Get a (Free) Sober Ride Home on New Year’s

Apart from noisemakers, uncomfortable hats, and even more uncomfortable smooches, few things epitomize New Year’s celebrations more than alcohol. So, it’s no surprise that drunk driving is one of this holiday’s major concerns.

According to, New Year’s Day is the single most dangerous time for drunk driving throughout the year. In fact, drinking and driving has been involved in over 40 percent of traffic fatalities on recent New Year’s Eves.

Luckily, we have 4 easy ways to snag a sober ride on New Year’s Eve. Oh, and since we know that $100 bar cover charge left your pockets with nothing but stray confetti, they’re all absolutely free!

How to hail your free sober ride on New Year’s

1. Check public transportation

To help promote a safe New Year’s, several major cities — Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, to name a few — are offering locals a sober ride on buses and rail lines at no cost. This deal will typically run from early New Year’s Eve through the wee hours of New Year’s morning. Even if you don’t live in these cities, it never hurts to check out your town’s public transportation options.

2. Use a sober ride service

Depending on where you live, there may be a free service in your area. Residents in Washington, DC, for instance, can call SoberRide®, a taxi program offering free lifts up to a $30 fare. Law firms in Richmond and San Francisco are funding similar programs.

3. Check with your local police department

Ordinarily, the police aren’t exactly who you’re dying to see during a fun night out, but this is different. For almost 30 years, volunteer officers from the Nashville and Davidson County Sherriff’s Department have helped Tennesseans get a sober ride on New Year’s Eve. And similar police aid has been given in places such as Palm Beach, FL, and Fox Lake, IL, in past years. No matter where you live, it pays to check with your local law enforcement to see if a free, safe ride could be waiting.

(And no, they won’t let you test out the siren. Don’t ask.)

4. Call the designated driver

If you don’t have a sober ride through one of the above methods, you can always rely on this classic solution. Ideally, you’d assign a designated driver ahead of time, but calling someone out of the blue at the end of the night (be it Grandma, your neighbor, your dog groomer, anyone) is better than getting behind the wheel yourself when inebriated.

Find your sober ride and welcome 2014 responsibly

As the clock winds toward midnight this New Year’s, hopefully these free sober ride ideas can keep you from dropping the ball on your safety.

And remember, even if you don’t have a free way home, shelling out for that cab or subway fare will be more than worth it.

Know any other ways to get a free sober ride on New Year’s Eve? Share them below!

Related links

Discover how sticking to New Year’s resolutions helps you save on insurance.
Find out why driving hungover can be as bad as driving drunk.
Want more advice on a responsible holiday season? Check out these green home tips for winter.

The Total Price Tag of a DUI

We talk a lot about the dangers of drunk driving and rightfully so. Every 2 minutes, somebody is injured in an alcohol-related accident. And, with recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stats revealing that DUI-crash fatalities jumped by 4.6 percent in 2012, the losses sustained by drinking and driving are becoming more prevalent.

Life and injury are not the only things drivers risk when they’ve had one too many. The effects of a DUI will drastically impact your wallet and day-to-day life.

As you’re planning your perfect New Year’s Eve party, check out these 4 reasons to add a few cab numbers to your address book (or download an app like Uber or Lyft) and stay safe this holiday season.

4 things a DUI could cost you

1. Your cash

No secrets here: DUIs are expensive. Although state penalties for drunk driving vary, the average bill (including fines, attorney fees, bail money, DMV fees, insurance increases, and more) will run you a cool $10,000.

Plus, if you live in 1 of the 11 states where interlock devices are mandatory for first-time offenses, you’re also looking at spending another $50 to $200 for device installation, along with a $50 to $100 monthly equipment fee for however long you’re required to have it.

2.  Your license

If you’re caught driving under the influence, it’s likely you won’t be hitting the road again anytime soon. In almost every state (45 states to be exact), getting charged with a DUI means you could be looking at 3 to 6 months of carpooling and ride sharing, possibly more. Think it was irritating to ask your mom for a ride around town as preteen? As an adult, it’s going to be even tougher.

3.  Your job

Remember when we talked about how much a DUI costs? Well, imagine that number, plus your annual salary. Whether we’re talking future or current employment, getting a DUI can absolutely affect your career. In fact, employers in most states are allowed to turn down applicants with any kind of conviction on their record.

Some employers, including ones where applicants will be working with children, senior citizens, or the disabled, or jobs that involve frequent or commercial driving, are far more likely to request (and may even require) a background check.

4.  Your freedom

If losing serious cash, your car, and your job aren’t enough to scare you sober, then spending time behind bars might. For first-time offenders, a night (or a few nights) in jail is not uncommon. If you’ve been convicted of drinking and driving in the past, those few nights can easily turn into months.

