The world’s first car accident occurred in 1891 and involved 2 Ohioans and a tree, but the world’s first car insurance policy wasn’t written until 1897. That means for 6 (doubtlessly crazy) years, people were driving hither and yon in their fancy new horseless carriages without a drop of coverage. Compound that with the fact that safety measures like stop signs, right-of-way, and driver training had not yet been invented, and you can begin to imagine the chaos of a world sans car insurance.
It’s not like the idea of insurance didn’t exist. As a concept, insurance had begun long, long before then. But perhaps more than anything, the mass production of the automobile in the early 20th century helped to revolutionize the industry — making it as standard today as that requisite new-car smell.
Legends, licensing, and liability
Since cars first started rolling off Ford’s legendary assembly line in 1903, we’ve been driving them, decorating them, sleeping in them, and, yes, crashing them. But while more and more cars were hitting the road, early drivers were hitting trees, wagons, horses, and inevitably, each other as well.
In 1930, roughly 110 people were killed per day in car accidents. In 2000, with nearly twice the national population, fatalities per day increased by only 4 to 114. That’s approximately 10 times more fatalities per registered vehicle back in 1930.
And while this figure is staggering, it’s not altogether surprising if you consider that most drivers in the early days were untested and virtually untrained. Back then, they didn’t have driving schools, driver tests, or driver licensing laws any more than we have hovercar training today. Massachusetts and Missouri were the first to establish driver licensing laws in 1903, but Missouri had no actual driver exam law until 1952.
In the early days, instead of standing in line for 2 hours at the DMV and taking numerous tests just to wait several weeks for your license to arrive, you could simply walk into your local licensing office, plunk down 50 cents (or so), and walk away the proud owner of a driver’s license. Almost as easy as getting one from a Cracker Jack® box.
But as we know all too well, simply having a license doesn’t necessarily make you a good driver. And imagine what the roads must have been like at the turn of the last century. The combination of amateur drivers and unpaved, unmonitored roads proved tragic and highlighted the rapidly growing need for liability insurance.
Liability Required (mostly)
In 1927, Massachusetts became the first state to make liability insurance required by law. By the 1940s, with the end of WWII and a subsequent surge in automobile production, most states had passed similar laws. Today, New Hampshire remains the only state in the union without compulsory liability laws. (The whole “Live Free or Die” thing.)
In An Accident But Didn’t Get Any Insurance Information. What’s Next?
If you get into a car accident that isn’t your fault, then the law is on your side. This is the purpose for car insurance and it should then follow that the driver that was to blame will pay for the damage and for any medical costs through their insurance. It is a legal requirement that drivers should have insurance and therefore you should be able to safely presume that the other party will have the available funds to pay for the damage and you should be able to get back onto the road and afford any medical costs without any personal financial loss.
But of course it doesn’t always work like that. For example, what happens if you are in a car accident and the other person drives away? What if you are the victim of a hit and run?
In these cases, you won’t be able to get the costs paid by anyone else and you’ll be left to deal with them. This can be a very frustrating and upsetting experience as you now not only have the shock and trauma of being in a car accident but also the stress and inconvenience of having to pay for damage that was not your fault and that may have been outside of your control.
So, what do you do?
Your Rights As A Driver
If you have been in a car accident and the other driver did not stop to exchange details, then that is technically classified as a ‘hit and run’. This is an infraction and means that the other driver will face charges if they are eventually caught.
A hit and run is any kind of accident in which one party intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information. If they haven’t stopped to ask if you are alright and to offer to exchange insurance details/contact information, then they have broken the law. Even if the accident was your fault!
The First Steps After Getting In An Accident
The first thing to do if you are the victim of a hit and run is to assess the local area and to see if there is any information that can help you to catch the culprit.
First, assess your own memory. Can you remember the make and model of the vehicle? Do you remember what the other driver looked like? Write down these details while they are fresh in your memory and it may improve your chances of tracking down the driver. Police may be able to narrow down potential culprits by looking at who is in the local area and drives that car. Of course, if you can get a number plate down on paper then that will be even better.
