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All Posts in Category: Auto Insurance

Teen Driver

Ask ERIE: When Should I Add My New Teen Driver to My Auto Policy?

Teen DriverERIE requires new teen drivers to be added to a parent or guardian’s auto policy or take out their own policy once they get their license. If your teen driver only has a learner’s permit, he or she is automatically covered under your policy—so no need to touch base with your ERIE Agent just yet.

ADD TO MY POLICY OR GET THEIR OWN?

Deciding whether to add newly licensed drivers to your existing auto policy or have them take out their own policy comes down to the car they’re using.

If they’re using your car, they will be covered under your policy the same way you are. This means they get policy benefits like Feature 15, which never allows your policy to be surcharged for an at-fault accident after your auto policy has been in force for 15 years. The only things your teen driver won’t have are certain rights like the ability to modify deductibles and other coverages—those are reserved for the main policyholder.

You’ll want to take out a policy in your teen driver’s name if he or she holds the car title. If you buy your teen driver a car and you hold the title, you can still add the young driver to your policy. This is usually a less expensive option since your teen benefits from your driving record.

No matter how you choose to insure your teen driver, it’s important to do it as soon as he or she is licensed. Every driver in your house needs protection—and that’s especially true with inexperienced teen drivers. ERIE also aims to assess a fair and accurate premium based on all the drivers in your house, and that’s impossible to
do when drivers aren’t properly disclosed.

If a new teen driver isn’t added to a policy and gets in an accident, ERIE typically covers the claim. However, you may be charged back premium from the time when the teen driver became licensed and should have been added to the policy up to the present time.

KEEPING COSTS IN CHECK

Teen drivers are typically more expensive to insure because they lack a solid driving record and get into more accidents on average than more experienced drivers. That said, there are a few ways to keep car premiums for new teen drivers under control.

They include:

• Choosing ERIE Rate Lock®: With this optional feature, your low, locked-in premium will never change—even if you submit a claim—until you add or remove a vehicle or driver, or change your primary residence.1
• Changing your deductibles: You can choose to have different collision and comprehensive deductibles for your teen driver than for yourself under the same policy. Choosing a higher deductible typically lowers the premium.
 Taking an accident prevention course: ERIE offers a discount to teen drivers who complete certain accident prevention programs. Many states only let insurers offer discounts for certain approved programs, so talk with your ERIE Agent before enrolling your teen in a course to make sure it’s discount eligible.
 Maintaining a clean driving record: ERIE has a youthful driver discount for teens who maintain a clean driving record and who meet a few other requirements. Your ERIE Agent can tell you more about it.

As a parent or guardian, you play a big role in helping your teen drive responsibly. Take the time to talk with your teen about the importance of driving safely and avoiding distracted driving.

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Avoid Hitting a Deer

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer

Autumn is beautiful, but it also introduces some fall driving hazards… deer collisions being one of them. From October to December, mating and hunting season make deer go on the move. For drivers, that means you’re more likely to hit one.

But have you ever wondered how your auto insurance can cover hitting a deer? Are deer collisions covered by comprehensive or collision coverage?

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, deer-vehicle collisions are the top animal-related claim in the U.S. Before you get too worried, here are some helpful tips on how to avoid hitting a deer… and how to handle things if you end up hitting one despite your best efforts.

  1. Know where the deer are likely to be. Areas with high deer populations are normally marked with a bright yellow sign. Deer also tend to graze in wooded areas or open fields. When driving your usual route to work, be attentive to areas where you’ve seen deer in the past – they are likely to cross there again.
  2. Be alert at sunrise and sunset. Deer are more active during dawn and dusk hours.
  3. Use your high beams. When possible, use your high beams for better visibility. The extra light will help make it easier to spot a deer, or other animals, lurking alongside the road.
  4. Don’t rely on deer gadgets. Whether it’s a deer whistle, deer fence or other type of product to scare away the deer… don’t rely solely on them to keep deer away. Research isn’t exact on whether or not these products truly work. (Related: Fact or Fiction? Debunking 6 Common Myths About Deer)
  5. When you see one… you’ll probably see more. Deer travel in groups. If one comes across your path, proceed with caution in case there are more.
  6. Don’t swerve. Swerving isn’t always the safest option. Hitting a deer might often cause less damage than swerving to avoid it… and then hitting a more dangerous obstacle, like a vehicle in oncoming traffic. (Related: What’s Safer… Swerving or Staying the Course?)
  7. Wear your seat belt. If you do hit a deer, wearing a seat belt decreases your chances of injury.
  8. Spread the word. When friends or family head out on the road, let them know to be careful and alert. Even a simple reminder can help prevent deer collisions.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HIT A DEER

Taking the above precautions can help you avoid hitting a deer… but nothing can entirely rule out the possibility. Here are steps you can take after you hit a deer.

