So, how do motorcycle insurers come up with their rates, anyway?
Believe it or not, they base their premiums on sound statistical data that helps them determine the likelihood of you filing a claim (and costing them money). Insurance companies consider a number of factors, including:
Driving record (moving violations)
In general, those who are younger than 25, female, married, live in a rural location, don’t ride much, drive a safe but inexpensive bike, and have a clean driving history and great credit are treated to the best rates.
The numbers are even scarier for older riders, who are increasingly taking up or returning to motorcycling after many years. Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones.
Still, many enthusiasts enjoy a lifetime of riding without injury. The key to optimizing your odds is to be prepared and avoid risks. Keep in mind that 48 percent of fatalities in 2010 involved speeding, according to the IIHS, and alcohol was a factor in 42 percent. Eliminate those factors and you’ve dramatically reduced your risk and hopefully, your rates.
Did you know you could USE A TEXT BLOCKER FROM YOUR CELL PHONE COMPANY??
This is great news and new to me. Even if you expose your teen to lengthy lectures and graphic driver’s ed videos depicting the hazards of texting while driving, it can still be difficult for them to put their phone away when they are at the wheel. Numerous cell phone providers trump this temptation with text blocker apps.
According to Sarah Shelton in the US News and World Report, Drive First from Sprint is one of the most comprehensive examples. This free app automatically activates when it detects the phone is moving faster than 10 mph. It silences the phone’s ringer and alerts, and if any texts or calls come in, Drive First sends an automated response saying you are currently on the road. This app also locks your phone, with the exception of three apps you designate (such as navigation or music). It also lets you designate VIP contacts, allowing your family or your boss to connect with you. Parents can log into their Drive First account online and monitor how their teens are using their phones when they’re driving.
AT&T’s DriveMode is a similar free app, silencing the phone’s ringer and sending automatic replies any time your teen is driving over 15 mph. Your teen can easily access music or navigation with one touch from the home screen. DriveMode also sends you parental alerts if your teen turns the app off or adds a new speed-dial number.
You can download either of these apps even if you have a different cell phone carrier, though some functions won’t be available. If your carrier offers a different text blocker app, find out if the app turns on automatically when the car is moving (Verizon’s Safely Go has to be activated every time), and make sure it can’t be deactivated from your teen’s phone.
Distracted driving is the cause for most of the accidents we have. Help your child stay safe out there!!
It seems everyone is joining in on the recent Pokemon Go craze. The game, which is as close to a real life adaptation of the Pokemon world as anyone could hope for, is played outside using your phone to track down Pokemon and battle other members of the community for ownership of Pokemon gyms. This has sparked a cultural phenomenon bordering on obsession.
The negatives of the game are a little scary, however, and I’ve noticed some bad habits which include people not being aware of their surroundings as they play, despite the game explicitly warning you to do so, people driving while playing, and in some instances bad people using the game to lure in unsuspecting patrons to rob them or worse.
Some lawyers say Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game, raises legal issues and public safety concerns. Alabama lawyer Keith Lee, writing at his Associate’s Mind blog, says his legal questions include:
Does placing a Pokemon character on a private property, without permission, affect the owner’s interest in exclusive possession of the property? Does it create an attractive nuisance? Does owning real property extend property rights to intellectual property elements that are placed on it? Is there liability for placing the characters on private property or in dangerous locations?
Michigan lawyer Brian Wassom raises other legal issues in a post for the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog. Augmented reality games can lead to competition for the use of the same physical spaces, disrupting the ability of players and non-players to enjoy the place, and possibly leading to violence, he says. Could government limit the players in a public space? Would that bring a First Amendment challenge?
Wassom also sees a risk of injury for players who are “wandering through the physical world while staring through a phone screen.” New York lawyer Peter Pullano makes a similar point in an interview with 13WHAM in which he raises the possibility of distractions for drivers. “Even though you may be looking for your Pikachu while you’re driving, that’s not going to impress your officer,” Pullano said.
