How Freezing Temps Affect Your Vehicle & What to Do About It

How Freezing Temps Affect Your Vehicle & What to Do About It

Brrrr…it’s cold out there. But those freezing temperatures don’t just affect us. They can also impact our cars, some even to the point where they may not start or function. 

Here’s a quick checklist to help you know what to look for, and what to do, to ease the effects of frigid temps on your vehicle.


Check your tires.

A lot is riding on your tires. You want them to grip the road in all conditions, whether dry or wet, snowy or icy. However, as temperatures dip, so does the pressure in your car’s tires. That underinflation can result in serious safety issues. Underinflated tires can cause your car to lose traction, and slip and slide in wet conditions. The tires’ treads can wear unevenly. You could even be at risk for a tire blowout. Having the right tire pressure helps with a safe ride and also improves gas mileage.

What to do: Check your tire’s air pressure at least once a week and fill your tire as needed to manufacturer’s specifications. Consider getting winter tires that perform better on snowy surfaces if you live in a place with frigid temperatures.


Check the battery.

Batteries help start our cars and power electrical features. Most batteries use a chemical reaction with lead acid to generate the electric current. In freezing temperatures, this reaction is slower and your battery’s power is reduced. That means it may not have enough “juice” to start at all. This is especially true for older or weaker batteries.

What to do: If your car doesn’t start immediately, turn off the lights, heater, radio, phone chargers, and anything that is powered by your battery. Try starting your car again to see if that helps. If not, use jumper cables to get your vehicle going. In general, keep battery connections clean and free of corrosion, which will help it work to its best potential. Also, consider a battery warmer. Finally, replace your battery if it is more than 3 years old. If you’re unsure of your battery’s life, have it tested. Many auto shops offer that service for free. 

Are you driving an Electric Vehicle (EV)? Cold can affect your battery too. There’s less energy for acceleration and your range may decrease. Preheat your EV before going out. Be prepared for longer charging times in winter months.


Check your fluids.

Freezing temperatures can affect your car’s oil, coolant, and transmission fluids. When it’s very cold, these fluids become so thick that the engine cannot circulate them, or has to work harder to do so. Without these essential fluids, your vehicle cannot operate properly or sometimes at all. With a lack of oil, your engine isn’t lubricated. With a lack of transmission fluid, your car struggles to switch gears. With a lack of coolant, your engine can overheat. The frozen coolant can also crack and damage your radiator hoses.

What to do: Let your car warm up fully before driving. Switch to low-viscosity oils, or synthetic oils, which flow more easily when it’s cold. Make sure there is a proper ratio of antifreeze (coolant) to distilled water. An improper mix can have a higher freezing point. You can check your coolant’s freeze point with a refractometer. Also, winter is a good time to have your transmission fluid checked and replaced if needed.


Fill your gas tank.

Gas will not freeze unless it’s 100 degrees below zero. But water in your gas tank or lines can become ice that clogs the system. The ice can make it hard to start your car or give you a sputtery ride. It also can leave you stranded with your car unable to go anywhere.

What to do: Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid this problem. If you do get stranded with a frozen fuel line, you can get your car towed to a warm location. You also can try adding gas and/or fuel line antifreeze to the tank.


Let screens warm up.

You may notice your liquid crystal display (LCD) screens being slow in the cold. That’s because the molecules in LCDs slow down when the temperature drops.

What to do: Wait for the car to warm up, and the screens should resume their normal speed. You can install an engine block heater to help things along or park in a warmer place like a garage to minimize the cold’s effects.


Clear your windshields. 

On a cold day, your breath could condense and freeze on the inside of your windshield. Keep your windshields as clear as possible with the defrost function. Windshield washer fluid also may not work as well in the cold. It may be unable to spray because it’s frozen. 

What to do: You can buy windshield washer fluid that is made for cold temperatures. Even so, it could freeze, so make sure your car is warmed up before using it. Also, check that your car’s defrost system is in good working order.


Check the rubber on wipers and doors. 

Freezing temps can cause the rubber on your windshield wiper blades to become brittle. They could easily tear or crack, which creates blurry windshields—a recipe for car accidents. In addition, doors can freeze shut in cold temperatures, which is an added annoyance.

What to do: Consider buying winter wiper blades that are made to hold up to cold temperatures. Make sure you replace your wiper blades when they are worn. For frozen car doors, try using silicone spray on the rubber door gaskets to keep them from freezing shut.


Check your belts and hoses.

