Follow These Driving Safety Tips to Help Avoid Accidents

Whether you’re driving alone or with passengers, safety should always be your top concern. With more distractions than ever, it’s crucial that drivers know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time they’re behind the wheel. Here are some auto safety tips to follow on the road.

Driving safety tips from Nationwide

  • Don’t allow children to fight or climb around in your car (they should be buckled in their seats at all times). One accidental bump or too much noise can easily distract you from concentrating on driving safely.
  • Cell phones can also take your focus away from the task at hand: arriving safely at your destination. Learn more about the under-reporting of cell phone involvement in fatal car crashes at Nationwide’s blog: In the Nation.
  • Avoid driving when you’re tired. Be aware that some medications can cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous. Get the full scoop on drowsy driving.
  • Always use caution when changing lanes. Cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too fast or not using your signals may cause an accident or upset other drivers.
  • Take extra precautions while driving during deer season.

Common Questions About Safe Driving

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What should I do after a car accident?

If you’re involved in an accident, first make sure no one in the car is injured. Next, check on the passengers in the other vehicle; or, if necessary, make certain that no pedestrians are hurt.

Then, take these five things into account:

  1. Stay at the scene. Leaving can result in additional violations or fines.
  2. Call 911 or the police as soon as possible. They’ll dispatch medical personnel and a police officer immediately to the scene of the accident. Wait for the police to complete an accident report.
  3. If you’re on a busy highway, stay inside the car and wait for the police or an ambulance. It’s dangerous if passengers stand along a busy street.
  4. Don’t get into an argument or a fight with the other driver. Simply exchange contact and insurance information. If possible, also get the name and phone numbers of witnesses.
  5. Call your insurance provider to report the claim. Your agent will ask you to send any paperwork you receive regarding the accident and will give you instructions as to where you can get your car fixed.

Find out more about what to do after an accident and what to do after a hit-and-run.

What to do when pulled over

If you notice that a police car is following you with its emergency lights flashing, pull over to the side of the road safely and quickly. Wait inside your car for the officer to approach and talk with you and be prepared to:

  • Turn on your interior light at night and keep your hands where the officer can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.
  • Don’t reach under your seat or into your glove box. This may cause the officer to think you’re reaching for a weapon or hiding something.
  • Give your license and registration to the officer if asked to do so. If the officer asks you to step out of your car, do so without sudden or threatening movements.
  • Stay calm − don’t become argumentative, disorderly or abusive − and never attempt to bribe the officer.
  • If a citation is issued, present your story in traffic court if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated. You may be represented by a lawyer and, if necessary, you’ll be heard by a judge or magistrate.

What should I know about speeding and other traffic laws?

Some roadways are designated as low-speed zones. These might include roads in areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as school zones and streets that have many intersections. Driving over the speed limit can put you and others at risk of harm.

6 things that will keep you safe and help you avoid a ticket:

  1. Never pass a stopped bus displaying a stop sign to its left; that’s a signal that children are crossing the street.
  2. If you hear a siren coming behind you, it’s an indication that a police or fire truck is speeding by you, toward an emergency. If it is safe, pull to the side, stop and wait until the vehicle goes by.
  3. Horn honking is reserved for emergencies. It’s considered rude to use your horn for any other situation.
  4. Completely stop at stop signs and look for other drivers and pedestrians before you cross.
  5. Use care when parking your vehicle. Always look for tow away zone or handicapped signs, as these areas are reserved for vehicles with special permits. Also, certain streets may have parking restrictions, and failing to follow instructions at a parking meter may result in a fine.
  6. Obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding tickets are costly, and penalties for speeding can include fines, court appearances and loss or suspension of your driving privileges. Also, depending on your insurance policy, speeding tickets can impact your rates.

Some of the variables that may affect safe driving, like the weather, can’t be controlled. However, by staying alert, taking precautions, and following our safe driving tips you can avoid potential car accidents and tickets.

What is DUI? What is DWI?

  • It’s a simple fact: drinking and driving kills people. Driving after drinking alcohol is known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
  • Some drivers may think that just a few drinks makes it safe to drive – but don’t forget that “buzzed driving” is drunk driving and can be just as dangerous.
  • A DUI arrest can lead to expensive consequences, including spending time in jail, having your driver’s license suspended or taken away and fines. If you hit and/or kill someone while you are driving impaired, the consequences are even worse.
  • It’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car. If you’re transporting alcoholic beverages, they should be sealed and in the trunk.
  • All 50 states have now set .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI conviction in all states. For those under 21, there is a zero tolerance limit; any amount of alcohol is grounds for a DUI arrest.
  • In some cities, law enforcement officials set up sobriety checkpoints along the road to deter and identify impaired drivers. Checkpoints are typically set up during holiday weekends or on dates when there might be an increase in drinking and driving. If you’re stopped at a checkpoint, you’ll be asked several questions and might be asked to perform a sobriety test (like saying the ABC’s backwards, performing some physical movements or breathing into an alcohol sensor). If these tests show that you have high alcohol levels, the police may arrest you.

