Auto and Driving Tips

Always take care, nothing is more important than arriving safely at your destination.

Choosing the right auto insurance coverage can be difficult and at times, downright confusing. Offering all types of auto coverage for BC, Thunderbird Insurance will help you decide what coverage is best for you and your vehicle along with finding all the discounts that you may qualify for. Thunderbird Insurance helps you make informed decisions. While we primarily place coverage with ICBC (“Insurance Corporation of British Columbia”), we can also place private coverage for motorcycles, vacation trailers and increased limits of coverage over and above ICBC’s mandatory basic coverage.

Drivers on 2 Wheels

You see the hale and hearty bikers on the road each day whizzing their way into work and think, that could be you. Two wheels and the open road sound great, but how do you make sure that you’re bike safe?

Bike senseBefore you strap on your helmet make sure that you and your bike are ready for the journey.

  • practice cycling in a straight line – about the width of a bike lane – while doing a shoulder check, left or right.
  • nearly 60% of motorist-cyclist collisions occur at intersections, clearly signal your direction then position yourself directly ahead or behind the vehicle in the lane that you plan to proceed in.
  • if you’re not confident in the drivers or the intersection around you, walk your bike across at the intersection or crosswalk.
  • just like you’d do with any vehicle, make sure that you’re doing an annual check-up: brakes, reflectors, helmet, tire pressure, etc.
  • know the rules of the road. As a cyclist, you are prohibited by law to ride side by side – or abreast – of another cyclist, which goes hand in hand with the stricture to ride as close to the right side of the highway as practical.
  • light it up – make sure that your bike has a strong front light, and a back light that are approved by the Insurance Corporation of BC. Check to make sure that they’re visible for at least 150 metres. Although not currently part of the Motor Vehicle Act, making sure that you can be seen from the side by adding a few reflectors, just makes sense.
  • like other drivers on the road, you need to stay alert. It is important to watch out for distracted drivers, wandering pedestrians and unexpected road obstacles like debris or suddenly opening car doors.
  • Being seen is a great offense, although an all black outfit may be chic it can be deadly.

Make sure you take the time to teach the next generation the rules of the road as well with this great guide from ICBC on bike smarts. Riding your bike is a great way to look after your health and the environment as long as you apply a little every day bike sense to the journey.

Find more about cycling safety through the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Myths – Fact or Fiction

For a lot of people insurance is like banking, important to have but hard to understand. There are a lot of insurance myths out there on how fees are paid and what is and isn’t covered.

Do you know which of these insurance questions are fact or fiction?

  • The colour of my car can impact my auto rates. False. Auto insurance premiums are made up of a variety of factors, including make, model and age of the vehicle but colour isn’t part of that formula.
  • If you’re in a car accident but don’t file a claim your premiums remain the same. False. An accident can affect your rates even if you don’t report it to your agent.
  • Where you live and work has a bearing on your rates. True. Rates can vary dramatically in areas with notoriously high accident corridors. Make sure you update your agent as soon as you move.
  • Any medical expenses related to an auto accident are paid by the province. False. Auto insurers actually pay more for medical rehabilitation costs in Canada than the government, WCB or private health-care plans combined.
  • Seatbelt tickets will affect my insurance premiums. True. If you’re in a collision and not wearing a seatbelt you are more likely to sustain injuries. And injuries resulting from being thrown from a car is a costly problem for both you and the insurer. On the bright side, those pesky parking tickets won’t affect your premiums.
  • Any accident, ticket or demerit point is on your permanent record when it comes to insurance rates. False. Actually they only affect your rates for three years, as long as you maintain a clean driving record after that you should see a reduction in rates.
  • If you lend your car to another insured driver, it is covered by the other driver. False. If it is your car involved in the accident, it is your insurance policy that covers the damages.
  • The cheaper the car, the less expensive the rates. False. Although the value of the car is taken into consideration, it’s the history of the model that counts when calculating rates – such as theft rate and accident history, etc.

If you’ve heard some insurance “fact” from a neighbour or cousin, take a moment to ask the professionals – your insurance broker – about just what is fact and fiction about your insurance.

Find more insurance myths at the Insurance Bureau of Canada


Holiday Cheer on the Roads

So much of the holidays involves good friends and good times. But too much eggnog and problems can occur. Victoria currently ranks as the fourth highest region in the country for alcohol and drug impaired driving.

