Uber-Like Video Service DropIn Lets Adjusters Assess Damage from Desks….

A new service promises to provide insurance claims adjusters with videos of losses without them ever having to leave their desks. The videos would be supplied by an Uber-like network of smartphone users and, eventually, also drone operators.

Los Angeles-based DropIn Inc. is offering an on-demand streaming video service that allows adjusters to direct a contracted smartphone user to the exact area they’d like to cover – while remaining in their office.

Adjusters would also be able to obtain first notice of loss by sending a link to a customer calling in with a claim, allowing the customer to stream a video of the damage back to the claims adjuster.

The firm, which was founded in May 2015 by entrepreneur Louis Ziskin, hopes to expand the service by making drone operators available later this year. The drone service is currently in beta.

DropIn current claims to have a network of 64,000 independent contractor smartphone users called Droperators and more than 1,100 drone pilots worldwide, with 50 percent being former military veterans.

DropIn explains how the service works in a video on its website: The adjuster enters the address of the location they are interested in viewing via the Desktop platform or app. Based on proximity, the closest Droperator is notified via a text message on their smartphone that they have a live stream request. After accepting the request assignment, the Droperator deploys to the location, and when the Droperator is within 100 feet of the destination, the user’s screen changes to “launch” letting them know they can start recording. The Droperator initiates the live stream and is able to communicate with the insurance professional and capture all requested photos and video of the damaged property.

According to the company, Droperators do not have access to the photos or videos they create. Only users can download recordings. Adjusters obtain the videos and data and can retain a history on the client. None of the data or personal information is stored on DropIn’s server or on the Droperator’s smartphone, according to the firm.

The company’s website acknowledges that there may be issues about carrier requirements and licensing of its remote video suppliers. “Much like Uber, there are varying requirements for DropIn. Some clients may require a background check and or licensing,” the web site informs prospective Droperators.

The company claims that its technology is a convenience for insurers seeking to preview risk for underwriting, supplementing any current live video they use for policy acquisition and claim management purposes.

“With the fires in the west, and the flooding down south, providing adjusters access to drones will save a lot of time and frustration for the claimant experiencing the loss, and the adjuster trying to help,” says Ziskin.

Drones may help minimize the risk to claims professionals during rooftop inspections and, in the event of a catastrophe, allow adjusters to access insured properties in restricted areas. The live-streamed aerial coverage also helps insurers process more claims in a shorter period of time, according to DropIn.

Founder Ziskin was cited by Entrepreneur magazine as an entrepreneur pioneer to watchin 2016. The publication describes him as “a philanthropist who speaks nationally about causes like anti-recidivism and addiction recovery.” Ziskin was jailed for 12 years after being convicted in a government seizure of the drug ecstasy and now speaks out about the importance of preventing addiction in young people.

The company lists professional golfer Anthony Kim as an advisor and several executives as partners including Tony Canas, a middle market underwriter with Liberty Mutual and InsNerds.com blog founder; Andrew Brady, a courier and delivery industry veteran and mixed martial arts ring announcer; and Ben Parr, author of “Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention” and a former editor at Mashable and columnist for CNET.

The service is also being marketed to automotive dealers to let customers view cars remotely.

SOURCE:  http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2016/09/08/273315.htm

Tesla’s Software Update Stops Automatic Steering if Driver is Inattentive

Tesla Motors says a software update to its Autopilot system will disable automatic steering if drivers don’t keep their hands on the wheel.

The update also adds multiple features, including improved radar, better voice commands and an industry-first temperature control system that helps prevent kids and pets from overheating.

Tesla started moving the update to Model X SUV and Model S sedan owners Wednesday night over the internet.

Tesla’s Autopilot system, which was unveiled last fall, uses cameras and radar to maintain a set speed, brake automatically and change lanes without the driver’s input. Drivers can keep their hands off the wheel for minutes at a time, depending on road conditions. Critics questioned whether the system was ready to be on the road this summer after a driver using Autopilot was killed when his Model S sedan struck a tractor-trailer in Florida.

