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How to Get the Most When Shopping for a Used Car

Shopping for used cars can be extremely tricky. In today’s day and age where you can shop for cars up and down the country thanks to the internet, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to begin. In addition to this, there are many fraudulent sellers and scams that it is important to be aware of too. So, with all of this in mind – how do you get the most when shopping for used cars?

Research                                     

The first way to get the most out of your shopping experience is to carry out research. The internet is a fantastic tool for researching used cars as there is so much information out there. You can read what type of car you should buy, how much you can expect to pay, what scams to look out for, how to inspect a used car and much more. Not only will this help you to find what you are looking for, but it will also give you the confidence to get a good deal.

Trustworthy Dealerships

Shopping at a reputable dealership is vital in getting a good deal on a great car. Private sellers usually have lower asking prices, but this can be risky and you do not get the same level of consumer protection. Instead, visit a trustworthy used car supermarket where each car for sale has undergone a series of checks carried out by a fully qualified engineer. This includes places like Imperial Cars where you can also benefit from finance options.

Checks

Although the car may already have undergone a series of checks, you may also want to carry out your own. This could include getting a mechanic to provide their assessment and carrying out a vehicle history check. The latter is very important as it can be very easy to conceal an automobile’s hidden past. You should also take the car for a test drive to ensure that everything works as it should.

Negotiating

Negotiating is a key stage in getting the most out of your shopping experience. You should have an ideal and maximum figure in mind and never go over your maximum. It is important to be firm yet friendly and always show that you have done your research. With a little patience, you should be able to get a great deal and drive away happy.

Navigating the used car market can be daunting and especially if it is your first time. The above advice should help you to get the most out of shopping for second-hand cars and find what you are looking for.

**A guest post as written by Rachel Elders.

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Having the Right Equipment in Your Car in Emergency Situations

We never think that we are going to encounter any kind of issues behind the wheel of a car, but often you hear horror stories of motorists breaking down and becoming stranded. Whilst you can usually get roadside assistance to come out and find you, sometimes you can be left alone on the side of the road for lengthy periods. Needless to say, this can be very dangerous and scary – this is especially true at night and/or if you are in the middle of nowhere.

Being Prepared

To ensure that you do not have your own horror story, it is worth purchasing a few pieces of equipment for these scenarios. These pieces of equipment could allow you to get back behind the wheel in no time at all, or at least to make it comfortably until you are rescued. Here are a few things that you should always have in the car with you:

Flashlight

A flashlight is essential as this allows you to see even when the sun goes down. Not only is this very important for safety at night, but it can also be helpful if you are working on the car and need to see clearly. You can also use a torch to flag down another car at night.

First-Aid Kit

If you get into an accident you may require first-aid. Instead of waiting for somebody to come to you, have a fully stocked first-aid kit in the boot so that you can patch yourself up until help arrives.

Food, Water & Blanket

An obvious one, food and water ensures that you will not go thirsty or hungry if you are abandoned for lengthy periods. A blanket will help you to keep warm once the sun goes down.

Portable Battery

A portable battery will allow you to charge your phone and call for help. This could be a life saver if you were to run out of charge.

Hydraulic Cylinder

You can use a hydraulic cylinder to jack a car and this could come in very handy if you need to work on the vehicle or change a tire. These are available from places like SGS.

Jumper Cables

Batteries dying is one of the major reasons that people are stranded on the side of the road. Be prepared by carrying jumper cables around with you and know how to use them.

These are the main things that every motorist should keep in their car. Being stranded on the side of the road can be incredibly dangerous and scary, but with the above, it could help you to get back on the road or stay safe and content until somebody saves you.

**A guest post as written by Rachel Elders.

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Does Owning a Pool Affect Your Home Insurance Rates?

With summertime here, you may be wishing you had a backyard swimming pool. There’s nothing like enjoying a dip in a cool pool on a hot summer’s day. Imagine drinking umbrella drinks on a lounge chair at the side of the pool and cooling off with a graceful cannonball. Why travel to paradise when you can enjoy it in your backyard?

