Deaths From Injuries, Including Car Crashes, Rising Among Youth

CNN published an article earlier this month about the fact that after years of decline, the injury death rate among people in the United States ages 10 to 19 is rising. The CNN article was based a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report found auto injuries to be one of the leading causes of death.

Below are some highlights from the article:

  • The rise in deaths is attributable to injury-related deaths, such as traffic accident fatalities, drug overdoses, homicides and suicides, as opposed to illness.
     
  • Among 10- to 19-year-olds around the world, road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2015.
     
  • Motor vehicle traffic fatalities accounted for 62% of these unintentional injury deaths.
     
  • The new report was based on data from death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1999 and 2016.

Check out the full article for more information on the study: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/health/youth-injury-death-rate-cdc-study/index.html

We feel this study highlights the importance of practicing safe driving, as well as the need for our lawmakers to dedicate time and money to creating and enforcing legislation that will support safety on the road. Things like driver-training courses, putting down our phones while we drive, and new laws that address road safety are critical.

Clearsurance Ranks Erie Among Top 10 Best Insurance Companies In 2018 For Home And Auto

Clearsurance, an independent community where insurance customers share their individual feedback on auto, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, has recently ranked Erie among the top 10 best insurance companies in 2018 for both home and auto.

Erie ranked 5th out of 10 among auto insurers, and 2nd out of 10 among the home insurers included.

Check out the full articles here: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insurance-2018https://clearsurance.com/best-home-insurance-2018.

And here are the results as displayed on Clearsurance:

Source: https://clearsurance.com/best-car-insuranc...

Distracted Drivers Are Costing Insurers Big Money

By: William Forbes

CNN posted an article today on how Arity, a unit of Allstate insurance, is developing a technology to track smartphone use in cars. The hope is that Allstate will be able to tell when drivers are actively using their phones while operating a vehicle. And, at some future point, Allstate may use the information to determine car insurance rates. 

It's an interesting article, but the most shocking and fascinating points, to me, were in Arity's research. The article says, "Arity analyzed data from 160 million trips by hundreds of thousands of Allstate drivers. What it found confirmed research showing that drivers on their phones are more dangerous."

Using claims data, Arity found that distracted drivers are costing insurers 160% more than drivers focused on the road. The research confirmed that distracted drivers are more likely to get into an accident and these crashes tend to be more severe.

In fact, Arity recommends drivers put their phones into airplane mode before heading out in the car.

Distracted driving is a topic we at Forbes Insurance Agency have posted about in the past, and will continue to shout about. The effects of distracted driving and using your phone while you drive are now being studied by multiple agencies, and they are all saying the same thing - this behavior is causing more accidents, more fatalities, and more expensive claims for insurers.

Here is a link to the full CNN article, titled, "Do you text and drive? Your car insurance may go up," http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/24/technology/texting-and-driving-distracted/index.html.

Here are links to some of our past blog posts on this topic:

  1. Smartphones Are Killing Americans: https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2017/11/1/smartphones-are-killing-americans
  2. Why Are Car Insurance Prices Rising? https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2017/6/7/why-are-car-insurance-prices-rising
  3. Claims Increase The Cost Of Insurance: https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2017/3/8/claims-increase-the-cost-of-insurance
  4. Pennsylvania Passes Daniel's Law - Stricter Penalties For Texting And Driving: https://forbes-insurance.com/forbesinsuranceblog/2016/11/8/pennsylvania-passes-daniels-law-stricter-penalties-for-texting-and-driving

Smartphones Are Killing Americans

By: Nicole Vattimo

Here is a very interesting article, originally published on Bloomberg, that discusses the surge in U.S. traffic fatalities and how they are linked to smartphone use, but are not being properly reported as such. The article, "Smartphones are killing Americans, but nobody’s counting," states that over the past two years, traffic fatalities have increased by 14.4 percent.

"In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade," the article reports.

The problem is that many of these fatalities are not being attributed to distraction or mobile-phone use. Why is that an issue? Well, because regulators are not getting an accurate picture of just how dangerous cell phones are for drivers, and how many accidents they are actually causing. Without solid evidence (think numbers and stats) to indicate how many accidents are caused by cell-phone use behind the wheel, lawmakers and regulators can not push for new and improved laws or safety features.

The article talks about how cell-phone use has changed too; how actual calls are not happening as often as texting and social media. But, I would take it one step further and suggest that using our phones for music in our cars is another distraction. My family has Apple Music, which does sync with my car's stereo, but many times to change playlists, I find I have to look at my phone.