TeslaTesla says the software update should help avoid crashes, since it will enhance the radar system and make Tesla’s vehicles rely more on radar signals – which can see through snow, bright sun and other weather conditions – than cameras. The new radar can detect braking in cars up to two lengths ahead and has a clearer picture of the road than the previous version. The company also redesigned its indicator lights to more clearly show when Autopilot is engaged.

If drivers ignore three warnings to place their hands on the wheel, the automatic steering will be disabled and won’t resume until the car is parked. As in earlier versions, the car will slow to a stop if the warnings are ignored.

It’s unclear if the changes will be enough for government regulators, who have been investigating Tesla since learning about the Florida crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that Tesla provided the agency with information about its changes, and the agency is reviewing them.

The software update also allows Teslas to:

– Automatically move around slower vehicles that are partially off the right side of the road;

– Automatically navigate highway interchanges. Previous versions required drivers to turn off Autopilot on off-ramps;

– Automatically adapt curve speeds based on learning from previous Tesla drivers;

– Search for destinations using a single voice command;

– Automatically turn on the air conditioner to keep the car at 105 degrees or lower to help protect children or pets.

SOURCE: http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2016/09/26/273735.htm

Regulators Approve Property Rate Hikes for Florida Citizens Customers

One of Florida’s largest property insurers is going to raise its rates again in the coming year.

State regulators late Friday announced that it had approved premium hikes being sought by Citizens Property Insurance. The state-created Citizens has nearly 500,000 customers across the state.

Even though Florida has been relatively hurricane-free for the past decade, Citizens officials contended that it needed to raise its rates to deal with rising claims associated with water losses not associated with storms.

Citizens officials also contend that the insurer is dealing with higher costs because property owners are signing over rights to insurance policy benefits to contractors.

Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens, said in a statement that unless legislators place limits on the ability of homeowners to assign benefits over to contractors “our policyholders can expect these increases for years to come.” Contractors, however, have disputed the extent of the problem.

The rate hikes approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation vary by the type of policy purchased and by location.

Homeowners with a comprehensive policy with Citizens will see their rates go up by an average of 6.4 percent next February.

Some customers may see their rates go down. Citizens officials estimate that as many as 100,000 customers may pay less next year.

Citizens customers, however, who live near the coast and purchase just wind coverage will have an average increase of 8.2 percent. Many of these customers live in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Citizens is considered the so-called “insurer of last resort” and covers many homeowners who have been unable to obtain coverage from private insurance companies.

SOURCE: http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/southeast/2016/09/20/273581.htm

U.S. to Unveil Safety Standards for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous car driverless self drivingter Car On Road

The Obama administration’s proposed guidelines for self-driving cars, to be formally unveiled Tuesday, include 15 benchmarks automakers will need to meet before their autonomous vehicles can hit the road.

The companies will have to show how their virtual drivers will function, what happens if they fail and how they’ve been tested, according to a preview by the U.S. Transportation Department. The automakers must make vehicle performance assessments public so regulators and other companies can evaluate them.

“It’s in their vested interest to be as up front and transparent as possible,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Monday on a call with reporters. “There’s market risk in putting a product out there that doesn’t meet the expectations of the public.”

Companies that have invested in developing the vehicles, including Tesla Motors Inc., General Motors Co. and Google parent Alphabet Inc., say federal leadership is needed to keep states from passing their own contradictory laws. The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, whose members include Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., supports standardizing automated car policies among the states, spokesman David Strickland said in a statement.

At the same time, companies have urged regulators to use a light touch, so as to not kill off innovation — a pleading the administration appears to have heeded.

‘Thoughtful’ Guidelines

Ford Motor Co. called the administration’s guidelines “thoughtful” and an attempt to ensure the U.S. continues to innovate.

“Importantly, the guidance will help establish the basis for a national framework that enables the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles,” according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based company. “Strides in this technology have the potential to improve safety on our roads and reduce congestion in urban areas.”

