Prevent Accidents With Basic Car Maintenance

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Whether you do it yourself or hire a trusted mechanic, regular car maintenance not only keeps your vehicle running well and safely, it also may prevent an accident. Since every vehicle is different, be sure to read your owner’s manual for information specific to your make and model. (If you don’t have an owner’s manual, you may be able to find one online.)

 

If you’re in the market for car insurance,

be sure to call us at 813-672-4100 for a free,

no obligation auto insurance quote.

 

Here are five car maintenance basics that will help you stay safer on the road:

 

Where the rubber meets the road

The condition of your tires affects how your car handles and how well it stops. According to one estimate, there are 33,000 tire-related crashes in the U.S. every year. Once a month, before you drive somewhere and your tires are cool, check their air pressure (don’t forget the spare tire). Also examine the condition of your tires, looking for any cuts, bulges, or uneven wear, and checking tread depth.  Rotate your tires about twice a year and have your wheels aligned as needed so your tires will wear evenly.

 

Brakes

Beware of noise when braking—it could indicate worn brake pads. Worn pads can damage rotors, which can be expensive to repair, and if neglected long enough can lead to brake failure. If you hear grinding, scraping or squeaking sounds, have your brakes inspected as soon as possible.

 

Keep it clean

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When you’re driving, you want to be able to see well and to be seen, so keep your windshield, mirrors and lights clean and free of stuck-on debris such as love bugs. Don’t forget to clean the inside of your windows—they can get grimy, too, making it harder to see.  Clean your wiper blades to remove buildup of dirt, and replace them when they fail to easily sweep your windshield clean.

 

And speaking of lights…

Make sure all your lights and turn signals work. Are you headlights aligned? If they’re not, you may have trouble seeing the road at night.

 

Fluids

Fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid keep your vehicle running smoothly. Check oil level once a month, and change it regularly (again referring to your owner’s manual for frequency). Flush and replace fluids according to your vehicle manufacturer’s schedule. Watch for telltale puddles beneath your vehicle—you might have a fluid leak.

 

A well-maintained vehicle is not only a safer vehicle, it will last longer and run better, saving you money in the long run. We hope you’ll never be in a car accident, but if you are, rest assured L & M Insurance Group will be here for you. Please call us at 813-672-4100 if you have any questions about your car insurance policy, or if you need a quote. We’re here to serve you.

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

Safe Driving Tips for Rainy Days

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In the South, over 90 percent of weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement, according to the Federal Highway Administration. We here in the Brandon and Riverview area are certainly familiar with navigating frequent summer storms, so L & M Insurance Group would like to offer a few tips to keep you driving safely when it’s raining or the roads are wet.

  • Rain makes it harder to see and be seen, and it makes the road slippery, so keep your windshield wipers, tires, and lights (headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals) in good repair.
  • Turn on your headlights when it’s raining. This is the law, but it’s also common sense. Your headlights not only help you see, they help other drivers see you. Even though many cars have daytime running lights, turning on your headlights also turns on your taillights, so drivers behind you will be able to see you better. Don’t turn on your high beams, however, as they can cause distracting and dangerous reflections.

Did you know—it’s illegal to drive with your emergency flashers on? Flashers are to be used only when a vehicle is stopped or disabled. If you feel the visibility is so poor you need to turn on your flashers to be seen, you should safely pull off the road as far as you can, and wait out the storm. (And yes, now you can turn on your emergency flashers.)

 

  • Don’t use cruise control. Under slippery circumstances, you want to be completely focused on your driving. Plus, if you need to slow down quickly, you can ease your foot off the gas, which is safer in wet conditions than braking. Since cruise control aims to keep your vehicle traveling at a set speed, it might even accelerate at a time you should be slowing down.
  • Slow down and allow more space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. It takes longer to stop in wet weather, so allow yourself the time and space to react to the unexpected. Also give yourself extra time to get to your destination when it’s raining or conditions are wet so you won’t be tempted to drive too fast. Remember, all it takes is 1/12th of an inch of water and a speed of at least 35 MPH to be at risk for hydroplaning (when a layer of water builds up between the tires of your vehicle and the road, leading to loss of traction).
  • Steer and brake gently. If you start to skid, ease off the gas pedal and gently steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.
  • Don’t drive through large puddles or standing water. If water is deeper than the bottom of your door, you could seriously damage your car. And never drive through moving water unless you can easily see the ground through it. Your car—and you—could be swept away.
  • Take extra care on wet days that follow a dry spell. Oil and grime deposits on the road can mix with the rain to make things extra slick for the first few hours after rain begins falling again.

