Tag Archives: Auto Insurance

The Independent Insurance Agency Isn’t Dead

Parting is such sweet sorrow—especially when it’s with a tool that was supposed to make auto insurance comparison shopping so much better. We’re talking about Google Compare—the formidable partnership between Google, Compare.com, CoverHound, and ITC that launched in March 2015 and is now purportedly closing up shop.

In the past couple days, word has been spreading that Google is pulling the plug on its plunge into auto insurance comparison shopping as well as its comparison tools for bank and mortgage products and credit cards. The shutdown is supposedly happening because of roadblocks by car insurance companies and regulators.  It’s also been circulating that Google wants to refocus on improving consumer product sites and the “customer experience.” Another rumor is that in the nine months since launching Google Compare, it has only spread to a handful of states when it was supposed to be in the double digits by now.

“We can’t integrate as quickly with companies as fast as we thought. We can’t get the regulators to say yes to everything we demand.  When we get a company to embrace the idea of online shopping, they say ‘This is terrific.  We’re all in. Let’s start in Iowa,” according to Brian Sullivan, editor for Risk Information, recalling a conversation with a Google Compare executive.

Whatever the real reason, it’s caused Google to put a halt on its work toward an online auto insurance comparison site—temporarily or permanently.

What does this mean for the auto insurance world? If you’re an independent auto insurance agent, it could be very happy news. When the news first broke that Google was entering the car insurance market, CEO of W.R. Berkley Corp., William R. Berkley, said independent agents should, “be afraid, be very afraid.”That’s because Google is an internet giant that is deep into the development of its very own self-driving cars. Google knows the traffic rules, hazards, and details of every backroad, highway, and turnpike in America. That gives the company the ability to tailor auto insurance rates to a never-before-seen accuracy that even telematics hasn’t touched. While the debate is still there that people will always go to independent agents for personalized service, the idea of a giant competitor closing its doors has to be comforting to say the least.

Contact GWB Insurance today at (401) 726-3330 and let us do the comparing for you. We work with over 20 financially stable companies to put together competitive insurance proposals catered to you or your business. Buy Local!

Volvo Ocean Races and Mapfre Insurance

Gardiner, Whiteley, Boardman Insurance was honored to be invited by Mapfre Insurance as they sponsored one of the sailing vessels in the Volvo Ocean Race. We are pleased to be partners with such a great company.

 

Mapfre Insurance

Mapfre Insurance

Mapfre2 Mapfre3 Mapfre4

Bikers: Reduce Your Risk of Being Hit by a Car

 

Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle Safety

Motorcyclists understand something that those riding in vehicles (“cagers”) don’t: There’s something supremely liberating about taking to the open road with nothing between you and the environment but your good fortune and a bit of leather. When on a bike, you are not only more aware of your surroundings; you are also more one with the road.

As with all things, however, this feeling of exhilaration comes at a price. As a motorcyclist, you are far more likely to be injured or killed in an accident than those who are protected by their steel cages. By nature, most cagers expect to see only other cars on the road. Bikers (and bicyclists, and even pedestrians) must be aware of this fact.

Furthermore, the feeling of invulnerability that comes with having multiple airbags in a two-ton crossover or SUV sometimes leads to inattention or aggressive driving. This can spell trouble for someone on a motorcycle. Regardless of who’s at fault for an accident, the biker always pays the price when it comes to injuries. Fortunately, you can take a few precautions to minimize your chances of a collision with a car.

How to Reduce the Risk of Being Hit by a Driver Who Is Changing Lanes

It’s not uncommon for motorcyclists to be hit by cars when the drivers are changing lanes. It is almost as though motorists are simply unable to see bikes. A few precautions on your part can go a long way toward maintaining your safety.

  • When possible, avoid riding in the driver’s blind spot.  Drivers don’t always bother to turn their heads to check if someone is approaching before changing lanes, and your motorcycle is small enough to easily fit into the areas that can’t be seen using mirrors alone.
  • Stay alert to traffic patterns. You can usually predict when a driver is likely to want to change lanes.
  • Don’t assume that drivers will hear you approaching. If they’re jamming away to “Uptown Funk” or some other turned-up music, they’re likely to be lost in their own little worlds.
  • Keep in mind that if you can see a driver’s eyes in their side-view mirror, they can see you. Try to make sure that you are seen before riding past the car.
How to Reduce the Risk of Being Hit by a Driver Who Is Making a Left Turn

Drivers making left turns are responsible for a full 42% of all accidents in which a car and motorcycle collide. That’s one of the biggest hazards faced by bikers.  These accidents most frequently happen when the biker is going straight through an intersection and a driver going the opposite direction makes a left turn into the biker.

