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IAM Surety award, Top insurer, most recommended insurer

IAM Surety has been voted top insurer once again in a recent poll by Consumer Intelligence. Consumer Intelligence are a specialist market research agency which has specialised on the insurance and banking sectors for the past 12 years.  Over 24,000 consumers took part in the survey in which they voted their current providers on a scale of 1 to 10. An Approximate Bayesian Approach was used to calculate each award score, which resulted in the top 10 in each category. You can read more about their awards here.

IAM Surety was voted into the top ten in each of the following categories;
Most trusted insurer 2016, IAM Surety best insurance, trusted insurance, customer service

Most Trusted

Most recommended, IAM Surety, consumer intelligence

Most recommended

IAM Surety, best motor insurance 2016, consumer intelligence IAM

Best Service

Surety was voted Britain’s best car insurance provider of 2015 by Auto Express in a poll of 60,000 readers. Read all about the award here

Members of the IAM can get a quote.
Family members of IAM get a quote.

IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance Services.

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A childs car seat fitted to the backseat
IAM RoadSmart, IAM Surety, IAM insurance, ROAD SAFETY for children

This blog as been approved by the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is the official insurance provider for the IAM RoadSmart. IAM Surety is a trading brand of Cornmarket Insurance.

If you are driving a car with children as passengers you are responsible for their safety. It is reported that twelve children under the age of ten are killed or seriously injured as passengers in cars every year (source). Keeping a child safe includes good practices both inside and outside the car. It is vital that you know not just the legal requirements but also best practice.

We have outlined below the most important steps you can take to ensure your child’s safety:

 

Car Seats & Safety Belts

Drivers, the responsibility lands on you to make sure passengers under the age of 14 are appropriately restrained while in your vehicle. This includes everything from seat belts, car seats and booster seats. Children under the age of 12 years or under 135cm tall, whichever comes first, must sit in an EU approved child seat or booster seat.

The approved seats will be clearly labelled with a capital ‘E’ in a circle in the UK. It is recommended that you choose the car or booster seat based on your child’s height or weight. We advise seeking the assistance of a specialist to choose the one that suits you and your child’s needs. There are a wide variety of expert retailers who will help you find the right car seat. Check the Good Egg Car Safety Guide  to help you pick the correct seat your child requires.

Once you have selected the right seat it is imperative that the seat is fitted correctly. Switch off any airbags, particularly on rear facing baby seats fitted on the front passenger seat. If you are moving the seat from car to car, be thorough in refitting it. It is essential if a guardian or grandparent is taking the car seat into their car, that they are able to fit the seat correctly too.

To begin with, it is the car owner’s responsibility to make sure they have working safety belts that are in good condition and available to all passengers.

Safety belts are designed to fit adults and that is why it is so important to ensure your child has the correct seat for their age and height as safety belts are recommended for people who are 150cm and above. Three point and diagonal belts that cover the lap are the most common. It should be worn as tight as possible and rest over the pelvic region, not the stomach. The strap should rest on the shoulder and not the neck; naturally it is best worn as designed and not tucked under the arm pit. There are a number of add on accessories to make the safety belt more comfortable for smaller children. Comfort is key, so adjust the belt to fit the child’s size.

Behaviour inside the Car

Teaching children appropriate behaviour inside the car is essential education. You must explain to them the importance of safety and how they can take part in looking after their own safety. If you have a child who likes to move and climb out of their seat, try to use tools to keep them occupied in their seat – entertainment and comfort can be key to this. Many parents use technology such as tablets and the radio to keep their precious cargo stimulated. The time in the car can be a great opportunity for playing word games, singing and encouraging conversation. Make it work for you!

Teach your child not to distract the driver by shouting or kicking the driver’s seat. If you are distracted or your child is upset or sick, pull in at a safe place and address the problem. Once calm has been restored set off again.

