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National Safety Board Calls for Standards for Drugged Driving Tests

Posted By Ryan Beene and Adam Levin, Wednesday, October 24, 2018


U.S. transportation safety officials are sounding the alarm on drug-impaired driving, calling for state and federal regulators to do more to tackle the growing problem as states grapple with prescription drug abuse and adopt a more permissive stance on marijuana.

The National Transportation Safety Board has called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to write standards for devices allowing police to test drivers for drugs on the roadside and to give states additional guidance on how to combat drug-impaired driving.

The recommendations came out of the NTSB’s investigation of the 2017 crash in rural Texas that killed 13. The accident was caused by a pickup truck driver who was high on marijuana and an anti-anxiety medication and slammed head-on into a church bus, NTSB found. Video shot by another driver showed the pickup repeatedly veering onto the shoulder and across the double-yellow line for 15 minutes.

“When you use impairing substances, including alcohol, you do gamble, you gamble with lives,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “And that’s what happened.”

While test results for drugs aren’t consistent across jurisdictions — an issue the NTSB is asking safety regulators to address — available evidence shows a substantial increase in drugged-driving deaths as opiate use soars and marijuana has become legal in multiple states.

Out of those drivers who died in accidents in 2006 and were tested for drugs, 30 percent were positive, according to NTSB. That number jumped to 46 percent in 2015. In random roadside testing, more than 22 percent of drivers showed evidence of drug use, according to NHTSA data.

“We really seem to have an epidemic here,” NTSB board member Bruce Landsberg said.

“The pick-up truck driver in this crash made terrible choices with tragic consequences,” Sumwalt said. “But the rising tide of drug-impaired driving did not begin with this driver, and it will not end with him. Law enforcement needs additional tools and advanced training to detect impaired drivers before they crash, regardless of the impairing drug they’re using.”

Police need better training on how to spot drivers who may be impaired and “oral fluid” drug tests that police can use after pulling people over, the NTSB found. The safety agency called on NHTSA, which helps oversee highway safety standards, to create specifications for such a test so it can be applied consistently across states.

NHTSA has been attempting to address the issue. Agency ad campaigns to discourage drunk-driving began addressing drug-impaired driving for the first time in August and the agency has held public meetings on the issue in Seattle, Baltimore and Nashville.

Deputy Administrator Heidi King said earlier this month that, while there’s no uniform national data on the true scope of drugged-driving, the evidence available shows it’s a growing problem. Roadside testing by NHTSA in recent years showed an uptick in drivers with substances in their system, such as marijuana, and a rise of mixing drugs with alcohol.

“There’s not one uniform completely robust collection of information yet, but all of the information supports the need for action,” King said.

Tags:  auto  impaired driving  safety  standards 

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You're Covered

Posted By Hannah Smith, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Personal Auto Policy Revisions


Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) is an acknowledged leader in writing policy language to cover property and liability risks. ISO recently released a revised personal auto policy that becomes effective on September 1, 2018.

This revised policy, and the accompanying endorsements, has been specifically crafted to provide for several emerging issues such as keyless entry and flying cars, and it also allows for some higher limits in areas where prices may be rising. These changes were worded specifically to make sure that both the insured and the insurer are protected to the fullest intent of the policy. The following discussion highlights some of the more important changes that ISO enacted in the 2018 version of the Personal Auto Policy (PAP).

Defining coverage options

ISO is awarding altruistic behavior by enacting changes to the public or livery conveyance exclusion, to incorporate an exception to the exclusion for coverage when the insured owns or operates a vehicle or a “your covered auto” while it is being used for volunteer or charitable purposes. This change broadens coverage by allowing an insured to recover for damages that occur while they are using their vehicle for good. The definition of “transportation network platform” used to be included in an endorsement and is now included in the PAP.

New endorsements

We’ve been saying it for decades “where’s my flying car?” The authors of the new version of the PAP have determined that the looming issue of flying cars is becoming too close for their comfort, so they added in a Flying Car Exclusion. The exclusion specifically addresses that there are some unique and unforeseeable risks associated with the emergence of flying cars or roadable aircrafts. The manual indicates that a specialty policy provides better coverage for these vehicles.

Previously the PAP allowed for a basic limit of liability for transportation expenses of $20 per day and up to $600. The authors of the form have determined that inflation and other market influences affect transportation expenses, so they have raised that limit to $30 per day with a maximum limit of $900 per day. The $30 per day limit is generally supported by current trends in the U.S. car rental market.

