Car Maintenance for Fall and Winter

As temperatures drop heading into fall and winter, a mechanical failure can be a pain and can also put you and your passengers in a risky situation. Luckily, you can help reduce your chances of running into vehicle failures by taking preventative steps now. Check out this list of maintenance tips to prepare your car for the upcoming seasons. 

Engine

Renew/replace items within your engine as recommended, this includes oil, oil filters, air filters, fuel filters and more. Oil should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on the age and fuel efficiency of the vehicle. You also replace your oil filters at the same time. For specifics on when to replace other items, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual. 

Windshield Wipers

If your current wipers leave your windshield streaky and limit your visibility, it is time to swap them out. Worn windshield wipers make driving riskier, especially during rain and snow. Always ensure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid as well. Consider getting fluid that has antifreeze properties made for winter months. Most importantly, don’t forget to have an ice scraper on hand! 

Tires

Check your tire pressure frequently, as the colder weather can have an impact on air pressure and may require more air to be added. Make sure you’re examining your tire tread – without proper tread, it can make driving through snow or ice more dangerous. You should rotate your tires every 7,500 to 10,000 miles – your vehicle owner’s manual will have the specific mileage recommendation for you.

Emergency Gear

In addition to routine maintenance, it’s a good idea to always carry emergency gear in your car. There are items you should have year-round and several items that should be added for the colder months. Gloves, boots, blankets, snacks, water, first-aid kit and a flashlight will come in handy if your car does experience mechanical failure or another issue this fall or winter.

Roadside Assistance

In case of car failure, you’ll want to know if your insurance covers roadside assistance. Roadside assistance can be added to your auto insurance policy, and it can help pay for some of the costs associated with towing your vehicle, providing gas for an empty tank, jumping a battery or changing a flat tire. Your agent can tell you if roadside assistance requires additional physical damage coverage. Contact your agent today to see about adding this coverage.

Back-to-School Safety

As summer winds down, it will soon be time for kids to head back to school. Whether your children walk, ride bicycles, ride the bus or drive to school, it’s important that they get to and from there safely. To help them do just that, we’re sharing some top safety tips to practice and keep in mind!

Walking to School

If your child is walking to school, make sure they know to always stay on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the road. If no sidewalk exists, they should stay near the edge of the road and walk facing oncoming traffic. A good way to help your child learn these rules is to practice walking with your child to school, so they can be aware of what safety measures to practice. 

Biking to School 

When riding a bicycle to school, it’s important for your child to understand the rules of biking on the road. This includes things like riding single-file on the right side of the road, coming to a complete stop before crossing a street and knowing how to signal with their hands before making any turns. They should also always wear a helmet for protection and bright colors so other cars can see them. 

Riding the Bus

For those who ride the bus to school, knowing how to safely enter and exit the bus is very important. Make sure your child waits at least six feet away from the curb as the bus approaches so they aren’t at risk of an accident. If the bus has seat belts, the child should always be buckled. When unloading from the bus, children should not stand up until the bus has come to a complete stop. To help engrain these safe habits into your child’s routine, you should go to the bus stop and teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus.

Driving to School 

If you are picking up your child from school or if you have a new driver who will be driving themselves, follow these safety tips to avoid pedestrian-related accidents. Don’t block crosswalks and always yield to pedestrians who are using them. Never pass a bus that is loading or unloading children and give yourself at least a 10-foot gap between your car and the bus, so that children may safely walk between. Finally, observe school zone speed limits and any drop-off or pick-up lines, loading times or other procedures. 

Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s Safety Services Division offers free safety programs that include school bus safety, bike safety and a defensive driving course for new drivers. If you are interested in hosting one of these programs in your local school or community, visit the Safety Services Division page for more information.

Safety tips for Recreational Vehicles

Some of life’s greatest joys happen while sitting around a campfire, making a wake on the lake or cruising down a backroad. Whether you own a boat, motorcycle, off-road vehicle or motorhome, recreation insurance can help protect you and your vehicle from the unexpected. In addition to this insurance safety measure, you need to practice extra caution when operating any of these vehicles. Here are some of the top things to keep in mind for each recreational vehicle: 

Boat safety

Time spent on the water can leave you with lasting memories. Relax without worry, knowing you have taken these steps to ensure a safe boat ride or activity. 

