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What Does It Mean to Be Financially Literate? 

A person who is financially “literate” knows how to budget, knows how to invest, and knows how to manage long-term finances. In general, you can consider yourself financially literate if…

…you know how to take care of your debt. 

US News & World Report suggests that the wisest strategy for paying off what you owe is to start with your largest debt and pay more than you owe each month. If you receive a bonus at work, put it toward your debt. Stop using credit cards, and remove your auto-saved credit card data from the places you shop online. Dave Ramsey offers another approach. The national household debt in the United States, he says, totals $13.54 trillion. This includes car loans, student loans, and credit cards. Your personal debt, says Ramsey, should never be handled with debt consolidation, dipping into your 401k, home equity loans, or debt settlement. What will work is setting a monthly budget and deciding how every dollar will be spent. He suggests the snowball effect, which means you ignore interest rates and make the minimum payment on every debt except the smallest. Tackle the smallest debt with every extra penny you can spare. When that debt is paid off, move all that monthly spending onto your next smallest debt.  

…you understand interest rates. 

Interest is basically the cost of borrowing someone else’s money or the bonus you get for loaning your money to someone else. If you’re the one borrowing, it means what you owe is going up slowly over time. The lender charges a specific percentage–per year, per month (it depends on the loan)–and it adds up when calculating just how much you are going to pay back in the long-term. You want to keep this in mind when deciding just how quickly to pay the loan off. If you buy a house for $200,000 (with a $20,000 downpayment), and your interest rate is at 4.1 percent, interest will make a difference in your total cost should you take 15 years to pay it off or 30 years. If you can pay it back in 15 years, the total cost of your home, including interest, will end up $261,286. If you take 30 years instead, the added interest will raise the final amount you spent on your home to $333,114. That’s more than $70,000 extra spent simply because you took more time to pay it back. 

…you protect your assets. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll want an insurance agent on your side to make sure you obtain appropriate business insurance, to make sure your personal assets aren’t at risk of being claimed by your creditors, and to obtain an umbrella policy. If you’re a renter or a homeowner, you need insurance that will step in and protect you financially should your property experience damage or destruction. If you’re a business owner, you may want coverage for work-related vehicle accidents in case an employee has an accident while on the clock, harming someone else or someone else’s property. You also want to learn about planning for how you would pay for being cared for in the event of an injury, or even the effects of aging. Long-term care insurance, for example, can protect your financial assets if you unexpectedly suffer a stroke or begin experiencing symptoms of dementia and you suddenly need to pay for care at a nursing home.

…you know how much money you actually have. 

In an age where we can swipe a credit card and debit card for any purchase, some individually truly do not know how much money they have from one moment to the next. While you don’t necessarily need to switch back to a checkbook with a spending deduction log in the back, you do need a plan for checking in on your spending in real time. This includes budgeting, regularly logging into online banking to check your balances, and knowing whether your credit card bills can actually be covered within your budget at the end of the month. Financial literacy also means knowing what a reliable cushion of cash looks like so you never creep towards that $0 balance in checking, which puts you at risk of additional fees and penalties. 

Four Ways Motorcycle Safety Doesn’t Compromise Fun

Feeling the wind as you ride your motorcycle down a winding mountainside can certainly be exhilarating. Riding is an activity that combines mindfulness, adventure, and nature in a way that is uniquely distinct from simply driving a car. Unfortunately, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a motorcyclist who crashes is 30 times more likely to experience a fatal outcome than a motorist who crashes. Here are four ways that bike safety practices create a pleasant experience and don’t compromise on fun. 

A Joy at Any Age 

Motorcycling can be active and thrilling or leisurely and scenic. Regardless of your age, riding your bike can be a wonderful lifelong passion. However, safety measures must be put in place to ensure an injury, or worse, does not prevent you from enjoying your hobby for many years. This means wearing a helmet that meets the DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards of safety. While your head is the most vulnerable part of your body and therefore in need of high-quality protection, it is also important to cover your core and limbs with protective hard materials. Never ride your motorcycle without wearing sturdy closed-toe boots and gloves. 

