Safe Driving Practices For Winter Weather Conditions

The winter season is certainly a time of great merriment and celebration. The holidays offer Americans the opportunity to travel around the corner or across the country to be with friends and relatives. However, it is also a time to be even more cautious, primarily when you’re traveling in the icy winter weather conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, between the years of 2002 and 2012, there were 211,188 vehicle crashes attributable to snow and sleet. Furthermore, during that same period, 154,580 crashes occurred due to ice on the pavement. Safe driving practices are your insurance for traveling during this joyful yet dangerous time of the year. Read below to find some quick best practices for driving in winter.

-Always watch the weather forecast to learn of the conditions or road closures in your area and where you are traveling. Make preparations to travel before the weather turns ugly and always inform others of your route, destination, and expected time of arrival.
-Keep your fuel tank half full in order to avoid a gas line freeze.
-Never drive while sleepy. Stay alert to both the weather conditions and the actions of the drivers on the road with you.
-Always steer into a skid.
-Keep your windshield clean to increase visibilty.
-Always wear a seat belt.
-Be sure your automobile is appropriate for the weather conditions in which you will be driving. Properly maintenance your vehicle for optimum performance.
-Get a winter survival kit for your vehicle which may include a flashlight and spare batteries, canned food, snack bars, medications, water, a cellphone charger, and a red bandana or cloth.

If you can avoid driving, stay home until the worst of a winter storm has passed. Be sure you are prepared for incidents that may occur to your vehicle without driving. Don’t let winter weather conditions get the best of you. Practice these safe driving tips in the snow and ice.

An icy branch fall on your car? Does your autombile insurance cover this? Contact your insurer to confirm that you are prepared for the tough winter season.

Essentials in Preparing Your Motorcycle for Scenic Connecticut Roads

The Winter winds are finally subsiding and the warm open road is waiting for you to get out and ride! But after leaving your ride in storage for the Winter, it’s important when preparing your motorcycle to check all of your safety equipment and review the laws and regulations to ensure your next road trip ends safely.

Motorcycle Laws and Regulations in CT

There are some important motorcycle safety regulations to keep in mind before you take yours out on the Connecticut roads. Eye protection is mandatory unless your vehicle has a windscreen, and if your bike was manufactured after 1980, daytime headlight use is required. Also, remember that riding two abreast in one lane is prohibited.

Licensing Courses

The Connecticut Rider Education Program for Motorcycle Safety offers four skill levels of courses which are available to all riders. You may also be eligible for a 10% discount on your motorcycle insurance policy by completing a rider education course in Connecticut.

Equipment Requirements

Although Connecticut law does not require motorcycle operators over the age of 18 to wear a helmet, doing so is one of the most crucial steps you can take to ensure your safety! According to state motorcycle accident statistics, in more than two-thirds of fatal motorcycle crashes the driver wasn’t wearing a helmet. Don’t skip this simple and essential step! Other requirements in Connecticut include having at least one rear-view mirror and a properly functioning muffler.

Restrictions for Riders Under 18

Riders under the age of 18 years old MUST wear a helmet at all times and are also required to complete a rider education course.

Insurance Requirements

Before you bask in the Spring sunshine, take the time to review your motorcycle insurance policy to make any necessary updates. A compulsory liability insurance policy is the minimum requirement in the state of Connecticut.

Does your current motorcycle insurance policy need to be reviewed or updated? Before you begin preparing your motorcycle for the beauty that New England has to offer during the Spring, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency today and receive a premium quote!

Tying the Knot? Considerations For Your Auto Insurance Rates

Marriage is far more than the joining of two individuals into one couple. Not only are two people joining their personal lives when they marry, they are also combining their finances and expenses. Many people do not realize it, but getting married prompts many changes to their auto insurance rates?

Why does marriage affect insurance rates?

Insurance companies base their rates on data that results from lots of research. Insurance companies have found certain groups of people tend to be higher risks. These groups have higher insurance premiums. Conversely, groups that are less likely to have accidents have lower premiums. Married people fall into this group, so getting married will lower your car insurance costs.

