CR's Guide to Getting Better Internet Without Busting Your Budget | Shield Insurance Agency Blog

CR’s Guide to Getting Better Internet Without Busting Your Budget

How to solve WiFi problems and trim your monthly bill. Plus, what CR is doing to get everyone faster, cheaper broadband.

By Consumer ReportsJuly 13, 2021

Over the past 18 months, our home internet connections have helped us reach family, friends, and colleagues. They’ve been both practical tools and a needed source of entertainment during a difficult time.

That may be why 76 percent of Americans agree that internet service is as important as electricity or water, according to a February nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 2,514 U.S. adults (PDF).

But using the internet at home can be frustrating, too, as many people confront dropped video-calls and sputtering movies—along with confusing bills and poor customer service. The good news is that some broadband problems are easy to fix. The following information can help you do that and maybe even help you save a bit of money.

To learn more about the issues that affect internet customers, Consumer Reports is launching a project called Broadband Together along with several other nonprofit organizations to collect and analyze tens of thousands of internet bills. You can read more about the project, and then consider joining the effort by taking an internet speed test, sharing a bill, and providing us with some basic information. 

The information we gather will help us learn how much people are paying in neighborhoods across the country, whether they’re getting what they were promised, and whether prices are fair.

If the internet is glitchy in your home, the first step toward a solution is to pinpoint the problem. And it helps to understand how online material—be it a Netflix show, Zoom call, or social media post—gets to you.

As you can see in the illustration below, movies, email, and other data are funneled by internet service providers (ISPs) through a series of cables and wires to homes with wired service. 

If something’s not working, the problem could lie outside your home and may require a call to the company to fix. Or the trouble could be with your home WiFi network, which distributes information wirelessly to your computers, TVs, and other devices.

Which is it? To figure that out, an easy first step is to test your internet speed.

How to Test Your Speed For Better Internet

It’s useful to know how fast data moves into and out of your home. To find out, you can check your speed at Measurement Lab or Speedtest. With a click or two, you’ll learn your download speed (how fast data such as a movie streams into your home), and your upload speed (how fast data like your end of a Zoom call streams out). The numbers, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), will vary a bit each time. If possible, first run a test with a computer that’s physically plugged into your router using an Ethernet cord. The results may vary a bit each time you run the test. But if the speeds are consistently much slower than the maximum speeds promoted by the ISP for your plan, call the company. Then do the same test wirelessly (over WiFi) throughout the house. If it’s only the WiFi speeds that are slow, focus on your router to find a solution. 

Is Your Service Level Fast Enough?
ISPs generally offer several plans, each promising a different range of speeds—the faster the connection, the more you pay. So which plan is right for you?

It depends on how many people you have at home and what they do online. You need only around 1 Mbps to listen to a Spotify song and 4 Mbps for a Zoom call—but 25 Mbps to watch a 4K movie on Netflix.

The numbers are cumulative. If two TVs are streaming 4K movies at the same time, that’s 50 Mbps.

Every ISP has its own tiers, but you can use the speed ranges below to see where you fit in. Many people may pay for more speed than they really need.

Up to 100 Mbps
This is plenty for two or three people with routine needs. That includes Zoom calls, high-definition movie viewing, and some online game play.

100 to 300 Mbps
These speeds should accommodate even a data-hogging family that plays several 4K movies and taxing online games all at the same time.

300-Plus Mbps
Few households need more than 300 Mbps. If you have internet problems, the solution is probably not to slap down the plastic for your ISP’s priciest superfast service.

Make Your WiFi Better

Let’s say you’ve signed up for the right internet service tier, and your speed testing confirms that your ISP truly is delivering the speeds it has promised. If your internet service is still acting finicky, the problem very likely lies with your WiFi network. You can probably fix things by fiddling with the equipment in your home. Below, CR has four expert tips to help, starting with the simplest and cheapest. And we have more detailed WiFi advice, as well. 

