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Click It or Ticket, on a Roadway Near You

May 27th, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

If you’ve noticed law enforcement out in droves recently on your local highways and byways, beware—if you’re not buckled up, they’re looking for you! driver-buckled-up

In an effort to increase seat belt use and save lives, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood began this year’s ”Click It or Ticket” campaign, set to run from May 24 through June 6, 2010.

As it does each year, the program is targeting drivers who risk their own lives and the lives of passengers by not taking the time to buckle up.

The mobilization is expected to involve more than 10,000 police agencies, according to a recent press release by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Why involve this level of manpower?

“Regular seat belt use is the single best way to protect yourself and your family in motor vehicle crashes,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing. But the cost for not wearing one certainly will.” 

Indeed, seat belts save more than 13,000 lives each year, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And if it has its way, one of those lives may eventually be yours or that of a loved one.

Do the right thing and buckle up your children, yourself and anyone else riding in your car every time you hit the road. Driving unsecured just isn’t worth a life.

Additional Resources:

The Top 5 Things You Should Know about Buckling up

The Pregnant Woman’s Guide to Buckling up

Occupant Protection Facts

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Your Roof Could be Your Home’s Best Friend

May 21st, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

hurricane-comingAs weather forecasters predict a worse-than-average hurricane season this year for the Atlantic basin, those of you who live along the coast are probably wondering what you can do to protect your home from the destructive gale-force winds and rain that accompany these storms.

According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety, a new, well-installed roof could be one of the best forms of protection available for your home and everything in it, come hurricane season.

“But why would I want to install a brand new roof just before a hurricane hits?” you may say.

If you have an older roof, it may be missing shingles—or be made of inferior, older  materials that don’t keep water out. It may also have lost some of its sealing and waterproofing ability, which degrades over time.

Additionally, if your roof is layered more than 2 deep, water may be able to seep in between the shingles and down into your home.

Besides replacing your roof, the IBHS also recommends these tips for increasing your home’s survivability and decreasing the chance of water damage in a hurricane:

  • Protect all exterior wall openings (windows and doors)
  • Secure all loose roof shingles
  • Seal all openings, cracks and holes
  • Strengthen soffits (the material covering the underside of your roof overhang)
  • Limit potential flying debris

During a hurricane isn’t the time to find out that your roof can’t sustain such severe weather. So before a storm threatens, consider replacing an old, worn roof, and make sure you’ve taken steps to give your home as firm and solid a foundation as possible.

It’ll help keep you and your family safe and secure, your homeowners insurance affordable and your possessions intact.

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Texas Taking Steps to Keep Kids Safe

May 14th, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

texasstateflagxsmallBeginning June 1, Texas parents with children younger than the age of 8 better make sure their children are buckled into the appropriate child safety seat when riding in the car.

 Otherwise, they could end up paying a hefty fine—up to $250 a pop, according to ClaimsJournal.com.

 Though this new law, designed to protect children who can’t protect themselves, went into effect last September, police have since offered mostly verbal or written warnings to parents who didn’t buckle their children in the right seats or allowed them to roam while the car was moving.

Next month, that will change.

Anyone younger than age 8 or less than 4 feet, 9 inches should be buckled up correctly in the appropriate car seat according to age, height and weight. (If you’re not sure what type of safety seat your child needs or how to install it, check out our article on the subject here.)

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children aged 2 and up. And, as we’ve discussed on this blog previously, your children are your most precious cargo. So make sure and keep them safe in the car by buckling them up. Your children are your responsibility, and they rely on you to keep them safe.

Kudos to the great state of Texas for enforcing child car seat safety!

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Teen Drivers Pose Added Risk at Night

May 10th, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

driver_textingIf you have a teen driver on your auto insurance policy who’s still living at home, you might want to limit his or her access to the family car after dark.

According to a study released late last week by the Texas Transportation Institute, nighttime driving is becoming more and more hazardous for young people—and the most likely culprits are their cell phones.

Between 1999 and 2008, the number of fatal crashes that occurred dropped nearly 11 percent, including those that occurred after dark. In contrast, the proportion of fatal crashes at night involving teens between the ages of 16 and 19 increased 10 percent during that same time—a full 20 percent difference.

So what’s causing these nighttime problems with teenage drivers?

There are actually several factors at play here, say experts. The first, of course is inexperience. New drivers tend to make poor driving decisions most other drivers don’t because the risk involved isn’t readily apparent to them.

In other words, they haven’t been driving long enough to recognize what’s wise and what isn’t.

We’ve all seen kids hop behind the wheel of a car with their friends, peel out of parking lots, swerve in and out of traffic, and nearly run over everyone in their path. That type of behavior is doubly risky at night, when roads aren’t well lit, people are tired and responses are slower. 

But distraction is a teen’s biggest enemy while driving; and with the risk of having an accident already higher at night, cell phones can become a deadly weapon in the hands of a teenager.

Most teens think they’re invincible, and using their cell phones to call and text their friends is an intrinsic part of their lives. They think they can easily multitask while driving when, in reality, doing so puts their lives and the lives of others at risk.

According to the report, 34 percent of teens say they text and 52 percent say they talk on the phone while driving. Add darkness to the mix, and you’ve got an accident waiting to happen!

If you have a young driver at home, please consider having a heart-to-heart chat with him or her about the dangers of using cell phones while driving, especially at night, and limit access to the family vehicle during that time.

You might not be the most popular parent on the block; but you’ll increase your child’s chances of living into adulthood—and protect yourself and other drivers in the process.

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Need a job? Consider selling insurance!

May 4th, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

man_with_arms_behind_headIf you’re one of the thousands of people hit hard by job loss the past two years, you’d probably do most anything to regain your career and income.

But regardless what you used to do for a living, it may be time to branch out and learn something new.

Which brings me to what could be a very important question:  Have you considered working in the insurance industry?

According to a new survey cited online at Insurance Networking News, the insurance job market is slowly beginning to bounce back. Whereas the national unemployment average in most industries is now 9.7 percent, the rate in the insurance segment lingers at 7.7 percent—a full two percentage points lower than the national average.

If you think you might be interested in selling property and casualty insurance, your chances are especially promising, shows the 2010 Employment Outlook Survey. Jobs with multiple openings appear to include P&C sales, claims, underwriting, call center and IT.

The bottom line? 74 percent of our nation’s insurers are hiring! So if you ever had an inkling that working in insurance might be for you, it appears now is the time to find out, as nine companies indicate they plan to hire at least 2,000 new employees and 21 companies predict bringing aboard more than 500 people this year.

Curious what it takes to become an insurance agent? To find out how to get licensed and work the job successfully, check out our article How to Become an Insurance Agent. Then give it serious consideration. You might just have a new, profitable career on your hands.

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