Spring Home Maintenance

Spring brings great weather and beautiful scenery, but it also presents some unique home maintenance issues that should not be overlooked. These tips from Phoenix, AZ, Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance can help you keep your home up to date, safe, and secure.

Spring Home Care Tips

  • Rake up the yard debris. Fall is not the only time of year for raking, clear out any debris to allow the new spring grass to grow.
  • Spread weed and feed on the yard. It only takes a season for the weeds to overpower the grass but applying weed and feed can keep the lawn green and home values stable.  
  • Check the gutters for debris before the April showers arrive. A clogged gutter can mean rain water getting into the roof if every things is not perfect, don’t take the risk.
  • Inspect the concrete for cracks and damage. Spring is a good time to clean and seal any exposed concrete around the home, to ensure stability and longevity.
  • Check the roofing materials. If shingles come up or metal is rusted you need to know immediately so you can repair the damage long before it becomes structural.
  • Change HVAC filters. Do this in the spring to maximize allergen protection.

Keeping your home in tip-top shape is not just about looking good it is about a healthy environment and saving money on your investment. It is important to stay on top of any issues before they become permanent damages. Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance can help you with anything that does go wrong in Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding areas. Some emergencies cannot be prevented but the peace of mind knowing you are fully insured is as much of a protection as keeping your home maintained each season.


How do Multiple Drivers Affect an Auto Policy?

There are a wide range of things that can affect your auto insurance policy and multiple drivers is one of them. For those in the Phoenix, AZ area, the agents with Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance can help you find out just how having more than one driver can affect your policy.

For starters, having more than one driver is going to affect your policy in one of two ways, it will either help to lower your policy costs or it will raise them. The reason that it might help reduce costs is if the driver is over a certain age and they are listed as the primary policy holder. Those over the age of 50 are going to have much better rates than someone that is 19.

The reason that drivers on your policy may raise your premiums is if they are under the age of 25. Younger drivers are almost always considered high risk which means that they are going to cost more to insure due to lack of driving experience. You can ask your agent about any raises or lowers costs to get a better idea.

Unlike multi-car policy discounts, you are unlikely to get discounts due to adding more drivers to your policy. If you add more drivers and more cars you can get a multi-car discount to help reduce the overall cost of your policy. No matter how many drivers you have on your policy, the main factors that are going to affect cost are their driving record and their age.

For those in the Phoenix, AZ area, the agents with Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance can help to better explain to help you understand your policy better and how your drivers are going to affect your overall costs.

Tips to Help Prevent Your Car From Being Stolen

Lock It up

Whether you are parked in your own driveway or on a busy city street, lock your car every time that you get out of it. While this seems like pretty basic advice, many people do not bother to lock their doors and windows. It is very easy to become complacent especially in your own driveway. But, the fact is that thieves usually look for the easiest target. If your door is unlocked, you might as well just hand your keys over to thieves.

Do Not Tempt Criminals With Eye-Candy

Leaving your brand new iPhone laying on your dash screams “go ahead and steal me”. Even small things, such as loose change, are often enough to tempt a thief.  It is best to leave valuables at home but if you cannot do so, make sure that they are well out of sight.  Valuables not only include tablets and phones but paperwork, as well. Leaving important paperwork in plain sight may be enough to make you a target for identity theft.

Park smart

Not only is it important to park in a well-lit area to avoid theft, but parking close to building entrances and near security cameras can help increase security. Make sure that you also park in an area that has a lot of foot traffic as criminals tend to avoid places where there are a lot of people.

For more information about automobile safety, contact Schaller & Thomas Family Insurance, serving the Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria and Sun City, Arizona area.

Why Your Extra-Safe Car Costs More to Insure

High-tech collision-prevention systems on cars help prevent crashes but cost a lot to repair

By Christina Rogers and Leslie Scism

April 3, 2017

The Wall Street Journal

New cars loaded with high-tech crash-prevention gear are having a perverse effect on car-insurance costs: They are soaring.

Safety features such as autonomous braking and systems to prevent drivers from drifting out of their lanes are increasingly available on vehicles rolling off assembly lines. Auto companies and third-party researchers say these features help prevent crashes and are building blocks to self-driving cars. But progress comes with a price.