  1. Pull over. Move your vehicle to a safe place off the road. Don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights.
  2. Stay away from the deer. An injured deer can still lash out and hurt someone.
  3. Assess the damage. When you’re out of harm’s way, examine your vehicle and take photographs of any damage to your car. Use good judgement to know if your car is safe to drive or if you’ll need to call for a tow truck. Learn how to add Emergency Roadside Service to your ERIE auto policy.
  4. Call for help. Depending on the circumstances, consider calling the police or an animal expert. While it’s not always required to file a police report, it can provide evidence if you decide to make an insurance claim. If the deer is still in the middle of the road, a trained professional from animal control, the game commission or your local fish and wildlife service can move it away for everyone’s safety.
  5. Know if you should file an insurance claim. An insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent can help you make the decision based on the specifics of your auto insurance policy. Talking with someone you already know and who is familiar with the claims process can help put your mind more at ease.

DOES MY AUTO INSURANCE COVER HITTING A DEER?

You can’t always predict if a deer will walk into your path, but if one does, we’re here to help get you back on the road as soon as possible. At Erie Insurance, deer-vehicle collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance, which is an optional coverage you can choose to add on. Learn more about how to customize your ERIE auto policy.

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Umbrella Policy

What Is An Umbrella Policy?

I’m a safe driver. I don’t do risky things. Someone I know would never sue me.

When it comes to truly terrible events, many people have the “it can’t happen to me” mentality.

However, by simply driving a car, owning a home or entertaining friends, the possibility exists that a tragic accident could occur… and potentially, a costly lawsuit.

Many people mistakenly believe that only millionaires need umbrella policies. In reality, a tragic accident has the potential to financially derail people of modest means as well as multimillionaires.

At ERIE, our job is to look ahead and prepare you for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Here’s how an umbrella policy can help give you peace of mind, knowing that your financial interests are protected.

HOW MUCH LIABILITY INSURANCE DO I NEED?

Your home or auto policy includes liability insurance up to a certain dollar amount. In insurance terms, that’s known as your limit. If you file a claim for a covered loss, your policy can pay up to the dollar amount stated in that limit.

And if the bills are higher than the limit… the rest of the cash typically comes from your wallet.

Here’s the thing about accidents: No one plans for them. (That’s why they’re called accidents!) And if it’s an especially bad accident – something that causes serious injury to someone else – the related costs could exceed an average person’s auto or home liability insurance limits.

The good news: An umbrella policy offers higher levels of coverage to protect you against expensive accidents, such as a tragic car accident or injury on your property.

WHAT CAN AN UMBRELLA POLICY COVER?

Simply put: An umbrella policy can pick up where your home and auto liability limits leave off.

In today’s litigious society, anyone can be sued. If you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, a court could very well hold you liable for the costs of medical bills, repair bills and/or legal fees.

Let’s put that into context:

  • How much auto liability coverage is enough? A lawsuit resulting from a tragic car accident could exceed your auto liability limits, leaving you on the hook for costly damages. Basic liability insurance limits are typically $100,000 or $300,000. While this is enough to cover many situations, accidents that are more severe or result in multiple people injured could add up to more than you’d expect.
  • Can my homeowners insurance kick in if someone gets hurt on my property? If someone were to get seriously injured – or worse – in your pool or riding your ATV (for example), a lawsuit could wipe out your finances. Medical costs alone can soar into the millions quickly, especially if a person needs extensive medical treatment or long-term physical therapy.

Talk to a local insurance professional, like your local ERIE agent, about what amount of coverage is right for you. An umbrella policy offers affordable, worldwide protection for you and covered family members.

IS AN UMBRELLA POLICY WORTH IT?

Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen – and no one is immune.

If a court decides you owe more than the limits of your auto, boat or homeowners policy, your personal assets could be at risk. This includes cash, such as your savings or future wages. In some states, even your retirement savings and your home could be up for grabs.

An umbrella policy from ERIE offers higher levels of coverage and affordable, worldwide protection for you and covered family members. That means you can relax and enjoy more of the good times that life has to offer.

HOW TO GET UMBRELLA INSURANCE

Insurance certainly can’t stop bad things from happening. But it can help ensure that an accident doesn’t leave you, your family and possibly even a victim high and dry.

