“Drive Alert: Arrive Alive”

November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and the Holiday Season is upon us…families are traveling in vast numbers to their relatives for dinner and holiday parties. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been there: somewhere between a place where it’s either not ideal or you simply cannot spend the night and almost too tired to drive? It’s a dangerous place to be! If you’re too tired, don’t drive!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year. Seems to me this can be a cause for increasing Massachusetts car insurance premiums. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analysis of the accidents resulting from drivers falling asleep behind the wheels is cause for alarm and concern. According to the study, younger drivers age 16-24 were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a drowsy driving crash as drivers age 40-59, and about 57 percent of drowsy driving crashes involved the driver drifting into other lanes or even off the road.

The following warning signs indicate that it’s time to stop driving and find a safe place to pull over and address your condition:

* Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking and/or heavy eyelids
* Difficulty keeping reveries or daydreams at bay
* Trouble keeping your head up
* Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips
* Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven
* Yawning repeatedly
* Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive

Sleepiness can impair drivers by causing slower reaction times, vision impairment, lapses in judgment and delays in processing information. It is also possible to fall into a 3-4 second microsleep without realizing it. Here’s what you can do to prevent a fall-asleep crash:

* Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road.
* Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your desstination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by
driving at night or without stopping for breaks.
* It’s better to allow the time to driver alert and arrive alive
* Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving along for long distances. A buddy
or family member who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify
the warning signs of fatigue.
* Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching
drivers, or going for a walk.
* Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect
* Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep
* Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alsertness for several hours.

For more information on this topic visit our website at http://www.koinsurance.com or visit the National Sleep Foundation’s drowsy driving website.

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Does your auto policy cover a rental car when traveling??

November 10, 2010

Thoughts of winter coming have people thinking about their winter travel plans….some things to think about when renting a car.

Where you travel, the vehicle rented, the rental contract and other factors can all impact coverage, so it really depends on the situation. Below is a general overview, as it relates to a Massachusetts Auto Policy (MAP), of issues to consider.

A MAP is not worldwide. It only covers you in the U.S., it’s territories, Puerto Rico and Canada.

As long as you have comprehensive and collision coverages on any of your own vehicles, it would cover physical damage to the rental car.

Some rental companies limit where a vehicle can be operated. Driving the car beyond these limitations violates the contract, and your insurance would not cover.

Most rental agencies require all drivers to be listed and paid for at time of rental. If you allow anyone else to drive and there is an accident, there is no coverage.

Most rentals consider the rental contract void if driving under the influence. This also voids coverage. MAP excludes “regular use” of another vehicle. If you rent for an extended period, it’s best to check with your insurance company. To avoid this issue, you can add a “Use of Other Autos” endorsement for the rental period and then have it removed.

Many rental companies often require the auto to be replaced with a new one if a total loss occurs. The MAP only pays for Actual Cash Value not Replacement Cost, which is something to consider.

If you damage a car and it can’t be rented to others, the rental agency may expect you to pay for lost rental time. Loss of use is not covered by a MAP.

The Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the rental company can be a solution for situations not covered by your auto policy. However, you should never assume that the CDW absolves you of all issues. Always read the contract and clearly understand what is and what is not covered. Also, if you rent a car using a credit card that offers some type of insurance protection, be sure to read the contract and understand coverage limitations.

If you’re planning to rent a car, our office is always glad to review specifics of your auto policy protection. However, it’s ultimately your responsibility to understand the terms and requirements of the rental contract and determine if your policy provides the coverage you need.

For more information on this topic give our office a call at 978 365-2302 or visit us online at www.koinsurance.com