Tag Archives: accidents

5 Holiday Road Trip Safety Tips

holiday road trip safety
An estimated 99 million Americans travel during the holidays with over 38 million of those traveling by car. The traffic alone can cause some serious stress, not to mention winter storms, construction, wildlife, and distractions from inside the car. With all these risks, it’s no surprise that a 2 hour car trip could end up taking 5 hours.


Before you leave for your holiday road-trip, consider these tips given by experts to keep you and those you love safe on the roads: 


Car Emergency Kit

Most auto supply stores will have an “all-in-one” car emergency kit that include the essentials like jumper cables, a first aid kit, batteries, a flashlight, etc. The Department of Transportation suggests you include all of the items listed below. If you already have all the items needed, just buy a plastic box to keep them nice and tidy in your trunk.
  • Roadside flares
  • A first-aid kit
  • Work gloves or latex gloves
  • Two quarts of oil
  • Jumper cables
  • One gallon of antifreeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Extra fuses
  • A blanket
  • A flashlight with fresh batteries
  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • A flat head screwdriver
  • Vise grips
  • An adjustable wrench
  • A pair of pliers
  • A tire inflator
  • A tire pressure gauge
  • Some rags and a funnel
  • A roll of duct tape
  • A roll of paper towels
  • A spray bottle with washer fluid
  • An ice scraper
  • Triangle reflectors and flares.
  • A pocketknife


Portable Backup Battery

Ipads and smartphones are not only for entertainment value when taking a road tip. Having a fully charged phone is crucial while on the road, especially if you are in an accident or stranded. A portable backup battery can be charged at home and taken with you on the road. Another benefit to having one of these is that you won’t have to share one cigaret charger with the rest of the family.


Water and Snacks

You never know when traffic will come to a standstill or a flat tire leaves you on the side of the road for hours. It’s always smart to have a few bottles of water and some granola bars, fruit, nuts, and other snacks on hand just in case. Even if you don’t need the supplies yourself, you might run across someone else in need.


Kitty Litter

In the case that your car gets stuck in snow, ice, or even mud, laying kitty litter in front of the tires can give you enough traction to get moving again. Have a bag or two handy in the trunk if you plan to be driving through snow or ice.


Roadside Assistance

Last but not least, make sure to have your AAA or roadside assistance card handy, along with your drivers license. Jumper cables and kitty litter isn’t always enough to get you out of a bind while on a road tip. It’s also a good idea to make sure your proof of  insurance card is updated and in your glove department.


Save Travels!

Don’t let the stress of holiday traveling keep you from taking a road trip to see family or a new part of the country. Gathering just a few supplies can give you peace of mind when on the road. Safe travels!

Commercial Transportation Insurance for Your Business

Our country depends on the transportation industry to keep things running. Whether it’s food, fuel, building supplies, or people, we rely on large vehicles and their drivers to safely deliver cargo. Because the demand for consumer goods is increasing and will only continue to increase, the number of large vehicles on the roads is also increasing.

Accidents do happen and should anything happen to your company’s vehicle, driver, or cargo while on the road, commercial auto insurance can assist with the losses. From the medical bills of the driver to the repair or replacement of the vehicle and cargo, transportation insurance is a must for any company that uses commercial vehicles to deliver goods.

What types of vehicles qualify for commercial transportation insurance?

If your company uses cars, vans, trucks, busses, trains, planes, boats, etc. to transport goods for business purposes, then you qualify for commercial auto/transportation insurance. In fact, if you use any type of vehicle for business purposes it must be insured with commercial auto insurance. Whether your company has a large fleet, small fleet, or a single vehicle, the vehicle, driver, and cargo need to be protected from the risks of the road.

  • Passenger car or van
  • Passenger bus
  • Minivan
  • Agricultural truck
  • Box or straight truck
  • Cargo van
  • Car carrier
  • Flatbed truck
  • Catering truck
  • Cement mixer
  • Delivery van
  • Hearse
  • Ice cream truck
  • Motor home
  • Limousine
  • Pickup truck
  • Fifth wheel truck
  • Sport utility vehicle
  • Pump truck
  • Step van
  • Tank truck
  • Trunk tractor
  • Tow truck
  • Refrigerated truck
  • Wheelchair bus
  • Wheelchair van
  • Front loader
  • Garbage truck

What does commercial transportation insurance cover?