LawNewz points out that the game’s terms of service disclaim liability for property damage, personal injury or death while playing the game, as well as claims based on violation of any other applicable law. The game also has a notice that generally requires arbitration of disputes.
My #1 Tip For Staying Safe While Playing Pokemon Go: DO NOT PLAY WHILE DRIVING!!!
This is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than texting and driving. Again, I don’t want you to end up in a car accident because you do a U-Turn and jump over a median to catch a Pidgeotto. I promise you there will be another chance to catch one that doesn’t involve you risking you being in an accident.
Stay safe out there friends!!
YOUR #ocalaaccidentandinjurylawyer, Marianne Howanitz
Ready to hit the road this summer? There’s nothing fun about driving next to an 18-wheeler. They’re big and they have a frightening tendency to drift in and out of your lane more often than you’d like. But sharing the road with a big rig need not be a nightmare — there are things you can do to make it easier on yourself and your friendly neighborhood truck driver.
Michael Taylor, transportation special programs developer for the Tractor Trailer Training Program at Triton College in River Grove, Ill., says the top five pet peeves truckers had with fellow motorists are:
1) Riding in a trucker’s blind spots. Trucks have large blind spots to the right and rear of the vehicle. Smaller blind spots exist on the right front corner and mid-left side of the truck. The worst thing a driver can do is chug along in the trucker’s blind spot, where he cannot be seen. If you’re going to pass a truck, do it and get it over with. Don’t sit alongside with the cruise control set 1 mph faster than the truck is traveling.
2) Cut-offs. Don’t try to sneak into a small gap in traffic ahead of a truck. Don’t get in front of a truck and then brake to make a turn. Trucks take as much as three times the distance to stop as the average passenger car, and you’re only risking your own life by cutting a truck off and then slowing down in front of it.
3) Impatience while reversing. Motorists need to understand that it takes time and concentration to back a 48-foot trailer up without hitting anything. Sometimes a truck driver needs to make several attempts to reverse into tight quarters. Keep your cool and let the trucker do her job.
4) Don’t play policeman. Don’t try to make a truck driver conform to a bureaucrat’s idea of what is right and wrong on the highway. As an example, Taylor cited the way truck drivers handle hilly terrain on the highway. A fully loaded truck slows way down going up a hill. On the way down the other side of the hill, a fully loaded truck gathers speed quickly. Truckers like to use that speed to help the truck up the next hill. Do not sit in the passing lane going the speed limit. Let the truck driver pass, and let the Highway Patrol worry about citing the trucker for breaking the law.
5) No assistance in lane changes or merges. It’s not easy to get a 22-foot tractor and 48-foot trailer into traffic easily. If a trucker has his turn signal blinking, leave room for the truck to merge or change lanes. Indicate your willingness to allow the truck in by flashing your lights.
By taking simple common-sense steps to protect yourself and your family when driving near large trucks, traffic fatalities will continue to drop. Over the years, the trucking industry has improved the quality of truck drivers by making it more difficult to qualify for and keep a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Mandatory drug testing has also been instituted. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the following data in 2008. The intoxication rate for drivers involved in fatal accidents was:
27% for motorcycle riders- 23% for light truck drivers (pickups and SUVs, that is)-23% for passenger car drivers-1% for truck drivers
Still, more work must be done to combat tightly scheduled deliveries, overbearing stacks of paperwork and driver fatigue caused by federal regulations that work against the human body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Should you, or someone you know be injured or killed in an accident with a big rig, make sure to contact an attorney that specializes in these types of accidents and make that call as soon as possible to preserve your rights.
We often forget that our auto insurance policies are contracts. Besides paying your premium on time, you should abide by your car insurance company’s rules.
But how can you abide by the rules when you don’t even know what they are?
Here are 10 common scenarios that Penny Gusner for Insure.com wrote about recently. If any of these hit close to home, quickly fix the issue before you get in a pickle.
You haven’t added a licensed teen to your policy.
No one wants to raise their hand and offer to pay more for car insurance. But insurers are permitted to consider all household residents when they price a policy, including a teen. Withholding information about your teen driver from your car insurance company is a big no-no.
