The Insider - February 2009

In February 2009's Insider, you'll find "¦


Welcome to the February 2009 edition of's Insider newsletter.

We're in the thick of winter, which means long, slow commutes and bad weather that makes driving feel like a brutal chore. Yes, it's dragging on, but that's no reason to stop paying attention to the road and focusing on staying safe!

Regardless of the season, here at we want to help you protect you and your loved ones while on the road.

For starters, did you know that these six safety features can translate to safer drives "¦ and lower insurance rates? After reading the story, get started by finding out if your car's safety features can save you money by comparing rates.

Plus, we'll share with you the top 11 safest vehicle models on the road today - is your car on the list? And, for all you parents out there, we'll share with you some of the best kid-safe adjustments you'll want to make to your driving habits.

Just read on for all the details "¦

And don't forget to compare quotes from over 30 of Canada's top insurance

companies at


Save with these six car safety features

Most current car models have built-in safety features, but do you know what they are or how they work? What's more, did you know that driving a safer vehicle could mean lower insurance rates?

Safety features such as these can help lower your insurance rate - click here to see if you can save.

1.Laminated windshield: You don't see it or probably even know it's there, but lamination helps keep your windshield in one piece after an impact. This safety feature prevents shattered glass from entering the car interior while allowing you take advantage of minimal yet adequate transparency for control of the car immediately after a collision.

2.Airbags: Common in almost all cars, airbags inflate in order to cushion the impact your head and upper body take during a collision (duel airbags are also typical in many cars, for the passenger in the front seat), keeping you safe from various parts of your car's interior.

3. Electronic stability control (ESC): ESC helps you control your car during high-speed turns or while driving on slippery surfaces. ESC works by expanding on the car's anti-lock braking system, comparing your intended direction in steering and braking moves, helping improve the vehicle's response to the situation. ESC is especially helpful in reducing the risk of rollover.

4. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS): Found in most newer models, ABS use electronic controls to help prevent your car's wheels from locking up when you make a hard brake. ABS makes it easier for you to control your car on uneven and wet surfaces (think bad Canadian weather conditions!). ABS also lets you steer around an object you're heading toward even when you have to hit your brakes hard.

5. Head restraints: Yes, your head restraint (the adjustable part of the seat your head sits against when you drive) is actually a safety feature! A majority of car accident injuries result in soft-tissue-related damage to the upper body. A good head restraint that is adjusted properly can help prevent injury. To make sure you've adjusted yours properly, 1. make sure it's high enough (should be level with the top of your ear) and 2. get it close enough to the back of your head (less than 10 centimetres is ideal).

6. Crumple zones: These absorb and reduce the energy of a collision, displacing and diverting it away from the interior passenger compartment of your car and reducing the impact force for you and your passengers.

Top 11 safe vehicles

When it comes to picking a car, safety is usually pretty high up on the list of requirements for consumers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the following 11 new car models made it to the top of the list in their respective categories (based on the 2008 vehicle make):



Large cars Acura RL
Midsize cars Acura TL, TSX
Midsize convertibles Saab 9-3
Small cars Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic Stability control
Minicar Honda Fit with optional electronic stability control
Minivans Honda Odyssey
Large SUVs Audi Q7
Midsize SUVs Acura MDX, RDX
Small SUVs Ford Escape
Large pickups Ford F-150
Small pickup Toyota Tacoma

The type of car you drive is one of the many factors that impact your insurance rate and, in general, safer models can be less costly to insure. But a better way to reduce your insurance costs, regardless of your car's safety profile, is to shop around. So always make sure to check out rates from competing insurers to make sure you are not overpaying.

You can do this quickly and easily by getting the best rate from one of 30 insurance companies - at no cost - by visiting

Are you practicing good child car safety?

Your most precious cargo requires extra safety steps. When driving with infants or young children in your vehicle, you'll want to make sure you administer the following safety practices that many parents don't always consider:

Car seats, naturally: In Ontario, car seats are the law for all children up to the age of eight. Infants face the rear until they are 9 kilograms (kg), toddlers face forward from 9 kg to 18 kg and children use booster seats until they are 36 kg or stand 145 centimetres (cm) tall or turn 8 years old. A properly installed child safety seat can reduce the risk of serious injury or death to your child by up to 75 per cent, so be sure you get this down pat. If you fail to secure your children properly, you will be charged. In Ontario, the fine is $110 and you'll have two demerit points added to your driving record, which could impact your insurance rates.

Talking car safety with your kids: This may seem simple enough, but it's a step many parents don't take with their young children. It doesn't have to be a scare tactic - simply sit your young children down and let them know that driving is serious and has to be a safe experience every time. Explain that parents need to focus on the task at hand and kids need to stay behaved and calm in the back seat. Offer incentives and rewards for good car behaviour and make learning about safety fun.

Prevent kid boredom and driver anger: Many times, parents forget that a longer drive is easy on adults, but torture for smaller children who have short attention spans. Stock your back seat with safe, fun items such as plush toys, or even consider investing in a car DVD player and screen. Come up with fun games and songs to keep kids engaged in activity. Deterring boredom (which can turn into a major distraction) will help you focus on your drive and keep you from constantly turning around to discipline your brood.

Take a break: Even though you want to make good time during longer trips, don't assume your kids will be able to handle it without breaks. For children under the age of 10, it's a good idea to allow for a break every hour while on the road. Even if it means pulling over at a designated, pre-planned stop to get your kids out and playing and stretching for a few minutes, know that your little ones will be less stressed, cranky and upset - and your drive will be safer for it.

Back seat versus front seat: Adults sit in the front seat, young kids sit in the back seat - period. Even if they beg, you should assert that the front part of the cabin is for moms and dads only. Front car seats are designed for adult bodies; not child bodies, so keep the divide. For example, if an air bag deploys in the front seat in the case of an accident, it can cause serious injury to your children. Also make sure this applies to you - don't lean back while driving to adjust the kids or discipline them. You should have them properly set up before setting off, making sure they are buckled up and in their safety or booster seats.

Quote Unquote

Q) If someone gets hurt while on my property, will I be covered?
A) If you are found legally liable in the case of an accident that occurs on your property, then, yes, you would be covered if you have a homeowner, tenant or condominium policy, which extends coverage for liability. Know that most of these policies do, but you'll still want to review your policy ahead of time with the help of a licensed insurance broker or agent to make sure you're covered.For example, let's say that your mail carrier slipped on your icy front porch and seriously injured him or herself, you would be responsible, but covered under the liability section of your property policy.

Have a question you'd like answered? Please send us an email at [email protected].