Category Archives: Insurance

Mexican Auto Insurance

You must be a modern daredevil today to drive in Mexico. Perhaps the tight streets of the northeastern United States are not enough. You, my friend, enjoy the element of danger. Don’t be a fool. The idea of getting Mexican insurance must be a priority. The potential for a problem is high.

I’ve had firsthand experience watching a drunken man sideswipe cars in an older Lincoln Continental. It was like he was in a NASCAR race trying to nudge everyone else out for the win. Given the scenario, I expected to see a matadore with his muleta outstretched and waving the man onward.

Mexico is not all that barbaric, but some of it can be. So, it is best to do a quick search-and-grab for insurance coverage. After all, insurance from a Mexican company is required by Mexican law in an accident even if you are not at fault. Like your coverage at home, a Mexican insurance policy can provide coverage for damage to your vehicle or its total loss.

Driving into the southern and eastern areas of Mexico can be a real treat. It is a tremendous expanse of land with some of the most amazing views and roadside interests. But don’t be surprised if you find a few rocks in the road. In fact, it’s kind of just a common problem. The torrential rains not only bring rock and debris, but a group of stacked rocks usually is a warning for problems ahead. Having Mexican insurance is simply the smart move. A Mexican Insurance policy greatly reduces the financial burden you might come by when a road itself is hazardous.

And remember, Mexican laws are designed to infuriate the people. In Mexico, you are dealing with a system that used to view a traffic accident as a criminal offense. Fortunately that is no longer the case. Yet, when breaking a Mexican law there is always the threat of jail. Having Mexican Insurance can actually reduce jail time resulting from a traffic accident.

As with any insurance sale, a great swindle could mean a great deal of hassle in the claims department. A little prudent research into the company you are signing with should reveal the names and locations of the insurance underwriter. I recommend Mexican insurance that has been underwritten by something you have heard of and can trust. Enjoy your trip. Vaya con dios!

Dangerous place behind the wheel

A 29-year-old driver in Maine made headlines in August after crashing his car into a tree while attempting to take a selfie with his friends, injuring several of them.

The car was full of passengers, all in their 20s and 30s. Two of the seven passengers’ injuries were serious, and police issued a distracted driving summons to the driver.

The accident is the latest story to draw attention to a disturbing trend on the roadways: Not only are people texting while driving, but they’re also taking their eyes off the road long enough to pose for and snap selfies.

Statistics support the growth of this trend. As of late September, there were 22,067 Instagram posts under #drivingselfie. That’s nearly six times as many as there was when CNN reported on the hashtag two years earlier.

In an AT&T survey from May, close to 1 in 5 respondents (17%) admitted to taking selfies or other photos while driving. And 7 in 10 people confessed to engaging in smartphone activities behind the wheel.

“It’s a sad fact that drivers want to be doing anything but driving,” says Kara Macek, spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Administration, a nonprofit that represents the state highway offices that implement programs to address behavioral highway safety issues. “There’s no way you can operate a vehicle and take a selfie at the same time. It’s impossible to do.”

When it comes to accident liability, drivers can get in hot water if they are caught taking selfies – or using their phones for any other reason, for that matter – at the time of a crash, says Peter Crosa, president-elect of the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters.

Even though drivers involved in accidents aren’t always forthcoming about their cell phone use, they can find themselves in serious jeopardy in terms of liability if it’s later determined that they were in fact using their phones, Crosa says.

“When we interview people who were in accidents, nobody admits they were using a cell phone or taking a selfie,” Crosa says. “But when a case is serious and involves injury or fatality, we do subpoena records of the driver involved. And frequently, we do find that they were on the phone.”

Taking pictures behind the wheel is a big problem, but it’s not the only problem. “This would be part of the broader issue of ‘distracted driving,’ which is gaining wider attention in the insurance industry,” says Dr. Robert Hoyt, Dudley L. Moore Jr. Chair of Insurance at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

Ride and car sharing on Caverage

Mobile apps have made it possible to turn your personal vehicle into a source of revenue. More drivers are relying on ride sharing apps such as UberX and car-sharing programs such as RelayRides to make a little extra cash on the side, either by chauffeuring passengers or renting by out their cars.

But when it comes to insuring a car that you’re using for moonlighting purposes, things can get tricky.

Car sharing and ride sharing have created havoc in the private auto insurance market, with some insurers and state regulators scratching their heads over who foots the bill if someone gets into an accident.

“There’s a big public policy debate on how to insure this,” Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute in New York.

While both relatively new concepts in the auto insurance world, car sharing and ride sharing are two different things, and insurance experts say it’s important for consumers to understand the difference between the two.

Car sharing is the sharing of private passenger vehicles, similar to a car rental service. FlightCar, GetAround and RelayRides are a few examples.

Ride sharing connects riders with drivers who use their own cars to transport them and is analogous to a taxi service. A few of these programs are Lyft, Sidecar and UberX.

Generally, neither ride sharing nor car sharing is considered by traditional personal auto insurance rating plans. Most personal auto ratings reflect driver characteristics such as driving record and vehicle type – not whether those drivers are selling rides or renting out their cars.

