Saving Green By Driving Green: Insurance Companies Giving The Break To Eco-Conscious Drivers






eco-insuranceNot only do hybrid vehicles run quieter and use less fuel, now some insurance companies are adding to that cost reduction by offering reduced rates to drivers of hybrid vehicles. In recognition of efforts to support a healthy environment and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, many insurance companies are now extending as much as a 10% discount on insurance rates simply for driving a hybrid vehicle over a standard gasoline or diesel powered automobile.

Is this trend likely to continue? The real question lies in whether or not hybrid vehicles truly are less expensive to insure because if they actually end up costing insurance companies just as much as ordinary vehicles, it won’t be long before insurance rates return to the norm for all ordinary vehicles. It is interesting to note that California, a state with some of the most heavy air pollution over its more major cities, does not offer a reduction in rates for hybrid vehicle drivers, though one would expect that cities battling the worst pollution would be the first to offer such incentives.

Hybrid cars do use less fossil fuel, are quieter and contribute less to noise pollution, and their engines use less oil than their traditional counterparts. But are they involved in fewer accidents? Do they cost insurance companies less money? The jury is still out, but as the verdict eventually comes in it will be up to insurance companies whether or not hybrid car owners will still get a break on rates.




Driver’s Ed Saves You Money






drivers-edEvery parent dreads the day when his or her teenager begins to drive. It is a coming-of-age event that signals a greater degree of responsibility and freedom, but also a higher level of risk for the teen behind the wheel. Also inherent in the young driver’s experience is that of the cost of adding an inexperienced driver to an auto insurance policy. Parents and teens should know, however, that there are things that reduce cost for teen drivers to be insured.

First, enroll your teen in an accredited driver’s education program. Completing a driver’s ed program automatically qualifies most teen drivers for a slightly reduced insurance rate over those who simply go straight to the DMV for testing, regardless how well they may do on that testing. Second, encourage your teen to maintain a good grade point average in school, as most insurance companies also consider grades when assessing the risk of that teen behind the wheel of a car. Teens maintaining a GPA over 3.0 tend to receive discounted rates with most insurance companies. Last, assess your teen’s driving abilities yourself and set guidelines for their driving while they are developing their skill as a driver and gaining experience behind the wheel. Sometimes parents are the first to know when a particular driving situation, such as bad weather or long-distance driving, may be beyond their teen’s abilities.

Start with a good driver’s education class, build your teen’s driving skill on a solid foundation, and save money in the process.




Grand Theft Auto: The Real Dangers






grand-theft-autoAuto theft is a real business for many who choose to make their living on the dark side of the law. Unfortunately, it has cost millions of dollars in lost property and insurance payments as consumers bear the cost of stolen vehicles. Protecting yourself against auto theft begins with knowing the risks, and knowing where the most auto thefts occur is a good place to start.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports in 1996, a car was stolen every 23 seconds, and that number has increased in the years since then. Statistically, the southern states lose the greatest number of vehicles to theft, followed by the western states, then the midwestern states, and finally the northeastern states losing the fewest. Specifically, the five states that suffered the highest number of auto thefts, in order from greatest to least, were Miami, Florida; Jersey City, New Jersey; Fresno, California; Memphis, Tennessee; and New York, New York.

Obviously more thefts occurred in urban areas rather than small communities or rural settings. This is easily explained by the fact that urban centers afford greater opportunity as well as better concealment of auto theft in its crowded streets and cosmopolitan parking centers. Opportunity is everything, and the big cities have it. Being aware of this trend will help car owners to be wary and take precautions to keep their vehicles secure even in areas where theft abounds.




Exciting Advances In Auto Security






auto-securityCar alarms have come a long way since the days when a loud beeping would begin if a burglar broke into your car. Though such alarms may have scared off an intruder for fear of being caught in the act, they did little else but cause a loud disturbance to the neighborhood. Nowadays car security systems have reached a whole new level with the Lo-Jack system.

Lo-Jack employs technology that not only alerts audibly, if chosen, an intruder in the vehicle, but also acts as a GPS locating system that tracks the vehicle as it is moved to a new location, sends an email and/or text message to the owner of the vehicle alerting them to the car’s change in location, and even notifies law enforcement if that option is chosen on an individual plan. Not only does this help to guard against theft or damage in the first place, but it also aids law enforcement in apprehending would-be car thieves and returning stolen property to its rightful owner.

Auto insurance companies also offer lower rates in some cases when a Lo-Jack system is used in a vehicle, citing lower risk of loss or damage to insured vehicles. As the technology becomes more mainstream and costs level off, this system will likely replace the outdated siren alarms of yesterday, offering greater security, less concern about theft, and ultimately peace of mind for consumers.