Older serpentine belts may be brittle and can break when they get cold. They also may be so cold that they don’t bend as they should. Cold weather can also take its toll on your coolant hoses. A bad belt can continue to function but there often are signs that it is failing and needs to be replaced. Listen to noises your car may make to indicate that and other problems.

What to do: Have your mechanic check the drive belt system and coolant hoses at every oil change. Replace parts when they show signs of wear and tear.

Remember, your car is one of your greatest investments. Keep it well-maintained all winter long and don’t forget to protect it with the right insurance.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Everything You Need to Know About Frozen Pipes

Everything You Need to Know About Frozen Pipes

Your house may be warm and cozy, but chances are your water pipes aren’t. When temperatures dip too low, those pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting. If that happens, you’re in for a hefty bill…

Causes of burst pipes

Winter is a common season for frozen pipe bursts. That’s because water expands when it freezes. So, when the water in your pipes becomes ice, it takes up more space and pushes against the sides of your metal or plastic pipes. That pressure continues to build up. When it reaches the breaking point, a pipe can burst and send water flowing.

Pipes can also burst for other reasons. This includes corrosion, as pipes rust and weaken over time. Tree roots can interfere with outside pipes. Shifting soil from construction around your home has a similar effect. Finally, clogs from toilet paper and hair can be large enough to cause pipes to burst.


What to do if your pipes burst

You want to take quick action if a pipe has burst in your house. Here’s what to do.

1. Turn off the main water supply. This will keep the water from flowing uncontrollably. If you live in an apartment building, you won’t have access to the main shutoff valve. Contact your landlord right away so he or she can take action. (Pro Tip: Most main water shutoff valves are located close to your water heater or furnace.)

2. Shut off the power. This will help ensure that you don’t get electrocuted through highly charged water that has come in contact with your electrical system.

3. Call a plumber. When pipes burst, it’s best to let a professional handle the problem. If you know that water has affected your electrical system, call an electrician as well.

4. Drain the pipes. You want to get the water out of your pipes to avoid more freezing, bursting, and leaking. With the water main still off, turn on all the cold taps and let the water run. Then turn off your hot water heater and turn on the hot taps. Let the water run. Finally, flush all the toilets.

5. If you turn on the water and only a trickle comes out, you may still have a frozen pipe. Keep the faucet on. As you defrost the ice ball, you want water to be able to flow freely. Use a hair dryer to safely thaw the pipes. Move it around to reach as many places as possible. Alternatively, wet some towels in hot water and place them across the pipes. Replace them as they cool. Do not use an open flame to warm your pipes. That could cause a fire or damage the pipes.

6. Assess the damage. Figure out where the broken pipe is. A plumber can help you to do this.

7. Contact your insurance agent. They will advise you on how to file a claim, and also what the policy may cover. They will send a representative out to inspect the damage.

8. Clean up any standing water. A wet/dry vacuum will pull water from carpets. Dehumidifiers also can help. You will need to clean the area thoroughly. Consider a professional repair that can help prevent future costly problems like mold.


How to prevent frozen pipes

You can take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. Follow this checklist.

1. Pipes most likely to freeze are outside or in unheated areas of your home like basements, attics, crawl spaces, garages, and cupboards. These include outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and pipes close to the outside of the house.

2. Add insulation to these places, such as your attic, basement or crawlspace. You can cover your pipes with insulation, too. You can find it at your local hardware store. Measure the length of the pipe and cut the insulation foam to size. Wrap the pipe with insulation. Seal the seam with tape.

3. Consider heat tape which is not tape at all but a type of wiring. It looks like an extension cord that plugs into a wall and then wraps around the pipe. If you use heat tape, make sure it is designated for water pipes and properly installed. Check the tape monthly while in use. Remove it if there are cracks, bite marks, or signs of deterioration.

4. Caulk the cracks in your walls and foundation to keep cold air out. Ask a professional contractor to make sure that your basement is appropriately sealed.

5. Remember to turn off outdoor water faucets in winter. Disconnect your garden hoses. Drain water from sprinkler and swimming pool lines. Do not put antifreeze in these lines, as it is environmentally harmful and dangerous to people, pets, and wildlife.

6. When temperatures are very cold outside, turn a faucet on cold and let it drip to a trickle. This keeps water flowing and helps prevent freezing. (Pro Tip: Put a bucket underneath to collect that water and use it to water your plants.)

7. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate. Just make sure to relocate or safeguard any chemicals that could be hazardous to children or pets.

8. Set up fans to blow heat into colder rooms. Or use space heaters. You can add a space heater to a room where pipes are exposed; however, use caution. Make sure it’s plugged into an outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electric shock. Do not use an extension cord and only use the space heater when you are home.