1. Try Moving Your Router
Tempting though it may be to banish your router from public view, exiling it to a cabinet or the outskirts of your home can hinder performance. That forces the WiFi signal to pass through more walls and other barriers, and to cover longer distances, to reach every corner of the house.

Place the router out in the open, away from corners, and high in the room. (The signal tends to be stronger below the router than above it.) Also, locate the router as close as possible to the middle of your home. You may be able to move it yourself, or you might need some help from your ISP or a handy friend.

2. Use an Ethernet Cord
If you’ve ever had a movie night derailed by sputtering WiFi, you know the feeling (major letdown). Need a more stable signal? A $10 or $20 Ethernet cable can save the day, linking a TV, streaming video box, or video game console directly to your router.

3. Use an Inexpensive WiFi Extender
Need to push a WiFi signal a little deeper into your home? A $30 palm-sized WiFi range extender could be the answer. Plug it into an outlet midway between your router and, say, the comfy reading chair in your bedroom, and it stretches the signal. There’s a catch, however: That extended signal can be only half as fast as the rest of your WiFi network, making this a great fix for emails, but maybe not movies.

4. If Needed, Invest in a Mesh Router
If you’re looking to improve WiFi coverage throughout your home, a mesh router system may be the way to go. Unlike a traditional router, which toils away on its own, a mesh router uses multiple units—a hub and one or two satellites—that work together to spread the WiFi network from one end of your abode to the other. If there’s a dead zone in the den, you can move the satellites around to eliminate it. You can also add satellites to broaden the network’s reach. Mesh routers used to cost up to $500, but prices have fallen in the past 15 months. You can now find highly rated mesh routers for less than $200.

Avoid Overpaying

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Best podcasts for when you're on vacation, traveling, or taking a road trip | Shield Agency Blog

Best podcasts for when you’re on vacation, traveling, or taking a road trip

Let these podcasts take you away from it all.

Entertainment > Podcasts

After over a year of isolation, wanderlust is swirling in the air, as many seek safe ways to re-emerge into the world with much-needed vacation or reunion trips. Whatever that re-emergence looks like for you, there’s definitely a podcast that can help heighten the experience.

But make no mistake: mid 2021 is certainly not the wholesale Back To Normal we might’ve hoped for, especially in countries and communities with low vaccination rates. The delta variant of COVID-19 is a real threat for the unvaccinated. The only way to move toward a true return to life before the pandemic is to increase vaccination rates around the globe.

With the right safety measures, though, vaccinated folks are now being given the green light to travel and reconnect with each other in person again. That also means you’re going to need travel-friendly entertainment to keep you company along the way.

As an audio-only medium that doesn’t require eyeballs or even WiFi to enjoy, podcasts make for ideal travel companions. Whether you’re getting to your destination via road trip, train, or airplane ride, a great podcast can make the boring parts of going on vacation more exciting. Even if you’re just taking time off to go on a local stay-cation or far-off hiking trail, you’ll have some free time to kill.

Whatever your travel plans may be, these podcasts can help you kick back, relax, and explore the big wide world. Just be sure to remember to pack your AirPods.

1. Atlas Obscura

What it is: This 15-minute daily travel podcast is home to all the world’s strangest, most unbelievable wonders. Host Dylan Thuras and other Atlas Obscura field reporters transport you to a variety of incredible places around the globe, be it a museum or ancient monument. Listen to the people, stories, and histories that make these amazing destinations ideal spots for the curious traveler.

Why it’s great for vacation or travel: Regain that sense of wanderlust that reminds us why every corner of the globe has a unique adventure worth exploring.

2. Stuff You Should Know

What it is: A favorite of many podcast listeners, the long-running Stuff You Should Know was so popular it spawned its own dedicated network (including other daily podcasts in a similar vein, like Stuff You Missed in History Class.) Since it covers everything under the sun, it’s important to note that hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant admit to not being experts on all these topics. Some with deep knowledge of certain subjects might even find their summaries frustratingly surface level. But they do a great job of at least sparking interest in a lot of important things we should all know about, which hopefully inspires listeners to research beyond what can be tackled in only an hour. [From our Best Daily Podcasts roundup]

Why it’s great for vacation or travel: Regain that sense of wanderlust that reminds us why every corner of the globe has a unique adventure worth exploring.