“Comprehensive,” “Collision,” And “Full Coverage.” Auto Insurance Terms You Need To Know.






auto-insurance-termsMost states require driver’s to hold some type of auto insurance policy. However, shopping for auto insurance can be tricky. Not all auto insurance policies are alike and chances are your insurance needs will vary depending on the type of car you have. Before you shop for car insurance, make sure you understand the difference between liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and full coverage.

Liability insurance covers you for damages that you might cause to others. However, it does not cover your own vehicle. Usually this is the minimum requirement in most states.

Collision coverage is the coverage you pay for if your vehicle is damaged in an accident. When an accident occurs, you usually report a claim to the insurance company. Most of the time you have a deductible and your insurance company takes car of the remaining costs of the damage to the vehicle.

Comprehensive coverage is for any other type of loss related to the car, including theft, fire, and any other type of loss that is not the product of a collision. Many times you have a deductible for comprehensive coverage, but it is usually smaller than your collision deductible.

Full coverage covers you for everything – liability, collision, and comprehensive.




“Cover Me, I’m Going In.” Are You Really Insured Driving Your Friends’ Car?






friend-drive-carThe other day I had friends at my house. We were busy doing things and as time passed, we got hungry. No one wanted to order pizza, but no one else wanted to go pick up food for the group either. I tried to trick my friend into going and I told him that I would let him drive my car if he picked it up for us. What a great offer – right? He did not have to waste money on gas and my car is brand new. My friend rejected my offer saying that if something were to happen he did not want to be held responsible. I told him I had insurance. He said that did not matter because he was driving.

If you have insurance does it cover anyone who is driving – even my friend? At first, I thought my friend was simply lying to me to get out of picking up food for the group. However, after I researched the matter a little further, I realized that he might be on to something. Although, in most situations, as long as you give the person permission to drive the car they are usually covered it usually depends on your insurance policy.

Some insurance companies have exclusions written into their policies that prevent people, including your friends, family members, or roommates from driving your car. You might want to check this out before you let someone get behind the wheel of your vehicle.




Cheapest States To Insure Your Ride






Automobile insurance is one of those unavoidable expenses that we all complain about, but that we are glad we have in place if we ever have an accident. Depending on where we live, insurance rates can vary considerably. Perhaps when one lives in the middle of nowhere there are simply fewer obstacles to run into, fewer pedestrians to watch out for, or fewer other vehicles with which to have collisions? Nonetheless, here are the ten least expensive states in the Union to insure your vehicle.

The top three states in 2006 were North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, in that order. Maine followed closely behind in the two previous years. Next come Kansas, Idaho, and South Dakota, interspersed by Iowa and North Dakota trading places during the previous two years as well. It seems that the same states hold these top ten least expensive insurance rate spots throughout the three year period for which statistics are available, simply changing places a bit from year to year.

It should be noted that most of these states have a much lower population density than the major cities that fared the worst on the insurance rate expense list, more farmland, and fewer congested cities. Obviously lifestyle has something to do with insurance rates, as these areas also report fewer accidents, and lower number of speeding citations.

There just don’t seem to be as many insurance claims filed in cow country, causing insurance rates to be markedly lower.




Accidents In Dallas: The Benefits Of Having Uninsured Motorist Coverage






uninsured-motorist-coverageTexas is the second highest populated state in the country. Because of this, it is only natural that the city of Dallas would be full of people on the go. And even though it makes for a great city life, it does not always make for a fun time on the road. There can be a lot of accidents on the road, especially when that many people are driving. You may think that you are protected because you have liability coverage – the proper amount of insurance coverage required by the state of Texas. However, you never know when you might get in an accident with an uninsured motorist.

Insurance companies deal with situations everyday that involve those who have been hit by a driver without insurance. For this reason, they usually advise you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t really care about my car – it is not worth very much.” However, what about the possibility of unpaid medical bills and other expenses that you might incur because of an accident with an uninsured motorist that was not your fault.

Having uninsured motorist coverage steps in on your behalf when the uninsured motorist cannot. If your car needs to be repaired, the insurance fixes it. If you need to see the doctor, the insurance takes care of that too. It is a wise thing to have with the number of uninsured drivers on the road today.




3 States With The Strictest Penalties For Driving Uninsured






states-penaltiesAlmost all states require auto insurance. Not only is it smart to have car insurance and avoid risks on the road, but it is also the law in most places. However, many people everyday drive without insurance. If they are caught, they are usually charged a small fee and forced to appear in court proving that the either renewed their lapsed policy or got a new policy altogether. Some states, however, are stricter with their penalties when it comes to driving without insurance.

Oregon, for example will fine you, suspend your license and tow your car. Once happens you have to fill out a form proving your financial responsibility. After you have done all of this and gotten liability insurance, your license can be renewed.

