How to Protect Your Car from Vehicle Theft

Posted & filed under Car Insurance.

by Lewis Bassett

Vehicle theft is one of the most common crimes in the world, and there are many reasons why. A car
is a valuable commodity that is easy to sell, and an unprotected car is relatively easy to steal. In fact,
there is some truth in the belief that is a thief wants your car, he will get it. The onus is on the owner
to make sure their vehicle is securely protected.

Vehicle theft has, to some extent, become more sophisticated of late; random theft is less likely and,
instead, thieves are targeting the most popular models. This is something you should consider when
looking at your car’s security system: if your car is a model in the top ten sellers list, it is likely to be
among the top ten most stolen. For the record, the car most likely to be stolen is a BMW 5-Series.

The key to protecting your car lies in making it as unattractive to a thief as possible; time is of the
essence for the car thief, and the longer it takes to steal your car, the less likely it is to be stolen.
Some of the following tips are common sense, others are gained from experience, but these are all
essential aids to minimising the risk of vehicle theft:

  • All new cars will have an alarm system fitted, and older vehicles are likely to have had one
    installed as an after-market item. Use the alarm as instructed, and make sure it is apparent
    that your alarm is activated.
  • Always lock your vehicle: it is a fact that half of stolen cars were unlocked. It doesn’t matter
    if you are leaving your car for just a few moments, it only takes that long for a thief to get in
    and drive away.
  • Never leave your keys in the car: the keys are in the ignition in more than 10% of car thefts.
    Always park in a well-lit area, as dark and hidden spaces are the most popular with car
  • Never hide a spare set of keys in your car; thieves are not fools and will know precisely
    where to look.
  • Make sure all the windows are completely closed, as the smallest gap enables the thief to
    enter the vehicle easily.
  • Never leave your engine running with the car unattended as this is an invitation to
    opportunist thieves. Many people who have stopped at a filling station, store or ATM have
    found their car spirited away behind their back – thieves target these sites and wait for the
    opportunity. Likewise, do not start the engine at home and leave it running to warm up
    while you are in the house; a surprising number of cars are stolen this way.
  • Never leave valuables in view, and remove the front panel from your stereo.
    If you are leaving your car overnight or for some time try and park in an attended parking
    lot. Thieves are reluctant to try and steal a car when someone is watching.
  • Some thieves target expensive and sought-after models and use a tow-truck to quickly
    take the vehicle. If you park with your wheels turned towards the kerb this is much harder.
    Likewise, turn your wheels to the side in your driveway or in a parking lot, and for rear wheel
    drive cars, always reverse into your drive; for front wheel drive, park front first. On four
    wheel drive cars note that it is the rear wheels that lock when parked.
  • If you have a garage, use it, and remember to lock both the garage and the car.
  • Never leave your registration or other documents in the car – this makes it a simple and
    straightforward sell. Keep them in your purse or wallet instead.

Use a steering lock – either the factory fitted one or/and an aftermarket model; they add
time to starting the car, and deter the thief.

If you drive a model that is known to be attractive to car thieves – BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz
are continually among the most-stolen cars – take added precautions, and always be aware that
there is strong demand for cars such as these ‘stolen to order’. Be prepared, and never leave your
car unprotected.

These anti-theft tips were provided by Lewis Bassett from DandLock – The Last Locksmith You’ll Ever Need!.

5 Distractions Most Drivers Miss

Posted & filed under distracted driving.

Most drivers understand that texting and other cell phone use is a dangerous distraction while driving. Beyond the now-obvious cell phone dangers, there are numerous other perilous distractions, some of which have been with us since the beginning of the automobile era. With commute times increasing and in-car amenities expanding, it’s easy to become distracted by seemingly harmless activities. But careful drivers should be vigilant about these oft-unheralded distractions:

Distracted driving danger #1: Eating and/or drinking
Cup holders have been standard in most vehicles for almost 20 years. Travel mugs are a $1.9 billion dollar industry according to some estimates. When reaching for that morning coffee or afternoon beverage, few drivers think of the potential dangers they’re creating: distractions can result from spills, mouth burns, or even the split-second it might take to remove a beverage from its holder. The potential dangers from eating are even worse. The safe move in this scenario: if you must eat or drink in the car, wait until you’re at a complete stop such as a red light or traffic jam.
Distracted driving danger #2: Talking to passengers
Chatting with passengers is another major potential distraction. With guests in the car, it’s natural to want to play the good host and make sure your drivers are entertained. Even a casual polite conversation is a potential distraction. If you’re distracted by passengers while driving, the safest thing to do is pull over the vehicle (if possible) until the distraction ceases.
Distracted driving danger #3: Using a GPS navigation system
Almost every automotive navigation system displays a similar warning at startup: Do not input data or queries into this device while driving. Some GPS systems even include an optional feature that prevents data entry while the car is in motion. But the entire point of a GPS navigational system is to help drivers find their location quickly and easily — so it’s especially difficult to resist the temptation to enter an address while the car is in motion. After all, stopping to input the data will just slow you down, right? The fact is, entering data into a GPS while driving is just as dangerous as texting, and possibly more so. And, if you try to adjust your trip while driving, there’s a good chance you’ll miss the best turn or freeway exit. It’s better to arrive a few minutes late than not at all, so when you need to tweak your Tomtom or goose your Garmin, find a safe place to pull over. It’s safer, and it just might save you from making yet another u-turn when possible.
Distracted driving danger #4: Listening to music, or adjusting the stereo
Automotive audiophiles have more choices today than ever before. When buying a new vehicle, you can choose from adapters for portable MP3 players, in-car digital audio players, CDs, CD changers, satellite radio, HD radio — pretty much everything except cassette or 8-track players. All of this is fun, to be sure, but remember that the driver’s focus needs to be on the road, not on the tunes. Adjust your audio only when at a complete stop. Keep the volume low enough so it doesn’t block out outside noise. And never, ever, drive while wearing earbuds or headphones.
Distracted driving danger #5: Smoking
Because smoking is recognized as a dangerous, unhealthy habit, it’s easy to forget that millions of adults still smoke. And because smoking in public places is increasingly prohibited or discouraged, many smokers find their daily commute to be the one place where they can indulge their habit. If eating or drinking is dangerous while driving, just imagine how dangerous it is to smoke a cigarette or cigar behind the wheel! Experts encourage smokers to avoid their addiction while driving. If you must smoke, find a reasonable place to do so either before or after you start your drive. If smoking while driving has become habitual for you, try chewing gum instead (either nicotine gum or plain old chewing gum). This could even be the first step toward giving up cigarettes for good.