A pool can be something for the entire family to enjoy, but it’s not without its costs. And not just the obvious ones; installing a pool will also impact your monthly home insurance premiums. 

Does installing a pool add value do your home?

Depending on where you live, owning a pool may actually boost the resale value of your home, but in many cases it won’t. Simply put, most people either love or loathe pools – there’s very little middle ground. When it comes time to put your home on the market, homes with swimming pools tend to spend more time on the market than those without. Some prospective are scared off by the added work and cost of maintaining a pool. There’s also the liability issue, which we’ll discuss later. For now, let’s discuss the more traditional costs of a swimming pool.

First, there’s the cost of installing it. Installing an in-ground pool doesn’t come cheap. You can expect to spend at least $25,000 to install a swimming pool. Then there’s the cost of using your swimming pool. If it has a heater, that could cost you a pretty penny in utilities. You’ll also need to buy chemicals, such as chlorine, to ensure the pool is safe to use. It’s a good idea to budget at least $1,000 towards operating your pool on an annual basis. You’ll also need to budget for maintenance and repairs. The pump can die or the lining can tear so it’s a good idea to budget ahead of time.

Before installing a pool, ask yourself if it's worth it. If it’s to help boost the resale value of your home, there are better, more affordable ways. If you’re hoping to enjoy it with your family, that’s when it can make sense, as long as you’re willing to do the extra work that comes along with it.

How does a swimming pool affect your home insurance rates?

A pool isn’t without its risks. If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, it’s important to ensure you have the proper home insurance coverage. If someone were to be injured using your swimming pool, you could be sued and held personally liable.

Whether you’re buying a home with a pool or you’re installing one yourself, you’ll want to tell your insurance provider right away. You’ll need a home insurance policy that specifically includes coverage for pools.

By installing a pool, you’re likely to see your home insurance rates increase. That’s because your insurance provider is taking on added risk. You’ll also want make sure your liability coverage is sufficient. This is important in case a guest gets hurt.

You can take preventative measures to minimize the risk of claims. For example, you can install a “no diving” sign and ensure that there’s a fence that’s locked at all times around the pool. It’s also best to ensure children at supervised at all times when in the pool.

If you have questions about home insurance, speak with an insurance broker!

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What Drivers Need to Know About Sharing the Road with Cyclists

In a perfect world, every single road would have ample space designated solely for cyclists, keeping them well insulated from the threat of motor vehicles. Unfortunately, things haven't worked out that way; and even on roads where bike lanes do exist, it is by no means assured that rider-driver accidents won't occur.

Accident prevention on the roads requires buy-in from both drivers and riders. Each of them is very much capable of disrupting the flow of traffic and instigating an incident.

That said, it is drivers, not riders, whose burden of responsibility is ultimately more crucial, since they are the ones who can do the most damage with their chosen mode of transportation. While negligent cyclists can absolutely trigger horrible situations on the roads, the extent of that disruption will be determined by what it caused the nearby motor vehicles to do—the same cannot typically be said for the inverse of that statement.

Here is what drivers need to know about sharing the road with cyclists.

Learn the cyclist signals

As a driver, you can't properly co-exist with cyclists on the road unless you understand their non-verbal cues. Since bikes don't have the luxury of electronic turning signals or stop lights, that means learning their hand signals.

There are a number of signals that are used for the leader in a group of bikers to communicate with those behind him/her. Those aren't essential for drivers to know. What is essential, are the signals for right turns, left turns, and full stops.

A left turn signal is made when a rider's left hand is pointed straight out to the left, parallel with the ground, palm facing straight ahead. Right turn signals can be made when the same thing is done on the right, with the right hand; or, alternatively, when the left hand is brought up to form a perpendicular alignment between the forearm and bicep (again with the palm facing straight ahead). Finally, a stop signal also involves the rider making a perpendicular angle with the forearm and bicep; except for this one, the hand points down and the palm is facing behind the rider.

Be extra aware on right turns

Cars making right turns at an intersection are one of the biggest hazards to cyclists. Although drivers turning right tend to remember that pedestrians have the right of way at an intersection, it often slips their minds that bikers who are continuing to go straight do as well.

