High-tech cars are here to stay. Car safety technology is evolving quickly, bringing scores of often unpronounceable abbreviations for new systems that promise to keep us safer. Can a car read a street sign? Can the family wagon's safety systems react to a sudden traffic change faster than a seasoned driver? Automakers say yes.
We're all familiar with established safety systems like Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Traction Control. ABS dates back to the late 1920's when it was first developed for aircraft, although it wasn't until 50 years later that this now nearly ubiquitous technology reached the highway. Technology is advancing faster now than ever before, bringing inventive new safety systems to your dashboard and automobile chassis. Let's take a look under the hood of today's high tech cars to see what some of the most intriguing new technologies offer and how they can make your commute safer and less stressful.
Increased safety is the goal many of the advanced systems in cars now – and of those planned for the future. But the enhanced vehicle safety can pay dividends in other ways by helping to reduce accidents, sparing costly deductibles, while also keeping your driving record pristine. The safety features of today's high-tech cars are as exciting as they are practical, and automakers are continually innovating to meet consumer demand. When it's time to shop for a new car, ask about its ADAS features, for safety's sake
If your teenager has just gotten a driver's license, it may be hard to imagine handing over the keys to your brand new car, but that may be the smartest vehicle to choose.
However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) say there is something worried parents can do to protect their teens — choose a safe vehicle.
Your car is made up of a number of different parts, and like any well-oiled machine, every part needs to be in tip-top shape to run smoothly. If one part starts to fail, it could affect how the whole car runs. There are a number of things you should do to help keep your car maintained, but do you know why performing certain regular maintenance checks on your car is important? From monitoring fluid levels to testing brakes, understanding your car’s needs can help you identify potential issues.
Monitor Car Fluid Levels
Cars rely on a number of fluids to help keep them running properly. While you may turn to your mechanic during routine maintenance visits, it’s a good idea to perform your own checks in between car inspections. Here’s a roundup of some car fluids to keep an eye on in case they run low, or else they could result in your vehicle not functioning properly.
Check Your Tire Pressure and Alignment
If you ever expect to make it from Point A to Point B, you can’t over- or underestimate the amount of air your tires need. Tire pressure that is too high or too low could affect your car’s cornering, braking and stability. When you have high tire pressure, less of the tire touches the ground, affecting your car’s traction and stopping distance. Low tire pressure means more of the tire touches the road; the tires could wear out more quickly and the risk of your tires overheating could increase due to friction against the ground. Check your owner’s manual to determine the recommended tire pressure for your car.
It is also important to check your tire alignment to ensure your vehicle’s suspension is performing properly. Bad tire alignment can cause your car to veer toward one direction or even result in vibrations while driving. If you notice your car has uneven tread wear, your vehicle pulls to one side over another, your straightened steering wheel appears off center or you experience vibration through your steering wheel, you should take your car to a service technician.
Perform Routine Brake Checks
Depending on where your morning commute takes you, driving in areas that feature more stop lights and stop signs could mean you are stepping on the brakes more often than if you normally take the highway. Your brakes are a hydraulic system made up of a set of pads that squeeze together when prompted, and run on brake fluid. If the pads wear too thin, it makes it harder to slow or stop. Your car likely has a service light that would turn on when it’s time to check your brakes, but don’t just rely on that technology; if you see any leaking fluids, notice how thick or thin your pads have become or hear a grinding sound, it may be time to replace your brakes.
As a car owner, it is your responsibility to regularly maintain your car like you would any other type of property you own. If you ignore your car, it could put your safety at risk.
We take it for granted, the automatic way we take the wheel and set out to drive from Point A to Point B expecting to have a smooth, uneventful ride. Since the introduction of the automobile, driving has been a convenience that has transformed our lives. But driving comes with no guarantees of avoiding mishaps, and unseen, unpredictable safety challenges can occur.
Fortunately, in the many decades in which driving has become a given, a number of innovative technologies have been introduced to help make driving a safer experience every time.
It may not exactly be artificial intelligence, but some technologies are able to react to specific situations. Other technologies are like an extra set of eyes to help alert you to potential dangers, and help you to react in time to avoid harm to yourself, your vehicle or those around you as you drive. Here’s a roundup of some of the technologies available to bolster your driving experience.
Reactive and Responsive Features
Adaptive cruise control is the next-generation version of this technology that allows drivers to select and maintain a constant speed without using the accelerator. Adaptive cruise control systems can sense vehicles ahead and adjust your speed to keep a safe following distance. Some (but not all!) systems also incorporate emergency braking to help slow your vehicle to avoid a collision.
Another responsive technology that’s come along are adaptive headlights. Designed to help illuminate the road ahead during turns, adaptive headlights can help improve nighttime visibility on curved roads. As you turn, the lights adjust to illuminate the roadway ahead.
The Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) has been around for years, to the point that many drivers may not realize this feature is a built-in safety requirement to keep their brakes from locking up when they stop. Even though ABS may not always help you stop more quickly, it can help you maintain control of your vehicle when you stop by preventing your wheels from skidding.
The Ease of Automation
There are some things that technology simply does better than our human limitations allow us to do ourselves. Take, for example, automatic lights. You’re driving into a tunnel. Before you have to flip a switch, the automatic light system in your car turns on your headlights to guide you through the temporary darkness. Once you emerge from the tunnel, the system turns off the lights, eliminating your need for reactive or proactive thinking and helping to keep your focus on your driving.
Likewise, the skillfulness required to park your car can be left to the car itself, thanks to automatic parking systems. Once you have placed your vehicle in a position where the automatic parking system can take over, multiple sensors detect obstacles and calculate steering angles while guiding your vehicle into a parking spot.
When You Don’t Have That 360-Degree View
Obstacle avoidance can be challenging from the driver’s seat, and innovators have taken that challenge seriously with technologies that help. Is there an object behind you? Backup alarms can alert you to it, and backup cameras can help you to see behind your vehicle in spots that otherwise might not be seen. Likewise, blind spot monitoring technology can give you a heads up when another car is in your blind spot. Sensors around your vehicle give you a warning when another car is detected. Depending on the vehicle, warnings can be visual, audible or tactile.
Maintaining control of your vehicle and being prepared for a possible crash have generated other technological advances – both new and tried-and-true. Among the ones to consider:
It's appealing to buy a new car that looks great and is fun to drive, but it also pays to look beneath the surface for features that make your vehicle safe to drive and affordable to insure.
Car insurance costs are based, in part, on the model's safety history, the cost of vehicle repair or replacement, and the likelihood that the car will be stolen. Many insurers offer discounts for vehicles with features that reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
Here are five tips to consider when shopping for a new car:
1. Find Out the Cost of Insurance
Your insurance rates typically change when you acquire a new vehicle. Before you choose a model, the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute recommends that you ask your insurance rep how much it will cost to insure.1
If you choose a sporty model that attracts buyers who enjoy driving fast, it will likely cost more to insure. If the car you pick is very expensive, it will be costly to repair or replace, and that will drive up insurance costs. A model that's often targeted by car thieves may also cost more to insure.
2. Look for Safety Technology
One of the best things about buying a new car is all the new devices that have been developed in recent years to help drivers avoid accidents. Advanced safety features can include:
3. Consider Vehicle Design and Size
Design characteristics are important when choosing a new car. Larger and heavier vehicles typically sustain less damage in auto crashes than small cars. Some small utility vehicles and pickups are prone to rollover accidents.
In addition to considering size, look for cars that have “crashworthy" designs. These cars have strong “safety cages," the section of the vehicle that protects the occupants. Make sure that the front and rear ends are “crush zones" that can absorb the impact of crashes.
You can look up car safety rankings by using the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's online safety rankings tool.
4. Get Pre-Approved for a Car Loan
it is recommended that you get pre-approved for a car loan before you begin shopping for a new car. Check with several lenders to get the lowest interest rate. Once you have loan approval, you'll know how much you can afford to spend. You'll also have an interest rate you can use to compare with those offered by the new car dealer's financing. In some cases, the dealer may offer the best financing deal.
Before you begin shopping for a loan, gather documents to verify your income and the balances of any debts you may have.
5. Negotiate the Best Price
A good negotiator usually can get a better deal than someone who simply agrees to pay what the dealer is asking. Dealers may price their cars higher than the amount they actually expect to receive in preparation for negotiations.
If you take time to research prices online before you visit a dealership, you'll have a better idea of what a competitively priced car should cost. Often, the best time to buy is during end-of-the-year sales, when dealers need to make room for newer models, notes the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Negotiate the actual price of the car rather than the monthly payment. Focusing on payments makes it easy to lose sight of the full amount you'll be paying over time, says Autotrader.
If you can't get the price you want, don't be afraid to walk away. Remember there's always another car.
Unfortunately, car break-ins happen, but you can take steps to minimize your risk and keep your vehicle and belongings safe.
By taking a few minutes to review these tips now, you could avoid the hassle of repairing (or replacing) your car later.
Here are 10 smart ways to keep your vehicle safe from theft.
Don’t Make a Break-In Easy
Plan Ahead (Even in Your Neighborhood)
Hide What’s Important
What to Do After a Crime
If you’re the victim of a vehicle break-in or theft, take photos of the damage, file a police report and reach out for help filing an insurance claim.
