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We all remember the feeling of our first time at the young and eager age of 16. You didn’t want to rush, so you put on the perfect song and got ready for the ride of your life; you were officially ready to drive for the first time. According to the IIHS, the age of that rite of passage maybe raised for good. Research shows that car crashes are the leading cause of death amongst teens. The young drivers are not giving up the right of this rite so easily. Both they and their parents have expressed how important it is for them to drive. Not only does it take one more responsibility off the parent’s shoulders, teenagers learn to be independent and responsible at a younger age.

Ironically, this urge to increase the driving age to 18, comes at the same time as arguments to lower the drinking age to 18, arise. Even still, researchers say it’s all in the data. More than 5,000 teens die in car crashes in the US. The National Highway Safety Administration found that the rate of fatal and non-fatal crashes is 10 times higher for 16 year olds than it is for 30-59 year olds. New Jersey is the only state that issues licenses at the age of 17 and has seen a lower overall rate of teen deaths due to crashes than in some nearby states that issue licenses at the age of 16. Many countries in Europe also have a driving age of 17 or 18.
Even though many experts and officials see this option as a definite remedy to the high teen-crash fatality rates, they all agree that is not the only option. Instead of increasing the driving age, some states, like Delaware, are opting to make laws stricter, such as requiring teens to log in more driving time with instructors or parents (supervised driving time), banning teens from using cell phones while driving, and imposing stricter driving curfews.

Critics say the attention is being focused on the wrong issue. Studies show that drivers ages 25-34 and 45-64 were just as likely to be involved in alcohol related fatalities as were the 16-20 year old drivers. The bottom line is that instead of the legal age, an issue of driving while intoxicated and speeding should be raised and properly addressed.

Let’s all thank Benjamin Franklin for his attempt to burn fewer candles and economize on sun light. The reliance on candles to illuminate our dark rooms and hours of night is considerably less, if not non-existent, but after WWI, the US started observing Daylight Savings to conserve energy. Not only do we need to change our physical clocks but our biological clocks need adjusting as well. Although there is no concrete reason for the adverse effects of moving the hour hand forward, the bad time some of us may be having is due to the disruption of the circadian rhythm of the human body and changes in sleep pattern. Even the slightest shift, apparently, can throw us off-kilter.

So our energy bills have tiny dents in them and the changes seem to vary from state to state but what of the dents to our cars?  The New England Journal of Medicine says in an article that is becoming increasingly clear that insufficient sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms are a major public health problem. Some of the most major disasters due to sleep deficiency include the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the destruction of the space shuttle, Challenger. If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will.

Studies show that the hour of sleep loss increased traffic accidents and increased the risk of them occurring more often. Conversely, a decrease in traffic accidents was reported in the fall season when we gain an hour of sleep.

‘What’s Walmart, do they sell like wall stuff? — Paris Hilton

On Oct. 10 2014, Wal-Mart made it possible for its patrons and anyone else interested to enroll for Health Insurance via website, phone or physically at a select 2,700 stores across America. The Wal-Mart program entitled “Healthcare Begins Here” came to after teaming up with Directhealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site and agency, to give their shoppers yet another reason to make their one stop shop the obvious choice. The public has the opportunity to compare coverage options and enroll in Medicare plans or public exchange plans created under the Affordable Care Act. Stores are currently staffed with independent insurance agents from Directhealth.com. 

The retail giant is targeting those individuals who are confused by the enrollment process and their health insurance programs. Other than lending a helping hand the greater motive here is to expand their industry beyond food and other basics. Their insurance marketing strategy was made evident in April of 2014 when Wal-Mart teamed up with Autoinsurance.com to make comparing and buying an auto insurance policy possible for their shoppers online.

Since they experienced a drop in sales and less foot traffic in the past few years, Wal-Mart themselves calls these types of marketing strategies a lure for customers to come into the store and continue shopping. On the other hand this is also a step in building their business in the wellness and health-care industry, providing transparency and simplicity to their shoppers when it comes to understanding the new health insurance system.

Open enrollment is until Feb. 15, 2015 and if you’re into a one-stop shopping experience you know where to go.

