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Insurance Claims Adjusting 101

Insurance companies like to portray themselves on TV as good citizens whose policies reflect fundamental fairness and dependability, but their claims adjustment practices often suggest otherwise. Most adjusters will not admit it, but the first rule of adjusting claims is…

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Dangers of Cell Phone Use While Driving

January 2007

In your circle of friends, name five people who don’t have a cell phone. Name one. Can’t do it? Not surprising since, for most Americans (224 million in 2006), cell phones are an indispensable tool for communicating anytime, anywhere.

One place Americans use cell phones is in the car. While driving, you can catch up with an old friend, conduct business, order a pizza to arrive at home at the same time you do, among countless other things. Cell phones allow you to multi-task. But if you are concentrating on something other than safely operating your vehicle, you are putting yourself and others at risk. According to a recent study, driver inattention was a factor in 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes. What distracted most drivers? Their cell phones.

A serious personal conversation or a business call shifts concentration away from your driving. Additionally, the act of dialing a number on your cell phone requires you to look at the cell phone, taking your eyes off the road. Even more distracting is text messaging. Thirty-seven percent of teens cite text messaging as their biggest distraction while driving.

Removing your focus from driving to make a call or read a text message could have disastrous consequences. A University of Utah study illustrates the extent of the danger: it found that driving while using a cell phone (even one that is hands-free) is as dangerous as drunk driving.

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Safer, Smarter Drivers; A Reminder of Speeding’s Dangers

November 2006

You’re driving on a busy, four lane roadway, caught up in the flow of traffic, when you suddenly realize that you are traveling 75 miles per hour – or 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Now, how did that happen?

We’ve all found ourselves driving faster than our intentions and good sense might dictate, and there can be many reasons for it: We might be influenced by drivers around us, we ignore our better judgment, or we simply neglect the dangers of speeding. Remember, even if you have wisely chosen a safer and smarter vehicle, your most important choice is made every time you get behind the wheel: to drive responsibly.

A quick review of the perils that accompany excessive vehicular speed point to one fact: No excuse for speeding is a good one. For starters, check out these statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Transportation Association (NHTSA):

  • In the years 1983- 2002, fatal car crashes were more likely to be caused by speeding than any other factor.
  • In 2004, speeding contributed to 30 percent of all fatal crashes and 13,192 lives were lost.
  • The total cost of crashes was estimated at $230.6 billion in 2000, and the cost of speeding-related crashes was estimated to be $40.4 billion.

Speed Limits Are Established For Motor Vehicle Safety

It’s not only on four-lane roadways that we find ourselves speeding. As it happens, the interstates actually have the best safety record of all our roads – and the lowest fatality rate per mile traveled. Almost 50 percent of speeding-related fatalities occur on lower-speed “collectors” (low or medium capacity thoroughfares) and local roads where speed limits are typically between 35 and 55 miles per hour.

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Insurance Letter – By Peter Burnett

January 2006

I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year was the exception. As a personal injury attorney practicing for nearly 30 years, I have represented hundreds of clients in cases involving automobile accidents. Too often there is not enough available insurance to cover the injured person’s losses. I am so disturbed by the inadequacy of most people’s automobile insurance coverage that I have decided to share some simple, helpful information with as many of my clients, friends, neighbors and others as I can. So far, I have sent over 300 letters and my goal is 1, 000 by the end of 2006. It is my hope that you and your loved ones will beadequately covered should you ever be in an accident. For only a slight increase in insurance premium cost, most of the clients that got short changed could have been fully compensated. All of them told me they really did not fully understand what coverage they were buying and why. I am sorry to say that some insurance agents do not fully explain what they are selling and, as agents of the company, may be discouraged to sell you coverage that you should have.

Part of the problem is the current level of mandatory minimum liability limits. In Virginia, an automobile must have coverage in the minimum amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $20,000 for property damage. These limits have not changed since 1976. Had the limits increased to keep up with inflation over the years, equivalent coverage would be $85,000 per person and $170,000 per accident in today’s dollars. This equivalent coverage amount is based on general cost of living inflation since 1976. Inflation of medical costs increased at about twice the rate of the general cost of living during the same period. As medical expenses are a major component of almost every personal injury claim, even more coverage is needed to keep up with inflation in that sector.

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