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If you have updated your auto insurance policy recently and use one of the leading providers, you have most likely come across the electronic proof of insurance option. You no longer have to fumble through the glove box to find that little piece of paper or worry about losing it, because your proof of insurance can be easily accessed on your phone at anytime, allowing you to drive paperless.

E-cards make showing your insurance coverage easy, convenient, and it’s even environmentally friendly. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) promotes that this will “save insurance companies the cost of printing and mailing ID cards to policyholders. It will also save law enforcement and court personnel time and money because they will no longer need to process tickets written to drivers who had coverage but not that little piece of paper.”  In 2011 no states allowed the use of cell phones to provide proof of insurance, but as of 2014, 37 states have enacted e-card laws, according to the PCI.

But what if your phone is dead when you get pulled over? Or what if you’re pulled over in a dead zone and can’t access the insurance application? Depending on your insurance provider the application may allow you to download a version to your phone so that you don’t need internet access to view it. But not all applications are created equal, as this advanced feature is not yet an option with all providers. Check with your provider to see if this feature is available with their phone application. In these cases, having a plan B is always ideal, so it may be best to have that little piece of paper in your glove box in addition to the e-card.
The convenience of this modernized proof of insurance makes many jump straight onto the bandwagon immediately, and rightly so, but some of the issues arising are in regard to the Fourth Amendment. When surrendering your phone to the police officer and he takes it back to his patrol car to run the information, what’s to stop him from invading your privacy and sifting through the contents of your phone? Technically, the Fourth Amendment legally protects your rights, but unless the Fourth Amendment takes physical form and sits in the passenger seat of the patrol car, there is no way to guarantee that the officer won’t go through your phone, with or without your consent.

The Fourth Amendment protects you from unwarranted and unreasonable searches and seizures of your personal property, of which extends to your mobile device as it is either on your body or in your vehicle.

As new states usher into legality this type of proof of insurance, most of them specifically state that an officer does not have consent to look through the phone.  However, many also state that the owner of the device is liable for any damage if the officer happens to drop the device or another accident occurs. Despite the Fourth Amendment, and some states’ legislation, if you give your phone to an officer you are technically liable for whatever happens. Legally, however, you are protected by the Fourth Amendment if the officer tries to cite you for anything found on your phone outside of the insurance application e-card.

As it stands, no states require the use of an e-card to show proof of insurance, and hopefully it stays that way for those who are uncomfortable with allowing an officer unsupervised access to their phones. But for those who applaud the modernization and simplification of insurance (and have nothing to hide), bring on the future of auto insurance.

Now more than ever, insurance agents must consider adapting their agency operations to accommodate consumer buying habits.

Walmart and Overstock.com breaking into the insurance industry are prime examples of companies adapting to modern consumer habits. Consumers are no longer interested in traditional agencies because performing daily tasks online have become so commonplace and efficient. Most conventional errands have transitioned to online from shopping and paying bills, to something as simple as ordering food delivery. Even banking, as complex as it is, has moved to the Internet—people rarely venture to the bank anymore because they have the convenience of checking balances, transferring money, and even depositing checks online.

In order for insurance agents to keep up with consumers, they must make headway for enabling online insurance transactions. As the Internet becomes more convenient, consumers prefer less personal interaction. Thus insurance agents should consider how they can transform their agency into an online platform, one where clients can not only purchase a policy, but also manage it.

Personal relationships with clientele are a stronghold for agents providing the best policies for consumers, but speaking with an agent just to manage an account is not always the most efficient method for a consumer. Online management is the most convenient way for consumers to interact with their transactional tasks, and if it can be done online, it’s most likely done on a mobile device. According to a Google report, 86 percent of people still use their phones as search engines rather than computers,  showing that modern consumers want their desired information to be immediately accessible and portable.