Enabling the safety tech are cameras, sensors, microprocessors and other hardware whose repair costs can be more than five times that of conventional parts. And the equipment is often located in bumpers, fenders and external mirrors—the very spots that tend to get hit in a crash. Insurance companies, unwilling to shoulder all the pain, are passing some of the cost off to buyers.

Jeff Woods, a professor in Illinois, recently bought a 2017 Volkswagen Passat to replace a two-year-old model. It was loaded with so-called active safety equipment. So he wasn’t expecting his State Farm insurance policy to spike 20% to $1,200 a year.

“I was told by the car dealership all the technology would improve the cost of insurance,” Mr. Woods said. “Instead, it went up.” Volkswagen AG declined to comment on Mr. Woods’ experience but said it is “proud to offer advanced-safety technology systems on our vehicles.”

Insurance sticker shock is a blow to auto makers looking to increase adoption of high-tech safety packages, which can add thousands of dollars to the price of a new car and deliver significantly higher margins than other options.

At present, though, only a fraction of buyers opt for the technology, often known as “advanced driver assistance systems,” or ADAS. As a result, replacement parts are disproportionately expensive.

About 14% of vehicles sold in the 2016 model-year were equipped with collision-mitigation technology, according to WardsAuto.com. Some insurers estimate 25% to 50% of all vehicles on the road will have to have forward-collision prevention systems before accident rates decline enough to offset higher repair costs.

At present, it costs $166 to fix a conventional left mirror on a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML350, according to Allstate Corp., but the repair bill balloons to $925 for that mirror with collision-avoidance technology. A tech-equipped mirror on a Lexus RX 350 is $840, more than double the $390 for a mirror without the tech.

An industry alliance representing a dozen auto manufacturers declined to comment on repair costs. Several auto makers said safety is a top priority, and while new parts are expensive at first, they tend to fall over time.

Owners of ADAS-equipped cars aren’t the only ones footing the bill. Liability insurance is on the rise, too: A driver of a more-basic car may be liable for damages in a collision with a vehicle loaded with safety gear.

Bumpers, fenders, grilles and side mirrors fitted with safety sensors often cost more to fix because of the need to recalibrate software and the limited availability of replacement parts, said Susanna Gotsch, lead analyst for CCC Information Services, which provides software to collision repair shops, insurers and the automotive industry.

State Farm in October raised Illinois insurance rates 5.9%, the largest such jump since 2003. In addition to the need to fund costly repairs of safety tech, the company is also factoring in trends such as more miles driven and distracted driving, a company spokeswoman said.

Car-crash fatalities are increasing as people spend more time on the road and attempt to multitask with smartphones while at the wheel. Miles driven by Americans rose 2.8% to a record 3.2 trillion in 2016, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That increase was far outpaced by a 6% surge in motor-vehicle deaths in the same period.

Industrywide, the average annual car-insurance premium increased 14% since 2014 to $990, according to an estimate by the Insurance Information Institute.

“Safer vehicles are more expensive to repair,” Liberty Mutual Chief Executive David Long told investors in March, explaining why the severity of claims is increasing. The Boston-based company, among the 10 largest car insurers, has been raising rates by an average annual 9% since late last year.

“We are nowhere near an inflection point,” Allstate Corp. spokesman Justin Herndon said. Even after an average 7% increase in 2016, he says “there is really no other place for premiums to go but up.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 90% of all crashes are caused by human error.

Studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit funded by the insurance industry, show a 50% reduction in rear-end crashes by cars equipped with automatic braking.

Industry groups and regulators are pressuring auto makers to make standard features that hand over more decision-making to the car. The IIHS requires vehicles to have optional automatic-braking systems to earn its Top Safety Pick awards, and 22 auto makers have pledged to make this safety feature standard by 2022.

Car makers are trying to keep the size of claims down. Subaru Corp. locates traffic-detection gear in areas that are less exposed in common crashes, such as behind the windshield.

Some insurers are experimenting with discounts. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is piloting a program in a few states that offers breaks for car buyers who get features such as automatic-braking systems or adaptive headlights; Liberty Mutual also offers some discounts.

Roads need to get far safer, however, for insurance hikes to reverse. “The industry is seeing, unfortunately, the additional cost of repairs, but not yet the full benefit of their potential reduction in frequency,” says Ms. Gotsch of CCC, the software provider. “The next several years are going to be challenging.”