Tag Archives: Cell phone

Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

Disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes can strike with little or no warning. To ensure that you and your family are prepared, there’s no time like the present to create emergency kits: one to use if you need to evacuate your home and one if you get trapped in your home for several days. Get the entire family involved in creating these emergency kits so that your kids understand the importance of being prepared.

Evacuation Kits

To help you evacuate quickly, keep the following items in an emergency backpack so you can grab it and go:

  • A gallon of water per family member and nonperishable foods
  • Can opener, plastic cups and eating utensils
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Change of clothing for each family member
  • Contact information for your family and a relative or friend out of state
  • First aid kit
  • Personal identification cards for each family member
  • Personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer
  • Medications that are needed regularly

Homebound Kits

Just as important as an evacuation kit, homebound kits are filled with important items necessary when you cannot leave your home for several days due to a crisis. Place the following items in an area of your home to be ready for an emergency:

  • Three gallons of water per family member
  • Canned food for at least three days
  • Pet foods and supplies for three days
  • Toilet paper
  • Extra personal hygiene items
  • Unscented bleach
  • Blankets
  • Books, games and other forms of entertainment
  • Paper and pencils
  • Battery-operated radio and television
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
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Top 10 Mistakes Teen Drivers Make

Cars.com, in conjunction with DriversEd.com, America’s leading drivers education resource and solution, have identified the 10 most common mistakes teen drivers make. “There are a number of factors that lead to an increase in accidents for teen drivers, including inexperience, dealing with emergency situations, distracted driving and the inclination to show off for friends,” said DriversEd.com founder Gary Tsifrin. “By recognizing these common mistakes, we hope that teenagers will be able to avoid the risks associated with being a teenager behind the wheel.”

The most common mistakes are:

  • Being distracted behind the wheel
    Cell phones, CDs, food and even text messages can pose serious distractions to drivers. In some cases, drivers will even text message their backseat passengers. Distracted driving contributes to 80 percent of collisions.
  • Taking too many risks
    Actions like ignoring traffic signals or school zone signs and changing lanes without checking blind spots are all considered “risky behavior.” The difference between risky behavior and distracted driving is that risky behavior is deliberate, while distracted driving is often the result of ignorance.
  • Speeding
    Most drivers occasionally speed, but teens do so because they don’t have a good sense of how a car’s speed can affect their response time. On average, teens drive faster than all other drivers as a whole. They will exceed speeds on residential roads that they interpret as empty because they haven’t had any close calls there. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that speeding factored into roughly one-third of all fatal crashes in 2005 when teenagers were behind the wheel – some 50 percent more than it did in fatal crashes for 20- to 49-year-olds.
  • Overcrowding the car
    Teens frequently overcrowd their cars, cramming five or six into a cabin meant to seat four or five. Worse yet, the extra passengers often result in teens driving more aggressively. The distractions of carrying too many passengers can have serious consequences as well.
  • Driving under the influence
    When teens drink and drive, they’re even less likely to practice safe habits like seat belt usage: Of the 15- to 20-year-olds killed after drinking and driving in 2003, 74 percent were unrestrained, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Because teenagers are too young to drink legally, they’re also less likely to call their parents to come get them when they shouldn’t drive.
  • Following too closely
    Maintaining a proper following distance is a critical step in preventing accidents. At 60 mph, a typical car needs between 120 and 140 feet to reach a full stop. Most SUVs require an extra 5 to 10 feet on top of that. Consider that 60 mph translates to 88 feet per second and it’s easy to see why maintaining a proper following distance is a critical step in preventing accidents.
  • Driving unbuckled
    A 2003 survey by NHTSA reported that 79 percent of drivers ages 16 to 24 said they wore their seat belts regularly, while 84 percent of the overall population did so. Approximately 21 percent of young drivers do not wear their seat belts regularly. Many young drivers have a sense of invincibility that also factors into teen speeding. Fortunately, many cars today have seat belt reminders that flash warning lights or chime until belts are secured. Call them annoying, but they help keep occupants buckled.
  • Not being able to handle emergencies
    Knowing how to avoid an accident comes with driving experience. Young drivers can only learn so much in the classroom, which leaves learning maneuvers like straightening out a skid or how to apply the brakes correctly to real-world experience. Speeding and distracted driving only make things worse, as they compound the lack of experience by putting drivers at higher risk of encountering an emergency situation in the first place.
  • Driving drowsy
    Drowsy driving affects an unlikely group: the so-called “good kids.” That means straight-A students or those with a full plate of extracurricular activities. Overachievers have a lot of pressure. If they’re playing varsity sports and are also preparing for an AP English exam, and if they’ve been going since 7 a.m. and now it’s midnight and they have to get home, they don’t think, “I’m too tired to drive.”
  • Choosing the wrong car and not maintaining it
    Too often, a combination of tight budgets and high style leads teens to pass up important safety features for larger engines and flashy accessories. A teen or novice driver will opt for a cool-looking sports car rather than a car that’s really a safer choice. Then, if they sink all their money into it, they might be remiss in maintaining it.
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5 Most Common Insurance Claims

