Car Insurance 101: Car Insurance for the First-Time Driver

Purchasing car insurance for the first-time driver can be a headache. There is a lot of information you’ll need in order to make the best decisions, so let’s start here at the beginning with Car Insurance 101.

Car Insurance 101 Infographic Describing Car Insurance Requirements for First-Time Drivers

Car Insurance 101

 

 

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Guest Post! Teens in the Car: What’s Most Distracting (and What Can We Do About It)?

[Please enjoy this guest post by Fay W! Thanks, Fay!] When it comes to teens in the car, are there significant differences between male and female drivers? Does gender really impact driving performance? Some common failures of new drivers include:

  • Poor judgment, with recklessness and inability to recognize and assess risks
  • Inexperience, with lack of practice in a variety in situations
  • Distractions

Interestingly, it seems to be true that boys tend to be more likely to take chances, log more miles, and collect more speeding tickets. Put more simply, they have worse judgment. Inexperience is a problem for all new drivers, by definition, which leaves distractions. Do these differ across genders? It’s starting to look like they do!
Teen in the car, driving safely.
“Those distractions, however, might not be what you think”, states NY speeding ticket attorney Zev Goldstein. “Teen peer driving is one of the most dangerous hazards for young drivers”.

Problem: Peer Passengers (Too Many Teens in the Car)

Both male and female drivers under the age of twenty were more likely to be distracted than teens driving without passengers, according to recent studies. For teens involved in collisions, 20% of females and 24% of males were distracted by something inside the vehicle immediately before the crash. Other teens admit to general distraction when they’re behind the wheel with a peer passenger in the car: 71% of males and 47% of females admit that they have been directly distracted by the actions of a passenger in their car, a huge difference. Two or more peer passengers substantially increases the risk of a crash when there’s a teen behind the wheel: the odds go up more than three times.

It’s about more than just what passengers do when they’re in the car. Passengers who are engaged in perfectly safe behaviors can still bring out unsafe behaviors in the teenage driver. These behaviors can be particularly unsafe for a young driver who is still building the experience and judgment necessary to drive safely. When simply knowing that they’re being observed by a peer is enough to change a teen’s driving behavior, it’s critical to be sure that they have learned both proper driving skills and self-control before they’re allowed to take to the road with their friends.

Solution: Set Limits on Teens in the Car and Follow Graduated Driver Licence Restrictions

All states have specific Graduated Driver License (GDL) requirements, which establish the amount of supervised practice driving a new driver must do, as well as limit the number of passengers new drivers can have. Look up these requirements and follow them. Monitoring and structuring practice driving may be the most important thing parents can do to ensure their teen learns good habits and masters important driving skills. And, according to the Centers for Disease control, at the very least parents should, “limit the number of teen passengers your teen can have to zero or one … for at least the first six months“, male or female.

Problem: Teens in the Car Texting

As cell phone use has increased, the worry about teens texting while behind the wheel has gone up along with it. 49% of boys send and receive text messages while behind the wheel, while only 45% of girls admit to the same behavior. Older teens are more likely to take their attention from the wheel for text messages than younger ones, perhaps because they feel more confident in their driving skills: 58% of eighteen-year-olds will text while driving, while only 24% of fifteen-year-olds will engage in similar behaviors.

Solution: Teens in the Car? Phones off and in the Glove Compartment

While many drivers believe hands-free devices are the answer to telephone distractions, studies have shown that this is not true. Especially for new drivers, who lack experience and are still building good judgment, phone use must be strictly prohibited. The best way to do this is simply to turn off the phone and put it away for the duration of the trip. The California DMV has other helpful suggestions for isolating teens in the car from their phones.

Regardless of gender, there are a number of risks inherent to being a new driver. However, with a few simple rules, and the right approach to the early stages of learning to drive, parents and teens both can be confident that girls and boys alike will grow into safe, smart men and women behind the wheel.

