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All Posts in Category: Auto Insurance

Lending My Car

Am I Covered When I Lend My Car to Friends or Family?

If you own a car, chances are you’ve let a friend or family member borrow it at least once.

After all, there are plenty of reasons to hand over the keys. Maybe you needed a relative to pick up your kids from school. Or you’re helping someone get to work after their car broke down.

But did you know that in the event of an accident… it’s your auto insurance policy that typically would have to pay?

“By far, the number one misconception about loaning out your vehicle is that if you let your neighbor borrow your car, an accident should go on his insurance because he was the one driving,” said Dave Freeman, vice president and regional underwriting officer at Erie Insurance. “But in private passenger auto insurance, the coverage typically follows the vehicle, not the driver.”

Let’s break it down.

DOES MY CAR INSURANCE COVER OTHER DRIVERS?

If you’re an ERIE customer, insured drivers include:

  • Resident relatives: Most ERIE personal auto policies provide coverage to the named insured, their spouse or domestic partner and any other resident relatives. So if someone is a member of your family and lives in your home, they’re automatically an insured under your policy unless excluded.
  • Domestic partners: If someone lives with you but isn’t a relative, they are not named insureds under your policy. However, if you’re living with a domestic partner, they can be added to your policy as a named insured but only if your relationship is the long-term, committed type – you share domestic responsibilities and have joint financial obligations. All you have to do is call your agent and let them know. They’ll send out a short driver questionnaire and check your partner’s driving record to determine eligibility.Related: What Insurance Do You Need When You Move in Together?
  • Someone with permissive use: If you loaned out your car to a friend or neighbor, your ERIE policy generally will cover them – as long as you gave your permission. If they are a regular and repeated user of the car, they should also have coverage. The only exception is if a driver has been specifically excluded on your policy.

Finally: If someone else is regularly driving your car, it’s important to let your agent know.

Chances are, anyone you let borrow your car will fall into one of these three categories. But just because someone is covered doesn’t mean loaning your car is risk-free.

LOANING YOUR CAR: CONSIDER THE PROS AND CONS

Here’s the good news: If the driver falls into one of the three categories above, and the loss is covered under the terms of your policy, your insurance can help pay for the damage – even if you weren’t the one driving.

But here’s the tricky part: Depending on the situation – and the specifics of your policy – you might get stuck paying a surcharge on your auto insurance premium for an at-fault accident, even if you weren’t the one driving at the time. (Every policy is different, so ask your ERIE agent if this applies to you.)

Related: What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance?

According to Freeman, most people don’t think about these ‘what if’ scenarios before lending their car.

“When you loan someone your car, you’re putting your name out there as a responsible party,” he explains. “You’ll be protected within the limits of your auto policy, but there’s always a chance of something happening that exceeds them.”

For instance, if your neighbor runs a stop sign and causes significant injuries and property damage, you could be responsible for paying any amounts owed above the limits on your policy. That means you could be sued for your neighbor’s negligent actions because they were using your vehicle. Liability in these situations varies by state, so check with your ERIE agent if you have specific questions.

And then, there’s the question of what actually constitutes “permissive use.” For example, maybe your daughter goes off to college and lets her friend borrow a car that’s in your name – but you, as the named insured, didn’t give permission. Is her accident covered? The answer could vary based on case law in each state.

Related: Whose Insurance Pays When My Friend Crashes My Car?

If you do have to file a claim, rest easy. Your ERIE agent can help you understand the ins and outs of your policy, and our award-winning claims service gives you prompt and personal attention to get back to normal.

“At ERIE we look for a reason to pay a claim, not a reason to turn one down,” said Freeman. “We want to find a way to pay your claim if the coverage is available. After all, that’s why you bought a policy.”

So here’s the moral of the story: Always make sure you understand your liability before loaning out a vehicle.

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Auto Insurance Endorsements

Understanding Auto Insurance Endorsements

Auto Insurance EndorsementsThink of auto insurance endorsements as “added options” to your auto policy. Just like you could customize your vehicle, endorsements allow you to customize your coverage. Sometimes endorsements are as simple as an address or name change, or when you want to add coverage to your current policy.

An endorsement is also a good way to add extra coverage to your policy without having to purchase an entirely new one. Your ERIE agent can walk you through your policy and let you know which endorsements you currently have on your policy and if there are any additional endorsements that make sense to add.

Here are a few popular choices.

4 COMMON AUTO INSURANCE ENDORSEMENTS

  • Relax, you’re getting a rental: ERIE offers Transportation Expense coverage1 for customers who don’t have access to their vehicle for a particular time period due to a covered accident or other covered loss.

    Basic rental car coverage for a compact car due to a covered comprehensive coverage loss is automatically included in your auto policy in most states if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage. However, if you need a larger vehicle or Transportation Expense coverage for a collision loss, there are options to buy additional coverage (With ERIE you can choose from six different classes of vehicle rentals, each with a corresponding premium rate).