If a driver makes that right turn before taking stock of the lane for approaching bikes, it could be game over for a rider. That's why drivers must always take a moment to pause and check their mirrors for an oncoming biker before entering the intersection for a right turn.

No impeding or parking in bike lanes unless absolutely necessary

Bike lanes exist for a reason. Just because you don't see any bikes nearby at a given moment, you as a driver don't suddenly have the right to take over the lane for your personal use.

There are some notable exceptions to this. When drivers make a right turn, they will have to sometimes cut through a bike lane. That is fine, so long as it is free of riders passing through. Being in a bike lane as a driver is also justifiable if there is a need for an emergency stop and it is unsafe to do it elsewhere.

Parking in a bike lane will result in a fine, which may differ by region. In Toronto, the amount for doing it is $150.

Don't pass aggressively

Passing over-aggressively is also something that may result in fines for drivers if they are caught in the act. Again, the precise amount of that penalty will vary depending on the area.

Ontario updated its traffic laws in 2015 and passing was one of the rules that received an adjustment. The new regulation states that drivers must leave at least a metre of space between them and the drivers when passing. Failure to do so results in a minimum fine of $110 and two demerit points.

Check before opening your door

Too often a driver or passenger exiting the left side of a road-parked vehicle will fail to observe the space outside the door before opening it. A lot of the time, that can happen and nothing will come of it. But on the occasions where a biker does happen to be zooming by, the results will be fatal.

Hitting cyclists with a car door was another of the offences that was updated in Ontario two years ago. It nets offenders a minimum fine of $365 and three demerit points.

Conclusion

Between 2009 and 2015, more than 500 people have died on OPP-controlled roads because, to some degree, of driver inattention. That is completely unacceptable, and only serves to highlight the dire importance of driver education.

Plus, negligence on the road that harms a biker could cost a driver dearly. In addition to having to potentially pay out "no-fault benefits" through his or her insurance, the driver could be sued by the cyclist and have to pay out big time.

So study up on your responsibility, drivers.

If you have questions, call your broker today!

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Why Does Your Commute Affect the Cost of Your Auto Insurance?

If you’ve recently moved or changed jobs, you might be worried about the affect your new commute will have on your auto insurance policy. Although the change might be small, it is always possible that a change to your routine will cause your premiums to rise or fall.

This is why an increase to the length of your commute will result in higher insurance premiums.

Increased chance of accident

The most likely reason your auto insurance will increase if your commute gets longer is that your likelihood of being involved in an accident will increase. As with all types of insurance, the riskier the insurance company considers you, the more it will charge you for insurance coverage.

People with longer commutes aren’t inherently worse drivers. However, people with longer commutes do spend more time on the road. By extension, these long-distance commuters are increasing the likelihood that they will get into an accident simply because they are driving for a longer amount of time. If you drive an hour to work each morning, it is hard to argue that you're less likely to be involved in a collision than someone who drives five minutes.

How to absorb the insurance cost of commuting?

So what’s the solution? It’s unreasonable to suggest you quit your job to work near your home (although that would help), but there are some things you can do to lower your rates.

First, you can pay the increased auto insurance rates and hope that the savings garnered from moving further from your workplace are enough to offset your increase.

Second, you can reduce the distance you drive on your commute by taking public transit. By only driving to the local bus or train station, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time that you’re on the road, which could lead to lower auto insurance rates. Plus, you’ll have more free time to read or listen to podcasts without needing to pay attention to the road for hours every day.

Third, you can ask your workplace if telecommuting is an option, even if it’s only for one or two days a week. Similarly, if you have co-workers who live in your area, you can try to set up a carpool. By reducing the number of days you spend commuting, you will lower your total commuting kilometres. Reducing the number of kilometres you drive each year could have a big positive impact on your auto insurance cost.

Finally, if you’re able, consider giving up your vehicle for commuting purposes all together. By declaring your vehicle a “pleasure vehicle,” you can benefit from some of the lowest insurance rates available. To get to work, you can try a combination of walking, public transit, biking or carpooling.

