New Jersey topped the list of the most expensive place in the U.S. to get automobile insurance, according to a recently released report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The report said New Jersey drivers paid $1,302 in combined average premiums in 2011, the latest year available.
Also near the top were Louisiana ($1,282), the District of Columbia ($1,274) and New York ($1,234).
In New Jersey, the average insurance costs about $390 more than the national average.
However, there are some caveats that propelled New Jersey to the top.
Since New Jersey is predominately urban, the costs are not directly comparable to states with large rural populations, the report notes. Also, New Jersey historically pays two to four times the national average in dividends to policyholders.
For example, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co., which has an office in Hammonton, announced in December it was sending dividend checks to its 431,000 customers amounting to $82 per person for policies effective in 2012.
In a release accompany the announcement, the company noted that high medical inflation remains a challenge, but state regulatory reform to personal injury protection is beginning to “exert downward pressure on these costs.”
Marshall McKnight, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, which regulates the industry, said state insurance consumers tend to buy more coverage and more liability insurance.
Also, insurance is costlier in high-population areas, and New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, he said.
In the coming years, state reform enacted in 2012 that implemented medical fee caps for personal injury protection will have a long-term impact on the market, he said.
Meanwhile, in December, the Department of Banking and Insurance issued some basic tips for shopping for auto insurance policies.
Some of these include:
•Understand what each policy covers. A basic policy, for instance, offers minimum protection and should only be considered by consumers with few or no assets.
•Get quotes from agents or carriers. The state regulator recommends at least three quotes, but make sure each quote is for the exact same coverage.
•Ask about discounts. Carriers offer different policies that could reduce premiums. These could include discounts for those with short commutes to work, those with multiple cars, those insuring auto and homeowners insurance with the same carriers, those for safe drivers and those for students with good grades.
Josh did what he’d been taught at home and at school — find “the big authority person” — and ask for help. He told the streetcar driver he was lost and needed to call 911.
The driver allegedly refused to help.
“He was, like, ‘Sorry kid I can’t stop the streetcar. Ask to borrow someone else’s phone,’” said Josh.
He did and called his mom. She asked Josh to put the driver on but he refused again.
Josh notes that “kind of upset” his mother.
“The idea … that I’m sitting home at home, beside myself, and he’s not even willing to tell me where my kid is — it’s unbelievable,” said Maryellen Boyes.
“It was such a traumatic situation … that your kid is somewhere and you can’t get to him,” she added.
Josh and his friend were eventually picked up by his dad. Both made it home safe.
The TTC requires drivers to call in lost children and hold the vehicle until they are claimed or met by police.
Spokesman Brad Ross said Friday that, following an investigation, the TTC concluded its expectations were not met in this situation. He said the TTC has taken disciplinary action against the driver, but did not give details. He also said the TTC will apologize to Josh’s parents.
He said in this instance, “the TTC simply failed.”
The TTC board wants the Presto electronic fare card launch expedited, after a staff report Thursday cast doubt on whether much of the system will be up and running in time for the Pan Am Games.
The installation schedule, a joint TTC-Metrolinx timeline, calls for Presto card readers to be on 50 new streetcars and in 23 subway stations by the end of 2014.
But since the equipment for the other 46 stations won’t be procured until the end of next year, there will be little time left to install and test it for the summer of 2015.
“It was always my expectation we would have substantial completion for the Pan Am Games, and I’ve repeatedly said that on the record,” said TTC chair Karen Stintz.
“Based on this schedule, it’s unlikely that we will meet our commitments,” she said, after staff was directed to go back to Metrolinx and look at a revised schedule.
Given that every other transit system in the Toronto region, including GO, plus Ottawa’s transit system, are already using Presto cards, Stintz said she thinks the TTC can proceed faster.
Riders put dollar value on their Presto cards and then tap them before boarding transit to have the fare automatically deducted from their account. The balance can be topped up electronically or in person.
TTC chair Andy Byford said he’s eager to get the cards working, too. But, he cautioned, “Let’s not progress so quickly the implementation goes wrong . . . I do not want to impose a system on Torontonians that is not yet proven. I want to make certain anything we procure works, and works out of the box the first time,” he said.
Using Presto on the TTC is “horrendously complicated” and is coinciding with the rollout of the new TTC streetcars, said Byford. While all the new streetcars will have Presto readers by every door, they will also have ticket validation machines on board so that riders with transfers and other fare media can confirm they have paid.
The TTC is also rolling out new vending machines that will allow riders to put money on their Presto card.
The TTC is buying the second generation of the Presto system, which differs from what’s already in place in other Toronto-area transit agencies in that it will eventually accept open payments. Riders will be able to tap a cellphone, debit or credit card to pay their fare, rather than using the plastic cards currently issued.
