Texting & Driving Puts Lives at Risk

A Florida driver sent or received upwards of 50 text messages during a one-hour commute to work. And yes, the story ends as badly as you might imagine. The driver hit another vehicle head on and two people were killed.

Roughly 3,000 people die each year from what is described as “distracted” driving. It includes more than just texting but texting is probably the biggest distraction most drivers face. There are other distractions on the road – women putting on make up, checking Facebook or the internet, and people reading things other than phone texts. I saw one driver reading a book once. Those with a GPS may be tempted to drive while typing an address into their GPS.

A movie theatre that we frequent has a rather obnoxious direct message before the movie begins. It tells the audience to not text or even have the bright light of their phone visible during the movie because it distracts other movie goers. The message even goes so far to let you know they will ask you to leave the facility.

While a movie theatre is not the same as driving a car the hope (by me) is that announcements such as this will be another reminder of how texting can interfere with the lives of other people. I only wish this movie theater would add another line to remind people to not text and drive – in addition to not text and watch their movie.

Terrifying Insurance Words

I read an article that talked about words that you do not want to hear or see when it relates to your insurance.

1) Surcharge – meaning you have done something to cause your insurance premium to go up. The most common reason is an at-fault accident. But some insurance carriers can raise your rates for a speeding ticket too.

2) SR22 – is a financial responsibility form that shows you have at least basic Arizona auto insurance. Unfortunately, if you ever need an SR22 you will pay higher premiums. A DUI (for example) may cause you to need an SR22. Or driving without insurance may cause you to need it. An SR22 stays on your record for a few years. If you let your auto insurance lapse this period begins anew.

3) Teenager – all of us with kids who have reached driving age know and understand this all too well. Youthful drivers cause many more accidents than older drivers. As a result they cause insurance premiums to rise. If you are a parent with a teen driver you probably cover the added cost out of your pocket. I feel your pain with two young adults.

4) Non-Standard – Many consumers are not aware there even is such a thing as standard auto insurance companies and non-standard auto insurance companies. Premiums are generally higher with a non-standard carrier. If you have had incidents on your driving record you may be with a non-standard carrier. That does not mean you are stuck with a non-standard carrier forever.

Contact your Arizona independent insurance agent or insurance broker and let them re-shop your auto insurance, even if you like your current agent. We will work hard to give you great customer service so the real question is how much money we can save you.

Even if you must remain with a non-standard carrier sometimes you may find a different non-standard carrier offering a lower rate. This is why you always want to use an independent insurance agent who can compare and shop around on your behalf.

Black Box for Cars

If you buy a new vehicle model there is a extremely good chance it will be installed with a black box device that will keep a log of most of your driving habits. It is estimated that 90% or more of all new vehicles have this black box pre-installed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering making the installation of these black boxes mandatory in every new vehicle. This device has been installed in some models for many, many years already and the public has been none the wiser. According to this article approximately 96% of all new vehicles already have this device installed.

What is the reason, you ask?

More than likely – to help piece together the final moments before an accident – though proponents often point to the safety aspects of the black box. The box can tell your speed, braking and acceleration, all great things to know if you are researching an accident. The device includes sensors under the seats so the device can confirm how many occupants were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The technical term for the black box is Event Data Recorder.

Ironically the EDR was conceived and designed for consumer protection – telling the safety features in your vehicle whether to pull your seat belt tighter and whether to inflate the air bag. However, it has evolved into a way to assist in insurance investigations, lawsuits, and even criminal cases.

GM and Ford have been installing the devices in certain vehicles for at least a decade, according to one report.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

An auto insurance organization in New Jersey completed a study and found 28% of residents there admitted to texting and driving. Another 27% said they programmed their GPS while driving.

15% of New Jersey drivers said their own texting caused them to narrowly avoid causing an accident and 20% said they know someone involved in an accident resulting from texting while driving.

Texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey.

Chrysler Defies Recall Requests

The government claims upwards of 2.7 million Jeeps are at risk of a fuel tank fire in the event of a rear end collision.

Chrysler was sent a letter by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encouraging the company to recall Grand Cherokees from 1993 – 2004 along with Jeep Liberty models from 2002 – 2007 voluntarily.

However, Jeep’s response is to claim the vehicles are safe and a recall is not needed. It is a rare step in the motor industry. The government can go to court and force Jeep to comply. The government has 32 such incidents where rear impact crashed in the Grand Cherokee caused 44 deaths. The Liberty model was involved in five rear end crashes that took seven lives.

Buy a car on black Friday

Here is a tip for NEXT year!