Another good idea is to get out the car (making sure it is safe to do so) and see if there were any witnesses who might be willing to give a statement. Ask if they saw the number plate and ask if they would be willing to give you their contact details to help you catch the culprit. If it ultimately comes down to your word against theirs in a court of law, then this could help sway the decision in your favor.
Likewise, try to look for any other evidence. Skid marks on the road and the nature of the damage to your car will help you to demonstrate what happened (even when you catch the driver, that doesn’t mean they will admit fault). Better yet, try going into local stores in the area and asking if they have security camera footage that they would be willing to let you use. These days there is almost always some form of security camera or CCTV in built-up areas and even motorways will often have recording devices in place.
One thing you must never do is to try and pursue the person who hit you. If you do this, then you risk causing further accident and you will lose the opportunity to follow the steps outlined.
Getting Compensation After The Hit-And-Run
Following this, you can then file a police report. The police will then be able to use the information you have given them and any other details in order to try and track down the guilty party. From here, you may be able to get compensation from the driver either through their insurance, or out of their own pocket (if they don’t have insurance). Even if they aren’t successful in apprehending the culprit, simply having a police report on file can help you legally in a number of ways.
In Virginia, your auto policy should include ‘uninsured motorist coverage’. This will cover hit and run accidents in many cases and that means you will only have to pay the agreed excess.
If you need auto insurance in the state of Virginia, please call 434 979 0814 in Charlottesville or 894 741 6305 anywhere in Central Virginia OR
If you are looking for the lowest prices, there are some guidelines worth following as you do your research. Here are 8 ways to get the cheapest auto insurance.
1. Don’t assume any one company is the cheapest
Some companies spend a lot of money on commercials, trying to convince you that they offer the lowest car insurance rates.
The truth is that prices individuals will pay for the same coverage at the same company vary widely, and no single company can claim to be the low-price leader. The insurance company that’s cheapest for one person in one place might be the most expensive option for another driver. Some insurance companies have also developed complex predictive models that may charge you higher rates if they show you are unlikely to switch providers. Your best bet is to get quotes from different companies, including independent agencies, and compare for the best.
2. Don’t ignore local and regional insurance companies
Just four companies control nearly half the nation’s car insurance business: Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm. But smaller, regional insurers, such as Able Insurance, often have higher customer satisfaction ratings than the big names and they deliver great lower rates, too.
3. Check for discounts
Insurers provide a variety of discounts, including price breaks for customers who:
Bundle car insurance with other policies, such as homeowners insurance
Insure multiple cars with one policy
Have a clean driving record
Pay their entire annual or six-month premium at once
Agree to receive documents online
Own a car with certain anti-theft or safety features
Are members of particular professional organizations or affiliate groups
4. Pay your bills on time — and not just your insurance bills
Your credit is a significant factor in the car insurance quotes you’ll receive. Insurance companies say that customers’ credit has been shown to correlate with their risk of filing a claim. Improve your credit — and lower your premiums — by paying your bills on time and reducing your debt. Track your progress by checking your credit reports at least once per year.
You probably already pay attention to factors such as fuel efficiency and repair costs when deciding which car to buy, but you should also consider insurance premiums, which can vary between popular models. On a review of rates for best-selling vehicles in 25 cities found that the Toyota Camry, for example, cost an average of $187 per year more to insure than the comparable Honda Accord. Similarly, a Toyota RAV4 cost an average of $201 more to insure than a Honda CR-V.
6. Skip collision and comprehensive coverage for your clunker
Collision coverage pays to repair damage your vehicle receives in an accident involving another car or an inanimate object. Comprehensive pays to repair vehicle damage caused by weather, animals or vandalism, or reimburses you for your car if its stolen. But both will only pay up to the value of your car. If yours older and has a low market value, it may not make sense to shell out for the two policies.
