Posts tagged ‘General Information’

Are you driving whilst suffering from daytime sleepiness?

Driver sleepinessToo many accidents are caused by human error! Even though many of these accidents are not attributed to intentional conduct such as transgressions of the Rules of the Road, many could have been prevented if the road user was more alert at the time of the incident!

One of the contributing factors to road accidents is driver tiredness. We often refer to this not only as driver tiredness, but also driver fatigue or driver drowsiness.

But how big is the problem of daytime sleepiness?

A new study has found that almost one in five adults in the United States suffers moderate to excessive daytime sleepiness.

“The prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is very high in the American population, much higher than what we observed in the European population,” Dr. Maurice Ohayon, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and lead investigator of the new study, said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Insufficient sleep is plaguing the American population and is one of the leading factors for excessive daytime sleepiness.”

This follows an earlier 2002 study that estimated that about 15 percent of adults in five European countries suffer from daytime sleepiness.

About 18 percent of the U.S. survey participants said they had fallen asleep or become drowsy in situations like meetings and conversations when they should have been concentrating.

The authors of this study have pointed out that the potential for injuries and accidents is very disturbing!

“The number of individuals sleepy or drowsy during situations where they should be alert is disturbing,” Ohayon said. “Sleepiness is underestimated in its daily life consequences for the general population, for the shift workers and for the people reducing their amount of sleep for any kind of good reasons. It is always a mistake to curtail your sleep.”

How was this study performed?

  • The survey asked questions of 8,937 people in Texas, New York and California.
  • Severe sleepiness was reported by 11 percent of participants, more of them women (13 percent) than men (8.6 percent).

The findings, published in the June issue of Neurology, were released at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio.

Conclusion and Advice

Even though our car insurance policies might protect us from financial harm, it will not protect us from car accidents. We as road users are responsible for our safety on the road – and we need to consider all those aspects that could increase our alertness on the road!

We would like to urge all road users to avoid driving while tired, and to consider driver fitness as the Number 1 priority on our roads!!

Also view:

South African vehicle owners need to get a log book and write down the mileage!

car-log-bookWe would like to alert all South African vehicle owners to write down the mileage travelled up to the 28th of February! Tax consultants have urged their clients not to neglect this important detail required by the South African Revenue Services. It is also important to note that if you buy a new car during the next tax year, you would need to write down the mileage of the old vehicle on the date you are selling the vehicle!
From today you will be required to keep a logbook if you want to claim for travel allowances. We would like to share this important information:

Termination of the deemed kilometre method

The use of the deemed kilometre method has over time become more restrictive with the gradual increase in the number of deemed private kilometres and a resultant decrease in the maximum deemed business kilometres. Currently, the first 18 000 kilometres are deemed to be private. As the maximum deemed kilometres are 32 000 per tax year, the maximum deemed business kilometres are 14 000.

SARS has made it clear that a travel allowance should only be granted in circumstances where an employer is certain that an employee will incur business-related expenses and that the quantum of the allowance should be based on the anticipated business expenditure.

Nevertheless, the deemed kilometre method has according to Sars inadvertently provided an opportunity for employees who are not necessarily required to undertake business travel or who are only required to undertake limited business travel, to structure a travel allowance.

Now, with the imminent termination of the deemed kilometre method, employees who were previously taking advantage of this method will only be able to claim a tax deduction against their travel allowance to the extent that actual business kilometres are travelled. In this regard it should be noted that travel between home and work is regarded as private travel and not business travel.

Companies who have historically permitted employees who undertake little or no business travel to structure a travel allowance as part of their remuneration packages will now be forced to reconsider their travel allowance policy and approach.

In addition, those employees who are required to travel regularly on business (for example, sales agents), and relied on the deemed kilometre method to calculate their tax deduction, will be harshly affected by the changes. This is because they will now be required to keep a detailed logbook in order to justify their tax deduction claimed at the end of the tax year. Information required to be recorded in a logbook is the date of travel, destination, purpose of travel and number of kilometres.

Increase in portion of travel allowance subject to employees’ tax

From 1 March 2010, 80% of a travel allowance will be subject to employees‟ tax, as opposed to the current 60%.

The changes mean that those employees with genuine business travel will need to bear the cost of the tax until such time as they receive their refund from SARS (which would be some time after year end, depending on how quickly they are assessed). For employees who undertake a great deal of business travel and whose travel allowances are a genuine part of their packages and impact on the total cost to the company, the changes could also have a significant impact and could increase the cost of employment to their employers.

