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All Posts in Category: Personal Insurance

DistractedDriving2018

Can You Guess Our Biggest Driving Distraction?

Of the more than 172,000 people killed in car crashes over the past five years, one in 10 were in crashes where at least one of the drivers involved was distracted. These statistics come from data analyzed by Erie Insurance housed in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Erie Insurance consulted with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its analysis.

But distracted driving doesn’t just mean being distracted by your cell phone.  ERIE’s analysis found daydreaming or being “generally distracted” (being inattentive, careless, or distracted–details unknown) or “lost in thought” was the number one distraction associated with fatal crashes. (See the infographic below for the full top 10 list.)

“Some people see driving as a time to relax and unwind and let their minds drift off, but that’s actually one of the worst things you can do,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. “Most people know about the dangers of texting while driving, but daydreaming while driving is an almost invisible distraction – people do it automatically without even realizing the risk.”

The Erie Insurance analysis of police data from 2012-2016 showed the majority of drivers who were distracted were “generally distracted” or “lost in thought.” In fact, police report that 61 percent of distracted drivers were daydreaming at the time of a fatal crash, compared with 14 percent of drivers who were distracted by cell phone use.  Erie Insurance did a similar analysis five years ago and revisited the data to see if the types of distractions had changed over the years. The analysis found the distractions were largely the same.

HERE ARE THE TOP 10 DISTRACTIONS INVOLVED IN FATAL CAR CRASHES:

Distracted Driving 2018

Bloom said that because FARS data on distraction is based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of the crash, and because people involved in a crash may be reluctant to admit to distracted driving behaviors when being interviewed by police, the numbers are difficult to verify. And they may, in fact, under-represent the seriousness and prevalence of driving distractions.

 

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A DAYDREAM?

To help drivers avoid daydreaming while driving, Erie Insurance reached out to Paul Atchley, Ph.D., an internationally recognized cognitive behavioral researcher. Atchley has studied distracted driving and worked with numerous national safety organizations to reduce it.

“One effective strategy to counteract daydreaming is to keep your mind alert with so-called passive forms of engagement, like listening to a radio show or a podcast,” Atchley said. “The beauty of passive engagement is that your mind will automatically tune it out when it needs to. So, if something out of the ordinary suddenly happens in your environment, your brain won’t even hear what’s on the radio anymore. It will be fully focused on the task at hand.”

Dr. Atchley cautioned against listening to a playlist of songs you’ve heard again and again, which is not recommended. Listening to something too familiar could actually encourage your mind to drift off.

Atchley offers these additional tips to help drivers keep their attention on the road:

  • Don’t replace boredom with a distraction. For example, never send or read a text to alleviate boredom. Instead, play verbal road games that help you focus, like “I Spy.” Make it even more effective by saying “I Spy a Distracted Driver” which will help your mind focus even more on the road and defensive driving.
  • Keep your hazard perception skills sharp. This means knowing where to look on the road ahead and watching for situations that may require you to take an action, such as changing speed or direction. Examples include a car entering an intersection or a pedestrian crossing the road.
  • Consider carpooling with another experienced driver. Just as professional truck drivers sometimes enlist a partner to share the driving duties, Atchley says having a co-driver can also work for everyday people. Another experienced driver sitting in the passenger seat next to you can serve as a second set of eyes.And, engaging in light conversation while you’re both looking at the road ahead can help keep your mind alert.

April is dedicated to Distracted Driving Awareness. It’s important to think about all the ways we can be distracted while driving all the time.  “We’re always looking after our Customers; we want to not only insure their cars but also protect their lives,” said Bloom, “so that’s why we’re drawing attention to the dangers of distracted driving, including driving while daydreaming.”

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/distracted-driving-study-2018

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Life Insurance

Top Three Reasons Why People Buy Life Insurance

Before you can get the life insurance coverage you need, you need to understand why you need it. While there are  many reasons to buy life insurance, the most common reasons include:

  1. Final expenses:Final expenses refer to any expenses related to someone’s passing. This can include a casket, funeral, preparations, memorial service, cremation and more.

Life insurance for final expenses is worth considering—after all, the National Funeral Directors Association reports that the median price of a funeral with a casket is more than $7,000.  Funeral directors  say families without enough funds are forced to cut back on the service or ask friends and family for donations. A modest  term life insurance  policy can unburden your loved ones by taking care of these expenses.

