Friday, April 20, 2012

Your young drivers—help them play it safe

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 74 percent of 16-year-olds’ crashes are caused by driver error. Young licensed drivers, ages 15 to 24, account for the highest fatality rates.

Alarmed by the high number of serious accidents involving teen drivers, our agency urges you to help your teen driver slow the transition to the road and give him or her more time to learn and mature.

What can I do as a parent of a teen getting ready to hit the road?

As a concerned parent, there is much you can do to help make your teen a safer driver. Set time aside to help your teen prepare and practice, and set limits for your young driver.

Encourage awareness of traffic safety.

  • Talk to teens and pre-teens about driving etiquette while they’re driving with you. Set an example of safe-driving practices—wear your seat belt, obey the traffic signs and don’t speed.

  • On the road, emphasize to your teen the importance of being aware of vehicles and hazards and leaving an adequate safety margin around the car.

Gradually increase your teen’s driving privileges commensurate with his or her developing skills and good judgment.

  • Limit night driving until your teen has more experience behind the wheel. Most teen drivers’ nighttime crashes occur from 9 p.m. to midnight, so teens should not drive much later than 9 p.m.

  • Require permission for your teen carrying passengers (especially other teens) and restrict the number of people in the car.

Set and enforce important rules.

  • Negotiate an agreement regarding your teen’s responsibilities for gas, insurance, upkeep costs and maintenance. Be sure your teen understands that he or she is responsible for paying all traffic and parking tickets.

  • Enforce zero tolerance for alcohol use, yet make sure your teen knows if he or she gets into a situation in which alcohol use has made it unsafe to drive, he or she should call you for a safe ride home.

  • Make sure your teen understands the importance of using safety belts. Insist upon full safety-belt use for everyone in the car at all times. It is the law!

Is there a way to lower the auto insurance rates for my young driver?

Automobile rates tend to be higher for drivers under age 25 because as a group, they are involved in more crashes than people of other ages. As your professional, insurance agent, it is our job to see that you get the best coverage at the best price. Check with our agency to see if your auto insurance company offers any of the following discounts.

  • Driving the family car—Rates usually are higher for young people who own their own cars than for those who drive family cars.

  • Good student discounts—Full-time students age 16-25 who are in the upper 20 percent of their class, maintain a B average and/or make the honor roll or dean’s list may be eligible for discounts.

  • Driver-training discounts—Discounts may be available for drivers under 21 who have completed an approved driver- training course. Some companies give discounts to individuals of any age who complete “defensive” driving classes.

  • Resident student discounts—Families with a young driver without custody of a car who resides at college more than 100 miles from home may receive discounts.

Remember, you also may elect to take on a higher deductible for collision coverage, which will lower the premium. Or, if you have an older car, you may wish to drop the collision coverage.

Be sure to contact our agency when you are ready to add your teen driver to your auto policy. Call us at 845-565-2200 or 888-565-2212 or visit us online at today!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Factors that Affect Your Life Insurance Premiums

If you have ever applied for a life insurance policy then you know that your initial rate quote comes from the list of rates that the insurance company creates based on the age, gender and smoking status of the applicant. But there is more to the actual premium you are charged than just this simple formula. Here are some of the other factors used to determine your final life insurance premium.

The Proposed Insured’s Health
When you think of risk in terms of a life insurance policy, the first thing you consider is the health of the applicant. There are many different things to consider when looking at a life insurance applicant’s health.

These include:
1.) Medications – The medications you take show both existing diagnoses you have received and potential future health complications that require preventative treatment. For instance, you may not have had a heart attack yet, but if you’ve been prescribed a blood thinner and a cholesterol reducing medication then it is likely your physician thinks you are at risk for one and is trying to prevent it through medications.

2.) Chronic conditions – Chronic conditions like muscular dystrophy, heart disease and diabetes can shorten your life span and increase your risk as a life insurance applicant. Other chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, when not combined with other heart or circulatory issues may be less risky but still affect your overall risk.

3.)Potential future conditions – Over time, seemingly unrelated conditions and diseases can work together to create dangerous health consequences. For instance, diabetes and high cholesterol are not necessarily related (although they can be). But diabetics with high cholesterol might be more likely to have a hardening of the arteries, making stents harder (or impossible) to place in arteries, and therefore making bypass surgery necessary after a cardiac incident. Underwriters must look at all these unrelated factors and determine how they might come together to impact the applicant’s health in the future.

4.) Paramedical exam – A paramedical exam, when required by the insurance company, can give even more indication of an individual’s health and may show potential problems that the individual isn’t even aware of. During a paramedical exam, the proposed insured has his or her weight, blood pressure and sometimes urine and blood checked. Someone who hasn’t been to the doctor in years may seem healthy because they have no prescriptions or medical records indicating compromised health, but if the paramedical exam shows a problem then the underwriter knows his or her lack of a health history does not equal a diagnosis of good health.

5.) Age – While your age doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your health, it does indicate a statistical life span.

6.) Weight – Individuals who exceed standard life insurance company weight charts may not have been diagnosed with any of the problems or diseases that can strike the obese (like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease) but their weight indicates a higher likelihood that they will in the future.

7.) Medical Information Bureau – The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) keeps track of all your health issues that are reported by other insurance companies. Insurance companies pull your MIB report when you apply for insurance and the codes on this report will list all the reported health issues found during other application processes. This information may not lead directly to higher premiums, but it can cause an underwriter to delve deeper into your history, request more supporting materials and documents or even decline your application. The Proposed

Insured’s Gender
Because of differences in life expectancy among genders, your policy premium will be affected by whether you check the Male box or the Female box on your application for life insurance.

The Proposed Insured’s Lifestyle
The way you live your life will have a great effect on the life insurance premiums you are charged. From dangerous careers to death defying hobbies to questionable moral turpitude, every aspect of your life may be examined by the underwriters, depending on the amount of insurance you apply for. Each of these items will be analyzed to determine how much more risky it makes insuring you.

You may be asked to fill out supplementary questionnaires depending on your occupation and hobbies or the insurance company may ask to contact friends or business associates in order to ask them a set of questions about you during a telephone interview.

Driving History
Your underwriter may or may not request a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) to see what accidents and tickets you’ve had over the past few years. This report can indicate how careful you are as a driver, what risks there may be of your having a fatal car accident, and your propensity to abide by posted speed limit and other traffic laws. As you might have already guessed, there is almost no stone that goes unturned when you are applying for a life insurance policy. This gives the insurance company greater control over the risks they undertake.

The Death Benefit
Your death benefit is the amount of money that the insurance company promises to pay your beneficiaries. The larger that amount is, the greater your premiums will be.

Additional coverage options such as spouse and child riders, accidental death benefits, benefit acceleration and return of premium riders (among others) add additional cost to your premium because they provide greater benefits and risk. Keep in mind, as people are living longer, rates are getting better. Also, if you have lost a significant amount of weight or have quit smoking, you may be elgible for a better rate on life insurance, depending on what your needs are.

If you would like to inquire more about what life insurance would best fit you and your families needs, please call at (888) 565-2212 or email us at . We are now proudly offering excellent Term policies through William Penn!