Similar to personal auto insurance, commercial transportation insurance includes liability, physical damage, and more.

  • Auto liability
  • Physical damage
  • Cargo
  • General liability
  • Occupational accident
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • More!

Companies who use vehicles for business purposes and are responsible for transporting cargo would be wise to make sure all their vehicles, drivers, and cargo are covered with transportation insurance, no matter what business they are in.

Contact us today to get started with insuring your company’s vehicles, drivers, and cargo.

What Is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance?

Did you know that 1 out of 7 drivers in the United States are currently uninsured?

This leaves you, a responsible auto insurance-carrying citizen, in jeopardy. Unfortunately, if you are injured or your car is damaged in an auto accident with an uninsured motorist (a driver who does not have auto insurance), you will not be able to file a claim and will be stuck with the bills yourself. The only other option besides forking over your own money for the injuries or damages is to try to collect from the driver yourself or file a lawsuit. Both of these options are time consuming, frustrating, and do not guarantee any payment.

The best way to protect yourself against this type of situation is to carry a Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorist Insurance policy.

What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance?

Uninsured Motorist Insurance is coverage that protects you if you are involved in an auto accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance. Underinsured Motorist Insurance protects you when the other driver’s insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover the damages. Although it is required by law for every driver to carry auto insurance, thousands of Americans choose to drive uninsured. You never know when you might be rear ended by someone who does not have insurance.

What are the different types of UM coverage?

There are four types of uninsured motorist insurance and depending on the state they are either mandatory or optional. Sometimes these coverages will come in a bundle while other times they must be purchased separately.

• Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Insurance (UM or UMBI) – This covers medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering if caused by an uninsured/underinsured motorist
• Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage Insurance (UMPD) – This covers the damage to vehicle but may not be available in all states. In some cases it may cover a hit-and-run.

Who Needs Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

We suggest that anyone who drives carries a UM policy on their auto insurance plan. In certain states, it is mandatory to carry this type of coverage, but in others it is option. Because nearly 15% of drivers are uninsured or underinsured, we recommend that every driver have UM coverage, whether it is required or not.

What are the limits for UMBI/UMPD?

When you decide to purchase a UMBI/UMPD policy your insurance company will ask you to choose the limits on your plan. A limit is the highest amount your insurance will pay you should you file a claim.

In most cases, UM coverage will have split limits. This means that the coverage will be different if there is one person involved or multiple people involved on the claim. For example, in a $15,000/$30,000 split limit, $15,000 would be the most your insurance would pay if you were injured or $30,000 would be the most they would pay if the other passengers were also injured.

The other option for coverage is called a Combined Single Limit and covers everyone in the car with one lump sum. For example, if you chose a combined single limit of $30,000, that would be the maximum amount your insurance pays you for all injuries sustained in the accident.

Do I need to get Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance?

Given the statistics of how many uninsured and underinsured drivers there are on the road these days, we suggest you take every precaution possible to avoid being left with outrageous bills in the case of an accident. It’s not fair to be stuck paying for damages you didn’t cause just because the other driver was not responsible enough to purchase auto insurance. However, it does happen and that’s why we advise every driver carry a UMBI and UMPD policy if possible.

When to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim

Your dishwasher floods and ruins your beautiful wooden floors. A tree falls on your fence and knocks it down. A hailstorm dents your roof and smashes in your skylight.

Most of us would think to simply file a claim with our homeowners insurance and they will take care of it. Unfortunately filing a claim to your homeowners insurance is not as straightforward as expected.

An insurance company considers many things when it comes to paying a claim. Sometimes your insurance company will raise your premium or cancel your policy all together. Sometimes they reject the claim because you’re not actually covered for what you thought you were.

