Monthly Archives: February 2017

Feature that Counts Down to Green Light

Audi has equipped most models in its 2017 lineup with a cloud-enabled countdown timer for red lights, capable of letting drivers know how many minutes or seconds they have left to wait until a stoplight turns green.

So if you’re at a red light and need to set your navigation route or tend to kids in the backseat, you’ll know whether you have enough time to do those things before the light turns green.

Taking advantage of the fact that more cities are implementing smart signaling and advanced traffic management systems that monitor traffic in real time, Audi’s new traffic light information system communicates with traffic signals to let the driver know when the light changes.

The feature will be part of a subscription navigation package called Audi Connect Prime, which costs between $27 and $33 a month.


Technology relies on smart traffic systems

Because the system has to tie in with each municipality’s signal management system, the service works only in Las Vegas for now. Audi plans to continue to roll out the service city by city more municipalities incorporate smart traffic systems.

Experts say Audi’s traffic light information system is an early indicator of some of the big changes under way in terms of how automobiles communicate with highway infrastructure to get from place.

“This is a baby step toward full or semi-autonomous cars,” says Mark Takahashi, an automotive editor at Edmunds.

Takahashi, who in early December attended a demonstration in Las Vegas of Audi’s new red light system, said the feature was even more useful than he expected. For example, if a traffic light is about to turn yellow or red, the sensor will let the driver know whether there’s enough time to make it through the intersection.

And because a lot of cars have start/stop technology that shuts off the engine to save fuel if the car rolls to a stop, the red light feature takes that into account. “If you’re pulling up to a red light, but there isn’t much time before it turns green, start/stop won’t engage,” Takahashi says.


Next step toward self-driving cars

Audi’s red light clock is one of the first mainstream technologies to hit the market in terms of connectivity between vehicles and traffic infrastructure.

“It’s a good illustration of how vehicles and infrastructure can trade information back and forth, and it’s one of the low-hanging fruit,” says Kevin Balke, senior research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Kara Macek, spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, says giving more information to drivers could help them make better decisions. Her only concern would be if some drivers are inclined to speed up if there are just a few seconds left on a yellow light.

“But it’s certainly a harbinger of things to come in terms of having more technology in our cars every day,” Macek says.

Doug Newcomb, president and co-founder of the C3 Group, which provides conferences, consulting and content for the auto industry, says that right now higher-end auto makers such as Audi, BMW and Cadillac, are exploring connected vehicle technologies, and that others could soon follow their lead.

“Typically what happens is you have the technology on a high-end car like an Audi or BMW, and then you see it trickle out to lower-priced vehicles,” Newcomb says.

The technology brings Audi just a little bit closer to developing a self-driving car, a goal that Audi has been committed to, Takahashi says.

Car Accident Have the Same Insurance Company

You’ve just been in a car accident. When you exchange insurance cards you find that you and the other drive have the same insurance company.

Is this a good thing?

Will it speed up the settlement of any claims?

You might think so. But the truth? Probably not, according to insurance experts and attorneys interviewed by NetQuote.

ALSO: Find the Cheapest Car Insurance in Your City

“Things go the way they usually do,” says David Meltzer, an insurance agent with Baltimore’s East Insurance Group.

Meltzer did say there is one important exception, and it has to do with your deductible if you are the person who was hit and the other driver will probably be found at fault in the accident.


What same insurance means for deductibles

Say you’re the driver who was hit: Your insurance company, because it represents both you and the driver who hit you, might not require you to pay your deductible when you repair your car. This is a significant change. In most accidents when you and the other driver are represented by different insurance companies, even if you are not at fault, you might have to pay upfront for some of the repairs to your car, depending on your deductible.

If an accident caused $3,000 of damage to your car and your deductible is $500, you’d have to pay for the first $500 of repair work before your insurance company picks up the cost of the remaining $2,500. If you are eventually found not to be at fault, your insurance company would most often reimburse you for the amount you paid out of pocket.

ALSO: Is the Car of Driver Insured?

If you and the other driver are represented by the same insurance company, the process works a bit differently, Meltzer says. In such instances, the insurance company usually doesn’t require a driver who was hit and clearly not at fault to pay any money out-of-pocket for car repairs. That money instead would usually come from the policy of the driver who was to blame for the accident.

Of course, this only holds true when it’s clear who was at fault. The deductible benefit might not come into play if the insurance company and its adjustors need to investigate which of the drivers actually caused the accident.


Don’t expect faster insurance claims

Besides the deductible situation, there are no other benefits – or disadvantages – when both drivers have the same insurance, says Evan Walker, a personal injury attorney based in La Jolla, California, who routinely handles auto accident cases.

Walker saysthat insurance companies are required to treat claims the same whether the other driver is represented by the same insurer or a different one.

“It doesn’t really make a difference,” Walker says. “Insurance companies have statutory duties to handle claims efficiently.”