The new form changes the duties of the insured, now requiring the insured to submit, as often as reasonably required, to recorded statements. This provision has been included in order to help insurers gather information about an insured’s claim. A recorded statement may be taken at a time convenient for both parties; over the phone; allows for increased flexibility, transparency and accountability on behalf of both parties; and could potentially lead to lowered premiums if the increase in insureds’ accountability leads to a decrease in insurance fraud.

We all know how much of a pain it is to lose the key fob to the car, particularly when a replacement costs – on average – about $200. The PAP has a new endorsement allowing for replacement of a key fob if it is lost or stolen and, on a per-vehicle basis, will pay for reasonable expenses incurred for services to access a covered car if the key or key fob for that vehicle is lost or stolen.

With an increasing number of people considering their pets as their “starter children,” the new PAP is very on-trend with its new Pet Injury Coverage endorsement. If an insured is involved in an accident with the family dog in the front seat, the endorsement will provide veterinary expenses or services incurred as a result of bodily injury to the pet. This coverage only applies if at least one covered car is insured for Other Than Collision and Collision Coverages, and the pet is inside a covered car at the time of the loss or injury.

Another new endorsement to the PAP is the Child Restraint System Coverage Endorsement. Car seats can be expensive, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that they be replaced after a collision. With the new ISO endorsement, the replacement cost of a child restraint system would be covered, without a premium payment, in the event of an accident.

These are just the highlights of the newly revised personal auto form. As always, a thorough reading of the form and accompanying manual is necessary to fully understand the changes in coverage, but this article highlights specific areas of interest.

Tags:  auto  insurance 

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Distracted Driving Awareness

Posted By Jayleen R. Heft, Monday, April 23, 2018

from, April 2, 2018

Focus on Need for Safe Driving Habits

Don't talk, text or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, as designated by the National Safety Council (NSC), and auto insurers join the national campaign to remind the country that distracted driving crashes can be prevented by modifying driving habits and strengthening auto safety laws.

4.57M people seriously injured in auto crashes in 2017

The NSC reports that motor vehicle deaths surpassed 40,000 for the second consecutive year in 2017. The estimates from the NSC show 4.57 million people were seriously injured in auto crashes.

“Distracted driving — and the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel — is one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle crashes nationwide,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

“Advanced technologies have made cars safer than ever in recent years, so it would be logical to think that roadway crashes and deaths would be decreasing. Unfortunately, vehicle crashes and fatalities are rising sharply across the country. And with more people on the roads for spring break and during the warmer months, the potential for distracted driving crashes increases.”

Smartphone use while driving

According to software developer TrueMotion, 92% of drivers use their smartphones while driving, and 71% text while driving. “Too many drivers are still texting, talking, surfing the web, and using social media and apps on their smartphones while driving,” said Passmore.

“Auto safety campaigns like Distracted Driving Awareness Month are important to educate drivers about the risks of distracted driving and encourage them to stop using smartphones and eliminate other distractions while driving,” according to Passmore. “Continued support for the implementation and enforcement of distracted driving laws, which discourage texting while driving and ban handheld cellphone use, also is critical to prevent tragedies.”

Safety is a top issue for auto insurers

“Auto safety is a top issue for auto insurers. We hope the dialogue on distracted driving will continue, and we urge lawmakers and other industry thought leaders to continue addressing the impact of motorist behavior as an important part of the road safety equation,” added Passmore.

7 safe driving tips

Simple modifications to driver behaviors can prevent auto accidents and save lives. PCI offers the following tips for safe driving:

1. Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk, text or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive. Try to limit other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with controls, and be aware that having more passengers in the car multiplies the opportunity for distraction. Secure pets in the back of the car.

2. Wear your seatbelt. Whether you’re traveling to see friends or family or just running errands, buckle up and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.

3. Give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads over spring break, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for auto crashes increases. Plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations and be patient.

4. Pay attention to your speed. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Be especially cautious around construction workers. They’re often working close to the highway and at great risk.

5. Beware of crash taxes. Although crash taxes have been banned or limited in several states, many cities, counties and fire districts will charge the at-fault driver for the emergency response costs of a crash. Fees can range from $100 to more than $2,000, and a typical insurance policy does not cover those costs.

6. Have a plan for roadside assistance. If you’re involved in a crash, beware of unscrupulous towing companies. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident by charging excessive fees and making it difficult for people to retrieve their cars. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready.

7. Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can provide current proof of insurance during a traffic stop.