Questions about self-driving car safety were elevated in July, when a fatal crash involving a Tesla vehicle was made public. The incident happened May 7 when the Model S was being driven by the car’s “autopilot” system. The car failed to distinguish between a white truck blocking the road and the brightly lit sky, Tesla said.

The new guidelines include recommendations for states to pass legislation on introducing self-driving cars safely on their highways. It says states should continue to license human drivers, enforce traffic laws, inspect vehicles for safety and regulate insurance and liability. The federal government, it said, should set standards for equipment, including the computers that could potentially take over the driving function. It will also continue to investigate safety defect and enforce recalls.

President Barack Obama wrote an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying automated vehicles have the potential to dramatically reduce the number of people who die on the roads. The administration’s guidance will promote safety, he wrote.

“If a self-driving car isn’t safe, we have the authority to pull it off the road,” Obama wrote. “We won’t hesitate to protect the American public’s safety.”

Annual Updates

Portions of the proposed guidelines will be effective immediately. Other elements will go into effect after public comments are received and analyzed. The government said it will update its self-driving car guidelines annually.

Earlier this year, the Transportation Department said it would allow automakers that can demonstrate they have developed a safe autonomous vehicle to apply for exemptions to certain rules. It marked a new approach to auto regulations designed to ensure the government doesn’t stand in the way of technological progress.

Regulators promised a quick response to companies that ask for interpretations of safety regulations applied to new autonomous features that seem to fall through the cracks of current rules. In one of the first applications of that policy, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in February that Google’s artificial intelligence system would be considered a driver under federal rules.

“We’ve envisioned a future where you can take your hands off the wheel, and the wheel out of the car,” said Jeff Zients, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. “Your commute becomes productive and restful rather than exhausting.”

Mark Rosekind, NHTSA’s administrator, has said the self-driving car plan would be key to the agency’s attempts to reduce human error, which the agency estimates is a factor in 94 percent of fatal car crashes. Those crashes killed more than 35,000 people in the U.S. last year.

Emerging Technology

Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a $4 billion grant over 10 years to fund pilot projects with automated vehicles. That proposal hasn’t gone anywhere in Congress, which would have to approve the funds.

The guidelines being issued Tuesday attempt to clarify how current rules and regulations, formed in the 1960s, will be applied to emerging technology. The Transportation Department plans on issuing interpretation letters explaining how emerging technologies can comply with current law, promising to respond to company requests in 60 days.

The new rules include a path for going fully driverless by removing the requirement that a human serve as a backup, according to two people familiar with the rulemaking. Bryan Thomas, a NHTSA spokesman, declined to comment on that before Tuesday’s formal announcement.

California’s Proposal

The development is important because some state regulators, including California, have proposed that humans must be ready to take over in robot cars at a moment’s notice. Google’s self-driving car project and others have objected, saying that limitation could stifle development of the technology because it would require robot rides to have steering wheels, gas and brake pedals, at least in the test phase.

Federal safety regulators appear ready to follow the precedent they already set for Google earlier this year, when it recognized its self-driving software as the “driver” of its fully autonomous test vehicles. The new federal rules are just proposals and much could change, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal discussions. But it would would be welcome by companies like Google, Uber and Ford, which plan to deploy fully autonomous vehicles within the next five years.

General Motors expressed support for the effort to speed the deployment of the vehicles, which it said could dramatically improve safety.

“We welcome the effort, will review the guidance and look forward to continuing the constructive dialogue on how to safely deploy AVs as quickly as possible,” the company said in a written statement.

SOURCE: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/09/20/426963.htm

Hacking Risk and Liability Issues Don’t Deter Makers of Driverless Cars

A red VW Golf jerks back and forth as it maneuvers into a parking space in the English spa town of Cheltenham. The halting efforts resemble those of a new driver, and in a sense they are — just not from the person sitting at the wheel.

The car itself is navigating into the spot, which it manages without a scratch. The man in the driver’s seat, who has his hands resting leisurely on his lap except for the occasional gear change, is a mere onlooker in this demonstration of the latest automated-car technology.

While the idea of robo-cars whisking us off to our destinations may sound like science fiction, the technology exists and is largely ready for the real world. What’s harder to determine is the risk associated with the emergence of these vehicles.

