Insuring Your Teen Driver

Your teenager just received their driver’s license!  This is likely one of the most exciting and joyful moments in the life of a young person, and one of the most stressful and worrisome moments for parents.

Attractive Brunette Holding Keys in Vehicle MirrorFrom the student’s perspective, a driver’s license represents some very big things:  freedom (the ability to go where you want, when you want); independence (not having to depend on parents or others to get there); responsibility (for ones’ self, for passengers, for a car, for gas, for others on the roadways).  The driver’s license is one of the milestones in the transition from youth to adult.

From the parent’s view, the addition of a newly licensed driver in the family is more of a mixed bag.  While there is undoubtedly some relief in the ability to share the driving load, there is likely some trepidation as well. 

The addition of a new driver in your household also means changes to your insurance policy.  Adding a teen to the family insurance policy is cheaper than purchasing a separate policy, but any infractions may result in increased rates on your premiums.

In New York State, you can expect your policy to increase by about 53% when you add a teen driver; this is actually one of the lowest surcharges in the US, and a bargain compared to New Hampshire, where it’s 111%.  While these percentages represent state averages, there are other factors that will influence this rate, so it is always best to get a quote specifically through your agent.

Rates will typically drop for each year of experience your new driver accrues without any violations, accidents or claims, lowering to about half the original amount when the driver turns 19.  In some cases, good academic grades and successful completion of driver safety courses can also help to bring the rates down.  The kind of vehicle your teen driver is using will impact your rate as well: less sporty/less flashy vehicles with high safety ratings are less costly to insure.

As a parent, you have the ability to start conversations about safe driving habits with your teens early in their driving education. These conversations are influential to their future driving success!  A National Young Driver Survey found that teens are 50 percent less likely to speed, 71 percent less likely to drive after drinking and 29 percent less likely to use their cell phones while on the road if they have parents who actively talk to them about the dangers associated with these behaviors. (CDC- CDD.GOV/ParentsAreTheKey)

There are also a stream of new auto safety apps for smartphones to help lessen distractions while driving.  Most of these will automatically detect the phone’s GPS location and determine if it is moving at speeds above 10mph.  If moving, it will hold all phone notifications until the end of the trip.

If you have a teenager that will become a new driver soon, give us a call at Bieritz Insurance (607)547-2951 and we’ll help you navigate your insurance options – no GPS required!

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A Deer in Your Headlights

A note to all of our Bieritz Agency clients and friends:

During the months of November and December our local populations of deer are migrating and mating, resulting in a dramatic increase of movement.  More deer collisions occur during these months than at any other time of year, so we urge drivers to be especially careful, particularly in the early morning and evening hours (times when many people are commuting to and from work).

Deer collisions can cause a great deal of damage and can also be lethal.  A “heavy” deer might weigh over 200 pounds, but even an eighty-pound yearling is capable of totaling a vehicle traveling at high speed.  According to New York Outdoor News, motorists hit over 80,000 white-tailed deer on New York roadways each year (the third highest rate of reported incidents in the U.S.), almost 20% of which happen during the month of November.

Deer tend to stick to certain major travel corridors, which they adjust seasonally to match their movements to food availability and other habitat needs.  Deer warning road signs often indicate areas where deer are often sighted or where multiple collisions have occurred.  A collision can be a car hitting a deer or a deer hitting a car.  Most people are aware that  when you see one deer, there is usually another.  This holds up not only when there are young fawns in early summer, but also during breeding season where bucks follow does or in later winter months when groups of males form “bachelor groups”.

Traveling at slower speeds increases your reaction time if a deer leaps out in front of your vehicle.  Scan the roadsides and watch for eyeshine in your headlights (only visible if the deer looks directly at your car).  Use high beams if there is no oncoming traffic and low beams if it is foggy or snowing.  If you see and successfully avoid deer, flash your lights at oncoming vehicles to warn them of a hazard ahead, and watch the behavior of cars around you as well – a car slowing suddenly could indicate a deer in the area.  Make sure your headlights, brakes and tires are all in good shape.  It is recommended to hit your brakes to try to stop and not swerve to try to avoid a collision.  Swerving out of the travel lane increases the risk of hitting another vehicle or losing control of the car.

deer-in-road-460x250

Because most of our local country roads intersect with wildlife habitat, our drivers have a greater chance of collision, so please keep in mind the above tips to help minimize your risk.  Damage caused by an accident with deer or other animals is covered under the optional comprehensive portion (not the collision portion) of an automobile insurance policy. If you would like to check your coverage, please give us a call at our Cooperstown, NY office at (607) 547-2951 and our Bieritz Insurance Agency staff will be happy to help you.  Safe driving to all from the Bieritz Team!

 

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What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance Policy?

The cost of Auto Insurance can be affected by a number of different factors.  Check out the full article at the link below and give us a call if we can help you with your policy!

The average yearly auto insurance premium is almost $800, but there is wide variation around this average. Many factors can affect your premium. Not all companies use all of these factors, and some might use factors not listed here…

Read the Full Article Here from the Insurance Information Institute

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National Safety Month – Distracted Driving

2014 GraphicJune is National Safety Month, so our team has decided to provide resources from the National Safety Council to help improve some general safety practices for all our friends and clients.