Insurance claims are made every day. Looking at the most common claims made just goes to show exactly how much of what’s important to us in our everyday lives can be protected by purchasing insurance.

Wedding Insurance

A majority of wedding insurance claims are made for lost deposits. This can be a hotel closing down, a caterer failing to show or an absentee photographer. All nightmare situations, but thankfully all covered under the policy. After that it’s illness or injury, usually when it results in the wedding having to be rearranged.

Pet Insurance

A recent study has found that in a two-year period, four in ten pet insurance policy holders made a claim against their policy. The majority of these claims, 70%, are for pet illness or accident and injury.

Auto Insurance

There are a number of situations that can result in a claim against your auto insurance, but by far the most common are fender benders. Minor accidents like those that occur in parking lots or at stop signs. Usually damage is minimal and more of an inconvenience, but making a claim rather than paying for the repair yourself is a good way to test the full extent of your policy and become familiar with the claims policy.

Home Insurance

Claims against home insurance can be weather damage, theft or fire however the most popular claim is water damage. Claims for water damage make for almost 69% of claims, mainly as a result of faulty plumbing rather than flooding.

Cell Phones

Many people don’t know that they can protect their phone with a specialized policy, but as technology becomes more advanced phones are becoming more important and so many are opting to purchase insurance. A recent study has revealed an alarmingly high claim rate against these insurance policies – mainly for damage. It’s estimated that 51% of mobile devices given as Christmas presents have been damaged in some way already. In fact the overall majority of claims are made within the first four months of ownership.

So looking at the most common insurance claims, do you have the right protection for these circumstances? You never know, you may have to make one of these claims yourself.

If you have insurance questions, click here to ask an expert

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Smartphones and Distracted Driving

Integrated smartphone technology will soon become “all but standard” on new car and truck models, with nearly 100 million vehicles featuring the smartphone technology by 2016, according to a report by Juniper Research. The technology will integrate a driver’s smartphone with a vehicle’s computer and navigational systems, enabling the vehicle to send and receive data via the Internet.

That data could prove invaluable to employers, who could use the information to increase fleet efficiency, comply with regulations and monitor driver behavior.

The technology does not come without risks, however. Some analysts worry that the integrated smartphone technology could increase distracted driving, which is already a major safety concern for employers.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of worker fatalities, and distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes. It is important to address the issue of distracted driving with employees who drive as a part of their job.

April is National Distracted Month. Check with your insurance advisor for more information you can use to help your drivers be safe on the roads, focusing more on the task at hand rather than the technology IN their hands.

Newfirst Insurors can help with drafting a safe driving policy and developing training for your company that includes guidelines on distractions and cell phone use.