If automakers effectively take the wheel, that puts them in the firing line for liability suits stemming from accidents. The vehicles would also be exposed to threats from hackers who could hijack cars and potentially control them remotely, turning them into mules for criminal purposes or even using them as weapons.

“A hacker could redirect a whole bunch of traffic to gridlock a city” or even “kidnap people,” said Wil Rockall, director of information protection at consulting company KPMG in Tonbridge, England. “The risk goes from being one of human error on the part of the driver or road user to being human error on the part of a developer.”

Autonomous S-Class

Still, such worst-case scenarios aren’t halting efforts to push the technology, which is forecast to become an $87 billion market by 2030, according to Boston-based Lux Research. The Golf’s self-directed parking job in the August presentation by Volkswagen AG is just one example of the trend.

Google Inc. unveiled a cartoonish prototype of a self- driving car in May. A Mercedes-Benz S-Class drove itself 100 kilometers (62 miles) through real daytime traffic on crowded German roads last year, and parent Daimler AG is developing self-driving trucks.

The prospect of cars being controlled by online navigation systems is troubling to regulators and law enforcers. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has determined that hackers could take over automated vehicles and use them as “lethal weapons,” the Guardian reported in July, citing a study obtained by the British newspaper.

Yet there are benefits as well. The FBI report acknowledged that police could monitor connected cars more easily. In any case, automakers are attuned to the risks.

‘Stumbling Block’

“The biggest stumbling block to any of these things is car security and also liability,” said Gavin Ward, a spokesman for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG. “Those are the sort of issues that are still being worked out.” The Munich-based carmaker has tested self-driving technology on the German autobahn.

Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, is also keeping its eye on the tactics of cyber criminals to keep a step ahead, spokesman Paul Buckett said at the demonstration in Cheltenham. Google declined to make someone available to discuss risks associated with their automotive efforts.

To limit hacker risk, autonomous cars will need “much more security” and that requires constant monitoring, said Andrew Miller, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research, which supplies data to British vehicle insurers. “As fast as people come up with software and encryption processes, the criminals come up with ways around them.”

Aside from worst-case risks like remote carjacking, there’s the mundane question of who’s to blame in an accident when human error is no longer an issue. That could ease the burden on the driver, as the responsibility shifts to carmakers.

No Fatigue

Because robotic vehicles don’t suffer from daydreaming and fatigue, “you are going to have a lower frequency of incidents because these cars are an awful lot safer,” said Murray Raisbeck, a partner at KPMG’s insurance practice. “However, if something does go wrong, the severity could be an awful lot greater.”

The change in liability could shift the burden of insuring against accidents to carmakers, suppliers and developers, while consumers would pay less. That might hit the auto insurance business, which is worth $200 billion a year in the U.S., according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

“It is difficult to be precise on what impact driverless cars will have for us, but we know there are going to be issues,” said Alan Gairns, product manager for home and motor insurance at Allianz SE in the U.K.

SOURCE:  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2014/09/04/339497.htm

Staged Hacking Shows Vulnerability of Connected Vehicles

Dealer Vehicles in Stock. Brand New Cars Awaiting Clients on the Dealer Parking Lot. New Cars Section.

A pair of veteran cybersecurity researchers have shown they can use the Internet to turn off a car’s engine as it drives, sharply escalating the stakes in the debate about the safety of increasingly connected cars and trucks.

Former National Security Agency hacker Charlie Miller, now at Twitter, and IOActive researcher Chris Valasek used a feature in the Fiat Chrysler telematics system Uconnect to break into a car being driven on the highway by a reporter for technology news site Wired.com.

In a controlled test, they turned on the Jeep Cherokee’s radio and activated other inessential features before rewriting code embedded in the entertainment system hardware to issue commands through the internal network to steering, brakes and the engine.

“There are hundreds of thousands of cars that are vulnerable on the road right now,” Miller told Reuters.

Fiat Chrysler said it had issued a fix for the most serious vulnerability involved. The software patch is available for free on the company’s website and at dealerships.

