Sharing the Road: How to Best Avoid Hitting Animals

Sharing the road with our furry friends is something that we have to get used to.

Some roads are built right by forests where many deer, elk, and moose have roamed for millions of years. There was an estimated 1.25 million claims reported last year from such collisions, which shows no indication of a decrease—so we’re going to have to learn how to drive with them on the road. Here are some tips on how you can avoid hitting our mammalian friends and keeping your car deer-free.

  • Brighten the road. Using your high-beams could end up saving your car’s life, along with an elk or deer’s. Flicker the lights to spook the deer as they tend to stay fixated on your headlights.
  • Brake if possible. If you see the deer with plenty of time to brake, lightly tap on the brakes and honk your horn to alert drivers behind you and to possibly startle the deer. If there are no cars behind you, and you’re approaching quickly, slam the brakes.
  • Stay alert. Pay attention to “deer crossing” signs. If you see one deer, there are probably more around that area. And be vigilant during mating and hunting seasons. These seasons force animals to wander into the roads more frequently.
  • Avoid swerving. If a collision seems inevitable, it’s important to remember not to swerve. You could swerve onto oncoming traffic, or end up in a ditch.

If you have questions about the California car insurance or your growing number of drivers requires, don’t wait to contact Stromsoe Insurance Agency. We know that you already have enough to worry about with your new teen driver, and are here to making getting him or her covered easy! Protect your family, your vehicles, and your liability by calling us today.

Auto Insurance Discounts for Teen Drivers

It is no surprise that insuring teen drivers can be costly. Teen drivers are viewed as inexperienced drivers and are more likely to be involved in auto accidents and receive traffic tickets. While elevated rates are inevitable when it comes to insuring your teen driver, there are still ways for you to lower your auto insurance premium, including:

  • How many times have you threatened taking away privileges if your child does not maintain a strong grade point average? Now, they actually have incentive! Students that maintain a B average, or 3.0 GPA, will receive a substantial discount for being a good student. The good student discount can be your ticket to encouraging your child to receive good grades.
  • Many insurance companies will reward inexperienced drivers who take defensive driving courses with an insurance discount. Whether you have already taken Driver’s Ed to receive your license or not, the refresher on basic driving rules proves that you want to be a safer driver.
  • While your new teen driver may be begging for that new red sports car, it is smarter if you go for an older and more practical vehicle. Sensible vehicles are less expensive to insure, especially when there is a teen driver behind the wheel of it.
  • If you are looking for a big way to save, you may want to consider increasing your deductible. This will provide you with a smaller premium amount, however, you must be ready to pay the elevated deductible if you are involved in an accident. It is important that you do not make this change without considering actually having to pay the deductible.

Contact Stromsoe Insurance Agency in Murrieta for all of your California auto insurance needs. Insuring your teen driver does not have to break the bank with a comprehensive auto insurance policy from Stromsoe Insurance Agency! Allow us to safeguard your most prized asset at an affordable rate.

Protect Yourself With Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The  primary purpose of Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance is to provide Bodily Injury coverage for medical bills and loss of income (in some states, UM also covers physical damage to your car). UM offers valuable protection under both your Business and Personal Auto policies.

Here’s how UM works: Say you’re injured in an auto accident, and the other driver is at fault. Normally, you’d collect your bodily injury bills from the other party’s Auto insurance. However, it turns out that he doesn’t have Auto coverage — or enough coverage, if he is an underinsured motorist (UIM). This would leave your medical bills unpaid, even though you were the innocent victim.

When you have UM coverage, your insurer will step in and provide the same benefits you would have received from the at-fault driver’s policy. Although limits vary by state, in general, you’ll receive compensation for injury-related losses.

Even though you might have Medical Insurance and/or Disability Income insurance that would also pay for your injuries in a UM or UIM situation, carrying this coverage on your Auto policy often offers a better deal. Coverage might be broader (for example, your Health insurance won’t cover pain and suffering), and there are usually no deductibles or coinsurance provisions.

