How to Keep Your Teen Safe and Insurance Rates Down

Every year, around 14,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are killed in car crashes. It’s no wonder that parents are afraid of letting their children hit the road on their own—and that they take every possible precaution to keep their children safe. It’s also no wonder that insurance rates for teens are incredibly high. Fortunately for parents of teens everywhere, there are programs in place that can help keep kids safer on the road, and keep their insurance premiums as low as possible.

Safe Driving Courses
There are a number of safe driving courses out there that go above and beyond the training that traditional driver’s education courses offer. Most of them are aimed at young adults 15-25. They usually last about four hours and teach young drivers about:

  • How to avoid underestimating risks on the road.
  • The danger of driving with knees (something young drivers—and plenty of adults—commonly do).
  • Dealing with peer pressure, as well as texting and other handheld distractions.
  • State and local laws.

According to the National Safety Council, these safe driving (sometimes called “defensive driving”) courses reduce the risk of car accidents for young drivers.

And here’s your bonus: Many insurance companies discount the cost of young driver insurance for those who complete the course.

Good Grades
As an added incentive for students to do well in school, good grades = lower insurance premiums. Research shows that students who do better in school are less likely to get into accidents on the road. Young drivers will generally qualify for a good student discount if they:

  • Have a 3.0 (B average) GPA or better or are on the honor roll/Dean’s List
  • Are under age of 25
  • Are enrolled full time in high school or college/university.
  • Can provide proof of academic performance (generally a report card issued by the institution)

Teen Driving Contracts
American Automotive Association (AAA) developed a parent-teen driving contract in coordination with various insurance companies, and the idea has really taken off in the last five years. These contracts aren’t legally binding; they’re simply an agreement between parents and teens that lays out in writing what the expectations are for the teen before he or she takes the keys and hits the road alone. Contract can be altered to fit individual needs, and are auto-filled with recommended guidelines for each category. The categories are fairly extensive, and include:

  • Privileges such as curfews, number of passengers allowed in the vehicle, and weather conditions that would limit driving.
  • Rules the teen is expected to follow, such as basic road rules, keeping in contact with parents, and potential risks.
  • Consequences for irresponsible behavior and driving while the keys are in the teens control.

Teen driving contracts help teens gradually step into the responsibilities of driving, make them aware of the consequences for not following the rules, and still allow them to have some freedom. In some cases, insurance companies offer discounts for parent-teen driving contracts as long as they are kept on file with the company.

Financial Responsibility
One great way to keep teens responsible behind the wheel is to require that they bear some of the financial costs. They’re much more likely to be attentive and cautious behind the wheel if they know that consequences for their failure to do so will come out of their pockets. At the very least, you should make sure your teen knows that he or she will be financially responsible for:

  • Any tickets, whether for moving violations or parking.
  • A set dollar amount or fixed percentage of the cost to repair the damaged vehicle if the teen is at fault.
  • The cost of insurance on the vehicle. The teen should pay the difference between your old insurance rate and your new rate with the teen driver added.

Giving your teen a financial stake won’t reduce the cost of insurance, but it will help keep your teen safer on the road.

Protecting Your Most Precious Investment

As a father and husband, you want to protect your family. That’s why you go to work every day, and it’s why you chose an occupation that can adequately provide your family with security and stability. This way, you can purchase a house, buy reliable automobiles, build up some cash reserves, and take your family on vacations.
But while your job and career provide your family with financial support and stability, these aren’t the only ways to protect the ones you love.

Like most husbands and fathers, you’ll do anything for your family, right? And there are no limits to the measures you’ll take to keep them safe and happy. Since your family is your biggest investment, protecting them is a priority. Here are three tips to ensure that your family gets the protection they deserve.
[Read more...]

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Hey, Whose Birth Is This, Anyway?

Dear Mr. Dad: We’re about to have a baby and my wife is trying to convince me to have a home birth with a tub of water. I just don’t feel comfortable with this idea and would really rather just go to the hospital and deal with a regular doctor. I’m worried about what could happen if something goes wrong. My wife is getting irritated that I won’t do things her way. What should I do?

A: First, let me congratulate you and your wife for being brave enough to talk about this. I deal with a lot of parents and it always amazes me how long couples wait before having serious discussions. And given that having a baby will change everything in your life, the topic of childbirth is about as serious as it gets.

A little context. Back in 1940, 56 percent of babies were born in hospitals. In by 1950, that number had risen to over 80 percent, and in 1969, it hit 99 percent where it’s been ever since. Over the past 10 years or so, though, the number of home births has risen “dramatically,” although that depends on your definition of the word. Home births are indeed up by 20 percent, but considering they started at one percent, an increase to 1.2 isn’t much in real numbers.

Have you asked why your wife wants to have the baby at home? Does she think it’s a safer alternative? Does she want more privacy, freedom to move around, and to minimize interventions? Does she want more familiar surroundings? Did she have a bad experience at a hospital? It’s important that you find this out in a completely non-judgmental way. Just listen to what she has to say.

Most hospitals and clinics these days have pretty homey birthing centers with couches and flat screen TVs. But they’re still medical facilities and they won’t be as familiar—or as private—as your own home. There is some research that shows that for low-risk pregnancies (her doctor will tell you whether or not she fits into this category), home births can be just as safe as hospital births. In fact, at home, there may actually be less likelihood of labor induction, medication, episiotomy, and c-section. But the operative phrase here is “low-risk,” which will be determined by her age, health, and whether she has or has had any health issues or other risk factors that might require medical intervention.

In the end, the goal isn’t to “win” the argument, it’s to achieve the safest birth possible, right? And even though home birth vs. hospital birth seems kind of black and white, there are really many shades of grey in between. For example, if it turns out that what’s most important to your wife is to give birth in the water, check with her doctor and the hospital where you’re planning the birth. They may have waterbirthing facilities, which would give her the environment she wants and give you the security of knowing that there’s a whole team of medical professionals nearby in case you need them.

All in all, I suggest that you, your wife, and her doc schedule a time to talk this over. If you trust him to deliver your baby and care for your wife, you should be able to trust his opinion on whether a home birth—in or out of the water—is safe. At the end of the day, though, keep in mind that your health insurance may home the ultimate trump card. Some plans cover home births, but many don’t.