August marks the dog days of summer, a time when heat and humidity can wilt even the hardiest soul. And in many parts of the country, warm weather will linger into September and October.
All that heat may be bad news for drivers and their insurance companies. It seems that certain types of insurance claims soar along with the temperature.
In fact, Farmers Insurance recently released its list of transportation-related claims that become more common as the weather warms.
Following are the five types of claims, and tips for preventing such losses during this coming Labor Day weekend and throughout the remaining warm-weather months.
1. Vandalism, mischief and partial-theft claims
One good thing about cold weather is it keeps the bad guys (and gals) locked inside like the rest of us. But when temperatures rise, it appears that ne'er-do-wells get a little antsy -- and you may pay the price as a result.
Farmers says that when it gets warm, vandalism, mischief and partial-theft claims rise by 22 percent over winter months and by 11 percent over autumn months.
Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, says vehicle thefts are especially likely to rise with the temperature in parts of the country that have distinct seasons.
"In other parts, like most of the Southwest, the weather is relatively mild all year long," he says. "That puts people on the street all the time, and with that comes a higher risk of a crime against a vehicle."
Prevention tips: Do not leave items visible and unattended on inside the car, even if they are not valuable. Make sure you place any items in the trunk before you reach your destination, so lurking thieves will not see you. Park close to your destination in well-lit areas. Activating a car alarm also can keep thieves and vandals at bay.
2. Boat and RV claims
Summer is the season to take boats on lakes, rivers and oceans. It is also the time when couples and families take road trips across the great North American landscape.
So, it's no surprise that claims involving these forms of transport jumped 26 percent between the second and third quarters of the year during both 2013 and 2014.
Unfortunately, these types of claims often are associated with accidents that result in injuries and even deaths.
Prevention tips: Wearing a life jacket is the most important thing boaters can do to improve safety, says Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council.
RV accidents are more likely for drivers who are inexperienced at maneuvering such a big vehicle. Take a safety class before you get behind the wheel.
Also, constantly check the vehicle to make sure it's road-ready. For example, check tires to make sure they're inflated. Store an emergency road kit -- including first aid supplies -- inside the RV.
3. Claims associated with tire blowouts
On average, Americans drive more miles during the summer than any other season -- 30.6 miles per day, according to a study released earlier this year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute.
That is a lot of tires on the road, so it is a natural -- if unfortunate -- reality that the risk of tire blowouts rises as drivers log more miles.
Farmers says tire blowouts were responsible for nearly 30 percent of all its accident claims for the months of July and August in both 2013 and 2014.
Prevention tips: Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflation puts pressure on a tire's sidewall, which can cause it to overheat and blow out, says James Solomon, director of defensive driving program development and training for the National Safety Council.
Solomon urges drivers to visually examine their tires every day before starting the engine.
Check the pressure every two weeks with a tire gauge, and maintain tire pressure as listed in the car's owner's manual, inside the driver's door, or inside the trunk. Look for uneven wear patterns, cracks and foreign objects such as nails.
4. Motorcycle and ATV claims
People haul their motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles out of storage in summer, and that means the number of claims associated with these vehicles leaps.
In 2013 and 2014, claims increased by 20 percent between the second and third quarters of each year.
Prevention tips: Wearing the right equipment can be the difference between life and death after a motorcycle or ATV accident. At the very least, it can protect you from the dreaded "road rash." Such armor includes boots, gloves, jackets, helmets and long pants.
When riding, watch out for all obstacles -- including animals, pot holes and loose gravel -- that could cause a wipeout.
5. Claims involving sleep-related accidents
The hazy, lazy days and nights of summer can lull people to sleep -- and that includes when they are behind the wheel.
A National Sleep Foundation poll found that in the previous year, 60 percent of Americans said they had driven when feeling sleepy, and 37 percent admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.
Farmers says 30 percent of all accident claims that involved drivers falling asleep occurred in the months of July, August and September during both 2013 and 2014.
Prevention tips: Common sense goes a long way toward preventing sleep-related crashes.
"Don't drive when you are tired," Solomon says.
Make sure you get enough sleep before driving -- typically seven to eight hours a night for most adults, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The NSF recommends pulling over and getting rest and getting rest if you're showing signs of being drowsy, such as excessive blinking or lane drifting.
If you are travelling with another licensed driver, take turns behind the wheel. That should help ensure someone fresh and alert is driving at all times.
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