The good news is that means that our local police are doing a great job getting drivers under the influence off the road. The bad news is that we all need to plan better to stay safe and not take the wheel after partaking of a little holiday cheer.

BC has some of the toughest impaired driving laws in Canada. Blowing at even .05 can result in roadside suspensions, and that can happen after a single glass of scotch or even a glass or two of wine.

Get home safely this holiday by planning ahead:

Impaired Drivers ICBC stat 2014• Choose a designated driver who won’t be drinking

• Have a sober friend or family member pick you up

• Contact a cab company (#TAXI on your cell) or one of these services:
Call Mom (250-507-6515). Service available 24 hours.
Drive Smart Victoria (250-661-0181). Service available 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
➣ Call My Driver in Victoria (250-516-9199). Service available everyday 12pm – 6 am.
Dial a Driver Victoria (250-580-8801). Service available everyday from 6pm – 5am.

We look forward to seeing you in the new year, drive safe and happy holidays. For more tips on safe driving click on ICBC.

Just Like Riding A Bike

Getting the kids back to school is just like riding a bike. You’ve figured out what to pack for lunches, you’ve bought the last of the “must have” items and everyone is finally settling into back to school routines. Unfortunately routines too often mean that kids will get lax about safety.

Simple things that you can reinforce with your kids will make all the difference. Things like making sure shoelaces are tied so you don’t trip entering or exiting the bus, waiting until the bus stops moving before standing up to exit, and just like when mom and dad are driving – keeping the noise down so the driver can concentrate on the road.

Give your kids a great foundation by learning the rules of the road early and it will put them on a safe path for success.

Back to School Safety Tips

Brrrr! Winter Driving

Does driving in winter weather conditions send a shiver down your spine? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey by ICBC, 40% of respondents felt less confident driving in the winter and 70% felt both less safe and frustrated by the actions of other drivers.

Although Victoria doesn’t tend to have the same severe conditions that the rest of Canada suffers each winter, it is still important to plan for the season.

Here’s some quick tips:

Winter driving safety tips

  • slow down, mother nature has, so should you. Everything takes longer on wet, icy or snowy roads, give yourself more time to make safe decisions;
  • switch to winter tires – all season tires begin to lose elasticity and grip on the road at temperatures below 7°C, according to Transport Canada;
  • ease off the gas and don’t brake if your vehicle starts to hydroplane or you run into black ice. Look and steer smoothly in the direction you’d like to go;
  • to smoothly handle snow-covered corners, begin to brake steadily as you approach the turn. Once in the corner, ease off the brakes and use the car’s remaining traction to steer through the turn;
  • when the road is steep and icy, gently accelerate before you reach the base of the hill let that inertia drive you up, and when heading down ease off the gas – if possible detour to a flatter route;
  • keep the cruise control off so that you’re in control if you hit bad road conditions;
  • reduce your speed and increase your distance from the car in front of you to protect yourself and your passengers from the unexpected; and,
  • most importantly if you still don’t feel safe, choose to stay home or let a professional take the wheel using public transit or taxi.

Click these links for more tips on safe driving in winter from ICBC or to check road conditions at DriveBC.

Scary Can Be Safe this Halloween

Ghosts and goblins beware, this hallowed eve is not free of danger. Tricks, instead of treats, can be limited to harmless pranks this Halloween with a little extra care.

When planning both costumes and routes this year, makes sure you take these things into consideration:
ICBC Halloween Safety

  • a little reflective tape can go a long way towards making sure your vampire sparkles and can be seen at night;
  • don’t make the night a different kind of scary, before covering their sweet little faces with paint or make-up, do a quick test to make sure their skin won’t react;
  • create a wolf pack – gather the ghoulish together for both personal safety and visibility for drivers;
  • costume check for the five senses – can they see through their mask, can they breathe unimpeded, can they touch the ground without tripping over parts of their costume, do they feel warm enough to be outside for an hour or more, can they taste sweet victory as their bag fills with candy;
  • Drivers beware, the scary part is how quickly a child can pop up out of nowhere. Drive slowly and with extra caution in residential areas during prime trick or treat hours;
  • Staying home? Protect your car from those seeking to trick. Statistically vehicle vandalism is only higher on New Year’s Day;
  • Make sure Jack O’Lantern is a modern guy – battery candles or a flashlight make a safe alternative to an open flame.