If you find your auto insurance rates unaffordable, or have recently experienced an auto insurance rate increase, consider reducing your commute. By spending less time on the road, you are reducing the likelihood of an accident, which could result in a lower auto insurance cost.

If you have questions, call your broker today!

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Steering Clear: Simple Ways to Avoid the 3 Most Common Car Insurance Claims

Whether you’re planning on driving up north for the weekend or just heading out on your daily commute to work, here are a few pointers to help you steer clear of the three most common collisions that result in car insurance claims.

Rear-end collisions 

Rear-end collisions are the leading cause of car insurance claims, making up about a quarter of all Economical auto claims across the country. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to avoid ending up in a rear-end collision:

  1. Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This is especially important in wet or snowy conditions, when it can take longer to stop than you might expect.
  2. Try not to slam on the brakes. If the driver behind you is following too closely or isn’t paying attention when you slam on the brake pedal, you could find yourself being rear-ended.
  3. Don’t drive distracted. If you take your eyes off the road (to check your teeth in the rear-view mirror, for example) and the driver in front of you has to slam on the brakes, it’ll only take a split second for you to run into their vehicle.

Parked car collisions

The second most common type of car insurance claim happens when a parked vehicle is hit by another driver (including hit-and-runs, where a driver who hits a parked car drives away without leaving their contact information). There isn’t a whole lot you can do to protect your parked vehicle from other drivers, but there are a few smart moves you can make to reduce your chances of experiencing a hit-and-run:

  1. Take a walk. Instead of parking in the busiest part of the lot, choose an area farther away from heavy traffic, shopping cart stations, and other obstacles — you’ll reduce your chances of dings and dents, and you’ll get some exercise while you’re at it.
  2. Park inside the lines. When entering a parking spot, try to park in the centre of the spot, rather than parking closer to one side or the other. If you park closer to one side, your car is more likely to be hit by another driver or a swinging door.
  3. Give them room. If you’re pulling into a spot beside another vehicle, avoid getting too close. Think about how much room the other driver will need to get back into their car — ideally without banging their door into yours.

Single-vehicle collisions

Last but not least: single-vehicle collisions are the third most common type of accident that leads to car insurance claims. These include collisions with debris or animals on the road, vehicle rollovers, or accidental off-road driving. Here are three ways to avoid being involved in a single-vehicle collision:

  1. Drive for the weather. Even if you’re the only one on the road on a wet or snowy day, remember to drive according to the current weather conditions to keep control of your vehicle and avoid a collision.
  2. Keep your eyes on the road. An empty road isn’t an invitation to glance down at your phone. When you’re behind the wheel, your eyes should be on the road ahead.
  3. Watch your speed. Speed is a factor in many single-vehicle collisions. Always keep an appropriate speed for the current driving conditions.

While there are plenty of things you can do to avoid a collision, it’s not always possible to predict or prevent an accident — and that’s why you have car insurance. Your licensed broker can help you choose the coverage you’ll need to protect you in the event of a collision, and they’ll be there for you when you have to make a claim.

If you don’t already have a broker, you can find one here!

Written by: Stephanie Fereiro

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How Crumple Zones Can Reduce the Impact of a Collision

Like seatbelts and airbags, crumple zones are one of many vehicle safety features designed to help protect you and your passengers if you’re involved in an accident on the road. But what exactly is a crumple zone? And how do crumple zones come into play in collisions? Let’s find out.

What is a crumple zone?

Also known as a crush zone, a crumple zone is an area of a vehicle (usually located in the front and rear) that’s designed to crumple or crush when hit with significant force.

Science says that if a vehicle travelling at 80 km/h hits something and stops immediately, anyone inside the vehicle will continue moving at 80 km/h until something stops them (like an airbag, seatbelt, or dashboard). Think of the crumple zone as a buffer around your vehicle that helps cushion the blow of a collision by extending your deceleration time so your car stops (relatively) slowly, rather than suddenly, to minimize the force that you and your passengers feel.