We can also help you be more proactive. Get in touch to learn about additional coverage for your vehicle or home.
We never expect to get in a car accident. And even though accidents are common, they feel like a big deal when they happen to us.
It’s natural to experience shock, anger, fear and other emotions in the moment and after the fact. But, preparing in advance can help make a collision more manageable.
If you're ever involved in a car accident, taking these six steps can help you better handle the experience.
Step 1: Make sure no one is hurt.
Call 911 if you, another driver, any passengers or any bystanders need immediate medical attention.
Step 2: Keep everyone safe.
The accident scene can be a hazard for other drivers. If the collision is minor, move the vehicles to the side of the road or the nearest parking lot. If the accident is major, carefully exit your car and walk to a safe place.
Step 3: Call the police.
Ideally, law enforcement will come to the scene quickly and take an official report. However, the local police department may not have the resources to respond to a minor accident, in which case you can file a police report yourself later.
Step 4: Gather necessary information.
Use your phone's camera or a pen and paper to note the other driver's name, address, phone number and insurance information. Record the other vehicle's license plate, vehicle identification number, make and model.
Step 5: Document the accident.
Take photos, videos and voice recordings to capture vehicle damage, road conditions and any details you remember about the events leading up to the crash.
Step 6: File a claim.
Get in touch as soon as possible to get your claim started. We can work to get your car repaired or replaced and minimize the disruption to your life.
Reach out if you have questions about your accident coverage or anything else.
Car insurance is a necessary expense for many people, and there are a variety of ways to save on this household cost once you know what it takes. To get started, gather your personal information, determine your budget and then consider the insurance coverage that you think will best safeguard you and your lifestyle.
Here are 10 ways to save on your car insurance:
1. Gather Specifics About Your Car and Its Primary Drivers
One way to begin the process of shopping for car insurance to get the most value for your money is to gather all of the information an insurance carrier needs to offer you the best possible rate.1 Start by compiling this basic information before you shop for quotes:
With this information, an insurance carrier can suggest the best coverage and rates for you and your lifestyle.
2. Research How Much Car Insurance Costs Before You Buy or Lease
When you buy or lease a car, it can be tempting to get a brand-new car or trade in your practical family vehicle for a sports car. Just keep in mind that the type of car you drive may impact your insurance coverage and rate. Be sure to check the cost of insurance before you finalize your car purchase or lease. Insurance rates may vary widely depending on the type of car, repair costs, safety record and many other subjective points.2
3. Research All Car Insurance Coverage Requirements
Each state has specific requirements for car insurance coverage.3 Coverage may become more complicated when a financial institution owns the vehicle you drive, so if you’re taking out a loan to make the car purchase, keep in mind that the lender may require you to have specific insurance that might otherwise be optional.4 One example is collision insurance that pays for the repairs of damage to your car sustained during an accident. Another example is comprehensive coverage, which typically covers the loss of the car for theft, fire and other damage due to non-accidents. Find out what coverage you need and the cost before you buy or lease.
4. Decide What Additional Coverage You Need
It may seem counter-intuitive but buying additional car insurance coverage may save you money.
Weighing the options for additional coverage will help you to ensure you are well protected. Consider how your finances might be impacted if you're involved in an accident, and the injuries or damages exceed the amount covered by insurance. You purchase car insurance to help protect against the potential costs of a theft or accident, so be sure to talk to your insurance agent or carrier for professional guidance on the appropriate level of coverage for you.
In addition, there are other coverage options that may save you money. What if your financed car is totaled? Can you afford to pay the entire loan? In this case, you may want to consider GAP insurance, which covers the difference between what your vehicle is currently worth, which is what your standard insurance typically will pay, and the amount you owe on it.
Again, your insurance agent or carrier can help guide you through the available options.
5. Save Money with Accident Forgiveness
Having a clean driving record is one thing that typically can help you to qualify for lower premiums. But there are times when even a good driver can have an accident. You may want to consider looking into potential savings through Accident Forgiveness and Minor Violation Forgiveness, if available in your state. These optional features can help you avoid a premium increase following your first covered accident or minor violation. There are also other features that can help provide peace of mind, such as Decreasing Deductible and a Total Loss Deductible Waiver. Ask your insurance agent about these plans, if you fit the bill as being a responsible driver because of your good driving record. Some carriers – in select states – also offer a program that uses smartphone technology to capture and score driving behavior of drivers covered on your policy, which could result in savings both in your first term and at renewal. It’s another option to explore when you’re a good driver and looking to save on your car insurance.