Additionally, have you seen the technology packed into most cars today?! Most new cars have touch screens, which, in my opinion, are tricky to use while driving, that can display: music options, navigation, car diagnostics, movies, and more. It's insane how many distractions are built right into the car stereo today.

Take a read of the full article here: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/smartphones-are-killing-americans-but-nobody%E2%80%99s-counting/ar-AAtQOp7?li=BBnb7Kz

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/...

Erie Launches Teen Driver-Safety Initiative Called Shift

By: Nicole Vattimo

Shift is Erie's initiative to help inform teens about safe driving and get them engaged through safe driving pledges, completing challenges, creating and sharing content through the program's website, and referring friends to the contest.

Shift began on Sept. 11, and Erie recently reported more than 1,000 students are participating, representing schools across Erie's footprint. The primary goal of the program is to communicate important facts to help keep teens safe. Check out Erie's graphic below for some of these staggering statistics.

And, if you're interested in learning more about the initiative, visit jointheshift.org.

Photo Credit: Erie Insurance

Photo Credit: Erie Insurance

Lane-Departure And Blind-Spot Technology In Cars Are Reducing Accidents Says IIHS

By: Nicole Vattimo

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) recently published findings that indicate lane-departure and blind-spot warnings in cars are effectively reducing accidents. Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Lane-departure warnings lower rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe and head-on crashes of all severity by 11 percent.
     
  • Lane-departure warnings lower the rates of injury in these types of crashes by 21 percent.
     
  • The IIHS feels the above results are modest; perhaps because many drivers turn off lane-departure functionality in their vehicles.
     
  • If all passenger vehicles had been equipped with lane-departure warning, nearly 85,000 police-reported crashes and more than 55,000 injuries would have been prevented in 2015.
     
  • Blind-spot detection lowers the rate of all lane-change crashes by 14 percent and the rate of lane-change crashes with injuries by 23 percent.
     
  • Police reports include information on the circumstances of a crash, making it possible to look specifically at the types of crashes that particular technologies are designed to address.

Take a read of the full report for more information about these findings and how the studies were conducted: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/stay-within-the-lines-lane-departure-warning-blind-spot-detection-help-drivers-avoid-trouble

Could Oversharing On Social Media Cost You Your Insurance In The Future?

By: William Forbes

This article from Consumer Reports interviews representatives from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Insurance Information Institute on this subject and uncovers some interesting info.

The idea here is that by sharing photos of your family away from home on vacation, or posting about new and expensive purchases, you could be opening yourself up to theft. So, by sharing these types of posts, you could be violating your insurance policy's "reasonable care" clause, "which stipulates that policyholders do everything they can to make their home burglar-resistant and secure from risk," says the article.

Please don't be alarmed. We've never heard of an insurance company denying a home claim because of social media; and the experts in the article don't say that they know of a claim being denied either. But, they do posit, in the future, insurers may review people's social media activity in certain instances.

Beyond the issue of insurance claims, however, I think this article makes a good point about not oversharing on social media in order to protect your safety, home, and belongings. It's smart, especially in today's internet-connected society, to protect yourself by not letting the world know where you are and what you are doing at any given moment.

The article suggests waiting until you return home to post vacation photos, and to be careful of how much personal information you are giving away in comments. For example, try not to disclose where you are vacationing, how long you're there, your hotel details, etc.

check out the full article for more information: https://www.consumerreports.org/social-media/is-social-media-putting-your-home-at-risk/

Volvo Plans To Phase Out Gasoline Engines

By: William Forbes

Bloomberg just reported that Volvo is planning to phase out the sale of gasoline engines. The auto maker says starting in 2019 all new models will run on hybrid or fully-electric motors. "That means that by about 2025 Volvo will make its last full-gasoline or diesel car -- the first major manufacturer to make such a pledge," said the article.

For more, check out the full article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-05/volvo-cars-joins-electric-race-with-plan-for-five-battery-models.

Why Are Car Insurance Prices Rising?

By: William Forbes

Being an insurance agent, I get asked every day, "Why is the cost of my car insurance going up?" And, the majority of the time this question isn't even coming from one of my clients. I get asked by friends, family, my supermarket cashier...it seems to be a question on everyone's mind.

Believe it or not, there are some very specific reasons for the increased cost of auto insurance; and none of them have to do with insurance companies being out to get us (I hear this suggestion quite a bit as an agent, too).

Forbes recently published an article (link here) that does a nice job of explaining some of the reasons. As stated in the article, "the driving force in the upward march in premiums is an auto insurance industry that’s been finding it increasingly difficult to sustain healthy profit margins."

This means auto insurers are finding it difficult to make a profit off insurance premiums, when the expense of running an insurance company is considered.