7. Consider raising your deductible
If you need to carry comprehensive and collision — because your car is a later model or your lender requires it — you can save a substantial amount of money by raising the deductibles. A NerdWallet study of rates in Florida and California found that customers who increased their deductibles from $500 to $1,000 saved about $200 per year on premiums, while those who increased them from $500 to $2,000 saved $362 per year. Keep in mind that this will mean you’ll pay more out of pocket if you do make a claim.
8. Consider usage-based plans, especially if you don’t drive much
If you’re a safe driver who doesn’t log very many miles, consider a usage-based insurance program. By signing up for these programs, you allow your insurer to track your driving electronically in exchange for possible discounts, based on how much you drive, when you drive and how well you drive.
Able Insurance is always here to help you make the best decisions based on your individual needs, current situation, and long-term goals. If you’re looking for affordable term coverage for temporary needs, or a permanent policy, we can help with solutions that meet your needs and budget. No matter where you are in life, one thing is certain: if someone depends on you financially, you need life insurance.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but car care doesn’t take a vacation between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The warmer months present some challenges to personal transportation and maintenance, but this list will help us all have a summer we can enjoy.
Here are our top 10 tips to keeping your car — and its passengers — in good shape this summer.
1. Coolant System
Keeping cool is paramount, not just for ourselves but also for our cars. In addition to checking the level of coolant fluid in your car, go the extra mile and inspect the state of the hoses and the coolant reservoir. Keep an eye out for leaks, especially at joints and connection points, such as where a hose connects to the engine block. Also, squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) every once in a while to make sure they feel firm and not excessively squishy or soft.
2. Engine Belts
There is usually a serpentine belt that runs between the alternator, the fan and several other components. It can deteriorate, become loose, start to squeal, and sometimes just break for no apparent reason. It needs to be in good condition and at the right amount of tension. If you see cracks in the belt or small pieces missing, it’s time to replace the belt.
Yes, it’s summer, but it’s probably going to rain at some point. Worn wipers create nasty streaks across the windshield and can affect your vision while driving. Replacing them doesn’t cost much, but it can be a fiddly operation. If you’re in the habit of taking your car in for oil changes, ask them about the wipers, too. Sometimes a dealership will sell you the wipers and install them for free.
4. Other Essential Fluids
Check oil, brake, power-steering and windshield-washer fluids regularly. These liquids never stop being used and consumed. Speaking of brake fluid, how do the brakes on your car feel in general? Are they lacking in bite? Feeling a bit spongy? If so, new pads and a system bleed might be required. This is the kind of maintenance you should have your mechanic or dealership take care of.
5. Air-Conditioning System
Air-conditioning is a summer essential. If the system hasn’t been working properly but wasn’t really a pressing issue over the winter, now’s the time to get serious. If it’s an older system, then leaking Freon into the atmosphere is not good. There are plenty of leak-sealing products and refrigerant rechargers available from hobbyist stores and even places like Walmart. Remember, if there’s not enough refrigerant in the system, you have a leak. Have a qualified mechanic fix the leak before paying to have the air-conditioning system recharged.
6. Air Filter
The winter’s decomposing leaves may be clogging up drainage points, windshield-washer nozzles or your car’s air filter. Now might be a good time to buy a new one or take the current one out and give it a cleaning. Many modern cars also have pollen filters or cabin filtration systems, so take a look at those, too. Sometimes these cabin filters are easy to change yourself. Like everything else mentioned here: When in doubt, consult a qualified technician.
Tires really need to be checked regularly all year round. Pressures must be correct (consult the manual because sometimes that information is on the inside of the fuel door or the door jamb for the driver’s door), treads should be free of stones, stray nails and the like, and all four should be in good condition. Good condition means no cracks, no uneven wear (this might be caused by a suspension problem) and plenty of tread depth. Since summer is a time for road trips, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a can of Fix-A-Flat that could at least get you to a shady spot where you could change the wheel more comfortably. The spare obviously needs to be usable, too.
