Happy Arbor Day from Esurance

Photo by Nick V.

Happy Arbor Day from your tree-hugging friends at Esurance!

Esurance ♥s trees

Since 2005 we’ve helped plant more than 100,000 trees. And that’s not to mention the thousands of trees we’ve saved by letting customers take care of business online. For more tree-loving fun facts, check out our green page.

And if you ♥ trees too, find out how they can actually lead to better car insurance rates in The Tree-Huggers Guide to Auto Insurance.

Arbor Day ideas

Want to create a little Arbor Day magic of your own this year? Here are a few tree-friendly organizations that can help:

Texas Trees Foundation
The Greening of Detroit
The Park People

Related links

See what we did last Arbor Day
Recent Green Mob event
What is green car insurance?

One Surefire Tip to Help You Save on Gas

Check out this guest post from our friends at Zimride, who really know a thing or 2 about how to save on gas.

A recent AAA study revealed that the cost of owning a car is up 1.9 percent — which may not sound like a lot until you realize it comes out to an average of $8,946 a year. The findings show that an increase in the cost of gas (duh), car parts, maintenance, and (gasp!) car insurance have all contributed to the rise (though we hear customers who switched to Esurance saved a bunch on their car insurance).

Of course gas prices are the biggest source of the increase. And as they keep rising, you (and the rest of the country) might be looking for some tricks to help save on gas (and do the environment a favor). But how? Do you really have to go out and spend $30K on a hybrid just to save a few bucks on gas? Isn’t there an easier way?

It turns out there is. Carpooling.

Gas prices could reach an all-time high this year

With current gas prices averaging $3.87 a gallon and experts predicting they could go as high as $4.50 this summer, the best way to save money is by riding together. In fact, carpooling could allow you to split the cost of gas in half.

Plus, many cities reward carpool commuters with special (less congested) lanes during peak driving hours. And considering that 76 percent of commuters drive alone, there’s still lots of room in the carpool lane.

How to find a carpool

All you have to do is sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or 2 to realize how many other people are heading in the exact same direction as you. So … ask around at work to see if anyone lives in your neighborhood.

Or, if you’d like to make some new friends, ask your transportation or parking department about organized rideshare programs. Or just do an online search for carpool programs in your area. (Zimride offers a pretty sweet service. Hint, hint.)

Rotate your driving schedule

Once you find a carpool, set up a driving schedule so no one gets stuck doing all the driving. Though it’s not always easy to give up control, you might be suprised by how relaxing the commute becomes when you sit back and enjoy the view from the passenger seat. You might even get a chance to catch a couple of extra zs.

What’s more, rotating vehicles helps reduce the accumulation of miles, which decreases your vehicle maintenance costs — a bonus considering AAA’s recent findings on the increase in driving costs. And the savings don’t end there! Decreasing your annual mileage might also help you lower your car insurance rate.

The physical benefits of carpooling

In addition to the financial benefits, carpooling can also improve your physical health and the health of those around you. Think about it. By carpooling, you reduce the number of cars on the road. This means less traffic congestion and less carbon dioxide in the air (a definite plus for the lungs). It also means reduced road rage, less stress, and a lower risk of a fender bender. See? All things that are good for you.

So next time you gasp, moan, or sigh at the price of gas, think about the many benefits of ridesharing. We can’t wait to see you in the carpool lane. Just promise us that you’ll rotate who gets to nap in the backseat.

Happy travels from the Zimride crew.

Related link

Find out how to carpool to your next event
Learn the 5 cardinal rules of carpooling

The Robert Frost Guide to Car Insurance

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, liked trees a lot — he wrote a handful of poems that featured them prominently — and was dedicated to presenting complex topics in a concise, easy-to-understand manner. Sound familiar?

Ok, we get that comparing ourselves to one of the most notable poets of the 20th century is absurd, but it’s National Poetry Month. And we want to celebrate. So we spent a rainy afternoon mapping out parallels between Robert Frost and Esurance.

Of course, while we were digging for parallels, we couldn’t help but stumble across some of Frost’s greatest poems. And so we eventually found ourselves in both a poetic and car insurance-ey frame of mind. On that note, we present you with our Robert Frost Guide to Car Insurance.