The article points to a few main reasons why profits have been down for insurers:

  1. More costly accidents. Both the severity of accidents and the number of fatal car accidents have been trending upward. So, fulfilling these types of claims, particularly those that include high medical costs, is very costly.
     
  2. A decline in investment revenue. The article explains that insurance companies hold large investment portfolios, and when interest rates and investment income is lower, they can't offset losses.
     
  3. Bad weather. As comprehensive claims from bad weather (tornadoes, hail, flooding) continue to rise, so does the amount insurance companies pay out to their insureds. I would also add to this that cars are getting more expensive to repair - the cost of parts is increasing, and added technology features make what used to be simple repairs, more costly. For example, windshields now have cameras in them, and this increases the cost of replacing them.

For a deeper dive into these three points, check out the full article on Forbes.com. And, if you have questions about your policy, always feel free to contact your agent.

(Here is the full link to the article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ccasazza/2017/05/23/why-are-car-insurance-rates-still-going-up/#3315a8cb7753)

A Low Credit Score Could Mean Higher Home Insurance Costs

By: Nicole Vattimo

Earlier in the month, HuffPost published an interesting article (link here) on how our credit scores impact our homeowners insurance premiums. The article dissects a study completed by Quadrant Information Services. It's probably not surprising that the study found there is a direct correlation between a poor credit score and a higher homeowners insurance cost. What surprised me, however, was just how much higher your insurance premium could be if you have a lower credit score, when compared with someone who has a high score.

According to the article, "The study found that if you have a fair (i.e. median) credit score, you may pay 36 percent more for home insurance than someone with excellent credit. That’s up from a 32 percent increase in 2015 and 29 percent in 2014."

So, not only are you paying more for home insurance if you have an average credit score, but exactly how much more is increasing over the years.

"What’s more, if you have poor rather than excellent credit, your premium more than doubles, increasing by an average of 114 percent (up from 100 percent in 2015 and 91 percent in 2014)," says the article.

What percentage more you will pay if you have less-than-stellar credit varies state-by-state, with some states weighing a credit-based insurance score more heavily than others. The article lists the states that place the most importance on credit score, and explains what goes into calculating your credit-based insurance score.

The article also discusses why insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores. In short, credit scores are predictive of loss behavior. Meaning people with lower scores tend to have more insurance losses.

Interestingly, there are three states, California, Maryland and Massachusetts, that ban the use of credit in setting home insurance prices.

The article discusses the arguments against using credit score in insurance. The top arguments against this practice: (1) it is unfair to consumers in lower socio-economic demographics, and (2) "there’s no uniformity or standardization to how this data is used" since different insurers weigh credit scores differently. Meaning some may consider them heavily, while others don't.

Since we are all consumers of insurance, in some way or another, I think it's a very worthwhile read to better understand what may impact your premium, and what is happening in the insurance industry at large.

Full link to HuffPost article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-poor-credit-can-triple-your-homeowners-insurance_us_590b4c30e4b046ea176ae88b

Erie Insurance Earns Top Ranking From J.D. Power

By: William Forbes

Erie Insurance recently received the highest ranking in Customer Satisfaction for their auto insurance purchase experience. As an agency that proudly represents Erie, we couldn't agree more with the ranking. Our clients tell us all the time how happy they are with Erie - the product, customer support, and claims management.

Check out Erie's press release below for more information on the ranking:

Erie Insurance Earns Top Ranking in J.D. Power Insurance
Shopping Study

(Erie, Pa.) May 3, 2017 – For the fifth year in a row, Erie Insurance received the highest ranking in Customer Satisfaction with the Auto Insurance Purchase Experience in the J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study. In 2017, Erie Insurance received a score of 879 out of 1,000.

“In this digital age, we strive to provide our agents with the right tools to reach customers in ways they prefer and expect, but still reflect our hallmark of service,” said Tim NeCastro, president and CEO of Erie Insurance. “A customer might start an insurance search online, but we believe it should end with a handshake.”

The Insurance Shopping Study provides a detailed look at the customer experience in shopping for a new auto insurance policy. It explores what prompts someone to shop for insurance and which factors contribute to the purchase decision. Three factors were measured to determine overall satisfaction. They are, in order of importance: price, distribution channel and policy offerings.

(Link to release on Erie's site: https://www.erieinsurance.com/news-room/press-releases/2017/jd-power-2017)

Erie Insurance Conducts a Poll on the Topic of Self-Driving Cars

By: William Forbes

Here at the Forbes Insurance blog, we've been paying attention to the trend of self-driving cars and the industry conversations happening around that topic.