Employees will also need to carefully monitor their actual travel, and will no longer have the fall-back position of the deemed kilometres if they fail to maintain a proper logbook.

May all our visitors drive safely and purchase affordable car insurance premiums with the money saved through correct tax planning!!

Who bothers writing about car insurance?

Who-bothers-writing-about-car-insuranceOver the past 7 months I have written much about car insurance and I have read many blog posts and commentary by other writers on car insurance! It is always a good idea to do a bit of self –analysis and ask questions about whether these written contributions can in fact be regarded as “making a contribution?

But who are all these people writing about insurance – and to be more specific – car insurance? Are we all passionate about this rather less than glamorous topic –or is there some method behind the madness?
I have decided to attempt something rather unique -write something about those who write something about car insurance. I believe we can identify a few categories of writers and would like to share this with the 20 readers [hoping..!] of this blog post!

The Journalist / Financial reporter

These are those writers employed by the bigger media companies and newspapers. They might not have a passion for car insurance – but are employed and paid to follow and write about the financial markets. This includes writing about the financial reports and results from the big insurers and the effect that car accident claims could have on these numbers.

The “Sherlock Homes” writers

We will always find those who regard themselves as the criminologists or detectives. These are those people following the criminal investigative series on television and who spend hours seeking fraudsters around every corner. They will blog and write about the insurance fraudsters and the “hijacked” vehicle found neatly stored away for shipment to some cross-border destination.

The Experts / Financial reporter at the top of the corporate ladder

There are a few writers who are not merely journalists – but business owners in their own right who have created a specific niche for themselves in the financial sector. They are perceived as having a specialized knowledge in a specific field – such as insurance. They are highly sought after by the big financial websites and are often approached to appear as speakers at conferences. They will write to maintain and further their standing amongst specialists in the financial industry.

The “in-house” writer about car insurance

Some companies will require that a specific employee do some writing for the company. They are often the younger financial advisers or the certified financial planners. They are required to write for the company website or company newsletter with the objective of furthering the credibility of the company amongst existing clients and possible impress a few potential clients!

There are also employees working for the bigger insurance companies who will write for the website of the car insurer or the corporate circular or newsletter.

The “hired gun” or independent contractor

There are many writers who are not passionate about car insurance as such – but who are seduced by the allure of good remuneration offered by the big corporate institutions for articles on car insurance. Their main objective is to assist these insurers to achieve greater search engine optimization of “search-ability” on the internet and provide them with articles to be placed on the website of the car insurer.

The insurance aggregators are reliant on being found easily on the internet and gaining good search rankings. They will pay much to have good “in-bound links” from written contributions on the premier financial websites.

A new breed of “Media on demand” writers

The ability to make money online through written contributions on premier websites has created a new breed of writers. These are those benefitting from payment via Google Adsense and other reward systems. They might not have the required expertise in the specific field but are masters in search engine optimization and writing “keyword rich” pieces of content. They might even risk using the so called ‘black hat techniques” to ensure that blog posts are easily found via search engines.

They will analyze which keywords are worth the most in monetary terms and write to concentrate on getting those keywords across on their writing. These writers pose a risk to those searching for quality content – as the internet market is flooded by written contributions lacking depth – but rather focused on small bits and pieces with regular repetition of phrases such as “cheapest”, “affordable”, “best” coupled with car insurance.

Internet users will continue to search the internet for advice and guidance on finding car insurance. Search engines will continue to refine the way that they rank pages and content on the internet. We can only hope that quality content will be rewarded and that users find the correct information with ease.

It is our objective on the car insurance blog to assist these users, to concentrate on the key phrases used – and to use this to provide quality content in the specialized field of car insurance.

Do older cars lead to more accident claims?

older-carsWould you expect more accident claims for newer or for older cars? It has been revealed by Virgin Money car insurance in the UK that cars that are three to six years old account for nearly 40% of insurance claims despite making up only 24% of all vehicles on the road.

What do the numbers reveal?

  • Drivers with five-year-old vehicles make the most claims (9.61%)
  • Owners of four-year-old vehicles make the next most claims (9.56%), followed by drivers of cars six years old (9.08%).

Virgin Money Car Insurance spokesman Grant Bather believes that this provides some justification to the trend by vehicle owners to change their cars every three to five years.