  1. Income replacement:Your loved ones depend on your income to meet daily needs for food, medical care, utilities, car payments and much more. There are also future costs like a child’s college education or contributions you would have made toward a surviving spouse’s retirement. If you pass away without a means for replacing your income, their standard of living could be in serious jeopardy. If you have young children, there may be child care costs or home upkeep expenses to consider if your spouse needs to return to work.

How much life insurance you need is based on two factors: your salary and the number of years until you retire. An  insurance agent  will also account for any other factors such as Social Security benefits, your partner’s income and your savings. Always aim to buy the amount you really need—but also remember that something is better than nothing when it comes to life insurance coverage.

  1. Paying off a mortgage:A mortgage is often the biggest single line item in a person’s budget. Could your family afford your home’s mortgage without your paycheck in the picture? If not, an already sad situation would be compounded by their possibly losing the house they love. This could also mean your children could no longer attend a school in their current district or maintain the friendships they currently have.

Life insurance  can pay off an outstanding mortgage so your family can enjoy the home they love without the burden of outstanding payments.

These are the three most common reasons people purchase life insurance. Yet there are many other reasons for buying life insurance, such as building or leaving an inheritance,  saving for retirement ,  protecting student loan co-signers  and more.

Life Insurance=Love Insurance
February is Insure Your Love month and the campaign is coordinated each year by Life Happens.

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FrontDoorDelivery

Prevent Porch Pirates from Pilfering Your Packages

There’s almost nothing more convenient than online ordering. But when your work hours don’t align with the delivery schedule, it can leave a nice crime of opportunity for package thieves. One study by InsuranceQuotes.com estimates that 23 million Americans have had a package swiped from their doorstep before they could retrieve it. With two-thirds of Americans reporting they shop online at least once a month, the problem is likely to stick around. Here are a few steps to protect your deliveries from so-called “porch pirates.”

Go-go gadget. Various smart gadgets on the market can be helpful devices when it comes to securing packages. A video doorbell could let you view and speak to the delivery person at your door through your mobile device, so you can simply request they leave the package in a less conspicuous spot — or you can activate your smart lock and have them leave it inside your door.

Contact your carrier. Do a little detective work, and you may uncover some options through the delivery service. Many carriers now offer flexible options that let you schedule or reroute deliveries. For example, you could have them dropped off and held at a retailer near you, or deposited in a secure locker. Before you order, check the alternative offerings from the carrier.

Check your credit card policies. Some credit card companies offer protection against package theft to help you recover your losses. For specifics, get in touch with your credit card company to find out if this protection is available and for how much.

Alternative deliveries. Avoid the unwanted situation altogether and send the deliveries where swiping is far less likely. Your workplace, if your employer allows it, is one excellent option. You can also ask neighbors or family members who are home during the day to accept your deliveries and have your packages routed to their place. Just be sure to give them a little something for their trouble.

Finally, read about holiday burglaries.

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Public-WiFi

Using Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi helps us stay connected no matter where we go. It’s convenient to use at a coffee shop, a neighborhood restaurant or the airport, but how safe is it? Unfortunately, cyber criminals can log in to the same free network that you do and attempt to gain access to your devices and personal information.

“The Wi-Fi may be free, but that doesn’t mean your online activities are safe,” says Cheryl Lorei, a senior IT analyst at Erie Insurance who has worked in information security for 15 years. “The big concern with public Wi-Fi is that your information could be available to anyone on the network. It’s nothing against the businesses that offer free Wi-Fi, it’s just that they’re not in the business of keeping your personal information safe.”

Four tips to help make your online activities more secure

Here are a few key things that you need know about public Wi-Fi security and how to keep your personal information safe.