Damages happen to your home at any time and by various causes, but how do you know when and when not to file a claim with your homeowners insurance? Here are a few tips for when and when not to file a claim:

1. Don’t file a claim unless it’s significantly more than your deductible

Before you file a claim it’s a good idea to assess the damage and understand all the costs involved in the repairs. If the cost to repair is less than the deductible or only slight above the deductible, it’s usually better not to file a claim and fork over the money out of pocket. However, if the cost to repair is significantly more than your deductible, at least double the deductible, then it should qualify as a claim.

2. Don’t file a claim if you aren’t actually covered

Check your coverage before you file any type of claim on your homeowners insurance. Sometimes people think they are covered for certain losses that are not covered. For example, many people think they are covered for flood damage when in fact flood insurance is a completely different policy and not included in homeowners insurance.

3. Don’t file a claim if it’s not sudden, accidental, and catastrophic

Insurance companies are very picky when it comes to the type of damage they will cover for your home. If your son accidentally breaks a window while throwing baseballs in the backyard, your insurance may or may not cover the damage. While it is sudden and accidental, it’s not necessarily catastrophic. Another example type of claim that often gets rejected is if the damage is actually a home improvement project, like a rotted fence or old carpet. Read your homeowners insurance policy carefully to determine what exactly they will cover.

4. Don’t file a claim if you’ve submitted too many claims in one year

This one is tricky because there is no fine line for how many claims are too many. It’s a good idea to keep track of how many claims you file each year and check your history before filing another. A good way to do that is to look up your CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange), which is a collection of all the personal auto and property claims you’ve made over the past 7 years. Insurance companies measure your chances of receiving a settlement based on your CLUE, so it’s smart to be familiar.

5. When in doubt, ask your agent!

Considering the fact that filing a homeowners insurance claim is tricky, it’s usually best to go through an insurance agent who knows the ins and outs of the industry. They can help you determine whether a claim will increase your premiums or knock you off the policy or if you might have a chance of getting a settlement.

Don’t have an insurance agent?

If you’re looking for some guidance on filing a homeowners insurance claim, just contact us for a complimentary quote and to discuss your particular needs.

Why is Auto Insurance More Expensive for Young and New Drivers?

As a young driver, or parent of a young driver, you might be shocked by how much it cost to purchase auto insurance coverage. Unfortunately, auto insurance rates for drivers under 25 can be double or triple what older drivers pay.

So why do young drivers pay more for auto young driver car insurance auto insurance new driverinsurance?

There are many factors that contribute to why young drivers pay so much more for car insurance. The fact is, insurance companies base their premiums on the driver’s record and the likelihood of financial risk that the driver is to the insurance company. The less experienced the driver, the higher the risk. The higher the risk, the higher the cost of coverage.

Here are a few factors that influence the cost of car insurance for young drivers:

Unproven Record

When a new driver hits the road, they are basically guilty until proven innocent. The insurance company has no historical data to predict or measure whether the driver will be safe or reckless. Because they don’t have a driving record to prove otherwise, the insurance company assumes the worst-case scenario when calculating risk. Therefore, they raise the rates to cover all the “what-ifs” of a reckless driver. As the driver gains experience and a driving record they can be awarded lower auto insurance premiums.

teen car insurance accidentAccident Prone

It’s no surprise that new drivers tend to be more accident prone simply because they don’t have much experience behind the wheel. New drivers have a harder time reacting to driving hazards and are more likely to panic or over-correct. Becoming a skillful driver takes time and experience in various situations to practice. Because of this, insurance companies know the probability of a new driver being involved in an accident is higher than a seasoned driver. So they make sure the rates will cover for these probabilities.

Distracted Driving

Another statistically proven fact is that younger drivers are easily distracted while driving. Not only do they have their cell phones, music, and GPS systems to distract them, they can also be distracted by other passengers or trying to multitask. In our fast paced world, teens are running from home to school to football practice and trying to eat, communicate, or put on makeup as they drive. Many young drivers do not yet realize the danger they are putting themselves and others in attempting to multitask while driving. Distracted driving is a huge problem and insurance companies have the data to prove it. Yet another reason to raise premiums for young drivers.