When travelling with kids be mindful of arguments among siblings and friends as it can distract the driver and cause accidents. Setting a tone on how to behave in the car is key and if travelling long distances prepare with games, technology and snacks. We also suggest taking regular breaks and getting out of the car if on a long journey.

Behaviour outside the car

Accidents relating to other road users outside of the car are just as relevant to your child’s safety as those inside the car. Car parks can be potential mine fields if you are accompanied by children. We have all tried to put the shopping in the car and keep an eye on the little ones. It can be really stressful, but you can take the stress out of the situation by sitting them in the car while you load the boot. Show them where it is safe for them to stand, explain the lights on a car so they can know when a car is reversing. Watch out for hands and limbs when closing doors and the boot. Accidents happen but by being vigilant you can minimise the risk.

Supervision

It is unacceptable to leave children and infants unattended in a car. There are a variety of dangers and hazards that might arise. It might be tempting to leave a child alone for a short period of time, for example, nipping into the shop or to run brief errands, but it is irresponsible to do so. From the possibility of fire to the danger of other drivers and people. No short cut is worth taking when it’s the wellbeing of your child or others at stake.

The best tip for ensuring the wellbeing and safety of your child in your car is education. Start early and teach them in a fun way how to be safe, so they can continue good habits and practice as they develop.

 

 

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Safe driving, Summer driving, checks before driving

Safety is paramount for all drivers, whether you are a new driver or have been on the road for years. One of the first lessons that learner drivers are taught is the importance of road safety. As our experience and competency grows as drivers we become more susceptible to bad habits and short cuts. We have highlighted ten of the most common bad driving habits – so if you are a learner or know a learner, it might be worthwhile running through this helpful checklist. Equally well-seasoned drivers might benefit from a gentle reminder.

1. Check the mirrors.

Observation is a key fundamental to road safety. Clean and well positioned mirrors are essential for being safe. As soon as you get into the car, check the mirrors. It is easy to overlook this step if you are driving the same car day in day out. Check each and every mirror before you start the engine. Adjust each one to suit your needs. Clear visibility is essential so make sure mirrors and windows are clean and free from obstructions.

2. Oil, fuel and engine checks.

Do you know how to check the brake fluid? Or the oil? Knowing how to change and check your cars vital fluids is essential. This is basic car maintenance and can help protect the functionality of your car. So pop that bonnet and get familiar with the engine. Make sure to do it regularly to ensure the best performance from your car.

3. Be vigilant of coasting.

Coasting is one of the most common bad habits both new and experienced drivers are guilty of. When starting out try to be aware of each time you are riding the clutch. Remember break before clutch. If from the start you are cognisant of coasting you can avoid making it a bad habit. Not only is it bad for the car, it might lead to a failed driving test.

4. Ten and Two

Hand positioning when driving can become more relaxed over time. Keep your hands at ten and two for the best control over the car. Try feeding the wheel through your hands as you turn. Next time you are driving check out where your hands are and remind yourself to stick to ten and two.

5. Speed Limits

Knowing and sticking to speed limits is essential for your safety and the safety of other road users. It is a legal requirement, so you should know the speed limit for each road type. Be vigilant of the signs and what type of road you are driving on. Always keep an eye on how fast you are going. Remember speed kills, so be cautious and drive with care.

6. Changing a Tyre

In an age of convenience, it might be easy to rely on road side assistance to change a flat tyre for you. However it may not always be possible to use such a service and in an emergency it can be extremely helpful to know how to change a tyre. It may not be as hard as you think and there are many resources to teach you how to do it. So there are no excuses!

7. No Phones

Using your phone while you are driving is illegal and is as dangerous as speeding. Even if you are stopped at night it is not acceptable to check your phone. The call, message or social media update can wait. If it is urgent, pull over to a safe place and respond to the call or message. No text or call is worth getting in an accident for. Put down the phone and keep your eyes on the road.

8. Indicating

Showing other drivers where you are going is a key element of communicating on the road. Check your mirrors, indicate, check mirrors again and move. Be sure to give enough time when signalling to avoid accidents. It is not just polite but vital for sharing the road with other drivers and pedestrians.

