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DUI Surveys: Helpful or Unnecessary

On February 20, 2014, in insurance, by John

Drivers and non-drivers everywhere would agree that driving under the influence is a dangerous oractice that needs to be stopped.  Keeping drivers who are drunk or otherwise impaired helps save lives and can even help keep the price of auto insurance down.  However, where do we draw the line between helping to keep our roads safer and making it impossible to drive on them at all?

In an article in The Mercury, a newspaper in Pennsylvania, there is a study of the National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving.  For those not familiar with the survey and what is involved, imagine driving down the road, perhaps running an errand or going to grab a bite to eat.  Suddenly, you are presented with a police officer or government contractor signalling for you to get off the road and go into a parking lot.  There, the official asks you if you would be willing to take a survey about drinking and driving, your practices, and other information that would likely be very useful for analysis.  All in all, the survey sounds like a useful practice.

The issue at hand is the lack of choice.  While the official might contend that they asked if you would like to take the survey or not, the truth of the matter is that you are not about to say no.  Why would you?  Most likely, you are scared that saying no would be saying that you have something to hide.  However, this is taking time out of your day which you may or may not have.  If you are on your way to pick up your kids from school, a delay is undesirable at best.  If you are on your way to an important meeting, you certainly don’t have time to spend taking a survey.

Plus, there is the question about whether information is being taken without your consent.  At such stops, an officer may use a passive alcohol sensor, which can detect the presence of alcohol without taking a breathalyzer test.  While not quite as accurate as a breathalyzer, it never the less collects information from you without your consent, and that information can be used to fill in anonymous data for the survey.  Is this an acceptable practice, or an invasion of privacy?

For those familiar with drunk driving checkpoints, this may sound somewhat familiar.  The difference is the fact that the survey may or may not be conducted by a police officer and that the data would then be sent to be analyzed.  The other major difference is that for a checkpoint, everyone is stopped.  For a survey, only a handful or randomly selected cars are pulled over.

Certainly, checkpoints keep our roads safer, but are these roadside surveys truly needed?  Could the information not be gathered differently or through a more voluntary procedure?  True, the data may end up being less accurate if survey takers knew they would be taking it ahead of time, but is the accuracy of information for a survey worth a potential invasion of privacy for the individuals involved?


Erie Insurance Safety Tips

On April 24, 2013, in Auto Insurance, insurance, by John

Erie Insurance recently released a report on the top 10 most common distractions that can lead to a car accident, according to data collected from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).  As a leading Erie Insurance agent in the Richmond area, we want to make sure that all of our drivers are aware of this information, as it can help to prevent future accidents from occurring.

Interestingly enough, the top distraction, according to Erie’s analysis, is a general loss of focus, or daydreaming while you are driving.  This one distraction makes up 62% of the accidents.  It is also, however, the hardest to fix, as it has no outside contributors.  As opposed to some of the other reasons on the list, this distraction is not caused by a bad choice made by the driver, but a natural inability to keep completely focused on the road.  The best thing you can do to help avoid this type of accident is to make sure that you are well rested before the drive and to take breaks as often as you need.

The number 2 distraction on Erie Insurance’s report is unsurprisingly cell phone usage.  This report does not distinguish between calls, texting, or using the phone for any other reason.  However, the combined total percentage was 12%.  Considering the number of laws put in place by various states to cut down on the accidents from cell phone usage, including the banning of texting while driving in many states and a hands-free requirement in a number of others, this appears to be a valid concern.  It is also one of the easiest distractions to avoid.  Just don’t pick up the phone until you are finished driving.

To read the full report, you can view it on Erie Insurance’s website at


Auto Insurance Liability Limits and Just How Much Do I Need?

You’re driving down the road on a beautiful sunny day when the car in front of you suddenly hits the brakes. You were following a bit too close and don’t have time to stop. You hit him. There were children in his car and they were injured. You are at fault. Now you start thinking about how good your insurance is. You saw the ads. You wanted to save some money. What did you give up to get a good price?

Many companies advertise low auto insurance rates. “Save $300, $400 or even $500 a year!” or “Save 10 or 15%” or “name your own price!”. Most people just want a lower rate, especially in the current economy. But most don’t consider they are buying a product that can save them from financial ruin in the event of a catastrophic accident. Until something bad happens.

When shopping for auto insurance, ask for quotes using different liability limits. Ask what the highest limit available is. Some companies will go up to $1,000,000, and you might be surprised at how affordable the price is for the higher limits. Keep in mind that auto insurance liability also provides coverage for uninsured and/or under insured protection. So if you are hit by someone who either has no insurance, or carries minimum coverage limits, you can go to your own policy to make up the difference.

Bad things do happen to good people, and good drivers. Make sure that when you save money on your auto insurance, it’s not because you’ve sacrificed price for coverage.

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Homeowners Insurance Rebuilding your House

On July 13, 2011, in home insurance, by Insurance

Homeowners Insurance Rebuilding your House, The Importance of One Word

When disaster strikes, be it a hurricane, tornado or fire, one of the first things you look to is your homeowners insurance policy.  Once you call your agent or dig out your policy, you suddenly start paying very close attention to your coverages.  If your home was substantially damaged or destroyed, you want to make sure that the insurance company pays to rebuild your home.  Are you properly covered?  Maybe.  Did your policy have guaranteed dwelling replacement cost, or expanded replacement cost?  What’s the difference?  Plenty!  Expanded replacement cost means the insurance company will pay a certain percentage above the amount of your current coverage.

Erie home insurance for Richmond Virginia

Homeowners Insurance from Virginia Insurance

For example, if your home is insured for $250,000 and you have expanded replacement cost of 25%, the total limit your company would pay would be $312,500.  That’s fine as long as your home can be rebuilt for that amount.  Guaranteed dwelling replacement cost coverage will replace your home for any amount above your current coverage.  In the same example, if your home is insured for $250,000 and you had guaranteed dwelling replacement, your insurance company would pay any amount to rebuild your home.  Guaranteed dwelling replacement has no caps.

Virginia insurance provides GMAC homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance needs to cover the full cost of rebuilding

Many people purchase homeowners insurance without paying close attention to coverages.  Unfortunately, there are situations where the amount of coverage is inadequate.  Even though the current economic situation has reduced the values of homes, rebuilding costs continue to be high, because a lot of building materials are petroleum-based.  Every homeowner should check their insurance coverage annually, and make sure that the amount of coverage is correct.  Ask your agent if he or she represents a company that offers guaranteed dwelling coverage, one word can make a difference!

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