Ask ERIE: When Should I Add my New Teen Driver to my Auto Policy?

ERIE requires new teen drivers to be added to a parent or guardian's auto policy or take out their own policy once they get their license. If your teen driver only has a learner's permit, he or she is automatically covered under your policy - so no need to touch base with your agent just yet.

ADD TO MY POLICY OR GET THEIR OWN?

Deciding whether to add newly licensed drivers to your existing auto policy or have them take out their own policy comes down to the car they're using.

If they're using your car, they will be covered under your policy the same way you are. This means they get policy benefits like Feature 15, which never allows your policy to be surcharged for an at-fault accident after your auto policy has been in force for 15 years. The only things your teen driver won't have are certain rights like the ability to modify deductibles and other coverages - those are reserved for the main policyholder.

You'll want to take out a policy in your teen driver's name if he or she holds the car title. If you buy your teen driver a car and you hold the title, you can still add the young driver to your policy. This is usually a less expensive option since your teen benefits from your driving record.

No matter how you choose to insure your teen driver, it is important to do it as soon as he or she is licensed. Every driver in your house needs protection - and that's especially true with inexperienced teen drivers. ERIE also aims to assess a fair and accurate premium based on all the drivers in your house, and that's impossible to do when drivers aren't properly disclosed.

If a new teen driver isn't added to a policy and gets in an accident, ERIE typically covers the claim. However, you may be charged back premium from the time when the teen driver became licensed and should have been added to the policy up to the present time.

KEEPING COSTS IN CHECK

Teen drivers are typically more expensive to insure because they lack a solid driving record and get into more accidents on average than more experienced drivers. That said, there are a few ways to keep car premiums for new teen drivers under control.

They include:

  • Choosing ERIE Rate Lock: With this optional feature, your low, locked-in premium will never change - even if you submit a claim - until you add or remove a vehicle or driver, or change your primary residence.
  • Changing your deductibles: You can choose to have different collision and comprehensive deductibles for your teen driver than for yourself under the same policy. Choosing a higher deductible typically lowers the premium.
  • Taking an accident prevention course: ERIE offers a discount to teen drivers who complete certain accident prevention programs. Many states only let insurers offer discounts for certain approved programs, so talk with your ERIE agent before enrolling your teen in a course to make sure it is discount eligible.
  • Maintaining a clean driving record: ERIE has a youthful driver discount for teens who maintain a clean driving record and who meet a few other requirements. We can tell you more about it!

As a parent or guardian, you play a big role in helping your teen drive responsibly. Take the time to talk with your teen about the importance of driving safely and avoiding distracted driving.

Will Self-Driving Cars Eliminate Distracted Driving? Most People Think So, Says New National Survey

If you had a self-driving car, how much attention do you really think you'd need to pay to the road?

That's what we wanted to find out when we asked nearly 3,000 licensed U.S. drivers in a new national survey to coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The survey, commissioned by ERIE Insurance and conducted online by Harris Poll, finds almost 6 in 10 (59 percent) think that self-driving cars will eliminate the problem of distracted driving.

We're still years away from a future where self-driving cars are the norm. But that hasn't stopped these survey respondents from making plans for what they'd do with their own downtime behind the wheel of a self-driving car.

SURVEY SAYS: NAP

Sleeping promises to be a popular pastime in self-driving cars. Roughly half of licensed drivers (51 percent) say one of the biggest advantages of self-driving cars would be the ability to go longer distances without worrying about being drowsy while driving. About one-fifth of licensed drivers (19 percent) say they'd sleep or nap while operating a self-driving car.

How else would people spend extra time? Other survey responses include:

  • Texting (34 percent)
  • Checking and sending emails (34 percent)
  • Reading (27 percent)
  • Playing video games (11 percent)
  • Meditating (10 percent)

A small percentage admitted they'd use their commutes to - ahem - get a little cozy. Seven percent of licensed drivers say they would engage in "romantic activities" while operating a self-driving car, with men almost four times more likely to do this than women (11 percent vs. 3 percent, respectively).