We likely have at least a few more weeks of wet driving conditions, so please stay safe out there!

FYI, for information on safe driving, consider taking the National Safety Council’s defensive driving course. You may be eligible for a discount on your auto insurance. Be sure to check with your L & M Insurance Group agent at 813-672-4100 to see if you qualify.

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

L & M Insurance Group Serves Both Standard and Non-Standard Risks

key-949094_1280As an independent insurance agency, L & M Insurance Group has the ability to help non-standard drivers who have risk factors that make it hard to get insurance at standard or preferred rates—factors such as accidents or a blemished driving record. But did you know L & M is also a great place for drivers with clean records, good credit, and other factors that make them attractive to companies like State Farm or Allstate?

If you have a clean driving record and no or few claims, and you also have good credit, own a home, and carry high limits, L & M could be a good fit for you. After all, good drivers also want and deserve the convenience, personal service, and expertise of using an independent insurance agency!

 

L & M Insurance Group   represents more than 15 auto insurance companies, including Progressive, Safeco, Nationwide, Travelers, GMAC, Metropolitan, and Foremost. We understand the insurance needs that are specific to the standard risk and we can help you choose the liability limits that will best protect your assets. In addition to auto insurance, we also offer a range of insurance policies to cover not only your car, but your house, boat, ATV, investment properties and so on. We also offer umbrella policies to protect your liability.

 

And because we represent many insurance companies rather than just one, chances are excellent that we can save you money, too!

 

We want your business, so when you’re in the market for insurance, please click here to request a quote, or call us at. 813-672-4200.

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

So You’re About to Buy Your First Auto Insurance Policy…

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Congratulations! Becoming an independent adult can be both exciting and scary. Finding your first job and apartment are milestones to be proud of. Buying your first auto insurance policy? That can be a milestone, too, as it’s one more step in taking responsibility for your life and future financial well-being.

Here are some basics to consider as you shop for your first auto insurance policy:

Why carry insurance?

Simply put, you must carry auto insurance to drive legally. But insurance is really intended to protect you financially, not just make you “legal.” Think about it: if you’re in an accident, proper insurance coverage pays for injuries, as well as having your vehicle repaired—things that can cost multiple thousands of dollars. You’d never be able to afford this without insurance coverage.

What coverages should you carry?

To tag your car, Florida law only requires that you carry a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PD). If you make car payments, your lender will most likely require that you carry comprehensive and collision. However, unless you absolutely cannot afford it, it makes much better financial sense to add Bodily Injury Liability (BI) to your policy. If you are at fault in an accident, BI will help pay for the victims’ injuries, up to the policy limits. This also allows you to comply with the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, which states that anyone responsible for a crash with injuries must be carrying bodily injury liability limits of at least $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident, in addition to $10,000 each of PIP and PD. If you don’t have this coverage, you may be required to carry an SR-22 for three years.

The increase in premium for adding BI coverage is far less than what it would cost you if you were sued following an accident (and statistically speaking, young drivers are more likely to be in an accident).

Click here for a basic explanation of types of auto insurance coverage.

How can you afford it?

There are a few ways you keep your auto insurance premiums down. The most obvious is to drive safely and keep your record clean!

A second important thing you can do is protect your credit. Credit scores have become a major factor in quoting auto insurance rates. The better your credit, the better the price of your auto insurance.

If you have been on your parents’ insurance policy, you may be eligible for a discount for having continuous coverage, so let your agent know if this is the case. (Make sure you don’t let your insurance lapse once you buy it, too.)

Ask your agent about any additional discounts available, such as for safety features like airbags or anti-lock brakes.

And finally, shop around to find the best rate. Just be sure when you’re comparing policies that each agent is quoting you the same coverage and limits.

Providing affordable insurance is where an independent agency like L & M Insurance Group really shines. We represent more than 15 different quality auto insurance companies, including Progressive, Safeco, Nationwide, Metropolitan, Travelers, Mercury, GMAC, Foremost—and more. Please call us at 813-672-4100 for a free quote today! We’d love to serve you.