And that’s not even the worst-case scenario. If someone was injured or killed as a result of your impaired driving, the overall consequences become far more serious.

Protect yourself and others by planning ahead

Now, I’m not saying you need to quit the holiday cocktails cold turkey. Instead, just plan ahead for your night on the town. Whether that means designating a sober driver, or making plans to split a cab, figuring it out beforehand is always the best policy. In fact, check back tomorrow and we’ll tell you the best ways to take advantage of your city’s free ride programs.

Related links

Is driving hungover worse than driving drunk?
How a DUI affects car insurance premiums
The science of drunk driving
The origins of the designated driver program

What Can These Classic Christmas Movies Teach Us?

There’s something special about Christmas movies. Maybe it’s the life lessons they contain, their feel-good happy endings, or their ineffable spirit. Whatever it is, no December is complete for me until I catch a few of my favorite flicks.

During my annual movie marathon this year, an idea struck me: these movies not only teach us about life, but they also impart valuable lessons about insurance.

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s Christmas Eve and the bank auditor is coming for a routine audit on George Bailey’s family business. There’s a snafu, though — Uncle Billy loses $8,000 on his way to deposit the money. Fearing bankruptcy, scandal, and jail, George contemplates cashing in on his $15,000 life insurance policy to save his family from potential ruin.

It’s a drastic measure and definitely not one we recommend (no amount of money is worth your life). Thankfully, George reconsiders and his family never has to file a claim. But it does highlight the key benefits of life insurance. In addition to serving as a catalyst for plot, a life policy could:

  • Generate an inheritance after you’re gone (the natural way, of course)
  • Give financial support in a time of need (life benefits are 100 percent tax-free, so your beneficiaries will receive the full amount)
  • Provide peace of mind

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

He’s a mean one, Mr. Grinch! And he hates Christmas! “The whole Christmas season!”

It’s no surprise, then, that he concocts and carries out his diabolical plan. Disguised as Saint Nick, the Grinch steals the stockings, presents, and roast beasts, too, while the Whos soundly snooze.

Now, we all know that despite his best attempt, he couldn’t stop Christmas from coming. Thanks to the Whos’ indomitable spirit, the Grinch learns that Christmas doesn’t come from a store.

But let’s suppose that his heart never grew and he didn’t return the stolen gifts. How would the Whos in Whoville recover from their loss? My guess is that since they’re a responsible lot, they had homeowners or renters insurance. Thus, even if the Grinch really had stolen Christmas, they could have continued to be merry because they’d be protected against theft and a whole lot more.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The mishaps that occur when Clark Griswold invites his family to spend the hap, hap happiest Christmas together are hilarious. Comedic aspects aside, his misadventures also stress the importance of having homeowners insurance.

Here are just a few instances of when homeowners would have stepped in to help.

The giant Christmas tree

Clark brings home a giant tree. It’s so big that it breaks his windows while he unties it. Thankfully, Clark has homeowners insurance, so the damage is covered. And, if presents and other personal property had been damaged by broken glass, those would be covered too.

Uncle Lewis burns the tree down

Uncle Lewis is about to enjoy his after-dinner cigar in the living room and somehow ignites the tree in the process. It’s fiction, so the fire chars only the tree. If, however, the fire had spread and burned the entire house, Clark’s dwelling protection coverage would have helped him rebuild it from the ground up.

Clark breaks his neighbor’s windows with ice

Accidents happen. And they generally happen to Clark. Luckily, his homeowners policy also covers liability. So, when he shoots a giant icicle through his neighbor’s windows, his finances won’t be damaged because he’s protected by homeowners insurance.

The lessons learned

So, what can we glean from all of this? Whether you live in Pottersville, Whoville, or the Chicago suburbs, sooner or later you’re going to need insurance. After all, no one ever plans on losing 8 grand, or running into the Grinch, or burning down a Christmas tree. If you don’t have the right coverage for all of your needs, maybe now’s the time to give yourself the gift of great insurance (freeing Santa up to bring you the really cool stuff).

Related links

How to green your holiday season
Avoid fires and more with these holiday safety tips
Get in the spirit by checking out these spectacular light displays

Cereal, Carrots, and CEOs: Volunteers at Work

On Monday, December 16, Esurance volunteers met up with some of our buddies on the Golden State Warriors along with a handful of Warriors season ticket holders to volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank. A total of 63 volunteers — including our CEO, the Warriors’ President and COO, and the SF Food Bank’s CEO — spent the afternoon weighing cereal, sorting pears and carrots, and generally having a great time while helping to make a difference. Their volunteering kicked off We G.I.V.E., a unique program that connects Esurance associates with Warriors players, staff, and fans. Together, they team up to Guide, Inspire, Volunteer, and Educate at various events in order to give back to the Bay Area community.