Accidents of this nature involving two cars happen often enough, but because motorcycles are smaller and are frequently overlooked by motorists, it makes for an even bigger hazard. Naturally, you can’t control the actions of drivers, but you can take some precautions to reduce your risk of being involved in this type of accident:

  • Avoid speeding, particularly through intersections.
  • Do not attempt to pass cars or weave through traffic while approaching or riding through intersections.
  • If you notice an approaching car with a left turn signal on, be prepared to take any necessary defensive maneuvers.
  • Ride on the left side of your lane. Cagers may be more aware of bikes directly ahead of them, and will most likely clear your path earlier if they continue their turn.
  • When riding with others, avoid riding two bikes right next to each other in the lane. Proper technique requires that one bike follow the other, staggered on the left and right sides of the lane.
  • Approach all intersections with your hands over the brake and clutch levers, prepared for emergency avoidance maneuvers. Be aware of other cars following the leading car, in case you need to make a last-ditch swerve into an oncoming traffic lane.
  • Install headlight modulators, devices that flash headlight high beams that can be used to wake up inattentive or negligent drivers.
  • Practice emergency avoidance maneuvers every month or so. A bit of practice on this vital skill can quite literally save your life.
How to Reduce the Risk of Being Hit while Lane Splitting

Most motorcyclists have done this, especially if they’re riding an air-cooled bike. While stuck in stopped or slow-moving traffic, it is easy to operate a motorcycle between two lanes to keep moving along. However, this practice is not only dangerous; it’s actually illegal in many states.

Lane splitting is hazardous because it requires to you ride in a narrow space, which leaves little room to maneuver around any obstacles. Furthermore, drivers rarely expect a motorcyclist to appear in this space between the lanes and may hit the biker with their car while trying to move into a different lane or even just by opening their car door to dump a cup of ice on the road.

Naturally, you’re safest if you simply don’t do lane splitting. However, if you feel that you must and you are riding in a state where it’s  legal, you can reduce your risk of injury by adhering to the following tips:

  • Engage in lane splitting only when your bike is in danger of overheating; and then, only if it’s legal in the state you are in.
  • Be wary when one lane is moving faster than the other. Aggressive drivers are likely to suddenly change lanes.
  • Be extra careful while riding in drivers’ blind spots.
  • Ride faster than the speed of traffic, but not much faster.

Earth Day 2015 Quotes: 23 Inspirational, Funny And Wise Sayings That Pay Homage To Mother Nature

Earth Day 2015

Earth Day 2015

April 22 is Earth Day, the annual event meant to raise awareness about Mother Nature’s health and the efforts being made to protect it. Environmental groups in countries all over the world are gearing up to take their message of good stewardship to millions of people. Below are 23 quotes and sayings to share on Earth Day 2015 to help spread the word. Some are inspiring, others are just for laughs and some come from a place of wisdom.

Earth Day events commemorate what is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 on college campuses across the U.S. and was the invention of Gaylord Nelson, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Wisconsin whose idea for Earth Day was born out of watching the momentum of the student-led anti-war protests of the 1960s and his frustration with D.C. gridlock over enacting environmental protections. “It was a gamble,” Nelson said of the movement. “But it worked.”

It was Earth Day that largely led to the U.S. passing legislation such as the Clean Water Acts and to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here are 23 sayings that pay homage to Mother Nature:

1. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — Albert Einstein

2. “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” — Bill Vaughan

3. “As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life.” — Rachel Carson

4. “We have met the enemy and he is us.” — Walt Kelly

5. “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian proverb

6. “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” — Theodore Roosevelt

7. “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

8. “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

9. “Environmentalists have long been fond of saying that the sun is the only safe nuclear reactor, situated, as it is some ninety-three million miles away.” — Stephanie Mills

10. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” — John Muir

11. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

12. “The earth is what we all have in common.” — Wendell Berry

13. “Keep close to Nature’s heart … and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” — John Muir

14. “That’s the thing about Mother Nature, she really doesn’t care what economic bracket you’re in.” — Whoopi Goldberg

15. “For 200 years we’ve been conquering nature. Now we’re beating it to death.” — Tom McMillan

16. “Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.” — Karle Wilson Baker

17. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” — Mahatma Gandhi

18. “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” — John James Audubon

19. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu

20. “An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.” — David Attenborough

21. “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.” — Evo Morales

22. “I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.” — Stephen Hawking

23. “Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?” — Groucho Marx

Opening Day 2015

It’s time to welcome the team back to Fenway Park for what we hope will be a great season. After the winter New England has just experienced, I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say that we are ready for Spring, and most of all, ready for Red Sox baseball!

Opening Day 2015

Opening Day 2015

Commerce Auto Insurance

Commerce Auto Insurance

New MA Auto Law

New MA State Law

New MA State Law

New Law RE: Use of Headlights

The Massachusetts legislature has passed a new law that would require drivers to turn on their headlights whenever they turn on their windshield wipers. The new law takes effect on April 7, 2015.

As a result, the list of surchargeable incidents has been amended by adding two new requirements effective April 7, 2015.

1. Motorists are now required to turn on headlights and taillights whenever the windshield wipers are on.

2. Motorists are also required to turn on headlights and taillights when visibility is reduced so that persons or vehicles are not visible at a distance of 500 feet.