When asked to write in what they would do, a few others said they would pray.

One honest driver admitted he'd be "a nervous wreck."

SLOW YOUR ROLL

We can daydream all we'd like, but the reality is a future with totally autonomous vehicles is likely a long way off.

"The term 'self-driving car' suggests I can hop in my car, enter a destination and have it take me from point A to point B. But that car doesn't exist yet," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Currently, driving distracted has stark consequences. In 2013, ERIE Insurance analyzed police data found that daydreaming was the most fatal distracted driving behavior behind the wheel. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, human error is a factor in 94 percent of car crashes.

"While we believe that fully autonomous vehicles will greatly reduce that number, it's hard to predict how soon they will be widely available," said Cody Cook, ERIE Insurance vice president and product manager of ERIE's auto department. "Current technology is going a long way to keep us safer on the road, but the last thing we want is for people to become over-confident as this technology continues to evolve. Unfortunately, our survey finds that many people are getting ahead of themselves - making plans for what they'll do in the car instead of paying attention to the road."

RUSH HOUR HAPPY HOUR?

The prospect of self-driving cars also raises some interesting questions about a serious topic: Driving under the influence. It's hard to speculate how current drinking and driving laws would change (or not change). Still, 13 percent of our survey respondents believe you wouldn't get cited for DUI/ DWI if you have a few drinks and then operate a self-driving car.

One-third (33 percent) believe that one of the biggest advantages of self-driving cars will be the ability to get home safely if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, a much smaller percentage of those 21+ (5 percent) admit that they would drink alcoholic beverages while operating a self-driving car.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

What are we calling this new class of vehicles, anyway? "Self-driving" or "autonomous" are the current front-runners. But those terms largely ignore the fact that car operators may still need to pay attention to the road and be ready to take control.

So, we posed the question to our survey respondents: What else should we be calling these new vehicles?

Many of the suggestions revealed drivers' fears about the safety of self-driving cars. Responses included:

  • "Boy are you lazy"
  • "Potential disaster car"
  • "Bad Science car"
  • "Take your chances car"
  • "Accidents waiting to happen car"

"While some of the responses may have been written in jest or taken on a lighthearted tone, if our survey gets people talking about a serious issues like distracted driving, it will have served its purpose," said Cody. "We hope people will remember that despite technological advances, it's still critical - for now, anyway - to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on what you are doing."

Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of ERIE Insurance from February 28 - March 2, 2017, among 2,932 U.S. licensed drivers ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Leah Knapp at ERIE Insurance.

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a First Time Renter: 7 Things to Help You and Your Pet Have a Paw-some Move!

Meow!....Meow!....Meow!

That's how my feisty, food - and attention-loving cat Olivia wakes me up every morning for her breakfast...at 6a.m. Good thing I never bothered buying an actual alarm.

Early mornings aside, having a pet to come home to and keep me company is really nice, especially since I live alone. In fact, finding a pet-friendly place was one of my must-haves when I was looking for a place.

Before I moved her in, however, I had to make sure I had everything I needed to make her feel right at home. Besides forgetting to buy a kitty litter scooper initially (only mildly necessary), everything went off without a hitch.

Here are the seven things that I kept in mind before, during and after moving my kitty in.