The annual Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released their top picks for 2015 as a result of their latest survey. The number of vehicles earning the IIHS “Top Safety Pick Plus” has since doubled for 2015. A total of 71 cars have been named a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus. 38 cars have been honored with the “Top Safety Pick” and 33 cars have been awarded “Top Safety Pick Plus” and are considered top tier. Consumers have more to choose from when it comes to the safest vehicles of 2015 and who doesn’t want to feel safe in their vehicles? Parents are among the most concerned when it comes to choosing a car based on safety ratings.

As this is the third consecutive year that the IIHS has used tougher safety measures many car makers have stepped up to the plate and turned around negative ratings that they had received in the past. Honda CR-V and Toyota Prius V are two vehicles that have shown vast improvement in ratings.

The list of 2015 Top Safety Pick Plus vehicles include: Subaru Outback, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Subaru Impreza, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Forester, Acura MDX, Acura TLX. Toyota Prius, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz M-Class,  BMW 2 series, Audi A3, Volvo S80, Volvo XC60, Volvo S60, Volvo V60, Chrysler 200, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Lexus CT 200H, Lexus RC, Lexus NX, Toyota Camry, Toyota Sienna, Acura RLX, Toyota Highlander, Mazda 3, Mazda 6, Mazda CX-5, Toyota Prius V, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti Q70, Infiniti Q50

A complete list of Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus vehicles can be found here: www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/TSP-List

The Mountainview based search giant, Google, introduced an auto insurance comparison shopping site in 2012 to the UK. It is now working its way to our market with a 26 US state launch in the works. Apparently the launch hasn’t been easy as the launch date keeps getting pushed back. In any case if you know Google, you know they will succeed and continue to branch outside of their core business. Google is slowly but surely in the process of extending its umbrella to a canopy in order to reach more markets and industries. The comparison shopping site implementation is nothing new to Google as they already have a travel destination compare and book system and commodity price compare system available.

The website that will be available to the American public will give them access to an insurance comparison shopping site. Those who are interested in utilizing the website have the opportunity to compare policies and buy coverage. Some known insurers are already working with the website which includes Dairyland, MetLife and Mercury.

The site will be called Google Compare and host a variety of insurance carriers. While the UK version of the site offers 125 different auto insurance options, the company has been making US insurers aware about the opportunity for two years in an attempt to build onto their roster in time for the launch.

The first availability of the website will be in California and is projected to launch sometime in the first quarter of this year. The other states that include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  Moving forward with this program will most likely push online insurance middlemen already offering this type of business with an unfavorable drop in sales

Sony Pictures chief executive, Michael Lynton, compares the cyber his company is dealing with to having your house robbed or burned to the ground. Even though the media had a field day with the cyber crimes committed against Sony, Lynton says the instance is less of a disaster than anticipated. Fortunately the cost associated with the breach will be completely covered by insurance.

The attacks that surfaced on Nov. 21, about seven weeks ago, have been traced and pinned on the North Korean government by the U.S. government. Experts have estimated damaged caused by the breach to cost up to $100 million but Lynton reassures that the damages are “well within the bounds of insurance.”

What happened?

• Cleaned out loads of data
• Online distribution of email
• Disclosure of sensitive employee data
• Pirated copies of new movies

The attacked allegedly launched by hackers employed by the North Korean government as determined by an FBI investigation was in response to the release of “The Interview.” The comedy film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen depicts the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Un. North Korea denies being behind the attack but sees the film as an “act of war.” Despite its rocky start, the film is currently playing in theaters.

The Insurance Information Institute recently published a whitepaper that outlined the perils of data breaches and how stand-alone insurance can help businesses suffer from financial loss. The number of data breaches increased significantly from 2011 to 2013; in 2011, there were 419 as opposed to 614 in 2013. Today, we have already seen 311 breaches that have cause over $8.5 million in damage.

The most recent high-scale victims include eBay, Target, Neiman Marcus, and JPMorgan Chase. This proves that no matter the scale of the business, hackers have the ability to perpetrate their ill-doings and steal millions from businesses. The average cost of these data breaches fall at around $201 per record, and about $3.3 million worth of lost business per breach. Those companies who have placed security against breaches can reduce costs by at least $14 per record; however there is nothing that can safeguard a business completely.