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Four Simple Tips for Driving Like Dad This Father’s Day

Does driving like dad sound crazy? maybe it shouldn’t! Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but your dad probably thinks he’s a better driver than you. A Harris Poll we commissioned found that:

  • 85% of dads rated themselves as very good or fairly good drivers
  • 72% of dads rated their children as very good or fairly good drivers
Graphic illustrating gifts for a father on Father's Day.

Happy Father’s Day, dads!

Are they right? Well, that’s a great question, and perhaps we can get to the bottom of that another day. For now, though, we’re getting ready for Father’s Day, so let’s take the old man at his word, and try to close the gap between our driving skills and his, with four simple tips for driving like dad does.

1. Care about your car.

One of the dads in our office says “The only thing dad cares about more than the kids is his car,” and it’s definitely crucial for you to make taking care of your car a priority. There’s no shortage of valuable tips for car maintenance out there, but a few basics are below.

  • Inspect your windshield wipers—a great time to do this is when you’re making sure your windshield is clean and easy to see through, and a great time to do that is every single time you gas up
  • Schedule an oil change—and get it done! Check your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency, and keep track of how long it’s been
  • Tend to your tires—first, check tire pressure: properly inflated tires are safer and even save you money on gas, and after you’ve taken care of this, use a penny to check your tire’s treads!
Image showing a penny being used to check the depth of a tire's tread.

Check the tread on your tire with a penny!

No, we’re not kidding: you can use a penny to check to see if your tires are worn. Simply put the penny into the groove of the tire, with Lincoln’s face toward you, and the top of his head pointing to the center of the axle. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head while looking from the side of the tire, your treads aren’t deep enough, and you need to replace your tire.

2. “Hey, quit horsing around!”

You already know that distracted driving is a big problem, but what you may not know is that some of the worst distractions are a little bigger than a cell phone, and a lot harder to put into the glove compartment. It turns out that passengers can be nearly as distracting to a driver as a cell phone! What this means is that you need to get in touch with your inner dad and make sure any passengers you’ve got are keeping quiet and not interfering with your driving.

Of course, this goes both ways: when you’re a passenger, make sure you’re not distracting the person who’s behind the wheel.

3. Remember what’s most important.

Driving is a little like being a dad: it’s a tremendous privilege, and one that comes with great responsibilities. When you’re driving, just like when you’re a dad, you’re never alone. Everything you do has consequences for those around you. And, just like being a dad, driving can be a heck of a lot of fun!

To drive more like a dad, just keep your responsibilities in mind when you’re behind the wheel. Follow these simple tips for driving defensively, and maybe next year we’ll add “Teen Driver Day” to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

  • Snap that seat belt on
  • Tired? Don’t drive
  • Drunk? Don’t even think about it
  • Plan ahead and be prepared for anything
  • Share the road
  • Stay alert and ready to yield to avoid a collision—or worse!

4. Get good at what you’re doing.

Nobody ever said driving would always be easy. That’s why it’s so important to start off with a good foundation in defensive driving, and doubly important to practice diligently. Master the following skills, and you’ll be as good as your dad in no time.

Okay, that’s it! We hope you enjoyed this quick roundup of driving like dad—or, at least, driving like dad thinks he does!

If you’re interested in more great tips for better driving, start with our Top Three Mistakes Student Drivers Make and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, which will pour tips like these and much more into your inbox every month!

Thanks, happy Father’s Day, and drive safely!

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Four—Yes, Four!—Easy (Yes, Easy!) Ways to Save on Car Insurance

There’s two incontrovertible truths about car insurance: number one, you have to have it, and number two, it’s a significant expense. Luckily, there are four easy ways you can take a bite out of this unavoidable expenditure.

teen using laptop

Saving money on car insurance the easy way.

1. Learn how to drive safely—then do it!

It’s not a shock that insurance companies prefer safer drivers (don’t we all?), but some of the ways you can show your provider that you’re a safe driver might surprise you.

First, there are a variety of courses you can take. If you have a teen in the house, completing a driver’s ed course may open up discounts. A number of states also offer guaranteed discounts to drivers who take an online refresher course on driving safety, and no matter what state you live in, odds are great that your insurance provider will give you a discount for completing an online course on defensive driving or a traffic school course. Read more about guaranteed discounts here.