Combining policies

Once a couple gets married they can choose to either combine policies or keep their policies separate. It is not always better to combine policies. If one of the spouses falls into one of the following categories, it is better to keep separate policies:

–       Having several accidents or a poor driving record

–       Driving a model that is pricey to insure

–       Driving a valuable or classic car

–       Traveling many more miles a day/month than the other spouse


In situations where roommates are not married but will be using each other’s cars, it is necessary to list every licensed driver of the vehicle on the policy. It must be understood that this situation may increase the rate of the premium. If any driver is excluded from the policy, they may not drive the insured vehicle. If the vehicle is driven by an excluded individual and there is an accident, the damage will likely not be covered by the policy.

Multiple vehicle discounts

Married couples should always consider a multiple-vehicle discount if there is more than one car for the household. This type of insurance offers the same coverage but will usually cost less than insuring the cars separately. To be eligible for this type of discount, all vehicles must be insured with the same company and under the same policyholder’s name.

Car insurance after divorce

Just as car insurance changes when couples marry, they change with divorce as well. When a couple decides to go their separate ways, the party whose name is on the policy must remove the other name from it. It is also important to let the insurance company know about the following changes that may affect auto insurance rates:

–       Address

–       Financial situation

–       Household members

–       Mileage driven

Although car insurance is something most people do not think about until they need it, it does need some serious consideration when marital status is changed. If your living situation has changed in any way and you need to update your auto insurance, please contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency. We will be happy to help you!


Laws & Restrictions for Teenage Drivers in Connecticut

Chances are you couldn’t wait to get your driver’s license when you turned 16. However, you probably never guessed that there would be so many steps you had to take before you could get on the road, or that even after receiving your license, you still have to navigate numerous laws and restrictions until you turn 18. Teen driving may be difficult, but this guide can help clarify a few questions you may have.

When is a teenager eligible to acquire their learner’s permit?

The minimum age to receive a learner’s permit in Connecticut is 16. You must have a learner’s permit before beginning to learn how to drive; you can apply for a permit by scheduling an appointment at your local DMV office.

What is required by Connecticut law in order to obtain a learner’s permit?

To receive your learner’s permit as a 16 or 17-year-old, you must first obtain parental consent, and collect the necessary paperwork that can serve as identification (for example, your birth certificate or U.S. Passport). Then, you can schedule and pay the $40 test fee for your DMV appointment online through the Connecticut DMV website. At your appointment, you must take and pass a vision test and a knowledge test, which determines your knowledge of Connecticut driving laws with 25 questions.

What are the restrictions for drivers with only a permit in the state of CT?

Restrictions on teen driving include limiting your passengers to parents, guardians, or qualified instructors while you are training to receive your license; you also may not use any cell phones (even if hands-free) while driving.

What training courses are required? What must a driver complete before becoming eligible for a driver’s license in CT?

A driver must complete 40 hours of practice driving and 30 hours of classroom training (or 22 hours of home training and an 8 hour Safe Driving Practices course). To fit these requirements, a driver may choose a commercial driving school, driving classes at his or her high school, or home driving lessons. Once at least 120 days of classroom training or 180 days of home training have passed, the driver is eligible to take the road test at the DMV and obtain a driver’s license.

What are the legal restrictions for teenage drivers up to the age of 18?

Before turning 18, teen drivers may not drive between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM, unless it is for school, work, religious, or medical reasons. They must also use permanently installed seat belts, and may not use cell phones or hands-free devices while driving. For the first six months after receiving their license, drivers can only have parents, guardians, instructors, or people over 20 (who have held a driver’s license for at least 4 years) as passengers; for the second six months, this is expanded to include immediate family.

In addition to these restrictions for teenage drivers, Connecticut law requires drivers of all ages to purchase automobile liability insurance. Provide yourself peace of mind and contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc. to add your teenage driver to your current insurance policy.

