Short-term gain, long-term pain for car insurers, analysts say.

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U.S. auto safety regulators fine Fiat Chrysler record $105 million

Source: & Reuters

The U.S. auto safety watchdog, toughening its stance against manufacturer defects, announced on Sunday a record $105 million (£67.69 million) in fines against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over lapses in safety recalls involving millions of vehicles.

The Italian-U.S. automaker’s consent agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contains an unprecedented buyback option covering hundreds of thousands of vehicles, including more than 1 million Jeep sport utility vehicles, whose owners can receive a trade-in or a financial incentive to get their vehicles repaired.

Fiat Chrysler also agreed to submit to an independent monitor’s audit of its recall performance over a three-year period.

The $105 million in fines sets a new standard for NHTSA’s dealings with car manufacturers, eclipsing the previous record fine of $70 million imposed against Honda Motor Co in January for failing to report death, injury and other claims.

Last year, General Motors Co was ordered to pay $35 million for a decade-long delay in reporting faulty ignition switches tied to more than 120 deaths.

NHTSA has taken a more aggressive enforcement posture under its new administrator, Mark Rosekind, after coming under fire from leaders of both parties in Congress for lapses in its handling of deadly defects, including Takata Corp air bag inflators and GM ignition switches.

“Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers and the driving public at risk,” Rosekind said in a statement. “This action will provide relief to owners of defective vehicles, will help improve recall performance throughout the auto industry, and gives Fiat Chrysler the opportunity to embrace a proactive safety culture.”

The recalled vehicles covered by the agreement include Dodge Ram, Dakota and Chrysler Aspen trucks from model years as early as 2008. More than half a million of the vehicles subject to buybacks have faulty suspension parts that can cause a loss of control.

Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. unit FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, said it accepted the consequences of the agreement with “renewed resolve to improve our handling of recalls and re-establish the trust our customers place in us.”

The fines include a $70 million cash payment, an agreement that Fiat Chrysler will spend $20 million improving its recall process and an additional $15 million payable if the automaker is found to have committed any further violations.

The two sides have been engaged in discussions since NHTSA held a July 2 public hearing on Fiat Chrysler’s recall performance. At the proceedings, NHTSA staff catalogued alleged failures in 23 separate recalls including what they termed misleading behaviour, while an FCA executive pledged to work with the agency to improve the automaker’s recall programs.

Fiat Chrysler has had a contentious relationship with NHTSA for years, pushing back on the agency’s efforts to secure recalls and threatening lawsuits to avoid mandatory action, according to former auto regulators.

Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters this month that the company needs to change the way it deals with regulators going forward.

“We are intent on rebuilding our relationship with NHTSA,” the automaker said on Sunday.

It kills me how some people buy cars.

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Survey: Business travellers favour Uber over traditional taxi services

Survey: Business travellers favour Uber over traditional taxi services

NEW YORK — The Associated Press

Taxis are losing business travellers to ride-hailing services like Uber, a survey shows.

In the three months ended in June, Uber overtook taxis as the most expensed form of ground transportation, according to expense management system provider Certify. Uber accounted for 55 per cent of ground transportation receipts compared with taxis at 43 per cent.

That’s a big jump from just the beginning of the year. In the first quarter, Uber Technologies had 46 per cent of receipts tracked by Certify compared with 53 per cent for taxis.

“Established travel providers will need to adapt quickly or face further market share erosion to the sharing economy,” Certify CEO Robert Neveu said in a statement.

Certify based its finding on the 28 million trip receipts its North American clients submit each year. It does not include receipts from business travellers whose companies use other services to track expenses.

Uber connects travellers with various cars through its smartphone app. Some drivers work for car service companies; others spend a few hours driving their personal cars on the side for some extra money.

Business travellers might be quickly moving toward Uber, but employers still have reservations about safety and liability. Depending on the city, Uber drivers aren’t necessarily regulated by government taxi licensing authorities. Both Uber and competitor Lyft insure their drivers during paid rides and also require the drivers to carry personal auto insurance that covers them the rest of the time.

Uber’s pricing compared with traditional cabs can vary. Its UberX service, often drivers in Toyota Camrys or Honda Civics, is typically cheaper, but its high-end black cars and SUVs cost a premium. During peak hours, Uber charges a “surge” premium that can add anywhere from 20 per cent on to the cost to doubling or tripling it. During really busy periods the surge can be even more.