This week, we are featuring information and resources about distracted driving.

Using a cell phone while driving makes it four times as likely that you’ll crash – while using handheld or hands-free devices.

View Facts about Distracted Driving Here

The Great Multitasking Lie infographic
Provided by The National Safety Council

 

Employers have realized the dangers of cell phone use while driving and are taking action by passing policies to prevent cell phone distracted driving. The National Safety Council recommends policies prohibit both hands-free and handheld devices and apply to all employees. 

EMPLOYERS:  Download a Cell Phone Policy Kit from the National Safety Council HERE

This free kit helps employers reduce crash risk. It has all the materials you need to:

  • Build leadership support in your organization for a cell phone policy
  • Communicate to employees the crash risks and the need for a policy

Driving Down Distraction infographic
Provided by The National Safety Council

Visit us next week for information about Summer Safety!

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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

ShareTheRoad_LogoIn recognition of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Bieritz Insurance Agency would like to reach out to all of our Otsego County motorists and motorcyclists alike, encouraging them to “share the road” in order to reduce motorcycle deaths and injuries. Motorcycles are among the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles on the road, putting riders at greater risk of death and serious injury in a crash. In fact, according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than occupants of cars to die in a crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured.

The latest statistics from NHTSA display this tragedy in stark numbers. Motorcycle deaths have increased every year for 14 of the past 15 years, except in 2009, which saw a decline. In 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists died on America’s roads, accounting for 15 percent of total highway deaths. Motorcycle crash-related injuries also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.

One way we can decrease the number of fatalities and injuries, and make the roads safer is if we work together, motorists and motorcyclists alike. Adhering to the following rules will improve highway safety for everyone.

Drivers should:

  • Be on the lookout for motorcyclists at all times;
  • Signal all lane changes and turns, and constantly check mirrors and blind spots before proceeding;
  • Be fully focused on the task of driving and being in control of their vehicles at all times; and
  • Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs.

 

Riders should:

  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed;
  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and use reflective tape and gear to be more visible. (NHTSA estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011) and
  • Never ride while impaired or distracted.

Additional information about motorcycle safety can be found at www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles. Please join us in reaching out to other motorists and motorcyclists this month to encourage safe driving every day of the year.

Be safe!

Bieritz Insurance Agency
Cooperstown, NY – 607-547-2951
Morris, NY – 607-263-5170

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Car Features That Can Lower Auto Insurance Premiums

Cars manufacturers are building cars with new features all the time and some of these can make your vehicle safer to operate.  Safety features can help you save money on your car insurance.  If you find yourself in the market for a new car this Spring, here are some things to consider.  Check with our agents to learn if these features can save you dollars on your annual premium – the savings may be worth the additional cost.

 

  • Automatic or Adjustable Seatbelts (with pretensioners)
    Automatic seatbelts mean that the passenger is more likely to use them and adjustability will make them more comfortable and thus more likely to keep them on.  Seatbelts save lives and reduce injury.

  • Daytime Running Lights
    These make your vehicle more visible to other drivers.  Better visibility prevents accidents.

  • Antilock Brakes
    An Antilock Braking System allows for better control in rain or snow or on unpaved roads.  They  don’t prevent skidding, but they help to prevent loss of control.

  • Traction and Stability Control
    A Traction Control System (TCS) or Electronic Stability Control (ESC) work similarly to antilock brakes, but they help to maintain traction in the event of a skid.

  • Extra Air Bags
    In addition to driver and passenger air bags, other air bags (side, curtain and rear) can be standard or extra depending on the vehicle, and can earn you extra savings on your premiums.

  • Anti Theft Device
    These usually qualify for savings since having one prevents attempts from theft.  Just knowing there is a system equipped is enough of a deterrent to theft in most cases.

  • in-dash-car-night-vision-systemNight Vision System
    Some dashboards are capable of indicating heat signatures (from deer or other animals) within a 300meter range of the vehicle to help prevent accidents at night.

  • Drowsy Driver Warning System (Lane Departure Warning)
    This is a program in your vehicle that senses if/when you change lanes without using your directional and beeps to wake you up.  Using your directional helps other drivers know what to expect from your vehicle and prevents accidents as well.

  • Adjustable Headrests
    If adjustable, headrests should be raised high enough to almost reach the top of the head, rotated forward to be close to the back of the head, and they should lock in place to give firm support in the event of a crash.

  • Car Safety Rating
    There are many things that effect the safety rating for a vehicle, but some of the basics include the size of the car, the type of vehicle, the type of engine and more.  For information on safety ratings for vehicles, check the following links: Kelly Blue Book and Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

  • Safe Bumpers
    These are bumpers that exceed the federal bumper standards for low speed crash protection.

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (most cars built after 2007 have these)
    Sensors within the tire send an indication of an “underinflation event” when the PSI falls to below an acceptable range. Underinflated tires offer a less stable ride, negatively impact your gas mileage and are prone to possible blowouts.

  • Driver Safety Record
    Not a vehicle feature, but something that can certainly affect your premiums.  If you have a safe driving history or if you have taken a refresher driver safety class, make sure you tell your agent!  Indicate this for other drivers as well.

eyes on the road

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