The importance of car insurance

(“Nothing Gold Can Stay”)
Possibly Frost’s most famous poem (and quoted by Ponyboy in The Outsiders), “Nothing Gold Can Stay” touches on the fleeting nature of perfection. And just like “nature’s first green,” your perfect car and shiny paint will likely not stay that way forever. Especially in a country with roughly 254 million cars on the road.

Having the right amount of car insurance to meet your specific needs is essential to protecting your finances in the event of an accident. And while poets aren’t often known for being sensible, something tells us that our trusty guide to car insurance, Mr. Frost, was practical enough to understand this (and we like to think he would have chosen Esurance for his car insurance since we do have a few things in common).

Guide to car insurance shopping

(“The Road Not Taken”)
While “the road less traveled by” may be a good thing when it comes to your morning commute (or the rest of your life), it’s not necessarily all that great when talking about car insurance. It’s important to shop around and equally important to choose a reliable company, well-liked by its customers.

When you get a quote with Esurance, you can compare rates from other leading companies in just minutes … and all on our website. And if you want to hear what our customers have to say about us, just visit our Facebook page. It’s all right there — as easy to stop by as “woods on a snowy evening.”

Car insurance claims

(“Mending Wall”)
Though Frost probably wasn’t talking about cars when he wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” you should definitely add your ride to the list of things that don’t love a wall (or a telephone pole or another car). Nonetheless, more than 10 million accidents take place in the U.S. each year, making it important to ensure that you have reliable insurance that will be there when you need it most. Because here’s one more thing that doesn’t love a wall: you when you’re trying to file a claim.

At Esurance we don’t think your needs should be met with a wall (nor do we want you to feel like hitting your head against one). That’s why we have licensed experts and dedicated claims reps available 24/7 to help you out. It’s a small but important detail (and we think Frost would approve).

Saving on car insurance

(“The Hardship of Accounting”)
In conclusion, though Frost had very little (nay, nothing) to say on the matter of car insurance, when it came to money and saving, he offered up this advice:

Never ask of money spent

Where the spender thinks it went.

Nobody was ever meant

To remember or invent

What he did with every cent.

We, however, have only this to say: Esurance was built to save you money on car insurance. Find out how much when you get your free quote.

Happy National Poetry Month, everyone!



Electronic Proof of Insurance Becomes a Reality

Since we first posted this story, over half of U.S. states have legalized digital insurance ID. Check out the newest info on electronic proof of insurance.

Last year, we let you know that you couldn’t use your digital ID cards (accessible via Esurance Mobile) as legal proof of insurance.

But it looks like that could all change in the not-too-distant future. Good news for you!

Idaho has approved electronic proof of insurance

The great state of Idaho has stolen several other states’ thunder in becoming the first to approve digital proof of insurance. On March 28, Idaho governor Butch Otter signed a bill approving the use of digital insurance ID, whether provided through an app (like Esurance Mobile) or a PDF or image saved to the phone.

In fact, the bill’s actual wording (PDF) states:

The certificate or proof of liability insurance required by this section may be produced in either paper or electronic format. Acceptable electronic formats include display of electronic images on a cellular phone or any other type of portable electronic device.

The bill later defines a “portable electronic device” more clearly, as “a small, hand-held computing and communication device that has a display screen with touch input or a miniature keyboard.”

The new law goes into effect July 1 of this year.

Several other states are pushing for electronic insurance ID

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), the digital revolution is finally hitting the often-conservative world of insurance in a big, big way — and not just in Idaho.

Alabama’s next up with a law allowing motorists to electronically display proof of coverage both at registration and during traffic stops. This law will become official on January 1, 2013.

In truth, Colorado has the oldest regulations on the books, but their rule only allows for digital proof at registration, not during a traffic stop.

California and Arizona are joining the push too. Arizona’s HB 2677 merely awaits the governor’s approval, and the Golden State’s AB 1708 has received a few amendments and is currently under review by the Committee on Insurance.

Why the hesitation over smartphone insurance ID?

In a day and age where everything from books to board games to bank accounts have gone digital, many wonder why lawmakers have been so seemingly hesitant to join the Digital Revolution when it comes to insurance ID.

