Distracted Driving Habit Is Proving Tough for Americans to Break

Interesting read from Insurance Journal. about distracted driving —

Nearly eight in 10 consumers talk on the phone while driving and more than 30 percent admit to having been in a near-miss crash because they were distracted.

Also, although distracted driving poses potential liability risks for companies, many expect employees to remain connected and do little to discourage such behaviors behind the wheel.

Travelers Companies announced these and other results of its 2019 Travelers Risk Index, which surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and executives about distracted driving and the reasons behind it.

The Travelers Risk Index identified common distractions when behind the wheel, including:

  • Typing a text or email (44 percent).
  • Using social media (23 percent).
  • Recording videos or taking photos (22 percent).
  • Shopping online (15 percent).

“It’s startling to see that drivers continue to engage in potentially life-threatening habits,” said Chris Hayes, second vice president of Transportation, Risk Control at Travelers. “Whether driving for work or on personal time, many drivers overlook risks that make our roads more dangerous for all of us.”

Some drivers say it would be difficult to stop such behaviors. Thirteen percent of respondents say they would find it very difficult to stop reading texts or emails while driving, and 11 percent say it would be difficult to stop typing texts or emails while driving. In addition, five percent of respondents say they would find it very difficult to stop shopping online while driving.

Nineteen percent say they would still drive distracted even if it was against the law.

(Recent research out of the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University and published in the American Journal of Public Health — Texting-While-Driving Bans and Motor Vehicle Crash–Related Emergency Department Visits in 16 US States: 2007–2014— suggests that laws against texting may make a difference. The study found that crash-related emergency room visits fell four percent on average from 2007 to 2014 in states that prohibit texting while driving. Crash-related injuries dropped eight percent in states that placed primary bans on texting while driving, the study found.)

Although many smartphones have settings to help drivers stay focused, most drivers do not use these features. Consistent with last year’s index from the insurer, only 12 percent of consumers set their phones to Do Not Disturb while driving. In fact, of those respondents who do not activate the Do Not Disturb feature, 41 percent actively choose not to turn it on, while others simply forget to turn it on or find it inconvenient to do so (35 percent), according to the survey.

Workplace Accountability

The 2019 index also suggests that many workplaces do not consider the full consequences of distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of a crash is more than $1 million per death and more than $78,000 per nonfatal disabling injury. However, 12 percent of executives surveyed do not worry about the liability associated with a crash caused by a distracted employee, and most (74 percent) do not consider distracted driving to be of great concern.

The connected culture and mounting workplace expectations may be contributing to distracted driving. While most businesses report being at least somewhat concerned about employees’ use of mobile devices on the road, an overwhelming majority (87 percent) of executives expect workers to be sometimes or frequently reachable outside of the office. Employees feel this pressure, as 20 percent of respondents who admit to replying to work-related messages while driving say they do so because they worry about upsetting their boss. Further, nearly half of those same respondents say they always need to be available or do not want to miss a work-related emergency. Lastly, 17 percent say drive time is when they get a lot of work done.

“The pressure to always be online and connected can be deadly,” added Hayes. “Even though distraction-related crashes occur frequently, some companies continue to expect constant connectivity without considering what’s at stake.”

According to Travelers, three out of four workplaces have implemented distracted driving policies. However, just 18 percent of businesses advise employees to set their phones to Do Not Disturb before driving, and only 40 percent report knowing of an employee who was disciplined for not complying with company policy.

Passive Passengers

According to the survey, having conversations about driving behavior can make a difference. Sixteen percent of consumers say they rarely or never speak up while in a car with a distracted driver, yet more than half (54 percent) say they would likely cease distracted driving behaviors if they were asked to do so.

Some conversations about distracted driving are already happening: Two-thirds of parents have spoken to their children about distracted driving, and the same amount of companies say they have an employee education program about the dangers of distracted driving and how to avoid it.

About the Travelers survey: Hart Research conducted a national online survey of 1,000 consumers, ages 18 to 69, in March 2019. Separately, Hart surveyed 1,050 executives from businesses of all sizes. Both surveys were commissioned by Travelers.

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Daylight Savings Time is also Daylight Safety Time

Sunday, March 10 is Daylight Saving, when clocks are moved forward one hour. We here at Downey Insurance Group want to remind you it’s also a great time to improve your family’s safety.

Be safe in your home

Health and safety agencies often use the approach of Daylight Saving Time to remind people to change the batteries in their smoke alarms. The American Red Cross suggests you test your smoke alarms and talk with your family about your fire escape plan. Practice the plan too – at least twice a year.

Daylight Saving is a great time to check your emergency preparedness kit to make sure it’s fully stocked with fresh supplies.

Carbon Monoxide a concern too

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 people die annually in the US from carbon monoxide poisoning. The CDC recommends changing the batteries in your CO detectors when moving your clocks forward this Sunday.

The CDC says the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

See the CDC’s site for more ways to prevent carbon monoxide exposure.

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Why an Independent Agent?

Not all insurance agents are the same! Choosing the right one can make a big difference – in price, service, and value.