9. Keep your thermostat set to the same warm setting day and night. If you plan to be away from home for any length of time, make sure that the thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to help protect against frozen pipes.

10. Consider relocating your pipes if you continually have issues with freezing.


Your home is one of your greatest investments. Protect it with the right insurance.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Why Insurance Costs Are Up & What You Can Do About It

Why Insurance Costs Are Up & What You Can Do About It

From groceries to gas, it seems like we’re paying more for everything these days. Now insurance rates are increasing as well. Why is this happening, and more importantly, what can we do about it? Here’s what you need to know.


What we’re seeing…

Car insurance rates rose 9% over the course of 2022, a trend that is expected to continue with another 7% rate growth in 2023 according to Insurify. Home insurance rates increased by an average of 12.1% in 2021, and another 3% in 2022 said Experts predict rate increases each year for the next few years due to the perfect storm of inflation, supply chain issues, weather changes, and other factors.


We’re experiencing historic inflation.

Inflation is at its highest level in decades. Inflation has had a significant impact on the cost of auto parts and labor, as well as medical expenses for bodily injuries. 

From March 2021 to March 2022, here’s how prices have increased:

      • Medical services – increased 2.9%
      • Auto repair costs – increased 4.9%
      • Car rental costs – increased 13.8%
      • Used vehicles – increased 35.3%

Similarly, the costs associated with a home claim also have been affected by inflation. This includes additional temporary living expenses, replacement of personal property and home furnishings, cost of construction labor, and costs of construction supplies.  

From March 2021 to March 2022, here’s how prices have increased:

      • Rent – increased 5.1%
      • Home furnishings – increased 10.1%
      • Construction labor and trade services – increased 21.3%
      • Construction materials and goods – increased 22.2%


Supply Chain Issues

There are supply chain issues created by the pandemic and by a labor shortage. When we can’t get parts or supplies to repair a vehicle or a home, the process becomes lengthier and results in repairs simply costing more.


Other Factors

The severity and frequency of vehicle accidents are on the rise. Traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, due to an increased trend in post-pandemic risky driving behaviors – speeding, driving distracted, not wearing seatbelts, and driving under the influence. This rise in accidents directly affects claims, which contributes to rising auto insurance costs.  

Similar conditions come into play for home insurance costs. The number of extreme climate events and weather disasters is also increasing. In 2022, there were 18 disasters with losses of more than $1 billion each, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. 


An inside look at how this affects your insurance rate

As material and labor costs rise, the cost to repair and replace damaged homes and vehicles increases. Factor in the ongoing supply chain issues and costs increase even more. The amount you pay for insurance is likely to go up when the cost to settle claims rises.

“But I’ve never been in an accident, so why would my rate go up?” 

Even if you have a spotless driving record or never filed a claim, it’s likely that your insurance costs could be impacted due to economic factors that are out of your control – regardless of the company that provides your coverage. Insurers across the country have been raising rates, some multiple times in the past 12 months. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are ways you may be able to reduce your costs. 


What You Can Do to Lower Your Premiums

Your insurance provider can recommend adjustments that still give you the quality coverage you need but with a lower premium. Start with a thorough policy review and make sure to look at these areas.

•  Review deductible options. Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower the cost of your insurance premium. Since the deductible is the amount your insurance provider will subtract from an insurance payout, you’ll have to select a deductible that you’re comfortable paying out-of-pocket after a loss. Note that there can be diminishing returns if you set your deductible much higher than average, so as a consumer, you need to balance the premium savings against the amount you’d be required to pay after a loss.

•  Take advantage of discounts. You may qualify for insurance discounts for being part of a professional association, such as groups for teachers, nurses, or first responders. There are also discounts for being retired, good student discounts, setting up automated payments, and for paying in full upfront. You may also receive a discount for quoting online.

•  Buy home and auto insurance from the same company. When you bundle your home and auto insurance, you can often qualify for reduced rates, saving hundreds of dollars.

•  Remove Gap coverage if no longer needed. When you buy or lease a new vehicle, it starts depreciating once you drive it off the lot. Gap insurance ensures that you will get the full replacement value of your car if it is totaled or stolen. As a car begins to age, this gap goes down and the need for coverage is less.

•  Make your home disaster resistant. Talk to your insurance agent about how you can disaster-proof your home. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roof materials, or even clearing brush from around your home. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes or other natural disasters. In addition, consider modernizing your heating, plumbing, and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.

•  Choose electronic documents rather than mail. This is an easy change that often comes with a discount and can add up in the long run.