  1. Get the okay. Your obvious first step is to clear your potential pet with your landlord well before signing a lease. Since my building allows me to have up to two cats at no extra charges, I just notified my landlord of my intent to get one.
  2. Get the essentials. On the drive to pick up Olivia, I stopped for some supplies. Friends and family had given me a litter box and bowls for food and water. All I needed to get was some food and kitty litter. It's a good idea to also pick up things like flea treatment, hair ball remedy, a brush and nail clippers (if you're comfortable or used to trimming claws yourself) so these things are on hand. You might also consider one of those calming collars that can help reduce a pet's anxiety as they adjust to a new place.
  3. Make her comfy. To help her settle into her new home, I also picked up a kitty bed, treats and toys. Ironically enough, her favorite toy is one that I made myself and didn't cost a dime. (Who'd have thought an old golf putter and some yarn would come in handy?)
  4. Safety first. Before I drove anywhere with my feisty feline, I made sure I had a safe way to transport her. For both their safety and yours, pets should be secured anytime you take them in your vehicle.
  5. Update her info. Let your vet know that you've got a pet on the premises. It's also a good time to update your furball's microchip, if he or she has one. Olivia does not - so I just let her vet know she'd moved from my parents house to mine.
  6. Give her time. Every pet is different, so let them settle in on their terms. Olivia had lived with my parents for almost 12 years - so it was no surprise that a new space was scary for her. She spent the first afternoon hiding under a chair. Now, she's queen of the castle.
  7. Socialize thoughtfully. This is more for those who already have a pet and are introducing a new one. be aware that your furry friends might not take to each other right away. Make sure there's enough space to split them up until they get used to each other, if necessary.

Taking these steps will help you and your furry friend to have a positive experience during their "move-in-day" and for many days to come.

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

 

What Happens if my Neighbor's Tree Falls in my Yard?

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Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if your neighbor's tree falls in your yard, your homeowners insurance would typically help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused, after your deductible.

The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbors yard, your neighbor should file a claim with his or her insurance company.

In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. If there's ever an issue, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out.

 


The Claims Process

If a tree falls on your house, make sure to take some photos. Then call your claims adjuster, who will evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It's recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.

Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it's not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, you should call a professional to remove it. (Again, talk to a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car.) Depending on the damage, both your homeowners and the optional comprehensive coverage you may have under your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss. 

 

Preventing Tree Damage

Preventative measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.

"A homeowner should be concerned about the health of their trees," says Gary Sullivan, Vice President of Property Subrogation Claims at ERIE. "The best thing to do is to regularly have large trees trimmed." (The Tree Care Industry Association lists accredited tree care professionals.)

To learn more and to ensure you have the right coverage for your home, contact an ERIE Insurance Agent in your community - like us! 

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

Stuff to Store? Read These Self-Storage Tips

If you're like me, you sometimes look around and wonder, "How did I accumulate all this stuff?!"

Thankfully, we're not alone. Nearly 11 million households have items in a storage unit. That represents a 65 percent increase from 10 years ago.

Whether you're about to get married and combine households, a parent looking to free up space or a retiree looking to downsize, a storage unit may be just what you need. But before you start throwing things in boxes to haul off to your local storage facility, consider these self-storage tips.

  • Is the facility clean? Before you store your belongings in a storage unit, make sure that it is well-maintained. Ask if routine cleaning is performed on empty units. Also ask to see an empty unit to make sure it is mold and dust free.
  • Is it climate-controlled? Based on where you live, you may want to consider a climate-controlled facility. Many items are susceptible to pests and extreme temperatures. For example, leather, wood, wicker, electronics, musical instruments and photographs could be severely damaged if exposed to humidity or frigid cold. Keep in mind that some items should never be put in a storage unit including medications and medical supplies; combustible, flammable, hazardous or toxic chemicals; and weapons, ammunition or construction equipment. Many facilities have rules governing acceptable items. Use common sense when deciding what to store.
  • Is it accessible? Does the storage area offer drive-up access? Or will you be lugging boxes up flights of stairs? Depending on what you're storing, that information could be very important. Also, take a look at when and how often you'll need to access your items. Some facilities provide access only during certain hours of the day and limited access on weekends. If you'll be making regular visits to retrieve items, it's best to make sure you have easy access.
  • Is it safe? One of the most important self-storage tips is to consider the safety of your unit and the facility as a whole. In addition to a lock - which you should always have on your unit - some facilities offer extra security like video surveillance or password-protected gates.