According to a recent report, statistics indicate that if you are going to buy a vehicle your best time is – Black Friday.

So instead of shopping for that big screen television or washer/dryer, consider buying your car on Black Friday and save money.

On every other day of the year the average person pays 4.7% under the stated sticker price. On Black Friday the average discount is 7.5%. Car dealerships see the buying frenzy each year and they too are trying to pry your money away by giving a better discount that day than on any other day of the year.

The other reason for good deals on Black Friday? It is year end and dealers are hoping to clear the current models to make way for the next season’s models.

When you buy Arizona Insurance use an Arizona Independent Insurance Agent and Broker to save up to 35% on your Auto, Home, Life and Business Insurance.

And hey, don’t forget to contact Choice Insurance of Arizona for your

Our Aging Population

If Paul Revere were alive he may be found driving along our neighborhoods shouting “the baby boomers are coming”.

Next year the first wave of baby boomers begin hitting the ripe age of retirement. That means America is entering a phase where automakers will have to keep in mind an older generation when it comes to car making.

By the year 2020 it is estimated over 15% of our population will be age 65 or older.

Here are some concerns for car makers:

Older drivers tend to drive less. That means cars will last longer.
Driving less means fewer repairs.
Older drivers tend to have fewer cars in their driveway.
Older drivers like nicer vehicles but tend to buy smaller vehicles.

These and other factors will put more pressure on U.S. car makers to keep up profits. Expect more auto makers from the United States and elsewhere to focus more and more on markets like China and India.

It’s easy to keep your insurance carrier when it automatically renews every six or twelve months. But why not check around once in awhile to ensure you are getting a good deal. We can shop and compare your insurance with a lot of top rated and top ranked insurance companies to help you save hundreds.

Detroit Auto Show

As the annual Detroit Auto Show opens on Saturday (the media has early access) most car makers are ready to show off a variety of new looks and styles.

Chrysler, on the other hand, will have merely one new model to display – Lancia, which is from their Italian counterpart and owner of Fiat. Fiat owns a 20% stake in Chrysler.

Sadly, the automaker has many experts wondering about their future considering their lack of new models and offerings. The Detroit show is a ritual and time of using the media to greatly tout to the general public an automakers vibrant new products. The silence from Chrysler seems to be speaking volumes. Instead of using words like “vibrant” and “turnaround” to describe Chrysler, some are seeing a brand that just may go away.

Ford and General Motors are busy showing off several new vehicles and generating lots of excitement. Both have earned favorable reviews from analysts.

Tips When Buying a Vehicle

These are common mistakes that most of us make or have made when we buy a vehicle. Keep in mind that car sales people are not your friend. Their job is to become your friend as quick as possible to make the deal sweeter for them and the dealership. Also, they sell cars every single day and grow quite good at their job. To assume you can walk into a dealership and compete with their car-negotiation skills is often foolish.

1) Begin with a budget. This includes knowing how much you can afford to pay monthly. And when negotitating price with the sales person also keep in mind that you may have to include the costs into your budget of an extended warranty (if you plan on asking for one) when you sit down with the finance manager. Just because you agree on a monthly payment does not mean your deal is done.

2) Negotiate the “price” of the car, not the monthly payment. You successfully accomplish this by spending time scouring the internet and other advertisements to get a good feel for what specific vehicles and models sell for. If you walk into a dealership without doing your research you likely will over pay big time.

3) Get your financing put into place before you ever set foot onto a dealership. Know the interest rate you qualify for.

4) Contact a dealership via the internet. Almost all dealerships have someone who handles internet inquiries. I’ve actually bought a car that was negotiated entirely through email. When all was said and done I virtually walked into the dealership and signed. There was the matter of meeting the finance person and negotiating the extended warranty, but even that went well.

I hope these tips help you. Consider getting a quote from us the next time you are searching for low cost Arizona insurance.

Insurance Fraud

An Illinois doctor is accused of stealing $1,700,000 from medicare and other insurance carriers.

Insurance fraud raises the rates for everyone.

From March 2006 – 2009 this doctor submitted 3,200 bogus claims to medicare and Blue Cross / Blue Shield for surgeries she did not perform.

The Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services also announced charges were being filed against 89 medical personnel for fraud totalling about $233,000,000.

Ever wonder why insurance rates go up?

Woman evades jail in insurance scam

A Philadelphia woman was sentenced to probation and 125 hours of community service after pleading guilty for falsely reporting a 2008 Lexus stolen. The insurance carrier paid $42,000 in the scam. An accomplice then hid the vehicle in his garage. He was also charged and pled to reduced charges.

