Distracted driving has become an epidemic, taking more than 3,000 lives a year in the United States alone. And while your first instinct might be to think that you don’t drive distracted, not so fast. Because the truth is, most people don’t associate their distracted driving habits as “distracted driving.”
While driving, have you ever:
Adjusted your radio station or playlist?
Touched up your makeup?
Talked on your cell phone?
Had something to eat or drink?
Looked at your GPS or a map?
Focused so much on conversation with a passenger that you nearly missed a turn?
Distracted driving isn’t just talking or texting on your phone. Anything that takes the eyes or mind off the road and hands off the steering wheel is causing you to drive distracted. It’s important to note, though, that texting while driving is especially dangerous, because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. The facts are unsettling.
Anytime drivers look at their phones, they take their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds.
This also causes drivers to drift out of their lane about 10 percent of the time.
At least 28 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by texting and cell phone use alone—never mind other distractions.2
Tips to prevent distracted driving
The simple truth is that distracted driving is a dangerous safety risk. Help keep everyone on the roadways safe by following these simple tips.
Put it away. Your phone, that is. It’s the absolute best thing you can do while behind the wheel so that you can safely control your vehicle and respond to events on the road.
Use safe-driving apps: While apps are not generally safe while driving, apps like Textecution, tXtBlocker, DriveSafe.ly and DriveMode can prevent you from texting while driving and keep you safer on the road.
Think ahead. Take care of distractions before or after your trip so you can devote your full attention to driving.
Ask passengers for help. If another activity requires immediate action, enlist the help of your passengers or safely pull off the road and stop your vehicle before handling the situation.
Use hands-free for emergencies. If you need to be accessible at all times, invest in a hands-free device. However, please note that hands-free does not mean risk-free, so only use it in absolute emergencies.
Speak up. Be a good passenger by reminding friends and other drivers to follow these rules. Parents especially should talk with their young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. Make a family pledge where everyone commits to safe driving.
No one expects to get into a car accident. Although you can work to prevent and prepare for one, the sudden jolt may leave you shocked and stressed and unsure of what to do next. While you try to wrap your head around what just happened, it’s easy to forget vital actions that can aid your physical and financial recovery.
Just remember to be SAFE—both literally and by following our acronym:
S – Safety first A – Alert authorities F – Fact collection E – Exchange information
Safety first The No. 1 priority after a car accident is the safety of yourself and others. Immediately after the accident, be sure you:
Turn on your hazard lights.
If possible, pull your car over to a safe place. If not, stay inside with your seatbelt on.
Check the safety of others and provide assistance to anyone with an injury.
Don’t move an injured person. This can cause additional damage and should be avoided unless the person’s safety is at risk.
Alert authorities Even if it’s a minor fender bender that you think you can settle among yourselves, it’s still important (and in some states, the law) to call the authorities no matter how small the accident is.
Call 911 or the local police station.
Avoid saying “I’m sorry.” Even if you feel guilty, don’t admit fault—especially when talking to the police. You may find out later that the other driver was actually to blame or that you share the blame.
Even if you don’t show visible injuries, it’s recommended to call for medical help or at least visit the emergency room or your doctor after you leave the area.
Be sure to file an accident report, even if police don’t come to the crash site. Depending on the state’s laws and the severity of the accident, police may not be dispatched. Filing a report puts the accident on the books and can help speed up the claim process.
Fact collection After an accident, you may feel a whirlwind of emotions. Stay calm, and immediately document the accident as you experienced it.
Take pictures of your car, any other cars involved and the surrounding area.
Take notes on what happened before, during and after the accident. Include details about the location, weather, road conditions and traffic control.
Write down the names of any law enforcement officials or witnesses who are at the scene.
Exchange information Swapping information is essential to work through any sort of claim or legal process that could result from a car accident. Be sure to exchange:
License plate numbers
Driver’s license numbers
What to do once you arrive home Unfortunately, even after you have SAFE-ly left the accident, there are still a few matters to take care of, such as filing a claim. You’ll want to report your claim ASAP. The sooner you file a claim, the sooner your insurance provider can start working on it—and the sooner you can get your life back together.