  1. Watch out for phony Wi-Fi access points. Fake routers are designed to look legitimate, but hackers operate them. With this popular method, called a man-in-the-middle attack, the invader tries to get between you and your personal information that is stored on a banking website or in an email. “These situations can be difficult to detect,” says Lorei. “If you don’t know who is running the network, don’t use it. Always ask the business owner or hotel to verify the network name before you connect to it.” Once you’re finished, remove the public Wi-Fi connection from your device. If your device is still in the mode of actively trying to connect, a hacker may notice and create a phony access point. 
  2. Limit your activity while using public Wi-Fi. When you’re using free Wi-Fi, it’s not a good time to shop online, use social media or access your bank account or email. “You want to avoid visiting websites that save and store your personal passwords or credit card numbers,” says Lorei. “You could inadvertently make it easy for someone to access your personal information. Once they have your password, they will try to reuse it repeatedly to access other sites to gain more information about you.” 
  3. Use secured websites or a VPN service. Generally, it’s best to access secured websites that begin with https rather than http. The s in the address is an indication that the site uses a secured encryption Web protocol to protect the confidentiality of online activities or transactions. A virtual private network (VPN) also offers a connection that is encrypted and secured. VPN can help protect you from digital eavesdropping even when you’re on public Wi-Fi. The fees for basic VPN services are less than $10 a month. 
  4. Turn your smartphone into a secured personal hot spot. Most mobile phones can be turned into hot spots and support several devices at once. However, check your data plan before you try it to avoid unexpected expenses. “Personal hot spots are popular alternatives, but you still need to do your research about how to protect and secure the connection,” Lorei says.

Once your identity is stolen, it can be difficult to recover. “Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to flip a switch to restore everything,” Lorei says. “It’s a smart move to do all you can to protect yourself.”

Insurance coverage is available for identity theft and fraud. With Erie Insurance’s Identity Recovery Coverage, you’ll get help with the recovery process and coverage for expenses like charges for credit reports, lost wages and even some legal fees. The cost of the coverage is low—about $20 a year—and it can be added to a home or renters insurance policy. A local Erie Insurance agent can tell you more about the details.

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Holiday Up in Flames

Don’t let a fire take the merry out of your holidays.

The Holidays are a time of year to enjoy friends and family, but sometimes they don’t always go as planned. Don’t believe us? Check out this experiment we did with our Erie, Pennsylvania, City of Erie Fire Department.

ERIE staged a fire in a vacant home which showed how a Christmas tree fire can fill a room with toxic smoke in just 30 seconds and burn down an entire living room in one minute.

“Many people love their Christmas decorations and choose to leave them up for a few weeks after the holiday, but when it comes to a dried-out live Christmas tree, that’s a dangerous risk to take,” said  Gary Sullivan , vice president of property and subrogation claims, Erie Insurance. “We want families to enjoy the post-holiday season safely; we don’t want them to be displaced from their homes due to a fire, or even worse, caught in a life-threatening situation.”

Recent national reporting done by the National Fire Protection Association showed Christmas trees resulted in an annual average of seven civilian fire deaths, 19 civilian fire injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage during a four-year period. Make sure to take care of your tree to ensure a safe and happy holiday.

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College-Students

Safety in College

When kids hit college, they’ll reach an entirely new level of independence. With unstructured time and the freedom to make their own day-to-day decisions, they’ll still need support from you. Here are some campus life issues to discuss.

Keep possessions safe. College campuses and especially dormitories bring thousands of young people into one small area. That’s why it’s important to urge your student to keep their door locked whenever they leave the room for any length of time. It only takes seconds for an opportunistic thief to slip and disappear with their laptop or other valuable items. Also, have a talk with your insurance agent. If your college lists your house as their permanent address, your homeowners insurance coverage would most likely extend to your student’s belongings in the dorm. Find out what’s covered and what isn’t.

Don’t leave them uninsured. Once your student lives off-campus at their first apartment, that simple carry-over homeowners coverage may disappear. In that case, a separate renters insurance policy in your student’s name can offer protection, so your student doesn’t have to start from scratch. The good news is that these low-cost policies are often affordable, even for college students living on slender budgets. To learn more, contact an ERIE agent.

Check your auto insurance. Every student’s situation varies, and different situations will have different impacts on auto insurance costs. For example, costs could increase if your student brings their car on campus, especially in an urban setting. Some parents see a discount if their student leaves the car at home. To learn more, get in touch with an ERIE agent.

Have the talk about drinking. Good news: According to WebMD, binge drinking among college students is on a downward trend, and so is driving while impaired. Still, 37 percent of students say they consumed four or more drinks in one sitting, and 17 percent report driving while impaired. Before your student heads to campus, talk about the risks of indulging too much, such as accidents, hypothermia, injuries and impulsive behavior. Along with that, brainstorm strategies so they know what to do to keep themselves and their friends safe.

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