“This is not to say that cars five years old are the most dangerous, but that they are more likely to be involved in an incident that leads to a claim being made. This may be a traffic accident, breakdown or theft.
“Looking at these statistics, people looking at buying a second-hand car should also make sure that they have taken the necessary action to ensure that the car meets all of the road standards.”

Why does the vehicle age result in more car insurance claims?

It is nice to have this information –but meaningless if we do not discuss the possible reasons for the increased claims percentage!

We could consider the following factors as contributing to this data:

  • Vehicle owners are more alert and vigilant when driving a new car – they are perhaps more aware of the need to protect this asset.
  • Effective vehicle maintenance is usually in place for new vehicles.
  • Many new vehicles have a “car maintenance plan” for 5 years or 100,000 km’s – this result in effective maintenance and the roadworthiness of the vehicle.
  • Owners of older vehicles might be less attentive to the vehicle components required for safety on the road – such as tyres, shocks, brakes, lights etc
  • We also need to recognize that newer vehicles have more safety features such as ABS breaking, stability control etc.

The characteristics of the driver are also important. Few first time drivers will be able to afford a new vehicle – whereas older more experienced drivers will more likely drive newly purchased vehicles. Your younger less experienced drivers will more likely drive the older vehicle and this could lead to increased vehicle damage from accidents!

Be alert to the threat of number plate hijacking

number plate hijackingThe Arrive Alive website earlier today received an email expressing concern about the threat of number plate hijacking. We share this previously on the road safety blog and believe we need to share this on the Car Insurance Blog to protect our vehicle owners from bodily harm and vehicle loss!

But what is number plate hijacking and why do we need to be aware of this?
Number plate hijacking is an innovative way that hijackers use to approach the unsuspecting vehicle owner and take his vehicle from him!

These hijackers will stalk you to a parking lot or mall, after parking your vehicle, they remove your number plate and wait for you to drive off.

They then follow you and overtake you displaying your number plate at their window as if you had lost it and want to give it back to you.

Shocked that your number plate has fallen off your car, you bring your vehicle to a halt to get it from them.
This is all they want you to do and by the time you realized what happened it is too late, your car was hi-jacked or you could have been raped/killed.

Please don’t just stop for anything; a number plate is valueless compared to your life.

Think what is happening before you react to it.

Criminals are clever and cunning but are ruthless in getting what they want…

We would like to urge all road users to be vigilant and alert at all times!

Visit the Arrive Alive website for info on:

Innovative techniques for towing a vehicle

On the Car Insurance Blog we have share some suggestions on how to deal with tow truck operators. This is a topic that has received much media attention as we find a tussle between consumers, bad operators and those operators that do operate in a professional manner.

The professional tow truck operators make an important contribution to safety on the roads and needs to be applauded for their efforts! They do not only assist in the safe clearance of the road for other road users, but also contributes to vehicle safety and allows accident investigators to do a proper investigation of the vehicle.

We have come across a few interesting images of innovative towing vehicles and techniques used in Japan. This has been described as “thinking out of the box” and also illustrates the neat appearance of these operators!

Bike tow truck on highway

Picture 1 of 4

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Elderly women are higher risk drivers for car insurance

Elderly-women-perceived-as-higher-risk-drivers-for-car-insuranceIt is well known that women are generally perceived to be less of an insurance risk than their male counterparts. This has lead to many debates on which gender has “the best drivers”. Fact is that young women drivers are paying much less in insurance premiums than men at the same age.

The Guardian has revealed a rather interesting trend in the car insurance risks presented by increased age in the UK. According to their findings older women have found that their car insurance premiums have increased significantly!

While the number of accidents increases with age for both sexes, women in their 70s and 80s are proportionately much more likely to be involved in a collision than men of the same age!

Increase in elderly female drivers and accident claims

Interesting facts included in the Report from Guardian are:

  • Until the age of 60, male drivers have a higher accident rate than women.
  • After 60 women are responsible for a greater number of car insurance claims, and by the age of 80 they are making more than men the same age.
  • The number of older women driving on the UK’s roads has increased hugely in recent years.
  • In 1976, only 4 per cent of women drivers were over 70 – This increased to 20 per cent by the 1990s and has now reached 36 per cent.

Effect on car insurance premiums

Car insurers calculate the insurance premiums based on accident data and the perceived risks presented by drivers, with recognition to factors such as age, gender, location, driving record, vehicle type etc.