Customizing Your Gear 

Once you have the appropriate safety gear and protective clothing in mind, you can shop for the best fit and fabric for your needs. This can be an exciting process as you select items that represent you, while also maintaining the appropriate level of protection. Common fabrics for motorcycle jackets, pants, and suits include Kevlar, Cordura, Lycra, leather, thick denim, and more. For warmer weather climates, vent panels may be included in your attire to allow for aerodynamic cooling. Helmets can contain radios and Bluetooth headsets so you can communicate with a passenger or rider in your group. 

Safety Course Completion Discounts 

A big perk that can bring a smile to any biker’s face is the discounts that many dealerships and manufacturers offer for riders who complete their safety and handling course. If you are loyal to a particular brand, or simply wanting to try an updated model, this is a great way to get to know your new bike in a safe environment while receiving a discount. These courses will often teach you about your state’s laws that apply to motorcyclists. Some courses may even teach you how to maneuver and handle your specific bike in potentially dangerous situations. 

Share Your Passion 

If your bike allows for two passengers, this can be an exciting way to travel. Whether it is with your partner, spouse, child, or close friend, you want your loved one to be protected at all times. Any time someone asks to ride along with you, be sure they are also wearing the proper protective gear and clothing. If they do not have even one of the required pieces, tell them you would love to take them on a ride when they can be protected. As the driver, it is your responsibility to communicate safe motorcycle habits to your passengers, and it makes the trip more enjoyable for them as well. Even a tiny pebble or insect can cause extreme pain and damage when you are cruising at 60 miles per hour. You want to share this passion with them, and ensuring they have a safe experience is the best way to help them share your love for the open road.  

The most vital protection for yourself will always be what is protecting you at the moment an accident occurs. Even for those who take every safety precaution, injuries and collisions may still be unavoidable. Make sure you have high-quality motorcycle insurance to protect you as a driver. Speak to your insurance agent about the best possible coverage for your needs and take your joyride with confidence and peace of mind. 

Why and How You Should Create a Home Inventory for Insurance Purposes 

Most people have heard that they should keep inventory of the things they own in their home, but very few actually do. And those that do, rarely have one that is kept up-to-date. The good news is that putting together an inventory isn’t hard. It’s just very time consuming to make a list of everything you own and document what it is worth. However, if anything were to ever happen to your home, you’ll be glad you spent a few hours documenting so you get reimbursed for everything at its worth.  

Why You Need to Take a Home Inventory  

Take a few minutes to try to make a list of your belongings without looking around your house. Would you be willing to bet that you can remember everything in the event of a disaster or burglary? Odds are, you’re going to forget a few things and not get reimbursed for them. If anything were to happen to your home or possessions, a home inventory can help you be fairly compensated for your lost items. In most cases, you can just tell the insurance company that you lost certain things, but if they don’t have a specific model number of the item, you’ll be reimbursed for the cheapest version. A home inventory can also help you decide how much coverage you need. If you find that you don’t have many expensive items, you wouldn’t need as much coverage as you would if you collected a lot of valuable things.  

How to Create Your Home Inventory 

The key to putting together a good inventory of your home is to document thoroughly. It starts with a list. Move from room to room throughout your home to take note of everything you own, including items in your attic, basement, garage, and shed. You can either take pictures of each item, or even better, take video for proof of ownership. While recording the video or taking pictures, just make sure that any serial numbers are visible and that you also record any receipts you still have for the item.  

Aside from the visual inventory, you should also gather other documentation to help the claims process such as:  

  • Receipts 
  • Credit card statements 
  • Other transaction documents 
  • Appraisals (include the appraiser’s name and address) 

If you have a receipt to show proof of purchase, you will often be reimbursed for the amount you paid for the item. Also take advantage of apps such as Sortly that you can download to help make taking inventory a little easier. If you want to avoid such technology, you can create your own system by using a spreadsheet to document the item, description of the item, cost, serial/model number, and anything else you think useful. Whichever method you choose, just make sure you scan your receipts in just so you have a backup. Otherwise, if your house catches on fire or other catastrophe happens, those receipts won’t be there when you need them. 