3 Ways Cold Temperatures Can Damage Your Car

Cold AutoIn New England, fall is in full force; the leaves have changed colors, Thanksgiving preparations have begun, and the air is slowly getting colder and colder as winter approaches. While these changes may signal the approach of the holiday season, however, the colder weather also signifies another change: the increased danger to your car or other vehicles.

Freezing weather brings a unique set of challenges to driving safely and keeping vehicles operational, so it is important to know what kinds of issues you may have to deal with, and how you can effectively respond to them. Last month, we featured an article about ways to safeguard your home from cold East coast winters. Now, we would like for you to take a look at the top three ways that cold weather can damage your car, and what you should do about each one.


1. Your car has trouble starting.

Normal car batteries are meant to withstand weather from 30 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so when the temperature drops below the lower end of that range, the battery may stop working, preventing your car from starting. The same effect can occur with your spark plug or other ignition components. In order to prevent this from happening, get your battery and spark plug checked so that you know ahead of time if you should expect any problems, and can act to stop them before they happen.

2. Your transmission fluid (and other liquids) thicken.

Freezing weather thickens liquids, which includes your transmission fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, and oil. When your transmission fluid is too thick to flow properly, you may have trouble operating your vehicle or getting it to function at all. You should get all of these liquids checked at least once as the cold weather begins to set in so that you can know whether it is safe to drive or not.

3. Tire pressure goes down.

When the temperature drops, most tires lose pressure at a rate of 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower tire pressure can lead to poor tire performance and damage or failure, which can be especially dangerous in snowy or icy conditions. Do not attempt to drive with low tire pressure. In order to combat this obstacle, check your tire pressure every few weeks, and inflate your tires as necessary.

We want you and your family to remain safe not only in your home during the upcoming holiday season, but when driving as well. Please take the necessary precautions before traveling this winter, and be sure to contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency for any and all accident claims.

Just a Scratch? When NOT to File an Insurance Claim

So you’ve gotten into a car accident. You’re not alone. Each year, there are around 6 million crashes in the United States, from serious, fatality accidents to what may seem to be minor, non-incidents. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, accidents in the United States cost about $230.6 billion each year — about $820 per person.

Keeping unforeseen costs down is one of the main reasons for getting automotive insurance. In situations where there is significant property damage or medical injuries, auto insurance can help to cover the costs that might exceed what the individuals involved can afford. Sometimes, though, filing an auto insurance claim might cost you more in the long run, and it’s good to know whether that small bump in your door will cause a much larger bump in your premiums.

When it is Advised NOT to File a Claim:

 – When you can cover the damage repairs yourself

It’s a good idea to double-check your deductible if you don’t already know what you’ve set. If you have a high-deductible policy, it may be better, in the long run, to pay the costs yourself, rather than filing an insurance claim. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, and your repairs are only going to cost about $1,300, paying the entire $1,300 out of pocket will keep the price at $1,300. If you file a claim, however, even in situations with little to no monetary impact on your policy, the mere act of filing a claim could cause a spike in your policy.

– When you’ve caused little to no damage to someone else’s vehicle

Sometimes a bump is just a bump. If you’ve barely tapped another vehicle, yes, it’s still good to talk to the other party and assess the damage if there was any. However, if both parties agree there was no damage, filing a claim could be a costly phone call. It is still advisable to file a police report, though, so that both sides are covered in the event that legal action needs to take place down the line.

– When you’ve been in a one-car accident with no injuries, or with medical expenses that you can cover yourself

Many people have accidently backed into items, with little to no damage, and the only injury being to their pride. In these situations, even if you did sustain some injuries, as long as the expenses don’t exceed your ability to pay, it’s better to cover the costs yourself and avoid filing an insurance claim.

– When someone has hit you with little damage, and they agree to pay for the cost of repairs

If you trust that the person who was at fault will indeed pay for the repairs, both parties could benefit from not filing an insurance claim. Even if you weren’t the party responsible for the accident, filing a claim could still increase your rates. WARNING: It is NOT advised to entrust a total stranger to pay for any repairs caused in an accident.

