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Daniel T. Murray Blog: car

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For most of us, the act of driving is part of our daily routine; it feels like second nature. But safe driving requires our focus and attention. Left-hand turns top the list of the most challenging and dangerous driving maneuvers. In 2013, 31% of Arbella Insurance Group’s severe accidents—claims totaling at least $100,000 in bodily injury and property damage—involved a left-turning vehicle.

As those with the largest set of crash data, the insurance industry has a responsibility to better educate consumers on the risks of left turns and other dangerous driving moves. Municipalities should also work to build and restructure roads and intersections to lessen the risk for drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that nationwide, 53.1% of crossing-path crashes involve left turns. Additionally, a study by New York City transportation planners found that left turns were three times as likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.

The reason left-hand turns are so dangerous is because the act itself disrupts the flow of traffic. Drivers must gauge the speed and distance of oncoming cars, cross the opposite lane, and watch for pedestrians or bicyclists—many of whom are becoming increasingly distracted themselves, largely due to cell phones. All driving, but particularly left turns, requires vigilance to other drivers’ movements in addition to just your own. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that close to half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related and the majority of those are the result of making a left turn.

So what can we in the insurance industry do to help mitigate the risks associated with left turns? We must communicate the risks involved with left-hand turns and encourage our insureds to make the maneuver as safe and risk-free as possible. This can be done by sharing safety information through social media targeted at customers and independent agents. Content for these communications can include recommendations for using intersections controlled by left-turn arrows, jug handles or rotaries; paying close attention to distracted pedestrians; staying alert when combating the sun or oncoming headlight glare; and paying close attention to other vehicles’ speed and actions, rather than anticipating what they will be. Also consider communicating the benefits of eliminating left turns from daily driving routines—the average commuter may be surprised to know that research shows consecutive right turns are faster and more fuel-efficient. This can be especially impactful to commercial customers who are better able to regulate the routes and movements of their drivers.

Could the future of driving be free of left turns? Perhaps, but it’s unlikely. Thankfully, vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology (V2V)—the dynamic wireless exchange of data between nearby cars—has reportedly advanced to such a degree that the NHTSA could start requiring it in all new vehicles as soon as 2020. Having this technology on the road could prevent as many as 592,000 left-turn and intersection crashes a year, saving 1,083 lives. But until these vehicles are the majority on the highway, left turns will continue to pose serious risks to drivers, and we need to continue to mitigate those risks through increased communication and improved engineering on all roads across the United States.

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Posted 11:12 AM  View Comments


I'll give you 2 hints: Lyft and Uber

Every year one story involving insurance seems to capture the public’s attention and this year that story was ridesharing.

The popularity of commercial ridesharing, which connects drivers and riders for a fare with the click of a button on a smartphone app, has skyrocketed across the country in recent years. However, transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft have not only “disrupted” the taxi’s traditional drive-for-hire business model, but have also presented challenges for policymakers and insurers who have a vested interest in protecting the public.

The story that emerged this year had its roots in regulations passed by the California Public Utility Commission in the fall of 2013 and really emerged into public view New Years’ Eve when a driver for Uber struck and killed a 6-year-old in San Francisco. Since then, as the transportation network companies expanded their operations across the country, controversy, cease-and-desist orders, fines for operating without a license, and legislative and regulatory battles have followed.

The narratives involved were quite simple: “upstart tech firms fight cumbersome regulations that stifle innovation and jobs,” “taxis seek level playing field regarding regulations,” “marketplace innovation is great, but the vehicles used in ridesharing services must be properly insured to protect the public.” The TNCs marshalled celebrity investors, a loyal customer base and everyday people who drive for the services to convince policymakers their operations were different from taxis. Meanwhile, the taxis relied on their army of drivers and experience navigating regulatory avenues to preserve their business model. Sometimes lost in the heat of battle over whether TNCs should be subject to the same regulations as taxis are important insurance implications that need to be addressed. However, the insurance industry diligently worked to keep consumer protection front and center.