“Similar to a smartphone or tablet, vehicle software can require updates for improved security protection to reduce the potential risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems,” the company said. It didn’t immediately answer other questions.

Miller and Valasek have been probing car safety for years and have been among those warning that remote hacking was inevitable. An academic team had previously said it hacked a moving vehicle from afar but did not say how or name the manufacturer, putting less pressure on the industry.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind on Tuesday said his agency is increasingly concerned about the security of vehicle control systems.

“We know these systems will become targets of bad actors,” he told a conference on autonomous and connected vehicle technology in Ypsilanti, Mich. If consumers don’t believe that connected vehicle systems are safe and secure, he said, “they will not engage it.”

Members of Congress have also expressed concern, and on Tuesday senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, introduced a bill that would direct the NHTSA to develop standards for isolating critical software and detect hacking as it occurs.

Miller and Valasek said they had been working with Fiat Chrysler since October, giving the company enough time to construct a patch to disable a feature that the men suspected had been turned on by accident. They plan to release a paper at the Def Con security conference next month that includes code for remote access, which will no longer work on cars that have been updated.

They said the harder problem for an attacker, moving from the entertainment system to the core onboard network, would take months for other top-tier hackers to emulate.

Many Jeeps could remain unpatched, leaving them open to attack. But the researchers said hackers would need to know the Internet Protocol address of a car in order to attack it specifically, and that address changes every time the car starts.

Otherwise, “You have to attack random cars,” Valasek said. The men stressed that it would be easy to make modest adjustments to their code and attack other types of vehicles.

They said that manufacturers, who are racing to add new Internet-connected features, should work much harder on creating safe capability for automatic over-the-air software updates, segregation of onboard entertainment and engineering networks, and intrusion-detection software for stopping improper commands.

“Anything that connects to the outside world is an attack vector, from my point of view,” Valasek said.

SOURCE:  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/07/22/375987.htm

Americans Put Too Much Faith in Homeowners Insurance…

Too few Americans take steps to prepare for disasters and too many assume their home insurance policies will bail them out if one strikes.

As disaster season peaks, a new national consumer survey commissioned by Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”), reveals that many homeowners lack adequate insurance coverage, do not fully understand their homeowners policies and do not have enough savings to support their households in the event of a disaster.

At least 73 percent of respondents don’t have a flood insurance policy that is separate from their homeowners coverage and more than 40 percent of those surveyed don’t have or don’t know if they have coverage that will fully replace their belongings and home in the event of a disaster.

At least 28 percent of homeowners polled do not have enough savings to support their households for even one month after a disaster if they had to leave their home. Only one-third said they could support their household for more than three months in this circumstance.

Also, according to the August 2016 survey, less than one-third of respondents have an up-to-date and complete home inventory stored away from their premises.

“Most people think that a basic homeowners policy will cover them in the event of a disaster, however these new findings highlight that a startling number of homeowners have not taken some of the most basic steps to adequately prepare for a disaster such as a hurricane, flood or fire,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Trusted Choice president and Big “I” president & CEO. “This is disturbing as hurricane and wildfire seasons are about to peak, affecting many parts of the country.”

With almost three-quarters of respondents lacking proper flood insurance coverage, they are completely vulnerable and have no protection from damage caused by rising water or flooding including common problems such as seepage of underground water into a home, leaky roofs and toppled trees from saturated soil. According to FEMA, floods are the leading disaster in the United States, and people outside high-risk flood areas file more than one-fifth of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims.

“It is very troubling—with flooding being so pervasive and hurricane season in full swing—that this large majority of homeowners is risking everything,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education. “A little planning and knowledge can go a long way.”

The survey also showed a lack of basic understanding regarding standard homeowners insurance coverage. More than one-fifth of survey respondents didn’t know whether they have replacement cost coverage for their belongings and home (which allows them to replace lost possessions with new items) or if they have actual cash value coverage (which takes depreciation of the structure and personal items into consideration). In most standard homeowners policies actual cash value is the default coverage.

