An Increase in Distracted Driving Shows Need for Umbrella Policies

// September 7, 2017
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Picture this: You are driving to the office and notice the driver in the car next to you is looking down at their phone as they approach the back of the vehicle in front of them. They are able to look up just in time to brake, and an accident is averted. Unfortunately, this same outcome does not happen every time a distracted driver is looking at their phone.

Distracted driving is on the rise with the increasing use of cell phones. In 2015, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,477 people while injuring nearly 400,000 others in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at 55 mph, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to drive the length of a football field.

Teen drivers have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, with 16-17 year olds being three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. To prevent auto accidents from happening because of distracted driving, many states have enacted laws for hands-free cell phone use, but, unfortunately, the number of accidents continues to rise.

The most common types of risk management techniques include avoidance, mitigation, transfer and acceptance. Some of these same principles can be applied to distracted driving, with avoidance being the best option. Some tips to help with avoidance include:

  • Have conversations with family and teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving
  • Lead by example and minimize risky behavior when driving
  • Make an agreement with your family not to drive while using your phone, and have your teens make the same pact with their friends

Another option to consider is risk transfer. A Personal Umbrella or Excess Personal Umbrella policy can offer higher limits in the event of auto accidents that result in an injury or fatality.

Consider the following real-life claims example that occurred recently in Florida.

An insured was driving with her daughter in the back seat, and the daughter began to cry.  The insured turned around to hand her cell phone to her crying daughter, failing to notice that the rush-hour traffic ahead of her had stopped. She rear-ended the vehicle in front of her. The individual in the other vehicle suffered multiple injuries, including disc injuries at multiple cervical and lumbar levels. As a result, the individual had to undergo five surgeries, including stem cell injections and implantation of a spinal cord stimulator that eventually developed a staph infection. The medical expenses for the individual totaled $468,000. 

Luckily for the above-mentioned insured, she had a USLI Personal Umbrella policy in place.  USLI paid out the full umbrella limit excess the underlying $300,000 auto limit.

With limits available up to $10,000,000* and a very broad appetite for both the Personal Umbrella and Excess Umbrella products, USLI can help your clients transfer exposures like this and have peace of mind knowing they are properly covered in the event of a large auto claim.

For more information on USLI’s Personal Umbrella or Excess Umbrella products, please contact your Personal Lines Underwriter today!

Button_Download_MaterialsAs always, thank you for your support and business.

*The maximum policy limit in Florida is $5,000,000, and the maximum policy limit in Alabama, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Vermont is $1,000,000.

Matthew-McShaneContact Matt McShane,
Personal Umbrella Product Leader | 888-523-5545 Ext. 2142

Written by Lisa Spitko
September 7, 2017