3. The Experiment

The American experiment, often repackaged as the American dream, is one of the biggest sources of miseducation in our country. In this WNYC Studios and Atlantic collaboration, host Julia Longoria applies the ideals of America’s past that were held to be self-evident, then measures them up against our current reality. Bringing the high ideals of this country’s founding to everyday experiences, The Experiment can even find lessons in trash reality TV shows like 90 Day Fiancé. [From our Best Educational Podcasts roundup]

Why it’s great for vacation or travel: Even if you’re a resident of the country you’re traveling through, there’s still so much to learn about the place we call home.

4. Blood Ties

What it is: Fiction podcasts are going through something of a renaissance lately, with Blood Ties as a great example of the genre’s evolution in the mainstream. While it isn’t “true” crime, the wildly popular mini-series scratches that same itch for an engrossing story. Follow Eleanore Richland (voiced by Community’s Gillian Jacobs) as her annual family vacation turns to catastrophe after her parents’ plane crashes under mysterious circumstances. While the story itself may not be real, the themes certainly apply to the real world, as Eleanore uncovers family secrets that test her ability to stay true to her morals even when it hurts her loved ones.

Be sure to check out the other 18 podcasts in this great article!

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Should You Buy a Refurbished Phone | Shield Insurance Blog

Should You Buy a Refurbished Phone?

A pre-owned model can be a great deal, according to CR members, as long as you know what to look for.

Refurbished phones account for a small fraction of industry sales. But they can be a great option for anyone looking for significant savings—especially these days, when the price of a new model can easily exceed $1,000.

On Apple’s website, for example, you can purchase a refurbished iPhone XR with 128 gigabytes of storage for $470. A new XR with that much space costs $550.

Samsung offers a refurbished Galaxy S20 for $650, and that’s pretty much the only way to get one of those. All three of the S20 models scored well in Consumer Reports’ labs, but they were discontinued earlier this year. Buying the latest version, the Galaxy S21, will cost you $800.

And according to a spring 2018 survey, CR members have been generally satisfied with purchases like those, not to mention their overall shopping experience.

Among the 3,211 people who reported buying a refurbished phone since Jan. 1, 2016, 82 percent said they were highly satisfied with the product.

In fact, in our survey 67 percent of the owners of refurbished phones said they had no complaints. That’s just a hair less than the 69 percent of new smartphone owners who said the same thing.

“People are way more satisfied with refurbished phones than I would have thought,” says Karen Jaffe, who oversaw the refurbished phone survey

Know What You’re Buying

Not every company defines refurbished the same way. The bottom line is that you’re buying a used phone, one that someone probably bought a year or two ago and traded in for a discount on a new device.

The refurbished phones sold by Apple—online and in its stores—are restored with the same replacement parts used in new models, the company says. They come with a new battery, a new outer shell, new cables and accessories, and even a fresh white box.

Samsung uses similar standards for the refurbished phones sold on its website. It promises restoration to “like new” condition and a one-year warranty. 

But refurbished phones offered by other retailers don’t necessarily include new batteries. Only 52 percent of our survey respondents said the model they purchased came with one. Most (89 percent) said the phone came with a charging cord, but far fewer arrived with the earphones originally made by the manufacturer.

So look for products that are “certified pre-owned.” If they don’t meet that standard, ask the vendor for information on its restoration process, specifically whether it includes battery replacement, the standard accessories, and parts supplied by the manufacturer.

Amazon, the Apple Store, Consumer Cellular, and eBay are good places to start shopping. All earned favorable marks for overall satisfaction in our refurbished phone retailer survey.

AT&T and Verizon are among the lower-rated options.