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

Wrap Up 2016 With an End-of-Year Insurance Review

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Now that the holidays are winding down, you may be thinking about your goals and plans for 2017. If one of those plans is improving your financial condition, one way you can do this is to conduct a review of your current insurance coverage. Your goal is to have the right amount of coverage for your needs, at the best price.

First, look over your policies to remind yourself of your current coverage and deductibles, insurance premiums, and discounts. Then consider how your life has changed in the past year. Did you get married, divorced, or have a baby? Do any of your children now have driver’s licenses? All these changes should be reflected in your insurance portfolio. Here are a few additional specifics to consider:

Auto Insurance

Is it time to raise your deductible or drop comprehensive and collision coverage? Has your commute changed? Do you have additional drivers in your household who are not listed on your policy? Are you receiving all the discounts, such as safe driver or multi-car, that you’re eligible for?

Homeowners Insurance

If your home were destroyed, would your coverage be adequate to replace it at today’s construction costs? Do you have enough coverage for your personal possessions? You may need to increase your coverage limits if you’ve made improvements to your home, or bought or received as gifts expensive items such as computers, jewelry, or art.

If you’re thinking of raising your deductible as a way to save money on your premium, would you have the resources you need to pay that deductible if you have a claim?

You may be eligible for discounts on your homeowners insurance if your alarm system is monitored. You’ll need to provide a certificate from your monitoring company to receive the discount. If you’ve recently replaced your roof, ask your insurance agent how you can benefit from a wind mitigation report.

Flood Insurance

The entire state of Florida is at risk for flooding. Even if you don’t live in a so-called high-risk area, if you don’t have flood insurance, you might want to consider buying it. We represent several private companies that write flood insurance policies at a competitive rate.

Umbrella Policy

An umbrella policy is additional liability insurance, beyond your home and auto insurance, which protects your assets from a lawsuit. If your assets have increased, you will want to make sure you have enough coverage, or if you don’t currently carry an umbrella policy, you might want to consider purchasing one.

Life Insurance

If you’re the breadwinner, what would happen to your family if you die? A life insurance policy is one way to provide for them after you’re gone. In addition, although life insurance is mainly intended to replace lost income, consider buying life insurance for a non-working spouse or domestic partner. It can quickly become expensive to replace the work he or she does to keep your household running.

Because insurance is an important part of your financial life, it’s good to review your policies from time to time to be sure your coverage remains in line with your assets and liabilities. Remember, if you have any questions about your policies, L & M Insurance Group is here to help.

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

Should You Drop Comp and Collision on Your Older Vehicle?

While we generally don’t recommend dropping insurance coverage, there may be an instance where it makes financial sense: If you have an older vehicle and do not make payments on it, you may want to consider reducing or dropping your comprehensive and collision coverage.

First, a quick reminder of what comprehensive and collision coverages are: Comprehensive pays for things that happen to your insured vehicle other than damages from a collision—a fire, theft, vandalism, or a tree limb falling on it, for example. Collision pays for loss or damages to your insured vehicle due to a collision.

If you are considering dropping your comp/collision, here are some factors to consider:

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The value of your vehicle. If your vehicle were a total loss, what would your insurance company pay you? It’s easy to find out the actual cash value (ACV) of your car by using an online tool such as Kelley Blue Book’s “Check My Car’s Value” feature. Remember that the value of your vehicle is lower if is in poor condition (dings, dents, high mileage, worn interior, etc.)

How much you pay for comprehensive and collision. Check your declarations page to find out what portion of your premium comes from comp/collision coverage. One guideline to bear in mind is that if the value of the vehicle is less than 10 times the annual premium, you might consider dropping comp/collision coverage. Example: your car is worth $2,500 and you pay $300 year for coverage.

Your deductible. Common options range from $250-$1,000. If your vehicle is totaled, your insurance company will pay you the value of your vehicle less your deductible. Also factor in what you’ve paid in premium for the year. In an older vehicle, it’s possible for your premium and your deductible to equal more than the value of your car.