And insurers have ways of finding out. They can pull reports that identify “hidden” household members. One such report from LexisNexis looks for “undisclosed” newly licensed drivers between ages 15 and 25. If your insurer finds out about your licensed teenager this way, it can revise your premiums to include the young driver, or decide it doesn’t want your business anymore.
If your insurer doesn’t find out about your teen until there is an accident, it still might cover the incident. That would be a lucky outcome, but you’ll back premiums based on the teen driver. Or, your auto insurance company may say it’s not covering the teenager and is dropping your policy because of your failure to inform it.
You let your adult child take your car with her when she moved to another state.
Sure, it’s so much easier to put off a call to your agent and let your child move away with a family car. But when your car is being driven and garaged in a new area, the risks of you as a customer have changed. Car insurance companies expect to be informed about these changes. If your daughter were in an accident, your insurer could say you concealed vital information about the vehicle’s location, deny your claim and cancel the policy.
If you want to do things the right way, add the child’s name to the car’s title. Then your child can buy insurance for the car in her own name and using her new address. This will also allow your child to register the car in her new state, which most states require.
You sold your car to your son but still carry the insurance on it.
Uh oh. In general, you can’t carry insurance on a car in which you don’t have an “insurable interest.” Typically, those with an insurable interest are the car’s owners, lienholders and co-signers – meaning those who would be affected financially if something happens to the car.
Since you are no longer the car’s owner, it’s time for the new owner — your child — to buy car insurance for the vehicle. If he’s still a minor, you may have to be on the policy with him. Minors typically must have a parent or guardian involved in the auto insurance contract.
You could face problems submitting a claim if you have failed to tell your insurance company about the ownership change. Or worse, the car insurance company could say you hid the change as a scheme to get lower car insurance rates, which would qualify as insurance fraud and a reason for it to deny claims and cancel the policy.
You want to finance and insure a car for a relative who lives out of state.
Auto finance companies want evidence that the car loan is in the same name as the insurance policy. Since you’re not the primary driver of the car, nor is the car at your residence, it is difficult, if not impossible, for you to insure the car.
You should contact the finance company to see if it will allow your relative to be the “named insured” on a policy. If it agrees, your relative has the hurdle of finding an insurance company in her state that will permit her to insure a car she doesn’t own. If she can find such a company, then she still has to list you and the finance company on the insurance as owner and lienholder, respectively.
If you carry insurance on the car without telling your insurer about the situation and your relative wrecks the vehicle, it’s very likely the accident wouldn’t be covered. Your car insurance company is likely to call you out for misrepresenting who was driving the car and where it was located, and cancel the policy.
You lend your car to a friend for a few months and don’t notify the insurance company.
Your car insurance policy typically will cover a friend who drives your car occasionally, but it’s a different story when you loan your car out for a long period. The car is now housed someplace other than your residence, and someone else is acting as the primary driver of the car — both circumstances your car insurance company wants to know about.
If your insurance company’s rules allow, you may be permitted to add your friend as a driver to your auto policy, but most car insurance companies don’t want to add a person outside of the household. If that is the case, your friend should consider insuring the car. Some insurance companies will allow someone to insure a car that he doesn’t own, as long as the owner is listed on the policy.
If your friend crashes your car, your insurer can deny claims because you concealed pertinent information about the “real” driver and vehicle location. That can leave you and your friend on the hook for damages he caused.
You sold your car and the buyer is making payments but you’re still carrying the title and insurance.
Don’t keep your name and insurance on a car that another person possesses!
First, as the owner – because your name is still on the title — you have vicarious liability for the actions of the person driving the car that you “sold.”
Second, you’re paying for insurance but any claims might not be covered. Your car insurance policy normally covers cars and drivers of your household, not others.
If you’re in this situation, you should sign the title over to the new party. He can easily get insurance once he registers the car — and you will no longer be held responsible for his actions. To protect your interest in the car, make certain you’re listed as the lienholder on the car’s title and auto insurance policy. That way you’ll be notified if he tries to sell the car or drop car insurance.
