You can reduce your risk of being sued by taking some non-insurance steps -steps that not only lower your risk but often lower your insurance costs as well:
- Obey traffic laws, including the speed limit. People who speed have many more accidents. A California study indicated that, with one speeding ticket in the last two years, your probability of having an at-fault accident increased 95 percent. With two tickets, your probability increased 170 percent. If you received three speeding tickets, you were 254 percent more likely to have an accident. If you have four speeding tickets, you're almost 300 percent more likely to have an accident. This should help you understand why insurance companies bump your rate up when you get speeding tickets.
- Don't drink and drive. Always use a designated driver. Period.
- Perform regular safety maintenance on your vehicle. Have your brakes, tires, steering, and lights checked by a mechanic.
- When you're shopping for a car, buy a vehicle that's highly rated for low damageability and passenger safety. Check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Web site (iihs.org/ratings) for crash test results on various makes and models.
- Opt for added safety features like air bags or antilock brakes. They cost more, but they'll save you money on your insurance premium and reduce your risk of injury.
- Always wear your seat belt and insist that your passengers do, too.
- Buy child safety seats and always use them. Look for a seat rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For tips on child safety seats, go to nhtsa.gov and click on the Child Safety Seats link.
- Take a behind-the-wheel defensive driving class. Even if you don't get a premium credit, you'll be a better driver and have less chance of being involved in a serious accident - either one that is not your fault or one hat you cause. And fewer accidents means better rates (and maybe longer lives).
- Require your teenager to have at least 30 hours of practice behind the wheel on his permit under all sorts of driving conditions before allowing him to get a driver's license. No one can ever develop the skills needed to be a safe driver in just a few hours of mandatory driver's education.
- Allow your teen to drive based upon your determination of her ability to responsibly operate a car - regardless of when your state says she can legally drive. A teen who behaves immaturely and irresponsibly out of a vehicle usually behaves immaturely and irresponsibly in a vehicle.
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