Wednesday, May 20, 2009


* Results from the 2009 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test found that 20.1 percent of licensed Americans - amounting to roughly 41 million drivers on the road - would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. When probed on driving behavior, 30 percent of those surveyed say financial strains have triggered a desire to drive less and seek out new ways to save money.

Overall, findings from the fifth annual survey indicate the number of drivers with knowledge of basic road rules is decreasing, with this year's test scores lower than last year's (76.6 percent vs. 78.1 percent). Idaho and Wisconsin drivers tied for first in the nation, with an average test score of 80.6 percent; New York drivers ranked last, with an average score of 70.5 percent. This is the second time Idaho ranked first and the third time New York has ranked last in the survey's five-year history.

In general, geographical regions ranked similarly to previous years, with the lowest average test scores in the Northeast, while the states in the Midwest held the highest averages. When comparing genders, men are still more likely to pass the test than women, but the gap is considerably smaller in 2009 (81 percent of males versus 79 percent of females) than in 2008 (87 percent of males versus 80 percent of females).

Respondents continued to have difficulty on questions about yellow lights and safe following distances, while almost all drivers answered correctly what a solid line meant.

  • As property vacancies continue to rise across the U.S. due to a weakening economy, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company ( is providing commercial property owners with important tips to help reduce their liability and risk.

Outlined below is a checklist for vacant buildings to help mitigate potential liability exposures:

• Keep sprinkler systems in operation. Conduct weekly recorded inspections of sprinkler control valves, fire extinguishers, and other fire protection equipment. Test all fire protection system alarms quarterly to ensure they are still operative.

• Strengthen security to prevent arson and vandalism. Notify both the police and fire departments that the building will be idle, and retain a central station to monitor water-flow and security alarms. Increase watch service, increase exterior lighting, and provide additional locks for gates, doors and windows. Make frequent and unscheduled rounds.

• Avoid freeze-ups. Operate boilers to provide heat and/or steam to prevent freezing of fire protection equipment (water supply tanks, sprinklers, sprinkler piping, etc). Convert sprinkler systems to dry-pipe systems if building heat is not provided or convert to nonfreeze systems for small unheated areas

• A minimum of one recorded visit per week to inspect all areas of the building should be made. The visit should include checks of general conditions, to ensure that important buildings are secured, and to ensure that all fire protection and detection systems are maintained in working order.

• Remove unnecessary combustibles. Eliminate fire hazards within buildings by removing as many combustibles as possible. Remove any debris or other combustible items within 25 feet of any building. Keep grass cut short, ideally three inches or less.

• Mitigate exposures from hazardous operations, in particular those involving flammable liquids, and turn off electrical equipment. Secure any utilities that aren’t going to be kept in service. Make sure flammable liquid tanks are drained and secured (by removing them or filling them with sand or concrete).

• Review insurance policy. It’s important to notify your insurance company and review the policy to ensure compliance with a vacant property.

  • The Navigators Group Inc. reports its principal underwriting agency subsidiary, Navigators Management Company Inc., has partnered with American Bar Insurance Plan Consultants (ABI) to offer personal umbrella coverage for the over 400,000 members of the American Bar Association (ABA).

The Navigators ABA-tailored umbrella policy is currently admitted in 33 states. American Bar Association members interested in purchasing this coverage can visit for more information.

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