Of course, all of this learning will only help you if you apply it behind the wheel, so be sure to keep your speed down, your eyes off your phone, and your following distance a solid three seconds. (Read more about following distance here.) These simple rules of the road will help keep you from tickets and collisions, which is vital, because a single insurance claim raises car insurance costs by an average of 41 percent! Follow the rules, drive safely, and be careful. Your insurance company—and everybody else!—will surely thank you.

2. Take advantage of the available discounts.

Your performance behind the wheel isn’t the only thing insurance companies keep an eye on, though, and they’re often willing to issue a variety of discounts.

Safer driver: some carriers will issue a discount as high as 35 percent for drivers who go five years without a collision! Discounts are also available for people who drive less than 5,000 miles per year.

Good grades: if you’re in school, keeping your grades up can help keep your rates low. Each provider has different rules for this, but full-time students with at least a B average are usually eligible.

Smarter vehicle: sports cars and trucks/SUVs have special risks associated with them (and don’t even get us started on motorcycles), so insurance companies prefer sedans. Lower-risk options are cars that are unlikely to be stolen or harder to steal, cars with a higher safety rating, and cars that are cheaper to repair. You can even earn car insurance discounts for driving a car with added safety features: airbags, antilock brakes, or anti-theft devices.

Lifestyle: insurance companies offer discounts to certain groups, such as military personnel, national clubs, college alumni associations, and married people.

3. Manage your policy carefully.

Tweak your car insurance policy to fit your situation and your needs. The following are a number of options you can use to keep your costs down.

Multiple vehicle: insure more vehicles with the same provider for lower premiums.
Multiple policy: savings are available when you combine auto and home or renter’s insurance with the same provider.
Deductible: a higher deductible will usually mean lower premiums.
Old car: a completely paid-off vehicle with low resale value may not need comprehensive or collision insurance. Dropping this coverage can save money.
Occasional driver: list teens without their own car as “occasional” drivers, not as “primary” drivers—this will save a lot of money over time.

4. Try a quote!

Speaking of your insurance provider … have you thought about shopping around? We get it: shopping for car insurance may not sound like your idea of a great time. But the fact is, you could save a chunk of money by comparing multiple policies, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time doing so.

We’ve recently partnered with Answer Financial to offer free insurance quotes. It takes about ten minutes, and all the questions are things you’ll know off the top of your head. NOTE: if you already have insurance, it’ll be helpful if you have a copy of your policy handy. And if you don’t already have insurance, you owe it to yourself to make sure you pick the right policy.

Take ten minutes and see how much you can save!

GET A QUOTE

Answer Financial(R) Inc. offers insurance products and services through its insurance agency licensed affiliate Insurance Answer Center, LLC (California License # 0B99714); in New York as Insurance Answer Center, LLC, an Insurance Agency; in Michigan as Insurance Answer Center, LLC, an Insurance Agency; and in Missouri as Answer Financial. Answer Financial affiliated agencies are not insurance companies, but act as agents for certain insurance companies. Answer Financial’s affiliate Right Answer Insurance Agency, LLC (CA License #0H52358) operates as an insurance broker in California and an agent in all other states. Answer Financial is paid commissions and may receive other performance-based compensation for its services. The compensation received by Answer Financial and its employees may vary by insurance company. Not all insurance products and services are available in all states. Rates are subject to change.

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The Best Defense: Preparing to Share the Road with Self-Driving Cars

freeway carsThe promise of self-driving cars is that they’ll make the roads safer. Because they can constantly obey the rules of safe driving, avoid conflict by communicating with one another directly, and eliminate the potential for driver error, self-driving vehicles are seen by manufacturers, experts, and safety regulators as a game-changer when it comes to reducing the risk of collisions.