9. Blind spots

Checking blind spots can fall to the way side when you are a seasoned driver, particularly when you are driving on familiar roads. Just because you drive on the road every day doesn’t mean an unexpected accident won’t happen. Remember to check your blind spot before pulling out into traffic, before and during a three point turn or when merging with traffic and before changing lanes. Always be vigilant for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists.

10. Driving when tired

Many drivers overlook the danger of driving when tired but it can be fatal. It is equivalent to drinking and driving. If you feel sleepy or extreme tiredness while driving, pull over, have a short sleep, drink water and set off again when you are more alerted and rested. Falling asleep at the wheel is more common than we might think, so make sure you are fit and well before you get on the road.

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Stopping distances when driving

Traditionally we have tended to celebrate a car’s ability to accelerate – the sooner it can go from zero to 60mph the better. By and large a less highly regarded attribute has been a car’s ability to stop. Thankfully, as safety ratings become increasingly more central to the overall appeal of the modern ‘smart-car’, stopping ability has become more in-vogue for manufacturers and marketers alike. After all, when it comes to your road journey, one’s safe arrival is the only thing more important than one’s departure.

With driving safely and stopping safely there is considerably more to it than simply moving your foot from the accelerator to the brake.   There are a number of elements that need to be factored in.

Your Speed

As we have examined in great detail in previous blogs, speed is the major issue when it comes to road safety and simply put – speeding kills. There are two factors at play here, perception time and reaction time.

First and foremost the faster you are travelling the less time you have to see the danger and have your brain assess that this is something that requires immediate action. This is called perception time and it can be as long as 0.25 to 0.5 of a second to adequately assess danger. Once your mind has perceived a threat your body must react. It takes time for a driver to move their foot from the accelerator to the brake – typically anywhere between 0.25 and 0.75 of a second.

If we factor in tiredness, fatigue or lack of concentration it could take a driver up to 4 seconds to perceive and react to a danger. In 4 seconds a car travelling at 62mph would have travelled 120 yards.

Once you apply the brake pedal it will take time for your vehicle to react. This depends on the condition your vehicle is in and, in particular, the condition of the braking system.

Maintaining your brakes

It is imperative to ensure that the brakes in your car are in perfect working order. It is recommended that you have your brake and brake pads checked at least once per year. Brake fluid should be checked regularly, if the fluid is dark in colour it needs to be replaced. A high pitched sound when braking is a sign that brake pads need to be replaced. Harsh braking is not good for the braking system, so if you coast before braking this can help to preserve your car’s brakes (by exerting less pressure on them during routine driving.)

 

Braking systems

Most modern cars have anti-lock brakes or (ABS). This is a system which allows a vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to the driver’s inputs while braking. This stops the wheel from locking and causing the car to skid uncontrollably, meaning the driver has much more steering control. In an emergency the brakes can be slammed and held. The brakes will pulse and although it seems very unnatural this is simply the ABS doing its work.

ABS is an excellent system for stopping cars while maintaining control of the vehicle but it is important to remember that it does not perform miracles. Always remember that ABS does not allow you to drive faster, brake later or take corners at higher speed.

 

External factors

Essentially what we have previously discussed are the essential elements of bringing a vehicle to a complete stop. There are also external factors at play. A heavier vehicle will take longer to stop. Similarly tyre traction is reduced on surfaces with loose chippings or where adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow or ice make a surface more slippery.

Remember

Reduce your speed. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Be extra vigilant in adverse weather conditions. Be aware of the braking system in your car. Maintain your brakes well.

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Anthea Turner, Sam Geddis, Alan Payling, Coach drivers awards at the Coach drivers tourism awards

The winners of the 2016 National Coach Tourism Awards were announced last night (Wednesday 16 March) at a prestigious ceremony at the Vox, Resorts World, NEC Birmingham, following the first day of the British Tourism & Travel Show.