At the moment, traditional commercial package insurance policies do not have data breaches covered entirely. Business Owner Policies do have electronic data loss covered, but only if the cause of the loss is covered. For example, computer viruses or harmful codes are covered, but any loss due to an employee’s actions is not.

Because of this, specialized cyber insurance risk coverage is now available as a stand-alone policy. Risks include:

- Loss/corruption of data
- Business interruption
- Liability (includes: breach of privacy, transmission of virus, failure of security, and   allegations of copyright infringement, libel, slander and defamation)
- D&O/management liability
- Cyber extortion
- Crisis management
- Criminal rewards
- Data breaches
- Identity theft
- Social media/networking
- Cloud computing

Insurance agents should consult with their current carriers to determine if any of them offer this type of insurance. From there, insurance agents can offer this new policy to their commercial insurance policyholders, or even use this new product as a means of reaching new clients. Data breaches are becoming more frequent, and the best way to truly protect a business from data breaches is to purchase this new policy.

In all of the hustle and bustle of holiday sales, the common shopper can easily get distracted and forget safety precautions when it comes to auto theft. A mall parking lot during Christmastime is like a buffet of treats for burglars. Not only are vehicles apt for theft during this time, but so are the items left inside.

Let’s call it shopper’s negligence: accidentally leaving the car unlocked with valuable personal items and gifts in plain sight. Many people come back to their cars while shopping to drop off bags, and then go back into the mall for more. Thieves anticipate this occurrence and wait for it to happen all day.

Many people assume their comprehensive coverage will cover their vehicle and everything in it, but you should always double check with your carrier just to make sure. Comprehensive does not necessarily cover the things inside of your car that aren’t related to your car. No matter if your vehicle is parked at the mall, in the driveway, or in the garage, if gifts are being stored in your vehicle make sure they stay out of sight. If a thief can see items of value in your vehicle, they are more likely to break in.

Being careful with your car during this time of year is essential to keeping your holiday, as well as your wallet full of cheer. The Los Angeles Police Department gives some tips to auto theft prevention:

- Avoid driving alone or at night.
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.
- Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
- Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
- Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
- Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
- Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
- Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.

The only person that can prevent theft of your property is you. So stay smart and safe this holiday, and be sure to take necessary precautions whenever possible.

The worst thing people assume about driving is that an accident will never happen to them. But the roads are filled with so many terrible, distracted, and aggressive drivers that the roadways are more perilous than you may think.

When it does happen to you, the best way of dealing with it is to be prepared and know exactly what you need to handle the situation properly. Remember that the more organized you are about documenting the accident, the easier the claims process will be. Keep your calm, and follow these steps.

Before you leave the car
Assess the situation. Ideally you’re supposed to leave the cars on the scene of the accident so that the police officer can judge what happened and who is at fault. But if you’re on a busy road or expressway, then you need to pull over to the nearest safest place, which is most likely a shoulder or a parking lot.

Call the police
If necessary, tell them you need an ambulance so they will notify the nearest medical unit. Take note of any injuries, minimal or serious. If the police cannot come to survey the scene, you should drive to the nearest police department and file an incident report after taking the steps below. Having an official report will be extremely helpful if there is more damage than you initially thought to the involved vehicles, and if the other driver decides to sue for damage or injuries.

Assess the damage
Take photo evidence for insurance claims purposes. Even if the accident is your fault, taking photos will help you later for repair purposes. Make sure that the weather is notable in the photos, and also take note of the date, time, and location.

Gather contact information
Get the names and contact information of everyone involved in the crash, including any witnesses. For all drivers involved ask to see their licenses, their car registration, and their insurance cards. Remember: when talking to the others involved, steer the conversation away from placing blame or discussing their type of insurance. This could lead to unnecessary and unwelcome confrontation. As long as you have their insurance policy number, know who their provider is, and have their contact information, you’re set.

Start the claims process
As soon as you can, contact your insurance provider to give all fresh information because you will most likely forget certain details the longer you wait to call. The photos and notes you take will help your case. Depending on who your insurance carrier is, you may be able to start the claims process in a phone application to upload your photo evidence, reserve a rental car, and request reimbursements for towing and glass claims, along with finding other information. When speaking to your insurance provider you will often end up being transferred to multiple people, so be sure to keep record of your correspondence, and get every person’s name that you speak with along with their title and contact information.