Call us today about UM and UIM options for your Business Auto coverage. We’ll be glad to review your options for you.

GPS Devices – Improving Road Safety

Just how safe are GPS devices? Honestly, it comes down to the driver themselves. A GPS device can be a great safety tool for any vehicle, when used correctly. There is a lot of controversy whether a GPS will increase or decrease the safety of the driver. Here are just a few thoughts that you should consider when adding a GPS system to your vehicle:

Drivers know where they are going. Lost drivers are usually distracted and dangerous additions to the road. They speed up, slow down and spend more time looking at signs than watching the road. When a GPS is used correctly, drivers can focus on the task of driving while the GPS navigates. If a turn is missed, the GPS will automatically recalculate the route to compensate.

Driving at night is safer with a GPS. Most people find it more difficult to drive at night or in low-visibility conditions. Fortunately, a GPS has the ability to warn the driver of upcoming turns or ramps before it is time to use them. The map previews are especially helpful for driving on dark back roads.

There is no need to deal with awkward paper maps. Juggling large paper maps and trying to refold them is a difficult task. Trying to read these maps while driving creates several hazards. Having a passenger try to read the maps might not always be beneficial. This is why it is easier and safer to get a GPS device.

There are special safety features. Hands-free features allow for calling the police while driving. There are also features for locating nearby hospitals, good repair shops and a wide variety of other destinations.

It is easy to choose the right lane. Some streets and freeways are confusing. Certain lanes may turn into exits, and congested traffic makes such situations worse. A good GPS system will tell drivers which lane to stay in, which exit to take and when to turn.

How to Turn a GPS into a Safety Aid

The first driving task any person should accomplish is to be aware of his or her surroundings. By following some simple rules, drivers can stay aware and maximize the safety features of their GPS devices.

Learn to use the device before taking off. Although most people learn the basic functions before getting on the road, very few thoroughly learn the overall system. Beginners should practice using the GPS and become comfortable with the touchscreen. Make sure the features are optimized for visibility. One mistake many beginners make is keeping their eyes on the screen too long.

Never program the device while driving. Every start-up screen and safety manual reiterates this important tip. Enter the destination prior to departing. If it is necessary to change or cancel the destination while driving, pull over to a safe place to re-program it. Fortunately, some newer devices prohibit re-programming while the car is in motion.

Mount the GPS device in a safe place. When choosing a spot for the GPS, make sure it does not conflict with important sight lines. Positioning it near the dashboard is a good idea.

Always rely on the voice directions. Although it might be necessary to glance occasionally at the map, try to rely mostly on voice directions. Avoid staring at the map. If it seems confusing, pull over to study it.

We hope this helps keep you safe. If you ever have any questions, please contact the Total Protection Team at 877-994-6787 or visit www.siaonline.com, we are happy to help. Have a great day!

State Minimum Auto Liability Coverage: Is It Enough?

State minimum insurance requirements are minimal. Most states demand less than $100,000 for bodily injuries and $50,000 for property damage. Some states require only $10,000 for property damage coverage.

How many cars valued at greater than $10,000 travel the highways? How many trucks carrying cargo are worth more than $10,000? $50,000? $100,000?

According to the 2010 census, the median family net worth exceeded $200,000. That amount includes houses, cars, savings, retirement funds, cash in the bank, college savings, and furniture and personal effects. Half the families are worth more, half have assets less than $200,000; all of it is hard earned.

If the family is underinsured for liability, their net worth is vulnerable to be seized in a lawsuit based on injuries or property damage caused by any family member driving a vehicle. The car owner and the car driver become parties to the suit.

Bodily injuries sustained in car wrecks devastate lives. People unable to work, the high cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, and the pain and suffering can only be compensated with money. The money comes from the insurance company or the liable party’s personal wealth.

Not convinced you need higher limits? Not all liabilities are released in bankruptcy. Many states have specific legislation disallowing debt reduction for certain accidents, most notably driving while intoxicated. Wage plans reduce take home pay by as much as 33%. Many employers do not tolerate either bankruptcy or wage garnishments.

