4 Key Rules for Buying Safer Cars for Your Teens

Is one car safer than another when it comes to teen drivers? Absolutely, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

With 83 percent of purchases being for used vehicles, the organization has just published it’s first-ever list of recommended autos for teens. The list covers autos costing from $5,000 to $20,000, with safety as a paramount consideration.
IIHS says buying decisions should be guided by four main principles:

  1. Stay away from high horse-power that often encourages speeding.
  2. Bigger, heavier vehicles offer better protection in a crash. There are no small cars on the list.
  3. ESC – electronic stability control – is essential for safer driving on curves and slippery surfaces.
  4. A safety rating of at least 4 out of 5 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Buyers should also be prepared to spend a little more than planned. “Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying,” says Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. “Our advice to parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more.”

See the list of recommended cars here: http://tinyurl.com/IIHS-teens

What's taking so long?

We’re an insurance company. You need insurance. We want to help you! You call us. We take your information and say we’ll get back to you as soon as we get a quote. Twenty minutes pass and you’ve heard nothing. What on earth are we doing?!

With the whole “fifteen minutes could save you…” and now the “fifteen minutes is an eternity; how about seven-and-a-half minutes?” we understand. You want options, and you want them now.

If you are looking for an automobile policy, and in your household you have a 2005 Chevy Malibu and a 2008 Toyota Corolla, we can probably get back to you within the hour with several options. However, it gets trickier if you have a one-ton truck. Or a vehicle with expensive modifications.

The same applies to homeowner’s insurance. You live in town in a 1986 Ranch home that is a lot like the neighbors’ houses? We should have numbers for you today. But if your house is underground? Or a Quonset hut? Or a boathouse? It might take us a while.

Here’s why: Insurance rates are based on risk. An insurance company assesses risk based largely on comparison with similar items or properties. A late model fifth wheel RV has a lot to be compared to, but an old school bus retrofitted as a recreational vehicle is going to be more difficult to price.

At Hejny Insurance Agency, we don’t write insurance. We connect clients with the best insurance providers to meet their individual needs. So while it might seem like sometimes it’s taking an unreasonably long time to put together a quote, the odds are that we’re putting out feelers and waiting for answers. Even if you have a very specialized business for which none of our providers have a market, they might have another lead… And while we’re investigating those leads, you can be working your day job, or Skyping your mom, or reading a book on the back porch.

It doesn’t stop there. Once you have insurance through us, you can always call us or stop by with concerns or questions, and if we can’t help you, we’ll be the ones to wait on hold for forty-five minutes while you head home to start dinner.

That’s the whole reason we’re here: We do the leg work so you can get on with your life. And we appreciate that you’ve let us do so for the past 28 years.

Why You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage

To drive legally in the state of Texas, you have to have a minimum of liability insurance, covering others’ property and expenses if you cause an accident. Whether the state minimums are adequate is a topic for another blog post, but today we’re going to look at what happens if you’re in an accident caused by someone else who happens not to be carrying liability insurance.

If all you have is state liability, no comprehensive or collision, and someone who is uninsured hits you, it is likely that you will have to pay for all expenses (auto repairs, medical costs, towing, etc.) out of pocket. Yes, your insurance company will try to collect from the liable party, but the odds of ever recouping the costs is small.

If you have comprehensive and collision, you may choose to file a claim and only have to pay the deductible, but then it could count against you and might eventually cause an increase in premium.

Uninsured motorist coverage is available to protect you from either of these situations. Uninsured motorist coverage typically has a deductible of only $250, usually less than the standard comprehensive/collision deductible.

Other reasons uninsured motorist coverage is a good idea:

1) Nationally, 14% of drivers are uninsured. In some states, it’s as high as 26%, which means that if you’re in an accident, your odds are 1 in 4 that it will be with an uninsured motorist.

2) Compared to liability and physical damage coverage, Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist coverage is inexpensive.