The answers are varied — almost as varied as their sources. One area of concern is reflected in the Property Casualty Insurers Association’s objection to an element of California’s bill that implies that an insurer has to provide proof of insurance digitally:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an insurer issuing policies of automobile liability insurance or motor vehicle liability insurance shall … promptly issue … verification as to the existence of that coverage, to a mobile electronic device.

Coming in the “mandates” section of the bill as it does, the language seems pretty clear, though its author, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, says that wasn’t its intent. (The aforementioned amendments to the bill don’t seem to address this concern. Lawyers?)

Others have pointed out logistical issues with such laws, asking …

“How will the insurer provide the digital proof of ID?”

Gatto has answered this by saying that the insurer won’t have to — customers could simply take a photo or upload a scanned version of their paper ID to their phone.

“How can the police officer determine the validity of electronic ID?”

The answer to this question is still up in the air. In many states, determination of validity is entirely up to the officer, with no method of verification immediately available. For instance, Michigan allows individual police officers to determine what constitutes valid proof of insurance. A review of online forums where police are active turned up several officers more than happy to accept digital proof.

A few states, on the other hand, have begun to address this issue and establish databases for law enforcement to verify insurance (as this page on the Texas Department of Insurance’s website shows). Hopefully, more states will follow Texas’s lead and stop relying on forge-able or outdated paper ID cards to verify insurance.

One last lingering concern comes not from the legal or actuarial side, but from drivers themselves. Many have expressed concerns about what rights you’re granting an officer if you hand them your smartphone or other mobile device. Will a police officer then have the right to browse through your text messages, browsing history, or other apps?

And looking at the text of these bills, it seems that’s one very smart question that has yet to be answered.

Weigh in!

What do you think? Is digital proof of insurance a godsend, an exploitable legal loophole, or a waste of legislators’ time and taxpayers’ money? Are you looking forward to using Esurance Mobile to provide proof of insurance? Let us know what you think.

From Startup to Webby Award Nominee: The Story of Esurance

Esurance was recently nominated for a Webby Award for best insurance site. With all the hoopla surrounding awards season, we thought we’d take a look at how Esurance got to this point. From hopeful startup to innovative powerhouse, this is the true story of Esurance.*

The Esurance early years

Esurance was born online to modest means in 1999. Its parents, Tradition and Technology, separated before Esurance was born. And, bucking Tradition, Technology chose to raise Esurance on its own.

Esurance worked hard in those early years and got a scholarship to a local university where it majored in efficiency with a minor in environmental studies. While many of its classmates moved back home after college, Esurance set out to fulfill its dream — to help people save time, hassle, and money on car insurance.

Many scoffed at young Esurance, and said it would never make it in the crazy world of car insurance. “Those other companies are too big,” they said. “People don’t want to buy insurance online.” But with Technology’s unwavering support, Esurance persevered, honing its craft and making a name for itself.

Buzz-worthy performance

As Esurance’s versatility increased, so did its role in the insurance industry. From its modest beginning as a simple (but always easy-to-use) website, Esurance reached new heights with its innovative claims tools and policy-viewing, cupcake-finding smartphone app.

And fans took notice. Mark from Illinois declared:

“… I believe in and support your eco-friendly way of doing business … Furthermore, my total online experience (quoting and purchasing) was easy, logical and hassle-free … Thank you for caring about Earth!”

Critical acclaim wasn’t far behind. It started in 2007 when Esurance was named an Official Honoree by the Webby Awards. A second honor followed in 2008. And so began the buzz.

From indie darling to major player

Esurance took its new level of success in stride and in 2010 was quoted as saying, “I do it for the fans. Blockbuster success is great and all, but quality comes first.”

And it was that very quality that made critics take notice. Fast forward to today, Esurance is nominated for a 2012 Webby Award — what the New York Times calls the “Internet’s highest honor” — for best insurance website (based on content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience). Esurance is also up for a Webby People’s Voice Award. Polls are open from now until April 26. (Hint. Hint.)

“Nominees like Esurance are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said David-Michel Davies, executive director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the nearly 10,000 entries we received this year.”

Esurance’s response, “It’s an honor just to be nominated, but hey, if you want to vote for me, that’d be cool.”

*Artistic license has been taken with the definition of “true.”