You’re delivering pizzas with your personal vehicle
Most personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage if you use the vehicle to deliver items, whether it’s pizza, newspapers, packages or medical supplies. Insurance companies see unsavory risk in delivery drivers because they are constantly on the road.
If you want to be paid to deliver items, you should change to a business-use or commercial car insurance policy. If you don’t and you get caught driving for deliveries, you’re on your own to compensate others for damages they sustained — and the damages to your own vehicle.
You let an “excluded driver” drive your car.
Big mistake. When you put a named-driver exclusion on your policy it meant that the person listed is not covered under any circumstances and shouldn’t be driving your car.
So if that person gets behind the wheel of your car, even in an emergency, and causes an accident, you and the driver will be the ones to pay for any resulting injuries or property damage.
Hide your keys from any excluded driver in order to lower your risk of financial disaster.
You bought a new car weeks ago and haven’t told your insurer.
If you traded in a vehicle, then your car insurance policy likely extends the same exact coverage to your new car for a limited time. This means if you bought only liability on your old car, your new car would only have liability coverage.
The deadline for informing your insurer about the new car varies by insurer, but is typically 14 to 30 days.
Don’t bet on having automatic coverage, either; some car insurance companies don’t give you any.
And if you’re adding a car rather than replacing one, you should buy coverage for it before driving it off the lot.
If you’re outside the insurer’s automatic coverage period, or there is no extended coverage on your new car, and you’re in an accident, your insurance company won’t help you. You’ll be paying out-of-pocket for damages you do to your own car or others.
You haven’t told your insurance company that your live-in girlfriend drives your car.
Insurance companies hate it when you “forget” to tell them about a driver who lives with you or regularly uses your car. Insurers can’t charge you correctly if they don’t know about all licensed household members, including a girlfriend or spouse.
If you recently got married or moved in with someone, let the insurance company know immediately and have the person added to your policy as a driver. If you fail to do so, don’t be surprised if claims are denied if they cause an accident, or if you’re asked to pay back premiums based on the additional driver.
If your car insurance company believes you were intentionally hiding the driver – say your girlfriend has a bad driving record — then it may say you committed fraud by means of misrepresentation. This means your car insurance company can cancel your policy.
So you’ve had an accident and your insurance company wants to “total” your car, motorcycle or truck. What does that mean and what should you be aware of?
If your car is totaled and you have comprehensive and/or collision coverage, an insurer will pay you the full market value of your car or the limit of the policy, less your deductible if you are at fault. Cars typically are totaled when the cost of repairs approaches 65 percent of the car’s market value. The damage threshold varies by insurer, however, and may be established by state insurance regulators. To know for certain, you should contact your insurance company.
If you believe your totaled car is worth more than your adjuster thinks, you may be able to change his or her mind. Adjusters are experts at analyzing the used-car market to determine what your damaged car was worth before the accident. However, in some cases vehicles may be more valuable because they were kept in exceptionally good condition.
In such cases, you should be prepared to show your maintenance records and explain the steps you have taken to keep the car in top shape, says Robert Hunter, insurance director of the Consumer Federation of America.
“You can say ‘Look, it has been garaged, here are my service records, it is not an average car,'” he says.
Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California, says cars that have been customized may be more valuable than vehicles that have not been upgraded.
However, modified engines and other special features may not count if you failed to tell your insurer about them before the vehicle was damaged. If they weren’t written into your policy, the insurer is under no obligation to consider their added value, he explains.
“If you soup up the engine and put on different exhausts, if you put in a really expensive radio, you need to let your insurer know,” he says.
When you hire an accident and injury attorney, routinely these negotiations will be handled by them, at least they are in my firm.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week® takes place during the third full week of May each year, and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites. The dates in 2016 are May 15-21.
With an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households, millions of people – most of them children – are bitten by dogs every year. The majority of these bites, if not all, are preventable.
Prevent The Bite reports that according to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims.
The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery reports that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
The U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
The American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.