It’s not clear when that feature will be available, according to TTC officials, who say that’s at least partly up to Metrolinx.
There are first-generation Presto readers at 14 TTC stations already, mostly at terminals where riders on other transit systems access the TTC.
Metrolinx is paying for the 10,000 electronic readers that will be installed on the TTC.
“We are confident the plan we have in place will address the needs of the TTC and our customers. We expect Presto to be in place to serve key venues in time for the Pan Am Games. We are taking a phased approach to rollout, an approach consistent with how we rolled out the (Greater Toronto Area) and one we know works well,” Metrolinx’s Anne Marie Aikins wrote in an email.
She wouldn’t specify which venues would be served, however.
Metrolinx wouldn’t say how much the readers to be installed on the TTC will cost. The TTC itself is covering the cost, about $50 million, of wiring its stations for the equipment and assorted other expenses.
The TTC is an agency of the City of Toronto and is overseen by a Board.
The TTC Mandate: The TTC serves the people of Toronto by ensuring your transit system is reliable, safe, and prepared for the future. To that end, the Board oversees matters of policy, planning TTC services; constructing, maintaining and operating the system; and expanding services and facilities.
A quick walk through the Museum Subway station will reveal numerous fire extinguishers in different areas in the station, both upstairs and downstairs on the subway platform.. A search for a defibrillator however, will only reveal one (1), directly across from the collector’s booth upstairs.
Fire extinguishers put fires out, while a defibrillator kickstarts or resets the heart’s rythmn when the heart stops.
The death of a passenger on November 8, 2013 should serve as a wake-up call for the TTC and Toronto City Hall. Another portable defibrillator located on Museum station’s subway platform may have saved a life.
The TTC is a massive transportation network, moving over a million people a day wtihin the subway network, within the City of Toronto. During rush hour, over 2000 passengers riding the subway, pass through the Museum subway station every five (5) minutes.
After I began to research this issue, I was able to speak to a TTC supervisor. I told him that I was disturbed that I could find several fire extinguishers on the Museum subway platform, but that I could only locate one portable defibrillator and that it was located upstairs across from the collector’s booth.
The supervisor was good enough to take the portable defibrillator out of its alarmed cabinet and show it to me. He also shared his thoughts with me after I informed him that it was my position that portable defibrillators should be stationed throughout the station, not only across from the collector’s booth.
He took the portable defibrillator out its housing and an alarm began to ring.
He should me the unit and pointed out that the battery was charged and that the paddles were still within their package and that the expiry date hadn’t yet expired for the paddles. He stated that the defibrillator used on November 8, 2013 had been removed and it was replaced with a spare, labelled “Spare #2” defibrillator.
He said that the charge is checked at least once a month to ensure that the battery is charged, in the event that the defibrillator is needed to be used in an emergency. He said that he was trained to use it about four and half years ago, but hasn’t received any refresher training since.
I told him that I was concerned that the only place a portable defibrillator was located in all of the subway stations, was upstairs, opposite the collector’s booth. The TTC has already announced that it was their plan to eventually eliminate the collector’s out of the collector’s booth and to automate them. If this was the case, their close promixity to the collector’s booth would delay any attention to an individual suffering from a heart condition, that the portable defibrillator was invented to help.
I recommended to him that the portable defibrillators should be downstairs on the subway platform, as well as upstairs and accessible to everyone, not just upstairs, accessible to the TTC collector to retrieve.
He informed me that the TTC had two (2) paramedics working within it everyday and that they carried their own portable defibrillator. He recommended that many more should be hired and should be scattered appropriately within the system and that this move would be much more for the safety of passengers. These two paramedics carry portable defibrillators with them.
It is difficult to imagine that there are only two (2) paramedics assigned to a transit system that carrys on it, over a million passengers everyday. More paramedics present within the public transit system everyday would make the TTC safer for passengers.
To ensure that the transit system is safe and prepared for the future, the following recommendations should be seriously reviewed and considered by the TTC Board and the City of Toronto, before they are implemented:
1. The TTC should put on a public awareness campaign regarding portable defibrillators in each station and offer to train all TTC staff and passengers in the use of these AED units.
2. Additional portable defibrillators should be placed in several strategic places throughout the subway system, including, but not limited to:
within all subway stations at the subway platform level, as well as busing stations; the larger the station, the more defibrillators should be utilized
inside subways on all lines
3. In addition to additional defibrillators being utilized, more paramedics should be utilized on the transit system, everyday of every month.
4. TTC staff should have inclass Certified CPR & AED refresher courses every six (6) months after they have had their initial full training on both.
Hopefully the City of Toronto will not use the TTC as a political football and will instead realize the significance of these recommendations, given that ridership grows every year and that the age of the average rider is increasing, with more and more seniors riding the TTC every year.