Recently, Erie Insurance commissioned a national survey that asked nearly 3,000 licensed, U.S. drivers what they thought of self-driving cars and how their behavior behind the wheel might change if they owned one. In a blog post on Erie Sense (link here), the company reported on the results.

Not surprisingly, sleeping was a popular answer for what drivers would do with their downtime behind the wheel of a self-driving car. The blog says, "Roughly half of licensed drivers (51 percent) say one of the biggest advantages of self-driving cars would be the ability to go longer distances without worrying about being drowsy while driving."

The next most popular responses were texting, sending emails, and reading. These are also not too surprising. However, the survey did have some humorous responses; including a small percentage of drivers who would, reportedly, use the time for "romantic activities." The survey also asked respondents to come up with a new name for: self-driving car. Among the responses were: "Bad Science car" and "Take your chances car."

Back to more serious subject matter, Erie's blog highlighted an important point with regard to self-driving cars. The article discussed the fact that, at least in early models, self-driving cars still require a human operator to be alert and ready to take over control of the vehicle. Because of this, it will be very interesting to see how the insurance industry handles fault when it comes to accidents in autonomous vehicles.

The blog also touched on a scary topic: drinking and driving. Thirteen percent of respondents to Erie's survey said they believe "you wouldn’t get cited for DUI/DWI if you have a few drinks and then operate a self-driving car." Even though 13 percent may seem small, this stat is surprising and frightening.

For more survey results and information on the poll, check out Erie's full blog post: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/distracted-driving-survey.

Claims Increase the Cost of Insurance

By: William Forbes

In last week's blog, I shared a story from Crain's Chicago Business, which said State Farm has just reported its worst year ever in terms of claims reported and the amount of money it lost insuring cars. The article hit on a number of trends insurance agents are seeing across the industry - distracted driving is leading to increased claims, and the increased claims are driving the price of insurance up for all of us. Even those of us who do not report claims are feeling the effects, as insurers raise rates for everyone in an effort to maintain profitability.

And, now, on the heels of that article, NBC News 10 recently published findings from an annual study conducted by insuranceQuotes that indicates people pay more for insurance after reporting a single claim. The article says specifically, "drivers now pay an average of 44 percent more for car insurance after making a single claim of $2,000 or more." Reporting a second claim is even more costly.

I'm not writing about these articles to scare people away from reporting claims. There are times when insurance claims are necessary, and in those cases, that's why you pay for insurance. The point I would like to make, however, is that you should really have a detailed discussion with your agent before you report a claim. Having a conversation with your agent is an important part of managing your finances. The fact is, reporting claims will result in higher insurance premiums, and possible surcharges.

More broadly, the increase in claims across our state have caused insurance premiums to go up for everyone. Even if you don't report claims, your bill is being affected by these industry trends. That's why it's so important for us, as a community, to put an end to distracted, aggressive, and unsafe driving.

Check out the NBC article here: http://turnto10.com/i-team/consumer-advocate/study-looks-at-impact-of-claims-on-car-insurance-rates 

Crain's Reports State Farm Suffers Worst Car Insurance Losses Ever

By: William Forbes

Take a read of this recent article published by Crain's Chicago Business, titled, "State Farm suffers worst car insurance losses ever."

The article touches on a trend we are seeing across the insurance industry. Reported claims are on the rise, and this results in higher insurance rates for all of us. In addition, the article makes a good point that State Farm's losses are a clear sign of how distracted driving is impacting insurance companies.

Erie stands out as one of the few companies that's been able to keep its rates level over the years.

Full link to article: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170228/NEWS07/170229881/state-farm-suffers-worst-car-insurance-losses-ever 

Your Homeowners Insurance Can Protect You From Identity Theft

By: William Forbes

It's unfortunate that more and more of us either know someone who has been the target of identity theft, or have experienced it firsthand. It seems every time I watch the news there is another warning about a new scam to steal your personal information, gain access to your money, or even hijack your house using Internet-connected devices. It's become such a problem, that insurance companies are taking notice, and most have realized that insureds need protection.

Erie Insurance has an endorsement that can be added to a homeowners policy called Identity Recovery, which can help customers gain protection. Identity Recover works to restore your credit history, and provides up to $25,000 worth of coverage for both fraud and expense reimbursement.

This means fraudulent charges to credit cards or bank accounts; the cost to refile applications for loans or other credit instruments; certain legal fees; and even miscellaneous expenses associated with recovering your identity can be covered by this endorsement.