Financial Risk

For these reasons and more, young drivers are statistically more of a financial risk to insurance companies which is why their premiums are significantly higher than more experienced drivers. While car insurance rates for teens and new drivers might be disheartening at first, remember that if you keep a clean driving record you will be able to lower your premium over time. Insurance companies love to reward safe drivers! Not only that, but you’ll be doing the world a service by being safe on the road!
JR Carnahan offers all types of Personal Insurance, including Auto Insurance. If you are a young driver or parent of a new driver and have questions regarding purchasing an auto insurance policy or updating a current one, contact us today! We would love to assist you in finding the best insurance solution for your business!

Cycling and Bicycle Insurance Questions

cycling insuranceNow that the weather is warm, people are biking to and from work, school, the grocery store, and for exercise. As a whole, the sport of cycling is increasing.

However, many cyclists don’t think about what happens should their bike be stolen, damaged, or if they are injured while riding.

Here are some common questions about insurance coverage for cyclists:

What if my bike is stolen?

Most homeowners or renters insurance policies will cover the cost of a stolen bike, but not all of them. The safest route is to check with your insurance agent about your coverage. In the case of a stolen bike, filing a claim might not even be worth it if you have a high deductible. Review the cost of the bike in comparison to your deductible to decide if it’s worth it to file a claim.

What if I hit a car, pedestrian, or other cyclist while on my bike?

Many people think that their auto insurance will cover them if they are involved in an accident while on their bike. This is not the case. Auto insurance only comes into play if you were driving a car.
If you are responsible for an accident while riding your bike, your homeowners or renters insurance might cover the damages of the affected party. Again, it’s important to check with your insurance agent to make sure you have that level of coverage.

What if I am hit by a car while on my bike?

If you are hit or injured by someone else driving a vehicle, their auto or homeowners/renters insurance will cover your medical expenses and property damage. In the unfortunate event that the responsible party is uninsured, under-insured, or flees the scene, you may have to utilize your auto policy’s UM/UIM coverage (uninsured/under-insured coverage).

Should I get a separate bicycle insurance policy?

With the number of bike accidents these days it’s a good idea to consider purchasing a separate cyclist insurance policy. These policies start as low at $100/year. If you own a bike and accessories that are worth more than $100, this is a great investment. Purchasing a bicycle insurance policy also gives members of USA Cycling, Triathlon, and other cycling associations access to discounts.


“Don’t wait until it’s too late to get bicycle insurance!”

Contact JR Carnahan to get more information on bicycle insurance today.

What to Do After a Car Accident

car accident auto accident insuranceHave you ever been involved in a car accident and felt so rattled that you forget what to do next? New and seasoned drivers alike can be so shaken after an auto accident that they fail to complete important steps. Unfortunately, forgoing one small step could result in an expensive and stressful lawsuit.

Even amidst heightened emotions, it’s important to try to remain calm, take your time, and get all the information needed to file an accurate accident claim.

Here are the most important steps to take after a car accident:

Take Safety Precautions

First and foremost, it’s important to get out of the way of traffic to avoid more accidents. If you are able, move your car to the side of road, turn on your hazard lights, and place a warning triangle or flares on the road if you have them.

Check for Injuries

Do a thorough assessment of yourself first and if there are no signs of injuries, get out of the car and make sure all other passengers and drivers involved are okay. If you see any type of injuries, call 911 immediately.

Call the Police

No matter how big or small the damages or injuries are, always call the police. There is a temptation to settle things without the police in a minor fender-bender, but do not fall for it. Having a police report will help establish liability, protect you from fraud, and keep everyone calm and collected.

It’s also important to never verbally admit fault, even if it is clear that you are at fault. Let the police handle the liability portion of the accident.

Exchange Information

You’ll want to exchange the following information with the other driver:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email
  • License Number
  • License Plate
  • Insurance Company
  • Policy Number

If you do not have a pen/pencil and paper in your car, take photos and make notes in your phone.

Do not ever give out your social security number. Insurance companies to do not need that information to file a claim and you could become a victim of identity theft.

Describe the Scene

Make sure to take accurate notes regarding the time, location, description of accident, witnesses, state of the other driver and their car, and any other details you think you might forget. Take plenty of pictures of your car, the other driver’s car, and the entire scene.

