Auto Insurance

When You’re Distracted, Who’s Driving?

“Riding along in my automobile, my baby beside me at the wheel, my curiosity runnin' wild, cruisin', and playin' the radio, with no particular place to go” – as the song goes by the late Chuck Berry…

Now more than ever, distracted driving is an ever-increasing cause of accidents.  Everyone has a cellphone and an obsession with being connected to social media or the latest news story at all times. There is hardly a time on the road that you don’t see another driver occupied by something other than driving. Whether it be their phone, eating, applying makeup, or shaving. Yes, I said shaving. I’ve seen them all.

distracted driving

Florida has seen a 33% increase in accidents caused by distracted driving since 2013, with a total of 52,129 in 2018. The current law regarding cellphone use and texting while driving, that was passed in 2013, only allows citations to be issued as a secondary offense. This means that the driver would have to be stopped for another violation, then subsequently cited for cellphone use.

Earlier this month, the Florida House passed House Bill 107 that would make texting and driving a primary offense, along with creating hands-free zones around schools and construction areas where workers are on site. As the bill is currently written, officers would be able to stop drivers and issue citations for texting without the citation being accompanied by another offense first. Starting July 1st, 2019, officers would be able to stop drivers texting and driving as a primary offense and issue verbal or written warnings. The hands-free school and work zones portion of the law is slated to take effect October 1st, 2019. Citations are scheduled to be issued starting January 1st, 2020.

The question as it relates to insurance is how will this new law affect your premiums? Ideally, it will reduce the number of drivers distracted with texting, which in turn will reduce the number of accidents and claims, ultimately leading to lower auto insurance premiums. 

At the end of the day, it’s simple. Just drive. There’s too much at stake not to.

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Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

Auto Insurance: Easier Than Your March Madness Bracket

2019 is in full swing and we're a few weeks out from the start of March Madness, the three weeks of college basketball glory! Office and neighborhood pool registrations are open and you're gearing up to make your picks and set your bracket. Completing a bracket takes time and careful thought, but completing the perfect bracket is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance. On average, there is an auto accident in the U.S. every 4.6 seconds. Making sure you are covered against these odds is much easier than picking your March Madness bracket.

Your auto insurance breaks down into three major sections: liability coverage if you cause an accident, medical coverage for yourself and passengers, and physical damage for your vehicle.

Bodily Injury Liability coverage protects you for any bodily harm or death of another party involved in an accident that you may be liable for. The average liability cost of an accident with a non-disabling injury is $21,000. The average for an accident resulting in a disabling injury is $61,600, and expenses can climb over $1 million for fatal accidents. These figures include lost wages, medical expense, and vehicle damage.

Property Damage Liability covers you for any damage to another parties' property that you may cause with your covered vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, another vehicle, personal belongings, bicycles, mailboxes, and telephone poles. The state of Florida requires that you carry Property Damage Liability on any motor vehicle tagged and registered for road use.

There is coverage available on your auto insurance that will cover to pay for medical expenses and lost wages for you. Personal Injury Protection, also commonly referred to as PIP, is that coverage. Like Property Damage Liability, PIP is a required coverage by the state for any registered motor vehicle. PIP is a $10,000 limit that will be the first coverage to pay for your medical expense if you're involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault. PIP claims are required to be filed within 14 days of an accident to receive the full benefit.

Uninsured or Under-Insured Motorist (UM) coverage is one of the most important coverages you can have. This coverage will reimburse you for medical expenses and lost wages you may incur from a not-at-fault accident where the at-fault party does not have liability insurance or enough liability insurance to cover their liable expense. This is crucial as medical insurance plans may have exclusions for injuries caused in an auto accident.

Finally, you have physical damage coverage for your vehicle. This is split into two separate coverages. Collision coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by colliding with another object. Whether it be another vehicle, a mailbox, or simply backing out of the garage and scraping the side of the car. Second, is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by anything other than a collision. This includes, but is not limited to, fire, flood, and vandalism. If your car is parked in the garage during a hurricane and the house falls in on it, coverage would be provided by your auto policy and not your homeowner's policy. These two coverages also have deductibles that you may select as out-of-pocket expense for repairs to your vehicle.

That wasn't so bad, was it? Give our office a call and one of our agents will review your policy with you. We will provide an all-around review of your coverage and provide recommendations where your coverage may be lacking. With accidents becoming more frequent with more drivers on the road than ever, make sure you're protecting yourself, your family, and your assets.

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Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

Pay-As-You-Go Car Insurance?

Sure, you’re a safe driver. You may even get a discount for being a safe driver; but, what if your auto insurance company was able to calculate your rates based on your driving habits? Everyone knows that insurance costs are based on several different factors such as age, marital status, and even the number of accidents that happen in your area can influence your insurance rate.  However, insurance companies have now found a better way to calculate risk (and give some awesome discounts in the meantime) by personalizing the rate based on the way YOU drive! Many carriers are offering a device to plug into your car for them to analyze how you drive and then rate accordingly. They will look at things like how fast you drive, how often you drive, how frequently you brake, etc.

