Archive for the ‘Auto Insurance’ Category

There is a problem that has emerged in recent years, that could have the potential to get people killed. It is road rage. I suppose it could be a situation of increased stress in our lives, coupled with the belief that we shouldn’t have to take abuse from anyone. While I would agree that we should not have to take abuse for others, there is also a need to have some level of tolerance when it comes to safety on the roads. Emotions unchecked, can get people killed.

When we allow our emotions to control our actions, common sense goes out the window, and when you are behind the wheel of a car, you need not only common sense, but self control. One moment of rage, can change the course of your life, and once you take that step, you can’t ever take it back, and you are lucky if no one is killed due to your negligence. And another problem that many people don’t realize is that when you choose to use your vehicle as a weapon, many, if not all insurance companies, will not cover that accident. Then you find yourself in another horrible situation…having to pay for the damages on your own…if you are not in jail.

Road rage is illegal, and fewer people are willing to tolerate it. And with cell phones, people take pictures, and become witnesses to the incident. Before you know it, someone has turned you in to the police, and if there was an accident, it is no longer your word against the other driver. It is documented that you took it to the next level. Those things will stand up in court, and insurance companies will not cover the losses if it is against their policy.

And, simply put, when your rage is over, and the damage is done, you are left with years of regret. Even if no one is hurt, and no accident occurs, often times, it becomes something you can’t easily put out of your mind. When you get behind the wheel…think. Make the decision to drive in a way that is safe, and treat other drivers with respect, and tolerance. You don’t know what is going on in their day. They may be under a lot of pressure that day, and may be slightly distracted. It doesn’t help the situation to add anger to the mix. Drive safely and live…and live without regret.

After you have had a car accident, there are so many things going through your mind…if you can think at all. Many people think that the first thing to do after calling the police is get the cars out of the street…clear the street for traffic. But in many cases, that is the worst thing you can do. By moving the vehicles, you alter the evidence, and if the driver who is at fault decides not to be honest about how things happened, there is often no proof to dispute that driver’s story.

Whenever possible, do not move the cars until officers arrive. That is your best chance of having a fair investigation of your accident. I wish I could say that people are always honest about what happened in an accident, and many are, but unfortunately many are not. Once the cars are moved they feel free to create the accident scenario to shed the best light on themselves. If the other driver is pressuring you to move the vehicles, be very leery, and do whatever you can to protect the scene.

When you can’t leave the scene the way it is, and even if you can, your best defense is to take pictures of the scene. Carry a disposable camera in your car, or use your cell phone. It is much easier to tell what happened if you have pictures. Most often a police officer or adjuster can tell what happened from the pictures. The position of the cars…who is across the line…who was further into the intersection…who had the stop sign. All these things can be seen in a picture.

Another way to make sure the best information gets to the police officer is to check the area for witnesses. While witnesses don’t always have a perfect recall of an accident, and can even see things totally different from reality sometimes, they are still a good source of information about the accident. If witnesses can’t stay, try to get a business card or name and phone number. While it is best to have a witness give a statement to the police officer, they can give their statement to the claims adjuster.

An accident usually ruins your day, but when you take the right steps after the accident, it doesn’t have to turn into a horrible nightmare. Protect yourself the best you can after an accident…prepare before it happens. Have a plan in the event of an accident.

When you come into an insurance agency in Wyoming, and a handful of other states, there is one thing you need to know. If you don’t have accurate information concerning your driving record, there is a good possibility that you will not be given an accurate quote on your auto insurance. The reason for this is that Wyoming is one of a few states in which insurance agents cannot run an instant MVR (motor vehicle report). Now, that does not mean that a report won’t be run, because it will. What it does mean is that if you aren’t truthful about your driving record, or you have forgotten something, your price is going to become a bit of a surprise to you very soon.

Insurance agents always depend on your truthful answers to their questions to give you the most accurate quote, and the questions asked aren’t to pry into your life. Every company uses different criteria to produce a rate, and the questions your agent asks are the ones needed to get a rate with their different companies. The more truthful your answers the better.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you when my last ticket was, because once you pay that ticket, you don’t want to think about that it ever again. So many people come in to get a quote and honestly believe that their ticket is over 3 years old. Others think that a ticket only stays on your record for 1 year, but in reality it is 3 years for minor violations, and 5 years for major violations, which is another reason to pull a copy of your MVR if you think their might still be something on it.

An accurate quote depends on accurate information, and since Wyoming and a few other states cannot run that driving record, it is your responsibility to do the best you can to provide it. Your agent wants to give you an accurate rate, because they don’t want to have to tell you what the premium went up to when the MVR comes back with surprises. Surprises have their place, but it simply isn’t on your insurance premium.