By keeping all of the evidence you gathered organized, and following the steps provided here as well as by the police and your insurance provider, you will have a smoother claims process.

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.

In today’s car market, shopping for a new vehicle can be a headache when trying to decide which eco-friendly version suits your lifestyle best. The long list of energy and fuel efficient vehicles is growing, and the choices can feel heavy when justifying your decision of which environmentally-friendly parts you add on according to a budget. You have to consider which costs, either to your wallet or to the environment, will have a lesser impact and if the option is right for you.

Think of it like a spectrum:
On one end there are the gas guzzling vehicles that are terrible for the environment, then progressing along the line there are the vehicles that have evolved into more eco-friendly versions, until reaching the other end of the spectrum that has an infinite arrow pointing to the future of environmentally and economically sound forms of transportation. So what’s the difference between hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles, and what happens when it comes to insurance premiums and tax incentives for each?

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
A hybrid electric vehicle is one that runs on a combination of both gasoline and electric power. Its primary propulsion is powered from the internal combustion engine (ICE) using gasoline, while complemented by the electric motor that is powered by regenerative braking. When traveling at low speeds, the vehicle switches to solely electric power to save on gas, but shifts back to gasoline power at high speeds and will also pull from both power sources simultaneously when an additional boost is needed. Because hybrids use gasoline and electricity to power the vehicle, the miles per gallon ratio is much greater than an ICE vehicle.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A step up from the hybrid with greater fuel efficiency and less emissions is the hybrid plug-in. The difference between the two is that the primary and secondary sources of power are switched: the plug-in uses the electric motor for all primary propulsion and only utilizes gasoline when its battery power runs low. In addition to the charge the vehicle stores from a power grid, it is supplemented by regenerative braking.

Electric Vehicle (EV)
The ultimate no-emissions machine. A fully electric vehicle uses absolutely no gasoline to power the engine. You no longer have to pay for gasoline, but the cost to fuel your travel will now come from your home energy bills because the car charges in your garage or driveway. Generally only taking three hours to charge, anytime you’re home is a convenient time, but charging at night rather than in the daytime significantly lowers your energy costs.

Tax incentives
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the tax incentive for EVs is a fuel credit of $7,500 across the board, and for PHEVs it ranges from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on the vehicle. For HEVs however, there is no tax incentive. The less gasoline and more battery the vehicle uses, the greater the tax credit.

Auto insurance myth: eco-friendly vehicles will save you money on insurance premiums
As for insurance rates, you may receive small percentage discounts on parts of your insurance, but it’s unlikely that your premium will be lower overall for an HEV or PHEV in comparison to an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. The reason is because these cars are built differently than ICE vehicles; they are not as safe to drive and they cost more to repair.

Eco-friendly and fuel efficient vehicles are not new to the market by any means, but since their emergence into the popular sales market is recent, the aftermarket for repair parts is small. In the case of a collision, replacing an HEV, PHEV, or EV is more costly than for an ICE vehicle because they are more expensive to manufacture. The higher the costs for manufacturing a vehicle, the greater the insurance premiums will be.

The bottom line
If you’re a city driver and return home every day, a PHEV or an EV is ideal. But if you’re a frequent traveler going long distances, you need to make sure that your route has enough charging stations along the way, and an HEV or a PHEV may be preferred over an EV because gasoline will help go the extra miles when the charge runs out.

For people on a budget, it looks like the most eco-friendly vehicles may still be out of reach. But as new vehicles advance along the ever-evolving environmentally-sound spectrum, affordability seems to follow.

The Insurancecalls.com team representatives were exhibitors at the 2014 Alliance Convention and Expo in September and fulfilled their goals. They were able to establish numerous networking opportunities, obtain carrier appointments, participate in continuing education courses and enjoy the entertainment as a part of this important event.

The American Agents Alliance is a member-driven organization established in 1962. It is an organization that stands behind independent insurance agents and brokers. The Alliance convention is the largest Property and Casualty event on the west coast that provides advocacy, education and networking for agents and brokers. It houses over 100 exhibitors and is an educational and entertaining experience.

The insurancecalls.com team plans on attending this year’s 4-day convention with the same success. It will take place September 24-27, 2015 at the 4-star JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California.

