What Should You Do After An Accident

Being in a car accident is never fun, after the initial shock of the crash you will have to deal with the repairs of your vehicle as well as the insurance claim. While you will probably be a bit confused or frustrated after the accident there are a few actions that can actually make matters worse so follow these tips to make sure your accident goes as smoothly as possible.

Its Not Just a Fender Bender – While it might look like a minor fender-bender, the costs could end up being significant. There is the possibility that the frame is bent, the axle damaged, or other structural damage. Even a damaged bumper that is filled with sensors and crumple zones can be a very expensive fix. No matter how minor the damage, you should get all of the other drivers contact information, including their insurance ID number. This will come in handy if you need to make a claim later.

Never Apologize – Even if you think the accident might be your fault, don’t apologize or admit fault, it may be used against you later in a lawsuit. Simply exchange information with the other driver and let the insurance companies determine fault and settle the claims. Admitting guilt can result in a claim against you and a possible lawsuit if the accident is severe enough, for that reason, let the adjusters work it out.

Document the Scene – Many people think that if it is just a minor accident there is no need to take photos or call the police. Again, regardless of how minor an accident you should take photos of the scene as well as the damage to your vehicle, and that of the other person. Insurance experts recommended calling the police and getting a police report which can help determine fault. It is possible that the police will refuse to come out for a small incident but you can at least tell your insurer that you tried.

Consider Paying for Towing – If your car needs to be towed and you have roadside assistance on your policy you might want to cover the cost yourself. While roadside assistance is usually a low cost add-on, if you use it frequently it could result in a premium increase. Each tow or jumpstart ends up on your policy record and could drive your rates higher at renewal time.

Don’t Delay Filing a Claim – It is best to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. They will advise you how to proceed and in many cases will direct you to an approved repair center to get your car checked out. The adjusters will also get started on their investigation to determine fault and settle any claims.

Don’t Choose a Deductible You Can’t Afford – While it may seem like a good idea to raise your deductible to lower your insurance payment, if you don’t have enough money to cover the deductible you may find yourself unable to get your car repaired. It is best to keep your deductible in a range that you can easily afford, even if it results in a higher monthly payment.

Five Ways to Own Fewer Cars

At a time when two- and three-car families are the norm, getting rid of one or more vehicles might seem daunting.
But if you’re willing to make a few tradeoffs, experts say, downsizing a few sets of wheels can yield sizeable savings for your household.
In addition to regular car payments, fuel, state fees, financing costs, maintenance, repairs, insurance and depreciation account for a considerable amount of your out-of-pocket expenses when it comes to owning a vehicle.

Based on these factors, according to Kelley Blue Book, the five-year cost to own a 2014 Honda Accord comes out to $33,593. That’s in addition to the $21,441 purchase price of the car.

“From our perspective, having more cars than you need in your household is going to be a costly endeavor,” says Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “Having the number of vehicles in your house right sized is critically important.”

Here are five ways to become a household with fewer cars:

1. Re-evaluate your lifestyle.

Lifestyle choices such as where you live and work and when you commute can factor heavily into the need for additional cars. Eric Tyson, author of “Personal Finance for Dummies,” says to examine your work schedule. Some families might be able to coordinate their schedules in a way that makes sharing one commute possible. “If you’re a married couple, you should really stop and think about whether you need two cars based on where you live and what your daily needs are,” Tyson says.

There’s also an opportunity to downsize if one of the adults in your household doesn’t work outside the home or works within walking distance or near public transit, he says.

If you’re planning a move in the near future, transportation should be one of the factors you consider in choosing a place to live. Urban areas, for example, are more conducive to using public transportation instead of a car. “The need for so many cars could be driven, in part, by you choosing a place to live that is not very convenient or centrally located,” Tyson says.

2. Let go of that old car.

If you’ve just purchased a new car, experts say it doesn’t make sense to hang on to your older model just because it’s paid off.

“I find that over time, some families accumulate cars. If they get a new car, they’ll just keep the old one, reasoning that it’s paid for and not costing that much,” says Tyson.

Even if the car is paid off and you don’t drive it around very often, operating expenses and maintenance can rack up big bills – especially if the car is more than five years old. “It’s really all of those ongoing expenses that are going to start to add up over time,” says Gutierrez.