Note: This article contains helpful tips for any driver involved in an auto accident. Policyholders may choose to follow this advice or not without it affecting their auto coverage.
Distracted driving is a bad habit, and one worth breaking.
It’s dangerous — not only for drivers and their passengers, but also for pedestrians and bicyclists. It can also be deadly. In 2016, 9% of fatal crashes in the U.S. were reported as distracted driving crashes and about 14% involved a cell phone. Additionally, drivers age 15 to 19 years old made up the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of a fatal crash.
It all comes down to this: if we can break our distracted driving habits, we can help save lives. And that’s worth doing!
Safe driving requires visual, manual and cognitive attention to work together. Taking your attention away from even one of these areas means you’re driving distracted.
Visual distracted driving means taking your eyes off the road. To properly see, anticipate and react to obstacles while driving, you must watch the road.
Examples of visual distractions:
Taking your eyes off the road to adjust your radio, climate controls or navigation system
Reading something on your cell phone, a book or a computer
Looking in your rearview mirror to talk to a passenger
Watching an accident scene as you drive by (i.e. “rubbernecking”)
Reduce visual distractions by:
Asking a front seat passenger to adjust your radio or climate controls.
Setting the location in your navigation system prior to driving. If you need to adjust it mid-drive, safely pull off the road or park to update the system from your stationary vehicle.
Placing devices outside of your reach while driving so you can’t pick them up.
Focusing your eyes on the road instead of passengers inside your vehicle.
Practicing extra caution while driving by an accident scene and watching for people, cars and road debris in the path ahead of you.
Manual distracted driving means taking your hands off the steering wheel. Keeping two hands on the steering wheel is the best way to stay on the road and avoid accidents. One hand, two knees or anything else you might use to steer your vehicle isn’t going to give you the control or turning radius to stay safe.
Examples of manual distractions:
Taking a hand off the steering wheel to adjust your radio, climate controls or navigation system
Texting or talking on a cell phone or operating a device while driving
Eating, drinking, smoking or putting on makeup
Searching for an item in your purse or fast food bag
Reduce manual distractions by:
Asking a passenger to adjust your radio, climate controls or help you navigate.
Making hands-free phone calls and committing to never text while driving.
Putting devices outside of your reach or turning them off.
Applying makeup, eating or smoking only in a parked and stationary vehicle.
Keeping both hands on the steering wheel when the car is in motion.
Cognitive distracted driving means not focusing on driving. Stress is no stranger to most drivers. But when thoughts, feelings or tiredness get in the way of paying attention to what’s happening on the roadway, it’s time to pull over and take a break. Then you can come back onto the road ready to focus and drive safely.
Examples of cognitive distractions:
Crying or emotional distress
Listening and singing with the radio or other music
Reduce cognitive distractions by:
Pulling over to rest if you become tired while driving.
Actively thinking about driving.
Pulling off to a safe location until you’re ready to drive again.
Driving alone without passengers or asking them to quietly occupy themselves.
Turning off the radio or music and enjoying the sounds of the world around you.
Your family has packed its bags, your gear is in the trunk and you’ve filled a cooler will all the best snacks. But being prepared for a family road trip is more than just what you bring with you – keep these five family road trip safety tips in mind the next time you’re planning a family trip:
1. Schedule a tune up.
Before you hit the road, perform a basic safety check by checking your vehicle’s tire pressure, wiper blades, fluid levels, lights and air conditioning. Scheduling regular maintenance for your vehicle is also important – not only will it help prevent breakdowns, but it can offer peace of mind the next time your family is ready for a road trip adventure.
2. Prepare for a roadside emergency.
A long stretch of highway can lead to the unexpected. If you experience a breakdown during your family trip, make sure you’re prepared to handle a roadside emergency. Have an emergency kit in your vehicle, as well as important phone numbers saved in your contact list. Include your insurance company in case you need to make a claim and check with your auto insurance carrier or car manufacturer to see if they offer on-demand roadside assistance.