Avoid being the person screaming the Banshee cry by heeding the advice above. This Halloween may your only true scare be from how much you gain after nibbling the treats and goodies that always seem to linger after the holidays.

Information courtesy of ICBC, IBC and the Government of Canada

Road Trip Summer Holiday Style

Wind in your hair, sunglasses at a rakish angle, the perfect road trip mix playing and,… screaming kids in the backseat. End the cycle. This summer before you hit the road make a complete plan for a safe and happy summer holiday road trip.

Summer Road TripBefore the first tire backs off your driveway, make sure that you’re covered:

  • dig up your “old-school” paper maps if the areas you’re driving through are remote
  • pre-plan interesting stops every 3 – 4 hours to stretch your legs and your mind
  • if possible trade driving duties regularly to stay alert and avoid “highway hypnosis”
  • keep the family hydrated with access to lots of water
  • pack nutritious snacks to help cut costs and hopefully keep everyone on an even keel
  • for the non-drivers, pack activities that can be done as a family and individually – remember to bring enough for there and back

Remember to breathe deeply and smile, it’s only two weeks and they’ll never be that young again. And before you leave home, whether you’re renting a car at the start – or after “the family beast” has gasped through her last mile – don’t forget to check you car insurance policy to confirm it covers the mandatory insurance for your rental vehicle.

Be Fraud Aware

Have I got a deal for you. March is Fraud Awareness Month in Canada and with a little extra effort you could help save BC motorists nearly half a billion dollars a year just be being a little more fraud aware.

Surprised to find yourself in the midst of an accident? Here are some red flags that could suggest a staged collision:
fender-bender-prevent-fraudThe impact occurs at low speed with little damage to the vehicles involved and several passengers claim to have soft-tissue injuries.
• There are conflicting descriptions by those at the scene about how the accident occurred.
• A tow truck arrives almost immediately at the scene.
• Someone is at the scene ready to suggest a repair facility, clinic or other service provider.

If you suspect that you were a victim of a staged collision, call the police from the accident scene, document all that you can, carefully review anything that you are asked to sign, contact your insurance representative right away and use ICBC’s tip line if you suspect a scam: 1-800-661-6844.

The best advice is avoidance, steer clear of these fraudster’s favourite weapons by avoiding tailgating and by looking well beyond the front of your car while driving.

For more tips from the Insurance Bureau of Canada on avoiding auto insurance fraud click here.

Tick Tock Time to Change

It’s time to set our clocks back this Saturday for the end of Daylight Saving Time. The dark side of that extra hour of sleep, is an increase in accidents. ICBC statistics show a 16% increase in the average number of crashes for first two weeks after the change.

ICBC Accident Hot Spot MapHere are ICBC’s tips to help you adjust:

  • it’s darker and often rainy, making visibility an issue particularly around pedestrians and cyclists – give yourself extra time so you aren’t rushing;
  • prepare by checking your headlights, tail lights and windshield wiper fluid and wipers as well; and,
  • keep your regular sleep/wake cycle. Go to bed at the same time you normally would to minimize the affect on your body’s internal clock.

Ever get the feeling your daily commute is in a high crash zone? Click on the map from ICBC to see just where the hot spots are in the region, so you can plan to avoid those high-risk zones.

Information courtesy of ICBC

Back to School for Drivers

When doing back to school planning don’t forget to think about sharpening your driving skills. On Vancouver Island an average of 6 children aged 5 – 18 are killed and 690 are injured in the 2,130 crashes that happen annually. Car crashes are the top preventable cause of death for BC children and youth.

school-crossing-stop-2014Homework for Drivers:

  • Watch for school zones – on school days from 8am – 5pm the maximum speed limit there is 30km/hr
  • Plan for safety when dropping off  – kids should exit the car on the sidewalk side only and if they have to cross the street make sure there is a light or crosswalk nearby
  • Be aware of school buses – vehicles on both sides of the road must stop when lights are flashing

Homework for Kids & Parents

  • Be aware – remove headphones and focus on the road, not electronics, when crossing the street
  • Make eye contact with drivers when crossing the street to confirm drivers see you and only cross at marked intersections and crosswalks
  • Dress to be seen – bright colours are more than fashion smart, they make you visible on dark days

Click the following links for more information from ICBC on school programs and safety tips.