Make Sure You’re Protected

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Get the Most Out of a Tank of Gas Shield Insurance Blog

10 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Tank of Gas

10 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Tank of Gas

Rising gas prices and summer travel highlight the need to squeeze every mile out of a gallon of gasBy Jeff S. Bartlett

Published May 13, 2021 | Updated June 2, 2021

Summer travel season is underway, and gas prices are on the rise. Pump prices over Memorial Day weekend were the highest since 2014, and the current national average is $1.05 above this time last year, according to AAA. Now is as good a time as ever to fine-tune your driving strategies and techniques to maximize your fuel economy and ease the squeeze on your wallet.

Consumer Reports experts pulled together the following series of test-proven tips to help drivers save money.

Fuel-Economy Tips

1. Stay at half: 

Keep at least a half-tank of fuel at all times while there is a risk of shortages. If gas becomes scarce in your area, having gas in the vehicle will give you options. 

2. Check online: 

Apps and websites such as GasBuddy can show local gas prices, making it easy to find good prices in your area or if you need to travel. Generally, gas stations well off major highways and away from city centers tend to have better prices, as do warehouse stores and some major travel centers. 

3. Minimize travel: 

If you can delay errands or other activities, you will preserve the gas that you purchased and reduce overall consumption for the region, helping in some small way to reduce the gas scarcity. 

4. Obey speed limits: 

When you drive, follow the speed limits and drive smoothly. Your driving habits can play a significant role in fuel economy.

A recent CR test shows this: We measured gas mileage while driving at a steady 55, 65, and 75 mph in a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4. We found that reducing speed from 65 mph to 55 mph improved fuel economy by 6 mpg in the Altima and 8 mpg in the RAV4. The penalty of cruising at 75 mph, rather than 65 mph, was almost 7 mpg in the Altima and 6 mpg in the RAV4. Higher speeds exact a toll in fuel consumption. Another way to look at it: Speeding up from 55 to 75 mph is like moving from a compact car to a large SUV. Beyond fuel concerns, speeding is, of course, a safety risk.MORE ON FUEL ECONOMYHow Your Car Can Make the Air CleanerMost Fuel-Efficient CarsMost Fuel-Efficient SUVs

5. Drive evenly: 

Avoid hard acceleration and braking whenever possible. In our tests, frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced an older Toyota Camry’s mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Once up to speed, maintain a steady pace. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use. Unnecessary braking wastes the fuel you used to get up to speed. Drive smoothly and anticipate the movement of traffic. Smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking also extend the life of the engine, transmission, brakes, and tires.

6. Pay attention to aerodynamics:

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Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology Shield Insurance Blog

Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology

Workers Expect Savvy Claims Technology: Here’s How the Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of claims technology, but many tools were already in place and poised for growth.

Even apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a significant year. According to the NOAA, 22 separate weather events including severe storms, wildfires, and cyclones totaled $95 billion in damages.

While many types of insurance bear the brunt of these disasters, workers’ compensation carriers, tasked with critical care needs that affect workers and their families, need special strategies to deliver care when catastrophe strikes.

For many organizations, these strategies utilize technology, built-in redundancies and, stepped-up conveniences like a direct deposit to ensure continuity of care, no matter the weather.

“We have to be ready for it all — hurricanes, floods, fires,” said Mark Bilger, CIO of One Call.

“In general, disaster recovery and business continuity are a staple of well-run IT management for any organization. Specifically, in claims and insurance, it’s heightened because of the critical care for injured workers.”

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, workers’ comp claims teams were challenged with the immediate expansion of remote work, resulting in necessary changes that are likely to endure even after the pandemic concludes.

“Before work from home, One Call had a few concentrated contact centers,” Bilger said.

“After work from home, we look a lot more like the internet. We’re dispersed and we had to make major upgrades to our virtual private network, essentially 10-fold. We went from 1 gigabit to 10-gigabit capacity. We strengthened our endpoint protections and it went from firewalls in our locations to everybody’s home becoming the One Call network.”