Do Your Homework

Before you decide whether or not you should file a claim, it’s important to remember that when there is more than one party involved, calling to get a police report is important to prevent any contradictory stories from coming out in the future. Also, keep in mind that insurance laws and requirements vary from state to state, and from company to company. Understand your policy requirement, consider the long-term implications of not filing a claim, and you could see some significant cost savings.

In some circumstances, not filing an auto insurance claim is unavoidable. Personal injuries and extensive vehicle damage are prime reasons for why insurance is so crucial to have as a licensed driver. If you need to file a claim or would simply like to review your current auto insurance policy, contact Waitte’s Insurance by clicking here.

Are Cell Phones Causing a Distracted Driving Epidemic?

We see the same story in the news almost on a daily basis now;  another traffic accident caused by distracted driving. More specifically, increasing numbers of drivers and passengers are being injured or killed due to someone driving while texting or talking on cell phones. Why is it so difficult for some to put away their cell phones while driving?

Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives.  The number of smartphones in use rose dramatically from 21% of Americans in 2011 to 46% in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center ( With this increase and consistency of smartphone use, Americans are seemingly becoming dependent on their devices to communicate, entertain, and even organize their personal affairs and daily routines. In fact, many experts have come to the conclusion that smartphone use has become an obsession, compulsion, or even an addiction for some people.

Of course, a larger number of smartphones in use (and the need to stay connected) means a greater instance of smartphone abuse. The majority of the time the abuse is merely an annoyance or an inconvenience;  people talking on their phones at the restaurant, texters who walk around with their heads down, not watching where they are going. Unfortunately, smartphone abuse does not end there.

The number of drivers distracted by smartphones on American roads is disturbing.  As many as 660,000 Americans may be driving while distracted at any time during a typical day (   With so many Americans driving while distracted, it shouldn’t be too surprising that 330,000 injuries occur yearly, a result of 1.6 million distracted driving crashes; and these numbers continue to rise every year.

Teens Driving While Distracted:

Distracted driving numbers for teen drivers are even more staggering: In 2013, 21% of teenage driving fatalities were caused by smartphone distraction. Teens are four times more likely to be involved in distracted driving crashes or near-crashes.

Whether it is a teen or an adult, distracted drivers have made our roadways less safe for all of us.  As responsible drivers, it is our duty to keep our eyes, and our attention focused on the road ahead. At 55 miles per hour, a vehicle travels 100 yards in the 5 seconds it takes for you to simply look down at a text; making it nearly impossible to react in time to avoid an unforeseen circumstance such as a deer in the middle of the road.

If you’ve gotten into the habit of constantly checking your phone when you’ve gotten an alert, try making an effort to store your phone in an unreachable place while driving until you have arrived at your destination so the temptation to check it is gone. It is also advised to pre-set your GPS or navigational system prior to departing for your trip to avoid the need to do so while driving. Pre-setting your desired radio station or asking a passenger to operate the radio controls is also recommended when behind the wheel.

Whether we see it as an epidemic or not, the death and injury numbers associated with distracted driving caused by smartphone use are sobering. Our lives can be so full of pitfalls and dangers, doesn’t it make sense to eliminate such an obvious distraction where you can?  Be considerate to yourselves, your families, and the drivers around you by not driving distracted.  No call, text, tweet, or Facebook post is worth a life.

When it comes to car insurance, a driver’s premium is influenced by a number of factors that can vary from state to state.  Your driving record, which consists of your history of traffic tickets, accident claims, and arrests for intoxicated driving is a major factor in determining your cost out-of-pocket each month. Learn the top factors that insurance companies use to calculate your car insurance premium in Connecticut by clicking here.

8 Tips for Flying and Driving Trips This Summer

Summer vacation is just about here, and the fantastic weather, holiday celebrations and long weekends mean it’s time for some traveling! Whether you’re hitting the road or boarding a plane, there are a few things you can do in advance for a smooth, stress-free vacation.