What You Should Keep Track Of 

It would be unreasonable for you to document literally everything you owned down to your toothbrush. That’s why you should start with your most prized and expensive items. Carefully document items such as TVs, DVD players, cameras, furniture, and jewelry. The best way to do this besides taking pictures is by taking video. Start at one end of the house and video everything of importance in detail (make sure model numbers and any receipts you may have are visible) and do a broad video scan of areas such as your cabinets and closet for a general idea of lower priced items you own.  

Once you’ve created your home inventory, make sure to update it as you acquire or get rid of items over time. An outdated inventory won’t be very useful to you if you buy several high-priced items right before disaster strikes your home. The most important thing to remember is that once you make your home inventory, make sure that it is stored or backed up somewhere besides your home, preferably somewhere that can never be destroyed. If you have any questions about what is covered under your insurance policy, give your agent and they’ll be glad to help you out. 

Rebuilding Your Business After a Natural Disaster 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never recover and re-open their doors after a disaster. It is in the best interest of your business to maintain both adequate insurance coverage and a disaster recovery plan so you’re prepared to bounce back when Mother Nature comes calling.  

In 2019, there were 14 major weather climate disasters that totaled community losses exceeding $1 billion in the United States. This included flooding, tornado outbreaks, hail storms, droughts, wildfires, and tropical storms. If you find yourself in need of rebuilding after a similar event, it’s important to:  

Stay on a short timeline. 

If you’re a small business, you’ve got to communicate your closure to customers, employees, and stakeholders, then find a way to re-open within five days if you want to preserve the chance you will still be in business in a year. Penning a plan for a course of action for if your business becomes nonoperational due to disaster is key. This includes a plan to protect assets and access important documents such as insurance policies, hardware inventory including serial numbers, business contracts, and employee records. 

Document all damage. 

Your disaster response plan should indicate which individual within the company is responsible for photographing, videotaping, and documenting physical damage to property to assist with an insurance claim. 

Contact your insurance representative immediately. 

A delay in communication can mean a delay in financial assistance, and a timely reopening is crucial to protecting the odds of your business making it long-term. 

Take advantage of offerings from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA). 

The SBA Office of Disaster Assistance offers low-interest loans for repairing or replacing real estate, inventory, machinery and equipment, and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in an event that has been declared a disaster. 

Check your air quality. 

Mold can grow anywhere oxygen and moisture are present. If your building hasn’t had the humidity under control for a few days, you haven’t had maintenance services, appliances haven’t been properly vented, or your roof has been leaking, you’ll want to make sure your work environment is safe for employees to return. 

If necessary, move to an alternate location with access to duplicate data. 

It’s more important that you continue operations than it is you wait to re-open operations at your current location. The more contact you can maintain with your customer base and employees, the better. Operating on a virtual server (also known as cloud hosting) or having access to a back-up of all company data off site can make this possible when necessary. This will allow your company data to be accessible from anywhere, rather than only at your original location. 

Communicate your priorities to your employees. 

First and foremost, take care of your people. You want your employees to hear that their safety is of utmost importance, whereas computers and carpet can be replaced. Keep in mind the financial strain a lapse in pay can cause an individual, and work to create a team mentality that despite the current struggle, the goal is to continue operations–or re-open as quickly as possible–for long-term success. The state may provide temporary assistance for employees who need support during the transition. 

How to Inform Your Kids About Fire Safety  

Letting your little ones know the importance of being safe when a fire breaks out is imperative but can also be daunting. Such a serious subject can either be too much for them to handle, or it might go right over their heads. So how do you discuss the subject with them the right way? While there is no one solution, here are some tips to make the situation a little easier. 