“The risk of financial ruin in the event of a major disaster is significantly higher for those homeowners who have only actual cash value coverage because they cannot fully recoup their losses,” continues Flannagan.

The survey shows that only 58 percent have replacement cost coverage.

More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) have just enough savings to support their households for three months or less if they had to temporarily move away as a result of a disaster to their property. Twenty-eight percent said they couldn’t sustain for even a month.

For off-premises living expenses in these cases, a standard homeowners policy provides only limited protection (usually 10 percent of the coverage on your home) and a flood policy provides no coverage for these expenses.

The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice and the Big “I” by MFour Mobile Research Inc. using MFour’s Surveys on the Go Smartphone Application Panel which includes Apple and Android mobile device users. MFour is an independent research company headquartered in Irvine, California. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. homeowners were conducted in August 2016 and weighted by age and gender to represent the general U.S. population over age 18.


SOURCE:  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/08/18/423791.htm

Many Car Keyless Remotes are Hackable According to Security Experts

A group of computer security experts say they figured out how to hack the keyless entry systems used on millions of cars, meaning that thieves could in theory break and steal items without leaving a broken window.

The experts say that remote entry systems on millions of cars made by Volkswagen since 1995 can be cloned to permit unauthorized access to the car’s interior.

VW Golf







The same experts say another system used by other brands including Ford, General Motor’s Opel and Chevrolet and Renault can also be defeated.

In a paper to be delivered Friday at the Usenix security conference in Austin, Texas, the authors say a thief could use commonly available equipment to intercept entry codes as they are transmitted by radio frequency, and then use that information to clone another remote so the car could be opened.

Volkswagen said its latest models such as the Golf, Tiguan, Touran and Passat were not affected. It said it was having a “constructive exchange” with the experts aimed at improving security technology.

“The bar for theft prevention is constantly being raised, but ultimately there is no comprehensive guarantee for security,” the company said in a statement.

The paper leaves out key details on how to perform the hack but says the codes can be intercepted with commercially available equipment.

“It is unclear whether such attacks… are currently carried out in the wild by criminals,” the report says. `”owever, there have been various media reports about unexplained theft from locked vehicles in the last years.”

The report did not establish the exact number of cars that use the vulnerable systems.

General Motors said that it “does not consider this item to be a significant risk to customers due to the technical sophistication of the demonstration and the very limited circumstances under which the demonstration can be carried out.”

The company added that “the issue in question does not impact the operation of the vehicle or the safety of its occupants.”

The report authors said that insurance companies might have to accept that car theft scenarios that would otherwise be considered insurance fraud have a higher probability of being genuine. The only surefire countermeasure, they said, would be to stop using the remote and fall back on the mechanical lock using the conventional metal key.

The authors are Flavio Garcia, David Oswald, and Pierre Pavlides from the University of Birmingham School of Computer Science and Timo Kasper from German security firm Kasper & Oswald GmbH.

SOURCE:  http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2016/08/16/272831.htm

Study: Bike Helmets Lower Risk of Brain Injuries, Death

Bikers with helmets


Riders with helmets were also less likely to die from their injuries, and less likely to break facial bones, than those not wearing a helmet, researchers report in American Journal of Surgery.

“It’s similar to wearing a seat belt, said Dr. Jerri Rose, a pediatric emergency physician at University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, who was not involved in the study. “Wearing one doesn’t ensure that you’re not going to get in a car accident, but it lowers the risk of injury and of dying in a car accident.”

Millions of Americans ride bicycles, but less than half wear bicycle helmets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the U.S., there were 900 deaths and an estimated 494,000 emergency room visits due to bicycle-related injuries in 2013, the study authors write.

Using the American College of Surgeons’ National Trauma Data Bank, the researchers analyzed records of 6,267 people treated in 2012 for bleeding inside the skull after a bicycle accident.

One quarter of patients had been wearing a bicycle helmet at the time of their accident. Just over half of the patients had severe traumatic brain injuries and 3 percent died.