Even if your vehicle is older and not worth that much, there are some circumstances in which you may still want to carry comp/collision, including:

  • You have teen drivers in the household. (Teens are more likely to be in an accident.)
  • You’d have a hard time coming up with enough money to replace your car if it was a total loss. (Even a small payout from your insurance company would help with replacing your vehicle.)
  • You live in a hurricane or flood prone area. (In Florida, most of us do!)
  • You live or work in an area known for high theft.

We understand economic reality forces all of us to look for ways to save money. At L&M Insurance Group, we do our best to offer a wide variety of cost-effective options, and we’ll gladly discuss with you what coverage you need. Please contact us if you have any questions about your auto insurance policy, or you’d like to get a free quote.

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

Haunted Hazards: Avoiding Halloween Havoc

halloween-1001677_1280It’s almost Halloween! Time for jack-o-lanterns, scary costumes, bowls of candy, excited children, haunted houses, and a whole host of spooky fun. We don’t want to scare you, but do remember Halloween brings increased risk of vandalism (home or vehicle), fire, injuries (including dog bites and trip and fall), burglary, auto theft, and even gravestone theft or vandalism. (Did you know your homeowners policy often covers theft or damage to a gravestone?)

Your insurance (homeowners, renters, and/or auto) should cover any major Halloween mishaps, but you don’t want to have to make a claim if you don’t have to. Most policies come with deductibles, and frequent claims can cause your premiums to rise. To keep Halloween from becoming a horror, here are some tips to protect you, your pets, and your property this Halloween.

While driving or walking

Safekids.org reports that kids are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day. Prime time for trick or treating is between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., so take extra care if you’re driving during these hours, especially in residential neighborhoods and near driveways and alleys.

Children under the age of 12 should have adult supervision while trick or treating at night. Make sure children can see through masks (or use face paint instead), and that their clothing or costumes are visible even in the dark. Also have them carry flashlights or glow sticks. Remind them to stop and look both ways before crossing streets, and to cross at intersections rather than squeezing between parked cars.

Another Halloween danger is that of impaired or drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 52% of all fatal crashes on Halloween night involved a driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 (the legal limit) or higher. Make sure to designate a driver if you’re attending a party where alcohol is served. And if you serve alcohol at your own Halloween party, you could be liable if an impaired guest leaves your party and hurts or kills someone. To be safe, monitor your guests’ alcohol intake, make sure impaired guests have someone to take them home, or let them spend the night.

Keep pets out of harm’s way

Halloween can be tough for pets. The doorbell rings constantly, even familiar people are dressed in costume, and there is an abundance of candy around, most of it toxic to animals. Be sure to keep all candy out of reach of your pets, as well as any decorations that could harm them, such as candles with open flames. On Halloween night, confine your pet in a quiet place in which he or she feels safe. That way, there will be no chance of your pet biting someone, or escaping through an open door.

Safe at home

Take precautions against vandalism, and against becoming liable for an injury on your property. Walk your property and remove anything someone might trip over. Remember, it will be dark, and some costumes make it hard to see properly.

Make sure your home is well lit.

To guard against fire, consider using a battery-operated tea lights to light your jack-o-lanterns. If you do use candles, keep them away from doorways, curtains, and walkways, and don’t leave them unattended.

Park your vehicle in the garage to protect it from vandalism.

Your insurance is there to protect you, but there are things you can do to minimize the chance you’ll need to use it. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your homeowners, renters, or auto insurance policy. And have a safe and spooky Halloween!

L & M Insurance Group is an Independent Insurance Agency based in Riverview, Florida. We can shop, compare and recommend the home, auto, commercial or life insurance policy that’s best suited for you, your family or your business. Call 813-672-4100 or visit landminsurancegroup.com for more information.

Does It Really Matter Where You Buy Insurance?

Does It Really Matter Where You Buy Insurance?

Yes, and making the wrong choice could be costing you money, service and coverage protection.   Purchasing insurance for your car, home, business or life is too important to treat lightly.

There are basically three ways to purchase insurance. The first is through captive agents. Captive agents sell for just one company, they generally have a familiar name that has been built up with a tremendous amount of advertising, but in the end, you are just buying a brand. They will provide one quote from one company. The second way to buy insurance is with a telephone representative, and once again, you are getting a quote from a heavily advertised brand name with very little choice. Finally, the third way is through an independent insurance agency like L&M Insurance Group–this is the way that will offer you the most choices in coverage options and prices.Image result for independent insurance agent

 

 What Are The Benefits OF Working With An Independent Insurance Agency Like L&M Insurance Group?

