Introducing Express Lane™ — a Smarter Way to Shop for Car Insurance

It’s not often we use this blog for shameless self-promotion. But when we have a new stress-busting tool like Express Lane, well, it seems like a good time to share.

Express Lane saves you time and hassle

As you know, Esurance was built to save time, hassle, hair-tearing-out, and money. And what causes more hassle and hair-tearing-out than having to dig up your VIN or insurance deductibles when you’re getting a car insurance quote? Enter Express Lane.

With Express Lane from Esurance, all you have to do is enter your name, date of birth, and address, and we can look up your car info (like VIN, make, and model) and previous insurance info (like prior deductibles and limits) for you.

So you have more time to focus on the important stuff (like saving money).

Esurance can help you save (any way you want)

Of course if you’d rather spend your time digging through your wallet, glove compartment, or shoebox, you can choose not to take the Express Lane. You’ll still end up in the same place … a place where you could save a ton on car insurance. (And who doesn’t want that?)

Insurance for the modern world®

Express Lane is far from the only tool we’ve created to bring you insurance for the modern world. From our Coverage Counselor® (think of it as car insurance CliffsNotes) to our policy-managing, cupcake-finding mobile app, we’re making car insurance smarter and easier for drivers.

See for yourself. Get a quote (using Express Lane or not) and see how much you could save on reliable car insurance from Esurance.

Related links

Okay, we didn’t say we never ever self promote.

Esurance awarded Best in Class by the Customer Respect Group
The “true” story of Esurance
Esurance’s CMO discusses insurance for the modern world

Go West on the Oregon Trail: A Game-Style Guide to Oregon Road-Tripping

If you’re between the ages of 21 and 35, you probably remember Oregon Trail®. This strangely hypnotic computer game, which had you guide wagon-covered pioneers across the West, dominated the 90s and had every trailblazing tween asking the same hot-button question: “Grandpa, feel my forehead — is it the typhoid fever??” 

Now, we don’t much travel in wagons anymore. And we’re not as concerned with snake-bitten oxen as we are with flat tires. But this game did teach us one thing about road tripping that stands true today. Exploring Oregon can be really fun!

So in the spirit of Go West Day (July 13) — and to celebrate Lewis and Clark, the original Oregon Trail pioneers — we proudly launch Oregon Trail 2.0: an updated guide to Oregon driving for the modern road tripper…and the gamers who control their fate. 

Level 1 — choose your ride

Good beginner choice

The VW Eurovan. With 18–22 mpg, front-wheel drive, and a V6 engine, it’s sensible for highways but rugged enough to power through Western wilderness.

How to get a high score

Show culinary flair. These vans come with ready-to-use kitchens, so be ready to use them.

Possible pioneer peril

Boredom. Long driving stretches can get mundane no matter the era. But unlike the Conestoga wagons of yore, this van’s got an MP3 hookup so you can at least play some tunes.

Level 2 — chart your trail

Good beginner choice

Classic Oregon Trail® began in Missouri. But for 2.0, let’s cut out all the dust-bowliness and get right to the goods. Start in Ontario, Oregon. Ontario, on the state’s eastern border, provides quick access to Interstate 84, which you can follow throughout the state.

How to get a high score

Give your fellow road trippers variety. Include the metropolitan and natural sides of Oregon — with urban havens like Portland and scenic wonders like the Painted Hills or the Columbia River Gorge.

Possible pioneer peril

Getting lost. It’s not as problematic as it was in wayback pioneer days (when GPS meant turning to a fellow passenger and asking “Dear God, you do know where the North Star is, right?”). But it’s still no fun, so visit for useful travel info. 

Level 3 — set your pace

Good beginner choice

Find a comfortable speed. This means resisting the urge to leave the controls on “Grueling” like so many misguided players from years past.

How to get a high score

Stay within legal speed limits. The posted speed on most Oregon interstates is 65 mph.

Possible pioneer peril

Cruise control. While great for setting a comfy pace, cruise control can lead to trouble (and should be avoided) on the often-slick Oregon roads.

Level 4 — find sustenance

Good beginner choice

Trade rabbit pelts for doggy bags. Put down your gun and try eating in restaurants instead. Besides, unlike pioneer days, you now need a license to hunt in Oregon.

How to get a high score

Keep full by sampling some of Oregon’s top-rated restaurants — BlueHour in Portland, Norma’s Ocean Diner in Seaside, or the Painted Lady restaurant in Newberg.

Possible pioneer peril

Food coma. But hey, it beats diphtheria. You and your fellow travelers should all make full recoveries (just be sure to pull over if you start to get too sleepy).

Level 5 — finish strong

Good beginner choice

Utilize Mother Nature.

How to get a high score

Go river rafting. Aside from honoring classic “OT” (which also finished with a rafting voyage), this is great way to do something quintessentially Oregonian. Visit for help making plans.

Possible pioneer peril

3D boulders. Somehow, they’re much harder to dodge than the 2D ones.