3. Share the wheel with your kids.

These days it’s not unusual to see families with one car for each adult. But buying a car for your children can ultimately send them the wrong message, Tyson says. “Honestly, I can’t think of a worse thing to do than to buy a kid their own car. It’s an expensive luxury, especially if you’re handing a brand new, expensive car to a kid who hasn’t worked for it,” he says.

A better idea is to share your car with your teenage driver, Tyson says. “This reinforces that this is your car that you bought and paid for. You can use it when it works for our family, but that doesn’t mean you get to use it all the time,” he says.

Super Expensive to Insure

Cranking down the highway at 140 miles per hour behind the wheel of your Koenigsegg Agera R sounds exciting to just about anyone but before you drain your bank account and head to the dealership, be aware of the true costs of these cars. Exotic super cars are not only expensive to buy but expensive to own. Insurance premiums and maintenance costs can add thousands of dollars a year to your ownership costs.

Super Cars Are Super Expensive

Buying an exotic car is not for most of us. These cars cost more than many people make in their entire working life. We are not talking about run of the mill Porches or Ferraris but truly exotic vehicles. They are built in limited numbers, use extremely expensive materials and are hand built putting them out of reach for the majority of drivers.

Just how far out of reach? A Bugatti Veyron Supersport has a 16 cylinder engine that will push it over 200 mph and it will go 0-60 in 2.9 seconds. This car costs a staggering $2.6 million dollars. The Koenigsegg Agera R is another example of a truly rare car. It’s 1115 HP V-8 will hit 60 mph in 2.9 seconds as well but cost a mere $1.7 million.

So what does it cost to insurance and run one of these exotic cars? Tons of money.

Insurance Costs

Insuring your million-dollar vehicle can cost plenty. In the majority of cases super cars are insured by specialty insurers. Mainstream insurers like Progressive or State Farm have limits on the value of cars they will insure and most will not touch a million dollar vehicle.

Collector car and other specialty insurers such as Chub and Chartis issue policies called agreed value. Agreed value policies let the vehicle owner set the limit on the value of the car. In the case of a total loss, they are paid 100 percent of the agreed value. Exotic cars depreciate quickly and this type of insurance makes sure you recover full value of the car if it is totaled or stolen.

So what is the premium on an exotic car?

According to Autoblog, the most expensive car to insure is the most expensive car to buy. Insurance costs for a Bugatti Veyron will run roughly $50,000 per year. The U.S Census Bureau found that the median household income in 2010 was $49,445 so if you plan on buying a Veyron be prepared to fork up more than most households are living on, just for insurance.

Insurance is just one expense that you will have to deal with; maintenance is where the real money will be spent.

Lets Helps Drivers Save on Insurance

Drivers will soon have a new incentive for obeying speed limits, avoiding excessive braking and using turn signals. While some of us might not like the idea of having our driving habits monitored by an onboard spying device, the prospect of paying less for car insurance might just change our attitudes.  And whether we like them or not, computerized tracking systems that grade us on our driving style will soon be as commonplace as the now-ubiquitous cell phone.

Sprint’s Emerging Solutions Group has launched a system that allows auto insurance companies to assess pricing based on customer driving habits, rather than arbitrary information like where they live or their credit score.  Called ‘Usage Based Insurance’, or UBI, it allows insurers to customize pricing to each driver, giving discounts to good drivers and charging more to those who speed or frequently slam on their brakes.

The device plugs into a car’s diagnostic system and analyzes gathered data with scoring software that rates driver safety.  It then transmits the information via a wireless signal to the insurance firms. Sprint says it’s a win-win situation for both insurers and drivers – good drivers, that is.  Insurance companies will increase their bottom line, reduce costs and better assess the risk that drivers pose. Good drivers will save on insurance.

Insurers can also offer additional programs for policyholders, such as using the device to monitor vehicle health, fuel efficiency, service needs and location.

Plans are in place to expand the monitoring program to include financial institutions.  In this application, the device will be used to prevent drivers from starting their cars if they’re late on their payments. It will also be able to locate and lock vehicles that are being repossessed.

