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!

Best Bets for kids’ car boosters from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) assessed 72 kids’ booster seats to check for the ones that offer a good fit, one of the most important safety criteria. They designated 21 booster models as “Best Bets” and 7 as “Good Bets.” That’s a marked improvement over last year’s list, when only 9 models earned the highest grades. They have also rated 8 models as “not recommended.” See the full list: 2010 IIHS Booster Evaluation Ratings.
These ratings are important because they offer guidance on fit. While there are other tests and ratings for boosters – such as crash performance tests and ease of use – there are none that address fit. IIHS says, “Belts do the main job of keeping kids in boosters safe in crashes, but belts along with vehicle seats are designed for adults, not children, so it’s important for boosters to lift kids into position for lap/shoulder belts to provide proper restraint. Children 4-8 who ride in boosters are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes than children restrained by belts alone.”
Photos used with permission of IIHS.

Cars thieves love to steal: Top 10 most stolen vehicles of 2008

Pop quiz: what car do you think was the most stolen car in 2008? The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) just released its list of the top 10 stolen vehicles for 2008. You can also find out the top 10 most stolen vehicles by state. If you think having an older car is any protection, think again – older models are popular for their parts. Plus, newer models are getting harder to steal since they are more likely to be equipped with anti-theft devices.
The good news is that auto theft continues on its 5-year downward trend, with 2008 being the lowest annual total in over 20 years.
To avoid theft, NICB recommends four layers of protection:
Common Sense: Lock your car and take your keys.
Warning Device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device.
Immobilizing Device: “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices which are extremely effective.
Tracking Device: A tracking device that emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen is very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.
View or download a brochure with more tips on how to reduce your chances of auto theft.

Survey: Americans flunking insurance

Most Americans flunk when it comes to basic insurance knowledge, according to a recent survey conducted for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Despite this, about 56% of the survey respondents felt “very confident” about making insurance decisions. In a 10-question insurance quiz, the average score was a dismal 40%.
But wait – before you learn more about the results of the survey, why not take the insurance IQ Test yourself and see how you fare?
Having a basic knowledge of insurance can mean the difference between overpaying for coverage and saving money. Misconceptions can also mean that a buyer doesn’t secure adequate coverage to protect them in the event of a loss. For example, only 4 in 10 respondents knew that auto insurance doesn’t automatically cover a rental car and only 14% were aware of the amount of life insurance that is typically recommended.
Given the test results, it is fortunate to learn that 61% of the respondents said that they use an insurance agency when purchasing insurance outside of employment. And we were happy to hear that 80% of the respondents said they had a good relationship with their agent and that 82% trust their agent to help them make the right choices.
Survey results: Executive Summary (PDF)