Volunteers at work

Half the volunteers spent their time weighing out bags of cereal while the other half sorted through bins of pears and carrots. By the end of the day, nearly 3,000 lb. of cereal had been portioned and 30,000 lb. of the fruits and veggies sorted. As part of their mission to end hunger in the area, the San Francisco Food Bank distributes enough food for 105,000 meals … every single day. “It’s amazing and humbling to think that just 4 hours at the food bank could make such an impact for so many people and families — it truly felt like we were making a difference,” said Mollie Clark, Esurance brand partnerships coordinator.

In the community all year long

A longtime friend of numerous local causes and events, Esurance believes in supporting the communities where we live and work. Our Matching Gift Program, which matches donations dollar for dollar up to $2,500 per associate, is one of the ways we’re able to do this. In 2013, we matched nearly $110,000, donating to organizations like the Red Cross, the Blind Veterans Association, and the Breast Cancer Fund, as well as causes that support children’s wellness, AIDS services, and animal rights. Just to name a few.

You can get involved

Whether you want to give back during the holidays or are interested in helping your community all year long, volunteering is a great way to do some good and have fun. Check out VolunteerMatch to see what volunteering opportunities are available near you. And hey, happy holidays.

Related links

Recognizing veterans and troops on Veteran’s Day Esurance supports LGBT and Pride Esurance and the Golden State Warriors team up for Green Mob Recycled Rides: Putting totaled cars to good use Esurance gives back with tree plantings in Rocklin

5 Things I Learned from Riding a Segway

In December of 2001, the world’s premier 2-wheeled, electric (and self-balancing) transportation device debuted. So, when my Esurance folks recently asked if I’d ride a Segway — a vehicle now covered under motorcycle insurance — and write about it for its twelfth anniversary, I figured, Perfect! Something that looks easy to ride, especially for a first-timer.

The good people of the Electric Tour Company set me up with a Segway tour of Golden Gate Park that proved as challenging as it was amazing. Here are 5 things I learned when I gave up on watching from afar and took the ride instead.

1. Riding a Segway is like riding a bicycle

Part of what makes these tours great for beginners is the full safety drill you get before the actual tour begins. I learned everything from how to make it move to how to stop short in an emergency (you thrust your rear out, straighten your arms, and pull your shoulders back — the Segway will follow suit).

You’re not expected to be an expert, and like any new skill, it takes practice. But, once you get the basic motions, they become natural, and you’re not likely to forget them. And, as my tour guide said: no matter how confident you feel, always keep both hands on the handlebars.

It’s also good to know that your Segway will never sit perfectly still while you’re on it. As long as you stand straight and keep your eyes ahead, just like you would on a bicycle, you’ll be balanced and in control.

2. They can be stubborn

Segways look funny with their long necks and clunky wheels, but let me tell you they’re no joke. Like a treadmill, a Segway can’t stop on its own. You have to stop it yourself. That means if you accidentally fall off, be prepared to chase down a machine with a mind of its own.

Which is (ahem) something I had to learn the hard way. In my case, I accidentally hit a large tree root while off-roading in a wooded part of the park, impulsively tugged the handles (which, for the record, doesn’t do anything since Segways respond to the forward-backward movements of your feet, not your hands), and fell off, temporarily losing my dignity and a slip-on sneaker. But, rest assured, that’s a rarity on these rides. And it didn’t stop me from getting right back up.

3. You’ll have fun

As soon as you get past the fear of looking silly or getting hurt, riding a Segway can feel exhilarating. Plus, you’ll experience more than you ever could from an open-top bus or a car window — I got to really stop and smell the flowers, feel the breeze, and get to know a new group of people.

Even though I purpled a knee during my ride, I had a great time learning a new skill … and getting back on the metaphorical horse.

4. You’ll go fast(ish)

Maybe it was being directly exposed to the outside world, with no doors or windows to keep me in, but in any case, I felt fast. Whether on uneven terrain or flat, winding trails, going even 5 mph to 12.5 mph (12.5 mph being the fastest a standard Segway can go) actually feels like … gliding (the term Segway users use). The feeling of freedom that followed was invigorating.

5. You’ll want to keep going

Segways are, first and foremost, fun! Even though I took a little tumble, I had a blast. Along with the responsibility to ride safely, the feeling of power, and the sense of speed, there’s something easily overlooked: there’s nothing like riding a Segway. It’s a unique way to get around — stranger than a scooter or a skateboard — and once it was over, I wanted to do it again.

Get coverage through Esurance

Lucky enough to own your own Segway? Now you can cover it under our motorcycle insurance. Grab a quote today and see how much you could save when you insure your 2-wheeled treasure.