With other agencies, you get one company that sells one brand of insurance. With an independent insurance agency like Downey Insurance Agency you get choices.

Why? Because independent insurance agencies, like Downey Insurance Agency represent a number of different insurance companies, and can compare coverage and prices to find the best possible value for your individual circumstances. As independent agents, we’re committed to doing business face-to-face and being your advocate in times of need.

Here are a few reasons why Downey Insurance Agency should be your first and last stop when looking for insurance.

  • We work for you when you have a claim.
  • We are not beholden to any one company. This means you don’t have to change agencies as your insurance and service needs change.
  • We are your consultants, working with you as you determine your needs.
  • We are value-hunters who look after your pocketbook in finding the best combination of price, coverage, and service.
  • We offer one-stop shopping for a full range of products, including home, renters, auto, business, life, health, and retirement plans.
  • We can periodically review your coverage to keep up with your changing insurance needs.
  • We are committed to customer satisfaction – it’s the key to our livelihood.
  • We treat you like a person, not a number.
  • We are licensed professionals with strong customer and community ties.
  • We are a Trusted Choice Agency!

There is a difference. To find out how our independent insurance agency can help you find the right insurance coverage, please contact Downey Insurance Agency. Give us a call today at 508-485-0130.

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Prevent Water Damage

One of the most disheartening experiences is to find flooding or extreme water damage to your treasured home.

At Downey Insurance Agency,  we know you want to protect what’s important. That’s why we’re offering these tips to help you prevent many of the most common causes of water damage.

Just a little time and some effort can prevent a lot of heartache and hassle.

  • Make sure your water pressure is not set too high. For just $6 or so, you can purchase a gauge that will help you test your pressure for the appropriate level, which should be set between 60 and 80 PSI.
  • Standard hoses on new appliances are not as durable as they used to be. So check your appliances. If they’re rubber, either replace them with longer lasting stainless steel braided hoses or replace them every three years.
  • Keep water from leaking into the walls or floor of your bathroom by replacing cracked tiles and re-grouting when it’s needed.
  • Examine the shingles on your roof. Worn, curled or missing shingles allow water in, so replace them as soon as noticed.
  • Consider buying a water alarm, which can help you find leaks, or automatic shut-off mechanisms, which can help avoid bursts.
  • A lot of water damage occurs when you and your family are away from home. Make a practice to avoid running the washing machine or dishwasher while you’re out.
  • When you leave for vacations, turn off the water supply to appliances.
  • Keep up maintenance on all appliance hoses, because slow leaks from worn out hoses can cause major damage (and they are not covered under Homeowners insurance).

At Downey Insurance Agency, we hope these pointers will ensure your house stays nice and dry this year!

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What you need to know about recent legislation on short-term rentals

The Massachusetts House and Senate reached a compromise on the short-term rentals bill that taxes and regulates short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb, including language that exempts owners who rent out their properties fewer than 15 days a year. Governor Baker signed the bill into law on Dec. 28, 2018.

Under the new law, all short-term rentals must still be registered and insured, but only people or businesses that offer rentals for more than 14 nights per year are subject to the State’s 5.7 percent hotel tax.

The insurance requirements of the proposal for short-term rentals state that:

1) Operators must maintain liability insurance of not less than $1,000,000 to cover each short-term rental, unless such short-term rental is offered through a hosting platform that maintains equal or greater coverage. Such coverage shall defend and indemnify the operator and any tenants or owners in the building for bodily injury and property damage arising from the short-term rental.

2) Prior to an operator offering a short-term rental through the use of a hosting platform, the hosting platform shall provide notice to the operator that standard homeowners or renters insurance may not cover property damage or bodily injury to a third-party arising from the short-term rental.

3) Insurers that write homeowners and renters insurance may exclude any and all coverage afforded under the policy issued to a homeowner or lessee for any claim resulting from a short-term rental of any accommodation. Insurers that exclude short-term rental coverage shall not have a duty to defend or indemnify any claim expressly excluded by a policy.

4) Any policy or policy form intended to cover operators of short-term rentals from liabilities, whether the policy or policy form is provided by a hosting platform or an operator itself, shall be filed according to instructions provided by the Division of Insurance.

5) An operator who intends to operate a short-term rental shall provide notice to any insurer that writes a homeowners or renters insurance policy for the property where such short-term rental is to be located of the operator’s intent to operate such short-term rental.

The tax and registration requirements apply to all short-term rentals, which are defined as:

An owner-occupied, tenant-occupied or non-owner occupied property including, but not limited to, an apartment, house, cottage, condominium or a furnished accommodation that is not a hotel, motel, lodging house or bed and breakfast establishment, where: (i) at least 1 room or unit is rented to an occupant or sub-occupant; and (ii) all accommodations are reserved in advance; provided, however, that a private owner-occupied property shall be considered a single unit if leased or rented as such.

Have questions about insurance for your short-terms rentals?   Call us today at 508-485-0130.

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How to Stay Safe on Campus

You need to be responsible and prepared to be as safe as possible while on campus. You need to be ready for anything since campuses are large places sometimes filled with thousands of people. Here are some ways to stay safe on campus.