3. Buckle up for the road trip!
Safety first – always make sure you and your passengers are buckled up properly, including using child safety seats and booster seats when needed, and that they remain buckled in whenever the vehicle is moving. Children under 13 should always ride in the back seat of a vehicle. Never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle, and remember that if the weather is warm, a car can heat up quickly putting your child or pet in grave danger.
4. Share the road.
Warm weather also means different types of vehicles are out on the roads. Remember when you’re driving to watch out for motorcycles and bicycles, too. While they have the same rights to the road as you do, their smaller size makes them much more vulnerable. Remember to allow extra following distance and check your surroundings carefully before turning.
5. Don’t drive distracted.
Lead by example for your family – never drive distracted. In 2017 alone, 3,166 lost their lives to accidents related to distracted driving .
Unfortunately, a family road trip can increase the chances for distraction, so it’s extra important to take precautions and keep your eyes on the road. If you need to check your phone for any reason, pull over to a safe shoulder. Remind passengers of the importance of not distracting the driver while the driver is operating the vehicle. Take time to learn how to break common distracted driving habits.
This also goes for driving drowsy, which can be dangerous. Get a good night’s sleep before a road trip, and make sure to switch driving responsibilities with another driver, if possible, or to stop and rest every few hours.
Road trips are a wonderful way to spend time with family, explore the world and experience new things with those you love. Keep these safety tips in mind the next time you plan a family trip to help your travels run safely and smoothly.
Plan a safe driving route with these few things in mind
Whether you’re driving to your vacation destination or planning your route to work, there are tips and tools you can leverage to plan your safest driving route and give you additional peace of mind behind the wheel.
After all — long or short — you want your journey to be a safe one. By planning ahead and using technology, you’ll reduce your driving risks while saving yourself and your passengers time and stress.
Consider these three things when planning your safest driving route:
Implement a safe driving app (or two).
Before you head out the door, consider downloading a safe driving app or route planning app. Many apps can help drivers find peace of mind for themselves or their loved ones while on the road. For example, if you get distracted often by incoming calls or texts while driving, consider an app that will put your phone on “do not disturb mode” the second you start moving. There are also apps that can help you control your driving speed or help parents support safe driving habits for young drivers
For example, the route navigation app Routewise by TNEDICCA helps drivers understand accident frequency along a certain route and provides trip feedback as well as recommendations on safer route alternatives. According to TNEDICCA, 10% of crash locations account for more than 66% of all crashes. Knowing exactly what areas to avoid on your trip could potentially make a big impact on the overall safety of your journey.
Be mindful of rush hours and popular travel times.
When planning your travel route, keep in mind the time of day and the time of year you’re traveling. By planning your trip times to avoid city rush hours, you’ll drive safer with fewer drivers on the road and have the additional bonus of minimizing potential delays to your trip
Route planning apps can help you set your departure time by showing how long it’ll take to reach your destination depending on the time you leave. These apps can also alert you to potential hazards ahead so you’re aware of potential road delays or slowdowns.
Travel during the holidays can also increase traffic and the chance of accidents. According to the NHTSA, there are generally more crash fatalities during holiday periods than non-holiday periods due to increased travel time, more alcohol use and excessive driving speed. Give yourself extra travel time so you’re not rushed. And, since holiday travel can sometimes occur during inclement weather, check the weather along your route ahead of time and be on the lookout for alerts to road conditions. It’s a good idea to be prepared for a roadside emergency just in case.
Use your GPS (safely).
While GPS has been a tried and true driving partner for many years, there are a few ways you can use your GPS to create safer driving habits. For example, consider plugging in your destination before you start moving. You’ll be ready to go the moment you start driving and have one less distraction to take your eyes off the road.
Many drivers can point to a time on a long drive when they became stuck in traffic or made a wrong turn. GPS offers a hands-free way to automatically create an alternative route — however, don’t drive distracted. Remember to pull over if you need to use your phone or make changes to your travel plan. Just sending or reading a text for five seconds can take your eyes off the road for the length of a football field, leaving you exposed to many potential hazards and increasing your chance of getting in an accident. Learn other ways to combat distracted driving here.