The event brought together over 400 industry professionals, including coach tour operators, destinations, visitor attractions, hotels, and tourism industry suppliers, to recognise and celebrate excellence and innovation across the multi-billion pound coach tourism sector.
Seen here Anthea Turner(left), Sam Geddis (right) and Alan Payling (centre), owner of Coach Drivers Information Pack, Devon was Coach Tour Driver of the Year – sponsored by Cornmarket Insurance Services, who reward Coach Drivers enhanced driving skills with cheaper car insurance. Register for a quote here and they’ll call you back with a quote shortly before your insurance is due.
Read all about the other winners here

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Cornmarket Group acquires 25% stake in Scottish Broker

Signs new agreement to provide car and home insurance products to Scottish Teacher’s union
2 March 2016: Irish broker, Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd, through its UK subsidiary, Belfast based Cornmarket Insurance Services, has announced the acquisition of a 25% shareholding in EIS Financial Services Ltd in Scotland. This is Cornmarket’s first acquisition in mainland UK and will provide a strong base for further expansion.

EIS Financial Services was established in 1990 by the Educational Institute of Scotland Teachers Union (EIS), to provide financial services and insurance products to its 55,000 members. EIS Union represents approximately 90% of all Scottish Teachers in primary, secondary and third level education.

In addition, Cornmarket Insurance Services has signed a distribution agreement with EIS Financial Services Ltd to provide car and home insurance products to the Scottish Teacher Union members and their families.

Roddy Murphy, Group Managing Director, Cornmarket said that the new Scottish business would build on Cornmarket’s strong experience in the public sector market in Ireland where the business specialises in the provision of insurance schemes to groups such as teachers and nurses.

“We see this acquisition and distribution agreement as an important step in expanding our footprint into public sector unions and other groups in the UK. This is a very exciting development for the company and we look forward to providing our award winning service to Union members in Scotland,” he said.

The acquisition has been approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.

For further information please contact Joanna Petty, Wilson Hartnell, Tel 01 669 0030 or 086 363 9914

About Cornmarket
Established in 1972, Cornmarket Group Financial Services is the largest financial services brokerage serving the Public Sector in Ireland.
The Group has worked closely with public sector unions, associations and employers to help them build Group Schemes with tailored benefits to suit the needs of their members, based on their profession. Cornmarket currently administers over 50 union, association and employer endorsed schemes, some of which represent the largest voluntary group schemes in the country.

car speeding at night, the dangers of speeding

Continuing our series on road safety this edition takes a look at the issue of speed on the roads. When considering the speed at which people drive the old maxims and advertising slogans hold true. Arrive alive. The speed limit is a guide not a target. Speeding kills.

Higher speed reduces survival rates

That last one, speeding kills, is the most pertinent. The relationship between speeding and fatalities increases drastically the faster one drives. A pedestrian struck by a car travelling 20mph has a 95% chance of survival. A pedestrian hit by a car traveling 30mph has a 55%-60% chance of survival. And a pedestrian hit by a car travelling 40mph has just a 15% chance of surviving. The correlation is clear and the message is stark. But if the statistics don’t paint a definitive enough picture then consider that crashing into an object at 60mph has the equivalent impact to a free fall from a 12 storey building.

Higher speeds cause more accidents

Travelling at higher speed gives the driver less time to identify and react appropriately to any incident that may occur around them. It drastically increases stopping distances and it removes any safety margin that driving at recommended speeds provides. This means that near misses become crashes.
Think 30mph is slow? Think again.
Almost two thirds of crashes where people are killed occur on roads where the speed limit is 30mph or less. These areas are usually built up areas where there is likely to be a high volume of pedestrians. At the absolute maximum speed in these areas (which should be 30 mph) a car is travelling at roughly 3 car lengths per second. Therefore essentially a blink can be the difference between a hit and a miss. When travelling just 5mph faster the stopping distance increases by an extra 2 car lengths.
A Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents study has shown that if average speed is reduced by a mere 1mph the accident rate would fall by approximately 5%. At even the most conservative estimate that reduction would save 85 lives per year on UK roads.