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The Safest Cars of 2021

IIHS: The Safest Cars of 2021

For safety-conscious drivers, the 2021 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety TOP SAFETY PICK awards represent a wealth of choices.

Each year, the IIHS, a nonprofit research and education organization, conducts tests to determine which vehicles do the best job of protecting people in the most common kinds of crashes — front, side, rollover and rear. Vehicles must also score well in front crash prevention and headlights.

The IIHS awarded winners in 11 size categories, from small cars to large pickups. This year’s number of vehicles on the IIHS list increased by more than 50 percent over 2020, and the cars earning the premium TOP SAFETY PICK+ accolade more than doubled.

WHAT MAKES A TOP SAFETY PICK?

Almost every year, the IIHS slightly adjusts its criteria for vehicles to earn either TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ status. When establishing the criteria for the awards, the IIHS phases in new requirements gradually – first as criteria for the “plus” award, then later for the regular TOP SAFETY PICK award. This gives automakers time to plan ahead and adjust future designs.

Here are a few features you’ll find in this year’s top rated vehicles:

  • Headlight improvements: Starting last year, only vehicles with good or acceptable headlights across all trims and packages could earn TOP SAFETY PICK+ status. By keeping this standard, automakers responded by more doubling the vehicles that qualify.
  • Front crash prevention: Vehicles are not required to have standard front crash prevention to qualify for the awards, but it didn’t hurt any of the winners. All 49 TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners and 31 TOP SAFETY PICK winners have standard systems that meet the vehicle-to-vehicle requirement. And all but one of the “plus” picks also meet the prevention criterion with their standard systems.
  • Crashworthiness: Of course, all award winners need strong performance in all six IIHS crash tests. Last year, the IIHS required a higher standard of “good” in the passenger-side small overlap front test. (In 2019, the lower “acceptable” rating was sufficient to win an award.)

For more details on how IIHS crash tests work (and what they look for), visit the safety ratings page on the IIHS website.

THE 2021 TOP SAFETY PICK+ WINNERS

In all, 90 cars and SUVs earned TOP SAFETY PICK status, including 49 that achieved the elite “plus” distinction. This total represents a marked increase from 2020, when 64 models were named TOP SAFETY PICKs and 23 garnered plus designation.

Volvo paced the field with nine TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards. The Swedish automaker placed four models each in the midsize luxury car (S60, S60 Recharge, V60 and V60 Recharge) and midsize luxury SUV (XC 60, XC60 Recharge, XC90 and XC90 Recharge) categories, while its XC40 also earned the distinction in the small SUV class.

Hyundai Motor Group —which manufactures the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands — again led all automakers with 12 overall TOP SAFETY PICKS, including five pluses. The Hyundai Palisade and Nexo, Genesis G70 and G90, and the Kia K5 each earned top marks.

For the full list of winners and ratings, visit iihs.org/ratings.

INSURANCE FOR NEW AND USED CARS

Car shopping can represent the perfect time to reconsider your auto insurance. Here are a few related stories from our blog that might provide some helpful insight:

Whether you plan on purchasing a 2021 TOP SAFETY PICK, a different vehicle or are sticking with your current set of wheels, a local ERIE agent is ready to help you find the perfect coverage for you. Contact them today to start a conversation.

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Driving in Winter

How NOT to Drive in Winter Weather

Driving in WinterWinter driving has its challenges. But throw an inexperienced — or inconsiderate — driver into the mix, and your daily commute can get much more difficult.

It’s always aggravating when other drivers put you at risk. Getting stuck behind a driver who is spinning their tires or not paying attention isn’t just annoying… it’s dangerous.

Related: The 7 Biggest Winter Driving Myths, Debunked

Winter driving calls for quick decision making, patience and a little bit of know-how. Below you’ll find ways to spot a rookie winter driver — and how to avoid looking like one yourself:

6 COMMON MISTAKES OF WINTER DRIVERS

  1. Tailgating: Usually, drivers tailgate because they want the car in front of them to go faster. This is never OK, especially in the winter months. It takes longer to come to a stop in the winter, so you should always put more distance between you and the car ahead. Impatience on the road rarely pays off – tailgating just puts you and others at risk.
  2. Speeding: Speeding can get you into trouble quickly. Make sure you’re never driving faster than what is safe for the conditions. In snowy or icy conditions, that probably means driving below the speed limit. The faster you’re going, the more likely you are to lose control or slide into another car. Expect traffic to move a little slower in the winter and allow extra time to get to your destination.
  3. Getting stuck: Driving through deep snow may sound like fun, but chances are it will leave your tires spinning. For your own safety, know when to stay off the road altogether and drive carefully to avoid losing traction in the first place. After all, getting stuck is easy – getting out isn’t.
  4. Ice on the windshield: If your car has snow or ice on the windshield, it can be tempting to save time by letting your wipers or defroster remove it as you drive. But driving without full visibility is like driving blindfolded. Use a snow brush or ice scraper to clear your windshield entirely every time you get behind the wheel.  (And don’t just clear a little “window” you can see through!)
  5. Snow on the roof: If you’ve ever driven behind someone with snow on their roof, you know it can be an accident waiting to happen. If your car is covered in snow, take the time to clear your roof before you tackle the windows. You’ll keep snow from falling in your field of vision and from hitting the drivers behind you.
  6. Driving with high beams on: This can be frustrating in any condition, but some people think that high beams will increase your vision during whiteouts or heavy snowfall. In fact, fog lights and low beams will do much better. Learn what to do if you get stuck driving in a whiteout.

Just like other people’s driving, winter weather can be unpredictable. But even the safest, most experienced drivers can get into an accident. That’s why it’s important to have the right insurance to protect you and your vehicle. Learn about the extras available with every Erie Insurance auto policy.

WANT MORE TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING?

Check out these related articles:

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Parking Lot Accidents

How Does Insurance Cover Parking Lot Accidents?

Parking lots can be crazy places. Whether you’re at the mall, the grocery store or even just grabbing a quick coffee… all those cars coming and going can up anyone’s chances of being in a parking lot accident.

Which may lead you wonder: How does insurance cover parking lot accidents? Let’s walk through a few common scenarios.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I HIT SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR IN A PARKING LOT?

Accidents happen. That’s why having the right auto insurance can give you peace of mind.

If you do hit a car in a parking lot, here’s what to do next:

  • Don’t leave the scene. If you drive away without telling anyone, that’s considered a hit-and-run. You could face a whole other set of legal issues if a security camera or witness spots you in the act. So do the honest thing and stick around.
  • Get out of harm’s way. Even a simple fender-bender can block traffic or scatter broken glass. Make sure you’re a safe distance from anything dangerous and be mindful of the flow of traffic. If needed, put your hazard lights on to alert nearby drivers.
  • Try to locate the car’s owner. Ask a store employee to page the owner of the car over the loudspeaker.
  • Leave a note. It’s the right thing to do… and potentially even the law. Not leaving a note is considered a hit-and-run in the vast majority of states, even if the damage was just a small scratch. Keep it simple and polite. Include your name, contact information, and a brief explanation of what happened. Leave it in a secure spot where it won’t blow away.
  • Consider calling the police. If the damage is serious, they can help you file an incident report and track down the car’s owner.
  • Call your insurance agent. When you’re with ERIE, you don’t have to go it alone. Your local ERIE agent is there to answer questions and help you understand what’s covered.

Remember, policy conditions might require you to tell ERIE or your agent about the incident – even if you decide not to file a claim. Learn more about what to do when accidents happen.

SOMEONE HIT MY PARKED CAR. NOW WHAT?

An at-fault driver’s auto insurance should cover the property damage they caused to the other vehicle. Hopefully, they left a note and you can get in touch without too much fuss. Unfortunately, some people won’t do the right thing. If you return to a dented or dinged car with no indication of who did it, you can ask around to see if there were any witnesses. If there aren’t any, ask the store if they have security cameras.

If the incident is a hit-and-run—or if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or not enough insurance—you’ll have to rely on your own auto insurance to cover the damage. That’s assuming you purchased optional collision coverage on your own vehicle.

Also, uninsured motorist property damage coverage that is available in some states protects your car if it’s struck by a hit-and-run driver. (A deductible may apply.)

Just keep in mind that you’ll likely need uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This insurance coverage is optional in some states and mandatory in others. It covers you and your passengers’ damages if you’re injured by an uninsured driver or a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Whether it’s a simple fender-bender or something more serious, remember – your local ERIE agent is there to help answer questions and provide advice.

WHAT HAPPENS IF TWO CARS HIT EACH OTHER AT THE SAME TIME?

There is usually an at-fault driver when there’s a parking lot accident. But there are some cases where an accident is two drivers’ fault—for instance, two people may back out at the same time and hit each other. What typically happens in these cases is that each driver files a claim with their own insurance company.

HOW TO PREVENT PARKING LOT ACCIDENTS

Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep you, your car and others safe. Get our list of tips for how to avoid a parking lot accident.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. But when you’re with ERIE, you have your own personal insurance advisor – your local ERIE agent – when they do. Learn more about auto insurance or find a local ERIE agent in your area.

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