Heavy Fines Imposed for Texting While Jaywalking

Posted & filed under distracted driving.

Texting While Walking Is Now Illegal in Several Cities in the Northeast U.S.The Northeast is known for fast walking, fast talking, and fast deals. However, jaywalking and texting could now cost big bucks. In Fort Lee, NJ, and Philadelphia texting while also jaywalking is now illegal. In Fort Lee texting while jaywalking and those violating the law will be given a ticket for $85.00. Jaywalking and texting in Philly will cost you around $120.00.

Officials say issuing tickets to texting jaywalkers is not about making money for the city, but instead is a warning and reminder of common sense and safety. According to New Jersey’s The Record, more than 117 tickets have been issued to pedestrians in Fort Lee since the end of March 2012. Warnings were issued first and then tickets to cut down on this new technological epidemic were given out. “It’s a big distraction. Pedestrians aren’t watching where they are going and they are not aware” said Fort Lee New Jersey Police Chief Thomas Ripoli.
Not only is texting a distraction, but can lead to death if an individual gets struck by a moving vehicle. In Fort Lee, 74 pedestrians were hurt and two people were killed due to texting and not watching cars in front of them.
By Jennifer S. O’Reilly

Photo credit: Robert Helfman

Does Your Insurance Cover Weather Damage and Natural Disasters?

Posted & filed under Advice & How-to.

Surviving a natural disaster can be devastating in many ways. Job losses,
homelessness due to the disaster, and vehicle damage all take their toll on a person. Most
individuals have one car, maybe two, and when those cars are ruined because of Mother
Nature’s havoc, it is often difficult to recover from the losses. My father lost three British
Classic cars in Hurricane Katrina and is still recovering from the storm 7 years later. The
estimated value of his cars was over $40,000 and the insurance company paid only
$3,000 for all three of the foreign classic cars. Before signing on with automotive
insurance companies there are some important things to remember before you sign the
coverage paperwork.

1. Research. Do your homework on the insurance company. There are many companies
which offer coverage. Complete the necessary web research, compare rates, and ask
friends and family what their insurance rates run.

2. Meet. Make an appointment to meet with the insurance representative in person to
discuss rates and terms before signing important documents.

3. Think on it. Do not make a hasty decision. After reviewing necessary paperwork and
contracts take the time out to mull over the information before you make a final decision
as to what company to go with.

4. Copies. Keep copies of ALL receipts, contracts, paperwork, and all necessary
documents pertaining to the auto insurance policy in a safe place. Individuals often like
to scan documents and back up files with a CD or thumb drive. Another option is to keep
papers in a fire proof safe or bank safety deposit box. If disaster rears its ugly head then
you will be covered if you have back up copies of the files.

Disasters are never easy to deal with and when your auto is involved it makes matters
even worse. Following these helpful tips can take some of the stress out of coping with
disasters and your car.

by Jennifer S. O’Reilly

Florida Passes Law to Combat Insurance Fraud

Posted & filed under Florida Car Insurance, Insurance Fraud.

Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed a new law which significantly cuts
down on the amount of car insurance fraud taking place in the sunshine state. Because
car accident victims sometimes inflate their injuries and also hope that they will get more
money from other drivers insurance company car insurance fraud has run amuck in many
states, specifically Florida. The new law states those involved in car accidents must be
treated within 14 days (starting January 1st, 2013). In addition, car accident victim’s
benefits would not longer pay for healthcare services such as acupuncture and massage

PIP, also known as Personal Injury Protection Coverage valued at $10,000, was
one of the reasons automotive insurance fraud was so prevalent in Florida. Due to PIP,
heavy abuse, staged car accidents, and fake injuries sent individuals insurance premiums
to the top and many could not longer afford car insurance because of high new rates.
Those who are hurt in an accident and have emergency injuries or conditions will be able
to get a full $10,000 PIP compensation. Those without serious injuries would be eligible
for $2,500 of medical care. The two Florida cities where car insurance fraud takes place
the most are Tampa and Miami.

Most citizens would like to believe people involved in an auto accident are totally
honest about their injuries, but there are some who are out to scam and take advantage of
auto insurance rules and regulations. Most accidents could be avoided if drivers would
learn to slow down and pay more attention on the road. Better driver education can also
help young adults learn the rules of the road and become better drivers into adulthood.

The new law is a legislative victory for Governor Scott and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jerry Atwater, who introduced the idea more than 8 months ago.  But the law is certainly not an end to insurance fraud in Florida – some companies may already be planning ways to work around it.

by Jennifer S. O’Reilly