•  Skip a payment. Some insurance companies allow you to skip payments around the holidays. At California Casualty, you have the option to skip payments during the summer or holiday months when budgets tend to be extra tight. Ask your agent for details.


California Casualty has been slower with rate increases than the bigger carriers. We will always strive to keep our prices as affordable as possible for our members. When we do make rate changes, it is to be able to maintain the financial fortitude to keep our promises to every policyholder during their time of need.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. 

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Plumbing and Pipe Leaks?

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Plumbing and Pipe Leaks?

We all know the dreaded drip, drip, drip of a water leak. It’s the sound of a potentially expensive repair or at minimum, an annoying cleanup. Either way, you want to be prepared when it happens. Knowing what your homeowner’s insurance covers in terms of plumbing and pipe leaks is the first step.

In general, sudden plumbing issues are typically covered by insurance but plumbing problems that occur over time due to lack of maintenance may not be.  The policy may cover damage resulting from plumbing breakdowns, but it won’t cover the cost to repair the plumbing itself.  Insurance is intended to help in emergencies, not a substitute for regular maintenance.  


What Insurance (Probably) Does Not Cover   

Most policies do not cover old plumbing and pipe leaks. If you’ve got a slow leak and you ignore it until it gets worse, that’s likely not covered by your homeowner’s policy. When you file a claim, your insurance company will send an adjuster. They will determine the cause of damage, and decide whether it qualifies for coverage. Here are general guidelines on what insurance probably does not cover.

    • Normal wear-and-tear and lack of maintenance are not covered. If you neglect your plumbing and pipes, you essentially have voided your policy.
    • Leaks that started small and have gotten progressively worse over a period of years are not covered. The time to address them was when they started.
    • Pipes that freeze because you turned off the heat would be categorized under neglect. So, if you went away on a winter vacation, and failed to take the necessary steps to protect your pipes, the damage that results may not be covered under your policy.
    • Mold may be excluded from your standard policy. However, you could purchase additional coverage.
    • Water damage from any flooding is not covered unless you have a flood policy.


What Insurance (Probably) Covers

From certain plumbing issues to broken, burst, or frozen pipes, your homeowner’s policy probably covers the ensuing damage if you have taken reasonable care and performed continued maintenance. For example, coverage for freezing of a plumbing system only applies if you “maintain heat in the building; or shut off the water supply and drain all systems and appliances of water.”

Insurance pays to repair the pipes or plumbing in these cases. It also compensates you for covered items that are damaged by the leak. Coverage A (which includes the plumbing system) will cover the plumbing system if there is a fire, tornado, explosion, etc. The contract specifically excludes coverage for “wear and tear, deterioration and latent defect, inherent vice” – basically, the policy will not pay for the plumbing system or pipes for leaks, broken, etc. – that is the homeowner’s responsibility. If it is a covered loss, the insurance company pays for the ensuing damage, i.e. flooring, baseboards, drywall, and personal property.  

Your insurer will likely send someone out to determine the cause of loss and inspect the damage. You will get reimbursed by your policy, minus your deductible (which is the amount that you chose to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in).

There are four different parts of your homeowner’s policy that address damage caused by plumbing and pipe leaks:

    • Dwelling coverage covers the structure of your home. This includes the roof, walls, and floorboards. However, if you have to remove a wall to see if there is a leak, that would not be covered. There are companies that will come out and complete a Leak Detection Report to determine where the water is coming from.  If the loss is covered and over the deductible, your insurance will pay for the report. 
    • Personal property coverage protects your possessions that may be damaged.  Coverage may apply if there is “an accidental discharge or overflow of water from within a plumbing system or household appliance.” Damage that occurs gradually due to a leaky pipe is generally not covered. Protected possessions include clothing, TVs, and furniture. There are dollar limits for certain items such as money, jewelry and firearms, so check with your insurer. (You could add an extra rider to cover those items.) For personal property coverage on a homeowner’s policy, you typically get 50 or 75% of Coverage A, the total amount of coverage for your home.
    • Other structures coverage protects detached buildings, such as garages or guest houses, that may be damaged due to plumbing issues. The coverage limit for other structures is generally set at 10% of your home’s coverage limit. That means if your home is insured for $200,000, the coverage limit for your garage would be $20,000. For an additional premium, you can add an endorsement for additional coverage.
    • Depending upon the extent of the damage, your house may not be livable. If that’s the case, you would need to stay somewhere else. You would be covered for any necessary increase in living expenses, such as lodging, food, and gas. Under Coverage D – Loss of Use, called “Additional Living Expense,” your policy will provide a flat percentage toward living costs, usually 30% of the Coverage A amount. Some states have time limits (e.g. 12 months) on when you can use that coverage. Plan to cover those additional expenses out-of-pocket.