When Is the Right Time? 

The first question you are probably asking yourself is when exactly should you inform your kids about the dangers of fire. Our suggestion is to have this discussion when they are old enough to understand that there are right and wrong ways to react in certain situations. Typically, this is when they enter the curious phase where they begin to ask questions in order to understand the world around them. As they grow older and more mature, you can still teach them about the hazards, such as when they begin to cook their own food. At this point they will already have an understanding of what causes fires, but they will need to learn how to extinguish them. From there, they can pass along the information to younger ones themselves. 

Identify the Hazards Together 

Go through your home with your child to point out all the areas and items that are harmful enough to cause a fire. Even if they do not understand the function of the item, they at least need to know that in certain situations, it can cause a fire. While we don’t suggest going into enough detail to seriously scare the child, we do suggest letting them know there can be serious consequences when mishandling the product/item. The goal is to get them to avoid items like: 

  • Aerosol cans 
  • Candles 
  • Electrical cords 
  • Lamps 
  • Irons 
  • Christmas tree lights 
  • And more 

 Teach Them How to React 

Once you have successfully pointed out all or the majority of the hazardous objects, inform the child what they should do if for some reason there is a fire. When something like an item of their clothing is on fire, you should teach them the “stop, drop, and roll” method. Do this demonstration with them a couple of times until they get the hang of it and can perform the movements themselves. Remind them to cover their face and mouth when doing this action.  

Get Creative  

Since a child’s attention span is short, try to switch it up by turning the lesson into a fun game they will want to be a part of. You can do this by having a fire drill every month with different scenarios, even if they are outrageous scenarios, and have a designated area away from your house they can go to in order to remain safe. Get creative with every scenario so that it is not too serious or overwhelming for the child, but enough to where they are truly prepared for what might happen.  

Help Them Understand the Importance of 911 

With any emergency, you will have to call the authorities. Now is a good time to let your child know about this lifeline, and even show them how to call 911 themselves. Stress to them that this is only for emergencies and should not be dialed just for fun.  

As stated earlier, once small children have learned proper fire safety procedures, they can pass them on to others when they get older. This will give you peace of mind when it comes time for you to leave your kids at home by themselves someday. If your home is not insured against fire, get in touch with one of our agents as soon as possible! We can find the right plan for you. 

The ABCs of Airbnb: Prepping Your Home as a Short-Term Rental Space 

Research suggests revenue from short-term vacation rentals will surpass the hotel industry in 2020. In fact, Airbnb reports that on any given night, there are 2 million people staying at one of its properties. If you’re looking to make extra income listing your space with a hosting platform, keep in mind the following tips for preparing well:

A: Adjust Your Security Measures 

If you’re not up for transporting items off property every time you have a renter, select a small bedroom to use for storage. When you’re stepping out so guests can step in, utilize this room–with door hardware that includes a lock and key–to keep pricey and personal items out of sight and out of mind. This may be where you relocate your computer, your laundry, photographs of family (should they want to remain anonymous), and important personal and business paperwork while renters are in your home. Also, consider investing in a Wi-Fi enabled doorbell camera, which will make short recordings of the space immediately outside your door as guests come and go from your property. If you’re willing, you can give your tenants access to the doorbell monitoring via their own smartphones. The added security feature will make your guests feel more secure. 

B: Be Hospitable 

Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends.” Set a tone that will welcome repeat visitors by keeping a binder in the living room with access codes, phone numbers, and restaurant recommendations. You can also include a friendly greeting from you as the property owner, directions to the nearest emergency room, your Wi-Fi password, and perhaps instructions on what to do with the trash before they head back home. Also, be flexible about what you leave in the pantry and fridge. Guests may not realize your Cheese-Itz and Lemon La Croix were not for their consumption. Instead of worrying about whether your snacks get touched while you’re away, consider buying bottled waters and treats you encourage your guests to enjoy while they’re on site.

