Apps that could help save your life in an emergency


If you had to evacuate your home in the next hour or two, would you know what to do? An hour or two gives you a bit of a head start – often, people caught in emergencies have less time to prepare than that. September is National Preparedness Month – during the month, we’ll offer a few suggestions for preparing for the unexpected. Today, we’ll highlight a few apps that might help in the event of an emergency.

Smartphone with cloud of icons

The FEMA App (smartphone app for mobile devices) contains disaster safety tips, an interactive emergency kit list, emergency meeting location information, and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). Also has Disaster Reporter feature allowing you to take and submit GPS photo reports of disasters so they can be displayed on a public map for others to view.

Red Cross has a great suite of free emergency apps. These include apps for weather related disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires , with state-by-state news, tips, and more. They also have apps for first aid and finding shelter in an emergency.

Pocket First Aid and CPR  from the American Heart Association offers quick, concise and clear first aid and CPR instructions from a user’s smartphone that can help a user save a life in the event of an emergency. This is the same app that helped save a life in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Read the incredible story of Dan Woolley, who survived 65 hours under rubble by using this application

WreckCheck – Handy Mobile App for Car Accidents Eliminates Confusion About What to Do


If you are one of the 5 million people who has the misfortune to be involved in a car accident over the next year, you may not be sure exactly what steps to take to protect yourself. Car accidents are rare enough events that most people don’t have top-of-mind awareness about what information needs to be exchanged. Plus, the stress, confusion and high emotions of the event can be a recipe for problems. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) conducted a survey to find out if consumers know what to do, and they learned most people don’t. Here were some common misconceptions and associated risks:

  • Nearly 40% of respondents felt they should share their driver’s licenses, some allowing the other driver to photograph their licenses. The risk is that many retailers accept driver’s license information as a common way to verify identity over the phone.
  • 25% of consumers would share their home addresses. The risk: this information gives potential identity thieves the physical location of one’s mail or garbage, a place often searched for further financial information; It also means potential criminals know where you live, putting your personal safety in jeopardy.
  • Almost 30% of drivers think they are required to share their personal phone numbers. This is not necessary.
  • Close to 20% believe the only reason to call the police after an accident is if someone is injured. However, filing a police report can help facilitate the insurance claims process.

Car Accidents: there’s an app for that!
NAIC offers a WreckCheck mobile app that takes the guesswork out of a post-accident information exchange. When you download the app, enter your vehicle information and info about your agent and insurer. If you are in an accident, launch the app, which will guide you through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. It also offers tips for staying calm, safe and smart on the road, and makes it easy to capture photos and document the necessary information to file an insurance claim. Additionally, the app lets you email yourself a completed accident report directly, as well as to your insurance agents.
The app is free and available for both iPhone® and Android® smartphone users.

Introducing “Know Your Plan” – Disaster Prep App for iPhone


Disasters can happen anywhere – just ask the folks in Springfield who experienced the full wrath of last summer’s tornado or the Vermont communities who were flooded last year in the aftermath of a hurricane that was supposed to pass the state by. While we sometimes have warning about pending problems, catastrophic weather and disastrous natural events often take us by surprise.
Today, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has introduced a new mobile disaster preparedness app – Know Your Plan – which features property protection guidance. It includes a variety of “resources and checklists that consumers can use to to help minimize property damage due to severe weather events and other disasters. Users also can build customized checklists, and can share their checklists with family and friends via email.” Users can also access local emergency information through a built-in Google Crisis Response feed.
The iPhone app was developed with the Insurance Information Institute, and can be accessed at the iPhone store under Know Your Plan, or by searching “Insurance Information Institute” in the App store from any iPhone.
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Your disaster prep should also include a home inventory. We recommend two tools for that. See Know Your Stuff from the Insurance Information Institute or myHOME Scr.APP.book from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Gas Prices soaring again.


Gas prices are soaring again in what has become almost an annual spring ritual, although it’s starting earlier this year. Just ten months ago, we did a post on what you can do about rising gas prices – and the information in there is worth another look. This year, though, spurred by rumors of more conflict in the Middle East, gas prices look set to rise more than they have in several years, possibly even above the record high of $4.11 reported on July 17, 2008. What else is different this year? Well, you can now download a variety of apps for your smartphone to help you find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood. Gasbuddy.com in particular is a useful site either online at home or on the go with a free app. The data is submitted by local users so keep an eye on the date of submission to make sure you’re getting the most recent info.
Why do gas prices fluctuate so much? This overview explains How Gas Prices Work. Essentially, it’s a complicated interlocking chains of supply, demand and crude oil prices. Any slight hitch in this chain can cause our prices at the pump to jump or fall in a crazy pattern that seems to make no sense. One thing does seem certain, though and that’s that we’ll continue seeing higher prices at the pump for the foreseeable future.
What can you do to lessen the impact of gas prices on your life? Experts say that the easiest first step is making sure your tires are properly inflated. Over and under inflated tires waste gas, as do dirty air filters, so consider replacing yours more frequently. Yahoo news reports that gas prices are higher on the weekends, so try to buy gas in the middle of the week. And stay away from highway gas stations! Buy your gas in smaller neighborhoods, where prices are likely to be lower.

Another home inventory tool: free iPhone app from NAIC


Our last post dealt with various tools and technologies for keeping home inventories, and we just learned about a free new app for iPhones. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have introduced myHOME Scr.APP.book, a tool that lets you capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers. It looks great. You can see a brief 2 minute video demo below. And if you don’t have an iPhone, there’s always the low-tech method, which works too. NAIC offers a Home inventory checklist.