Call Your Insurance

Regardless of fault, call your insurance company as quickly as possible. If the accident is the other driver’s fault, you have the option to call their insurance company and file a claim on your own, without even letting your own company know about the accident. However, it’s usually better to let your insurance company deal with the other driver’s insurance company rather than trying to do it on your own.

Being involved in a car accident is always frustrating, but if you have a comprehensive auto insurance plan it can help alleviate some of the stress. Once the accident has been reported and a claim has been filed, the rest is up to your insurance company. They will help you find the best auto mechanic to repair any damages, make sure any medical or auto charges are covered, and provide a rental car if you have the need.

“Need a reliable, honest, quick-to-respond insurance agent?”

Contact JR Carnahan today! As a small privately owned insurance company, we are able to provide individualized insurance plans and personalized customer service to get you covered quickly!

Boat Insurance for the Avid Lake-Goers

boat insurance

It’s summer.

The hot, humid, draining summer of South Texas.

Which means, if you’re not at the pool, you’re at the lake.

Hitting the water on a sailboat, Jet Ski®, yacht, WaveRunner® or other personal watercraft is one of the best ways to beat the heat. But it can also be a huge liability if you are not properly covered by an insurance policy.

While not all states require boat insurance, you can never be too prepared for the perils of the water.

On top of your state’s requirements, if you take out a loan for a new boat or if you use a marina, you will most likely have to present proof of insurance.

If you choose to purchase boat insurance, you may do so through an insurance agent or by adding it to your homeowners insurance plan.

The only type of coverage available with a homeowners plan is an Actual Cash Value coverage. This means that the boat’s value is already decided, and usually fairly low.

With an independent boat insurance plan, you are able to purchase an Agreed Value coverage, which lets you decide the worth of your watercraft and the amount you’ll recover in the case of a loss.

So what does boat insurance cover?

While each policy is different depending on the insurance company, plan, and policy holder’s wishes, there are a few types of insurance you should make sure are covered.


If you cause an accident, liability insurance will cover any property damage or bodily injury bills for the others involved.

Medical Payments Protection

If you are injured while on the water, this coverage will protect you from the devastation of medical bills.

Property Damage

Collision or Comprehensive property damage covers damages to your boat and its belongings that are caused by another boater, theft, fire, etc.

Fuel Spill

In the case of a fuel spill, which happens more than you think, this plan will save you from being held responsible of the clean up costs.

Non-contact Accidents

Even if the wake from your boat causes an accident, you could be charged with the responsibility.

No matter what kind of watercraft you own or plan to own this summer, looking into getting an insurance plan should be high priority.

There’s nothing like sailing the bright blue sea and having complete peace of mind!

“Are there discounts for boat insurance?”

Yes! Contact JR Carnahan to get more information on the various types of discounts you can get on your boat policy.



How To Get The Best Insurance Rates

It’s all who AND what you know…

Many people think by going straight to the insurance companies they can ‘cut out the middleman’. The parallel may be true with car sales where you pay a sticker price for a physical good that needs to be sold before it depreciates, but that’s not the way insurance works. You see, insurance companies control a pool of money and bet against occurrences such as car accidents and natural disasters that destroy or damage housing and business offices.

When there are more of these occurrences in its area than expected, the company receives more claims, draining the insurance pool. The company needs to apply for the approval to raise its rates higher or else it goes out of business. Unfortunately, that means higher rates for its customers.

So how do I get the best insurance rate?


tornadoRates will depend on how many claims a company is receiving. If your city is peaceful, but the east-side of your state is at risk of frequent tornadoes, it would be better to have a house insurance company that serves just your city. Same goes for floods, fires, termites, etc.

So the best bet is to shop around to see which insurance companies cover which areas, whether those areas are risky, and what kind of claim volume they have been experiencing. Sounds like a good deal of work, eh?

Brokerage agencies such as ours are in the unique position to get bulk quotes from local, state-wide, and national companies. We can see what the lowest quote is currently for home, auto, business insurance, etc. Additionally, since we have been tracking occurrences for areas and claims rates for different insurance companies, we can  forecast with a pretty good accuracy how rates will go up and down. It’s all about fast access to the right information. Simple enough, right? Quotes are free, so don’t neglect to get one now.