Your travel itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a safe driving route to help you reach your destination. The next time you plan a getaway or a long drive, consider implementing these tips and tools to help you find the safest travel route.
This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. If the policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. Talk to your local Shield agent to learn more about auto coverage and safe driving tools.
Governor, Department of Insurance mandate Auto Insurance Rebates
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) have ordered all auto insurers operating in the state to either issue Auto Insurance Rebates or premium waivers to consumers.
The premium relief measures are being mandated to account for the reduction in driving activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Michiganders have been staying safe and staying home and they should see the benefit in reduced auto insurance rates during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Every family is feeling added financial pressure due to this virus, and this order will provide some much-needed relief to drivers.”
According to the DIFS Order No. 2020-10-M, insurers have until June 10, 2020 to submit filings that detail the refund or premium waiver amount, information on how that amount was determined, and how consumers will receive the premium relief measures.
The order also requires insurers to properly communicate to customers about the refund, as well as additional options for those with long-term changes in their driving habits.
WWJ 950 reported that the order does not stipulate a minimum amount that insurers are required to refund their customers.
“This order will ensure all insurers are issuing appropriate refunds or premium waivers to their customers,” commented DIFS director Anita Fox. “Consumers may realize additional savings by modifying their policies to reflect their current driving habits. Drivers should contact their agent to discuss garaging a car or making other changes to save on their premiums.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted what we consider to be normal life in many ways, it has not left the health care system untouched. People are not receiving medical, dental and vision care at the same pace that they usually do, as non-emergency services have been slowed – and in some cases, halted. As a result, Blue Cross isn’t paying out as many claims and has resources available to help business customers and individuals in numerous ways as they move through the pandemic crisis.
This week, Blue Cross announced a number of premium refunds along with rate stability measures for fully insured customers. This response joins other efforts we’ve made to help customers, including: $37 million back to small group customers for medical plans, $10.5 million shared refund to Blue Dental and Blue Vision employer group customers, $45 million paid directly to individual health plan members from 2019 through rebates and more.
The refunds are in addition to $494 million that BCBSM has invested in expanding the availability of no-cost benefits for members and to support health providers in response to COVID-19 – bringing the BCBSM enterprise’s commitment in response to the crisis to nearly $600 million.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Cross has been working to provide customers with information and solutions to help navigate the health care system during an unprecedented time, taking many steps to remove barriers to healthcare for members and to keep care affordable.
Improving Access to Care
For Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members, Covid-19 diagnostic testing and treatment is free through June 30.
And we realize that during the pandemic people are seeing their doctors in different ways, so Blue Cross and Blue Care Network are providing free access to telehealth services for medical and behavioral health through June 30. Most Medicare Advantage members also receive these same benefits through Dec. 31. Additionally, Medicare Advantage members will receive free access to all the services provided in their primary care physicians office.
To help members safely social distance and protect their health, Blue Cross is also allowing members to receive more of their prescription medications at once to limit trips to the pharmacy.
Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus and may be socially isolated from friends and family as a result. Blue Cross has taken extra steps to help senior members through the pandemic by initiating contact to connect them with resources and community services and targeting high-risk seniors with extra help.
Prioritizing Behavioral Health
By working with behavioral health care providers to bring their services into a telehealth platform, Blue Cross doctors are leading a new era in behavioral health treatment. Many low-risk substance use disorder patients can be treated from the safety of their homes. This even includes group therapy situations. These telehealth efforts have helped improve access to mental health and substance use disorder care for members in rural Michigan.
Reaching Out to Communities
Blue Cross has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to helping communities through the pandemic.
For small business owners, there’s a new special support program. For displaced workers, there are new transition services in place.
The pandemic has also placed a glaring spotlight on the racial disparities and inequities in health care. Blue Cross is taking steps to act now and, in the future, to address health disparities and to work with government officials.
That includes contributing funding to a mobile testing unit to bring COVID-19 testing directly to people where they are through a partnership with Wayne State University.