“Congratulations! You have reached the Willamette Valley!”

Find out more about driving in the Beaver State, including what types of car insurance drivers in Oregon must carry.

Related link

Read up on the Oregon Trail — both the beloved video game and the historical passage

IIHS Report: Some Luxury Cars Don’t Stack Up in Frontal Crash Tests

Photo by Brady Holt

Today the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released results from its new small overlap frontal crash test. Though the name’s a bit of a mouthful, the concept is pretty straightforward. In a small overlap frontal crash only 25 percent of the car’s front end (on the driver’s side) strikes the barrier.

Why the new test? Research, of course. Even though most cars perform well in current frontal crash tests (which look at full-width impact), in the real world, frontal crashes are responsible for more than 10,000 fatalities each year.

To account for the discrepancy, researchers spent years analyzing data and replicating crashes and determined that small overlap crashes, rather than full-width crashes, are a major source of these fatalities. In an ongoing quest to provide relevant safety info to drivers, the IIHS designed this new test to account for these types of accidents.

Results of the frontal overlap crash test

Luxury and near-luxury cars were first to be tested because typically they get advanced safety features sooner than other vehicles. But it turns out most don’t make the grade. Only 3 of the 11 cars tested came back with good or acceptable ratings.

Here’s a summary of the results (all are 2012 models):

  • Acura TL — Good
  • Volvo S60 — Good
  • Infiniti G — Acceptable
  • Acura TSX (sedan / sport wagon) — Marginal
  • BMW 3 series — Marginal
  • Lincoln MKZ — Marginal
  • Volkswagen CC — Marginal
  • Mercedes C-Class — Poor
  • Lexus IS 250/350 — Poor
  • Audi A4 — Poor
  • Lexus ES 350 — Poor

Next, the IIHS will study midsized, moderately priced cars like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry.

New criteria for IIHS Top Safety Picks

These new test results also bring stricter criteria for choosing top safety picks. Because not enough vehicles have been through this test yet, the 2013 picks will largely reflect the old standards. Cars that have performed well in the new test, however, will get to claim a higher award level that will be announced later this year.

Carmakers are generally responsive to IIHS crash results, and we hope this will be no exception. Judging from these preliminary results, it looks like a lot of companies have their work cut out for them.

Read the full IIHS report.

Related link

How safe are our roads? Find out.

How do crash tests affect car insurance rates?

Six Car Insurance Predictions for the Wizard of Oz

Any cinephile worth his or her salt has seen The Wizard of Oz. This well-aged strip of celluloid broke all sorts of cinematic boundaries, put Kansas on the worldwide map, and made lions seem way more approachable than they really are.

Crazy as it may seem, The Wiz just passed the 73rd anniversary of its original, tinsel-tinged premiere on August 12, 1939. Through these many decades, fans and critics have analyzed the characters of this beloved film in just about every way possible … except one, that is: as car insurance policyholders (of course!).

As a unique commemoration of the movie’s debut — and of Esurance’s recent arrival in The Sunflower State — we thought we’d trot out Kansas’s favorite daughter, Dorothy, and her whole Oz crew to see how they’d fare as modern Esurance customers.

Prediction 1 — the Scarecrow would receive a Good Student discount

We all know the Wizard gave the Scarecrow a diploma, proving he “has a brain.” Now let’s hope the Scarecrow turns that diploma into a college admission (Kansas University, Kansas State, Oz Tech — any will do). Why? Because in Kansas (and many other states), students who maintain a 3.0 GPA can qualify for our Good Student discount. And since the Scarecrow passed the Wiz’s curriculum, we’re betting he has the chops to make those grades.

Here’s the bonus good news: this discount can apply to high-school, community-college, and university students!

Prediction 2 — the Tin Man’s ardent carpooling could save him money

Due to the constant threat of rust-based paralysis, letting the Tin Man drive by himself would be a recipe for disaster no amount of heel-clicks could fix. Fortunately, he can rely on carpooling to get around, significantly reducing the annual mileage on his own ride. (Which is great news for his bank account.)

Car insurance companies  (Esurance included) often consider driving frequency as a factor when determining car insurance premiums. So the less the Tin Man drives, the more he could potentially save.

Prediction 3 — Toto would benefit from the Coverage Counselor®

Though filthy rich (having reportedly made $125 per day — plus treats!), Toto has trouble knowing the smartest way to spend his dough. He wants the savviest auto coverages but is too busy with work and fetch to know what makes sense for him. Does he need collision coverage while cruising I-70? Does Kansas have a lot of uninsured motorists to guard against?

Luckily for Toto, Esurance is all about solving these concerns with convenience. Take our handy Coverage Counselor: one stop here and Toto can get an expert rundown of what coverages fit his location, budget, and driving habits. Wooof! (Dog-speak for, “Sweeeet!”)

Prediction 4 — the Wicked Witch would use RepairView™ to track her repairs

The Wicked Witch is stressed. She’s overdue for an eyebrow wax, her ruby slippers have gone missing, and she just had an accident on the famously busy Yellow Brick Road. But one thing she wouldn’t have to worry about (with Esurance, anyway) is her car’s repair status once she takes it to the shop.