Another way to make sure your itemsare protected is to insure them. Although most homeowners policy cover personal property in a storage unit, it is good to contact someone to make sure you have appropriate coverage. This is especially important if you have pricey items like jewelry and artwork that may need to be covered separately with an inland marine policy.

 

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

On the Horizon: Better Seat Belts for Seniors

One of the safest choices drivers and passengers can make is to buckle up. Now, researchers want to make the standard seat belt even safer for seniors who account for tens of millions of drivers in the United States.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, close to 600 older adults are injured each day in car crashes. Common life-threatening injuries include cracked ribs and broken pelvises. If the seat belt is positioned incorrectly around the neck or under the arm of an older driver, it can cause injuries and even fatalities.

Better Safety Solutions

Researchers at Ohio State University are collaborating with automakers to investigate other options to help reduce severe injuries in drivers 65 and older. Just one includes an inflatable seat belt. The project is also using simulations and smaller crash test dummies to help design better protection for older drivers.

Inflatable seat belts are in the back seats in some Ford, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz models. Ford introduced inflatable seat belt technology in 2011 saying it would enhance safety for backseat passengers like young children.

In addition to inflatable seat belts, future technology may offer a personalized car key fob to activate a customized safety system within each vehicle. The key fob could adjust a seat belt based on a driver's individual physiology. To learn more, check out the source article on Reuters for more information.

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

 

What Should I Do if I Start Hydroplaning?

If you can't avoid traveling on wet roads altogether, it's best to drive slow and steady. But what should you do if you start hydroplaning anyway?

The first thing to do is relax, as frantic movements will only make your situation worse. As you feel your car lose contact with the road, calmly but firmly grip the steering wheel with both hands. Don't slam on the breaks or make dramatic motions with the steering wheel - these actions will jeopardize your control of the car.

Instead, aim the nose of your vehicle forward and calmly make slight adjustments with the steering wheel to keep your vehicle going in the right direction. Then take your foot off the gas and allow your car to slow down naturally as you continue to navigate. Resist the urge to slam on the brakes.

But what if you are going to hit something?

If you're headed toward another car, tree or median, then you may be forced to apply the brakes. How should you apply the brakes depends on the car you drive.

If your car is equipped with regular brakes, pump them regularly and lightly as you continue to steer in the direction you want to go. If your car has anti-lock brakes, you should brake as normal by applying steady pressure to the brakes. Just try not to slam on the brakes. The process for braking when you're hydroplaning is actually very similar to braking when you are skidding on ice.

Hydroplaning is scary, but you truly can handle it with extra precaution and a little knowledge.

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

 

Cyber Crimes Still Common - AND Expensive

We've reported before on how common - and how expensive - identity theft can be. Sadly, it appears that this is still the case.

Research from Hartford Steam Boiler shows that 37 percent of Americans' accounts were hacked in a recent year. That's a surprising statistic - and it wasn't the only shock contained in the report. Other ones included:

  • Cyber crimes cost you. Victims of cyber crimes nearly always spent money to recover from an attack. The main costs were to restore data and purchase software. In 23 percent of these cases, people spent between $1,000 and $5,000 per incident.
  • Young people are affected the most. Almost half of those who experienced a cyber attack (42 percent) were between 18 and 24. Another 34 percent were between 55 and 69, while 22 percent were older than 70.
  • Cyber extortion is on the rise. A cyber extortion threat or demand was experienced by 11 percent of respondents. More than half (53 percent) of them refused to pay, although some of them paid multiple times - 15 percent of them four or more times.

Experts warn that these kinds of crimes will likely only grow as a result of the many devices Americans use on a regular basis. While there are many steps you can take to prevent identity theft, no measure is 100 percent fullproof. That's why it's worth looking into identity recovery coverage. It will help you undo identity theft damage and reimburse you for covered losses like lost wages, administrative expenses and even some legal fees. It protects everyone in your household, including your children. You would be surprised how affordable this coverage can be!

