Millions of Americans will do some traveling this holiday season – the majority of it by car. Of course, winter weather creates a unique set of challenges on the roadways, whether you’re simply driving around in Charlotte or headed to see family in Virginia, Atlanta, or going so far as Pennsylvania or Ohio.
At policyline insurance, we’d like to help you not only enjoy your holiday season, but help ensure you’ll be around for future holidays, too! So please take these winter-travel safety tips to heart.
Prepare your car for winter:
Before leaving on your trip in North Carolina, give your car a thorough check-up. Do wipers need to be replaced? Are your fluid levels where they should be? Your tires need to be in good shape for driving on wet or snowy roads, and be sure your radiator and cooling systems are up to snuff. And – we know you’ve heard this before, but bear with us – your car should have an emergency kit. Pack it with jumper cables, blankets, a first-aid kit, flares, food and water, a flashlight and other safety gear. A shovel and cat litter or sand (to provide traction should you get stuck in snow or ice) are good ideas as well.
Before you leave:
Know exactly where you’re going, with printed maps, and check weather conditions along your planned route. Let someone know your itinerary, so if you don’t arrive on time, officials know where to look for you. If your car has snow or ice on it, make sure it is completely cleared off before you depart. Don’t forget to clear your headlights and other lights, along with the roof – ice and snow blowing from your car could create a hazard for other drivers.
When you’re on the road:
Are roads snowy or icy? Take it slow. Take it slow. Take it slow. Sorry for repeating ourselves, but it’s absolutely vital to, yes, take it slow. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, and make sure you leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road. Watch for ice patches on bridges, overpasses and shady spots. Remember, having four-wheel or all-wheel drive does not mean your car will stop or steer better on ice.
If you’re caught in a storm that seems like it’s too much for you to handle, seek refuge as soon as you can. Of course, sometimes it’s best not to drive in snow and ice at all – stay home if you can.
If your vehicle becomes disabled:
Nobody wants to think about being stranded on the side of the road in a storm, but it happens to thousands of people every year. If your vehicle is disabled, be sure to stay with it. Run your engine and heater for short intervals, and open one of your windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Light two flares (remember that vehicle emergency kit? Now’s the time to use it) and place one a safe distance from both the front and rear of your vehicle. Note your location with mileposts, exit numbers or cross-streets and call the authorities or a tow truck.
We hope you enjoy your holidays with friends and family, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year!
Now that summer’s over and the weather is cooling down, it’s time to think about pulling your boat out Lake Norman and putting it away until next year.
As you begin to prepare your boat for the winter, take the time to make sure it still has the right insurance protection. After all, we here at policyline insurance want to make sure you’re ready for the next boating season! (And maybe, just maybe, you’ll also be ready to invite your favorite insurance agent out for a day on the lake. Just a thought.)
First things first: Insurance
If you have a small boat with limited power, you may have some coverage under your North Carolina homeowners or renters insurance policy. If you aren’t sure, please check with us. Of course, larger and faster boats, along with personal watercraft, require their own policies. And we can help with those, too!
But do you even need boat insurance during the offseason when your boat won’t even be in the water? Well, that depends. Keep in mind that your boat can still be damaged no matter where it is. Often, damage from fire and theft isn’t covered unless you have a watercraft policy. And there always is the chance that we could get a streak of great weather in November that lures you to take the boat out on Lake Norman for a day or two! There are plenty of reasons to keep year-round coverage, but if you have questions about seasonal policies, give us a call: 1-800-725-POLICY. (1-800-725-7654)
And while you’re thinking about insurance, consider your current watercraft coverage. Is your boat older? It might be time to move to cash-value coverage instead of agreed value. Do you have a lot of expensive fishing equipment? Make sure you have enough optional coverage so your gear isn’t at risk. You might also want to consider uninsured boater coverage and a personal umbrella policy, which provide more liability protection than a standard watercraft policy.
And remember, you might be able to save money on your insurance by taking a boating-safety course, increasing your deductible or bundling your policies with one company.
Now: A different kind of protection
After you’ve squared away protecting your boat with the right insurance options, it’s time to think about protecting your boat in a more literal sense – by properly preparing it for winter. Below are some general tips to follow, but, of course, you should check your owner’s manuals for manufacturer recommendations.
Follow manufacturer instructions when winterizing your engine, but you’ll want to flush the engine with fresh water and make sure to drain fuel from the carburetor to prevent a build-up of deposits. Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate cylinder walls and pistons.
Do a thorough inspection and remove plant life or barnacles from the lower unit. Drain the gear case and clean the lower unit with soap and water.
Fill your fuel tanks to avoid a buildup of condensation and add fuel stabilizer, following the product instructions.
Fresh water system
Drain the fresh water tank and water heater, and pump a nontoxic antifreeze into the system. Then, turn on all faucets until you see the antifreeze coming out.
Remove all valuables from the boat. Clean drawers thoroughly, and turn cushions on their edges to allow air to circulate. Clean the refrigerator and freezer.
Cover it up!
A cover will keep your boat clean and protect it from water and UV rays, which can break down hoses and fade upholstery.
Now, with your boat safely stowed, you can focus on your other toys this winter. Snowmobiles, anyone?