Still not convinced? How about a selfish motivation?

Other drivers are either uninsured or underinsured. Most insurance companies will not provide uninsured motorist coverage in limits greater than the liability limits of the policy.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage from your policy pays on behalf of the driver who hits you if they are poorly insured. In a classic exercise of the golden rule, insurance companies only sell limits commensurate with the protection you offer others.

Proper limits of liability allow you to protect yourself from the improper coverage other people maintain.

So how much coverage is enough? What are reasonable limits of liability?

Call our knowledgeable Protection Team to get the right answers to your questions. And consider this:

Your assets are your excess insurance coverage. This means that when the limits of your policy are reached, your assets are at risk. Excess insurance – Umbrella policies, for example – is available in $1 million layers over your Automobile and Homeowners liability limits if those limits qualify – are high enough. Protect yourself against underinsured drivers by increasing your uninsured motorist coverage.

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Reach Us:

  1. Call 951-600-5751 or 877-994-6787
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Important Response Tips After An Accident

Very few people are prepared to face a traffic accident; however, many people will be involved in one at some point during their lives. While some are minor, others are severe and require appropriate action. Even the most careful drivers may experience an accident due to the poor driving skills of others. The best way to be prepared is to know how to respond at the scene. People who know what to do can save lives. In addition to this, preparedness makes the claims process simpler.

If an accident happens, take the following steps:

  • Stop the car immediately, and check to see if anyone involved is injured. Do not move any injured individuals.
  • Call the highway patrol or police immediately. Be sure to tell them how many people are involved, how many people are hurt and what types of injuries have been noted. The police will then notify an emergency response team.
  • Find a blanket, sweater or anything available to cover injured people with. It is very important to try to keep them warm.
  • Set up flares or other bright objects around the scene of the accident. This is especially important at night, and the objects will help other motorists steer clear of the scene.
  • When an involved vehicle is parked in the middle of the road, pull it to the shoulder. If possible, it is important to avoid congesting the road.
  • Ask the responding law enforcement officer where to obtain a police report copy. As a rule, it is beneficial to have one before submitting an insurance claim.
  • If necessary, call a towing company to pick up the damaged vehicle. Avoid giving permission for repair work. The insurance adjuster will need to see the vehicle and assess it prior to the repair process.

 

When the accident occurs, it is important to obtain some information from the other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. If they are upset, try to calm them down. Write down the following bits of information:

  • Names and addresses of every driver or passenger involved.
  • Names and addresses of all witnesses at the scene.
  • The make and model of every car involved.
  • Insurance identification information for each party.
  • License plate numbers of each car involved.
  • Drivers license numbers of each individual.

 

Not all other parties may be willing to cooperate. If they do not have insurance, they might try to offer a settlement at the scene of the accident. They might also prefer not to involve the police or highway patrol. Since there are many things that could go wrong in such a scenario, always notify law enforcement immediately. Be sure to write down the law enforcement officer’s badge number and name. If any emergency personnel are involved, write down their names. After an accident, always contact a personal insurance agent.

In some cases, people hit an unattended vehicle. It might be impossible to find the owner or wait for that individual to return. In such a case, the person who hit the vehicle should leave a note with their name, address and phone number. Write down the details of the accident, and call an insurance agent immediately.

Don’t Let Driving Emergencies Take You By Surprise

There are two golden rules to remember when driving – expect the unexpected and be ready for anything. Many agencies, such as the National Safety Council, have compiled listings of the most common road emergencies and the ways that drivers can best handle them safely. Let’s look at six of them:

  • Blown Tire. Don’t over-steer, but do maintain a firm, steady grip on the wheel to keep the vehicle going in the desired direction until you’re able to slow it down. Keep in mind that a front blown tire will cause the vehicle to pull toward the blowout’s side, while a rear blown tire will cause the vehicle’s rear end to weave. Apply your brakes smoothly and slowly enough that you can pull the car to the side of the road at a safe speed. Never immediately swerve to the side of the road or jam on the brakes as you could lose control.
  • Blown / Malfunctioning Headlights. Slowly brake and come to a stop on the right shoulder. Try to get as far away from passing traffic as possible. Turn on your emergency flashers, if they’re still operational, and place road hazard markers or flares at least 300 feet from the rear of your vehicle. If you don’t have a cell phone to call for roadside assistance, then you can open the hood and try to scrape the battery cable’s lead terminal posts and the inside of connector lugs. This might provide a better connection and enough intermittent light to make it to a phone. As a last resort, you could use your emergency flashers as an intermittent light source if they’re on a separate circuit.
  • Skidding Vehicle. Remove your foot from the gas. Steer into the direction of the skid until you feel your rear wheels get traction again. Now, straighten the wheel. Never jam on the brakes or over-steer during the skid. To avoid skidding to one side when you need to come to a sudden stop, you can rapidly jam and immediately release the brakes. For those with anti-lock brakes, keep your foot on the brake and continue firm pressure while steering.
  • Engine Failure. Turn your right signal on and let the vehicle’s momentum carry you to the shoulder. If this isn’t a possibility, then remain in your lane or along the right side. Pump your brakes and turn your emergency flashers on to let other drivers know you’re in trouble. Once you’ve come to a stop, you’ll ideally exit the vehicle on the side without traffic flow. You can alert other vehicles by placing reflectors or flares; keeping your taillights on; and placing a white cloth around your handle, spoiler, or antenna. Use your cell phone to call for help or flag down a law officer. There might be an emergency call box on long bridges.
  • Stuck Accelerator. Turn off the ignition and apply the brakes. Keep in mind that your power assist feature will no longer work and braking and steering will be more difficult. Never lean down to handle the gas pedal, but you can try to lift the pedal with your toe if the pedal and throttle linkage have a positive connection.
  • Brake Failure. If your brakes still functioning properly, but you have a system light indicating a brake failure, then you should slowly take the most level route to a service station or mechanic shop.

    If your brakes don’t feel normal, but are still offering some resistance, then pump them rapidly. This action could build enough hydraulic pressure to slow your vehicle down. You might be lucky enough to have a clear road and be able to coast to a stop or roll and apply your parking brake. Use your horn and flash your lights to alert pedestrians and other vehicles. You might need to carefully sideswipe hedges, snow banks, parked cars, and/or guardrails to help your vehicle stop if your on a downward, steep roadway. Never swerve to the left of a vehicle in your path unless it’s your only choice. If you’re headed straight for another vehicle, firmly press the brakes; head for a shoulder, ditch, or open ground on the right side; and try to alert others with your horn.

Driving emergencies are hard to think through as they’re happening. For the best outcome possible, you’ll need to know what the potential emergencies are, know how to safely deal with them ahead of time, and make the subjects part of your family’s safety discussions.

We hope this article helps keep you and your loved ones safe. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to comment below or call us at 877-994-6787, that’s 877-99-INSURE.

Drinking and Driving: A Threat to Everyone

U.S. drivers got behind the wheel after drinking too much about 112 million times in 2010. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.

Though episodes of drinking and driving have gone down by 30% during the past 5 years, it remains a serious problem. Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009. A recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report discusses drinking and driving and the proven measures that can help.

A Serious Problem, Happening 112 Million Times a Year

U.S. drivers got behind the wheel after drinking too much about 112 million times in 2010.

    Certain groups are more likely to drink and drive than others.

  • Men were responsible for 4 in 5 episodes (81%) of drinking and driving in 2010.
  • Young men ages 21-34 made up only 11% of the U.S. population in 2010, yet were responsible for 32% of all instances of drinking and driving.
  • 85% of drinking and driving episodes were reported by people who also reported binge drinking. Binge drinking means 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women during a short period of time.

Steps for Safety

Seat belts help keep everyone safe on the road.

