Author: Stephen Vick

5 Ways to Help Teen Drivers Succeed

Learning to drive is a summer rite of passage for many teenagers. It’s also a chance for parents to truly make a difference in their child’s life. By instilling smart habits from the beginning, you’ll be helping to keep them (and everyone on the road) safer overall.

Are you getting ready to help your teenager become the best driver they can be?

Here are four key things to keep in mind (and one thing we should all remember):

Take It Slow

Just because a teenager is old enough to get their permit or license doesn’t make them automatically ready to get behind the wheel. Before they start their lessons, take the time to discuss expectations, quiz them on driving laws and then move forward at the right pace for everyone.

Explain the Insurance Fundamentals

Learning to drive also means learning about adult responsibilities like insurance. Go over the essentials and walk through a few scenarios they may encounter. What’s a premium? What should they do if they get into a fender bender? How much is the deductible on the car they’ll be driving?

Discuss Other Costs

Will your teen be expected to cover gas for themselves? What about maintenance? Whether they’re borrowing your car a few times a week or taking over your hand-me-down, be clear about who will be paying for what.

Keep Talking

Most importantly, make sure you continue to have honest conversations about boundaries, curfews, peer pressure and responsibility. Emotions can run high around these issues, but helping your kids stay safe is what’s most important.

Set a Good Example

Finally, here’s something we should all keep in mind: Are you demonstrating solid driving habits yourself? Follow the speed limit, use turn signals and don’t text and drive. If you’re not following rules and prioritizing safety, you’re putting everyone on the road in danger.

Do you have questions about adding a driver to your policy or anything else? Reach out today to one of our team members at Vick Insurance Group. You can also find us online via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


FAQs About Pets and Home Insurance

Your dog just took down the neighbor’s fence while chasing a squirrel (and your neighbor isn’t happy). Will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? The short answer is, “it depends.”

Policy coverage and exclusions can vary, and when important factors like pets are involved, the fine print matters.

Want to know more? Here are a few common questions about pets and home insurance.

Does your policy cover damage caused by pets?

Many home insurance policies do not cover damage your pets cause to your own property — like a torn sofa or broken TV. However, liability insurance may cover damage your pet does to other people’s property.

What if your dog bites someone on your property?

Most home liability policies offer coverage for damage a person may suffer on your property, including dog bites (up to a certain limit and provided you’ve disclosed you have a dog). Note that after the first dog bite, you may face additional exclusions.

Are different breeds treated differently?

Some insurance policies may offer limitations on coverage if you have what is considered a high-risk breed. When you share what kind of pet you have we can let you know what to expect.

Are backyard animals covered?

Home insurance policies don’t provide coverage for damage your pets, including backyard animals like goats or chickens, cause to your property. However, liability coverage may still apply (with some limitations).

Will your home insurance pay your pet’s medical bills?

Unfortunately, you’re likely on your own for your pet’s medical bills even if they are hurt during a covered incident (like breaking through your neighbor’s fence).

Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime to one of our team members at Vick Insurance Group.


5 Ways to Help Prevent Water Damage

Water damage doesn’t always reveal itself right away. But over time, a small hole in your roof or a slowly leaking pipe can easily lead to big problems and expensive repairs.

With smart habits and a few check-ins a year, however, you can limit the chances of costly damage and annoying cleanup.

Want to keep your home in good shape? Here are five simple steps to minimize the risk of water damage.

1. Care for Your Roof and Gutters

An annual roof inspection is a must. It’s also important to patch holes, replace missing shingles and keep gutters debris-free to direct rain and ice away from your home. Keep downspouts far enough away from the house to ensure good drainage.

2. Keep Your Pipes in Good Shape

Insulate your pipes and check on them regularly to keep tabs on signs of weakness or leaks. Have a plumber inspect your water lines every few years. Also avoid using hard drain cleaners, which damage pipe interiors and make them more susceptible to cracks and breaks.

3. Watch Those Windowsills

Is the caulk around your windows discolored? Is condensation appearing on the inside of the windows or along the frames? Maintaining these areas helps keep moisture out and can also boost your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Install Flood and Moisture Sensors

Smart homes can include simple sensors that alert you to moisture buildup and flooding in high-risk areas like the basement, laundry area and kitchen.

5. Test the Sump Pump

If you have a sump pump that pushes water away from your home, inspect it annually to make sure it’s working properly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Have questions about water damage or anything else? Reach out to one of our agents at Vick Insurance Group to discuss your policy.


4 Driving Mistakes to Watch Out For

You’re driving to work when your favorite podcast suddenly stops playing. You know you shouldn’t look at your phone, but you hate sitting in silence during your commute. What do you do?

Do you glance around for cops, then tap around on your phone until the story starts up again? A lot of us do this — but it isn’t the safest choice.

Beyond breaking the bad habit of distracted driving, here are four more behind-the-wheel behaviors to leave behind.