What winter driving tips should I know?

  • First of all, buckle up. Basic car safety encourages the use of seat belts and car seats at all times. They’re one of your best defenses in a crash. And it’s the law.
  • Winter can bring snow, freezing rain and slush, which all make driving hazardous. Use extra caution in areas that ice up quickly, especially intersections, shaded areas, bridges and overpasses.
  • Since the winter season can bring all sorts of weather surprises, regularly check weather reports on TV or radio so you can prepare for bad weather. On severe weather days, schools and workplaces might close or delay opening. Consider staying at home if you don’t need to be on the road.
  • Make sure you keep an emergency kit in the trunk of your car, including blankets, a first aid kit, and jumper cables. Include some food and water in your emergency kit, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and that your car always has a full tank of gas. Check out the full list of 12 items to have in your emergency car kit.

5 Car Insurance Tips to Help You Buy Smarter

Buying auto insurance doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are many options to help you tailor your policy to your needs – and your budget. Armed with some basic information, you can make smarter insurance decisions. These car insurance tips can help you narrow your choices and save time and money.

1. Make sure you’re legally covered

Car insurance requirements vary from state to state, but one thing is the same virtually everywhere in the U.S. – if you drive a car, you’re required to have some form of car insurance or proof of financial responsibility. Several factors, including your driving record and insurance history, may affect your policy rates. Start here to find the minimum requirements for your state.

2. Understand your insurance options

Insurance can seem complicated with so many choices available to protect you and your car. Nationwide offers easy-to-read descriptions of various insurance coverages so you can understand the basics, such as the difference between collision and comprehensive, before you call an agent or get a quote online.

3. Get at least three quotes

Compare price and service options by getting quotes from at least three insurance companies. Make sure you request the same coverage from each to get an apples-to-apples comparison. Rates may vary from one company to another, and the lowest priced insurance may not give you all the coverage you need. Look at price, amount of coverage, benefits and claims services before you make your decision.

4. Take advantage of discounts

You might be surprised by the number of discounts available to lower your for auto insurance rates. For example, if you insure multiple vehicles with Nationwide or stay with us for at least five years, you may receive substantial savings. Be sure to ask about these and other auto insurance discounts when you shop for a policy.

5. Look for extra help when you need it

Nationwide offers extra products and services for purchase to give the drivers in your family even more protection.

  • Accident Forgiveness –With this optional coverage, Nationwide will not raise your auto insurance rates following your first at-fault automobile accident.
  • Roadside Assistance – Nationwide Roadside Assistance coverage is available in two different levels, Basic and Plus, so you can choose the one that works best with your budget. Get covered for fuel delivery, lockout service, jump-starts and more.
  • Loss of use – If you can’t drive your car due to a covered loss, this coverage helps pay for a rental car or other transportation expenses so you can get back on the road.

Make Sure You Know the Auto Insurance Laws in Your State

Car insurance laws vary from state to state, but all states have requirements that include some type of car insurance or proof of financial responsibility. Even though it may seem like an extra cost, car insurance protects you, your family and your vehicle if you’re in an accident or if your vehicle is damaged.

Several factors, including your driving record and insurance history, affect the type of insurance policy available to you. If you have a clean driving record and have been insured in the past, you’ll most likely qualify for standard auto insurance coverage. If you’ve had a lapse in insurance coverage or a less-than-perfect driving record, you can generally still qualify for auto insurance. This type of insurance is known as nonstandard auto insurance.

State insurance laws may require some level of these auto coverages

Bodily injury liability

Liability Insurance applies to injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder, cause to someone else. You and family members listed on the policy may also be covered when driving someone else’s car with their permission.

Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP)

State insurance laws typically require medical coverage that pays for the treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car. PIP may cover medical payments, lost wages, the cost of replacing services normally performed by someone injured in an auto accident and funeral costs.

Property damage liability

This auto insurance coverage pays for damage you (or someone driving the car with your permission) may cause to someone else’s property. In addition to vehicle damage, it can include damage to lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, buildings or other structures your car hits.

Collision coverage

You may be covered by collision insurance in the event that your car is damaged by a collision with another vehicle or object, or in the event the vehicle flips over. Collision insurance may also cover damage caused by potholes.

Comprehensive coverage

A comprehensive insurance policy may reimburse you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision, such as fire, falling objects, earthquakes, windstorms, hail, floods, vandalism or contact with animals.

States do not require that you purchase collision or comprehensive coverage; however, if you have a car loan, your lender may insist you carry it until your loan is paid off.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

This coverage may reimburse you, a member of your family or a designated driver for damages incurred if one of you is hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.

Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your total loss. This coverage may also protect you if you’re hit as a pedestrian.

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

Let’s face it, reading an insurance policy is not like curling up with a good book. It’s a fairly complex document that tries to explain all the things you’re covered for, and all the things that are excluded when a loss occurs.

Although insurance companies now provide insurance policy information that is easier to understand, you still need to review the document carefully. Here are some general guidelines that can help explain how to read an insurance policy.