The requirement to turn on headlights and taillights 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise has not changed.

Rental Car Insurance: Is It Worth It?

Rental Car Insurance

Rental Car Insurance

If you’ve ever rented a car, you know that you must make the decision about whether or not to purchase the insurance offered by the rental car company before you can get your keys and drive off. Many people wonder if this extra insurance is necessary, or even a good idea. The answer to this question is not as cut-and-dry as you might think.

Rental car companies will offer you three different types of coverage. Whether or not you should purchase any or all of them depends both on what your current auto insurance policy covers and how much you can afford to lose in the event of an accident. In this article, I will explain each type of coverage so that you can best choose whether any are right for you.

Coverage Type 1: Liability Coverage

Liability insurance coverage is designed to provide coverage for personal injuries and property damages that you cause to a third party. This means that if you are responsible for a motor vehicle accident, the damages that you may be sued for can be covered up to your liability coverage limits, which will vary from one policy to the next.

If you own a car, then by law, you should have car insurance. All car insurance policies offer liability protection and, in most cases, this coverage extends to your use of a rental car. Be aware that some policies specifically exclude liability coverage for rental vehicles in order to make the policies cheaper, so when in doubt, ask your insurance agent. Ideally, your car insurance will already provide you with enough liability insurance to adequately protect your finances in the event of an accident. In this case, you do not need to purchase this insurance through the rental car company.

If you do not have a car insurance policy, or if your insurance policy specifically excludes rental car coverage, you will be required to purchase liability insurance when you rent the car. This is nothing to be upset about, as it is designed to protect you from catastrophic financial losses if something were to go horribly wrong.

Coverage Type 2:  Injury / Medical Payments Coverage

This insurance coverage is designed to cover necessary medical costs in the event that you or your passengers are injured in a collision while driving your rental car. This can include ambulance services as well as medical treatments.  So, do you need it? Possibly.

Many people do not realize that their health insurance policy may not cover medical treatment for injuries caused by an auto accident. These are typically covered by car insurance, a lawsuit, or out-of-pocket. If you do not have car insurance, therefore, this coverage is a good thing to have.

If you do have car insurance, you may or may not have this coverage as part of your policy. Most states require their drivers to carry liability insurance coverage only, but some do require medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance as part of their minimum coverage requirements. If you do not have it, it is a personal decision whether or not you want to purchase it.

Coverage Type 3: Loss Damage Waiver

Let me start off by saying that the Loss Damage Waiver is not insurance. It is a contractual waiver that will allow you to walk away from costs accrued if you damage the car, so long as you have not violated the terms of your contract (e.g. by driving under the influence, recklessly, or off-road). Whether or not you should purchase this coverage is a bit more complicated. Let me explain.

If you damage the rental car, or if it gets stolen or vandalized, you are responsible for making restitution to the car rental company. You may already have a measure of coverage if your car insurance policy includes collision and other-than-collision (comprehensive) insurance. If you are still making payments on your vehicle, you likely already have this coverage, as it is required by most lenders. If your car loan is paid in full, it is possible that you have foregone this coverage in order to get reduced coverage rates, and in this case you would have no protection without the Loss Damage Waiver.

However, even with car insurance, you are still going to owe a good sum of money if you damage the car. This is because you will still be expected to pay:

  • Your insurance deductible to cover the repairs
  • A loss of use fee since the car rental company cannot make money off their car while it is out-of-service
  • A diminished value fee to make up for the lost resale value of the car
  • Administrative fees, because they have to pay someone to assess and collect all these fees

Bottom line: You’ll end up spending a lot of money if you damage the car—even if you have great insurance coverage. On the other hand, when you purchase the Loss Damage Waiver, you protect yourself from all of this, enabling you to walk away with no costs assessed to you at all.

That said, is it worth it? This coverage isn’t cheap. It can cost as much as $35 per day, and even more if you are renting the car in crime-ridden areas. The fact is, it is entirely up to you. I can tell you what I do.

If I am traveling on business and the costs are expensed through my work, I absolutely purchase the Loss Damage Waiver. When renting a car for pleasure, I make a quick assessment of the situation. If I will be driving on roads I’m familiar with, parking in a safe location, and not using the car very much, I skip it. I feel confident that I will be able to return the car in good shape and I do not feel that the financial hit I would take if I were in a collision would cause me significant hardship.

However, if I am going to be doing a lot of driving on unfamiliar roads, will be parking in an iffy-area, or will be putting a lot of miles on the car, I am likely to purchase the coverage just in case. In that case, I feel that the cost is justifiable.

Learn More About Your Car Insurance Coverage

When making the decision about whether or not to purchase offered insurance at the car rental counter, it helps to be aware of what your current auto policy covers, and also how much coverage you have. Before you rent a car, it may be a good idea to sit down with Gardiner, Whiteley, Boardman to go over your policy and get advice about coverage. Happy traveling!