8. Dashboard Sunshade
For those times when you’re not driving, but the car is still out in the sun, a cover that goes in the windshield will protect the dashboard against ultraviolet rays and help the cabin stay a little cooler. Some even have solar panels to keep the battery charged. Consider shades for the rear side windows, too, as they’ll provide some protection for the kids. This also helps prevent areas such as the rear seats and dashboard from fading over time.
9. Clean the Car
Those long, balmy evenings when the sun is a huge, orange orb hanging low in a pinky-blue sky sound blissful. But they can also be a hazard, especially when your car’s windshield is dirty. Even from the inside, that haze will diffuse the light and make things hard to see. That grime has a tendency to build up over a long period, so we don’t really notice it. Things look much sharper after your car has had a good wash, though. Keeping the exterior clean also protects the paintwork from the sun’s rays, as well as any damage caused by birds and insects. Finish off the cleaning with a good-quality wax. Car care makes financial sense in the long run.
10. Driver and Passengers
It’s hot out there. Make sure everyone’s hydrated. It’s better to make a few more bathroom breaks and stretch your legs than to end up cranky and fatigued. Plan road trips as if you were a general marching against an opposing army. Make a list of everything you’re going to need. For example: sunglasses, hats, travel mugs, games for the kids, snacks, chargers for the phones and tablets, route planner, weather forecasts, emergency triangle, flashlight and a small tool kit. If a scheduled service is coming up, think about getting it done before a long drive. It’s also wise to make sure your insurance and driving license are up to date. Have a great summer, enjoy the roads, and take care of yourself and your car.
If you’re planning on kicking off summer with a getaway, you’re not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Travelocity, almost 40% of Americans traveled over Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends, with 77% of them planning to travel by car. Before you hit the open road, be sure to start the summer travel season off right by preparing for your adventure. Spending some time getting ready will help ensure a safe, fun and stress-free road trip.
SERVICE YOUR CAR
Check your filter and oil levels
Top off all fluid levels, including coolant and windshield wiper fluid
Change your air filter, if needed
Check your tires, including the spare tire, for proper inflation
Rotate tires, if you haven’t had it done for the last six months or 7,500 miles
Inspect belts and hoses
Test the battery and brakes
Change transmission fluid if needed
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
In today’s digital world, planning your route can be as simple as pulling up an app or opening Google Maps. Take a few minutes to map your route ahead of time, then let a trusted friend or family member know exactly where you’ll be driving to and when you plan on getting there. In addition, check weather conditions and road closures along your chosen route before you leave.
PACK YOUR BAGS MINDFULLY
Besides the proper clothes, shoes, undergarments, toiletries and such – you should also have a bag filled with emergency supplies. And REMEMBER, summertime is hot and if you get stranded, you’re going to need WATER. Some other items you might need are:
A properly inflated spare tire, lug wrench and jack
A tire pressure gauge and a can of compressed air
Flashlight and batteries
A plastic tarp
Bottled water and energy bars
Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
Plastic bags (for trash)
When you’re packing up the car, don’t put the emergency kit in first. Instead, wait until everything else is securely stowed before placing the kit in the trunk. That way, you can easily access it in case of an emergency.
IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY
If, despite your best efforts and pre-planning, you end up broken down on the side of the road, what should you do? First, pull your car to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. Put your car in park, set the emergency brake, and point the wheels away from the road. Keep your emergency contact numbers programmed into your phone so you can access them easily when
If you can safely get out, place flares about 50 feet behind your car to alert other drivers. Don’t, however, leave the car by the road while you’re waiting for help; generally, it’s safer to stay with your car than to be a pedestrian. If a stranger pulls over while you’re waiting for help to arrive, remain in the car with your doors locked. Roll the window down a bit and let them know help is on the way.