Your 16 year old has passed that driving test, and you have joined the ranks of the parents of young drivers. One call to your insurance agent to add your son or daughter to the policy is enough to make even the strongest parent faint. In an instant you find yourself trying to figure out a way to get your child insured without breaking the bank. You are full of questions, such as is it better to get my child a policy of their own, or add him/her to my policy? Or how can I get the cost down? Or which car should I get my child? Now, while the answers to these questions may not always please you, take a deep breath and we will see what we can do to answer them.

Most often, it is best for the child to be listed on their parents policy. They are able to drive any of the vehicles on the policy that way, and because they are riding on their parents, most often good credit and driving record, their price is usually better. Of course, if the parents have a bad driving record, and full coverage on the vehicles, the price of adding a 16 year old can be devistating to the pocket book. Should you choose to get your child his/her own policy, you will be required to exclude them from your vehicles. If you do, make sure they never drive your vehicle, because they will not be covered in the event of an accident. Also, be aware that the price on their own policy can get pretty pricey.

Whether you add your child to your policy or not, there are ways to reduce their cost. Many companies offer discounts such as good student for a 3.0 average or better, and driver’s training. You would need to check with your agent to see if the company you are with offers these. If you are with an independent agent, it is possible that your agent can look around for another company that might be a little more young driver friendly.

Another way to reduce the cost of a young driver is to get them a vehicle that is going to need liability only. I realize that kids want a newer vehicle, but the likelihood of them having an accident is greater at this age, so an older vehicle is really a better option in most cases.

These are just some suggestions to help make the transition a little easier. Give us a call for more information. We are always here to help.

There is a hazardous driving situation that we all deal with, and it has the potential to cause many accidents each day. It is the improper usage or complete failure to use the two way left turn lane, or simply the center turn lane. Of course, driving in that lane is wrong, as is using that lane to pass other cars, but in my opinion the biggest hazard here is failing to use that lane for turns. So many people don’t think you are supposed to cross the solid line to go into the turn lane, but common sense tells us that it is a misuse of space to have some kind of cushion between the lanes or something. The lane is there for a purpose. It is to get the turning vehicle out of the main lane of traffic.

“According to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, two way left turn (TWLT) lanes are typically employed in areas of moderate roadside development where the demand for mid-block left turns is high. The main advantage of a TWLT lane is that it provides a storage area for left-turning vehicles as they wait for gaps in the opposing traffic stream. This not only improves the operations of through traffic by removing the left-turning vehicle from the traffic stream, but also reduces the potential for rear-end collisions. When TWLT lanes are installed on two-lane roads, they have been found to reduce collisions by approximately 35% in suburban areas to 85% in rural areas.”

When people do not use the two way left turn lane they are not only a hazard, but they are, in fact, making an illegal left turn. The lane was set up for the purpose of getting the turning vehicle out of the lane of traffic, thereby making everyone safer, and when it is not used, the offending driver is hazardous to everyone on the road.

I read in the paper recently where a 15 passenger van rolled on I-80 near Rawlins, Wyoming. In the accident, one 13 year old boy was partially ejected and the van landed on top of him, killing him instantly. The driver of the van was the only one of 11 people wearing a seat belt, and was cited for failure to have the children in the van belted. A tragic story, to say the least.

Now believe me, I have heard every possible excuse for not wearing a seat belt, and I understand that there are many accidents in which a person is killed with their seat belt on. But in a rollover situation especially, there is a far greater chance of survival if you are wearing your seat belt. And, one of the main reasons for death in a rollover is being ejected from the vehicle. It is impossible for the vehicle to land on you when you are still in it. Had this boy not been ejected, he would almost certainly still be alive. If only he would have had his seat belt on. He was the only one who was partially ejected, even though the only person who was belted was the driver. The rest of the passengers could have lost their lives too, but they did stay in the vehicle, while he didn’t. There are also countless other stories of survival in a car accident due to the seat belt habit, but we continue to fight against it, and refuse to obey the laws requiring it.

This driver was cited for not having the children seat belted, but that really is low on the list of things that will follow her for the rest of her life whenever she thinks about this accident. How do you get over killing someone because you didn’t take control of and responsibility for the people in your charge when you are the driver of a vehicle? Well…you just don’t. That person’s face will forever be in your memory, and if you saw their body after the accident, the nightmares will be with you for a long time if not the rest of your life. It is such a small thing to put on your seat belt and require the people with you to do so too. Please, if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for those who love you and for those in your charge. Wear your seat belt and don’t move the vehicle until everyone in your car has theirs on too.

Many people don’t think there is really a need to carry car insurance, or they think it is too expensive. Even those who carry insurance faithfully, don’t always think it is a good investment. And I know we can always think of better things to spend our money on than insurance, right?