  • Equipment: Everyone on board must have a life jacket of appropriate size available to them. Other equipment, including oars, a bailing bucket, a whistle, visual distress signals, navigation lights, a fire extinguisher and an anchor are also required by the U.S. Coast Guard to have on board while you boat. 
  • Operating tips: Make sure the person steering the boat is aware of the rules for safe boating. A few of the major rules to follow include: Check the weather beforehand, don’t exceed the boat weight or passenger limit, don’t drink and steer the boat, follow wake zone speed limits and always be aware of nearby swimmers. 

Motorcycle safety

Whether you’re taking your motorcycle for a long road trip or a short joy ride, it’s important to take steps to ensure a safe journey.  

  • Equipment: Always wear a helmet and limit the number of passengers to the number allowed on your specific bike. You should also consider wearing gear that protects you from debris, potential accidents and the weather. Leather jackets, sturdy boots and protective eyewear are all great items to help shield you from possible dangers. 
  • Operating tips: When driving a motorcycle, it’s always recommended to drive defensively. This means never assuming other drivers on the road can see you, since motorcycles are much less visible vehicles. To make yourself a little more visible, avoid driving in blind spots or driving too closely to other vehicles. Also, as with any other vehicle, check for weather that could cause hazardous driving conditions.

Off-Road Vehicle safety

Your weekend getaway may include straying off the main path and getting some mud on the tires. For your next off-road adventure, follow these safety tips: 

  • Equipment: Just like motorcycles, helmets are always a must on an off-road vehicle. Driving an open vehicle through rough terrain at accelerated speeds means there’s a great risk for head injury. Wearing gear like goggles, long pants and boots is also recommended to help protect you from flying debris or tall grass, limbs or rocks that could injure you. 
  • Operating tips: Never drive your off-road vehicle on highways, streets or paved roads. Regularly check your vehicle’s functions like steering, brakes and tires. Also, make sure you’re operating an off-road vehicle that’s right for your age and never allow passengers on a single-rider vehicle. 

About Recreation Insurance

Following these safety tips can help reduce your chances of an accident, but a small chance will always remain. Whether you have a boat, motorhome, motorcycle or off-road vehicle, recreation insurance can help cover your vehicle and passengers if something unexpected does happen. To learn more about the features offered in our recreational policies or to get a quote, contact an OKFB agent near you.

Protection for your Backyard Swimming Pool

As we enter the dog days of summer, having a pool at home provides refreshing relief from the sun and heat. Your backyard pool may be a savior during these long summer days and a fun time for the kids, but it also presents some risks. It’s important to be aware of how your pool impacts your insurance, so if you’re thinking about adding a pool or buying a home with one, we have some tips for you on pool safety and insurance coverage.

An “Attractive Nuisance”

Your backyard oasis may add value to your property, but it is considered by insurance companies as an attractive nuisance. An “attractive nuisance” is anything that might attract a child and be dangerous to an unsupervised child — and you can be held liable if something were to happen. Things like trampolines, playgrounds and man-made ponds are all considered attractive nuisances. As the homeowner, you are responsible for the risks posed by your pool and preventing potential harm that could come from it. Having an insurance policy that includes coverage for your pool can help you prevent poolside accidents by requiring you to meet certain safety measures. 

Safety Precautions

In order to include coverage for your pool in your insurance policy, many companies require you to take safety precautions that reduce the chance of an accident in or around your pool. Here are some safety precautions that may be required for you to obtain policy coverage for your pool:

  1. Install a fence around the entire perimeter of the pool, with a self-latching gate lock that children can’t reach. 
  2. Get a safety cover to serve as a secondary barrier. Lockable pool covers are a great way to help ensure children are not using the pool without supervision.
  3. Provide accessible safety equipment. Flotation devices near the pool for children who are not yet able to swim can help prevent accidents. 

If you don’t fulfill these safety measures, you could face denied insurance coverage or claims, cancelled policies and possibly large liability lawsuits for which you could be solely responsible. 

Insurance Options

Pool insurance by itself doesn’t exist. You’ll need to talk to an OKFB Insurance agent to find out how you can get coverage for your pool by adding your pool to your home insurance policy. It may also be beneficial to add an umbrella policy, which can provide an additional layer of liability coverage. We offer personal umbrella insurance that’s designed to protect you and your family from lawsuits not fully covered under a standard liability policy.