Seat belts can protect every passenger on every trip. Just by buckling up, you reduce your risk of serious injuries and deaths from crashes by about 50%.

There are proven steps that people can take to help prevent drinking and driving.

States can:

  • Enforce 0.08% blood alcohol concentration and minimum legal drinking age laws.
  • Expand the use of sobriety checkpoints.
  • Require ignition interlocks for everyone convicted of drinking and driving, starting with their first offense.
  • Consider including strategies to reduce binge drinking—such as increasing alcohol taxes—to reduce drinking and driving, since the two behaviors are linked.
  • Pass primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover everyone in the car.

Employers can:

Definitions of proven measures

  • Sobriety checkpoints are locations at which police stop drivers to judge if they are driving under the influence.
  • The minimum legal drinking age prohibits selling alcohol to people under age 21 in all 50 states.
  • Ignition interlocks are devices that prevent drivers from operating their vehicles if they have been drinking.
  • State primary enforcement seat belt laws allow police to stop vehicles just because someone is not wearing a seat belt.
  • Set policies that immediately take away all work-related driving privileges for any employee cited for drinking and driving while using a company or personal vehicle for work purposes.
  • Use workplace health promotion programs to communicate the dangers of drinking and driving, including information directed to family members.

Health professionals can:

  • Help patients realize that car crashes are the leading cause of death for everyone ages 5-34 and that 1 in 3 of all crash deaths involves a drunk driver.
  • Routinely screen patients for risky drinking patterns, including binge drinking, and provide a brief intervention—a 10–15 minute counseling session—for patients who screen positive.

Everyone can:

  • Choose to not drink and drive and help others do the same.
    • Before drinking, designate a nondrinking driver when with a group.
    • If out drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
    • Don’t let friends drink and drive.
  • Choose not to binge drink themselves and help others not to do it.
  • Talk with a doctor or nurse about drinking and driving and request counseling if drinking is causing health, work, or social problems.
  • Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip. Encourage passengers in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.

We hope this article helps keep you safe. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

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Teen Drinking at Parties = Insurance Issues

Every spring brings with it the prom and graduation party seasons. Unfortunately, these events often become occasions for teens to drink alcohol. Teens at unsupervised parties risk harming themselves and others when they drink. Parents who host these parties might bear responsibility for what happens there and for injuries or damages occurring after the guests leave. Although their Liability insurance might cover any financial damages, the circumstances of the accident determine which policy will respond, and this will affect how much coverage the parents have.

Assume that a guest consumes several beers at the party, drives off in his car, and gets into an accident, injuring himself and a passenger. The parents of both injured teens sue the parents who hosted the party, who in turn notify their Homeowners insurance company. However, the policy’s personal liability coverage does not apply to an insured person’s legal liability for:

  • The occupancy, operation, or use of a motor vehicle by any person
  • The entrustment of a motor vehicle by the insured person to anyone else
  • The insured person’s failure to supervise or negligent supervision of any person using a motor vehicle
  • The actions of a minor involving a motor vehicle.

Because of this, the Homeowners policy will not cover the parents’ liability or defense costs. Their Personal Auto insurance policy might cover them, however. The policy’s liability insurance covers the individuals named on the policy and household residents who are their relatives for their liability for bodily injury from an accident arising out of the use of any auto. Therefore, even though the parents were not actually operating the vehicle involved in the accident, their policy will cover their liability. In addition, the auto policy that applies to the car involved in the accident (the guest’s insurance, or, more likely, his parents’) will also cover the hosts’ liability for the passenger’s injuries. The hosts’ policy will step in if the owners’ policy either does not apply or pays out its maximum limit of insurance.

Now assume that the guest consumes the beer, but a sober guest gives him a ride home. Rather than go straight to bed, the young man goes for a swim in his parents’ pool and drowns. His parents sue the hosts, alleging that his judgment was impaired because the hosts allowed him to drink. In this situation, the homeowner’s policy should pay for the hosts’ liability and legal defense. Because this accident did not involve a motor vehicle, and no other policy provisions that would remove coverage apply, the policy will cover this claim.