Tags:  auto  distracted  driving  safe driving 

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5 Auto Insurance Trends to Watch in 2018

Posted By Ted Gramer, Monday, April 23, 2018

from, January 4, 2018

Auto insurance is experiencing its most seismic shift since it began over 100 years ago. If 2017 shook up the industry with an increasing number of carriers adopting mobile telematics programs for UBI, 2018 will break the mold.

Carriers will use data to put the customer front and center, focused on creating delightful experiences. UBI 2.0 will enable carriers to create these experiences by leveraging data in unprecedented ways, and a new data-driven claims experience will begin to evolve. The hype around the connected car will continue to be just that—hype. And consumers, insurers and regulators will introduce big new ideas to combat tragic distracted driving trends.

Here’s how we see 2018 unfolding:

The customer will win. Low engagement, poor satisfaction and complicated processes will not survive in the $200 billion U.S. auto insurance market. Consumers have come to expect delightful experiences like they have with Amazon, Google and Apple, and benchmark all company experiences against them. Auto insurance is no exception. Either incumbents will figure it out or new entrants will. In 2018 we’ll see the battle heat up with a focus on the customer experience.

Expect UBI 2.0. The results are in: Driving data is highly predictive, mobile telematics has reduced the barriers to entry, consumers are signing up, and the carriers that started early are winning. Expect carriers to leverage driving data in new and innovative ways that go broader than just price targeting high-value segments. This will include levels of personalization not possible before, using mobile channels to drive customer engagement and loyalty. Carriers that have fallen behind will scramble to catch up.

A massive opportunity in claims will fully emerge. After decades of claims functioning as the old-school, back-office part of the business, carriers are seeing the potential for game-changing impact on the customer experience, expenses and loss costs. In five years, claims will look nothing like it does today. The mosaic will be filled in beginning in 2018.

The hype around connected cars and autonomous vehicles will continue. The key word being hype. The ugly math is that it will still be at least 15 years until connected cars penetrate half the U.S. vehicle fleet. Level 5 autonomy will take even longer. Unfortunately, the auto insurance deck will likely be reshuffled before then. To prepare for the transition, carriers will look to smartphone data to help. It delivers over 70 percent of connected car data, plus distracted driving data. Smartphones also provide new engagement opportunities. And carriers don’t have to wait—more than 85 percent of drivers own one today.

Outrage with distraction will reach a peak. After more than 3,400 thousand lives lost in 2015 alone and countless accidents as a result of smartphone use in cars, consumers, regulators and insurers will step up their games. Laws have generated short-term effects and general awareness campaigns have produced limited results. Smartphone-based efforts, however, have proven to reduce distracted driving by 20 percent. States will also review how they’re collecting and reporting distracted driving data, which has been significantly underreported to date. Expect some big new ideas that tilt the curve.

Tags:  2018  auto  insurance  trends 

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20 Car Crash Tips

Posted By Barry Levy, Monday, April 23, 2018

from, March 26, 2018

Things You Should Know After an Accident

Consider yourself lucky — or perhaps overdue — if you’re an adult who has never been in a car accident.

Consider that in 2015 alone, more than 2.4 million people were injured and nearly 35,000 people died in 6.2 million crashes nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It follows that the Insurance Information Institute says the number and severity of automobile accidents has been on an uptick in recent years, and the consumer website reports that adult drivers in the U.S. will file a car collision claim approximately once every 18 years.

That means the average American will have three or four auto accidents in a lifetime. Consider yourself lucky — or perhaps overdue — if you’re an adult who has never been in a car accident.

Consider that in 2015 alone, more than 2.4 million people were injured and nearly 35,000 people died in 6.2 million crashes nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It follows that the Insurance Information Institute says the number and severity of automobile accidents has been on an uptick in recent years, and the consumer website reports that adult drivers in the U.S. will file a car collision claim approximately once every 18 years.

That means the average American will have three or four auto accidents in a lifetime. If there is a silver lining, it’s this: Most car collisions aren’t deadly.

Behind the numbers

Here are some additional U.S. car accident statistics include from U.S.

  • More than 90 people die in car accidents each day in the U.S.
  • Another three million are injured, with about two million of those experiencing long-term or permanent injuries.
  • Wearing a seatbelt reduces your risk of death by 45% and your risk of serious injury by 50% yet among the total fatal accidents, 48.1% were not wearing a seat belt.
  • The primary causes of accidents which result in a fatality include alcohol, speeding and reckless driving — the primary causes of accidents which do not result in a fatality include distracted driving and driving while fatigued.
  • About nine people each day are killed as a result of distracted driving.
  • You are 23 times as likely to crash if you text while driving.
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by a whopping 37%.