While accident data has resulted in cheaper car insurance premiums for female drivers, there has been a shift towards increased premiums for female drivers as they get much older.

Once they are over 80-years-old, women are now paying up to double what men are paying in the UK.

Why are older women a greater car insurance risk?

Even though no scientific or statistical data has been offered for this greater risk, the following arguments have been offered:

  • Elderly women let their husbands do most of the driving.
  • Men are more likely to become unable to drive or pass away before their partners.
  • Elderly ladies suddenly find themselves behind the wheel when the man becomes disabled or dies.
  • These elderly female drivers may have little confidence and little practical experience of modern traffic conditions or motorway driving.
  • Although men’s claims record get worse as they get older too, women’s deteriorates at a faster rate.
  • Both male and female drivers may experience worsening eyesight and insurers have found a surge of accidents involving older drivers when driving at night.

Road Safety and Car Insurance for the Elderly

It is important to recognize that even though the car insurance premiums should increase, elderly drivers are still not near the risk category of young male drivers [under 25]. The insurers are seldom faced with large claims from vehicles that have been written off in accidents. Accidents are more likely to be small claims involving parking, reversing and scraping walls.

We would like to quote from the Arrive Alive website some of the characteristics of driving behaviour from the elderly / Older Road User:

The elderly often compensate through their driving behaviour -

  • They benefit from the insight into their own limitations and driving experience.
  • They compensate by driving when the roads are less busy.
  • Studies have shown that the elderly more often choose to drive during daytime and dry weather.
  • The elderly on average have a great deal of driving experience which gives them the ability to anticipate on possible problematic situations.
  • They display a diminishing desire for excitement and sensation when getting older.
  • They will less often drink-drive than younger adults and generally obey the traffic rules more often.

Advice for elderly drivers

What advice can we offer our elderly drivers with regards to their car insurance premiums?

  • As they get older it will be important to stick with their current insurers.
  • Attention should be given to physical fitness and maintaining good fitness levels.
  • Have younger family drivers drive with you and provide feedback on your driving.
  • Attend refresher courses at driving centres if available.
  • Undergo regular medical assessment –for your safety and that of other road users.
  • Check with your doctor or chemist about the effects of any prescribed or purchased medicines as they can affect driving.

Also view:

Do we have the correct death toll on South African roads for December 2009?

Accident PictureThere has been much discussion on the death toll on South African roads during the past December. The Department of Transport has indicated that there has been a reduction in road deaths since December 2008 – and this has raised alarm bells with other road safety observers.

The Arrive Alive website has received an email questioning the data provided and would like to share this with our vehicle owners:

“CONTRADICTORY FIGURES HIDE ROAD DEATH RISE”

December 2009 death toll up by 16 per cent

Rob Handfield-Jones, MD of driving skills company, driving.co.za, says that the Department of Transport’s claim that the December 2009 road death toll was lower than that of December 2008 is invalid and based on contradictory figures.

“The DoT is currently claiming the death toll for December 2008 to be 1348; it was actually 908,” he said. “The Department released the lower figure to the media on several occasions in early-2009. It is a matter of public record and was referred to by transport officials during 2009. The death toll of 1050 for December 2009 is thus not a reduction, but an increase of almost 16 per cent,” he said.

Vehicle passengers were the biggest single category of fatalities in December 2009, accounting for 40 per cent of the total. “Government’s continued failure to address bus safety is a key factor in this regard,” Handfield – Jones said. He added that December 2009 claimed 142 more lives than December 2008, despite around 285 000 notices for speeding being issued. ”Speed control has once again been shown to be ineffective at reducing road deaths,” he said.

He said the DoT’s latest pronouncements further undermined the credibility of South Africa’s road safety data. “We don’t have an official death toll for the year 2008 / 2009, and the authorities haven’t released an annual road safety stats bundle for almost two years,” he commented. “The last credible and comprehensive data was released in 1998. Even the NIMSS reports compiled by researchers from UNISA and the Medical Research Council refer to the official death toll as an ‘…uncertain subgroup of motor vehicle collisions…’.”

Handfield – Jones said the DoT could not continue to justify its failures by blaming the road user. “Across the world, people only drive as badly as their governments permit them to,” he said. He called for a moving violations-based enforcement regime and a new driving licence system, as well as a Professional Driving Permit which included a driving skills test. He described the existing system as producing poor drivers who routinely committed moving violations which could be fatal even at low speeds.

