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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.

Phone sales present a number of problems when it comes to creating a dynamic relationship with your client. The initial contact is where the biggest barriers are built. If you don’t do it correctly, and if not handled carefully, the customer’s uncertainty builds fast. To prevent this, here are five ways to make a better first impression to create healthy business relationships.

1. Research the client
First, know your clients’ needs and wants. Knowing this isn’t as easy as it sounds; you need to know as much as possible about their business before contact is made. Before you can sell a product you must know how it will benefit your client because that’s exactly what they want to know.
- How will they profit from their investment in your company?
- What’s the risk for them?
- How will it save them time?
- How is your product innovative?
Don’t waste your time or their time trying to sell a product that won’t produce profit for them.

2. Build a relationship
You need to sell yourself while you sell the product. A client won’t buy a product if they feel the salesperson is a sleazy untrustworthy scoundrel, but you shouldn’t be their new best friend either. Just because they steer the conversation to Nascar doesn’t mean that you have to pretend to like it for another five minutes. Don’t get off track! You called them for a reason, now get back to it! If you can break the barriers of uncertainty, then reducing their hesitancy about your product becomes easier.

3. Build trust
The client needs to feel comfortable with you and your business. Establishing trust is crucial to selling a product. If a client feels they can’t trust you, they probably can’t trust the product either.  To build trust you must know the product, know the business, know the competitors, and know the client. If you’re confident and understand the ins-and-outs of the business, you can answer any question a client throws at you.

4. Approach, attitude, and tone
You need to be likeable, not just pleasant. Ask yourself these questions before making a call:
- How is my day going?
- Does my voice reflect my mood?
Your voice and attitude absolutely reflect your current mood, so it’s best to boost your disposition before making a call because tonality is everything over the phone.  It’s how you instill confidence and eagerness in the client on an emotional level to make a sale. Your syntax and your diction are incredibly important as well; how you phrase things and the words you choose can steer the conversation toward closing. 

5. Ask the right questions
Get their reservations about your company and the product out of the way. Think of the initial phone call like an interview—it’s always good to ask your future employer what their hesitations are about your resume and experience, and it’s good to ask this of your future client as well.

Using the right approach for a client is essential in making a sale. If you’re not utilizing appropriate communication tools over the phone, you will lose the client’s trust and enthusiasm about the product. And finally, don’t forget to follow-up after making the sale to ensure customer retention. Customer service is a major factor in referral rates to generate more business.

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.

Ever wonder how much your credit score affects your insurance premiums?
Well, it’s actually a considerable amount, but thankfully it’s not the only factor. Credit scores can also be very misleading to the young adult generation because their credit scores are often hyperinflated since they don’t yet have enough credit to balance out their spending habits. 

Many young adults who begin with a high credit score straight out of college will find that within six months of living on their own, their score will drop drastically. For example, the average score falls from 750 to around 625 for the recent graduate demographic, according to CreditKarma.com. This is most often due to paying various up-front costs and unexpected expenditures that come along with buying or renting your first home, first new car, and individual phone plan. 

In Credit Karma’s database, the average credit score remains relatively similar from age 18 to the mid-forties, sitting just under 630. Then once the age bracket hits 45+, it increases to a 645 score, and then shoots up to an average of 696 for the 55+ age bracket. 

So how much do credit scores affect insurance rates?
For auto insurance, your credit score is one piece of the puzzle that tells financers how well you keep up with payments. Are you likely to pay off the loan in the agreed amount of time? Is the responsibility of paying off a car loan too much for you to handle?

Unfortunately not all credit scores reflect the truth about payment and spending habits. Often there are unexpected circumstances like medical bills, or car and home repairs, which take precedence over other bills forcing late payments and lowering your score. This is a large factor for the young adult generation when they do not have enough credit experience to balance a couple of hits to their credit; instead, one heavy hit to a recent graduate’s credit can drop their score drastically rather than only by a few points.
But thankfully you can prevent your responsible habits from being overlooked by talking to an insurance agent. By dealing directly with an agent, they can sift through the reasons your credit score has lowered and determine a better rate for your individual needs.
Don’t worry, your credit score is not the only factor at play in determining your insurance premiums. The following items are all taken into consideration:
1. Credit score
2. Your age and Gender
3. Marital status
4. Profession
5. Where you live (large or small populations determine the likelihood of collisions)
6. Safety rating of your vehicle
7. Age and size of your vehicle
8. Likelihood of theft in your area
9. Driving record

If you’re in the market for auto insurance, we recommend doing your price research and speaking with an insurance agent. Insurance costs are constantly fluctuating, so having an agent find all the discounts for you is incredibly helpful and eases your search.

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