Stopping Distances

Newton’s Law dictates that as a vehicle doubles in speed the stopping distance increases fourfold, furthermore there is four times more kinetic energy absorbed at the point of impact. The implication of this is that even a small increase in roadway traffic speed results in disproportionate increases in pedestrian fatalities.

Education, education, education.

As with most of the issues pertaining to road safety, education is the solution. While drink-driving is rightly vilified, speeding is not as frequently or strongly reviled. The facts are clear, speeding kills. If we work towards accepting this as a fact then motorists are more likely to take ownership of the problem on a personal level. Speeding is just another facet of a poor attitude towards what it means to be a good driver. Many would argue that being a good driver would be defined as a person who can react to danger and act accordingly. In reality being a good driver is not exposing oneself to avoidable dangers in the first place.

What can you do?

Never ever break the speed limit.
Remember that the speed limit is exactly that – a limit.
Drive with extreme caution in busy pedestrian areas.
Remember that 30mph zones are where most accidents occur. Reducing speed in these areas has the greatest effect on the safety of others.

References
Rulesoftheroad.ie
ROSPA
RSA
NHTSA
Human Transport
GOV.uk
Wikipedia
GOV.uk

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texting while driving, dangers of driver, Texting while driving

Texting and using Apps while driving is now one of the most dangerous habits of road users. Our blog asks, does more need to be done to educate road users to the dangers of this practice?

Driver distraction

According to a recent study by our colleagues in the Institute of Advanced Motorists, driver distractions (interacting with text messages and social media on their phones) are the two biggest issues concerning safety on our roads today. 93% of drivers believe that these behaviours are a very serious or somewhat serious threat to road safety. That is higher than speeding, talking on the phone or driving while under the influence of alcohol and illegal or prescription drugs.

More likely to crash

These fears are unfortunately not unfounded. One in four crashes involve driver distraction – that is using an app, texting, eating or being distracted by a passenger in the back seat. Recent studies have shown that 49% of teenage drivers admit to texting or using apps while driving and those who do so are 23 times more likely to be in a crash. They are pretty damning statistics. Despite the fact that nearly 100 lives are lost annually to driver distraction on the roads, rational, intelligent people continue to make irrational decisions like updating social media profiles or taking selfies while driving.
It really is a common sense issue, you cannot focus your full attention on two intricate tasks such as driving and texting, at the same time. The journal of Adolescent Health conducted a study which concluded that taking your eyes of the road or even glancing back and forth between the road and your mobile device for as little as four seconds, even under relatively uncomplicated road conditions can significantly increase your risk of crashing or having a near crash incident.
There are stark and poignant stories all over the web of people who had fatal incidents only moments after replying to messages or posting Facebook statuses.

Where is the law on the issue?

As it currently stands it is illegal to use hand held mobile devices while driving or riding a motorcycle. The penalty if caught is 3 penalty points and a fine of £100. In certain circumstances there can be a court appearance, a disqualification from driving and a maximum fine of £1,000 or £2,500 for drivers of buses or goods vehicles.
Is that a heavy enough deterrent?
While checking one’s phone might seem innocuous the danger that it potentially has to cause a crash makes it a lethal habit or practice. Therefore should the punishment not be more severe, more in line with other lethal practices such as driving while intoxicated? Often the stigma attached to a practice is more likely to inform how we perceive and therefore combat that practice. Is the potential for harm not a more accurate measure for how severely we should deal with non-compliance or how proactively we should educate road users?
What can be done to change it?
If laws and the implementation of and abidance to them is the aim then a change in attitudes and norms is the objective. Education and awareness is the first step in this process. We can as a collective decide to stop looking at our phones.
Car manufacturers are doing their bit by beginning to incorporate new technology systems which allow for greater ease of use of smart technology with much less distraction to the driver. However as starter drivers are more likely to purchase older cars and be younger in age this will have minimal effect on the most prolific phone users.
Ad campaigns have had some success in doing this but for those of us who cannot help ourselves there have been some very clever apps developed which have a driving mode. While the function is on, the device automatically sends out a reply to say that the user is driving and will reply when it is safe to do so.
Like all bad habits and practices, the best way to prevent them is to never let them happen in the first place. Educating prospective drivers on the extremely dangerous practice before they even get behind the wheel will save many lives in the future.