Empowering Health Care Workers
Blue Cross is supporting health care workers as they tackle COVID-19.
More than 30 of Blue Cross’ employees with medical backgrounds volunteered to help on the front lines. Blue Cross has also accelerated payments to providers to help them better respond to their patients’ needs.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to continuing to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 across the entirety of the business and will keep customers informed as more information becomes available. Stay up to date with the latest news and information at bcbsm.com/coronavirus or mibluesperspectives.com.
Sailing the high seas is exciting, but it can be tricky business. That’s why boat insurance is a valuable consideration, to help protect against any possible perils your vessel might face. Your boat insurance gives you peace of mind so you can fully enjoy your time out on the water. But boat insurance doesn’t cover anything and everything. Being aware of your boat insurance policy exclusions can help ensure that you operate and maintain your boat appropriately, as well as choose the right insurance coverage for your needs, so you don’t get stuck with a damaged boat and astronomical expenses.
In fact, most basic boat policies have exclusions. This means there are certain scenarios that are “excluded” and your boat insurance will not step in to provide coverage in those instances.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON BOAT INSURANCE EXCLUSIONS TO BE AWARE OF?
1. Wear and tear
Your boat will start to gradually deteriorate over time. We like to say, the more your boat is worn and weathered, the more loved it is! But despite this loving, your boat insurance typically won’t cover any repairs or replacements that’s a result of natural wear and tear. You are responsible for regularly maintaining and servicing your vessel to prevent loss.
Note that saltwater corrosion is a common boat deterioration that’s almost never covered by boat insurance. Protect your boat from corrosion and rust by frequently giving your boat a freshwater bath to remove the salt and other minerals that can damage your vessel.
Most boat insurance policies exclude insects, animals, and mold. This means you won’t be covered if your boat is damaged by a raccoon sneaking on and ransacking the place or if termites, zebra mussels, or barnacles eat away at your boat. Mold loves warm, wet places, too, so it’s not uncommon for boats to get a mold infestation.
You want to take effective steps to protect against any and all infestations on your boat. This means you want to clean, drain, and dry all of your boat equipment after use. Getting rid of excess water and moisture helps deter marine infestations and mold. You’ll also want to clean up spills and messes to dissuade animals and insects from making their home on your boat.
Infestations can quickly do damage if not properly managed… and you’ll end up footing the bill. Talk to someone about the highest risks of marine infestation in your area and how you can take measures to defend against these.
3. Marine life
Most boat insurance doesn’t cover damage from marine life including sharks, octopi, whales, and other creatures. If you tend to sail in waters with a lot of unruly creatures, you may want to discuss a supplemental policy with your insurance agency.
It’s also important to note that mermaids and other mythical creatures are not covered under your boat insurance. (Tip: If you see a mythical creature, grab your camera, snap a few shots, and then sail away as fast as you can since it’s not covered.)
4. Faulty machinery
Basic boat insurance policies don’t cover any machinery or parts that need repair or replacement due to deterioration, lack of maintenance, improper use, or mechanical and production defects. However, that means your insurance would likely still cover machinery if it is damaged by a covered peril, like a collision or storm.
Even if the faulty machinery isn’t covered, your boat insurance may cover other damages that the machinery causes. For example, your water pump gets clogged up because you haven’t cleaned it. The water pump bursts and causes flood damage to your boat. Boat insurance may not pay for a replacement water pump, but it may help partially cover the damage that the water pump caused to the rest of the boat. This is dependent on your insurer and how they handle different claims.
Most boat insurance won’t include additional accessories and equipment unless specifically stated in the policy. For example, it won’t cover life jackets, navigation gear, GPS systems, anchors, or boat modifications. We recommend purchasing supplemental boat equipment coverage and personal effects coverage to protect all the “extras” on your boat.
5. Improper storage and transportation
Your boat insurance can be year-round, and most basic boat insurance policies will protect against fire, vandalism, theft, and winter storms in the off-season. This protects your boat from serious financial strain in the case of an incident—which can occur more often than you might think.