How to Know if You Have a Leak

Taking the time to inspect your pipes and plumbing periodically can give you a heads-up that there could be a problem. The earlier you address it, the less costly it will be. Look for these signs that you may have a leak.

    • Stains or discolorations on walls or ceilings
    • Bulging or sagging spots on walls or ceilings
    • A trickling sound when it is quiet, such as at night
    • A musty smell, which can be a sign of moisture and mold growth 
    • Poor water pressure
    • Rusted metal
    • Peeling paint
    • Steady increases in water bills

Finally, make sure your homeowner’s policy is up to date, and that it provides the coverage that you need. That will go a long way toward having peace of mind should you have a plumbing problem.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

How to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

How to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

It’s cold and flu season, and as a nurse, teacher, or parent, you’re likely surrounded by sniffling and coughing on the daily. So, at this point how can you keep yourself from getting sick?

Look no further; we’ve got you covered with the best tips to help keep you safe and sniffle-free this winter. Follow this guide to protect yourself and help boost your immune system.


Get quality sleep.

Our bodies do important work while we sleep. They repair cells and make proteins that fight infection. Getting enough sleep, and specifically, quality sleep is important to this process. We know it may be hard to get enough sleep when working 12-hour shifts as a nurse or as a parent of young children. Take the time to set yourself up for success with these tips.

    • Set your thermostat to about 65 degrees for optimum sleeping temperature.
    • Create a bedtime routine that does not include devices or television. Sometimes a warm shower or bath can help just prior to bed.
    • Use a white noise machine or wear earplugs to soften distracting noise.
    • Use blackout shades or curtains and/or wear an eye mask.
    • Be consistent with bedtime routines for your children. If your children fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of going to bed, they are getting the right amount of sleep.

Pro tip: If you’re having trouble eliminating screens before bed, try wearing blue light-blocker glasses. They will help reduce the light that disturbs your circadian rhythm.


Eat immunity-boosting foods.

It’s easy to reach for prepared foods, microwave meals or vending machine finds. Resist the urge. Instead, fill your diet with the foods that help power your immune system.

    • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
    • Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C but so are red bell peppers.
    • Blueberries are delicious as well as nutritious and can help boost your immunity.
    • Broccoli and spinach are both superfoods with vitamins and antioxidants.
    • Garlic and turmeric have immune-boosting properties. Ginger helps decrease inflammation.


Make sure to hydrate.

Water helps our bodies to function. Staying well hydrated helps our bodies circulate blood more easily, which allows our white blood cells to better fight off viruses. It also keeps the mucous membranes in our noses moist so they can catch viral invaders.

    • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. By that point, you’re already slightly dehydrated.
    • Choose a water bottle you love and bring it with you to work, errands, etc. Get into the habit of sipping throughout the day.
    • If you’re bored with the taste of water, infuse it with lemon or cucumber to help encourage you to drink.
    • Avoid other beverages so that you’ll drink more water. The caffeine in coffee and soda can dehydrate you, which has exactly the opposite effect of what your body needs.
    • Green tea has only a small amount of caffeine, and tea has antioxidants. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for an alternative to coffee.


Reduce your stress.

When we’re stressed, our ability to fight off infection decreases. That’s why managing stress is so important.

    • Take steps to avoid burnout. Slow down and give yourself breaks to protect your mental health.
    • Try meditating, deep breathing, and other relaxation strategies.
    • Incorporate exercise into your routine. Park farther away and walk to your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Plan a workout session that’s easy to fit into your schedule.
    • Laugh more. Make time for the activities that you enjoy with the people who are important to you.


Follow healthy habits.

You can reduce your exposure to potential infections by taking the precautions that can make a difference.

    • Continue proper handwashing habits. Wet your hands and then scrub them for at least 20 seconds with soap. That’s equivalent to humming Happy Birthday twice. Rinse with clean, running water. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
    • Reduce allergens in your home to improve indoor air quality.
    • Keep your classroom at a comfortable temperature for learning.
    • Don’t use handkerchiefs. Use disposable tissues and discard them when done.
    • Don’t smoke. Drink alcohol in moderation. Both tobacco and alcohol can affect your body’s ability to fight infections.
    • Keep up to date on your vaccinations

Do you have a way to stay healthy that’s not included in this blog? Share it with us in the comments.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

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