But how is this going to affect people who still prefer to drive? Will drivers be able to share the road safely with self-driving cars? Will we have to learn new skills or adopt new technologies if we want to stay in charge of our own driving experience?
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Guest Post! How to Save on Car Insurance (in California and Beyond)

Hi, all! We have a little change of pace for you this time around, with a guest post from one of our behind-the-scenes team members, who recently took a close look at how to save on car insurance. He put one of our special offers to the test, and followed it up with some interesting research. Here’s his report.

Harness the awesome power of modern computing to save on car insurance!

Harness the awesome power of modern computing to save on car insurance!

Hi, my name is Johnathan!

I work here at eDriving, DriversEd.com’s parent company, and lately we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about insurance. It’s a natural fit for us, because our goal is always to keep you safe and informed, and if we can help you save some money along the way, that’s great, too! Now, if you’re lucky—and safe!— you’ll never need to use your insurance, but you do have to have it, and we’ve recently discovered a great tool that compares insurance policy quotes so you can see if you’re in a position to save some money.

Answer Financial free car insurance quote tool.

Getting started (for free) at Answer Financial.



Using this tool is simple. It begins by asking your zip code and whether or not you are currently insured. I do currently have insurance, so I chose that, entered my zip code, and began the process. The next thing I saw was four tabs: Vehicles, Drivers, Insurance, and Quotes. The information they asked for was pretty basic, but I definitely recommend having a copy of your current insurance policy with you when you’re filling out that section.

Less than half a cup of coffee later, I found out that I was eligible for a policy that will save me over $50.00 a month. The entire process took me all of 10 minutes and I’ll be saving $600 a year. So, is Answer Financial worth the time? It definitely was for me!

We crunched the numbers—and found some savings!

We crunched the numbers—and found some savings!



Want to run a quote comparison of your own? Why not? It’s easy! Just visit Answer Financial to get started. Good luck!

There’s another way to save on car insurance that’s just for California residents. California’s Low Cost Insurance Program helps make sure low-income drivers can still carry the insurance they need to be driving legally. If you’re interested, check here to see if you qualify for the program.

I went to the site to check it out, and found that a two-member household that makes a maximum of $40,050 a month can qualify for a premium of only $376.00.

You may or may not end up qualifying for this program, but if you’re a California resident it’s certainly worth your time to check. That’s it for me—thanks! Hope you found this information useful. I certainly did, and I’ll have an extra fifty bucks in my pocket this month to prove it!

You probably have more questions than just how you can save on car insurance, and we sure hope we can help answer them! Take a moment to stop by our Insurance Center for more information, and for a look at some alternative ways to save on car insurance, read this article at I Drive Safely!

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How Much Do Distraction, Emotion, and Other Unsafe Behaviors Increase Driving Risk?

cars at intersectionIn drivers ed classes, you hear a lot about the dangerous things you can do as a driver that will make you more likely to get into a crash. But just how dangerous are they?

Unfortunately, we can usually only answer this question indirectly, by looking at the crash data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and trying to figure out how frequently different factors are associated with collisions. This approach has a lot of limitations, however, not the least of which is the fact that this information is collected after the crash has happened. As a result, it’s hard to figure out exactly what the driver was doing before the crash that may have caused it.

attentive driver wearing seat beltNow, thanks to a recent study of driving risk from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), we have a better idea of just how risky the risks of driving really are. What makes VTTI’s findings different is that they’re based on a kind of research called a Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS), in which study participants and their vehicles are equipped with cameras, sensors, radars, etc. to record what the driver is doing. So if the driver gets into a crash, the researchers can figure out what exactly he or she was doing when it happened.

Overall, the study found that nearly 90% of crashes involved a driver doing something wrong, either by committing specific driving errors, driving in a risky way, or being distracted, fatigued, or impaired. That means that nearly nine times out of ten, when a crash happens there was something that a driver could have done differently to prevent it.
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Who’s the Best Driver in Your Family?

Who’s the best driver in your family? It turns out that the answer may be trickier than you think! A few months ago, DriversEd.com ran an online poll asking people to answer this question, and the results were eye-opening.