STAYING SAFE ON THE ROAD
When you’re on the road, remember every occupant needs to be buckled up at all times. Not only is this the law, but seat belts save lives… more than 12,000 a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The safest place for kids under age 12 is in the back seat. Finally, if you feel fatigued, switch drivers or pull over to rest.
If you have gotten your license suspended or revolked, you may require an SR-22 filing in order to drive legally again. The state of Virginia uses the SR-22 form to help protect its citizens against problem drivers by monitoring their insurance. It requires the auto insurance company to file the SR-22 form as a proof of a problem driver’s financial responsibility, stating that his/her auto insurance liability is in effect. The state does not send notifications and it is the responsibility of the driver and the auto insurance company to submit the form as well as the renewals, to the state, if required.
What Is A SR-22 Form?
There are three different types of SR-22 forms:
The Operator’s Certificate covers the financial responsibility in the case the motorist does not own a vehicle.
The Owner’s Certificate covers the financial responsibility for vehicles owned by the motorist.
The Operators-Owners Certificate covers financial responsibility for all the vehicles that are owned or non-owned by the motorist.
When Is A SR-22 Required?
The SR-22 financial responsibility Insurance form is required in the following cases:
In case of a driver’s license suspension as a result of a conviction for a major offense such as manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle, making a false affidavit during driver license application or vehicle registration, failure to stop at the scene of an accident that resulted in death or injury, or a second conviction for operating a passenger vehicle without a valid license.
If you have any unsatisfied judgment suspensions. For example, if a driver involved in an accident in the past has an unsatisfactory judgment entered against him then he or she needs to fill the SR-22.
In case of an uninsured motor vehicle suspension.
Certain convictions such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving with a suspended license will require filing of an FR-44. This is a more stringent version of the SR-22 under which the amount of minimum coverage is doubled.
Filing For The SR-22
Contact a state-authorized insurance agency to request for a SR-22 filing.
Pay the correct processing fee to the agency. The fee amount may vary between agencies. You can request an insurance quote from our Virginia auto insurance page and companies such as Esurance will allow you to request an SR-22 filing automatically.
As per the State laws of Virginia, the minimum amount of coverage should be $25,000 for one person killed or injured, $50,000 for two or more persons killed or injured and $20,000 for property damage.
Upon receiving the request from the agent the central office then sends the SR-22 directly to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. SR-22 filing may be carried out electronically, in which case your records will be updated almost instantaneously.
The SR-22 has to be maintained for a minimum period of 36 months. If the motorist does not renew it at least 15 days before the expiration date the agency notifies the State. The State may then suspend the driving record of the motorist until the insurance is reinstated.
Owners of business vehicles may choose to go for self-insurance by furnishing a surety bond. For more information regarding self-insurance, contact your nearest DMV office.
Your auto insurance is a collection of different policies that cover you in different ways. Before you buy car insurance, it’s helpful to know how much car insurance you need.
Here’s how it’s broken down:
Liability coverage – These policies help cover liability and expenses when you’re at fault in and accident. The money will go to the people you hit, but it won’t cover the people in your car.
Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) – This policy pays for the medical expenses of people injured in a crash in which you’re at fault. You’ll often see BIL policies described as a “20/50” policy or a “100/300” policy. These numbers describe the maximum dollar amount the policy will pay for a single person’s injuries and the maximum for all the injuries sustained by all the occupants of the other car. For example, a policy will pay maximum of $20,000 for a single person’s injuries, and up to $50,000 total for the injuries of everyone in the car you hit.
Property Damage Liability – This policy pays for damage done to the other car if you’re at fault in an accident. Property liability is sometimes referred to alongside BIL as a third number, so a 25/50/20 liability package will cover up to $10,000 for damages to the other car.
The following policies cover you and your car in an accident:
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – This helps cover costs if you are hit by someone without insurance, or minimal coverage.
Collision – This policy covers repairs to your car after an accident.