Getting insurance on your car seems to become more complicated every year. Just how do they decide what rates to charge you or what can you do to get a lower rate? In which company are you really in “Good Hands”? Let’s start with some of the common myths out there, as provided by the Insurance Information Institute:
Myth 1 – Color determines the price of auto insurance
It doesn’t matter if your car is red, green or purple. What does matter is the type of car you select. Before you buy a new or used car, check into insurance costs. Auto insurance premiums are based on make, model, body type, engine size, the age of the vehicle and the age, driving record and credit history of the driver. Premiums are also based, in part, on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record, and the likelihood of theft. Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. These include daytime running lights and anti-theft devices.
For years there has been a notion that color plays a significant part in calculating insurance premium costs, many people believing that red cars cost more to insure because they are linked to aggressive driving or speeding. The fact is, insurers have no interest in the color of a car, but they are interested in knowing if you have had any previous car accidents, the number of miles you drive annually and where you live.
Myth 2 – It costs more to insure your car when you get older
Quite the opposite—many drivers over 55 years of age can, in fact, qualify for a reduction in auto insurance rates, typically for three years, if they have successfully completed an accident prevention course. Insurance companies will usually provide up to a 10 percent discount on car insurance, but check with your provider before you sign on. Mature driving courses are available through local and state agencies as well as through the AAA and AARP. You can also check with your insurance agent to find out which defensive driving courses are approved by your insurer. If you are retired or are not employed full time, you may also be eligible for a discount of up to 5 percent off your car insurance. Age requirements for this type of discount vary by state and insurance carrier.
Myth 3 – Your credit has no effect on your insurance rate
Your credit-based insurance score does matter. An insurance score is a measure of how well you manage your financial affairs, not your financial assets. Many insurance companies take your insurance score into consideration when you want to purchase, change or renew your auto insurance coverage. Because the majority of people have good credit, and insurance scores are derived from a person’s credit history, most people pay less for insurance when insurance scores are entered into the pricing equation.
Myth 4 –Your insurance will cover you if your car is stolen, vandalized or damaged by falling tree limbs, hail, flood or fire
Comprehensive and collision coverage are optional coverages. Lenders frequently require drivers to buy comprehensive and collision coverage as a condition of a car loan agreement. Those driving older cars sometimes drop these coverages as a way of saving money. If a car is worth less than $1,000 or less than 10 times the insurance premium, purchasing the optional coverages may not be cost effective. But bear in mind that you need to purchase both collision and comprehensive coverage in order to fully protect your vehicle from all types of damage.
Myth 5 –You only need the minimum amount of auto liability insurance required by law
Almost every state requires you to buy a minimum amount of auto liability coverage. Chances are that you will need more liability insurance than the state requires because accidents often cost more than the minimum limits. In today’s litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket for losses incurred after an accident—and those costs may be steep. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident.
Myth 6 – If other people drive your car, their auto insurance will cover them in the event of an accident
In most states, the auto insurance policy covering the vehicle is considered the primary insurance, which means that the owner’s insurance company must pay for damages caused by an accident. Policies and laws differ by state, and you should be familiar with these differences when allowing another person to drive your car.
Myth 7 –Soldiers pay more for insurance than civilians
If you are in the military—regardless of which branch—you actually qualify for a discount on auto insurance. In some situations, you might be able to have your commanding officer make a phone call on your behalf, but for most auto insurance companies, you will need to supply documentation that lists your name, rank and the time that you will be enlisted in the service. This allows insurance companies to determine how long you will be eligible to receive a military discount. Many auto insurance companies provide discounts for former members of the military as well as their families.
Myth 8 –Personal auto insurance covers both personal and business use of your car
If you are self-employed and use your vehicle for business purposes, personal auto insurance may not protect you. While auto insurance geared for businesses can be costlier than a personal policy, one of the best ways to keep your auto rates down is by having a good driving record. If there are others, such as employees, using your car make sure they also have good driving records. Check the records of your employee drivers at least twice a year to ensure they maintain a clean driving record.