There are some great benefits of telematics (that’s what it’s called, by the way!). First, the obvious, you can earn some really sweet discounts for good driving habits. Second, it is reducing insurance fraud across the industry (which, again, helps with rates). Third, it can help recover stolen vehicles more quickly. Lastly, it is opening up conversation on great teaching opportunities. We can all learn new things, and having telematics in your vehicle can show you areas where you become a safer driver - whether it’s on hard braking, speeding, time of driving, etc. Plus, it can also be a great tool for our new teen drivers to help them adopt good driving habits!

With news like that, what can be bad? As great as those options are to improve the insurance industry, you’d be right in thinking that there might be some challenges. First, there are some drivers who are concerned about their privacy. In this digital age, there are many ways to track information, like smartphones, GPS devices, and social media, but it can make some clients a little nervous to allow that type of information sharing for your vehicle. Second, you may not save anything or have your rates increased. An aggressive driver that commutes during rush hour traffic at long distances could actually have their rates increased for the extra risk exposure.

So, to monitor or not to monitor, that is the question! By and large, this is a great opportunity for many drivers to lower their insurance costs. It is transforming the auto insurance industry with no sign of stopping. Be sure to speak with your Bouchard agent to see if your policy has an option for telematics and how that could possibly affect your auto insurance rates.

About the Author

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Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

Taking Care of Your Car Before and After a Move

Moving doesn’t just involve packing up and buying a new home. It also means that you have to transfer many of your legally-owned assets to your new location. Making sure you do so under the law often requires consideration and oversight. Among the assets you often have to transfer to your new home is your vehicle.

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You often need to consider moving the car separately from the rest of your belongings. If you don’t follow the rules, you could face penalties because of the risks associated with the vehicle.

Before You Move

As you get ready to move, don’t forget to take care of your car in the meantime.

First, gather important paperwork associated with your ownership of the vehicle. Locate your auto insurance policy, vehicle title and financial information related to the car. Also gather your documentation of maintenance and vehicle registration. If you have a lien on the vehicle, notify the vehicle’s lienholders. You may have to update certain information on the vehicle’s lien when you complete your move.

Consider having the vehicle serviced before (or immediately after) you move. You will likely be on the road a lot during a move. Even short moves across town may require a lot of driving. Having your oil changed, engine inspected and tires rotated can help keep your car in good working order.

When You Move: Take Stock of Your New Surroundings

Moving means you will expose your vehicle to unique risks associated with your new home. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings. Having an idea about the new risks you face may help you update your car insurance when the time comes to do so.

For example, your new home may be near a crowded area with a lot of traffic. This may put you at greater risks of accidents when you drive. You may want to increase your liability coverage limits. Higher limits may help you in case of severe car accidents or injuries you cause to others.

Or, perhaps, your new neighborhood has a higher risk of auto theft because it is not a gated community. This is a good time to make sure you are aware of the deductibles on your policy. 

After Moving: Update Your Driving Qualifications

After you move, you live in a new jurisdiction, even if you just move down the street. You likely have to change your address with the post office to keep receiving mail. Likewise, you probably have to update your driver’s qualifications.

You may need to update the address on your registration, driver’s license, title, insurance policy and other documents related to your vehicle. Usually, your state will mandate a time limit during which you must make these changes.

But, moving your vehicle might mean you have to do more than simply change your address. Different types of moves might cause different driving updates.

Moving out of state means you must update your driver’s license to one from your new state. You also need to update your vehicle registration and plates. You might also be able to choose to update your title, based on your ownership status. Each state has specific guidelines to help new drivers transfer their vehicle.

As a precaution, some states need drivers to get inspections when moving into the state. Therefore, new residents should anticipate certain fees and tests in order to drive.

Update Your Insurance

Whether you move in- or out-of-state, you have to take steps to update your auto insurance policy. Every location poses unique vehicle risks. Therefore, drivers should augment their policies to reflect their risks.  Indeed, many auto insurers use an area’s local risks to determine coverage and policy rates. Updating a policy helps drivers ensure they get the best cost for their coverage.

Often, drivers have a legal rule from their state to carry auto insurance. Most states require all drivers to carry minimum levels of liability coverage. They may also require other forms of coverage. However, these requirements vary. Drivers need to get car insurance that meets the minimum requirements of their state. Yet, drivers should not only carry the minimum levels. They should also increase their coverage to better cover the risks related to their specific operations.

Working with an independent insurance agent can help new residents get the right levels of auto insurance. Independent agents work with a variety of different insurance companies. For this reason, they can often compare the auto policies of various insurers, and this can help drivers get the coverage they need at an affordable price.

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Kristie Pauly is the Vice President of Personal Lines at Bouchard Insurance. Kristie's team is focuses on personal insurance including homeowners and auto. | Connect on Linked In