Car Insurance Rates on Skyrocketing

Having a few drinks after work and then getting in your car to drive home may not seem like a big deal but it can have a huge impact on your car insurance premiums if you are pulled over and found to be driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI is one of the most damaging things that can happen to both your driving record and your insurance premium.

Driving under the influence happens more often than most people would think. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 there was an alcohol related death in the U.S every 51 minutes. Over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics according to the FBI.

While it is possible that your insurer may not find out about your DUI immediately, eventually it will come to light. Insurers do not check your driving record every year, which may leave your DUI undetected unless the state you are in requires notification. However, once an insurer becomes aware of a DUI you can expect skyrocketing rates or even cancellation of coverage.

The laws regarding DUI’s and auto insurance will vary by state. Each state sets their own blood alcohol limits as well as policies regarding notification of the drivers insurance company and whether the driver must seek coverage in a high-risk pool.

Many states require drivers to obtain a SR-22 form from their auto insurer which will immediately bring your infraction to the attention of your insurance company.

The SR-22 is basically a certificate of financial responsibility that the state requires to get your license reinstated.

Each state will notify drivers who need to carry a SR-22 what the minimum car insurance limits they must have to get their license back. When the proper coverage is purchased the insurer will file the SR-22 with the state verifying that you have insurance coverage.

Not all insurance companies even offer SR-22 coverage so you may be cancelled and have to find a new insurer.

Once filed you will need to carry a SR-22 for a certain number of years. It will vary by state but in most cases it is at least 3 years and often runs to five years. If you cancel your insurance or are dropped due to non-payment your insurer will immediately notify the state and your license and/or vehicle registration will be suspended.

You Need Comes to Car Insurance

Its no secret that over a lifetime men will pay more for car insurance then women with the same driving profile but have you ever wondered why? There are many reasons that women pay a lower rate for car insurance but are they justified? Insurance companies sure think so and here are just a few of the reasons they give women a break when it comes to car insurance premiums.

Women Tend to be Safer

When comparing averages, women absolutely have an advantage when it comes to insurance premiums. The exact amount of the advantage will certainly vary depending on factors such as age, traffic tickets and credit history but if a woman and a man living in the same city with the same basic profile shop around for insurance, in almost all cases the women will be offered a lower rate.

Insurers love statistics and statistics show that women are less aggressive drivers and tend to drive more cautiously than men. They receive fewer tickets and are more likely to use safety systems such as seat belts. Men are a higher risk and that is why they pay more for car insurance on average.

Exactly how much more reckless are men? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2009 more than 70 percent of the people involved in fatal car crashes were men. Its important to remember that while men get more tickets and are involved in more accidents, not all women are perfect drivers. Statistics show that over the past 35 years the number of fatal accidents involving women has risen by 10 percent while the number of fatal accidents involving men has dropped 32 percent.

Unfortunately, most of the increase is do the fact that women are driving more miles per year than they did in years past. When the numbers are examined and compared by miles driven per year, men still come out on top when it comes to accidents. Simply put, statistics show that men are more likely to speed, run red lights, drive aggressively and drink and drive. All of this leads to higher crash rates and higher insurance rates.

Look at the Numbers

Here is a quick look at some Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) statistics that shine some light on why men tend to pay more for insurance:

  • Men crash 12 percent more on weekends than women.
  • More men are driving, about 93 percent of all men aged 16 and over drive versus just 85 percent of women.
  • Men are driving 2.5 times more often when a fatal crash occurs.
  • Men drivers are involved in rear-end accidents 30 percent more than women drivers.
  • Women wear seatbelts 27 percent more often than men.
  • Men get double the amount of DUIs that women get and are two times more likely to drive with a suspended license.

Despite the fact that all men are different and some are very careful drivers, insurance companies work on averages so even the most careful male driver is going to pay a higher premium.

Save on Auto Insurance

We all like to save money – and we especially like to save on auto insurance.  According to a survey conducted by Motor Trend magazine, the average driver spends $84,000 in their lifetime insuring their vehicle. According to one survey, annual rates can run as high as $1,800 and as low as $320, a variation of $1,480.  That’s a significant difference. If you want to shave dollars off that figure, here are some tips to help put extra cash in your pocket:

Shop Before You Buy:  With the availability of online resources for price comparisons, it’s much easier now to get a variety of quotes from different companies.   Get identical quotes from at least three different companies before you purchase insurance.  Make sure you’re getting price quotes for exactly the same coverage on your vehicle.