Researchers found that people wearing helmets had 52 percent lower risk of severe TBI, compared to unhelmeted riders, and a 44 percent lower risk of death.

Riders with helmets also had 31 percent lower odds of facial fractures. The upper part of the face, particularly around the eyes, was most protected. Helmets offered less protection against fractures to the lower part of the face, such as the nose and jaw.

Moreover, people who wore helmets reduced their likelihood of having brain surgery, further confirming a certain level of protection with helmet use, the study team writes.

“Using helmets has always been controversial,” said study coauthor Dr. Asad Azim, a research fellow in the department of Surgery at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “Critics argue that due to its incomplete design bicycle helmets are of no use and do not protect riders when it comes to severe injuries.”

But “the results of the study say different,” he told Reuters Health by email.

Helmeted riders were more likely to be white, female and insured compared to non-helmeted riders. Riders aged 10 to 20 were among the least likely to wear a helmet, while those aged 60 to 70 were most likely to wear one.

“About 75 percent of people in this study weren’t wearing helmets so we have a long way to go in terms of making sure that people wear helmets when cycling,” Rose said.

“Especially teens,” she added, “they perceive it as not cool.”

The key is to start them early, Rose said. “Starting early is really important. As soon as they start riding their bikes, they should be taught to wear a helmet. It has to become a routine.”


SOURCE:  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/08/22/423996.htm

US Supreme Court Limits Drunk Driving Test Law


The Supreme Court on Thursday placed new limits on state laws that make it a crime for motorists suspected of drunken driving to refuse alcohol tests.
The justices ruled that police must obtain a search warrant before requiring drivers to take blood alcohol tests, but not breath tests, which the court considers less intrusive.


The ruling came in three cases in which drivers challenged so-called implied consent laws in Minnesota and North Dakota as violating the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. State supreme courts had upheld the laws.

While drivers in all 50 states can have their licenses revoked for refusing drunken driving tests, the high court’s ruling affects laws in 11 states that go farther in imposing criminal penalties for such refusals.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said breath tests do not implicate “significant privacy concerns.” Unlike blood tests, breathing into a breathalyzer doesn’t pierce the skin or leave a biological sample in the government’s possession, he said.

Alito compared blowing into a breath test machine to using “a straw to drink beverages,” which he called “a common practice and one to which few object.” He noted that the high court has previously declined to require a warrant for collecting DNA samples by rubbing a swab on the inside of a person’s cheek or scraping underneath a person’s fingernails to find evidence of a crime.

Six justices agreed with Alito’s opinion on breath tests, though Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately to say he would have found both tests valid without a warrant under the Constitution. Thomas called any distinction between breath and blood tests “an arbitrary line in the sand.”

Other states that have criminalized a driver’s refusal to take alcohol blood or breath tests include Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

In all three cases before the high court, the challengers argued that warrantless searches should be allowed only in “extraordinary circumstances.” They said routine drunk driving stops count as ordinary law enforcement functions where traditional privacy rights should apply.

State officials called the testing a legitimate condition on the privilege of using state roads. Prosecutors argued that it was too burdensome for police to obtain a warrant every time a driver refused a test because some rural areas have only one judge on call late at night or on weekends.

But during oral argument, some of the justices pointed out that even in rural states police can call a magistrate and get a warrant over the phone in just a few minutes.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote a separate opinion saying she would have gone further and required search warrants for both breath and blood alcohol tests. She said said no governmental interest makes it impractical for an officer to get a warrant before measuring a driver’s alcohol level.

“The Fourth Amendment prohibits such searches without a warrant, unless exigent circumstances exist in a particular case,” she said.

The states garnered support from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which argued that public safety is a compelling reason that justified the laws. But civil liberties groups said states can’t criminalize the assertion of a constitutional right.

Adam Vanek, national general counsel for MADD, said his group was pleased “that the court recognized public safety concerns far outweigh the minimal privacy concerns when it comes to a breath test.” Vanek said the group was hopeful that the court’s decision would encourage other states to implement similar laws punishing refusal to take a breath test.

SOURCE:  http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2016/06/27/271818.htm