C: Consider Whether You Are Properly Insured 

It is unlikely your homeowner’s insurance offers you the protection you need when renting out your space on a short-term basis. Here’s why. In a perfect world, your homeowner’s insurance would step in and pay for your legal defense and settlement costs should an accident happen while a renter is in your home. And you may even find that your homeowner’s insurance allows for a one-night-a-year rental for a special event, like should you want to capitalize on your city hosting a major sporting event. However, if you’re renting your property regularly, it may seem to your insurer that you are operating a small business, which excludes you from the coverage you think you have. Landlord insurance may prove equally unhelpful, as that typically applies to long-term rentals alone. Your best coverage options for regularly renting out your home to short-term guests are threefold: You can contact your insurer about your plans and see if your current policy is enough. You can ask about an endorsement to add coverage to your existing policy. Or, you can purchase a business policy such as a bed and breakfast policy.

In addition to understanding your own insurance, look into what claims the hosting platform will cover. Some companies, like Homeaway and Airbnb, will provide you with $1 million coverage in liability insurance. But be sure to read the fine print. Some of these offerings are primary coverage, and some are not, meaning any other liability policy you already hold will also participate should a claim be filed against you. The policies may be intended for injuries a guest incurs while at your home or may also include compensation for damage a guest does to your personal property. Read your contract with the hosting platform carefully to make sure you understand what is included in the basic fee and what perhaps would come at an additional cost. 

How to Save Money on Business Insurance  

The last thing you want to focus on when starting or running your business is what could go wrong. While you aren’t necessarily going to face struggles right away, if you aren’t covered with a good insurance policy, you’ll likely experience some issues down the road. Since running a business is risky, you should plan on being prepared to handle anything that comes up with the proper business insurance policy. But how do you avoid spending too much? Here are some tips that could save you some money on your insurance plan. 

Know What You Need  

Not every business needs the same amount of coverage. It all depends on what your business does and the risks involved. At the minimum, most businesses are required by law to have policies for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance. But that’s just the minimum. When looking at how much coverage you need, you can start by looking at general liability insurance which will cover your business for any third-party damages, legal defense costs, and reputation damage from libel, slander, or copyright infringement. In addition, also consider a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) to cover your business’s property and typically cover more for less money than a general liability policy. Other coverages will depend on the nature of your business, which your insurance agent can discuss with you your options in more detail related to your situation. 

Increase Your Deductible 

For most insurance policies, not just business insurance, you can lower your premium by increasing your deductible. Paying a higher deductible means less money the insurance company will have to pay after you make a claim on your policy. Because of this, insurance companies are willing to offer coverage at a lower price. Your agent will be able to discuss with you whether or not this would be a favorable decision for your business and the pros and cons of each choice.  

Bundle Your Policies  

Bundling your policies means that instead of buying separate policies for every type of coverage you need, you can purchase a package that will offer the same coverage for a lower price. Think of it like going to a restaurant. If you order an entree, side, and drink separately, you’ll end up paying a bit more than if you had ordered the combo that includes those items at a lesser cost. Bundled policies are the “restaurant combos” of insurance.  

Be Safety-Minded 

The higher the risk of injury at your business, the higher your insurance premiums will be. The safer your work environment is, the better deal you’ll get with your insurance. To get a better price, follow all safety recommendations from your insurance company such as enforcing safety precautions to avoid having your premiums raised to cover the extra risk.  

Review and Update Your Coverage Every Year 

As your business changes, so will your coverage needs, which means you should review your policies each year around the time of renewal to see if there are better options for either coverage or price. Also, by reviewing your policy with your agent, they will be able to make sure you aren’t paying for any policies that you may have needed for the previous year but not the upcoming year.  

Consult with Your Independent Agent 

Remember when you are reviewing your policies or looking at what kind of coverage to get for your business, consult with your insurance agent to help you shop for the best deals. They know insurance policies inside and out and will be able to guide you through making the best decisions for your business. If you have any questions or think you could be spending less on insurance for your business, give us a call today. 