In a few cities, Uber beat out taxis by a wide margin for business travellers. In its home town of San Francisco, 79 per cent of rides expensed through Certify during the second quarter were for Uber. In Dallas, 60 per cent were for Uber and 54 per cent in Los Angeles. Certify noted that it saw rental car transactions drop at the same time.


Tickets And Car Accidents On Vacation: What You Should Know

Tickets And Car Accidents On Vacation: What You Should Know

Whether you are heading across Canada, or going south into the U.S., it’s important to know what will happen if the open road is marred by a speed bump along the way.

Where Does Your Auto Insurance Cover You?

Canadian auto insurance policies cover you everywhere in Canada as well as in the United States. If you plan to drive even further south, into Mexico, your insurance stops at the border. Car insurance issued outside of Mexico is not valid within Mexico. You can get this (Mexican auto insurance) along with the vehicle permit you’ll need at the Mexican border. Among other things you’ll need: proof of vehicle ownership, proof of Canadian registration, a valid Canadian driver’s licence, your passport and a credit card. Contact the Mexican Embassy in Canada for a full list of what you’ll need if you plan to drive into Mexico.

Tip: Be sure to carry all of your documents (insurance, registration etc.) with you everywhere you go. If you’re pulled over, or involved in a collision, you’ll need to have everything with you.

Getting a Ticket Away From Home

The rules of the road may vary; by city, province, state and country. Don’t wait until there is a police cruiser behind you to find out that what you thought was legal, isn’t. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the road of your destination and all points in between.

All of the provinces of Canada have a reciprocal agreement through which they report tickets to each other’s driver licensing departments. This means that if you live in Ontario and get a speeding ticket in Manitoba, it will still affect your driving record and can result in an increase in premiums.

If you receive a ticket in the U.S., whether or not it appears on your record depends on whether the state where the ticket was given has an agreement with your home province. Many states have reciprocal agreements with Canadian provinces, but it differs from state to state and province to province. It’s best not to assume that your home province won’t find out.

If you receive a traffic ticket away from home you can choose to pay the fine or fight the ticket. Bear in mind that if you choose to fight the ticket, you will likely be required to appear in court in that province or state.

Car Accidents in Other Provinces or Countries

Wherever your travels lead you in Canada or the U.S., your auto insurance will follow.

If you’re involved in a car accident, you would do much of the same as if the accident happened in your home town:

  • Stay calm and keep safe; get out of harm’s way.
  • Check for injuries, and call the ambulance if in doubt.
  • Call the local police.
  • Get the contact details, name and address of all driver’s and witnesses.
  • Document the make, model, and model year of the vehicle, as well as the licence plate number, state or country and the name of the other driver’s insurer.
  • Write down the details of the accident: date and time, location, road and traffic conditions. Don’t forget to also document the damages.

As soon as you can safely do so, call your insurance company. Your insurance company can help; they see this type of thing all the time. They’ll be able to recommend local repair shops if your car is fixable, or help set you up with a rental if it’s not. Many travellers make the mistake of waiting until they are back in the country to call their auto insurer. This could complicate matters when making a claim.

No damage. No injuries. No worries?

Perhaps, but just like tickets, if you’re in an car accident outside of your home province or country and there is a police report, it could end up on your driving record if a reciprocal agreement exists.

Road trip travel tips and links

Prepare for your travels to avoid unpleasant surprises:

  • Before leaving, have a mechanic look over your car and top-up all fluids.
  • Pack travel insurance.
  • Make sure you pack your proof of auto insurance, ownership, your driver’s licence, and vehicle registration.
  • Have your auto insurer’s phone numbers handy, just in case you need to give them a call.
  • You will need a valid passport to enter the United States and Mexico. If you do not already have one, contact your local passport office for information on how to get a passport.
  • Map out where the closest Canadian Government offices can be found along your route; they’ll be able to help you if you’re ever in a bind.
  • Visit the Canada to U.S. border wait times table to see how long each border crossings’ wait time is; and, when returning, visit the U.S. to Canada table
  • Once on the road, it is recommended you limit your driving to 700-800 km per day with 15-minute breaks every 2 hours. Aim to stop driving by dinner, so you can eat and relax for the rest of the evening. This pace however, won’t give you much time—if any—for roadside attractions. For that, you’ll want to limit your driving to 300-400 km per day.


Road rage, distracted driving, too fast, too slow. We all know a bad driver.

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