So let’s examine the cost of an accident. First we will assume it is only a fender bender. The cost of repairing a dent the size of a woman’s fist is at least $500.00. And let’s face it, very few accidents produce damage that is simply the size of a woman’s fist. Most accidents produce far greater damage, and if you are at fault and you don’t have insurance, you are going to have to make payment arrangements to settle the damages. And that doesn’t even include the ticket and subsequent state filing for not carrying insurance.

If someone is hurt in the accident, you are obviously responsible for their medical bills too. Just one day in the hospital can cost thousands of dollars, and physical therapy is very expensive as well. Without insurance, those bills are your responsibility too. Those kinds of bills have the ability to financially devastate anyone.

Yes, you would save a little money if you drive without insurance, as long as you didn’t get into a accident, because if you do get into an accident, your savings is over, and you will be saying “hello” to hard times. Don’t let yourself be lulled into thinking it won’t happen to you, because sooner or later, you will either get caught by the police to the tune of a $750.00 fine in Casper, Wyoming, where we are located, or you will pay for years to come if you are at fault in an uninsured accident.

If you have ever sat down and really looked at the coverage portion of your insurance policy, you will see terms like these:

BI  100/300        PD  100        MED  5       Comp  500        Coll  500       RDASST  Y        UM  100/300

What does all this mean? Let’s start with the acronyms first.

 “BI” is Bodily Injury. “PD” is Property Damage. “MED” is Medical. “COMP” is Comprehensive. “COLL” is Collision “RDASST” is Roadside Assistance. “UM” is Uninsured/Under insured Motorist

Now that you know what all those letters mean, you need to know what the numbers mean! Each number, with the exception of the comp and collision, is in thousands. So, looking at the numbers listed above, it is actually 100,000/300,000 and 5,000. These are the dollar amount that your policy would pay up to, in the event of an accident. The coverages listed above that have 2 numbers means that this policy would pay $100,000 per person and up to a maximum of $300,000 per accident for bodily injury and $100,000 for property damage. The $5,000 medical will pay all necessary medical and/or funeral expenses incurred to the insured or passengers in the insureds vehicle caused by an accident.

Comprehensive is something that happens to your vehicle that is beyond your control, such as hail damage, theft, animals, or vandalism. Collision  is an accident involving another vehicle or object. When you have “Full Coverage” you agree to pay a predetermined amount, such as $500.00, and the insurance agrees to pay the rest, in the event of an accident or a comp claim, to repair your vehicle.

The uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage kicks in when you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have insurance or if their insurance is not enough to pay for the doctor bills.

When you have roadside assistance, this means that should your car break down, the company will reimburse you for the towing and labor expense.

Now that you know what the coverages mean, you might want to see how your own coverages measure up.

Teenage drivers on an insurance policy…it’s a thought that has the ability to make even the strongest parent cringe. You have spent the last decade enjoying decent rates, if your driving record is good, and then your child turns 16. The cost of this new stage in their lives has been looming for a year, while you have been teaching them the ropes, but now, the time has come.

There are ways to save yourselves some money, but it will require some effort on your child’s part. Many companies offer discounts for a “B” average in school, because statistics show that young drivers with a “B” average, have fewer accidents. Others offer discounts for driver’s education, for the same reason.

Talk to your teen about safe driving habits, and the impact of tickets and accidents on their insurance rates. Because of their inexperience, these impact their insurance rates far more than they do an adult’s. And because tickets and accidents stay on the driving record for at least 3 years, that high rate can haunt them for a long time. Raising responsible young drivers will not only keep them safer, but it will help their insurance rates too.

 

Did you know that speeding tickets affect your insurance rates? Many people don’t realize that.  When you protect your pocketbook by not getting a speeding ticket, you are doing more than just saving money.  Many companies don’t check driving records right away, but many check your record every renewal.  And when a ticked is found, the result can be devastating to your rates.

Many people think that the only things that affect insurance rates are the big things like accidents, and DUI’s, but insurance rates are calculated by looking at each individual’s driving record.  Drivers who aren’t speeding, are less likely to get into an accident. It all goes into the big picture, and that is what insurance companies are looking at…the big picture. And they have found that drivers who obey the law are safer drivers.  It makes sense. If you think about it, that person weaving in and out of traffic, going 5 to 10 miles over the speed limit, just because they didn’t leave early enough to arrive at their destination on time, is not being safe.

Granted, speeding tickets aren’t going to have the same effect on the rates as a DUI will have, but they can raise the rate substantially.  So the next time your find yourself in a hurry to get somewhere, think about the fact that being a little late might just save you money.