While the crumpling may cause more damage to your vehicle, the extra few tenths of a second it takes to stop could help prevent otherwise significant injuries.

How are crumple zones made?

While specific designs and materials vary by manufacturer and by vehicle weight and size, manufacturers share a common goal when designing crumple zones: to find the perfect balance between too much and too little impact resistance. With too much resistance, it won’t crumple easily enough in a collision. With too little resistance, it’ll crumple too easily. Either way, your vehicle will stop suddenly, so you’ll feel more of the impact and you’re more likely to sustain injuries.

Some simple crumple zone designs include frame segments built to bend in certain areas or collapse onto themselves, while more advanced designs make use of metals and other materials that are specifically engineered to absorb as much energy as possible. Crumple zones in high-performance vehicles often follow a honeycomb design, which is stiff in normal conditions but can collapse and crumple in a collision.

Next time you’re thinking of upgrading your vehicle, consider going for an option with enhanced safety features. Ask your dealership which vehicles perform best in crash tests, find out which advanced driver assistance systems are available on your preferred model, and consider the in-car technology you’ll use to take your safe ride to the next level.

You may have narrowed down your choices and need some help comparing car insurance prices for your top picks.

If you have questions, reach out to your licensed car insurance broker today!

Written by: Stephanie Fereiro

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When To Report a Car Accident & When Not To

When do you report an accident, when don’t you, and what are the consequences? Below are some valuable guidelines to help you know what to do if you get in a collision.

Reporting an Accident: No injuries and damages are within your province’s threshold

Police Reporting: Each province sets a dollar value for estimated damages that will determine if you need to involve the police. In Alberta and Ontario, for example, the threshold is $2,000. What’s this mean? You are not required to report an accident to the police if the total damage is less than that outlined by the province. This limit includes the damage to both vehicles.

  • The limit in Ontario and Alberta used to be $1,000; however, in 2011 Alberta upped the limit to $2,000 while Ontario upped the limit in the fall of 2015.

Insurance Company Reporting: Your insurance policy states that you are required to report all accidents, regardless of the amount of damage. Many drivers believe that if they pay the damages themselves they don’t need to involve the insurer; this is not true. Your insurer needs to be kept in the loop of any collision.

Tip: When in an accident that is not your fault, having a dash cam recorder for video coverage may increase the chances that your insurance company will side with you in case of a claim.

Reporting an Accident: No injuries and damages exceed your province’s threshold

Police Reporting: By law, you are required to report an accident if the damage exceeds your province’s limit (Alberta and Ontario’s is $2,000). In other words, if you’re an Ontario resident and one vehicle sustains $1000 in estimated damages and the other vehicle is dinged for $1001 in damages, you are required to report it to the police or a Collision Reporting Centre.

Failing to report an accident to the police when it’s required by law means you are running the risk of being charged with leaving the scene. Leaving the scene of a collision is a serious conviction that could result in a hefty increase to your car insurance rates, fines, and even jail time.

Insurance Company Reporting: You are required to report all collisions to your auto insurance company. If you don’t report it, and the other driver does, their insurance company could contact yours in the process of settling the claim. If it is determined that you were partially or wholly at-fault for the collision—even if you paid for the damages yourself—your rates may end up reflecting that you were involved in an accident.

What about collisions that occur on private property, like parking lots?

For the most part, a parking lot accident is no different than a collision that occurs while driving on the street, road or highway. The police will need to be notified if there are injuries, or if there are damages that exceed your province’s threshold. And, even though it may be private property, you need to notify your insurer if you’re involved in a collision.

Scenarios when reporting an accident is required, no matter what the value of property damage

There are times when you must, by law, report a collision to the police no matter how much—or little—property damage has been sustained, like when the collision involves:

  • Injury (no matter how minor) or death
  • A criminal act like impaired driving
  • A government vehicle (Federal, Provincial or Municipal)
  • A vehicle that is transporting dangerous goods
  • Uninsured or unlicensed drivers
  • Damage to private, municipal or highway property (think a homeowner’s lawn, telephone pole or guard rail)
  • Pedestrians or bicyclists

And, like all other collisions, a call to your insurance provider is required in order to make sure you’re covered in the event of a claim.

