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The last thing you want to do over the holidays is file an insurance claim for expensive items stolen out of your car or make an auto claim as the result of a crash that damaged your vehicle or someone else's.

While you are preparing for the upcoming holidays – making lists, shopping the malls and quaint out-of-the-way boutiques, or hitting the road to visit relatives – thieves and fraudsters are making their own special holiday plans to take advantage of preoccupied shoppers and travelers during the hustle-and-bustle of the season.

By being observant and taking a few extra precautions, you can enjoy the season’s festivities and avoid falling victim to these criminals. The Randall Hall Insurance Agency wants to make sure you stay safe and offers the following tips to protect you and your family from the Grinch who wants to steal more than your holiday.

Always lock your car and take your keys with you. Don’t leave your car unlocked and running even if you think you’re only going to be a few minutes. According to the National Highway Transportations Safety Administration (NHTSA) 40 to 50 percent of stolen vehicles involve mistakes by drivers.

Don’t leave a spare key in the vehicle. Thieves know where to look.
Always Take Your Keys

Park your vehicle in a well-lighted area – preferably in an attended lot. Don’t make your car an easy target for thieves.

Don’t leave any packages or valuables in your car in plain view. (Including GPS devices and mounting systems.) Always lock them in your trunk or cover them so they are not readily visible. Thieves know cars are loaded with packages this time of year and are on the lookout for those gifts.

Always approach your car with keys in hand and check the back seat of your car. If you see suspicious activity or someone is loitering near your car, don’t approach it, and if possible, notify the police.

Be wary of people who offer you the right-of-way out of a parking space or indicate that it’s okay to proceed. Scammers will motion to you that it’s okay to pull out of a parking space, only to have their accomplice run into you with their vehicle, which may lead to your insurance company having to foot the bill for vehicle repair and possible bogus bodily injury claims.

When driving, don’t follow too closely. You may be setting yourself up to be the victim of a staged crash if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly.

   

If you are in a vehicle crash, be wary of individuals   who don’t want to notify the police or get a police report. Also make note of the number, ages, sex and race of the occupants of the other vehicle along with the license plate number.

Use your cell phone camera to document all vehicles’ damages, even if there doesn’t appear to be any. Many insurance companies have developed their own mobile apps for reporting accidents and making claims. Check out your insurance carrier’s app and download it to your phone.

Be mindful of people who approach your vehicle to ask for directions or change, or to hand out flyers.

   

Keep 1/4 gas tank Winter cold can be stressful on your vehicle.   Avoid being stranded by making sure your vehicle’s maintenance is up-to-date and your gas doesn’t fall below a quarter of a tank.

 Carry a cell phone and know your emergency numbers: #77 for Virginia State Police and 911 for local police.

 

If you have knowledge of a fraudulent insurance scheme or suspect you may have been the victim of insurance fraud, report the activity to Virginia State Police on the insurance fraud hotline at 1-877-62FRAUD (1-877-623-7283) or   visit www.StampOutFraud.com. You may also be eligible to receive a reward of up to $25,000.

The HEAT Program also offers a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest for vehicle theft. Call 1-800-947-HEAT (1-800-947-4328) or go to HeatReward.com if you have information about stolen cars, motorcycles, mopeds or their parts.

 If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, don’t hesitate to contact us at 804-320-5488 or via our website.  You can also stop by our office, and one of our agents will be more than happy to answer your insurance questions.

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