New York City's 'gotcha' cameras could cost you in car insurance

New York City's multi-billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the ultimate social engineer. Not content to run our country's biggest city, Mayor Mike is out to reshape human behavior. He's gone after tobacco, sugared drinks, super-sized sodas and guns. Now, like certain dogs, he's chasing cars. And the result could cost New York, New Jersey and Connecticut motorists more in car insurance -- or even make it more difficult for them to get. Some of Bloomberg's cockeyed crusades have merit, but he has also butted heads with more rational thinkers. The New York State Supreme Court blocked his plan to stop the sale of 32-ounce sodas in local stores. The International Olympic Committee nixed his bid to bring the games to New York. And his grandiose vision of a pro football stadium on the city's already overcrowded west side never scored a touchdown. But let's give Mayor Mike his due. For a man often described as a "nanny stater," he definitely knows how to play hardball. Car counting One of his less-publicized endeavors, keeping passenger cars out of his city, shifted into high gear when traffic "counters" with clickers were stationed at each corner on the way into the city to… (continue reading......)

Is 'accident forgiveness' an (insurance) offer you can't refuse?

Insurance companies compete with special options He got me! There I was, caught like the proverbial deer in the headlights of a police cruiser on a darkened road in the New Jersey pinelands. The red and blue bubble-gum machine lights atop the cop car alerted every motorist within miles that I was getting a ticket. It was humiliating, and a costly courtroom experience, even when you pled guilty. But my worst fear was that my car insurance rates would go up $400 a year with those dreaded points on my license. Well, that didn't happen. "We don't raise your rates because you get a ticket," said my insurance agent. Whew! And when I had an accident that wasn't my fault but still cost my insurer $1,500, my yearly rate still didn't go up. Apparently I'm not alone. USA Today recently cited a study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International that said just 31 percent of drivers who received a moving violation within the last five years were hit with higher rates. Total recall Some insurance experts felt that the survey results were bogus. The Chief Economist of the Insurance Information Institute (III), Steve Weisbart, said that the survey asked drivers for a "five-year recall" of when… (continue reading......)

The better the economy, the worse the car accidents

Car accidents rise with the economy At their annual conference in January, auto insurers actually worried about whether theirs was a "shrinking business." All newer vehicles come equipped with "black boxes," which tell police and courts what really happened in an auto accident, providing them with the proper place to put the blame. BMW has already introduced autos that are truly auto -- they drive themselves. Voluntary vehicle monitors in cars, such as Progressive's Snapshot, which tell insurers if the driver is going too fast or braking too hard, are catching on with motorists lured by the possibility of lower rates for better driving. Progressive is the 4th largest auto insurer in the nation, but it's Snapshot program is now the 20th largest car insurer on its own, with more than a million members, according to analysts. But most importantly, until recently serious car accidents were trending sharply downward. I repeat, until recently. This trend is not your friend The latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tell a different story. During the first nine months of 2012 there was more than a 7 percent increase in motor vehicle traffic fatalities. And that trend will probably continue when Thanksgiving and Christmas driving season… (continue reading......)

Don't despair, get an OEM repair!

OEM vs. non-OEM repair parts About two years ago I was driving my new Honda Fit in the center lane across Florida's Alligator Alley. In the right hand lane ahead of me was a pickup truck hauling a car engine strapped to the back of an old wooden trailer. A metal piece from that engine, which could have been a valve cover, bounced up and out, careened off the blacktop and smashed into my windshield as if an Olympic athlete had thrown a javelin. The windshield held, but began to crack. Then a small hole appeared that let the wind whistle through. When I reached my destination I called my insurance company, which recommended several repair shops that could replace my windshield. Funny thing: No Honda dealership was mentioned. "Shouldn't I just go to Honda?" I asked. The claims adjustor hemmed and hawed. He didn't insist that I have the windshield replaced at any of his suggested repair shops, but he kept reciting them during our conversation. Rain rain go away Since I was far from home with no previous experience in this kind of situation, I took his recommendation on where to repair my windshield. But when I started to drive north, the once… (continue reading......)

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