First Time Driver: Best Car

What’s The Best Car For A First Time Driver?First Car

Parents who are car shopping for teen drivers know that deciding which factors to prioritize can be difficult. The goal is to make the most sensible choice.  You will need to consider three factors above all others:  safety, reliability, and true cost to own. Auto insurance is the first element of added cost because of the experience and risk factor. The second cost is related to maintenance and reliability.

Things To Consider

The size of your teen’s vehicle plays a significant role in its overall safety. Parents should avoid the smallest vehicle, since even a subcompact with the best crash test scores won’t provide as much collision protection as a large vehicle. Parents should avoid the largest vehicles as well, since these can be difficult to maneuver for new drivers. Midsize cars are best because of their ideal mix of crash protection and maneuverability. AAA recommends that parents avoid SUVs when shopping for teens, saying that the vehicles are “more prone to roll over in extreme driving conditions.” The newer models are safer than older ones because they offer stability control.

Four-cylinder engines offer adequate power, but not so much that they’re likely to tempt teen drivers into engaging in risky behavior. “Teens overestimate their skills and underestimate the risks of driving, so choose a vehicle accordingly. Driving behavior is the most crucial factor affecting your teen driver’s safety behind the wheel. Still, it’s clear a safe vehicle fosters a safer driving experience.

The 2009-2013 models listed below all offer top crash test scores and low TCO (True Cost to Own). And, all used models appear on CarMD’s Vehicle Health Index, which means they rank among the top 10 percent of all vehicles on the road when it comes to dependability.

  1. 2009 Honda Accord
  2. 2009 Toyota Camry
  3. 2010 Chevrolet Malibu
  4. 2010 Volkswagen Jetta
  5. 2011 Hyundai Sonata
  6. 2012 Honda Accord
  7. 2012 Hyundai Sonata
  8. 2012 Toyota Camry
  9. 2012 Volkswagen Jetta
  10. 2013 Chevrolet Malibu


Distracted Driving: Is It Still LOL?

Don't text & drive| Driving SafetyDistracted driving is a serious and growing problem, quickly becoming a habit for some –  a habit that is deadlier than drunk driving.

Distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind of your primary task:  driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing. Here are a few sobering statistics:

  • Drivers who use a hand-held device are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury.
  • Using a cell phone while driving delays your reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, which is the legal limit for drunk driving.
  • Research indicates that the burden of talking on a cell phone – even if it’s hands-free – saps your brain of 39 percent of the energy it takes to devote to safe driving.
  • Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to get involved in a crash. Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual and cognitive distraction at the same time. Sending or reading text takes your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.  At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field, blindfolded. It’s incredibly dangerous!
  • Remember, in Minnesota, it is a primary offense for all drivers to text and drive. Any use of a cell phone while driving is also a primary offense for bus drivers and novice drivers (anyone under the age of 18 with a learner’s permit or provisional license.

Homeowners Insurance: Damage By Fallen Trees

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover that Fallen Tree?

Damage By Fallen Trees

Trees add value and beauty to your home, but they also can spell trouble if they aren’t properly maintained. Dead or dying trees aren’t just unsightly; they post safety hazards and can cause liability issues. It’s important for homeowners to understand what is covered by their homeowners insurance policy if a tree should fall on their property or their neighbor’s property.


Most basic homeowners insurance policies will cover damage to your house and the contents caused by falling trees and tree limbs. Most storm-caused tree damage, such as ice, hail and lightning, is covered. As long as the tree was healthy and well maintained, it doesn’t matter if it was your tree or your neighbor’s tree; your policy covers damage to your property. The same is true for your neighbor. Their homeowners policy is there to cover their property.


This is where it gets a little more complicated. If a tree on your property is not well maintained, is dead or diseased, and may fall and cause damage to your neighbor’s property, you may be liable. Typically, your neighbor’s insurance company will pay for the damage, and then come after your insurance company for reimbursement in a process called subrogation. If the insurance adjuster finds that you were negligent (didn’t maintain the tree properly, your insurance company may end up footing the bill and you’ll feel the pain through higher premiums and potential lawsuits.

If you notice that your neighbors aren’t taking care of their trees properly, you should contact them about it. If they aren’t cooperative, it’s best to use certified mail to have a record of the communication to show you have made an effort to protect your property.

If you don’t properly maintain trees on your own property and they cause damage to your home, it’s possible the insurance company may deny coverage because you failed to protect your property.

Other Damage

Should a healthy tree fall on your garage and damage your car, your homeowners policy will cover the damage to the structure up to limits set within your policy. Your auto insurance, assuming you have comprehensive coverage, will cover the damage to your car. Again, if the tree isn’t properly maintained, coverage may be denied.

Your homeowners insurance policy also likely will cover some of the cost of removing the tree from the structure and the cost of hauling it away. Tree removal and hauling away will have separate limits. These can be very expensive, so be sure to see what the limits of your policy are. 

Keeping your trees healthy and well trimmed doesn’t just protect your family’s safety, but can save you from increased premiums and potential lawsuits.  Prevention is by far the best cure.

Motorcycle Safety: 5 Key Tips

“You have to be completely crazy to ride a motorcycle. Those things are dangerous!”

Motorcycle Safety TipsHow often have we heard that? Zealous four-wheelers are bent on saving us from our own stupidity. Anyone bright wouldn’t go near one of those death machines.

 In small part, they are right. There is risk involved in operating a motorcycle. There’s also risk involved in driving on a freeway, even in a tank. The trick is to manage the risks and to not take dumb chances.

Managing risk is key, and taking a motorcycle rider course will help you do just that. (And, you may get a discount on your motorcycle insurance.) Keep your mental and physical skills sharp; practice good cornering and curve-riding techniques.  Know the limits of your motorcycle and the limits of the environment.

Five Key Tips for Safe Riding

  1. Assume you are invisible to other drivers. Don’t ever assume another driver knows you’re there.
  2. Look where you want to go. It’s called visual and directional control. Keep your head and eyes oriented 3-4 seconds ahead of you when cornering. In an emergency, do not stare at the guardrail, the gravel shoulder or the oncoming car. The term for this is target fixation, and it can distract you from the task at hand.
  3. Counter-steer. Use precise inputs to the hand-grips to lean the motorcycle. Press forward on the left hand-grip, the bike leans left. Press forward on the right hand-grip, the bike leans right. You can learn this technique by taking a rider course.
  4. Use both brakes. Your front brake provides 70 percent or more of your stopping power in an emergency. Squeeze, do not grab the front brake.
  5. Never stop riding the bike. Don’t ever give up control of your motorcycle. Again, part of the challenge of motorcycling is risk management. Don’t create dangers for yourself by taking unnecessary chances.  As a biker, that is your responsibility, and the joy of motorcycling.

    Watch for  more articles about motorcycle safety, sense and sensibility.

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Information gathered from:
Minnesota Department of Public Safety