 

  1. L&M Insurance Group represents multiple insurance carriers. In fact, we represent more than 40 different insurance companies. With this many carriers we can insure any risk you bring through our door. For instance, if you called us today for a quote on your auto insurance, we would be able to provide rates from more than 15 different companies and another 20 companies if you needed us to insure your home. By doing this we can provide the best combination of rate, service, company strength and coverage options of any captive agent or telephone representative anywhere.
  1. L&M Insurance Group is on your side. Do you ever wonder who represents YOU and YOUR needs when it comes to insurance? Don’t wonder anymore. WE do.   WE work for you, not the insurance company. We periodically review your coverage to make sure it meets your changing needs and to make sure you are getting the best value for your money. You can’t say that of a telephone representative or a captive agent–they are both employees of the insurance companies.
  1. L&M Insurance Group is your trusted insurance professional. Need questions answered about SR22 insurance, replacement cost coverage vs actual cash value? Need help understanding wind mitigation reports, 4-point inspections or commercial general liability? Call and ask! Try that with a telephone representative who is evaluated on one criteria only–did he/she SELL you insurance.
  1. L&M Insurance Group can do it all. That means whether you need car, renters insurance, commercial auto, homeowners, general liability, life or builders risk–we can help you. It’s nice to have all your insurance taken care of by one professional.
  1. L&M Insurance Group will always treat you like a person. You are not a number to us.   Customer satisfaction is paramount here. We return calls and go out of our way to make each encounter with our agency a positive experience.

Contact L&M Insurance Group today for a free review your insurance needs. Partner with us and you won’t regret it. 813-672-4100. Click this link to email us.

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Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson brings over 23 years of experience writing insurance. He was the owner of Larry Johnson Insurance in Brandon for 13 years, and after selling his agency and taking some time off, he has joined L&M Insurance Group. Larry is excited to be back working with clients meeting their personal lines insurance needs. Call 813-672-4100 to get started

What Is Non-Standard Insurance?

businesswoman holding car in the hands - insurance or car business conceptIf you’re looking for a new auto insurance policy, you may have come across the term “non-standard insurance.” What does this mean? Non-standard insurance is simply a category of auto insurance especially for people who are considered higher risk by insurance companies. And this group of people is growing all the time. Some reasons you might need a non-standard auto insurance policy include:

  • You have multiple violations on your driving record.
  • You have serious violations, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), driving with a suspended license, reckless driving, or a major (more than 16 miles over the speed limit) ticket.
  • You must carry an SR-22.
  • You have recently had a serious auto accident.
  • You have bad credit or a lack of credit history.
  • You drive a specialized or expensive vehicle, such as a high-powered sports car or custom-built car.
  • You’ve never been insured or you have had a lapse in your coverage.
  • You are a teenager or a senior citizen.
  • You have had your license suspended or revoked.

“Non-standard” does not mean “sub-standard”—the term has nothing to do with the financial health of the insurance company or the coverages it offers. Non-standard companies must follow all state laws and regulations. They offer the same types of coverage that standard ones do, but to a broader range of potential customers. Some insurance companies specialize in non-standard insurance, while others offer both standard and non-standard policies.

Non-standard insurance usually offers higher risk drivers better coverage at a lower price than a state-assigned risk pool, the other option open to drivers who do not qualify for standard insurance policies.

You don’t have to fall into one of the above-listed categories to purchase a non-standard policy. Generally, non-standard policies cost more than standard ones (because of the perceived higher risk factors), but occasionally they will offer a more competitive rate than a standard policy. It’s a good idea to check with your independent insurance agent who will be able to help you find the option that is best for you.

L & M Insurance Group, Inc., offers auto insurance policies and carriers with rates in all tiers including preferred, standard, non-standard, and specialty. We offer the lowest rates, best payment options and exceptional service of any agency in east Hillsborough County.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson brings over 23 years of experience writing insurance. He was the owner of Larry Johnson Insurance in Brandon for 13 years, and after selling his agency and taking some time off, he has joined L&M Insurance Group. Larry is excited to be back working with clients meeting their personal lines insurance needs. Call 813-672-4100 to get started