This growth in gigabit capacity is not isolated to the workers’ comp industry; reports indicate that pandemic-related growth has resulted in an estimated global wireless gigabit market size of $19 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $70 million by 2026.

In tandem with the global wireless market, gigabit size is the growth of cloud computing. Gartner forecasted 18.4% growth in a 2020 report to a total of $304.9 billion, noting that “the proportion of IT spending that is shifting to the cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.”

Workers Expect Claims Tech

Expectations have been set by regulation and digitization in the 21st Century that even in the wake of a natural disaster, services will continue.

“One of the technology solutions that we have had for a few years but that we pushed during COVID and any other type of catastrophic event is our claimant app, MyCare,” said Michael Jamason, SVP, business operations at CorVel.

“It gives the injured worker the ability to manage their pharmacy information, phone numbers for points of contact regarding their claim, information about payments being made to their accounts, and they can even establish their direct deposit in the app.”

Pharmacy information is especially important during disaster when medications are destroyed due to property damage or lost in an evacuation.

“We were able to utilize our partnership with our PBM to allow people to get early refills, and with mail order, we were able to even change the amounts of medication given,” said Melissa Burke, head of managed care and clinical, AmTrust.

“We expanded into other needs like telemedicine, ensuring that we have different types of providers available. We were able to expand that and ensure access in all of our states where allowed by regulatory governance, including digital doctor networks. Something important there too is transitioning injured employees. Typically a telehealth solution would be either on the frontend or the backend of a claim. We wanted to make sure that we could go back and forth depending on the state of the catastrophe,” Burke added.

Indeed, telemedicine expansion is at the forefront of many workers’ comp claims organizations’ radar. According to Mitchell’s “The Future of Technology in Work Comp 2020” industry survey, “many respondents believe that telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the industry within the next five years (32%), followed closely by artificial intelligence (30%) and predictive analytics (20%).”

The survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely would have boosted telemedicine’s impact on the results due to significant expansions.

For many industry leaders though, the specific technological solution is not as significant as the strategy behind the solutions. “We have to ensure continuity of care and benefits,” said Michele Tucker, CorVel’s VP of EC operations.

“Any interruption — whether it’s a natural disaster or anything else — impacts many lives and families. We’ve been doing some regular testing with payments and system recovery so redundancy is set up, and if we have an office impacted, our system allows for immediate replication and the pickup of services by another office.”

Growth Brings Security Risks

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Shield Insurance Blog | Father's Day Gift Guide

60 Best Father’s Day Gifts

60 Best Father’s Day Gifts for Every Type of Dad

Father’s Day Gifts Ideas: Full of unique ideas to celebrate your husband, dad, grandpa, or another father figure in your life.

Although your dad may say he doesn’t want anything for Father’s Day this year, you know that showing up at his door without a present isn’t a possibility. After all, he’s the guy you looked up to (quite literally) all these years, and it’s only fitting to get him a Father’s Day gift that shows just how much you appreciate him and all that he does for your whole family. Finding the perfect present for your dad is tricky, though: You want to get a unique Father’s Day gift that he’ll use — something that’s meaningful, funny, or a little bit of both.

That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up the best Father’s Day gifts for every kind of father figure in your life, including your stepdad, father-in-law, or grandpa. That’s right, most of these picks work for any of the men in your life, like your brother who just became a new dad or your husband who is the best dad to your kids. Oh, and if you’re shopping for multiple people, we made sure to include plenty of budget-friendly options that will arrive in two days or less, everything from hilarious gag gifts to personalized keepsakes.


This article features a ton of gift ideas with everything from homemade beer to a nifty blue tooth shower speaker. And don’t stop there! More ideas are listed in fresh articles at the bottom of their page….. WOWZA!

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Stop by the Farmers Market in Hudsonville!

TODAY June 2, 2021 9am to 1pm

at the Terra Square

Stop by to meet Joe, Sean and his wife Kat, and register to win a robot vacuum or local gift cards!!