Flying and Driving Tips

When you’re flying, you hope for a turbulence-free flight. Although this may be out of your control, here are a number of items you can personally plan from the time you check-in until the time you leave your destination’s airport for ‘bump-free’ travels:

1.  Purchase your airline tickets early, and make sure to use your name exactly as it appears on your identification. While you might not always use your given or legal name, or the name listed on your form of identification, this is the name that officials will be looking for when you check in.

2.  Arrive at the airport early. With heightened safety measures being taken by the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA lines can be long, and there can often be delays. It’s important to be ready to go when your plane is boarding, and arriving early can bring you peace of mind. It is recommended to arrive at the airport 2 hours before any domestic flight, and at least 3 hours before any international flight.

3.  Update your passport. Some states have now mandated an updated passport. Research the requirements before you board, and give the government enough time to process a passport update. Typically, passport updates and renewals take about eight weeks; expediting your update for an additional fee can be done in about two to three weeks.

4.  Mark your luggage. Tie a ribbon or colored strap to the handle, consider a piece of unique fabric, or find another creative way to make your luggage stand out from the crowd. This will help you move faster through when it comes time to pick up your bags.

If you choose to hit the open road this summer, preparing in advance can help prevent you from having to put the “hazard lights” on your entire trip:

1.  Ensure your car has had the proper maintenance. Before you load up to leave, make sure you’ve had an oil change and checked the air pressure in your tires. If you have any hesitations, take your car in for a tune-up. Don’t forget to bring a spare tire, first aid kit, and road kit, and fill your tank up with gas before you leave.

2.  Know where you’re going. Bring along a programmed navigational system. Whether you have an aftermarket GPS or your vehicle has a built-in system, make sure to program the directions before you leave, as many systems are automatically turned off when the vehicle is in motion. You should also consider bringing a fully charged cell phone and physical map as backups.

3.  Never drive tired. Too many accidents happen each year because of tired drivers. Check your map before you go to find appropriate stops to sleep. Whether you find a relative’s house along the way or stop at a hotel, give yourself ample time to rest.

4.  Prep for passengers: If you’re traveling with children, make the trip comfortable for them, as well. Car games, toys, electronics, snacks, drinks and special “car packs” can help keep them entertained, fed and hydrated, while cutting down on the ever-popular “Are we there yet?” question.

Finally, regardless of how you travel, always keep your house protected. Don’t post your travel plans or itinerary online. This can tip off burglars that you’ll be out of town, and will help to prevent any break-ins. It’s also a good idea to ask a trusted friend or family member to check on your home, bring in the mail, and give the impression that someone is at home.

Wherever or however you decide to travel this summer, try to take as many precautionary measures as possible to ensure a happy, safe journey for your entire family. This includes staying properly hydrated! When the beating summer sun is out, it can do unspeakable damage to the human body. For information on how heat and dehydration can hurt your body internally, click here!

The 7 Most Serious Traffic Violations in CT.

The summer season is just kicking off, and it’s the perfect weather for road trips, hopping in the car and heading to a park, or just going on a leisurely, scenic drive. With more people on the roads, the chances are greater that motorists will commit traffic violations of all sorts. There are seven, though, that can be especially serious. These driving infractions in Connecticut are severe enough to not only raise your auto insurance premium but can also carry some hefty legal penalties.

  • Driving without insurance:

Uninsured drivers will receive a warning notice when their insurance has been canceled or lapsed. Registrants must either enter into a consent agreement or obtain insurance and pay a fine of $200. If they do nothing, they’ll get a suspension notice in the mail; if they choose not to respond, they could face suspension of their registration as well as any renewal or registration privileges for any motor vehicle.

  • Street racing/stunting:

Street racing can result in an automatic one-year suspension for drivers caught speeding, as well as a fine that can range from $75 to $600. Second offenses can lead to another one-year suspension, as well as a fine that can range from $100 to $1,000. Any damages can also lead to further charges. The act of street racing is also VERY dangerous to all motorists involved and is always discouraged outside of a legal and professional racing forum.

  • Driving with a suspended license:

Driving with a suspended license is illegal in Connecticut, and can lead to criminal penalties, including fines of between $150 and $200, as well as three months of jail time for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can lead to higher fines and lengthy jail time.