Remodeling Your Home? Don’t Forget to Adjust Your Insurance, Too

Homeowner’s insurance is directly linked to the value of your home, and the only way to be confident you have the coverage you need is to be transparent about improvements you’ve made to your property over time. Here’s what to consider before, during, and after a home renovation so you’re covered for during construction and the improvements are protected when you’re done. 

Be clear about which renovations will raise or lower your insurance rates. 

Financial preparation includes not just acknowledging the cost of materials and labor but also acknowledging the fluctuation of your insurance policies to come. An addition, for example, will add square footage and value, which means your home will be more expensive to rebuild, so your premiums will rise. If you’re renovating your garage into a den and kicking your car to the curb, keep in mind the cost of your car insurance may jump a bit since it’s simply riskier to park on the street. In contrast, replacing an outdated HVAC system lowers the risk of an electrical problem, and lower risk typically means lower rates. The same goes for adding a fence around a swimming pool or backyard. 

Before you finalize renovation plans, watch for ways to achieve discounts. 

You may qualify for lower premiums if you add a sprinkler system, update your plumbing or electrical system, add storm shutters, or even simply install stronger doors than you had before. New safety features will lessen your odds of filing a claim in the future, and many insurance plans will acknowledge that with reduced rates. 

Don’t DIY if you’re not qualified to do the work safely. 

Besides the potential to be disappointed in your own craftsmanship, the real risk is potential injury. If friends and family will be on site to help with the project, consider increasing your home insurance’s no-fault medical protection. This will allow an injured assistant to send doctor’s bills straight to your insurance company, which ultimately lowers your chance of a lawsuit. 

Plan for mid-project problems.  

Insurance Journal reported in 2014 that approximately one out of every three house fires can be traced back to contracting professionals working on site. Heat guns used for paint stripping or electrical sockets overwhelmed by power tools can mean disaster. Construction risk can also expand to plumbing pipes cracking under the stress of vibrations being caused by construction. You will want to discuss these potential scenarios with your insurance agent before renovations begin–and then again mid-project as plans evolve–to make sure you understand which party would be liable for each scenario and whether you and your contractor are insured properly to avoid a major financial strain. 

Ask your insurance agent about weather and theft. 

Large renovations are sometimes stalled by acts of nature, sometimes stalled by disappearing acts. If your project is big enough that parts of your home will be covered by a tarp or exposed to the elements, consider a “course of construction policy,” also known as a builder’s risk policy. This will offer protection if you find your home seriously damaged during construction and extends as far as vandalism and theft of construction materials you purchased yourself (think carpet, hardwood, or tile). 

Be careful about gaps in coverage if you’ll be temporarily moving out. 

According to the International Risk Management Institute, homeowner’s policies are really written for homes being occupied by the homeowner. If your renovation is so extensive that you’ll be leaving the premises–or if your construction will cost 10 percent or more of your home’s total replacement value–read your insurance contract carefully. These benchmarks label your project as a “major renovation,” which may limit your coverage or require you to notify the insurance company before construction begins. If you don’t follow the policy’s requirements specifically, you may find that damage during renovations is only covered at replacement cost less depreciation, rather than replacement cost alone. Your best choices in a major renovation may be to add a renovation policy to your existing coverage or add a builder’s risk policy. 

Celebrate the added value to your home. 

Once you’ve planned well, relax and enjoy the process. Ultimately, you’re adding beauty, functionality, and value. As you take photos to share with family and friends, made copies for your insurance files, as it is likely that you will also need to update your catalog of valuable items inside your home as well, especially if you purchased furniture or art. 

 

Understanding the Difference Between Federal and Private Student Loans 

Debt happens. When it comes to pursuing a post-secondary education, loans can be an important means to an end. But before you choose between federal and private loans (or choose a combination of the two), you need to understand the difference and the long-term effect each can have on you and your family’s future. This includes knowing whether it means leaving loved ones in debt should you face a personal tragedy. 

