Any driver who has been in an accident knows the feeling of surveying the damage afterwards and wondering whether it could have been prevented. Although there are times when there’s nothing you can do to prevent an accident because you’re the victim of another driver’s negligence, most accidents are preventable. Keeping yourself from getting in an accident not only saves you from having to make an insurance claim, but also protects your health and the health of others on the road. Here are some strategies to keep yourself from getting in accidents.
Don’t Multitask: Many accidents occur because of divided attention. If you’re trying to do something else while you drive, less of your mental focus is on the road, other vehicles around you, and traffic signs and signals. Therefore, if at all possible, avoid multitasking while you’re behind the wheel. This includes obvious culprits like talking on the phone, texting, and putting on makeup, but also some less obvious behaviors. Eating while you drive, talking with people in the car, and even changing the radio station can all take your attention off the road.
Learn Defensive Driving Habits: Taking a short online or classroom defensive driving course equips you with the basic skills to learn how to recognize and avoid potential accidents. In some cases, you’ll even qualify for a discount on your auto insurance after successfully completing a course. Some of the most important skills include scanning the road ahead of you for potential hazards (which include hazardous drivers), always having an escape route in mind, and driving in the center lane to give yourself more options for escape.
Know Your Condition: Never drive drunk, and when in doubt of whether or not you’re drunk, play it safe. In addition, don’t drive when you’re tired. That deductible on your policy, and the subsequent premium increase, is much more expensive than a night in a hotel in the middle of a long road trip.
Maintain Your Vehicle: A vehicle in good condition is more able to respond quickly in a situation in which an auto accident needs to be prevented. Replace your tires when they’re getting worn, maintain your brake pads and braking system, and check your fluid levels to keep your systems in top conditions. These will help your car respond as you’d like it to when performing accident avoidance maneuvers.
Based on several studies supporting the presumption, married couples are generally granted lower auto insurance rates due to the fact that they are typically more responsible, less likely to drive recklessly, and less likely to encounter auto accidents and traffic violations. However, the benefit of lower insurance rates will only apply to the extent that both parties in the couple have fairly good driving records. Personal driving history will usually have the biggest impact on insurance rates, which means that getting married likely won’t reduce your insurance rates dramatically if your driving history is filled with accidents and multiple filed claims.
Although you shouldn’t expect a huge drop, your insurance rates will noticeably decrease with any positive lifestyle event that may testify to your maturity. For example, you should always notify your insurance agent when any big milestone occurs, such as graduating college or having a baby. These milestones indicate that you are much less likely to file an insurance claim, which will be rewarded by your insurance company in the form of lower premiums. Alternatively, if your fiance or spouse has a poor driving record, this could negatively affect you both in terms of your auto insurance rates. Both of your rates could further be affected if one partner continues to get tickets or get into auto accidents. For this reason, it’s important that both parties encourage one another to drive responsibly to avoid insurance hikes.
As a newly married couple, you can also receive insurance discounts by placing both of your vehicles under one policy. This would qualify you for a multi-car discount, which would result in lower rates overall. If you and your spouse have different auto insurance companies, it is always more financially beneficial to combine your auto insurance policies under one company. Another good tip is to combine all of your other insurance policies, such as homeowner’s insurance and commercial insurance, to enjoy savings on these policies as well.
In instances where a driver under your insurance policy has gotten into multiple auto accidents and received several traffic tickets, it may be in your best interest to exclude this person from your auto insurance policy. Any traffic violations that occur under your insurance policy, whether a fault of your own or another driver, will negatively affect your insurance rates and cause your premiums to increase dramatically. In order to exclude a driver from your insurance policy, you will have to deliver a written “named driver exclusion” to your insurance carrier to specify exactly which driver you would like to be excluded from your insurance policy. Once this person is excluded from your policy, he or she will not be covered under your personal auto policy for future accidents.
Although a driver may be excluded from your policy, you or the excluded driver will still be responsible for any damages or injuries that may result from an auto accident in which the excluded driver is at fault. However, you will only be personally responsible if the excluded driver was driving your vehicle at the time, regardless of whether or not he or she was covered under your insurance policy at the time of the accident. For this reason, you will want to exclude an at-risk driver as soon as possible, and make sure to terminate this person’s access to your vehicle after you have excluded him or her.
Your insurance company may recommend excluding a driver from your coverage policy if this person is responsible for any of the following:
- Multiple vehicle citations
- A suspended license
- Several at-fault accidents
- A DUI or DWI conviction
- Impaired mental ability
If your own record is relatively clean, having someone on your policy who has any of the violations listed could cause you to pay higher insurance premiums that you otherwise wouldn’t have to pay. Excluding this person from your policy would allow you to enjoy all of the benefits that you earned as a good driver, while eliminating and negative affects that this driver has caused.