  • Failure to stop when signaled/Evading police:

Drivers who fail to stop when signaled by the police can face a license suspension of at least year one year and fines starting at $100, depending on the severity of the outcome. Always pull over to the right side of the road when a police cruiser signals behind you via flashing lights and/or sirens; and be sure to yield in the same manner for emergency response vehicles as well.

  • DUI (driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol):

Driving under the influence can have serious repercussions. Aside from the penalties of being caught, drivers who have chosen to get behind the wheel under the influence can be responsible for extensive property damage, physical injuries, and even death. The first offense can bring a fine of $500 to $1,000. By the third offense, a driver could face up to $8,000 in fines. Drivers may also receive a license suspension, as well as potential criminal charges.

  • Hit and run:

Also known as evading responsibility, a felony hit and run charge can lead to probation, between one and ten years in jail, or a fine of up to $10,000.

  • Vehicular manslaughter:

There is a difference between voluntary and involuntary vehicular manslaughter. A driver who intended to injure a victim with their car and ends up killing them could be convicted of first-degree manslaughter, face up to 20 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. On the other hand, a driver who was acting negligently and caused someone’s death accidentally may receive a punishment of up to one year in prison and $2,000 in fines.

The distractions of summer fun can sometimes take their toll and can end up costing you higher insurance premiums or much worse. Operating a motor vehicle should always be taken seriously, especially during a season of crowded roadways. Always use caution and abide by all Connecticut state driving laws when traveling anywhere to avoid traffic violations or injuries to ensure the safest, happiest summer ever!

If you believe a recent traffic infraction might threaten your current auto insurance premium, give us a call here at Waitte’s Insurance Agency. We pride ourselves in helping all motorists obtain the best possible insurance rates for over 100 years!

Involved in an Accident? Take These 8 Steps Immediately After

No one expects to be in a car accident, but in the off chance that it does happen you need to be prepared. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, the following steps will help you weather the storm with as little distress as possible.

Pull over

If you have been involved in an accident, the worst action you can take is continuing to drive, as this can result in serious legal ramifications. Whether you are at fault or not, pull over to the side of the road where it is safe. If you cannot move your car, turn on the hazard lights or place cones around the vehicle. Then, take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to calm down before you get out of the car to talk to the other involved parties.

Check for injuries

Check to see if you or any of your passengers have been injured. Call 911 right away, even if the injuries are minor. Although you may want to check your passengers right away, check yourself first, to determine if you are well enough to be helpful to any injured parties in the car.

Call the police

Call the police and stay on the phone with them until they arrive on the scene. Calling the police will assure that there is an official record of the accident. This will become important if either party wants to initiate a lawsuit. The police can also call for additional help if necessary once they assess the situation. Don’t forget to make note of the officers’ names and badge numbers, just in case you will need the information later.

Remain in your vehicle

Eventually, you will have to leave your car if you are able to. However, remain in your car with the seatbelt fastened until it is safe to exit the vehicle. Standing near the card can put you in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic.

Exchange information

Get the contact information of the other person or people who were involved in the accident. Important pieces of information to get include names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, vehicle identification numbers, insurance company names and policy numbers. Also, make note of the makes and models of the other vehicles that were involved.

Talk to witnesses

Talk to anyone who witnessed the accident. Write down the information they provide and make sure they agree to let your attorney and insurance company contact them if necessary.

Take photos

Photos of the damage to your car and the other cars involved will document it in case your insurance company needs it. It can also protect you if the other party claims their injuries or the car damage is worse than what actually occurred. Also, take pictures of all of the people involved in the accident.

Call your insurance company

Call your insurance company as soon as you can to report the accident and file a claim. The faster you take this step, the quicker you will start the process of having your car repaired and obtaining a rental vehicle if necessary.

Following these steps will help you make an unnerving situation more manageable. If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, Waitte’s Insurance Agency want’s to ensure that you’re covered financially and compensated appropriately. In between insurance premiums? You can receive a rate quote by clicking here.