|The nation's roadways see more than six million motor vehicle crashes annually, and the most recent information indicates there were more than 37,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2016.
Fortunately, car manufacturers continue to improve safety features to help lower these numbers. Drivers, too, can take steps to reduce their risk of accidents and increase highway safety. These efforts can also keep claims to a minimum and insurance costs low. Consider the following top safety measures to make your driving experience safer and more affordable:
Focus: Distracted driving, which includes operating a cell phone, eating, or talking while driving, accounted for 14% of all motor vehicle crashes in 2015. And a February 2018 AAA report found that drowsy drivers accounted for almost 10% of all crashes. Decrease your risk of an accident: leave texting, conversations, lunch, and naps outside the car.
Seatbelts: These lifesaving devices have become standard practice for many drivers and passengers, but not all. Take a moment to click it on. Seatbelts are worth wearing; they saved more than 14,500 lives in 2016.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC): This vehicle feature is designed to control engine power and brakes to prevent accidents and rollovers. ESC saved more than 7,000 lives between 2011 and 2015. All vehicles manufactured since 2012 are required to have ESC.
This feature and other innovations are making vehicles safer each year. If you're considering a vehicle purchase, don't overlook the safety features newer cars can provide. They can make your drive safer, and may even reduce your insurance premiums.
Individual Plans Can Offer Peace of Mind
|Are you at risk of a disability? According to disabilitystatistics.org, more than 10% of the U.S. population between the ages of 18 and 64 reported a disability in 2016.
Your current and future income may be your most valuable asset. Experts suggest that a 35-year-old earning $75,000 annually could have a lifetime income of up to $5 million. But disability can strike unexpectedly, either eliminating or significantly reducing your income.
Without an employer-sponsored long-term disability (LTD) plan, how can you protect yourself from a financial calamity?
An individual disability income policy can provide for your family with a higher protection level than that afforded by your group LTD plan. Your health insurance agent can help you determine the monthly amount of income you will need to replace your salary and cover your fixed expenses.
If you are a business owner, you may be particularly hard-hit; you may not be able to maintain your lifestyle and keep your business operating. Protecting its value could become a tremendous challenge. Without a disability plan in place, you must rely on business partners, credit sources, liquidating your personal savings, or selling your business.
An individual disability insurance plan can help you meet payroll and pay ongoing loans. For a fixed monthly premium, a stable source of income is available while you recover. And LTD premiums are tax-deductible as a business expense.
Need more information? Discuss LTD plans with your health insurance advisor, who knows your situation and can help you make an informed decision.
On the Road Again: The Return of the RV Lifestyle
North Americans are traveling the highways and byways again. And doing it in style. After the halcyon days of RVing in the 70s, the industry declined. The 2008 financial crisis practically destroyed it, but now vehicles ranging from small trailers to high-end products (like the $400,000 Winnebago camper "that looks like a fancy, spacious apartment," according to an NPR report) are once again "on the road."
As RV sales rep Renèe Hinson told NPR: "Having seen the business since the '70s forward, it's back to like the '70s. ... We've seen astounding growth." Why the popularity? Seems there's a new wave of RV fans: millennials.
Traditionally the largest group of RV enthusiasts has been retirees, staking out a place in the sun or just traveling the country. But according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, the average age of an RV owner is now under 50. And Hinson says she's selling campers to 30-year-olds "like never before."
As a CBS News report from last summer says: "Images of millennials on RV road trips and outdoor adventures have filled social media all summer long, and #Camping posts on Instagram are now over 14 million." As Allison Lago Leonard, general manager of the KOA campsite in Mystic, Connecticut, notes in the CBS article: "There's 75 million campers out there, and one third, 38%, of us are millennials. So, I mean, we're catching up and we're catching on."
Concludes CBS's report: "... you can live just about anywhere. And for the millennials now driving RV sales, that's the point."
Insurance-Speak: Industry Terms Explained Here
|Every industry has its own lingo. Are you familiar with the language of insurance? Consumers frequently encounter common insurance terms, but many are unsure how to define them.
Following are a few of the most common definitions. Becoming familiar with these will help you navigate insurance purchases, questions, and claims.
- Actual cash value: This form of insurance provides coverage equal to the value of your damaged property less the depreciation.
- Adjuster: This individual evaluates losses to help settle claims.
- Comprehensive coverage: This portion of your auto insurance covers any damage to your car that is not related to a vehicle collision, including damage from events such as fire, vandalism, and theft.
- Deductible: Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your policy kicks in to cover the rest of the claim. If you set a higher deductible, you can pay a lower premium.
- Depreciation: Over time, your property decreases in value due to wear and tear. This decrease in value is called depreciation.
- Exclusion: An exclusion highlights certain risks or specific types of damage or acts that won't be covered under your policy.
- Liability: Liability insurance protects you if you become legally responsible for personal injury or damage to another person's property.
- Premium: This is the price of your insurance policy. It is typically paid annually, semi-annually, or monthly.
- Replacement value: This coverage provides the amount you need to replace damaged property with a new item, regardless of the damaged item's depreciated value.
- Rider: Also referred to as an endorsement, this agreement expands or limits the benefits of a policy.
- Underwriting: This is the process by which an insurance company reviews a policy application and sets the appropriate premium for coverage.