Who Is the Best Driver In Your Family?

Who Is the Best Driver In Your Family?

First, it seems we rate ourselves a little—or a lot!—more highly than we rate those closest to us. Specifically, 85% of adults rate themselves as fairly or very good drivers, but only 33% rate their children as fairly or very good. Adults also rate their parents as worse drivers than they are, grading 40% of their mothers and 44% of their fathers as fairly or very good.

Second, only 2% of all people admit they’re bad or not very good drivers. Think about that for a second: the last time you drove to the store, did you feel like one in 50 of the drivers around you was bad or at least not very good? Or maybe, just maybe, did you feel like it was a tiny bit higher than just one in 50?

What could account for these bizarre discrepancies?

The main factor is probably the Dunning-Kruger effect. This fascinating finding argues that most of us believe we’re simply more skilled than we really are, and this finding has been validated time after time, in carefully controlled experiments. But there seems to be something else also going on here, because the married participants rated their spouse / significant other as fairly or very good 85% of the time—exactly as often as adults in general (over-) rated themselves that highly!

It seems, in other words, that we’re not just judging ourselves as better than we are. We’re also overrating everybody we know! Our survey revealed that respondents judged themselves and their families to be “decent,” or average, drivers at about a 10% rate, and in every case ranking themselves and their families as fairly good and very good more often than ranking these people as “average.” This isn’t statistically very likely, of course—and it’s worth remembering that not everybody can be above average, no matter how much you love them!

Our best guess is that it’s just too easy to overlook what people are doing wrong in the car, at least when you’re there in the car with them! That means that it can just plain be hard to know who the best driver in your family is, without some external guidance. Try the following game to see if you can identify the best driver more accurately!

First, download and print out our DriversEd.com Best Driver Checklist. Take it with you when somebody in your family is driving. Rate them before the drive, and keep an eye out for the following bad driving behaviors: what we call our “Driving Vices.”

  • Failure to control speed
  • Driver inattention (distracted driving)
  • Failure to drive in a single lane
  • Unsafe lane change
  • Following too closely
  • Driving at an unsafe speed (below the speed limit)
  • Faulty evasive action
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Driving at an unsafe speed (above the speed limit)

Anytime you spot your driver doing one of these things, mark it on the checklist and make a note of the circumstances, so you can talk about it later. When you’re safely at your destination, rate the driver again. Make a habit of this, and make sure every member of your family plays along: you just may discover that the best driver in your family isn’t who you thought—and you’ll almost certainly discover that everybody in your family needs to be just a little bit better.

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Warming Up Your Car: The Right Way to Get on the Road in Cold Weather

winter drivingDoesn’t everything seem to take longer during the winter—longer to get yourself out of bed, longer to get yourself ready, longer to start your car and get on the road? The thing is, it’s not like we have any less to do when it’s cold, so it’s easy to feel rushed and start cutting corners—even when you thought you had plenty of time.

Our point is, winter mornings can be tough. To help make them a little easier for you, we’ve put together this short guide to getting your car ready for driving as safely and quickly as possible when it’s cold. If it’s taking you too long get on the road in cold weather, it may be that there are steps you could be doing more efficiently, or steps you could be skipping altogether!

For instance, do you really need to warm up your engine for several minutes before getting on the road? Is there any way to get your windows to defog any faster? How can you make sure you’re not wasting gas as you get ready? Read on to find out!
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The Road to Self-Driving Cars: California Releases New Rules

4 way intersectionSelf-driving cars are getting closer to reality every day, but before people can start using them, the governments and agencies that oversee the roads are going to have to set some rules for how they should be used. Will drivers have the ability to take control? How will they share the road with other drivers? And if a self-driving car gets into a crash, who’s responsible?

Last month, the California DMV took an initial step towards answering these questions by releasing the nation’s first proposed rules to govern the public use of autonomous vehicles. These guidelines have been eagerly awaited, as California’s rules will provide a framework for other states and the federal government to follow as they consider their own policies for self-driving cars.
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