Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Faulty Headlights Spur General Motors Recall

English: Logo of General Motors Corporation. S...
Most people think of their vehicles as being relatively safe and reliable machines, especially if they’re made by a well-known manufacturer. Unfortunately, however, there are no guarantees in life, as proven by General Motors’ recent recall.

The popular automobile manufacturer recalled a whopping 316,357 vehicles due to a problem with their headlights. A glitch can possibly cause the headlights on certain vehicles to stop working altogether.

While any person who notices a problem with their headlights should report the issue to General Motors, certain models are mainly affected. These include:

l  The Buick LaCrosse Sedan
l  The Chevrolet Trailblazer
l  The Isuzu Ascender SUV
l  The GMC Envoy
l  The Saab 9-7X
l  The Buick Rainier

Affected vehicles were manufactured between 2006 and 2009, so owners of any of these models made during these years should be on the lookout for headlight problems. Faulty headlights may seem small, but they can do big damage. Headlights that aren’t working properly can cause accidents, tickets, and other problems.

Buyers affected by the recall are entitled to free headlight replacement at a local dealership.

It’s easy to see that you can never be too careful. No matter how far in the past you bought your vehicle or how great the manufacturer’s reputation may be, serious and dangerous problems can be discovered at any time. Sign up for email newsletters and mailings from your car manufacturer, pay attention to the news, and respond to any recalls or problem reports promptly to keep yourself and others safe on the road.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Larger People Equal Larger Crash Dummies

Crash dummies have long been used as a substitute for people in simulated accidents. Because their main purpose is to determine what would happen to a person in the same situation, these dummies must move like real people and be constructed like real people, and that includes their weight and overall size. So, it only makes sense that, with the nation getting heavier and heavier, the average crash dummy has been packing on the pounds too.

The first obese crash dummy was recently developed by a Michigan company known as Humanetics. The company’s dummy, which hasn’t been released for general use to the testing agencies yet, weighs almost 300 pounds, over a hundred pounds more than the standard dummies of the past.

While it’s sad to have to create such a large dummy to simulate people, there’s a need for it. A
whopping 34.9% of the American population is now classified as obese, and there’s a real need to determine if and how heavier people are affected differently in vehicular accidents. Most researchers, including those at Humanetics, believe that they will find differences, such as how the weight impacts the driver’s position in the car and how safety devices, like seat belts and air bags, and their performance are affected by heavier weights.

It’s not just the researchers at Humanetics who are interested in how weight and car accidents/car safety relate. Recently, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley compared accident fatality statistics for both obese and non-obese accident victims and found that obese drivers had a 78% higher chance of dying in a car accident than their non-obese counterparts.

Despite the growing concern over how obesity affects safety in the car, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not intend, at this time, to use the dummy in its tests, which set the standards for major safety ratings. The organization says it is more concerned with testing the overall strength of the vehicles themselves, since stronger, sturdier vehicles will reduce accident risks for people of all sizes. Some car manufacturers have expressed a lack of interest in the heavier dummy as well, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does say that it plans to educate itself more on the heavier dummy and perhaps try it out sometime in the future. The dummy goes on sale soon, and only time will really tell if these organizations eventually step up to the plate and give it a try or not.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 Most Notorious Insurance Fraud Crimes

As the new year begins, it’s fun (and a little bit sad!) to take a look back at some of last year’s most notorious insurance fraud crimes. Unfortunately, while many of these crimes may seem pretty bizarre, they’re really just par for the course. People commit insurance crimes every day, but fortunately, they rarely get away with them for long.

The Personal Injury Attorney

This year saw the bust of a Bridgeport, Connecticut personal injury attorney. The man who seemed all business on the surface was actually the leader of a money-stealing crime ring. The attorney would get accident victims to receive very expensive and very unnecessary treatments for their so-called injuries and then get all of the money for these “treatments,” some of which never even happened, from their insurers. The man wasn’t the only one involved in the crime; no, he had doctors, chiropractors, and even young people who picked up accident reports from the local police station for him daily and then talked victims into getting treatments. When he was finally caught, the man received 51 months in prison and a judgment against him in the amount of $1.8 million!

The Rocker Cop

A young New York, New York man seemed to have it all. By day, he did duty as a respected police officer, and by night, he was the front-man for a popular punk band. Somewhere in between that busy schedule, he managed to fake an injured-on-the-job arm and collect over $30,000 as a result. Even though he claimed his pain was so great that he couldn’t bend his arm, photos and videos from his concerts, in which he danced and definitely bent the “hurt” arm, got him caught. He now faces three years of probation for his crime. 

