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.

Gun Insurance?

The District of Columbia is considering legislation requiring gun owners to buy liability insurance. I assume they mean something along the lines of an umbrella liability policy, which gives others coverage if damaged or injured by you in some way.

Other states are considering or actually passing gun legislation that is unique and never before tried. The Florida Governor signed 5 gun measures into law which has received great support from gun organizations. Read the article to decide for yourself if the new laws make sense. It seems voters in Florida approve.

Umbrella liability insurance coverage can kick in over and above your homeowner and auto insurance policies – a high incident, big claim type policy.

Will politicians also require thugs, thieves and criminals to buy insurance too? I digress, sorry!

The guns insurance legislation that was proposed by Democratic Councilwoman Mary Cheh would not cover legal acts involving your weapon, such as a self defense situation. But it would instead target negligent or willful acts by the gun owner or, I assume, someone else using your weapon with or without your permission.

Washington DC already possesses some of the toughest gun laws in the nation but other states are catching up.

California, Maryland and New York have discussed passing similar gun insurance legislation but none have actually done so yet.

Is this insurance?

Insurance is designed to cover you against accidents and un-intentional acts —– not illegal or intentional acts as this gun legislation would do. It’s kind of a total reverse of what insurance is designed to cover.

For example, your homeowner policy will protect you if your house burns down in a fire. But it is not designed to protect you if you burn your own house down as you cannot insure it against arson.

In other news, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation just last week that makes Maryland one of the toughest states on gun control. The newly passed legislation bans 45 types of assault weapons. Magazine capacity was also reduced from 20 rounds to 10. Connecticut and New York have also passed recent gun measures similar to Maryland. A Washington Post poll suggests that 85% of Terps support the legislation.

What do you think about gun insurance?

What do you think about banning assault weapons?

Oklahoma City Tornado

It is amazing the damage done by the tornado that ripped through Moore, OK. Tens of millions of dollars of damage. The loss of life. That city seems to be right in an alley where tornado’s have historically traveled. Makes me wonder if people who move there have trepidation about the likelihood of this sort of thing happening in the future. The future is here…again.

In the metro Phoenix, Arizona area we don’t face tornado’s, or much in the way of hail damage. Sometimes we have fierce winds and heavy rains. Not often but I have seen them and dealt with some of the claim aftermath.

However, we do have other types of threats from causes such as fire, water loss and burglary.

When is the last time you received your annual homeowner renewal and really looked through it? I don’t necessarily mean all the fine print from cover to cover (though even that is advisable) but rather at least the main points of coverage information and the sections detailing what is covered and what is excluded?

Perhaps you need to let the Oklahoma loss and devastation remind you that it is worth 25 minutes of your life to take a careful look at your insurance. Understanding your coverages and policy limitations only serve to help you through the difficult process of a claim should it happen.

Minimum Auto Limits

The State of Illinois is considering raising their minimum auto insurance limits – the first such change in 24 years. Currently the state allows drivers to carry a minimum $20,000 bodily injury and $15,000 for property damage.

That means if someone hits your vehicle and you become injured the insurance will only pay out up to $20,000. Your vehicle damages will only be covered up to $15,000. Those limits may work for some claims but certainly not all, leaving some victims in a financial bind simply because someone else chose to cover low limits.

The new limits will raise the BI to between $25,000 – $50,000, depending if one person injured or two or more. The increase in premium is expected to be around $75 for the typical consumer.

Perhaps you are wondering then what Arizona’s minimum auto insurance coverage limits are? Bodily injury is $15,000 per person up to $30,000 and property damage is $10,000. Those are woefully low and an embarrassment to our state. Low limits like these put innocent people at personal and financial risk.

I hope at some point soon this issue will be taken up by someone in the Arizona legislature and the responsible thing done.

Insurance and the professional athlete

Many kids grow up dreaming of playing professional baseball, basketball and football (sorry hockey). The odds are so small however. Even the best athletes can run into injuries or even greater competition and never make it.

Peyton Manning is one of the lucky ones. He recently signed a contract with the Denver Broncos for $20,000,000 per season for 2013 and 2014. And in reality it probably is a bargain for Denver as their team will likely continue to compete for a Super Bowl as long as Manning is behind center.

As part of his contract Manning and the Broncos also agreed to add insurance to his contract that would wipe his salary off the books if he reinjures his neck. Ironically, the insurance policy does not cover the parties if he is injured for any other reason, just the neck.

In 2012, Manning threw for over 4,600 yards for 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

I was unable to determine how much this insurance policy cost but it is merely the cost of doing business in professional sports.