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Employee Cellphone Use While Driving

Cellphone use has become commonplace, and text messaging, e-mailing and conducting business via cellphone have become routine. While the convenience of cellphones can be enormous, problems arise when using a one while driving.

A Nationwide Insurance poll found that 81 percent of cellphone owners admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving.1 While employers may be aware of the obvious benefits of allowing employees to use cellphones to conduct business while driving, they may be unaware of the significant liability risks associated with cellphone use while driving. A National Safety Council survey found that of employers who had a cellphone driving policy, 70 percent saw no decrease in productivity and over 20 percent saw decreases in employee vehicle crashes.2

Currently, there is mounting evidence supporting the dangerous link between cellphone usage and car accidents. According to Johns Hopkins University, as individuals focus on listening and engaging in conversation, the activity in the visual part of the brain decreases, even when using a hands-free device.3 In addition, the University of Utah found that drivers are as impaired on a cellphone as they are while driving under the influence of alcohol.4 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that estimated that 3,000 fatal traffic accidents in 2011 were the result of distracted driving.5

As a result, if you have employees driving on company time, you need to be aware of your cellphone use exposure and take the appropriate steps to mitigate your risks.

Case Studies

In 2004, a Georgia employee making a business call while driving hit and caused serious injury to another driver. The employee’s company agreed to pay $5 million in damages after the court found that the company was liable since the employee was making a business-related call. In a different case, $2 million in damages were awarded to a child’s family after an employee hit and killed her in 2004. The family also sued the employee’s company after phone records revealed that the employee was talking to a client at the time of the crash.

In addition to third-party claims resulting from accidents, employers increasingly face claims by employees for health problems allegedly stemming from cellphone use. Although the science appears contradictory and inconclusive, some employees contend that the radio frequency radiation emitted during cellphone usage may lead to various forms of brain cancer or other illnesses. Employees who use cellphones while on the job have begun to file workers’ compensation claims and lawsuits based on this theory.

Minimizing Employer Liability

While there is no guaranteed defense to liability, developing an appropriate employee cellphone use policy, training employees about the dangers of talking on a cellphone while driving, and enforcing policies with signed written acknowledgments from employees can all help to limit an employer’s potential liability.

In the policy, beyond setting clear-cut rules limiting cellphone use while driving, offer suggestions such as informing clients of driving schedules to avoid calls while on the road, pulling over to place or receive an important call or asking a passenger to handle cellphone usage. Be sure to emphasize that while productivity is certainly important, more important is their safety and the safety of others on the road – safety that is neglected when using a cellphone.

Even with a comprehensive cellphone use policy, courts may still hold employers responsible for any harm caused by employees while on company business, so it is important to ensure that your policy is being upheld and enforced. Be clear about the importance of following the policy, and follow through with consequences if employees are found to be disobeying it.

State Laws

Several states currently ban the use of hand held cellphones while driving, and many states have taken an increasingly active role in addressing the relationship between driver cellphone use and traffic safety (see Texas’ stance on distracted driving laws). These laws are changing frequently, so employers should always be cognizant of their state’s laws and require employees to observe those regulations regarding cellphone use while driving (include the current state law in your policy, and require employees to review and re-sign it whenever the law changes). While state laws do not directly address employer liability, they have the potential to increase employer exposure for cellphone-related accidents. For more information about state requirements, access the Governor’s Highway Safety Association website at: http://www.statehighwaysafety.org.

In addition to updating your company Cellphone/Hand Held Use Policy and training program, employers should also review their insurance policies. For help assessing your company’s risk regarding employee cellphone use or for assistance in developing a Cellphone Use Policy, contact Texas Associates Insurors.

Sources

1 Distracted While Driving Survey, Nationwide Insurance, May 2008

2 National Safety Council membership survey report, September 2009

3 Multitasking: You Can’t Pay Full Attention to Sights, Sounds, John Hopkins University, June 2005

4 Drivers on Cellphones Are as Bad as Drunks, University of Utah, June 2006

5 National Phone Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, December 2011

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