    You can also purchase ERIE’s Roadside & Rentals bundle, which has options to include Roadside Service coverage2 along with Transportation Expense coverage.

  • Secure Your Rate: With the ERIE Rate Lock® feature, you can pay the same premium year after year. Even if you have a claim, your rates won’t change until you make certain changes to your auto insurance policy, such as adding or removing a vehicle or driver from your policy or changing your primary residence.3

  • Poof: Gone! The ERIE Auto Plus® endorsement includes Diminishing Deductible and extends limits to the basic auto policy. For around $30, you can cover all of the vehicles listed on your policy with higher limits to many of our “Xtra Protection Features.” And for each consecutive claims-free policy year (beginning when this endorsement is added), the deductible amount will be reduced by $100 up to a maximum reduction of $500. It also includes a $10,000 death benefit.4

  • True Blue Replacement: ERIE’s New Auto Security coverage endorsement5 offers customers the opportunity to replace a totaled vehicle without worry of depreciation. If your new car is less than two years old and it gets totaled, ERIE will reimburse you the cost to replace it with a vehicle of the newest model year. And if your car is more than two years old, ERIE will pay the cost to replace it with another vehicle of the same model up to two years newer with similar mileage. How nice is that?

When it comes to your auto insurance, you’ve got a lot of choices. When you choose ERIE, you can feel confident about your coverage. Why? Because every policy comes with a local insurance agent to help you understand how your policy works, what it can help protect, and how to customize it based on your needs (and budget).

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Teen Driver

Help Teens Drive Safer

This Program Uses Brain Science To Help Teens Drive Safer

For many teens, getting a driver’s license is a prized rite of passage. But with drivers age 16 to 19 involved in more accidents than any other age group – it’s also a risky and nerve-wracking time for parents.

So, what’s a safety-minded family to do?

Enter teenSMART®, an award-winning crash reduction training program from ADEPT Driver®. A new partnership between Erie Insurance and ADEPT Driver offers special discounted access to the program to teen drivers covered by ERIE policies in Wisconsin and Virginia.

Read more: What To Know About Insuring a Teen Driver

Using advanced behavioral science and research, teenSMART offers youthful drivers realistic and challenging driving simulations. Teens that complete the computer-based course learn skills proven to dramatically reduce teen driver crash frequency and severity.

Even better? Teens who complete the program may be eligible for an auto insurance premium reduction when they’ve finished.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The teenSMART training is divided into short 30-minute chapters that teens can complete at their own pace on their home computer. It takes about 8 hours to complete. The program is designed to address these six behavioral and social factors that cause 90% of all teen car crashes:

  • Visual Search
  • Hazard Detection
  • Speed Adjustment
  • Space Management
  • Risk Perception
  • Lifestyle Issues

The curriculum is reinforced with in-car driving exercises and other activities for parents (or another licensed adult, age 25 or older) and teens to complete together. Learn more about the curriculum on the teenSMART website.

ADEPT’s teenSMART program has been proven to reduce crash frequency by up to 30% and bodily injury by over 50%. Read more about the research in this whitepaper from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

ABOUT THE NEW PARTNERSHIP

“ADEPT Driver incorporates cutting-edge behavioral science to improve driver behavior and reduce teen drivers’ risk of collisions,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. “One of the key components of ERIE’s mission is to provide as near perfect protection as is humanly possible. Offering our customers proven tools to protect their new driver, when they are at the greatest risk of injury, helps us fulfill this mission. We encourage all teen drivers to complete teenSMART training.”

“We are delighted to partner with Erie Insurance to reduce teen driver crashes,” said Dr. Richard Harkness, CEO of ADEPT Driver. “ERIE is a premiere brand and insurance industry leader. We are proud to join with them to improve safety on our roads and highways by making teenSMART available to their customers.”

HOW CAN I SIGN UP?

This program is currently available to ERIE customers in Wisconsin and Virginia. If you’re an ERIE customer, contact your local ERIE agent for more details or visit the teenSMART website.

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Distracted Driving Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted Driving 2018Can You Guess When Most Distracted Driving Crashes Occur?

Daydreaming while driving is more dangerous than you’d think – and our new review of police data shows just when drivers might be “lost in thought” enough to cause a fatal crash.

According to a new review of Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, Saturdays in September are the biggest days for fatal car crashes involving daydreaming while driving, and Tuesdays in February are lowest.

The new review builds upon Erie Insurance’s previous analysis, which found that being “generally distracted” or “lost in thought” – otherwise known as daydreaming – is the number-one distraction noted in fatal crashes.

Related: See the 2018 data on the top 10 distractions involved in fatal crashes

The FARS data includes information from police reports on the causes of fatal car crashes. Erie Insurance consulted with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to analyze the data, which is maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“We released this data to raise awareness of the ongoing need to combat distracted driving in all its forms, whether it’s texting while driving, or simply letting your mind wander behind the wheel,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. “No matter what day of the week or what month it is, we urge all drivers at all times to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their attention on what they are doing.”