References
http://uk.businessinsider.com/here-is-what-we-do-on-our-smart-phones-while-driving-2015-5?r=US&IR=T
http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(13)00779-9/fulltext#sec1.5
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/08/dangers-of-texting-and-driving-statistics_n_7537710.html
https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving
http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/be-smart-apps-to-stop-texting-and-driving
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/490393/Mobile-phone-use-the-biggest-cause-of-road-fatalities
https://www.gov.uk/drink-driving-penalties

car on the road in winter, icy roads, driving in snow

Although predictions of arctic conditions thankfully haven’t come true, the MET office has forecast a drop in temperatures over the coming weeks. The dropping temperatures mean that there is a strong chance of the roads becoming icy in parts.
Our latest blog gives you some tips on how best to manage frost, snow and ice while driving.

Tyres.

Lack of road grip on icy roads is the cause of most accidents in cold conditions. Check your tyres including the spare to ensure that they have a minimum thread depth of 1.6mm and they are inflated to the correct pressure. Drive in higher gears, make manoeuvres more gently and avoid harsh braking.

Visibility.

It takes a little more time in the mornings but clearing the windscreen is one of the most important factors in accident prevention during cold weather. Let the car warm up long in advance of departure, de-ice the windows with an ice scraper and window heating. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid. Demist the windscreen by using the heater. Top tip – start the heater at a colder temperature then gradually increase the temperature as the cabin dries out so as not to fill the car with hot, ‘wet’ air. If you do not have a climate control system driving with the windows down can actually help to clear the screen faster. Top tip – never put hot water on a frozen windscreen as it may cause it to crack.

Stopping distances.

Skidding is the main concern when driving in very cold conditions. The best preventative measure is to drive slowly and keep much longer than normal distances between you and the car in front of you. Where possible try to anticipate junctions or turns further in advance and lower gear before applying the brakes. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends.

If you skid.

If you get into a skid, you need to know if your vehicle has ABS (Anti- Lock Braking Systems). After you “Step” on the brake the ABS begins cycling — you will feel pulses in the pedal or hear the system working. Step on the pedal. Stay on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle. If your car does not have ABS you must use the cadence braking system. This method involves pushing the brake until the wheels stop, then immediately releasing the brake to let the wheels begin turning again. Repeat this sequence rapidly.

Preparation and consideration.

Checking the weather forecast the night before, you will know to leave an extra 10-15 minutes to de-ice your windscreen and warm up your car before your departure. Make sure you have enough fuel, that your car is properly serviced and for longer journeys that you have a blanket, additional clothing and some food and water. Be extra vigilant of cyclists and pedestrians, even if they are in cycle lanes or on footpaths. Remember these may not have been treated and other road users could suddenly fall or skid into your path.

Remember we cannot control the weather but we can be prepared for all eventualities.
References:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast
http://www.rsa.ie/en/Utility/News/2010/RSA-Top-10-Safety-Tips-for-Driving-in-Snow-and-Ice/
http://www.rsa.ie/Documents/News%20Items%20Documents/severe_weather_advice.pdf
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/get-ready-for-winter/travel/road
http://www.rac.co.uk/community/blog/rac-blog/january-2013/how-to-demist-your-windscreen-in-double-quick-time
http://www.rac.co.uk/community/blog/rac-blog/november-2010/rac-patrol-tips-for-winter-driving

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