3) Uninsured Motorist coverage is broad and includes injuries to your and your family members whether you are in your own covered auto, in automobiles you do not own, and even if you’re injured as a pedestrian.

4) Because the coverage is for uninsured AND under-insured motorists, if you’re in an accident with someone who has state minimums that don’t cover all of the damages or medical expenses you sustain in the accident, this coverage can make up the difference to the limits of your coverage.

Contact our office and we’ll be happy to provide a no-obligation quote for adding Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist coverage to your automobile insurance policy.

How to Check Car Seats for Safety

 Car seats for kids can protect your most precious cargo … but only if they’re right for the job, both in terms of the type of seat and the way they’re used.

Here are some tips, courtesy of the non-profit SafeKids organization on how to make sure your young passengers are as well-protected as they can be in your car.

  • Check the label to make sure the seat is right for a child’s age, weight and height.
  • Keep all seats in the back. In fact all kids up to age 13 should travel in the back.
  • Up to age about 2, use a properly tethered rear-facing seat.
  • Check for firmness of tethering. You shouldn’t be able to move the seat more than an inch in any direction.
  • Ensure the harness is tightly bucked and threaded through the right slots. Check this with the manual.
  • In fact, always read the car seat instruction manual and, until you’re well practiced, check your installation against the guidelines in the book.
  • Look out for a car seat inspection event in your community. Visit the website safekids.org for events and details of certified child passenger safety technicians.

Play Your Part in Biker Safety

With more than 8 million motorcycles on America’s roads and an accident rate way above that of four-wheeled vehicles — riders are 37 times more vulnerable than car travelers — one way or another motorbikes and bikers are always in the news.  But while we know motorcycling is a potentially high-risk activity, the fact is that many of those risks arise because other road users don’t give these machines and their riders the attention they deserve.  That’s the thinking behind Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which happens in May every year. It’s marked by a plea to drivers of all other vehicles and all road users to “share the road” with motorcyclists and to be extra-alert to help keep riders safe. Of course, motorcyclists themselves also have a key role to play in having regard for each other and for motorists.

“Throughout spring and summer the number of motorcyclists on the road will increase. It is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another,” says David Teater, National Safety Council (NSC) senior director of Transportation Initiatives. “To better defend themselves, motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway and
wear protective gear, including a Department of Transportation compliant helmet.”

Ready to play your part? Whether you’re a car driver or motorcyclist, here are 6 safety suggestions from the NSC:

  1. Allow more distance following a motorcycle than you would for a car.
  2. At an intersection where you plan to turn left, be especially alert for motorcycles coming from either direction. They’re easy to overlook.
  3. Never try to share one lane between a car and a motorcycle.
  4. Motorcyclists should avoid riding in bad weather.
  5. Both car drivers and motorcyclists should be aware of a driver’s mirror blind spot when, for a few seconds, the bike cannot be seen.  This is especially important when changing lanes.
  6. Always use turn signals — for every turn or lane change. That goes for drivers and motorcyclists alike.

Watch Out for this DMV Insurance Trick

Unscrupulous high-pressure insurance sales people have developed a new tactic for trying to trick people into buying their car insurance.  They pose as officials from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV),
claiming their victims are paying too much for their auto coverage. Then they provide a phone number (theirs!) for a company they suggest can offer a better deal. If this happens to you, think: What respectable insurance company would want to build a customer relationship based on deception? For the record, the DMV doesn’t give advice on insurance or share the details they hold with insurers.

Why I Believe in Insurance Agents – Stephen's Story

“My dad and I were hauling his new boat across the country behind a truck.  We hit a flash blizzard in Wyoming, and the next thing we knew, the boat flipped twice and we were jackknifed, stuck in a snow bank.  Fortunately, we were okay.  A few weeks later, everything else was too, magically fixed by insurance.  We had the right protection, that’s for sure.  Our insurance agent made certain of that.  We’re both grateful.”

Stephen Way
husband, father, designer