different IRS-approved deductions as you prepare your tax returns may lead you to wonder: Is auto insurance tax deductible? The answer? It depends on how you use the car and other factors.
Using a car for work
Businesses that own and are dependent on the use of company cars or a fleet of vehicles as part of its operations may deduct auto insurance as an expense of the business. According to the IRS, you can deduct the necessary cost of insurance as a business expense, if it is for your trade, business or profession.Read more
If you are self-employed and use your car exclusively for your business, you may be able to deduct certain car expenses, including your insurance premium. You may also qualify for this deduction if you are an employee and your employer does not reimburse you for business-related car expenses (subject to certain limitations by the IRS).
When you use the car for both business and personal reasons, the IRS advises that you must calculate your expenses based on actual mileage and only the portion used for business reasons is tax deductible. You also can’t claim your commute to and from work, but there are deductions available for work-related driving duties like visiting clients or picking up work supplies.
Using your car only for personal reasons like running errands or going shopping, it is not a write-off on your tax returns. But if your car was stolen or totaled after an accident that wasn’t your fault and the damage exceeds the limits in your insurance policy, you may be able to claim the loss as a tax deduction. Limitations may apply based on the damage costs and your income.
Ask a professional for advice
It’s a good idea to get in touch with a certified public accountant or tax professional to review the IRS guideline for business expenses and make sure that you are entitled to these and other tax deductions. It can also be a good time to review your auto insurance policy to be sure that you have the coverages that you need. Contact a local ERIE agent for more information about insurance coverage.
by Jennifer Sonntag on
Ahh…the go-to, easy-to-use appliance in our kitchens—crock-pots. They put the question, “What’s for dinner?” to rest and give our homes and apartments the home-cooked meal smell. Here are some trusted tips to consider when using your crock-pot:
Not everything is better with age
If you’re just starting out and you’ve been “gifted” your mom’s (or grandma’s) old crock-pot, there’s something to consider: age. While it might be in great working order, a vintage crock pot from the ‘70s or ‘80s with an insert firmly attached to the heating element might need to be upgraded. Newer crock-pots also offer the convenience of being able to lift out the insert (bonus, it’s dishwasher safe!).
Some older crock-pot models also had vent holes or a notch in the lid for a spoon. While these might’ve been convenient, the rule of thumb is that crock-pot lids should fit snugly. If the lid is warped or has one of the mentioned “features,” steam and heat will escape. Cooking times could be off and you could end up with dry or burnt food.Read more
Make the connection
It’s important to regularly check the crock-pot’s electrical cord (from the base to the plug). If there’s any sign of wear or tear, it’s probably time to buy a new one. Using a crock-pot with a broken plug or wire is a fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association, crock-pots are involved in an average of 150 home structure fires per year. Make sure to always unplug your crock-pot when it’s not in use.
Location, location, location
It’s important to keep the crock-pot away from the edge of countertops and this includes not having the cord dangle off the edge. The closer it is to the edge, the easier it is for a person (or pet) to bump it or knock it over.
Tips to simmer over
If you’re curious to see if your crock-pot is in working order, you can do a simple water test. Older crock-pots may not work as well as they once did, and for temperature and food safety purposes the water test will help you make the decision whether you should keep or toss it.
Fill the crock-pot 2/3 full with tap water (tepid water) and set your crock pot on the low setting. After 8 hours, use a thermometer to check the water’s temperature, which should be at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
As always, every crock-pot is different and has varying specifications by make and model. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions and take heed of anything suspicious or concerning. It’s better to cook safely than to be sorry…and hungry.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you pull out your crock-pot or any other small kitchen appliances. And remember to talk to your ERIE Agent for big kitchen or home upgrades to make sure you have the coverage you need.
by Erie Insurance on December 27, 2017
Whether it’s following a regular maintenance plan or making sure you’re prepared for an emergency, we’ve pulled together five driving and car maintenance resolutions for the New Year.
