Are you spending more at the gas pump than you need to?


pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas stationIf you use premium gasoline for your car, you may want to rethink that. Unless your car manufacturer specifically designates the use of premium fuel, you are wasting your money, according to new fuel performance research by AAA. How much money? A whopping $2.1 billion in the aggregate. Yikes. Here’s a summary of what they learned:

“According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.”

Why do drivers pick premium fuel when they don’t need it? It essentially comes down to the power of advertising and language: “Premium” sounds better to many people – and it sounds like it would be beneficial to your car. But the research shows that, ““Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”

AAA says that if you want to upgrade to better fuel, drivers should choose TOP TIER gas rather than a higher octane. Here’s a AAA Premium Fuel Fact Sheet that explains the research and offers more recommendations.

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Turn to IIHS 2016 Top Safety Picks when shopping for a new car


crash-testsIf you’re in the market for a new car, here’s an invaluable research tool: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks for 2016. There are a lot of new vehicle features and amenities that are fun to shop for and compare, but what’s more important than safety? Fortunately, IIHS has you covered. They issue annual awards that emphasize both crash avoidance and “crashworthiness,” or how a vehicle will fare when put through actual crash tests. For 2016, IIHS picked 61 cars for Top Safety Pick and 48 of those qualified for Top Safety+, the highest award. Here’s the criteria and a short video about the awards.

To qualify for 2016 Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn good ratings in five crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — as well as a basic rating for front crash prevention.

To qualify for 2016 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

 

The IIHS offers a variety of resources to help you in your research. Here are a few that we found particularly helpful.

Insurance losses by make and model

Driver death rates by make and model

Choosing the best vehicle for your teen

“A list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers. There are two tiers of recommended vehicles, best choices and good choices. Prices range from about $3,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.”

Crash avoidance features by make and model

Crash avoidance features are rapidly making their way into the vehicle fleet. Six of the most common new technologies are forward collision warning, autobrake, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, adaptive headlights and blind spot detection. IIHS offers a tool to find out which models come with which features.

Yikes – Massachusetts has some really bad drivers


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File this under “dubious distinctions”: Boston drivers, you are the worst! Your drivers are 157% more likely to get in a crash than the national average – they get in about one accident every three years. In a list of the 200 largest cities, you come in dead last at #200.

Worcester, you aren’t much better – you come in at #199. And no smirking from you, Springfield – you have the 5th worst driving record!

The honors for the city with the nation’s safest drivers goes to Kansas City, where drivers are 24.8% less likely than the average U.S. driver to get in a crash.

The ranking is from Allstate’s annual “America’s Best Driver Report.” You can read a summary of our miserable record at Boston.com’s story: Bostonians crash more than twice as often as the average driver

The only consolation is that despite the number of bad urban drivers in the state, Massachusetts did not make the list of the 10 states with the worst driving records.

Hey, all you bad drivers – here’s some advice from “Uncle Bob”: 70 Rules of Defensive Driving

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks for 2012 Autos


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced its Top Vehicle Safety Picks for 2012. There are 18 new picks for a total of 115 winners in the following categories: 69 cars, 38 SUVs, 5 minivans, and 3 pickups. The award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute evaluations. The ratings, which cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes, help shoppers pick vehicles that offer the highest levels of crash protection.
Here’s a handy list of the 2012 Top Safety Picks with links to the ratings.
If you will be shopping for a new vehicle, you may also want to consult this list: Insurance Losses by Make & Model. And you will also want to talk to your local insurance agent.

Are you at risk of computer theft?


How common is computer theft? The 8th Annual BSI Computer Theft Survey has an eye opening list about the real threat computer theft possesses. Here are some of the more compelling findings of the survey:

  • There were over 5,500,000 computers stolen in the USA in the last three years. Worldwide statistics are proportionally similar.
  • According to the FBI, only 3% of unprotected (those that do not use a software tracking and recovery software) stolen computers are ever recovered.
  • More than half (58.7%) of the survey respondents have been the victim of computer theft in the last 12 months.
  • Laptops comprised more than two thirds (68%) of those devices reported stolen, followed by desktop computers (10%) and PDAs, iPods, iPhones, etc. (22%).
  • Ninety-seven percent of survey respondents that experienced computer theft report the thief was never caught.
  • Forty-six percent of respondents report the estimated value of proprietary data on their stolen computing device at $25,000 or less; 46.5 % estimated the value at between @25,000 and $1,000,000. ; 6.5% estimated the value at $1,000.000 or more and 1% estimated the value at more than $10,000,000.

It brings to mind the story of Francis Ford Coppola Losing 15 Years of Data in Burglary. Francis Ford Coppola is the legendary director of such films as The Godfather, The Godfather 2, and Apocalypse Now. On top of losing his personal data and 15 years of work it also put Tetro, the multi million dollar film he was working on at the time, in jeopardy.

Don’t let what happened to Francis happen to you, backup your data and make sure you are insured! Most homeowners and rental policies will cover a computer up to a certain amount – but if you have a very expensive computer or peripherals, or if your data is vital to your livelihood, you should talk over additional coverage options with your agent!