Surf for Discounts: Find out what price cuts you might qualify for.  Some potential insurance discounts include:

  • Completing a safe driving course can save you money on auto insurance.  Accredited courses such as this are especially applicable to drivers over the age of fifty.  Find out if you qualify for one.
  • Low Mileage Drivers often qualify for discounts.  If you drive your vehicle infrequently throughout the year, you might just get a price break from your insurer.
  • Combine insurance Policies.  Insurers will often give discounts if you combine policies.  If you have homeowner’s insurance, check with them to see if they’ll give you a discount on your auto insurance.
  • Anti-theft devices.  Insurers often offer discounts for vehicles that prevent theft, such as steering wheel locking devices and car alarms. This is especially true in high-crime metro areas.
  • Loyalty Discounts.  If you’re a long-time customer of your insurance company, they might offer you a discount.  Oftentimes they don’t offer this information freely.  Ask and you might receive a discount.
  • College Students:  If your child has gone away to college and doesn’t drive your car anymore or just occasionally, find out if you can take them off your policy.  It will save you dollars on your premium.

Driving Guide for Teens and Students

It should come as no surprise that teens are the most vulnerable population of drivers in the U.S. After all, they are the least experienced behind the wheel, which makes them a bit reckless, a bit risky, and very expensive to insure.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teen driver crash rates are three times higher than for drivers over 20 years old per mile driven, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 13- to 19-year-olds. What’s more, in 2013 (the most recent data available), 2,524 drivers in that age group died in auto accidents, accounting for 9 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 make up just 14 percent of the U.S. population, but they also account for 30 percent ($19 billion) of the “total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males” and 28 percent ($7 billion) of the “total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.”

These facts and statistics come with significant and far-reaching consequences for everything from insurance premiums to new teen driver safety initiatives designed to curb such startling figures. What follows are some of the most important details about the risks and expenses of teens behind the wheel.

Most experts agree that the root cause of teen driving risk is a lack of experience, and a 2012 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports this claims.

According to the study’s lead author, Bruce Simons-Morton of the division of epidemiology, statistics, and prevention research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the NIH, novice teen drivers are almost four times as likely to end up in a car accident or close-calls as adult drivers. Moreover, compared to older, experienced drivers, risky driving behavior is five times more prevalent among teens newly behind the wheel.

“If you think about driving as a complex physical and psychological task, the crash rates we observed look a lot like the classic learning curve,” says Simons-Morton. “And it’s not just about learning how to drive the vehicle. It’s also about developing safe driving judgment and learning how to process a lot of information at once while you’re behind the wheel.”

According to Simons-Morton, this study is the first “naturalistic assessment” of risky teen driving, meaning that rather than have teens merely respond to a survey, he and his colleagues directly observed their driving habits first through various technologies installed in their vehicles.

For 18 months between 2006 and 2008, the NIH team studied 42 newly licensed teens, comprising 22 females and 20 males who attended high school or home school in Virginia. To provide a comparative backdrop, the study also assessed the driving habits of 55 parents operating the same vehicles. Here are a few of the study’s most interesting findings:

—Over the study period, teens experienced significantly higher rates of crashes or near-crashes compared with parents—37 crashes and 242 near-crashes compared to just two crashes and 32 close-calls among the adults.

—Crash rates rapidly decline after the first six to nine months behind the wheel, even though they remain much higher than experienced adults driving the same vehicles.

—Distractions such as texting, operating an Mp3 player, or talking on a cell phone while driving were the leading causes of crashes.

Have You Pay Out Of Pocket Before You File A Claim

In theory, the amount you set for your auto insurance deductible should dictate how much money you’re willing to pay out of pocket before letting your auto insurance foot the bill, and that would be the end of the story.

But filing a claim can set in motion a chain of events that could prompt your insurer to raise your rates or even drop you altogether.

So for some consumers, there’s a bit of grey area between their stated deductible amount and the price they’re actually willing to pay to avoid having to file an insurance claim. It’s a concept some insurance researchers call the “pseudodeductible.” And

understanding this hidden deductible can help consumers set a more accurate stated deductible, and potentially save on their insurance premiums in the long run.