“The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport should urgently investigate how the DoT came to use contradictory data in road safety comparisons, and also whether this was an unintentional error, or a deliberate attempt to hide an increased death toll ahead of the Soccer World Cup,” he concluded.

[ENDS]

Whatever the exact number of fatalities might be, we can agree with the Department of Transport that every fatality is one TOO MANY!!

View the Arrive Alive website for more information on Road Safety.

Car Insurance wishes for 2010

We would like to wish all our vehicle owners a blessed, safe and enjoyable 2010. Having spent much time on road safety and car insurance blog in 2009, we decided to compile a wish list for 2010.

South Africa and Road Safety

  • May we succeed in a significant reduction in road deaths and crashes in South Africa!
  • May we remember those who have died in road crashes in 2009 and may this inspire us to do more for safety on our roads.
  • May we find that the law is enforced effectively, resulting in reduced crime in 2010.

The Car Insurance Industry

  • May we reach those 70% of uninsured vehicle owners and have much more insured vehicles on the roads of South Africa by the end of 2010.
  • May more vehicle owners be attentive to their car insurance policies and may their driving behaviour reflect safety and responsibility.
  • May we find less strain on affordability of premiums by crimes such as hijacking, vehicle theft, smash-and grab etc.
  • May we reduce insurance fraud in South Africa and create awareness of the effect thereof on the insurance industry.
  • May more people blow the whistle on car insurance fraud.
  • May the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance receive fewer complaints about non-payment of car insurance claims.

Car Insurance Companies

  • May we find amongst short term insurers an increased focus on providing easily accessible and affordable car insurance.
  • May this lead to fair competition and much innovation in the car insurance industry.
  • May we find that policy contracts are clearly disclosed and the need for analysis of reading fine print be reduced.
  • May we find that all role players, i.e. insurers, agents, aggregators and brokers operate within the parameters of the car insurance laws and provide financial advice that is fair and in the best interest of the client.

Insured vehicle owners

  • May there be greater awareness of the contents of car insurance policies.
  • May all vehicle owners protect the safety of their cars by avoiding drunk driver, under-aged driving and ensuring that vehicle safety mechanisms are used at all times.
  • May vehicle owners regard proper vehicle maintenance as a priority!

We will commit in 2010 towards providing information to assist in meeting these wishes. May you and your colleagues, family and friends be blessed with greater health, safety and financial security in 2010!!

2010

Avoid additional car insurance claims near accident scenes

accident-sceneIt is reported that more than 840 people have passed away in 654 fatal road crashes since the start of December on South African roads. On television we have seen images of horrific accident scenes and paramedics doing their best to save the lives of the badly injured accident victims.

On the Car Insurance Blog we have discussed how vehicle owners can find cheaper car insurance by focusing on the way that they drive and by keeping a clean accident record. We would, amidst all these road accidents in December like to focus on the importance of safe driving near accident scenes.

An accident scene is an important driver distraction. Many accidents occur next to accidents scenes where motorists are not attentive to the road ahead and only focused on the emergency activities at the scene. Road users have a strange curiosity to closely observe badly damaged vehicles and injured bodies on the road. It is as if everyone suddenly becomes an accident investigator gathering information to share with friends and family at the next coffee table discussion!

How should we drive near the scene of an accident?

The following advice is provided on the Arrive Alive road safety website to motorists driving near accident scenes:

  • Slow down when you see an accident scene – and if necessary –Stop!
  • Look for changes in the traffic pattern around the accident
  • Look for personnel directing traffic
  • Stop when directed to stop and do so immediately. Do not keep coasting slowly.
  • Proceed through the scene slowly when directed to do so
  • Look for signs indicating what you should do
  • Watch out for emergency services personnel walking around the scene
  • Watch out for emergency vehicles arriving and departing the scene
  • Do not stare at the accident scene or flashing lights while your vehicle is in motion
  • Do not honk your horn. Rest assured, it will not get you through any faster!
  • Do not make sudden movements
  • Do not assume anything. Do only as directed by the police or officials directing traffic
  • Do not disregard the directions of the personnel directing traffic

It is important that we respect the need for safety not only for accident victims – but also that of paramedics working under the most difficult of circumstances. Avoid driver distractions and adding to the chaos through your own irresponsible driving. By driving with caution and being focused on other vehicles around you, you may be contribute to saving the life of an accident victim and also avoid an accident and insurance claim in the process!

Also view Accident Scene Safety