What to do following a car accident

Auto accidents are always unexpected, and always stressful. Even if you are a very careful driver, you can still be involved in a car collision. If you are involved in a car accident, there are certain steps you should take to minimize adverse outcomes. Here are eight of them:

  1. To the extent possible, stay calm following your accident. Take a deep breath, check for injuries, and call an ambulance. Even if you think you are “fine,” it is a good idea to either let the ambulance transport you to the hospital or to immediately go see your physician. Accidents cause your body to be flooded with adrenaline, which can mask pain, yet once the adrenaline wears off, you may realize you were injured and you are not fine.
  2. If the accident is minor, and it will not put anyone in jeopardy to do so, move the cars involved in the accident to a safe place. Turn on hazard lights when necessary.
  3. Call the police. Even if your accident is minor, and even if the other party tries to persuade you to just “handle it among yourselves,” don’t skip this step! Without a police report, you may find it extremely difficult to convince your insurance company you were not at fault and to pay for your injuries and damages.
  4. Keep track of all medical expenses, including prescriptions, all doctor bills, chiropractic services, rehabilitative services, etc.
  5. Take photos of the scene of the accident, if you are able, including photos of the damage to both vehicles.
  6. If you are physically able, make notes as soon as possible about the accident. These notes should include the name, phone number, license plate number and insurance information about the other person, as well as witness contact information.
  7. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after your accident. Give your insurance company the basic facts of the accident.
  8. If it turns out that you must file a civil claim to recoup your losses (medical expenses, damage to your vehicle, lost wages, etc.), it can be very helpful to make a list of questions to ask a lawyer after your accident.

What not to do after a car accident

There are also things you should avoid doing after a car accident. These include:

  1. Never admit responsibility for the accident, even if you think it might have been your fault, or even partially your fault. Even saying “I’m sorry” to the other party could potentially be misconstrued as an admission of fault, so avoid saying anything that could sound like you are saying the accident was your fault.
  2. Never sign any document without speaking to an attorney first.
  3. Never agree to allow the insurance company to record your conversation without speaking to an attorney (you are not required by law to allow your conversation to be recorded).
  4. Never, ever leave the scene of the accident, particularly when there are injuries, or you could face criminal charges for hit-and-run.
  5. Never discuss your accident on social media, and, in fact, don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your own attorney, your own insurance company and the police. Avoid talking to a representative of another insurance company without discussing it with your own insurer and/or your attorney.

Knowledge is power

Taking the right steps after a car accident can help keep you safe, and can ensure you will receive an equitable settlement for your injuries and damages to your vehicle.

Knowing how to handle an automobile collision also can help you and your family remain calm during an otherwise stressful situation.

Consumers also should know that they never have to manage a car accident alone. An experienced auto accident attorney will ensure your rights are protected, and that valuable evidence is not destroyed.

Tags:  accident  auto  insurance  tips 

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1 in 8 U.S. Drivers was Uninsured

Posted By Danielle Ling, Monday, April 23, 2018

from, March 13, 2018

When an uninsured driver is at fault in an accident, insured drivers, or their insurance companies, are often left to pay for the resulting physical damage and health costs. As in cases with an underinsured driver, these individuals may not have high enough limits on his or her policy to cover all costs of damage caused.

Findings from a new study raise concerns.

Despite the fact that drivers in 49 states are required to carry car insurance, a new study found that nearly one in eight U.S. drivers was uninsured in 2015, putting insured drivers at greater risk in the event of an auto accident.

The study, directed by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) and co-sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. found that 13% of all U.S. motorists were uninsured in 2015, up from 12.3% in 2010 after a seven-year decline.

“The results of the survey sound an alarm,” said Daniel Halsey, president, personal lines, at The Hanover. “Uninsured motorists represent a significant risk to insured drivers. With the average cost of an uninsured motorist claim around $20,000, excluding any physical damage to the vehicle, the best approach is to make sure you have the proper insurance in place to protect yourself in the event of an accident.” 

 To protect themselves against uninsured drivers in the event of an accident, The Hanover suggests customers talk with their independent agents about the following:

  • Do I need uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on my policy? Often, this is a low-cost way to add protection in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  • How much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage do I need? Generally, it is a good idea to have the same amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as bodily injury coverage. Be wary of suggestions to reduce or remove this coverage to reduce the premium on a policy.
  • How does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage work when I have an umbrella policy? Umbrella protection can kick in once auto limits are met. The Hanover offers uninsured/underinsured coverage of up to $2 million on umbrella policies in some states.

Tags:  auto  driver  insurance  uninsured  vehicle 

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