Although one policy or the other might apply to a liquor liability claim, there could be significant differences between the amounts of coverage the two policies provide. Most homeowner’s policies provide personal liability coverage of at least $100,000 for each occurrence; many provide limits of $300,000 or $500,000. Auto policies might provide much less coverage. Most states have laws setting the minimum amounts of liability coverage that an auto policy might provide, but those limits are relatively small. For example, New York law requires minimum limits of $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for injuries to two or more people (higher amounts apply for death claims.) Should a young person become seriously injured or killed, the damages claimed could well exceed these amounts. Parents should consider buying as much liability insurance as they can afford; they should also think about buying an umbrella policy, which pays for damages that surpass the amounts payable under homeowner’s and auto policies.

Of course, the best course of action is to properly supervise parties, so that everyone has a good time and lives to have another one someday.

Beware of the SCAM of Fake Auto Accidents

Many think of fraud as a non-violent crime. In reality, vehicle insurance scams, including staged traffic accidents, are far from non-violent. Aside from costing honest consumers hundreds to thousands of dollars in added insurance premiums, this steadily growing form of fraud has resulted in countless injuries and deaths to innocent victims of the scams. In fact, data from the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) shows that staged traffic accidents have rapidly become a leading source of insurance fraud nationwide.

How Does It Work? These criminally staged collisions frequently involve several suspects driving a car. The victim is the driver of another vehicle that’s being targeted by the suspects staging the collision for their own financial gain.

The suspects will most often use one of two techniques:

1. Swoop and Squat. Two or more suspects drive two different vehicles. They target an unsuspecting vehicle, most often an older model that only contains one victim. This is done so that there will not be any witnesses to the collision. The one or two suspects in the squat vehicle position their car in front of the vehicle driven by the victim. They slow to create a smaller space gap between themselves and their victim. Then, the swoop vehicle suddenly changes lanes to cut in front of the squat, thereby causing the squat vehicle to throw on breaks and stop. As a result, the innocent victim rear-ends the squat. Meanwhile, the swoop vehicle is long gone and the squat vehicle is claiming that an unknown vehicle cut them off and forced them to brake.

2. The Drive Down or Wave On. In this version, the suspect(s) are stopped at the entrance to a parking lot or an intersection. They wave on or yield the right-of-way to the victim. When the victim proceeds, the suspect intentionally accelerates to collide with the victim.

What Can Drivers Do to Reduce the Risk of Being a Victim?

  • Stay aware of your surroundings, paying close attention to what the vehicles several in front, behind, and beside you are doing and maintaining sufficient room between you and all other vehicles.
  • Use caution when making a turn in front of another vehicle, even if they yield the right-of-way.
  • Since suspects tend to look for innocent drivers that accidentally cross the center line and then sideswipe them, pay close attention to staying within the lines of a lane.
  • After any accident, count the number of passengers and get their personal information. You might find that more people are listed on the insurance claim than were actually in the accident.
  • Avoid driving when you’re stressed; preoccupied with a cell phone, map, or food; or lethargic. All of these lessen the care with which you drive and your concentration abilities, thereby increasing your vulnerability.
  • Have a camera in your vehicle to take photos of the scene, license plates, and the occupants of the vehicle with which you have an accident.
  • Always call the police and get a copy of the police report. If the damage to the other car is minor, then ask the officer to specify this on the report, as this will make it more difficult for the other party to create more damage for a larger claim.
  • Alert the authorities if you feel the accident was staged.

In closing, these staged traffic accidents often have criminal elements that reach far beyond just the suspected drivers. It’s often a criminal collaboration among unscrupulous doctors and attorneys who willingly and knowingly assist in the fraudulent insurance claim process.

We hope this article helps keep you and your loved ones safe.  If you have questions, comments or concerns, please let us know.  You may reach any one of our knowledgeable Protection Coaches at 951-600-5751, Call Free 877-994-6787, or email insure@siaonline.com.