6. Determine What Car Insurance You May Not Need
If you own an older car and are looking to trim your expenses, you may consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage. You’ll want to consider how much your older car is worth when you consider the cost of your premium including collision and comprehensive coverage. Be sure to also consider your individual driving situation to base your cost-cutting efforts on all the factors that could help you determine if this is a wise choice for you. With an older car, you may be paying premiums that total more than your car's value. Typically, if your car is worth less than 10 times the insurance premium, it may not be cost effective to keep that part of your coverage.
7. Life Cycle Events Can Save Car Insurance Costs
One thing you can count on is that life will sometimes bring changes in your lifestyle and circumstances, so it’s smart to consider how these changes may or could affect your car insurance costs. For example, did your child go away to school? Perhaps there’s a Student Away at School discount you can explore. Did you buy a home? Maybe you can explore a Multi-Policy Discount and get the benefit of bundling your policies. These are some of the events that may help lower your car insurance rate. It’s a good idea to notify your car insurance agent when you have a major life event such as these, to have a conversation to ensure you’ve got the best coverage for your current life needs.
8. Choose the Deductible That Is Right for You
Your car insurance deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. The lower the deductible, the less you’ll pay out of pocket if an accident occurs. Selecting a higher deductible may lower your car insurance premiums.
For example, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and have an accident causing $2,000 in damage, you would pay the first $1,000 of a covered loss before insurance kicks in.
9. Compare Car Insurance Companies and Costs
With many things we buy nowadays there are choices. Many of us wouldn't think of buying a product or service without comparing prices, the value you get for your money, and the reputation of the provider. You may want to consider using the same philosophy when you purchase car insurance. Do your homework and then talk to your insurance agent or carrier about what your needs are.8
10. Ask Your Agent About Available Discounts
It’s a good practice to check in with your insurance agent at least annually to find out if you are eligible for a better car insurance rate. You may receive discounts if you bundle coverage, such as buying insurance for your home and car from the same company. As mentioned earlier, safe driving records and extra safety features on a car may also lower rates. Ask your insurance agent about any new offerings or gaps in your coverage to determine the best coverage for you.
Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to save on your car insurance, you may want to check with your carrier to review your coverage.
Maybe you’ve heard that people who drive red cars get pulled over more, so insurers charge them higher rates. Or that if you let someone else drive your car, their policy will cover an accident.
Well, when it comes to auto insurance, you shouldn’t always believe what you hear.
Get the facts about common car insurance myths, and reach out to make sure you have the coverage you need.
Myth #1: A ticket automatically increases your rate.
A moving violation doesn't have to increase your insurance rate unless it's a frequent occurrence. You may be able to take a driving course to maintain your rate and even pay less for your ticket.
Myth #2: Car color affects your insurance rate.
The truth is that the color of your vehicle most likely doesn’t affect your premiums. However, there are special cases where color can raise the value of your car — like a custom paint job — which could potentially increase your rates.
Myth #3: Older cars need less coverage.
If you don't have a loan on your car, you may not have to carry comprehensive and collision coverage, only the liability coverage required by the state. But you may not want to drop or lower your optional coverage if your car still has significant value, as it would be pricey to repair or replace.
Myth #4: Someone borrowing your vehicle is covered by their own insurance.
Laws vary by state, but usually the insurance covers the vehicle. Before you drive someone else's car, verify that it's insured. Don't assume that your own policy will cover an accident.
Myth #5: You only need the auto liability insurance that's required by law.
It's smart to buy more than the minimum, because personal liability for an at-fault auto accident can be expensive. Adding a personal umbrella policy for additional coverage can be a wise decision, especially when you have assets to protect.
Get in touch today with any questions you have about your policy.
Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. Whether you’re getting away to the nearest lake or crossing state lines to visit friends or family, you want to get there safely.
Here’s a quick refresher on how you can prevent common driving mistakes and make sure you have a smoother trip.
3 Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not inspecting your tires. If you drive a newer car, the instrument panel might notify you when your tires need air. If not, use a tire pressure gauge to check. Low pressure plus hot weather can cause a blowout, especially under the added weight of luggage and passengers.
Equally important, check your tires’ tread depth. Worn tires make it harder to brake, especially on wet roads. Better yet, ask your mechanic to make sure your car is in top shape before you leave.
2. Forgetting to pack a car emergency kit. Even with a recently tuned-up vehicle, things can happen that may leave you stuck on the road longer than you planned. A car emergency kit can help you handle these incidents with less stress. Include plenty of food and cold water for people and pets, plus items like jumper cables, a functional spare tire and a working flashlight.
3. Skipping a traffic check before you head out. An app like Google Maps can tell you if there’s a major traffic jam in your way. Be prepared to plan an alternate route or adjust your schedule if necessary. After all, no one likes getting stuck in bad road conditions
Another common driving mistake is not having enough insurance coverage. Before you hit the road, reach out to make sure you’re fully protected.