All the details can be found at the Chamber website be sure to check it out and visit the market!


TERRA SQUARE FARMERS MARKET Shield Insurance Agency

The home of Hudsonville’s Farmers Market.
Hudsonville farmers are passionate about bringing the community together over farm fresh produce they have been growing for generations. The Terra Square Farmer’s Market will be a place where we inspire healthy, full, and abundant living. Growing together, food and community.

Click here to visit the web site for all the detais !

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Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award by Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce

Big News from the Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce!

It’s Awards Season!


The Chamber is SO excited to be hosting the Chamber Awards once again this year!

Here are our nominees for the 2021 Awards!

::::: drumroll :::::

Business Excellence Award

  • Hudsonville Physical Therapy
  • Advent Physical Therapy
  • Shield Insurance Agency

Leadership Award

  • Dr. Therese House-Vereeke
  • Patrick Waterman
  • Mary Jane Schreur

Spark Award

  • Hand 2 Hand Ministries
  • Meijer
  • Joy 99

The winners of the Awards will be announced at our official Awards Ceremony MEAL. June 17th at noon at the Pinnacle Center.

Make sure to get registered, we hope to see you there!

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Michigan Tornado Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Michigan Tornado: Be Prepared

Michigan Tornado

On average Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes are known to develop rapidly, with little advanced warning. The average lead time for a Michigan tornado warning is 10 to 15 minutes and winds can reach over 200 mph, which is why Michigan residents are encouraged to prepare and make a plan before a tornado strikes.

Each year during Severe Weather Awareness Week, a statewide tornado drill is held so you can practice your plan.

BE PREPARED:

Terms:

Michigan Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. When there is a Watch, move near enough to a shelter or sturdy building to be able to get inside quickly if there is a Warning or if you see signs of a tornado approaching. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Michigan Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Supercell: A system producing severe thunderstorms, featuring rotating winds sustained by a prolonged updraft that may result in hail or tornadoes.

Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale: Rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada. There are six categories for the EF scale and are in order of increasing intensity. *It is based on wind estimates of a 3-second gust.*

  • EF0: Tornadoes with an estimated wind speed of 65-85 mph and leads to light damage.
  • EF1: Estimated wind speed of 86-110 mph with the potential of moderate damage.
  • EF2: Estimated wind speeds of 111-135 mph with significant damage potential.
  • EF3: Estimated wind speeds of 136-165 mph with severe damage potential.
  • EF4: Estimated wind speeds of 166-200 mph with devastating damage potential.
  • EF5: Estimated wind speeds of over 200 mph with incredible damage potential.

Before a Michigan Tornado:

  • Identify safe rooms built to FEMA criteria or ICC500 storm shelters or other potential protective locations in sturdy buildings near your home, work, and other locations you frequent so you have a plan for where you will go quickly for safety when there is a Warning or an approaching tornado.
  • For schools, malls, and other buildings with long-span roofs or open space plans, or many occupants, ask the building manager to identify the best available refuge. 
  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.  If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.  In an emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.  Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado:

  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!  Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
  • If you are in school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building then:       
    • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room built to FEMA criteria, basement, storm shelter, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a smaller interior room, such as a closet or hallway, that is away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body as best you can e.g., with a heavy coat or blankets, pillows.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Do not open windows.

After The Tornado

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Tips for Cutting Car Insurance Costs Shield Insurance Agency

Tips to cut Car Insurance Costs

15 Tips and Ideas for Cutting Car Insurance Costs

By GLENN CURTIS  Updated Apr 16, 2021

Car insurance is necessary to protect you financially when behind the wheel. Whether you just have basic liability insurance or you have full auto coverage, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible. Wondering how to lower car insurance?

Here are 15 strategies for saving on car insurance costs.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

One of the ways to lower car insurance is through a discount bulk rate for insuring several vehicles and drivers at once.

Lower car insurance rates may also be available if you have other insurance policies with the same company.

Maintaining a safe driving record is key to getting lower car insurance rates.