And we wonder why insurance rates go up?

New York cracking down on insurance fraud

While the two people in the above story received only probation, they need to be happy they did not commit their scam in New York. Statistics in New York show that 36% of insurance claims are considered fraudulent or inflated. 22% are considered completely bogus. Those are huge numbers considering the number of insurance policies active.

And we wonder why insurance rates go up.

The New York legislature approved new bills that would:

Make a class D felony for anyone staging a fake car accident. If the fake accident results in serious injury or death the penalty becomes 25 years behind bars.

As a side note, I almost rear ended a vehicle filled with males who were trying to get me to hit them. They slammed on their brakes at a green light. Being an aware driver I stopped in time but the old, heavy truck behind me slammed into my vehicle. Of course, the driver behind me was an uninsured driver to boot. I now have first hand knowledge of fake accidents and how they come about.

Another New York bill allows insurance carriers to back-date cancellations when fraud is involved. A practice that they have seen is consumers applying for auto insurance and paying with a bad check or stolen credit card. Then, they go out and commit fraud by staging an accident. So not only do they sue for (supposed) injuries but their initial payment bounced as well.

Under current laws, Arizona cannot cancel or back date a cancellation if fraud was involved. Most states now allow insurance companies to do this practice.

How well do you understand auto insurance?

A company conducted an auto insurance quiz with 500 consumers. Their score – 34%.

It’s an amazingly low score considering people buy car insurance over their entire lives. The study did not reveal age information but if drivers are over 30 there is little reason to not understand your policy more. The internet today offers anyone the ability to research anything.

Here are a sample of the questions to help you determine how well you know your insurance.

Question 1:
What does auto liability insurance pay for?
Question 2:
What does collision coverage pay for?
Question 3:
What does comprehensive coverage pay for?
Question 4:
What does medical coverage pay for?
Question 5:
What does uninsured motorist coverage pay for?
Question 6:
If your car it totaled, what does gap insurance pay for?
Question 7:
If a friend has liability limits of 25/50/40, what does that mean?
Question 8:
If your friend borrows your car and wrecks it whose insurance pays?

Only 2% of quiz respondents understood what comprehensive coverage is. If you are unsure about the answers you can visit some of the pages on our site, contact us or do some online research. Never rely on someone else to know or explain your own coverage to you. Insurance is important, especially car insurance. It is always best to know what you are buying and how that product covers/ protects you.

The High Cost of Fraud

Some years ago I was traveling on a fairly busy two lane road in Tempe. I pay good attention as I drive but when I see a green light in front of me at no point do I expect the car ahead to slam on their brakes. But that’s exactly what happened. The vehicle ahead, loaded with men, slammed on their brakes. I could see them looking back at me expecting to get hit. The light was green.

This is a common type of fraud, where a vehicle causes an accident and the passengers all hope to hit some small jackpot against the insurance company by claiming personal injury. And no doubt they probably have a law office ready to handle their claim.

Fortunately for me, I hit the brakes quickly and barely stopped in time. Our bumpers must have been an inch apart. Once they realized I had avoided a collision, they hit the gas and sped off.

The truck behind me was not so aware as he slammed into me viciously. And to make matters worse, the pickup driver had no insurance.

TAKE IT FROM ME – DO NOT TAIL GATE!!!! At some point in your life you will end up following a scam artist hoping to get rear ended.

Edmunds.com estimates that fraud adds $200 – $300 per year to your insurance premium. Edmunds advises being aware of another type of staged claim – the 4 way stop accident. Your vehicle arrives at an intersection at the same time as another. The other driver, seemingly courteous, waves you ahead. So you proceed only to find the other driver flooring the gas pedal to cause you to hit them.

Insurance companies are no stranger to fake injury claims. But disproving them is difficult. So it’s mostly up to you and me to be diligent in our driving, be careful, don’t speed and do not at any time tail gate.

Recently I was at a stop sign awaiting for the traffic to clear enough for me to pull into the closest lane. A driver behind me must have been in some sort of hurry as she laid on her car horn beeping at me to merge into the busy traffic. Sorry, but I am not risking my life, my vehicle and someone’s else life/vehicle for a driver who is late to get wherever they are hurrying to.

As all safe drivers should do, I waited until it was safe to merge into traffic. The girl behind me quickly followed me into traffic and cut around several vehicles. Imagine my surprise (being sarcastic) when I arrived at the next red light and this rushed driver was sitting there. Hurrying rarely works but puts everyone around at risk.