1. Don’t rely too much on fancy technology. If we let ourselves become less engaged drivers because we’re expecting blind-spot notifications and attention assist to save us when we’re tired or preoccupied, we aren’t really any safer. Continue your same careful driving habits and let these innovations give you an extra boost.

2. Don’t assume other drivers are paying attention, well rested or sober. Learn to spot the signs of impairment: wandering out of their lane, swerving, erratic braking, inconsistent speed and getting too close to other cars or objects. Keep a safe distance from these potentially dangerous drivers.

3. Don’t let your insurance make you complacent. Even if your collision deductible is low, don’t let your guard down. Dealing with car repairs and the other driver after an accident — not to mention the injury risk — probably isn’t worth it.

4. Don’t neglect routine maintenance. Overheating, breaking down or blowing a tire can be terrifying and dangerous. Fortunately, these problems can often be prevented with regular maintenance. Check your tire pressure and fluids monthly and have a trusted mechanic inspect your car thoroughly once or twice a year.

Have questions about your auto coverage? Reach out today to discuss your policy with one of our team members.

Be sure to also check us out on our social media sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


Need a good reason to organize your home?

You’ve probably heard a lot about “decluttering” lately. Sure, it seems better to live in a tidy and streamlined home that isn’t crowded with stuff, but is it really worth the trouble to be that organized?

Here’s one thing you may have overlooked: Organizing your home could actually save you money.

Intrigued? Find out how cleaning up can be a budget-friendly move:

Uncover Hidden Belongings

Think about all the boxes, crates and bins crammed into your closets, garage or attic. If you had a break-in or a fire, would you even know what’s been stolen or lost?

Keep things organized and avoid loss by doing a home inventory, taking photos of valuables and choosing sturdy, weatherproof storage containers. You’ll probably discover a few items to sell or donate during this process, too.

Prioritize Safety

In addition to making it hard to find what you’re looking for, keeping piles of stuff around can actually be unsafe. Stacks of mismatched boxes can easily topple over, overstuffed cabinets can limit access to fire extinguishers, and obstructed doors and windows block airflow and fire exits.

Thinning out and organizing your stuff can minimize the chance of personal injury and damage to your belongings, which can both be expensive and frustrating.

Avoid Repairs

Finally, taking the time for routine maintenance can help keep insurance costs low and help avoid having to make costly repairs. Go the extra mile by creating a reminder system to help you stay on top of things like changing the batteries in your smoke alarm, replacing air filters and regularly checking on the health and cleanliness of your appliances.

Want more money-saving ideas or have questions about your insurance? Reach out today to one of our team members.

Be sure to also check out some of our other Vick Insurance Group media on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


How should you handle a fender bender?

Would you know what to if you were involved in a fender bender?

Even if the damage doesn’t seem significant, you might have a time-consuming and stressful process ahead of you and it’s important to proceed carefully.

If it’s a serious wreck, call 911. Otherwise, here’s what to keep in mind in the event of a minor accident.

What should you do at the scene? 

If you accidentally bump another car (or if they bump you), here are a few steps to take:

  • First, make sure everyone is okay. Then, if it’s safe, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic.
  • Even if the damage seems minimal, call the police.
  • Exchange information with the other driver, including full name, phone number and insurance details.
  • Take photos of the vehicles involved and document the location, road conditions, the weather and any other relevant details about the scene.
  • Were there any eyewitnesses? Try to take their names and contact information, as well.
  • When the police arrive, be direct and polite. Make sure you gather their names, badge numbers and contact details and ask about obtaining a copy of the accident report.

It’s also important to contact your insurance company, so reach out as soon as you can to let us know what happened. We’ll walk you through the next steps, start the claim process and guide you through any necessary repairs that need to be made.

What if the other driver leaves the scene?

If the other driver doesn’t cooperate, doesn’t share their information or refuses to stop altogether, you should still stop and call the police. Try to remember as many details as you can (the color, make and model of the car, details from the scene, etc.) and share them with the police.

If you have any questions about how to handle a fender bender or any other claim, reach out to one of our team members today at www.vickinsurancegroup.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Smart Ideas for a Safe and Happy Winter

Winter is known for being a time of celebration, family gatherings and staying cozy by the nearest fireplace. It’s also a season of potential challenges when it comes to your home, vehicle and health.

Want to keep the season as festive and problem-free as possible? Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the rest of 2019 and beyond:

At Home

It’s good advice for any time of the year: Give your home a thorough once-over and complete the maintenance tasks that can prevent you from having to make expensive repairs later on. This includes:

  • Examining your roof and gutters and looking for any leaks or obstructions
  • Trimming dying tree branches or those that are too close to your house (or your neighbor’s)
  • Checking the bulbs in your outdoor lighting
  • Insulating pipes in unheated areas and inspecting your windows and doors for any areas that need recaulking or new weatherstripping

On the Road

Winterize your car by checking all its vitals:

  • The battery
  • Tire tread and pressure
  • All fluids, including antifreeze

It’s also wise to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, especially during the winter. A flashlight, blankets, portable phone charger, first-aid kit, extra batteries and a small supply of food and water are safety must-haves.