Hope this clears up some common ideas and helps you to save some money!
Many drivers don’t think about their insurance coverage until after they have an accident and call their insurance company to file a claim to help pay for car repairs, a rental car and other expenses.
Unfortunately, many insured drivers are surprised to find out that their auto insurance does not automatically cover the cost of a replacement rental car after an accident. Since the average car is in the repair shop for two weeks after an accident, it can cost as much as $500 to rent a replacement car. But, some insured drivers pay little or nothing to rent a car because of an inexpensive but often overlooked option known as rental reimbursement.
Rental reimbursement coverage is available for only $1 or $2 a month with almost every auto insurance policy, but it is bypassed frequently by those who believe they will not have a car accident or those shopping only for the lowest cost premium. The cost of a rental replacement car adds up fast, so even if you don’t have an accident for eight or nine years, the coverage pays for itself when you need it most.
Sometimes working out the details of a claim with the auto insurance company can take time. Even if the accident is the other driver’s fault, you may have to wait several days or longer to get the other insurance company to agree to pay for a rental car. With your own coverage, there is no waiting.
So you’re ready to “head out on the highway, looking for adventure” (showing my age there!) this summer? Independent women are more and more finding themselves traveling our country’s roads alone for pleasure. While it is wildly thrilling to be the only one in the car, singing along to your personal playlist, and stopping only when you want, where you want, I want to make sure you stay safe out there my friend! Below are my Top 10 Safety Tips for Single Women on Road Trips.
Take your car to the auto shop first—Before starting out on any road trip, always take your car in for service. Make sure your car is “road ready,” and that your oil is changed, tires are in good shape, antifreeze and the heater all working and there is not a lot of junk in your trunk (stop snickering). Start out fresh and clean!
Always let someone know where you are—Though you may enjoy the freedom of feeling “lost” on the highway, it’s always best to check in with a family member or friend so someone always knows where to find you. Texting is a quick and easy way to share your whereabouts, just not while you are driving. Sending a selfie of you in front of significant landmark signs can be fun, too.
Notify credit card companies—Some credit card companies will block your card if they see “suspicious” activity like continuous gas charges. Inform companies that you will be traveling so they do not cut off your credit and leave you stranded without easy access to money. This happened to me!
Keep cell phone charged—Before you start out on the road each day, charge your cell phone so it is ready for use in case of emergencies. You can also buy a portable battery to extend the phone’s life in case there is not a charger handy or use a car charger.
Listen to weather reports—Be aware of the weather conditions where you are traveling and prepare accordingly. Many times, I have had to pull off to the side of a road and wait for a storm to pass. Be safe and be prepared.
Always have maps and know how to read them—GPS systems may not always be reliable; carry current road atlases with you and know how to read them as a backup resource. Trace out alternative routes. Always have a Plan B route figured out in case your original highway choices are closed or backed up with traffic.
Stop at places that are busy and well-lit—Look for locations that have other people around. Do not stop at deserted, dark places. It’s always a good idea to look like you know where you are and where you are going. If you have to ask for directions, casually ask employees at the establishment instead of random strangers. Be careful of walking and using your phone, these unaware moments can sometimes present opportunities for crime.
Don’t stop for someone stranded on the side of the road—Though you may feel compelled to assist someone in trouble, if you’re alone, don’t stop unless you are sure it’s safe. It’s always a good idea to get to a safe place first and then call for help for the stranded driver, dialing 911 is helping out enough.
Should your car break down, keep windows rolled up and do not open the door to strangers who stop to “assist” you. Make sure you have a current roadside assistance plan and contact them to come out to help you. Ask to see their ID for the service before getting out of the car when they arrive.
And last, but certainly not least, do not pick up strangers—Do not offer rides or agree to share a room with anyone you don’t know. Though you may think the person you are helping is harmless, you can never fully know someone’s true intentions after just a few minutes of conversation. It’s hard to get rid of someone later, so don’t get into this situation by picking them up in the first place.
Hope this was helpful. Now, go hit the road and have some fun adventure time!