Procrastinating on regular maintenance. If you skimp on basic maintenance, your car can eventually quit or malfunction. If you’re on the road when it happens, you could lose control of your car, putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation. So, if it’s been awhile, get your car into the shop for an oil change. A mechanic can also check your vehicle’s filters, fluids, hoses and other key components. Also, ask about your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Find out if any parts are wearing out before they break.Read more
Neglecting your tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, not only does it add life to your tires, but they’re much safer on the roads, too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nine percent of automobile crashes are related to tire failure. Don’t ignore the alerts from your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system. If you have an older vehicle, get into the habit of eyeing the tires whenever you approach the vehicle.
Preparation is key. Breakdowns happen, but it’s being prepared that’s important. If you have comprehensive vehicle coverage with ERIE, you can add Road Service coverage to your policy for as little as $5 per covered vehicle. It’s having that peace of mind, knowing that if you’re stranded, you’ll have help. It’s also important to put together an emergency car kit. Include the basics like a cell phone charger, blanket and small first aid kit, and extras like granola or energy bars and bottled water. Find the full list of emergency car kit items on the Eriesense blog.
Add extra time, not speed. If you have the need for speed, now’s a good time to rethink this habit. In 2015, nearly 10,000 people died in crashes where speed was a factor. (That’s 27 percent of all fatal crashes that year, according to the NHTSA.) Try leaving a few minutes early, and if traffic isn’t cooperating with your plans, just take a deep breath and back off the gas pedal. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and there’s no prize for arriving first.
Safe keeping. Take a look at your parking habits. Even if you’re parked in your driveway, garage or street, an unlocked vehicle is an open invitation for burglars. An unlocked vehicle invites easy access to your house, especially if your garage door opener is easily accessible. Also make sure you remove all bags, purses and valuables from your vehicle. Don’t make these an easy target for burglars.
Ready for a bonus tip? Make sure your vehicle has the proper coverages for your specific needs. Talk to your ERIE Agent to make sure you’re on the right path from the start in 2018.
By Shelly Gigante
Shelly Gigante specializes in personal finance issues. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications and news websites.
A handmade scarf, baked goods, a cherished photo in a nice frame. Gifts for friends and family during the holiday season need not break the bank. In fact, some of the most meaningful gifts you can give are virtually free.
“The best gifts always come from the heart, because you know that person is thinking about you and not just running down to the store and picking up what they think is the hottest gift,” said Aileen Avery in an interview, author of Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving. “They actually gave it some thought.”
Zero- and low-cost gifts are not only potentially more thoughtful, but they can also help keep your budget in check, so you don’t spend months after the holidays digging out of high-interest debt, a scenario that is all too common.Read more
Consumers this year expect to spend an average of $967 on gifts, as well as non-gift holiday items, such as decorations and food, according to the National Retail Federation.1 Not all shoppers take on debt this time of year, but those who did in 2016 started off the new year with an average of $1,003 worth of new debt, and most said they weren’t in a position to pay it off for at least four months, according to personal finance website MagnifyMoney’sholiday debt survey.2
While homemade and low-cost gifts are generally well received, they do require a bit more effort. Don’t wait for the last minute to start planning your list, said Avery.
If you’re big on intent, but short on ideas, the following suggestions may help get the creative juices flowing.
In the digital age, where precious family photos languish in cell phones and hard drives, it’s a novel idea indeed to print them out. A single photo of a special day, placed inside a nice, inexpensive frame is sure to elicit a smile.
The truly ambitious can opt instead for a photo album of special moments, a collection of pictures over the years with their best friend, or an album of a special vacation with family friends. You can print them out on your printer or take advantage of online seasonal sales and create a printed coffee-table book for $25 or less. Leave plenty of time for cropping and editing,page design, printing, and shipping – especially if you need to ask friends or family members to contribute photos to the project. Bonus: The trip down memory lane will be fun for you, too.
“I love photo books that go through your relationship with that person from way back when,” said Avery. “There are so many online sites you can use, and this is a gift your loved one will keep and look back on. It also might not be something they have the time to do themselves.”