If you have questions, call your broker today!

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The lowdown on deductibles

Have you ever looked through your insurance policy and felt like you were reading another language? Understanding insurance terminology might seem intimidating, but we’re working on changing that. Let us break down “deductibles” for you.

What is a deductible?

In your insurance policy, the “deductible” is the amount that you agree to pay out of your own pocket before your insurer will step in and pay the remaining balance of a claim.

Picture this: A tree branch falls on the roof of your car, and the repair bill is $1,500. If your deductible is $300, you’ll pay $300 to the repair shop and your insurer will pay the remaining $1,200. If your car is totaled or not worth repairing, your insurer may pay you the actual cash value of your car instead — in this case, your deductible would be subtracted from the total payout.

You’ll usually have some say in the amount of your deductible, and the amount (as well as any rules or exceptions) will be clearly stated in your policy.

Do I have to pay a deductible every time I make a claim?

Not necessarily:

  • If your deductible is $0, you won’t have to pay for any portion of your approved repairs or settlement amount.
  • Some policies will waive your deductible when certain circumstances apply. When your total claim hits a certain dollar value, for example, you might not have to pay your deductible.
  • Picture this: After a fire, you make a home insurance claim of $50,000 for repairs. Your home insurance deductible is $1,000, but your policy states that this deductible doesn’t apply if a single claim adds up to more than $25,000. In this case, since the claim is more than $25,000, you don’t have to pay your deductible.
  • Picture this: Your car insurance policy says that your deductible is $0 when an accident isn’t your fault and $500 when it is your fault. You get in a fender-bender on the way to work and your insurer determines the accident was the other driver’s fault, so they decide to fully cover the damage to your vehicle (up to your policy’s limit, of course) — so you pay $0. In this same situation, if your insurer determined that you and the other driver were equally responsible, you may only have to pay 50% of your deductible — in this case, you’d pay $250. But if your insurer determined the accident was entirely your fault, you’d be on the hook for $500.
  • Some policies have different deductible amounts for different types of coverage, which means that you may or may not have to pay, depending on the coverage you use for that specific claim. And, if your insurer determines that your claim will be covered by more than one section of your policy, they’ll do the math and determine how much of your deductible you’ll need to pay.

Why do deductibles exist?

Now, you may be wondering why insurance companies build deductibles into their policies in the first place — and it’s a good question. Long story short, deductibles exist to keep insurance as affordable as possible.

Here are just a few ways deductibles work to save you money in the long run:

  1. Preventing fraudulent claims and reckless behaviour. If insurance policies didn’t have deductibles in place, some people could be tempted to damage their own things or act recklessly (two behaviours known as “moral hazards” in the insurance world) just because they know their insurer will protect them. This becomes less tempting when they know that part of the repair bill will come out of their own pocket. Over time, false claim payouts can lead to higher premiums for everyone who has insurance, and implementing deductibles is just one way of preventing them.
  2. Preventing minor claims. If an insurance company had to process a $50 claim every time someone found a tiny scratch on their car door, they would need to employ a lot more people — and that could drive up the cost of insurance, since the cost of processing these small claims would far outweigh the actual cost of the repairs. Deductibles help keep minor claims at bay.
  3. Keeping your money in your pocket. When you choose a deductible, you’re agreeing to either fully cover those smaller claims or cover a portion of your repair costs for larger claims. When your insurer doesn’t need to invest in processing those smaller claims or paying the full amount, they’re able to share those savings with you through lower premiums.

How do I know if I’ve chosen the right deductible?

The best way to figure out if your deductible is right for you is to ask yourself one simple question: Would you be comfortable paying the deductible amount out of your own pocket if you made a claim today? If you choose a lower deductible, you’ll be responsible for footing less of the bill if you make a claim — but the cost of your insurance could be a little higher. On the other hand, if you choose a higher deductible, the cost of your insurance will likely be lower — but don’t forget that you’ll be expected to pay the deductible if you make a claim.