Stay Away From Isolated Areas

Start by staying away from isolated areas whenever you can. This should be a rule whether you are walking outside on the campus or inside a sparsely populated building. Take alternate routes to avoid areas where you cannot be seen by anyone else, could easily be trapped or there is no light. This will keep you very safe.

Pay Attention to the People around You

Pay attention to all the people around you. A good way to stay safe on campus is to be hyper-aware of your surroundings. Watch for people who seem to be following you. Change your path to avoid groups of people that seem likely to cause trouble. Track what is going on at all times and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Know the Campus

Take some time early on to get to know the campus. Familiarize yourself with all part of the campus. Look at a map if necessary. You want to note where emergency phones or call stations are located. Get to know what routes are the most populated and well lit. This information could be invaluable if you get into a bad situation while walking in a strange part of the campus.

Use Campus Shuttles or Buses

If you have to travel around the campus at night, then try to use the campus shuttles or buses. These will drop you off right at your destination in many cases. They are a safe way to travel. You will always be visible on the bus, and the driver will be there to intervene if something happens.

We are glad to represent and announce our partner MAPFRE wins the #1 home and auto insurer in Massachusetts.

We are proud and glad to represent to and partner with MAPFRE Insurance, the ValChoice® #1 Best Value for Auto Insurance in Massachusetts, with a score of 92 out of 100! The annual award is presented to one company in each state, based on claims handling, customer service and value.

Aiming for the most objective award in the industry, ValChoice analyzes data from state insurance departments, including financial performance, consumer complaints and regulatory actions of each carrier, for its Best Value Award. MAPFRE received a score of 92 out of 100, using data from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.

Thank you as always for your business!

Downey Insurance Group, Downey Realty Group, Downey Financial Group & National Insurance Group!

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When there is a Multi-Impact Weather event – Turn to your states Emergency Management agency




MEMA: Multi-Impact Rain/Flooding/Icing Event Friday/Saturday
The NWS has forecasted a multi-impact rain event Friday into Saturday. Heavy rain is expected to overspread the region Friday afternoon and evening and continuing into Saturday morning. Storm total rainfall amounts of 2 to 3 inches, and up to 4” in some areas are forecast over the entire region. Heavy rain combined with rapid snow melt will result in the possibility of some river and stream flooding along with the potential for isolated ice jam flooding on rivers (except Cape Cod & the Islands). The heavy rainfall combined with snow clogged storm drains may also result in significant urban/street flooding and flooding of low-lying/poor drainage areas. The heavy rain and associated flooding has the potential to impact the Friday evening commute. Strong 45-55 mph wind gusts late Friday into early Saturday could lead to a few downed limbs or small trees; isolated power outages are possible. There may be periods of dense fog on Saturday morning as well. As the heavier rain ends Saturday morning, temperatures will begin to drop from west to east, and they will rapidly dip below freezing during the afternoon and evening on Saturday, potentially resulting in flash-freezing. As the temperatures fall across the region, black ice may develop and any ice jams on rivers may freeze Saturday night and Sunday. This may cause hazardous travel conditions as well as extended river flooding.

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Friday through Saturday: rain and flooding
Saturday into Sunday: cold temperatures, refreezing and icing

Elevated Flooding Risk (rivers, streams, low-lying and poor drainage areas)
Freezing rain and/or flash freeze
Dense fog
Strong and Potentially Damaging Winds

• Flood Safety and Preparedness Tips are available at: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/flood-safety-tips
• Elevate items stored in the basement and other low-lying flood prone areas of homes and businesses to minimize damage from flooding. If you have a sump pump, check that it is functioning properly.
• Clear snow and ice from street catch basins and storm drains to prevent or reduce street flooding.
• Avoid parking vehicles in low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding during heavy rainfall.
• Don’t drive through flooded roads. Remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”
• Safely remove any remaining piles of deep snow from flat and low-pitched roofs. If safe to do so, clear ice and snow from drains on flat roofs.

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Wishing you a SAFE & JOYOUS Holiday Season!

There’s no better time of year, than the holiday season, to thank you for being part of The Downey Family of Companies!

We wish for you not only a joyous holiday season, but a safe one as we enter into 2018!

Many people travel during the holidays by car. Be sure that you practice safety and be on alert while driving no matter where you travel.

Just a few tips:

  • Assign a designated driver!
  • Buckle up (no matter how short of a drive you have)!
  • Park that cell phone.
  • Prepare for traffic and weather conditions and stay alert!

Check out the link below for more details and how to have a safe holiday and New Year! (National Safety Counsel)

Click here for more information about holiday safety!

Thank you as always for your business!

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Downey Family of Companies!

Downey Insurance Group, Downey Realty Group, Downey Financial Group & National Insurance Group!

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Have a Wicked Safe Halloween!

Have a Wicked Safe HALLOWEEN!

Drivers be CAUTIOUS! Drive Slow! Stay Alert! More kids are injured from crossing streets on Halloween night more than any other night of the year! Be Safe! Be Observant! Be Vigilant! Slow down, and avoid neighborhood shortcuts through residential streets where trick-or-treaters may be.

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