For this reason, there are insurance companies that operate entirely online, like Esurance, that cater specifically to consumers who wish to never speak with a human about their policies. But for agents requiring personal interaction, the online model can be combined with personal touches to provide a better business relationship. Get your clients in the door by offering insurance products online, then follow-up and interact through email more than phone.
The Internet has made life considerably easier for consumers, and once you set an online insurance agency in place, you will also reap the benefits of such convenience. It is not just a thought to ruminate on, but a decision that must be made sooner than later.

There’s almost nothing more inconvenient and aggravating than getting pulled over.  An even bigger nightmare is getting pulled over without insurance when driving out-of-state. Imagine your license and registration being suspended, your car getting towed and impounded, receiving multiple citations and fees, and then having to figure out how to get back home. Certain states have harsher consequences than others, but regardless of which states are the worst, having insurance always ameliorates your position.

With or without insurance, avoiding the situation entirely is ideal, so below are some tips for steering clear of cops on the road. Here’s what not to do:
Driving recklessly includes speeding, improper lane changes, and following too closely. All of these reduce reaction time as well as a safe braking distance. You need to allow enough space and time for unexpected circumstances to arise.

Using a cell phone: if you don’t have Bluetooth capability in your car, using a cell phone while driving is not only incredibly dangerous, but it also makes for a hefty fine. If the call or text message can’t wait, then pull over in a safe place.

Don’t abuse the cruising lane: the far left lane on a multilane highway is meant for passing. When a car cruises in the left lane and doesn’t pass another vehicle, it creates traffic by preventing the faster cars from balancing out the slower ones.

Slow driving: driving significantly slower than the rest of traffic is not only annoying to other drivers, but it’s also dangerous. If another driver coming up behind you suddenly has to slam on their brakes because they expected you to be going the speed limit, it could cause traffic congestion in addition to accidents. Also, driving considerably slow could imply that you’re being overly careful because you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Having obvious vehicle violations includes expired tags, window tints, burned-out headlights, illegal body modifications, and the lack of a front license plate (in some states).

Having bumper stickers: according to an article from Edmunds, Gary Biller, the executive director of the National Motorists Association, states that excessive and offensive bumper stickers can draw unwelcome attention to your vehicle, especially if the stickers clash with the officer’s personal views.

Out-of-state license plates: officers often deny that there’s greater incentive to pull over drivers with out-of-state license plates. But when driving with plates from a marijuana-friendly state through a non-friendly one, there is a higher chance of drug-trafficking, reports the Altoona Herald.

The best way to avoid getting pulled over is to drive safely and stay calm. First and foremost remember that the law is there to protect you, but it can also work against you when an officer’s personal discretion is taken into account.

With Google’s self-driving car making headlines across the world, insurance agents may be wondering how it could affect business for their insurance agency.

Chris Urmson, director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, plans to build about 100 prototypes and run a small pilot program in California within the next couple of years. He says, “Just imagine: you can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.”

The pilot car has already logged 700,000 autonomous miles without a collision—pretty decent for a tiny two-seat car without a steering wheel or gas pedal. To compare with the standard consumer-driven cars, there were 10.8 million collisions in 2009 over the 2.954 trillion miles that were driven. The math adds up to about .366 collisions per 100,000 miles. So far Google’s self-driving car has a considerably lower loss ratio than the average driver.

But insurance history will be made with new auto insurance policies taking new risk factors into account such as computer glitches and sensory malfunctions. Who’s at fault in a collision involving a robot car? As these self-driving vehicles integrate into society alongside human-operated vehicles, insurance policies will become much more complicated.

Though Google’s cars have never struck anything, one had been rear-ended at a red light earlier in its pilot run. This proves that liability insurance will still be necessary for quite sometime until all drivers can switch to self-driving cars—something that could take decades.

So then, let’s envision a world with all self-driving cars. Technology falters every now and then, so liability insurance for property damage and bodily injury will still be necessary. If the GPS system goes awry and damages a car with passengers inside, claims will still be made. And even still, there are forces of nature, burglary and other types of human error that would make comprehensive insurance still necessary for those who want to protect their cars from non-driving related circumstances.

Though Google has shown that self-driving cars decreases the amount of collision-based accidents, there will always be a need for auto insurance. As long as cars are on the road, liability will be an issue.