Note: Rules and regulations can vary by province, and claims are handled according to the location where the accident occurs — not necessarily the rules in your home province. That means the amount you need to pay for your deductible could be different if you’re involved in an accident outside of your home province.

If you have questions or want to make changes to your deductibles, reach out to your licensed broker today.

Written by: Stephanie Fereiro

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How airbags work to protect you on the road

If your vehicle was built in or after the nineties, it probably has airbags. Even if you’ve never seen yours in action, have you ever found yourself wondering how they actually work? Take some time to consider the facts and learn about three simple steps you can take to prevent airbag injuries, so you and your passengers can stay safe on the road.

How do airbags work?

Airbags are built into the steering wheel, dashboard, and sometimes even the sides of a vehicle, and they’re designed to protect your head and upper body from colliding with the windshield, dashboard, or steering wheel when you’re in an accident. So, what makes airbags kick in? And what happens next?

  1. When your car hits something, it decelerates (or loses speed) very quickly, which is detected by the vehicle’s accelerometer (a sensor that measures acceleration).
  2. If your rate of deceleration reaches a certain threshold, the sensor triggers the airbag circuit. While this threshold varies depending on your vehicle’s model, the impact is usually equivalent to crashing into a wall at 13 to 23 km/h a much stronger force than you could generate by hitting the brake pedal.
  3. The airbag circuit passes an electrical current through a heating element (imagine the glowing wires in your toaster), which ignites a chemical explosive that creates a harmless gas that fills up the airbag.
  4. As the airbag expands, it bursts out of its cover just in time to stop you from slamming into a not-so-cushy surface in your vehicle.
  5. The airbag automatically releases its air through built-in vents to prevent suffocation. It should be completely deflated by the time your car stops moving.

It may be hard to believe, but all of this happens faster than the blink of an eye. Watch it in super slow motion:

Not all airbags are created equal, and they differ in design and the way they perform. You can learn about the features of your own car’s airbags by contacting the manufacturer or reading your owner’s manual — and be sure to keep up with current airbag recalls by checking Transport Canada’s database.

Sit back and buckle up for a safe ride

The force of an airbag is strongest in the first 8cm after it bursts through its cover and starts to inflate, so anyone who is sitting too close to it when it launches could be seriously injured. While airbags are designed to protect you in the event of a collision, it’s important that everyone in your car wears a seatbelt and sits far enough away from the airbags that they only come into contact with them once they’re fully inflated.

To keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road, take these three simple steps towards airbag safety:

  1. Sit back. Keep your driver’s seat as far back as you can (ideally at least 25cm away from the airbag) while maintaining a safe driving position. You should still be far enough forward that you can grip the steering wheel with two hands and apply pressure on both pedals without having to move your body away from the back of your seat. The passenger seat should also be kept as far back as possible at all times, and passengers should keep their feet and other objects off the dashboard.
  2. Buckle up. Before you shift your car into drive, make sure every passenger is wearing a seatbelt. The lap belt should fit snugly over your hips (not around your stomach), and the shoulder belt should be pulled tight across your chest and over your shoulder. In a collision, your seatbelt will slow down your movement and give the airbag a chance to inflate before you hit it.
  3. Think of the kids. All kids under 12 years old should ride in the back seat to keep them safe in a collision, especially when your car has airbags. Never strap a rear-facing car-seat in the front seat when your airbags are active. To learn more about keeping your kids safe on the road, check out the Government of Canada’s car seat safety guidelines.

Although they’re designed to prevent serious injuries and death, airbags can cause minor injuries like bruises, cuts, or scrapes. But when used correctly, the positive effects afforded by airbags far outweigh the minor bumps and bruises they bring with them.

Your vehicle’s airbags are just one of many advanced safety features that come standard in modern builds. But don’t forget that other features like back-up cameras and winter tires can help you stay on track and prevent collisions before they happen.

If you’re thinking of upgrading to a vehicle with more up-to-date safety features, be sure to talk to your insurance broker before taking your new car for a spin.

Written By: Stephanie Fereiro

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