Faced with the competing interests, city after city, state after state has struggled to find the best way to balance regulations and ensure adequate consumer protections. Because there is very little in statute dealing with TNCs, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and more than 20 state insurance departments and public service commissions have issued consumer alerts or advisories highlighting the potential insurance gaps in coverage for TNC activity and encouraging TNC drivers to talk with their insurers to understand their exposure.

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Posted 10:44 AM  View Comments


Big savings are not all they seem, at least when it comes to buying auto insurance.

The just-released J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study finds that poor service is a leading reason why customers shop for and switch to a new auto insurer, rather than price.

Declining satisfaction with new price is also the primary reason customers are less satisfied when they do switch insurer, according to the study findings.

J.D. Power notes that some 30 percent of auto customers shopped for a new insurance provider in 2013, of which 36 percent ultimately switched insurers.

Perhaps surprisingly, increases in premiums do not drive shopping as much as poor experience.

Customers who have a poor experience with their insurer shop at a rate of 28 percent – more than double the rate of shopping among those who experience a premium increase (13 percent).

Another key takeaway is that customers are tolerant of rate increases at a certain level. However, rate hikes of more than $200 can triple the rate of customers who switch insurers.

A press release quotes Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power:

Price, however, is still important in the selection process with eight in 10 customers selecting the lowest-price insurer.

Price is also an increasingly important driver of new-buyer purchase experience satisfaction once customers have selected a new insurer. Overall new buyer satisfaction with the auto insurance buying experience averages 821 (on a 1,000-point scale), down significantly from 828 in 2013.

J.D. Power notes that the decline in satisfaction is driven by a 17-point drop in the price factor, which has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.

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A report just released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts a $277 billion price tag on the economic costs of traffic crashes in the United States in 2010, a 20 percent increase over its 2000 data.

The economic costs are equivalent to approximately $897 for every person living in the U.S. and 1.9 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, the NHTSA says, and based on the 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles that took place in 2010.

Included in these economic costs are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage and workplace losses.

When you add in the $594 billion societal cost of crashes, such as harm from the loss of life and pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries, the total impact of crashes is $877 billion.

It’s interesting to note that the most significant components were property damage and lost market productivity. In dollar terms, property damage losses were responsible for $76.1 billion and lost productivity (both market and household) for $93.1 billion.

The NHTSA explains that for lost productivity, these high costs are a function of the level of disability that has been documented for crashes involving injury and death. For property damage, costs are mainly a function of the very high incidence of minor crashes in which injury does not occur or is negligible.

Another takeaway from the survey is the impact of congestion, which accounts for some $28 billion, or 10 percent of total economic costs. This includes travel delay, added fuel consumption, and pollution impacts caused by congestion at the crash site.

There’s a separate chapter of the NHTSA report devoted to congestion impacts that includes some fascinating data.

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Posted 11:05 AM  View Comments


If your husband or wife drives up with a brand new dent on the car, you might not get the truth about what happened.

Some 35% of spouses admitted to dinging the family car, then telling their loved one that someone else did it, according to a new survey by the insurance website insure.com.

Something similar occurs with traffic tickets. About a quarter of the roughly 1,000 married people surveyed said they'd gotten a traffic ticket and kept it secret from their spouse, the survey said.

Surprisingly, almost the same number kept mum about an actual car crash. These would, presumably, be relatively minor crashes, Insure.com editorial director Amy Danise said.

Husbands, meanwhile, tended to be overly suspicious of their wives when it comes to matters like this. While only 17% of wives said they'd covered up a car accident, 38% of husbands thought it possible their wives had done so, according to the survey. Similarly, only 16% of wives had kept a traffic ticket secret, but 32% of men thought their wives had.

Wives, on the other hand, trust their husband more than they should. While 31% of men said they had kept a car accident secret from their wives, only 23% of wives thought their men would ever do such a thing, the survey said. And while 34% of men kept traffic tickets secret from their wives, only 25% thought that was even possible.

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Posted 11:05 AM  View Comments


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Daniel T. Murray, Inc.
19150 Wolf Road  Mokena, IL  60448
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