When getting into a car, airbag protection is something that is taken for granted. As consumers, we too often assume that our vehicles are properly equipped with safety technology. But as it turns out, the world’s No.2 safety equipment manufacturer, Takata Corporation, is the reason that almost 8 million cars from 10 automakers have been recalled.

Linked to four deaths and dozens of injuries in the U.S. because of shrapnel firing at passengers after airbag deployment, Takata is being sued by U.S. drivers. The drivers claim that they were sold vehicles under fraudulent circumstances; the key players being Toyota, Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Fuji Heavy’s, and Subaru.

The lawsuit being conducted with the U.S. District Court in Florida, states that Takata “had a duty to disclose these safety issues because they consistently marketed their vehicles as reliable and safe.”

Whether or not automakers will remain loyal to Takata, the company’s spokesperson said: “We take this situation seriously and will cooperate fully with the automakers and NHTSA on the investigations and recalls.”

These assembly issues will most likely reduce Takata’s company ranking in the next coming years as well as the loyalty of its consumers. 

But new cars are not the only vehicles for which you should be worried about faulty airbag deployment. When buying a used car, be wary of the seller’s claims that the car has never been in an accident. Check the history of the vehicle before you buy it, preferably a Carfax report.

Carfax offers cautionary advice: “after a car is in a crash, scammers either fail to replace the airbags entirely or fit airbags from another make and model, which can mean that the airbags will not deploy properly when needed.”

After airbag deployment in an accident, the airbag must be replaced.  If the used car that you buy doesn’t have proper airbag installation, then you could be looking at a hefty repair bill. Dishonest mechanics are a major issue when it comes to airbag repairs as well: “Replacement airbag systems may range from $1,000 to $3,000, maybe more if the dashboard shell or other dash components are damaged by the force of a passenger side deployment,” Larry Gamache from CARFAX.

When purchasing a new or used vehicle, always be sure to ask about the airbag installation. Investigating the history of the car you’re buying could just save your life.

Halloween is an evening that serves as one of the most dangerous for pedestrians crossing the street, especially for children. The National Highway Traffic Administration reports that the risk of child injuries from motor vehicles is four times higher on Halloween than any other day. With roughly 41 million children trick-or-treating on Halloween evening, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, taking extra precautions while driving is crucial.

As pedestrians, taking caution of drivers is essential for safety as well; not only on Halloween evening, but also for the entire weekend. Be watchful of inebriated and reckless drivers as well as traffic congestion, and be wary of strangers offering any kind of driving assistance or posing as ride share drivers. Uber and Lyft will certainly have their cars full this weekend and it’s a prime opportunity for falsification.

Sperling’s BestPlaces ran a study from 1990 to 2010 of children ages 0-18 years in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for October 31. State Farm’s analysis of the data reveals the following:

• Halloween Was Deadliest Day of the Year for Child Pedestrian Accidents
One hundred and fifteen child pedestrian fatalities occurred on Halloween over the 21 years of our analysis. That is an average of 5.5 fatalities each year on October 31, which is more than double the average number of 2.6 fatalities for other days.
• The “Deadliest Hour”
Nearly one-fourth (26 out of 115) of accidents occurred from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Over 60% of the accidents occurred in the 4-hour period from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
• Middle of the Block Most Hazardous
Over 70% of the accidents occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk.
• Drivers Who Posed the Greatest Risk
Young drivers ages 15-25 accounted for nearly one-third of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween.
• Drivers Who Posed the Lowest Risk
Drivers ages 36-40 and 61-65 were involved in the fewest child pedestrian fatalities on Halloween. Together, these age groups accounted for nine child pedestrian fatalities (8%) in the 21 years of the study.

If driving this weekend, be sure to make yourself visible—keep your headlights on and drive slowly to give yourself reaction time for rambunctious children who may run out into the street unexpectedly. Very slowly and carefully pull out of driveways and alleys, and expect people to disobey traffic laws. Defensive driving will prevent accidents and injuries.

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