The gift of a home cooked meal is tough to beat for busy moms, single adults, and seniors — or really anyone who just wants a night off in the kitchen. Think lasagna, chili, or baked macaroni and cheese.
Every year, New Jersey-native Rose Flanagan makes a week’s worth of homemade soups and meals that can be easily reheated as a holiday gift for her elderly parents in Long Island, New York.
“I’ll make a stew, individual servings of meatloaf, or clam sauce, and freeze them in individual containers that they can eat when they want,” she said, noting the clam sauce was presented with a box of dried pasta. “They don’t need anything at their age, and they don’t really want gifts, so I decided that this might be a nicer way to give something they would appreciate more.”
By doubling or tripling your own recipes in the weeks leading up to the holiday, you can bang out a week’s worth of frozen meals in no time, she said.
Over the years, Flanagan and her husband have also given friends, neighbors, and teachers loaves of banana bread, brownie mix in a jar, and homemade granola.
Similarly, family members might also appreciate a recipe book that culls together favorite family recipes from past and present generations.
The gift of time
Anyone juggling family responsibilities and a full-time job knows time is a precious commodity.
“Time is the new premium,” said Avery. “No matter how many gadgets we use to make things easier for ourselves, everyone I know is short on time.”
Her suggestion? Create a gift certificate or homemade coupon that entitles your elderly parent to an afternoon picnic in the park, or your son to a lunch at his favorite local restaurant (during school!). If you have a boat, take your niece fishing. Or, take your sister to a movie you’ve both been wanting to see and treat her to a large popcorn.
It’s all about spending time together.
Establish the handmade rule
If your family is large or your budgets are tight, you might also like to establish a tradition of giving only homemade gifts – especially for the grownups in the group. You can’t go wrong with homemade soap, hand-knit hats, or dried herbs from your garden.
Jocelyn Ryan, an Irish-American mother of three whose extended family is still overseas, said the adults in her family went back and forth for several years between drawing names and giving a single gift, and buying for everyone, but doing it for $10 or less. “Doing it cheaply was way better,” she said. “The gifts were usually funny or homemade or both. One year, I crocheted everybody scarves and my sister gave everyone a small jar of sand from the Sahara the year she went to Africa. I still have mine.”
Re-gifting an item you were previously given is also potentially fair game during the holiday season, with some important caveats.
Allan Liwanag, who writes the Practical Saver blog, wrote that re-gifters must make sure that the item they are passing along was not personalized for them and is something that the recipient would actually want or need.
Avery agreed, noting re-gifters should also make sure they know the original source so they don’t give the recycled present to a friend or family member in the same social circle. “If Aunt Martha sees the scarf on someone else that she gave to you, that’s obviously a huge faux pas,” she said.
One couple from Annapolis, Maryland, takes the concept of re-gifting one step further, making it a household tradition to give their kids at least one gift for Christmas that they purchased at a yard sale. Over the years, they have given their kids, who are now adults, jewelry, handbags, books, stationery and clothes – many still with their original tags, which they believe has helped instill a sense of value.
The holiday season is as much about giving as it is receiving, but your shopping list doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little extra planning and some creativity, you can potentially give those you love a gift that is both thoughtful and budget friendly.
by Abby Badach on November 1, 2017
The fireplace may be a happy spot for the family to gather ‘round. But did you know that fireplaces and chimneys caused 23,100 residential fires in the United States in 2013—and that those blazes caused $109.1 million in property damage and 10 fatalities?1
Statistics like these drive home the importance of scheduling an annual chimney inspection. Ashley Eldridge, director of education at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), says that even homeowners who don’t use their fireplaces should spring for an inspection. That’s because a home’s other heating devices also release toxic gases through the chimney; when debris clogs its escape, those harmful fumes remain in your home.
“Preventative measures are typically much less expensive than repairs when you have a crisis,” Eldridge says. “It just makes sense to be ahead of the curve.”