Comprehensive – This policy covers costs if your car is stolen or damaged outside of an accident.
Minimum coverage isn’t necessarily all you should have. If you’re involved in a serious accident, it’s possible that an individual’s medical expenses could exceed $15,000, or a group’s expenses could total more than $30,000. In addition, $5,000 for car repairs isn’t a lot, considering that the average car now costs a little more than $20,000.
You’re on the hook when costs exceed your coverage limits. That’s why many people opt for policies that cover more than required minimums, particularly if they have assets that can be seized to pay for repairs and medical care. A good rule of thumb: Make sure you’re covered for an amount equal to the total value of your assets (Add up the dollar values of your house, your car, savings and investments).
How much insurance do you need for yourself?
Collision and comprehensive coverage is worth having if you would want to repair or replace your car after an accident. These policies have a deductible (the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket before coverage kicks in), and they pay out based on the current value of your car, not what you paid for it.
Choose the highest deductible you can afford, because a higher deductible will significantly lower your premium. You’re seeking coverage for major damages to your car, not for every little thing that can go wrong. It’s better to spend $500 of your own money on minor repairs every so often than pay an extra $50 a month whether you need repairs or not. Save collision insurance for when you have car repairs that cost thousands, not hundreds. Remember, if you submit a claim for every little thing, your premium will increase.
Check out your state’s minimum insurance requirements. It’s possible that the minimum coverage required might not be that different than what you really need.
When deciding how much coverage you need, make sure you’re covered for an amount equal to the total value of your assets.
To keep premiums low, choose collision coverage with a high deductible, and plan to pay routine repair costs with your own money.
There are many ways for Virginia drivers to stay safe and stay out of trouble with the police – some more obvious than others. Don’t speed, don’t drink and drive, wear your seatbelt, don’t text and drive, don’t run red lights, don’t run down some poor sap crossing the street… LOTS of rules that most of us really don’t have a problem following. There are a few, however, that you may not be aware of that we’d like to mention now. Below are some new driving laws that were inacted this year in the state of Virginia.
Senate Bill 117 creates a traffic infraction with a $50 fine for opening a motor vehicle door when it is not reasonably safe to do so. Dooring, commonly used in reference to bicyclists, occurs when a motorist opens his vehicle’s door in the path of an oncoming cyclist or other vehicle. The impact can seriously injure or kill a bicyclist, not to mention scare the heck out of someone driving past, causing them to swerve and possibly hit the car next to them. Before you get out of your car on the driver’s side, look carefully for approaching cars, bicyclest and pedestrians. On the passenger side, make sure no one is walking close or riding their bike on the sidewalk.
In Virginia, a person 15 years and 6 months of age is able to get their Learner’s Permit to drive with an adult. That hasn’t changed. But Senate Bill 555 of 2016 states that learner’s permit holders may not have more than one passenger under age 21 in the vehicle, with the exception of household or family members. The passenger restriction was previously placed on passengers under 18.In addition, provisional driver’s license holders under age 18 may no longer have more than one passenger under age 21 even if a parent is present. The passenger limitations on all provisional driver’s licenses also do not include household or family members. The initial license issued to any person younger than 18 years of age is considered a provisional driver’s license.
Both of these provisions are secondary offenses.
The law also changes the minimum learner’s permit holding periods for 18 year olds. Previously, 18 year olds with a learner’s permit had to wait a minimum of nine months before they could apply for a driver’s license. Now, they must only hold a learner’s permit for 60 days.
Learner’s permit holders may not use a cellphone or other wireless telecommunications device while driving, even if the device is in hands-free mode, except in a driver emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.The following are a few other DMV-related law changes that were effective July 1, 2016:
Organ donors registered through DMV will remain on the registry unless they ask to be removed. Upon application, DMV will issue refunds of fuels taxes for fuels used in vehicles owned by a hunger-relief nonprofit organization when the vehicle is being used for this purpose.
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