Federal student loans are funded by the federal government. On a federal student loan, the terms and conditions for repayment are based on the law. As a student, you don’t have to start paying on the loan until you graduate, unenroll, or drop your hours to less than half-time. You may also qualify for a subsidized loan if you need the government to take care of the interest on your loan while you are still in school, provided you enrolled in enough credit hours. Federal student loans offer protection for your family after your death. If you pass away, your loan will be “discharged,” meaning dismissed, once proof of death is submitted to the company that handles the billing on your loan (also known as a loan servicer). FORBES magazine warned last summer, however, that not all federal student loans are dissolved so quickly. A PLUS loan taken out by parents, even if forgiven, can still have parents on the hook for paying income taxes on the forgiven loan.

Private student loans are made by a lender, which may include a credit union, a bank, a state agency, or a school. The Office of the U.S. Department of Education clarifies that on a private loan, these terms and conditions are set by the lender and may or may not require you to make payments while still enrolled in school. The interest rate may be fixed or variable and may include a penalty for paying the loan off early. Note that a private student loan is intended only for education; it is not the same as a personal loan, which can be used for home projects or weddings. A private personal loan may include language that excludes the use of the funds for post-secondary education. It is important to note that while private student loans may come with a death and disability policy, the lender may still try to collect from your estate and/or co-signers. Some states are community property states, which means a spouse can be on the hook for student loan debt after your death even if he or she didn’t co-sign on it. The answer to this conundrum is often a term life insurance policy that will cover student loan debt in the event of your death. 

5 Tips for Driving at Night – Insurance repurpose from trucking 

Depending on your job, you may need to do a lot of driving at night. Or perhaps you like to leave in the wee hours to go on family vacation, so you can arrive at a decent time the next day. Some drivers do prefer night driving because the roads are more open. Even so, night driving comes with a lot of setbacks and risks you need to be aware of. With the vision impairments and accidents associated with night driving, drivers should take the following night driving tips into consideration. 

Avoid Overdriving Your Vehicle’s Headlights 

The term “overdriving” refers to when you’re driving so fast that your stopping time is farther than you can see with your headlights. This is dangerous, especially if there are large vehicles like semi-trucks on the road. Make sure that your vehicle’s headlights are clean and have functioning bulbs so their beam of light shines as far as it can. Also, learn your approximate stopping time in relation to how far your lights illuminate in order to avoid overdriving and risking crashing into anything ahead of you.  

Don’t Look Directly at Other Sources of Light 

Oncoming headlights and other bright light sources can end up temporarily blinding you to the road and what’s ahead. Be sure to avoid looking directly at these. When you’re going through lighting changes (from a well-lit, populated highway to one that is much darker) allow your eyes to adjust before increasing the speed at which you’re traveling and use your brights if you’re away from other vehicles. 

Watch Out for Wildlife 

Your headlights can pick up the retinas of animals before your eyes can register their bodies. If you see two small glowing spots in the distance, slow down as much as you can, as an animal is most likely ahead. If the situation calls for you to choose between your safety and the animal’s, choose yours first. But remember that crashing into an animal at a high speed can greatly endanger you and cause serious damage to your vehicle. If you cannot swerve safely, you must slow down significantly.  

Don’t Drive Drowsy  

Driving at night can be tiring. If you aren’t well rested, your driving will inherently become impaired. If you are too fatigued, find a rest stop and take a break, or switch off with another person in the car — night driving is risky enough, so you’ll need all of your alertness to make the trip safely during this time. 

Get Your Eyes Checked 

If you haven’t done so already, it may be beneficial for you to schedule an eye exam. The frequency at which you should get one depends on your age and race. An ophthalmologist should be able to tell you what is recommended for your vision health. 

Remember, traffic accidents and fatalities are greater at night. It’s of the utmost importance that you drive carefully when your vision and driving ability is impaired by the factors of the night. If you need auto insurance, call one of our agents today.