In New York, the DMW keeps track of everyone’s insurance. If for some reason you lapse on your policy, the DMV is immediately notified and you will be fined. Also, if you are planning on switching companies, you have to notify the DMV as well. Basically, it is virtually impossible to drive uninsured without the DMV knowing or without getting fined.

In Utah, the problem with uninsured motorists became so bad that the state decided to become stricter on how they dealt with people who drive without insurance. Specifically, those who cause accidents without insurance get their licenses revoked until they can pay the damage in full. For some, that is a very long time.




The Things People Get Away With: Insurance Commissioners Corruption and Crime






Sometimes, you just try to get ahead in life. And sometimes it backfires on you. This seems to be a running trend with public officials, especially  insurance commissioners.

A recurring theme with insurance commissioners labeled as corrupt is the misuse of their positions in office to benefit them and advance politically. However, the end result unfortunately turns into a front seat before a judge.

What is an Insurance Commissioner?

A little background on what an insurance commissioner should actually focus on is this. The basic definition is a “top state regulator of the insurance business who is either elected to office or appointed by a state to safeguard the interests of policy owners.” The states slightly vary, however, in regards to whether the insurance department/division is autonomous or actually a portion of a larger body.

For example, the State of California has an insurance commissioner who oversees and directs all of the functions within the Department of Insurance. In Florida, the Chief Financial Officer oversees the Department of Financial Services. These positions and offices are essentially very similar, however, the Chief Financial Officer in Florida is actually a combination of the former offices of Comptroller, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, and the Fire Marshal.

Back to the corruption. There have been a handful of insurance commissioners in recent years that have jeopardized their careers because of unethical practices. Instead of boring you with a laundry list, we’ll just focus on three juciest.

Chuck Quackenbush

quackenbush_before_resignation

Former California Insurance Commissioner, Chuck Quackenbush, served between the years of 1995-2000. He officially announced his resignation from office on June 28, 2000. The corruption of the California Department of Insurance was revealed when Cindy Ossias, a senior lawyer within the Department, exposed the allegedly illegal and corrupt actions of the insurance commissioner.

Apparently, Quackenbush allowed insurance companies (State Farm, Allstate and 20th Century Insurance) to compensate their clients much less than the actual damages after the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, CA. These insurance companies had set up special “educational funds” to create television commercials as an exchange. The commercials were disguised as public service announcements. However, suspicions arose, with people assuming that Quackenbush used these commercials to achieve electoral gain.

He eventually resigned in June 2000, after putting Ossias on administrative leave after her identity was revealed. His resignation was effective on July 10, 2000 as he managed to avoid impeachment. He eventually became a sheriff’s deputy in Lee County, Florida.

Carroll Fisher

fisher

Unlike Quackenbush, former Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, Carroll Fisher, was actually impeached by the state House of Representatives. He had resigned in 2004 after being convicted of embezzlement and perjury. On February 17, 2006, he received a one-year sentence on the embezzlement count and a two-year sentence on the perjury count. These sentences were to run consecutively.

In May 2003, Fisher had embezzled his own campaign funds after depositing a $1,000 campaign check into his already overdrawn bank account. The perjury count? He never disclosed this information.

But that is not all. In addition to these two counts, Fisher also faced allegations of bribery, filing false income taxes, and failure to pay money over to a state. According to an article found on www.bubbaworld.com, he allegedly also failed to register a charity, failed to report charitable contributions and failed to keep appropriate records of contributions.

He unfortunately continues to visit the courtroom, despite his shady past. Recent research discoveries have found him serving a six-month sentence. He had pleaded no contest to accepting bribes and was serving his time in a private lock-down facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As if he has not already faced enough humiliation. The prosecutors, however, surely would not mind seeing him serve even more time behind bars.

Kevin McCarty

mccarty

The last of the top three is the insurance commissioner from Florida. Kevin McCarty had allegedly solicited campaign money from lobbyists in the industry that he regulates. His intentions were simply to just help out a friend.

In 2007, McCarty was “assisting” Robin Lotane, the wife of a man employed by the Office of Insurance Regulation. She was running for the position of the Leon County Circuit Court Judge and McCarty was playing the role of a fundraiser sponsor. Apparently, McCarty was urging lobbyists to attend an evening fundraiser that was held to support Lotane.

This upset Florida Cabinet members, since McCarty was obviously using his position as a way to garner support for a friend. As a result, Lotane was suspended with pay from her position as chief assistant state attorney. Her husband had resigned. Lotane’s husband was working on his wife’s campaign invitation during work hours and McCarty’s involvement was purely inappropriate.

Lotane had stated that the campaign invitation was “never sent to anyone on a state computer, but it was still a terrible error in judgment for which I sincerely apologize to the commissioner, to all my superiors and to the people of Florida,” Lotane wrote. “That is why I resigned my position this morning.” McCarty on the other hand, is still in the office.