“People try to avoid uncertainty. That’s why you buy insurance. But when these losses happen, it creates another uncertainty: What’s going to happen to my premium when I report this claim? So it’s a balancing act between the loss itself and how it will affect the future premium,” says Dana Kerr, Ph.D., associate professor of risk management and insurance at the University of Southern Maine. Kerr authored a 2012 study on pseudodeductibles and is one of the few researchers studying the phenomenon.

If a consumer has a $500 deductible but $800 in damages, that person might be willing to pay the full $800 and leave $300 on the table, rather than file a claim for $500 and risk having their premium go up. “They’re willing to eat that cost if it gets rid of the uncertainty of what the reporting of that loss might have on their future premium,” Kerr says.

Kerr found that as a consumer’s loss gets larger in terms of dollar amount, that person is likely to be less selective about which claims to report.

“At a certain threshold amount, it’s too big, where now the greater uncertainty shifts from the loss itself and what you have to pay out of pocket, to the effect your loss is going to have on your future premium cost,” Kerr says.

People with losses of more than $1,000 were more selective than the people with total losses of less than $1,000, according to the report.

Kerr’s study also found that women and adults under 55 tend to be more selective about whether to file a claim. The same goes for individuals who have prior accidents on their records. “There are different levels of risk aversion for different types of people,” Kerr says. “The pseudodeductible effect ebbs and flows with the nature of your loss experience.”

Liability can be a game changer in terms of making a person more likely to file a claim. If you’re held legally liable for another person’s damages, the costs – though uncertain – could be significant and include pain and suffering.

How to drive from the Internet

It used to be that taking driver’s ed meant packing into a classroom full of restless teenagers and watching hours upon hours of safety films.

But these days, more driver’s education students are turning to their computers and smartphones and opting to complete their coursework from home.

An increasing number of driver’s education programs are making at least part of their coursework available online. Some are even offering courses through a mobile app.

This driver’s ed evolution has raised questions as to whether online classes are as effective as the classroom for preparing teens to get behind the wheel.

Safety experts and driver’s education providers say there are pros and cons to taking these classes online.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says Patrick May, vice president of sales and marketing for iDriveSmart, a driver’s education program based in Rockville, Md., taught entirely by active and retired police officers. “It helps with scheduling more than anything else, and it’s an efficient way of delivering information. The potential negative is it’s not the same experience as sitting in a classroom with a live, engaged instructor having an interactive conversation.”

Austin-based startup Aceable is offering a full driver’s ed course on a mobile app. Blake Garrett, founder and CEO of Aceable, believes in the value of online classes, but with some caveats.

“Online can be equally, if not more effective than in person,” he says.

But in surveying some of the other online courses on the market, Garrett says he’s seen many programs that haven’t been revamped in awhile.

“It’s basically like a PowerPoint that has been moved online. It’s not interactive and doesn’t play into cognitive learning. So I think there are a lot of ways to improve to make it a more engaging experience,” he says.

Convenience factor

Online classes offer a lot of conveniences to students and their families. For one, online driver’s ed providers have the ability to offer lower price points than classroom courses. That can be important for families who are about to take on college tuition bills. “That lets companies like us put money into improving the programs overall,” May says.

Finding a way to fit in driver’s ed classes can be difficult for busy families. May points out that states require 15 to 30 hours of instruction to complete a driver’s education program. “That’s a large time commitment to try to set aside when kids are in school and playing sports,” he says.

May believes that either type of driver’s education instruction is most effective when it’s integrated with behind-the-wheel training. The vehicle itself can become a lab to demonstrate some of these principles.

“The in-car training is invaluable. It’s a whole lot more than knowing what an accelerator does,” May says. Classroom instruction continues to be an important piece of iDriveSmart’s driver’s ed program, which invests significantly in professional instructors and pays them 2.5 times higher than competing programs do. May says that professionalism carries into the classroom and the car, and students take the instructors more seriously and as authority figures.

“Our goal isn’t to get the kid licensed. Our goal is to create safe drivers for life,” May says.

Online classes are available from iDriveSmart, and May says he’s noticed a trend to move classes online in places like Virginia and California. iDriveSmart operates in California, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.