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

 

The Add-On Every New Car Needs

Ah, there's nothing like that new car feeling when you buy a car - that distinct new car smell and the lush interior. The techy gadgets and sweet sound system. But after you finish selecting all the options you want, there's one more you might consider. And that's a small add-on to your auto insurance policy.

Let's say you get into an accident a week after buying your new ride. Cars do depreciate the minute they're driven off the lot. According to Carfax.com, new vehicles lose value at an average decline of 15-25 percent each year during the first five years. That means if your new ride gets totaled, your insurance payout could be much less than what you paid for the car (or what you owe on your loan, for that matter).

HOW ERIE CAN HELP

Erie Insurance offers a coverage endorsement that makes sure you're not left with a cap in coverage. It's called New Auto Security, and you can add it to your ERIE auto policy for a nominal increase in premium. If you've had your car less than two years and it gets totaled, ERIE will reimburse you the cost to replace it with the newest model year (minus your deductible)>

And if your new car is in an accident but it's not a total loss, ERIE will pay to repair the vehicle withouta deduction for depreciation. That's good news for your wallet.

OLDER CARS ARE COVERED TOO

The endorsement from ERIE isn't just for brand-new cars. Here's another reason to add it to your policy: if you've had your car longer than two years, ERIE will pay the cost to replace it with a model that's two years newer. That means the coverage is good to have no matter what the age of your vehicle.

Plus, you can add the New Auto Security coverage any time - it isn't restricted to when you buy the car or when you first insure the vehicle with ERIE.

So don't let worries over a possible accident ruin your new- (or used) car moments. Drive the car you love and rest easy knowing you're a step ahead of depreciation with New Auto Security from ERIE. Talk to a local Erie Insurance agent today who can explain the details and give you a quote.

A vehicle is considered new when it is less than two years old. Eligible vehicles must carry both comprehensive and collision coverage. The endorsement is sold on a per-vehicle basis, not per policy, and contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage is not available in all states. Please refer to our disclaimer and talk to an ERIE agent for policy details.

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.

How to Safely Heat Your Home

It's an unfortunate face that space heaters, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves cause more structure fires than central heat and hot-water heaters combined. Between 2009 and 2013, the National Fire Protection Association reported that these heat sources caused 72 percent of home heating fires. And fires caused by space heaters led to 84 percent of deaths caused by home heating fires.

This information isn't meant to scare you into closing off the fireplace and stashing the space heater. By all means, keep enjoying them - just keep safety in mind so you can protect yourself, your family and your home against smoke and fire damage.

FIREPLACES

Few things are as nice as curling up in front of a fireplace that uses real logs in the heart of winter. And if you've just spent lots of time in the cold air, the pleasure of basking in a fire's glowing warmth is somehow quadrupled.

The last thing you want is to interrupt your cozy time with a trip to the emergency room or a call to the fire department. With these tips, you can keep the home fires burning while keeping your home and family safe.

  • Before you light the fire, make sure the chimney has some flow. Not taking this step could cause your cozy session to go up in smoke. As you prepare to light the kindling, do this simple test: Open the damper and reach inside the firebox (the place where you light the fire). In the firebox, light and blow out a match. Then, watch where the smoke goes. It should float up and away into the chimney. If it doesn't, you will want to reach out to a chimney inspector to see if there are any issues.
  • Keep the glass door cracked open when the fireplace is in use. Open it just enough to draw air up into the chimney. It should be able to block any sparks from flying out, which can start a fire.
  • Consider cracking open a window in your home. It will improve the airflow
  • Invest in a fireproof mat and place it in front of the fire. Sparks can still escape when you have to reach in and poke around the fire.
  • Establish a 3-foot safety zone around the fireplace. Remind children that running, throwing and horseplay are off-limits.
  • Properly dispose of ashes. Even after the embers die away, the ashes can still hold plenty of heat. If you vacuum the ashes or shovel them into the trash too early, they could still be hot enough to ignite a fire. Either allow the ashes to rest for at least three days before you clean up or dispose of them in a closed metal box outside of your house.
  • Make sure the chimney is well maintained. These guidelines can help keep your chimney in good working order and reduce the risk of fire.