The Rape Victim

A Michigan woman seemed to have the most tragic and horrific story imaginable. She claimed to have been raped in the parking lot of a store and to have contracted a deadly case of cervical cancer as a result. Her community gave her endless support, collecting over $10,000 to help pay her medical bills, and her insurance company supported her as well, giving her over $120,000 for hospice care. Sadly, after investigation, it all turned out to be a big hoax, and the woman received a year in jail as punishment.

These stories are about dishonest, selfish people whose lies impacted everyone around them. Sadly, tales like these happen all the time; don’t let yourself become one of them. Always be 100% honest when making insurance claims.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ford Recalls Select Cargo Vans

Ford Motors recently announced that it is issuing a recall on select Transit Connect cargo vans released in the US. The recalled vans, which total close to 20,000, are being recalled due to plastic in the panel that could become loose.

While there is no guarantee that every van with this plastic paneling will experience problems, the risk is great enough to issue a recall. The company is concerned that the paneling won’t properly adhere to the doors, which could lead to excess and distracting noise while driving, leakage, and even separation of the paneling from the door, which could pose a road hazard.

2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT photographed in ...
2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT photographed in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. Category:Ford Transit Connect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you own one of these vans, you are instructed to bring it back to the dealer. There, free of charge, the dealer will remove the potentially problematic paneling and re-install it with higher quality products that won’t pose a problem.

The Transit Connect vans aren’t the only product Ford has recalled as of late. The company recently announced its recall of more than 700 2015 Ford Mustangs, which could have a leak in the fuel line due to an improperly installed fuel pressure sensor on some models. As with the vans, dealers will replace fuel supply tubes and sensors at no cost to owners.

When major companies such as Ford are recalling their products regularly, it’s easy to see how important it is to pay attention to the news. No vehicle or vehicle manufacturer is above simple mistakes that, unfortunately, could pose a risk to your health and safety and to the health and safety of others on the road. Therefore, whenever you buy a new vehicle, pay attention to the news, and if you learn of any recalls or potential problems with the vehicle, get them fixed immediately to avoid posing a potential danger to yourself and others on the road.

Friday, January 9, 2015

False Insurance Claims and their Consequences

A 29 year old Louisville, Kentucky resident was recently arrested for staging a vehicle accident and then attempting to profit from the resulting insurance claims. The woman allegedly rented a U-haul truck with insurance and then “accidentally” crashed the truck into another car, also a part of the scam.

The insurance claim would have left the woman with a nice of over $100,000...if the crash had been real. Once the claim was investigated and found to be fraudulent, however, the woman eventually confessed and was charged with one count of fraud.

Her punishment and the punishment of others involved in the bogus crash will all depend on what the judge decides, but it could involve some serious prison time.   

Obviously, it’s not easy to get away with insurance fraud. So, no matter how tempting it may be to collect on big cash, it’s always best to be honest. Even if you do see some money as the result of a fraud, the risk of getting caught and the punishments involved are just too serious.

Furthermore, even if a person doesn’t get caught, the cost of fraudulent claims affects everyone. Insurance prices often go up when many large claims are made within a given year, and accident statistics are wrongfully affected too. Furthermore, when accidents are staged, other innocent people could become involved and negatively impacted. In short, it’s incredibly selfish (and dangerous!) to stage an accident or to attempt to collect money from a false claim. No matter how tempting the money may seem, do the right thing and always file honestly and only when you actually need to.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Vehicle Theft Rates are Going Down

People are always talking about how we live in an increasingly violent and criminal society. And, while that may be true in some cases, figures actually report that, in the case of vehicular thefts, crime rates have gone down. In fact, there’s been a 58% reduction in car thefts since 1991.

The greatly reduced number of yearly car thefts shows in the minds of the American people. A recent survey revealed that 56% of Americans don’t worry about having their vehicles stolen.

And, while it’s good that people don’t worry as much as they once did and that they don’t have to, that doesn’t mean that precautions shouldn’t be taken. Fortunately, many items to ward off thieves are currently available. There are steering wheel clubs, car alarms, and even more devices to deter thieves. Plus, there are also auto theft prevention authorities, which are made up of professionals who seek out thieves and demand the most severe possible punishments for their offenses.   

While the standard “break in and hot-wire” technique may not be as much of a possibility as it once was, there are still car thieves operating, and they do have more sophisticated measures at their disposal. Thieves have been known to go to dealerships and locksmiths to fraudulently obtain sets of vehicle keys that they can use to enter cars with ease, for example. Some criminals have even been able to intercept communication between a person’s electronic car key and the car with complex and criminal devices. Thus, a should-be-locked-car becomes an easy target.

The bottom line is that, even though vehicle theft isn’t as much of a concern as it once was, it is still important to be cautious and to protect your car to the best of your ability. And, just in case those measures fail, you should also have insurance that protects you against theft.