Seeing a flip phone today is as likely as seeing a someone roller blade down your street. It may happen from time to time, but is it an odd sight? Absolutely.
With many insurance agents working on the go, smart phones provide a great way to get work done while outside of the office. Here are five great apps that all insurance agents should carry to keep their work flow organized and timely.

If you’ve ever wondered if your clients’ credit scores are linked with insurance premiums, you have wondered correctly. WalletHub’s recent study revealed that credit scores do indeed have a positive impact on insurance premiums. For at least five major insurers, if a policyholder has low credit then it will be reflected with a higher premium. On average, those who have no credit at all will pay an average of 65% more than those who have excelled credit.

The idea of insurance companies seeking to lower insurance costs seems paradoxical, yet huge insurance giant Allstate is one of twenty appealing to the Federal Insurance Office to do so.
Allstate, alongside other insurance companies, insurance trade groups, state regulators, and the Insurance Information Institute, crafted a letter to the Federal Insurance Office that detailed how to fairly enforce auto insurance coverage in order to keep insurance available for all income groups.

As the hurricane season approaches, Hurricane Preparedness Week begins on Monday May 25th and goes through May 31st. Insurance agents are encouraged to keep their clients as prepared as possible to prevent future losses, especially during this time of potentially great disaster.
Hurricane Sandy has taught us that insurance agents may become extremely busy with this catastrophic season. Over a year later, insurance claims are still being submitted on top of the 143,000 insurance claims already in process. To help relieve some of the stress, here is a hurricane preparedness list to keep your clients, and yourself, ready for even the worst of the season.

Farmers Insurance Company filed nine class action suits against nearly two hundred communities in Illinois. They assert that the localities should have been better prepared for the severe weather that brought massive amounts of rain and flooding, increasing the amounts of claims from the insurance company.

The California Department of Insurance announced today that USAA policyholders will see an average of 16.8% decrease for their homeowner and condominium insurance policies, which will save families an average of $167 annually.

Ride-sharing service Uber is facing 13 separate law suits—2 of which are insurance related—and attacks from 11 different state insurance officials. Insurance officials such as Ohio’s Insurance Director Mary Taylor warn constituents that using such services like Uber and Lyft may leave them at risk because their personal insurance policies will not cover commercial services. Most others would agree, however, that it’s another classic case of established industry players and their lobbyists trying to deter entrepreneurs from taking away business they feel entitled to.

Mapfre, a leading Spanish insurance company, is responding to the law that California Governor Jerry Brown signed on October 3, 2013. This law will allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, California being the tenth state to move in this direction.

On May 1, 2014, the Senate passed a bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersberg, that will allow private insurers to offer flood insurance. 
Currently flood insurance options are limited to the National Flood Insurance Program, a federally subsidized program. In the past year, there have been many reforms to the program that have increased premiums for homes that are older and/or in flood-prone zones; in some cases policy premiums were increased by ten times. Unfortunately, the program is $24 billion short and can no longer support lower premiums that cannot even out the claims it must make.

The main reason why your clients may be switching insurance companies  is not a matter of price, but of poor experience. In their 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study that included a sample of 16,900 auto insurance shoppers and 50,000 insurance company customer evaluations, J.D. Power revealed findings that insurance agents can use to their advantage. 

 

Today Walmart announced their newest partnership with AutoInsurance.com. The website was created by Tranzutary Insurance Solutions in 2012, a New Jersey based insurance agency. Using the site, Walmart offers consumers a convenient way to shop for auto insurance.

A little known coverage called cyber insurance is beginning to creep around the minds of companies and consumers worldwide. In light of the accumulating cyber security breaches, AIG now offers companies compensation against any cyber injuries. This marks the first of its kind for a major insurance company, however it is predicted many more will follow.

As stated in the Second Amendment, all individual Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. In light of recent tragic events involving firearms, many Americans have debated the whether this amendment should be reconsidered.

Philadelphia lawyer, Andrew H. Gaber, was the leader of a huge insurance-fraud ring that cost 21 insurance firms close to $400,000. For seven years, he ran a tight operation of slip and fall cases through which he was able to bilk insurance companies their claims.

LeadsCon Las Vegas March 25th & 26th, 2014. We are thrilled to be there at booth #525

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