WOOD-BURNING STOVES

A wood-burning stove adds old-fashioned charm to anyhome, especially if you have a cast iron version. They're also great for target-heating a cool space - and some models are also suited for cooking and roasting.

Before you install one, it's worth taking the time to understand how to install, ventilate and use a wood-burning stove. Here are some tips to safely enjoy your stove.

  • Check your stove placement. It should be on a sturdy, fire-resistant base and protective floor covering should extend 18 inches from all sides of the stove.
  • Leave enough space between the stove and the floors, walls and ceiling. The National Fire Protection Association advises that the clearance between the stove and combustible surfaces be at least 36 inches. If you can't get enough space in between the wall and stove, add a protective covering such as sheet metal.
  • Choose the right wood. Use only dry and hard wood that has been seasoned for at least six months. Burning green wood can pose a fire hazard since it leaves an oily substance on your chimney flue called creosote. When creosote accumulates, it can start a chimney fire.
  • Never burn trash in your wood stove.
  • Use paper and sticks as kindling. When the smoke starts drawing up into the chimney, start adding the wood. Never use combustible fluids, such as gasoline, to get the fire going.
  • Crack open a window. This will help the air flow up into the chimney and help prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. Also, install a fire detector and a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as your stove, and always have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Have the chimney cleaned and inspected regularly by an expert.

SPACE HEATERS

Because they are portable and affordable, space heaters are hard to beat when you need extra heat for your home.

Unfortunately, space heaters cause more house fires than any other home heating source. And these fires lead to more deaths. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are linked to more than 25,000 residential fires a year and more than 300 deaths. Also, 6,000 people a year seek emergency care to treat burns after coming in contact with a space heater's hot surfaces.

Follow these tips and guidelines to safely use space heaters in your home:

  • Consider an upgrade if you have an older heater. Today's models are designed to shut off when the unit tips over, while others are designed to keep surface temperatures no hotter than 90 degrees. If your heater has loose, cracked or damaged cords, plugs or connections, you should stop using it.
  • Put it in a safe place. It should operate on a flat, even and solid surface away from foot traffic and out of doorways. Keep three feet of clearance around the unit and keep it away from any walls and furniture.
  • Turn off the heater when you leave the room.

PORTABLE FIREPLACE

Indoor portable fireplaces cast that warm flickering glow we all love and crave in the winter, without the fuss, expense and maintenance that come with running a fireplace or wood stove.

Another advantage is these portable fireplaces run on ethanol, a renewable fuel that doesn't release carbon monoxide in the air. But they do produce an open flame. As nice as this looks, it's something to be aware of. Here are tips when it comes to using one.

  • As with other portable heat sources, placement is key. Place portable fireplaces on a flat, even and fire-resistant surface that is far away from table edges.
  • Never allow children to operate these units.
  • Only add fuel to the unit when it's turned off. Give it 15 minutes to cool down and wipe up any spills before lighting. Never "top it off" while it is running - the heat could cause the fuel to ignite right in the container.
  • Never move a portable fireplace while it is still hot. Since they are small and easy to pick up, don't be tempted to move a portable fireplace while it is still hot, and especially when it's operating. An accidental burn or a stumble could lead to home damage and injury.
  • Keep kids and pets at a safe distance. Unfortunately, portable fireplaces can easily tip over.
  • Never leave your portable fireplace burning unattended. Before you head out or go to bed, extinguish the flames.

No matter which heating source you use, keep a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher in the same room it's in. Set a reminder to test the batteries regularly.

Whether you're using these options to stay warm or just to create some cozy ambiance in your home, it's worth keeping these guidelines top of mind to help keep your family and house safe all winter long.

 

Today's insurance tips and ideas brought to you by ERIE Insurance.