Additionally, through this endorsement, Erie has case management specialists that can assist you in restoring your identity by: contacting credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on the credit file; ordering copies of credit reports to review recent activity; and even closing suspect accounts that may have been tampered with or fraudulently opened.

Honestly, it's a really nice piece of coverage, and I feel it's worth your while to talk to your agent about it. Today, so many of our personal details, accounts, and devices can be accessed via the Internet. It's important to protect yourself from identity theft.

Your Driving Route Could Affect Your Insurance Price

By: William Forbes

USA Today recently posted an article about insurers using predictive technology to help personalize insurance rates. Specifically, the article focuses on insurers that are looking into weighing the risk involved with different travel routes and using that information to help determine an insured's rate. The goal of this rate method would be to customize insurance rates based on an individual's personal driving habits, but also to "promote and reward customers who mitigate risk," says the article.

We've seen rate and policy customization as a major trend in the industry recently.

Check out the full article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/11/14/route-risk-patent--car-insurance-rate-price/93287372/

Pennsylvania Passes Daniel's Law - Stricter Penalties for Texting and Driving

By: William Forbes

Daniel's Law is a very important step forward for our state. Texting and driving is too common and too dangerous. Working in this industry, I hear all too often the consequences of texting while behind the wheel. It's important that we continue to remind our friends and family not to participate in this dangerous activity. I think laws like this will help our community make better decisions and be safer drivers. 

To learn more about Daniel's Law, check out this article: http://www.pahomepage.com/news/new-pa-law-adds-jail-time-for-texting-and-driving-crashes

What to Know About Insurance Startups

By: William Forbes

In today’s consumer landscape, instant service, customization, and the ability to “do it yourself” are supported through web-based stores, communities, and applications. The insurance industry has taken notice. We are starting to see new and non-traditional insurance startups, which are hoping to address some of these customer demands through their unique web-based offerings. Recently, Forbes published an article (link here) on a company called Slice. Launched only in beta form for now, Slice is an on-demand insurance company that provides affordable policies for customers participating in home-sharing services, such as Airbnb.  

There was also recent coverage on CNBC (link here) of a peer-to-peer, online insurance company called Lemonade. In peer-to-peer insurance, members are grouped by specific factors (usually the type of policy they have), and claims are paid from the group’s pooled money. In the case of Lemonade, members are being grouped based on their philanthropic interests, with the added benefit of being able to donate unused premium to selected charities.

It’s great to see the insurance market expanding and evolving. But, my first concern is always for the individual consumer, my clients. So, for those of you thinking about trying out a new insurance company or application, I recommend considering a few things to protect you and your family (Click to Tweet!):

1. What do the company’s financials look like?

The financial health of an insurance company is a huge factor to consider, because it determines whether the company will be able to handle clients’ losses and pay out the appropriate amount for claims.

2. Does the company have reinsurance?

Reinsurance insures an insurance company from catastrophic losses such as tornadoes or hurricanes. This coverage protects the insurance company from significant claims or events that may make the company insolvent. Reinsurance ensures the customer will receive coverage for a loss, no matter the situation.

3. What is the company’s A.M. Best rating?

This rating measures the creditworthiness of an insurer, and is another indicator of the company’s financial health.

4. How long have they been in business?

Length of time in the marketplace is another sign of a company’s suitability. It’s great to be the first to try something, but, I wouldn’t advise my clients to roll the dice when it comes to insurance. You want to know you and your personal property are covered when you purchase a policy. 

Look up in the Sky! It's a Bird, it's a Plane, it's your Insurance Agent?

By: William Forbes

When I saw this article on drones in The Motley Fool, I have to admit I was pretty excited. It spoke to the business owner in me and the gadget-lover, who will always geek out over the latest technology. Additionally, it's not very often that insurance is "cool," perhaps the tide is turning!

The article proposes that the insurance industry could find significant savings by using remote-controlled drones. It suggests that drones could help with reducing fraud, evaluating risks, and collecting data to reduce losses. It's an interesting idea, particularly the bit about data collection. If insurers had better ways of predicting exposures and losses, they could better tailor rates to individuals. That means the potential for lower rates for consumers. You can't argue with that.

I'm sure the industry will have to address privacy and security in regard to drone use. There are plenty of people who would have concerns about drones collecting footage of their property at any time. But, another possible benefit, use of drones could potentially speed up the claims process for customers. Rather than waiting on an adjuster to drive out and survey the damage, agents could start collecting information on the claim immediately with a drone.

It'll be interesting to watch this industry trend develop.

Here is the full link to the article: http://www.fool.com/investing/2016/09/22/3-ways-drones-will-change-the-insurance-industry.aspx