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Car assistance, insurance await at your fingertips

By Mariah Smith
Extension Center for Technology Outreach

Smith click to enlarge

With today’s increased reliance on technology, many insurance companies are moving their services online and making them available to customers on their mobile devices.

Having gone my entire life without so much as a speeding ticket, the past few months have proven very trying. In fact, I’m now on a first-name basis with my insurance agent’s assistant, and I’m pretty sure we will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

In March, I was rear-ended. Mere weeks after having the bodywork done on my car, I bumped into a car in a parking lot. Knowing that bad things happen in threes, I’ve decided to throw myself at the mercy of the local police department and ask them to just go ahead and write me a ticket so I can be done with it and move on with my life.

After any type of car accident, the first thing to do is make sure no one is hurt. Once that’s been established, call law enforcement to write an incident report. Then, if you’re a young driver, an elderly driver or live in a small town, call family members who like to keep a close eye on you since they can telepathically know something has happened. Next, use the camera on your smartphone to take photos of the damage.

If you drive, go ahead and download your insurance company’s mobile app, especially if you’ve had experience in the vehicle accident department. The mobile app will give you the ability to record statements and paperwork and even to file your claim. You will need to set up a username and password to access the app features, so do that before you’re sitting on the side of the road after an accident. All of the major insurance companies have free mobile apps. Go to the iTunes (for iPhone) store or Google Play site (for Android) to download your app.

Another potentially useful but unfortunately named app is iWrecked, which is designed to guide you through the aftermath of a wreck. You can log a new accident and collect information on the other driver, responding police officer, witnesses and weather conditions. It also helps you locate local police stations and towing services. Furthermore, it will call a predetermined emergency number for you. If you’re shaken up after an accident, just hit the emergency call button rather than trying to type in the phone number.

Hopefully, you’ll never be in an accident that requires a visit to the hospital or doctor’s office. But if you do find yourself in that situation, make sure you have your health insurance information handy as well. Currently, very few health insurance companies offer mobile apps. The exceptions are Aetna and Medicare, although the Medicare app is currently undergoing a redesign.

If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, try the AAA Roadside Assistance app. This app is available for both the iPhone and Android. From this app, you can request roadside assistance (such as towing), call AAA or find local repair shops.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in front of us, be sure you’re prepared to be on the road with apps that can make car troubles easier to deal with.

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Released: November 8, 2012
Contact: Mariah Smith, (662) 325-3226

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