Know More About Uninsured Motorist Insurance

An estimated 12.6 drivers in the United States are currently uninsured. What impact does this have to a licensed, law abiding driver? It means costs might not be covered when someone with no insurance hits your car, leaving you to pay out-of-pocket for damage and/or medical bills. Drivers with minimum insurance may not have enough liability coverage to pay your expenses.

Plus, chances are that these people with inadequate or no insurance do not have the money to pay for the damages on their own, which is where uninsured motorist property damage insurance comes into play.

Today, many insurance companies offer uninsured motorist property damage in their coverage to protect insured drivers from uninsured drivers. Uninsured motorist property damage insurance coverage can help pay for damage — up to your coverage limits — when accidents with uninsured motorists occur.

To help you better understand the situation, has compiled a list of important questions, topics and items to know when it comes to uninsured motorist property damage insurance and how you can be best protected against uninsured motorists when they are the at-fault party.


What is an uninsured motorist?

An uninsured motorist is defined as “one who has no insurance, does not have insurance that meets state-required minimum liability amounts, or whose insurance company is unwilling or unable to pay the claim.”

Furthermore, a hit-and-run driver would be considered an uninsured motorist, as the cost of fixing the damage is left up to you.


What is uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage insurance?

First, uninsured motorist property damage coverage comes into play when the other driver involved is determined to be at-fault (or at least partially at-fault) for the accident. This at-fault driver must have either no insurance or inadequate insurance coverage. An underinsured motorist is a driver whose liability limits are too low to cover vehicle and medical costs in an accident where they are at-fault.

ALSO: Switching Car Insurance Companies: When Can You Cancel?

The function of uninsured motorist property damage insurance is to pay for the vehicle damage when the at-fault party does not have auto liability insurance. Most uninsured motorist property damage insurance will pay only up to the value of your vehicle, but it depends on your coverage and what state you currently reside.

If under your insurance policy, you do not have collision coverage, uninsured motorist property damage will pay up to a certain amount for car repairs. Depending on your state of residence, the limit might be up to $3,500. Some states will have the limit that matches the actual cash value of the vehicle. Again, check to see what your limit is within your current state. This goes the same for deductibles, as some states have uninsured motorist property damage insurance with a deductible, normally ranging from $200 to $500.


What does uninsured motorist insurance cover?

While uninsured motorist property damage insurance covers car damage, uninsured motorist insurance primarily covers two areas, bodily injury and property damage. Many states require uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance, while uninsured motorist property damage coverage is not required in every state.

With bodily injury, the insurance may help with injury costs caused by the accident. Moreover, in some states, this coverage may include family members and passengers also in the car. The property damage definition includes covering the cost to repair the car after an accident. In certain cases, property damage may include valuable items damaged from the accident, such as computers, cell phones or other devices as well as property, such as fences or a mailbox. Again, this varies from situation to situation and the state you currently reside in.

Repair a Cracked Windshield

Just one tiny rock hitting your windshield can trigger a chain of events that can ultimately lead to costly repairs and potentially compromise the structural integrity of your vehicle. Even a small chip can crack and spread across your windshield over time.

And in most states, you can get a ticket for driving with a damaged windshield if the crack is large enough to impair the driver’s vision.

Needless to say, there are financial and safety reasons for fixing a damaged windshield in a timely manner. The good news is that as long as the damage is caused by something other than a collision, most insurance companies will not count auto glass damage as a claim on your policy, as long as you’ve comprehensive coverage.

Many companies pay for windshield repairs at 100 percent coverage.

Here are a few things you need to know about windshield repair and what’s covered by insurance. Be sure and ask about windshield repair coverage when shopping for auto insurance.


Why you should fix a chipped windshield

The windshield provides a significant portion of structural support to the cabin of a vehicle and helps keep the roof in place in the event of a rollover. According to the Auto Glass Safety Council, the windshield provides up to 45 percent of the cabin’s structural integrity in a front-end collision, and up to 60 percent in a rollover.

It also allows the airbags to properly deploy to cushion passengers, and it prevents people from being ejected in a serious collision.

ALSO: How Much Is Traffic Congestion Costing You?

When the damage is minor, taking early action almost always prevents the damage from spreading.

“Even if it’s a small chip, don’t wait. Because the glass layers in windshields are now thinner, most chips will eventually crack,” says Melina Metzger, spokeswoman for Safelite Group, a third-party administrator of auto glass claims for more than 175 insurance companies.

Cold and hot weather can make small chips spread quickly, so repairing chips as soon as they occur helps to eliminate the need for replacements in the future.


What your auto insurance covers

There is usually no deductible for windshield repairs as long as you have comprehensive coverage and that your policy covers windshield damage.

“Typically, the comprehensive portion of your insurance policy covers windshield cracks or vehicle glass damage. However, many car insurance companies have a separate section of the policy that defines coverage for glass breakage,” Metzger says.

This special coverage may allow for a lesser deductible owed on windshield replacement.

If you have a high deductible without specific glass coverage, it’s a good idea to think twice about filing a claim if the cost of your repair is only a small amount greater than the cost of your deductible, Metzger says.