Ride sharing: When does coverage kick in?

Between the two sharing services, ride sharing has sparked the most debate as far as personal auto insurance goes.

“The concern was and still is that a private passenger policy was never intended to cover someone who is engaging in a commercial enterprise,” Barry says.

The question at the center of the debate: At what point does the coverage kick in? It could be anywhere between the time when the ride-share app is first turned on – and a driver sends the signal to Uber or Lyft that he or she is available to offer rides – and when the app is turned off and the person reverts to driving passengers privately.

“The private passenger market says you’re now engaging in a commercial enterprise. You might not have someone in the car, but you’re engaging in a commercial enterprise and driving around with a passenger policy that says you can’t do that,” Barry says.

One of the more high-profile instances of the ride-share insurance gap involved a fatal accident in 2014, when 6-year-old girl who was killed by an Uber driver in San Francisco. The family’s attorney said Uber denied insurance protection that would have covered the family and the driver, and the family ultimately filed suit against both Uber and the driver.

Uber maintained that the driver was not providing services on the company’s UberX system because he did not have a passenger with him.

Repair Your Car After a Accident

You just received a check from you auto insurance company to repair minor damages to your car from a recent accident. You’re OK driving a banged up car and would rather spend the money elsewhere.

What are your options?

Several factors come into play, such as who owns the car, your insurer and the state where you you live. Cashing the check without regard to these can land you in trouble later on.

 

Leasing or still paying on your car limits options

Unless you own your vehicle outright there is little choice. If a leasing company or bank still holds title to the car the insurance company will either pay the repair shop directly or write the check to both you and the lien holder.

If the check is made out to both you and the lienholder you will need to get a co-signature on the check from your bank or leasing company. In the case of a leasing company you will often have to mail the check to an out of state office.

Once you have the co-signature you will need to pay the repair shop. According to experts, if the check is made out to both of you, keeping the money is not a possibility.

The lender or leasing company will want the vehicle fixed because they own it and they will want to protect their investment. All of this adds up to getting the car fixed, even if the check is made out to only you.

Cashing the check and spending the money amounts to fraud and it can end badly for you. Your loan or lease documents require you to maintain your vehicle in good working order which means getting it fixed properly if you are in an accident.

Until you make the last payment and the title is yours, the financing company calls the shots in regards to the vehicle. When you try to turn in your leased vehicle it will have to be repaired before they will accept it back so eventually you are going to cover the cost of repairs either way.

 

Owning you car gives greater flexibility

If you already own the vehicle and are carrying collision insurance you may be able to get paid out and keep the cash. On the other hand, your insurer might just pay the body shop instead of you.

There may be a clause in your insurance policy that requires the check to go to the repair shop to ensure the vehicle will be repaired.

The state you live in can also be a factor. Some states have regulations that dictate who gets the check in the event of a claim payout. As an example, in Massachusetts the check is made out to the claimant who then has the right to decide to get the car fixed or keep the money for themselves.

Hire A Lawyer To Fight Traffic Tickets

Knowing when to fight a traffic ticket could end up saving you hundreds of dollars for the offense itself and perhaps even more on your car insurance down the road.

But how do you know when to fight, and if you do fight it, when to hire a lawyer?

The National Motorists Association recommends drivers not facing a DUI, reckless driving or other charge that could carry serious penalties including jail time, to make an appearance in court and do battle.

What about hiring an attorney? Look at the financial bottom line.

ALSO: What Causes the Most Road Rage?

Expect an attorney to charge a flat rate of $250 to $400 for a one-time courtroom appearance to enter a plea and negotiate a reduced penalty. Other courts cost could apply, too. For a lesser ticket with a lesser fine you might not even break even by hiring an attorney.

However, if jail time is even a slight possibility, or your fines reach a thousand dollars or more, then an attorney can be money well spent.

Don’t feel, thought, that every traffic court appearance demands an attorney.

 

Who should fight a ticket in court?

Some motorists, such as commercial drivers, should fight all traffic tickets because any moving violation can jeopardize their ability to continue working, says Ohio attorney Michael E. Cicero.

Also, your age is a big factor when seeking your day in court.

“If you’re very young or very old, fighting the ticket is absolutely worth it,” Cicero says. “In those demographics, traffic tickets can cause significant jumps in premiums.”

If you do choose to fight a ticket in person you already have one advantage. Crowded courts face hundreds of cases per day and prosecutors are usually willing to negotiate a deal.

Also, you may have a slight advantage in court depending on where you live.

Some states, such as New Jersey, require a witness to testify at a court hearing if a police officer didn’t see it, so if the witness — who is usually the other driver — doesn’t show up in court, the ticket is dismissed.

California lawyer Christopher J. McCann says that one of the first tactics he uses is requiring an officer to respond on paper to a certain deadline, called a “Trial by Declaration.”

“Putting the ball in the court of a busy officer alone gets me many easy victories when they neglect to return the document in a timely fashion,” McCann says. “Even if they do, the officer may not state his case properly, giving you another chance to win.”