An inspector can check for one big culprit of chimney fires—creosote, which is a thick, gummy substance that’s a byproduct of burning wood. Creosote causes most chimney fires, including one recently inspected by ERIE Property Adjuster Sandi Benes. That chimney’s creosote buildup caused a blaze that destroyed $23,000 worth of property. How’d it happen? The homeowner decided to clean out his chimney on his own.
To reduce the risk of a creosote-caused fire, Benes recommends hiring a pro and burning only designated firewood. “Burning green wood or soft wood with resin in it increases creosote buildup,” she explains.
Chimney inspections usually cost between $100 and $300 and fall into one of two levels.
Level One Inspection
During a level one inspection, the inspector will spend about an hour to measure all the readily accessible components of the chimney, like the size of the firebox and the clearance from the stove. From there, he or she will decide if your chimney needs a sweep.
A chimney merits a sweep for a number of reasons, but the main ones include debris blocking the air ducts and creosote build-up. “Birds and squirrels are a very real issue,” says Eldridge, who has also seen everything from clumps of leaves to basketballs stuck in chimneys. “Animals can set up camp in there, and it can be really unpleasant.”
Debris that’s not removed is a big risk factor for causing a fire or trapping poisonous gases like carbon monoxide in your home. Besides an annual chimney inspection, it’s also worth checking out a chimney cap. These tools fit over the flue to keep debris—as well as damaging water—out.
Level Two Inspection
A more thorough level two chimney inspection is a worthwhile investment for new homeowners who haven’t had a level one inspection. A level two inspection requires the chimney sweep to get on the roof to makes additional measurements, such as the distance of the chimney to any combustibles.
To learn more about each level and what it entails, check out this video from the CSIA.
Finding a super sweep
The CSIA lists more than 1,300 sweeps who earned the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® Credential. This credential proves a sweep has a superior understanding of the tools, techniques and processes to get the job done right. What’s more, all CSIA-certified sweeps pledge to uphold a code of ethics.
To locate a CSIA-certified chimney sweep in your area, check out the CSIA home page. Your sweep probably won’t have a Cockney accent and a song a la “Mary Poppins.” But he or she will have the know-how to help you safely enjoy your home and hearth all winter long.
MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio — September 6, 2017 — A new Progressive Insurance study shows about one third of drivers feel confident in their own ability to text and drive, yet the majority believe distracted driving is the biggest cause of auto accidents and more than 90% say it should be illegal.
The starkest difference in attitudes is between younger and older drivers. More than 60% of 18-34 year olds are confident in their ability to safely text while driving compared to less than 6% of individuals 55 and older.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.*
“We hope this study starts conversations around distracted driving and how to reduce it. It’s especially interesting that most people recognize this activity is dangerous, yet many people feel confident in their own ability to text and drive,” said David Pratt, Business Leader of Usage Based Insurance at Progressive. “Based on early results with users of our Snapshot Mobile app, we’re optimistic that personalized feedback will encourage safer behavior. For years we’ve been helping Progressive customers improve their driving habits and save money with our traditional Snapshot program. Snapshot Mobile takes this to yet another level.”Read more
Here are a few key findings from the study:
Young vs. Old
Men vs. Women
Among All Drivers
About the Research
The study of drivers was developed by Progressive Insurance. It was a national online study conducted in August 2017 among general market, insured drivers, who are not Progressive customers. Approximately 1,000 individuals 18 years of age or older responded.
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies makes it easy to understand, buy and use auto insurance. Progressive offers choices so consumers can reach it whenever, wherever and however it’s most convenient — online at progressive.com, by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE, on a mobile device or in-person with a local agent.
Progressive provides insurance for personal and commercial autos and trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles, and homes. Home insurance is underwritten by select carriers, including American Strategic Insurance Corp. and subsidiaries (ASI), our majority owned subsidiaries.
The Common Shares of The Progressive Corporation, the Mayfield Village, Ohio-based holding company, trade publicly at NYSE:PGR.