Health and Safety

Last but not least, take good care of your family and yourself during cold and flu season by getting a flu shot, washing your hands often and regularly wiping down commonly used items like light switches and remote controls.

And whether you’re getting your home ready for colder weather or the upcoming holidays, always exercise caution when using ladders, power tools, fireplaces and candles.

Want more tips before the upcoming new year? Need to discuss your coverage? Reach out to one of our team members anytime. Stay connected with us through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


4 Wasteful Habits to Watch Out For

No one likes to feel like they’re being wasteful. Luckily, you don’t have to radically transform your lifestyle to feel better about your everyday consumption and spending habits.

Want to make a few easy changes? Here are some tips to help you stick to your budget, minimize your environmental impact and save yourself time and stress:

Spend Less Time Behind the Wheel

Between gas costs and regular maintenance, cars can be a real cash drain. Consider taking public transportation or carpooling to save. If your employer allows it, working remotely can also help you cut down on your driving time.

Don’t Overbuy at the Grocery Store

How often do you toss spoiled fruits and veggies into the trash? Shop smarter by creating a grocery list based on three to five meals you know you’ll have time to prepare (and then don’t buy beyond that). It also pays to look at ads in advance to see which pantry items are on sale.

Cut Back on Recurring Subscriptions

It seemed like a good idea to spend $20 a month for unlimited car washes, but you haven’t gone in months. Are you getting enough value from your music and TV streaming subscriptions? What about that meal kit service? It pays to regularly review recurring charges like these to see which ones are really worth it.

Turn Off Energy Hogs

Unplug – don’t just turn off – the devices you aren’t using, like the gaming computer in the spare bedroom or the big-screen TV. And the next time you’re ready to upgrade your appliances, check with your utility company: some offer rebates for energy-efficient models.

Choosing the right insurance policy is also a great way to save. Reach out today to one of our team members at Vick Insurance so we can take a closer look at your coverage and make sure you’re not overpaying.

Check out some of our other Vick Insurance Group media on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Try These 4 Tips to Reduce Your Costs

Do you wish you had more control over certain things, including your auto insurance premium?

It’s true that many factors can’t be changed, like your age or how many years of driving experience you have. But with a little effort, you might be able to influence other factors (and potentially lower your premium).

Here are four steps you can take that might help you save a little money on your policy.

1. Follow the Rules of the Road

Even a minor traffic violation can increase your premium. It’s crucial to buckle up, slow down, keep your eyes off your phone, and when possible, avoid the path of dangerous and distracted drivers. Parking in safe areas is helpful, too.

2. Make Smart Financial Choices

It may surprise you, but your credit score can often have an impact on your premium. A higher score may predict less future risk, so try to stay out of debt and avoid making late payments.

3. Don’t Claim the Small Stuff

A long history of insurance claims or gaps in coverage are red flags that typically cost you. Consider taking care of small claims on your own (especially when the repair costs are lower than your deductible) and maintain continuous coverage.

4. Check In Annually

It pays to review your coverage every year or after a significant life event. We can look at possible bundling options and discounts for factors like safe driving.

Need to check in? Have questions about how to reduce your costs? Reach out anytime to one of our team members. Also find us on our social media Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


4 Common Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve spent three months looking over paint swatches and now you’re finally ready to make a decision. But as soon as you finish the first coat of Blue Marlin, you’re wishing you had gone with Iceberg instead.

Paint is pretty easy to change. But other home updates can cost you more than just a lost weekend. Take a look at these common remodeling mistakes before you start your next project:

1. You Underestimate the Timeframe

It was supposed to take one afternoon to install the new plank-style wood flooring in your bedroom. Now you’re sleeping in the living room and your project is far from complete.

The Takeaway: Be realistic from the beginning and allow yourself plenty of time to deal with unforeseen challenges.

2. You Cut Corners on Materials

You’re heartbroken to learn that the 99-cent backsplash you found is hard to install and not very durable. It didn’t take long to crack one of the tiles.

The Takeaway: Keep quality in mind, read consumer reviews and don’t let thriftiness cloud your vision.

3. You Should Have Hired a Professional

Building a new set of front entrance stairs seems manageable according to the YouTube videos you’ve watched. But before you know it, you’re in way over your head.

The Takeaway: When a project involves heavy lifting or specific skills, it’s best to turn to a pro for help.

4. You End Up Going Way Over Budget

You just wanted to pull out some old carpet in the basement and add a simple wall. Now, you’re waterproofing and managing mold (and you surpassed your budget several days ago).

The Takeaway: A thorough inspection from a trusted contractor can reveal the true scope of the work that needs to be done.

Have questions about your homeowners coverage or how it might change if you remodel? Reach out to one of our team members today at www.vickinsurancegroup.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.