With RepairView, which sends her smartphone or computer up-to-date pics of her car’s repairs (and even lets her easily share them on Facebook), she can keep track of the repair process from start to finish. We’re not saying she’s a role model. But this is one wickedly smart move Kansans might want to try for themselves.

Prediction 5 — Dorothy would be all about the Esurance mobile app

When reporting car insurance claims, a clear memory is quite helpful. And no one reports with more spot-on accuracy than Dorothy. When it comes to recreating an accident scene, she can always name exactly “who was there.”

Now, what if she wanted to start a claim but didn’t have time to call? No problem. She’d simply download the Esurance mobile app, enter her accident details right on her smartphone, and send them our way. Easy as that.

Prediction 6 — Auntie Em would benefit from homeowners insurance

Okay, that’s not really a prediction since we all know what happened to the house. But knowing that Kansas is prone to tornadoes means investing in a reliable homeowners policy is just plain smart. (Though we’re not sure their liability coverage would cover squashing a witch … just saying.)

There you have it. Hopefully all your cinematic and insurance curiosities have come into focus — kinda like, say, going from black-and-white to color? (Sorry, we had to do it.)

Related link

Required auto coverages in Kansas
Want even more Kansas-specific car insurance info? Our fact sheet on all things car insurance has everything you need to know.

Six of the Absolute Worst Drivers in Literature

Literature is filled with bad drivers and devastating car accidents. And why not? They’re dangerous, dramatic, and make for good plot development. In honor of Book Lovers Day (which is today, if you didn’t know), here’s a list of some of the most horrendous drivers in literature. Luckily for us, they’re entirely fictional.

Raoul Duke — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Thompson’s autobiographical character, Raoul Duke, is at the top of the list for a reason. While destroying 2 rental cars, a red Chevy convertible and a white Cadillac Coupe de Ville, Duke racks up an incredible number of driving offenses. But by some miracle he avoids getting even a single ticket. His offenses include: driving under the influence, speeding, reckless driving, driving on the sidewalk, abandoning his vehicle, and failing to stop for a police officer. And that’s just the short list.

T.S. Garp — The World According to Garp by John Irving

Remember when your high school English teacher taught you about foreshadowing? Well, T.S. Garp’s automotive habits are the perfect embodiment of this literary device: when pulling into his driveway at night, he enjoys the thrill of putting the car in neutral, killing the engine, turning the lights off, and rolling blindly to a halt on his up-slanted driveway.

One night, as Garp habitually (and dangerously) pulls up the driveway, he crashes into an unexpected visitor’s car. Garp’s crash is disastrous and entirely avoidable, which earns him a definite spot on our list of the worst drivers in literature.

Daisy Buchanan — The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is full of terrible drivers, but the most deadly of them all is Daisy Buchanan, whose disastrous hit-and-run sets off a series of events that lead to (SPOILER ALERT!) Gatsby’s murder.

Sheesh. Talk about dangerous driving behavior. While hit-and-runs don’t always lead to the tragic murder of an eccentric millionaire, there are plenty of other reasons to avoid them. (Namely, the law — and human decency.)

Professor Welch — Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Amis’s classic novel is a must-read, not only for its examples of horrendous driving, but for its horrible … well, everything, really.

Jim Dixon behaves terribly throughout the novel, and true to the title, gets away with just about everything. His only punishment? He has to endure the alternately mind-numbing and terrifying behavior of his head of department, Professor Welch, not the least of which is his disgraceful driving habits. His general speed, coupled with his disregard for lane divisions (and his on-again-off-again relationship with curbs), terrifies Jim sufficiently enough to make him reconsider his career as a professor of history.

Charles Highway — The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis

In his 1973 novel, Kingsley Amis’s son Martin followed in his father’s footsteps by inventing a protagonist whose automotive inadequacies could rival Professor Welch’s. The ironically named Charles Highway, who has twice failed his drivers license test, takes the family car out to pick up his brother and narrowly avoids running over a pedestrian on the way. I guess you could say it runs in the family.

The Senator — Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates’ novella centers on a car accident, in which Kelly Kelleher and her idol and would-be lover, The Senator, become trapped in a sinking car after The Senator drunkenly (do you see a trend here?) drives the car into a swamp. Though he’s able to free himself by climbing over Kelly and swimming to safety, she is left to a grim fate.

The Senator gets the worst driving award (maybe “award” isn’t the best word) for driving drunk, speeding, negligence, and abandoning his injured passenger.Really, Senator? Really?

While these drivers may be fictional, their driving habits aren’t that unrealistic or uncommon — especially when it comes to drunk driving.

In 2010, drunk driving accounted for 31 percent of fatal accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But even drunk drivers who don’t cause accidents face DUIs, which are humiliating, debilitating, and incredibly expensive. How expensive? Our insight breaks down the true cost of a DUI.