The common parts of an insurance policy include:

Policy declarations

The policy declarations page is basically the first page of the policy package. The page states who is insured and the time period the policy provides coverage. It also gives the primary general information, such as a description of what’s insured, the coverages and primary coverage limits.

Insurance definitions

This section gives you the definitions of words and phrases you’ll see in the policy. For example: “Motor vehicle” and “Deductible” are two terms often found in an auto policy. Words with definitions may appear in bold print throughout the policy. That helps you know what to look up if you don’t know them already. You can also browse Nationwide’s insurance glossary to get the answers you’re looking for.

Policy coverages

This section describes the specific insurance provided by listing what property is covered and for what perils. For example, a boat owner’s policy may cover direct physical loss or damage to the boat and motor, portable equipment and other specified property. It can also provide liability coverage.

Policy exclusions

Policy exclusions describe what coverage limits exist or how coverage may be eliminated depending on how a loss occurs. Insurers may allow policyholders to buy back coverage for some exclusions for additional premium. For example, earthquake coverage may be excluded for people who live in an area where earthquakes are unlikely to happen. However, if a customer would feel more comfortable with the coverage, they could buy it back.

Limits and special limits

This section explains how much the insurer pays for particular losses or types of property. So, while something is covered, it may be covered for a specific dollar amount or for a limited percentage of the entire loss.

Insurance conditions

This section tells you what the insurer’s responsibilities are, and what your responsibilities are as the customer. This includes how to cancel a policy, subrogation and payments plans.

Duties after a loss

This area gives guidance on what to do when a loss occurs. It includes notifying your insurer as soon as practical, notifying the police, if appropriate, and protecting your property from further damage.

Insurance endorsement

This area defines optional coverages available for additional premium. An insurance endorsement may change your policy to help better fit the policy to meet your needs. Amendatory endorsements may also be added by the insurance company to clarify policy terms and language.

Make Sure Your Home is Covered for All It’s Worth

A home is the largest investment most people make in their lifetime. About two out of every three homes in America are underinsured. The average underinsurance amount is about 22%, though some homes are underinsured by 60% or more. This means millions of American homeowners are at risk of major financial loss should a disaster ever affect their home. Homeowners in these unfortunate situations find themselves responsible for tens of thousands of dollars of unexpected out-of-pocket costs to rebuild their house. Many of these homeowners are financially unable to rebuild a house like the one they had prior to their loss.

What is reconstruction cost?

Reconstruction cost is what it would cost to rebuild your house from the foundation up with materials of similar kind and quality.

Is reconstruction cost the same thing as market value?

No. Reconstruction costs for your home may differ considerably from market value, particularly for older homes. Market value is what a willing buyer would pay for your home, including the lot. Location is a major factor in determining market value. Homeowners should also not assume that coverage matching their mortgage balance is sufficient to rebuild their home. The amount of insurance you buy should be based on rebuilding costs, not the selling or purchase price of your house.

What are some factors that affect reconstruction costs?

  • Access to your home site is limited because of trees, lawns, other homes and fences. Sometimes building code changes that occur after the initial build.
  • Inflation is generally greater for building materials than other commodities. Older homes may need unusual materials that may be expensive to locate or duplicate.
  • In a partial reconstruction, there is also extra cost in matching and aligning the undamaged part of the structure with the reconstructed part of the structure.
  • In partial loss situations, removing the undamaged contents to put elsewhere for safekeeping.
  • New home builders schedule their work for a building season and work most efficiently in a factory-line approach, which saves on both labor and material costs. Your reconstruction would be a custom job for them.
  • There are more new build contractors than reconstruction contractors. With an easier task of building a home and a greater supply of those doing it, new build contractors charge significantly less for a job than a reconstruction contractor does.
  • If the damage to the home is as a result of a catastrophe or at the same time as a catastrophe, demand surge pushes the price higher for labor and materials for all construction.
  • Extra costs to tear out damaged materials or demolition and debris removal.
  • Repairing a partially damaged home often means working from the top down, while new construction is usually from the ground up.

Make sure your home improvements are protected

Remember when you updated your master bath? Or maybe added on a new deck? And, don’t forget the kitchen remodel. Millions of Americans have taken advantage of near-record low interest rates and mortgage refinancing in recent years to upgrade their homes. According to one study, nearly 40% of those who have significantly remodeled their home have not updated their homeowners insurance or weren’t sure if they had done so.

Let your agent know if you have remodeled or even made improvements to your home so your home is better protected. It’s a good idea to contact your agent before or shortly after a renovation begins, rather than waiting until the work is complete.

Cover your personal possessions, too

Most policies only cover the current value of personal possessions, such as clothing, furniture and appliances. For example, the current value of a 5-year old TV is less than its original purchase price. The current value will not be enough to cover the cost to replace items with new ones. You should consider buying optional replacement cost coverage for your personal belongings, then your damaged or stolen possessions can be replaced with new. After all, wouldn’t you rather replace that 5-year old TV damaged by lightning with a brand new TV?