The most recent NHTSA distracted driving crash data shows 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2017.

LIKELIHOOD OF FATAL “DAYDREAMING WHILE DRIVING” CRASHES:

The most recent review of FARS data by Erie Insurance resulted in a ranked list of more than 84 combinations (with some ties) of days and months associated with daydreaming while driving. Below are the top and bottom five from 2013 through 2017.

Top 5 (Most Dangerous):

  1. Saturdays in September
  2. Saturdays in May
  3. Fridays in October
  4. Saturdays in August
  5. Fridays in July

Bottom 5 (Least Dangerous):

  1. Sundays in December
  2. Thursdays in February
  3. Mondays in January
  4. Wednesdays in February
  5. Tuesdays in February

The FARS data is based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of a crash, and interviews with those involved.

To help drivers better understand and avoid daydreaming while driving, Erie Insurance previously collaborated with internationally known cognitive behavioral researcher Paul Atchley, Ph.D., who has studied distracted driving and worked with national safety organizations to reduce it.

VIDEO: How To Stay Alert While Driving, Explained by a Cognitive Behavioral Scientist

“It’s not clear why people would be more likely to daydream while driving on certain days or in certain months over others,” Bloom says. “Regardless, we think the data is worth sharing if it gets people talking about the serious problem of distracted driving and how to avoid it.”

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but staying alert on the road is a cause to get behind all year long. Learn more about auto insurance from ERIE to stay protected no matter what you encounter on the road ahead.

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Winter Car

How NOT to Drive in Winter Weather

Winter 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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IIHS-Safety

IIHS: The Safest Cars of 2019

Shopping for a new car can feel a little overwhelming – especially with today’s high-tech safety features. From crash avoidance to emergency autobrake, today’s car shoppers have more options than ever before.

Luckily, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives us common folks a great place to start with their annual list of TOP SAFETY PICK awards. Whether you’re actively shopping or just seeing what’s out there, here’s what made the cut for 2019.

HOW IT WORKS (AND WHAT THEY SCORE)

Since 2006, the safety experts at the IIHS (a nonprofit research and education organization) conduct tests to determine which vehicles do the best job of protecting people in the most common kinds of crashes — front, side, rollover and rear.

Related: Learn more about the science of road safety at the IIHS

This isn’t a participation trophy. Standards for the TOP SAFETY PICK and TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards are tough. Over time, the IIHS has strengthened the criteria as new technology – and crash test protocols – become available. In the 2013 model year, they added the top-tier “plus” award to acknowledge the best of the best.

Here’s what this year’s winners had to do to earn each award:

  • TOP SAFETY PICK+: This year, 30 models were awarded the top-tier award. These all earned the highest rating for passenger-side protection in a small overlap front crash and have good-rated available headlights. (Headlight testing was added to the criteria just last year.)
  • TOP SAFETY PICK: The 27 winners of the second-tier award earned acceptable or higher rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test and the nighttime headlight evaluation.
  • Both: Together, all 57 award-winning vehicles have good ratings in the IIHS’ five other crashworthiness evaluations. They all also have an available automatic emergency braking system that rates advanced or superior for front crash prevention.

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

THE 2019 TOP SAFETY PICK+ WINNERS

After the IIHS toughened up its testing criteria for 2018, only 15 vehicles earned the top-tier “plus” rating. In turn, auto manufacturers stepped up their game. For 2019, the winners’ list doubled to a total of 30 vehicles.

Here they are by category:

Small Cars:

  • Honda Insight
  • Hyundai Elantra (built after September 2018)
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia Niro hybrid
  • Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Impreza 4-door sedan
  • Subaru Impreza wagon
  • Subaru WRX

Midsize Cars:

  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Camry

Midsize Luxury Cars:

  • Genesis G70
  • Lexus ES

Large Car:

  • Toyota Avalon (built after September 2018)

Large Luxury Cars:

  • BMW 5 series
  • Genesis G80
  • Genesis G90
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class 4-door sedan

Small SUVs:

  • Hyundai Kona
  • Mazda CX-5

Midsize SUVs:

  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Kia Sorento
  • Subaru Ascent

Midsize luxury SUVs:

  • Acura RDX
  • BMW X3
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Want more? See the remaining 27 winners in the TOP SAFETY PICK category (plus safety ratings for older cars) at IIHS.org.

AUTO INSURANCE FOR NEW AND USED CARS

If you’re shopping for a car, you’ll also need car insurance. Get an online auto insurance quote or check out these helpful links for further reading:

Whether you’re buying your first set of used wheels or moving up to your first brand new car, we’re eager to help you find coverage that’s the right fit for your pride and joy.

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