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?

Car insurance costs are different for every driver, depending on the state they live in, their choice of insurance company, and the type of coverage they have. But when trying to save money on car insurance, it helps to know what the typical driver pays.

On average, the typical person spent $1,190 on car insurance in 2018, based on the latest figures available from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)1. According to the NAIC data, car insurance premiums rose 30% between 2014 and 2018, despite the number of insured vehicles only rising by 7%1.

Data from AAA put the average cost of car insurance for new vehicles in 2020 slightly higher, at $1,202 annually2. The numbers are fairly close together, suggesting that as you budget for a new car purchase you may need to include $100 or so per month for auto insurance.

NOTE

While some things that affect car insurance rates–such as your driving history–are within your control others, costs may also be affected by things like state regulations and state accident rates

.

How to Save on Car Insurance Costs

There are a number of strategies you may use to save on car insurance. Once you know how much is car insurance for you, you can put some or all of these tactics to work.

1. Take Advantage of Multi-Car Discounts

If you obtain a quote from an auto insurance company to insure a single vehicle, you might end up with a higher quote per vehicle than if you inquired about insuring several drivers or vehicles with that company. Insurance companies will offer what amounts to a bulk rate because they want your business. Under some circumstances, they are willing to give you a deal if it means you’ll bring in more of it.

Ask your insurance agent to see if you qualify. Generally speaking, multiple drivers must live at the same residence and be related by blood or by marriage. Two unrelated people may also be able to obtain a discount; however, they usually must jointly own the vehicle.

If one of your drivers is a teen, you can expect to pay more to insure them. However, if your child’s grades are a B average or above or if they rank in the top 20% of the class, you may be able to get a good student discount on the coverage, which generally lasts until your child turns 25. These discounts can range from as little as 1% to as much as 39%, so be sure to show proof to your insurance agent that your teen is a good student.

Incidentally, some companies may also provide an auto insurance discount if you maintain other policies with the firm, such as homeowners insurance. Allstate, for example, offers a 10% car insurance discount and a 25% homeowners insurance discount when you bundle them together, so check to see if such discounts are available and applicable.3

2. Pay Attention on the Road

In other words, be a safe driver. This should go without saying, but in today’s age of increasing in-car distractions, this bears mentioning as much as possible. The more mindful you are, the more accidents or moving violations you’ll be able to avoid—events that raise your insurance rates. Travelers offers safe driver discounts of between 10% and 23%, depending on your driving record.4

For those unaware, points are typically assessed to a driver for moving violations, and more points can lead to higher insurance premiums (all else being equal).

3. Take a Defensive Driving Course

Sometimes insurance companies will provide a discount for those who complete an approved defensive driving course. Drivers may also be able to reduce the number of points they have on their licenses by taking a defensive driving, accident prevention, or other course.

Make sure to ask your agent/insurance company about this discount before you sign up for a class. After all, it’s important that the effort being expended and the cost of the course translates into a big enough insurance savings. It’s also important that the driver sign up for an accredited course. Every state has its own rules about accredited defensive driving courses.

4. Shop Around for Better Car Insurance Rates

If your policy is about to renew and the annual premium has gone up markedly, consider shopping around and obtaining quotes from competing companies. Also, every year or two it probably makes sense to obtain quotes from other companies, just in case there is a lower rate out there.

Remember, cheap doesn’t always mean good, and going with the lower-priced company isn’t always the wisest decision. That’s because the insurer’s creditworthiness should also be considered. After all, what good is a policy if the company doesn’t have the wherewithal to pay an insurance claim?

To run a check on a particular insurer, consider checking out a site that rates the financial strength of insurance companies. The financial strength of your insurance company is important, but what your contract covers is also important, so make sure you understand it. Insure.com’s site bases its insurance company ratings on data assembled by Standard and Poor’s.6

In general, the fewer miles you drive your car per year, the lower your insurance rate is likely to be, so always ask about a company’s mileage thresholds.

5. Use Mass Transit

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