However, your insurance company won’t cover your boat if it’s incorrectly stored and transported in the off-season. For example, if you don’t properly tie down your boat while driving it from the lake to the storage center and the boat falls off, your insurance company won’t cover it.
Essentially, most insurance policies cover your boat on-land—but only if you take appropriate measures and precautions to keep it safe.
6. Unnamed operators
Like auto insurance, your boat insurance covers certain named drivers on your policy. Anyone who isn’t a named boat operator on your insurance isn’t covered. If your boat gets into an accident while someone else is driving, your insurance likely won’t cover any of the damage. So don’t lend your boat out to friends for a joy ride unless you’ll be the one driving.
7. Navigation limits
Most boat policies will cover you for a specific geographic region. If you sail out of your navigation limits or into off-limits waters, your boat insurance “turns off.” Make sure you know your sea navigation area to understand where your boat is and isn’t covered on the water.
Most boat coverage won’t include special events, like boating races with high speeds. If you’ll be using your boat for a competition, you may want to talk to your insurance agent about supplemental insurance, especially additional liability insurance in case of a collision during the race.
GET BOAT INSURANCE
Is your boat fully insured for this summer season?
It’s important to know your boat insurance policy in detail, since inclusions and exclusions vary from company to company. Not sure what your policy looks like? Looking to get better coverage at the best possible price? Get a quote from Shield Insurance Agency to make sure your boat insurance fits your needs.
Wondering what your boat insurance policy includes and excludes? Call or text our Shield Insurance Agency office today at 616. 896.4600 and an insurance advisor can review your policy and offer expert advice.
Toy insurance coverage can represent two different categories. One is your valuable and luxury collections. The other is your recreational toys like ATVs, motorcycles, RVs, boats, etc. These are all fairly expensive and require toy insurance to protect them.
What Does It Cover?
For your precious collections, comprehensive toy insurance coverage includes burglary, fire, flood, loss, natural disasters, theft and other causes of loss.
For your recreational toys, coverage includes liability (including bodily injury liability and property damage liability), collision, comprehensive (damages/losses that aren’t due to collisions such as fire, vandalism and theft) and underinsured/uninsured (especially during hit-and-runs).
Why Do You Need Toy Insurance?
Accidents do happen and when they do, this insurance may help pay the cost of damage to the vehicles involved and any medical bills. It will also gives you peace of mind in knowing these valuable types of assets are protected in the event of an accident. Based on what you have and what value your toys are, you should buy applicable insurance coverage.
If you have questions on your insurance requirements, please give us a call or text our Hudsonville, MI home office at 616-896-4600. Or send us an email at Info@ShieldAgency.com friendly agents will be happy to assist you.
Is a home appliance covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy
We often overlook our home appliances until there’s an issue — the refrigerator quits, a tree crashes into our A/C unit or an oven is damaged beyond repair in a kitchen fire.
But maybe it’s time we start to take notice. After all, home appliances are some of the hardest working members of our homes, and the cost to replace a home appliance can be significant. An A/C unit, for example, can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 to replace.
Before an issue arises, take the time to speak with one of our insurance agents and find out when your home appliances are covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy. Prepare now so you can more quickly replace your home appliance when you need it most.
When are home appliances covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy?
When it applies to your policy.
All of the home appliances that help keep your home running are typically covered by a standard homeowners’ insurance policy when a peril covered by that policy is the culprit. So, if your oven is destroyed during a kitchen fire or if someone steals your toaster oven during a burglary, those losses would be covered by home insurance.
Appliances that are installed at your home, like your HVAC system, are also typically covered by a standard homeowners’ insurance policy.
Not covered when the issue is caused by age or normal wear and tear.
Similar to other types of insurance coverage, a home appliance would not be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy if the issue is caused by age or normal wear and tear. Also remember that if you’re renting your home, your landlord is typically responsible for maintaining or replacing any home appliances that came with the property.
If you’re unsure if your home appliance would be covered by your home insurance policy, call or text our office at 616-896-4600 and one of our agents will help you review your home insurance policy and answer any questions you have.