Driving for the Holiday? Insurance and trip preparation tips
SEATTLE –Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the heaviest travel days of the year. Before you and your family take to the road, be sure you have the proper auto insurance. Also, be prepared for the hazards of congested highways, wet conditions or snow and ice if you’re crossing the mountains.
“Winter driving conditions can range from normal, dry roads to snow and ice within several miles, depending on where you’re going,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “It’s a good idea to do what you can to ensure a safe trip, including the right tires, an emergency kit and consider adding Collision, Comprehensive and Towing coverage, if you don’t already have it.
Make sure you have the right insurance to protect yourself and your finances if you’re involved in an accident. The minimum liability coverage may not be enough to cover an at-fault accident and it will not pay for repairs to your vehicle if you cause an accident or slide off the road and need towing or repairs to your car.
Optional Collision coverage pays for damages to your vehicle as a result of your car colliding with another object, regardless of who is at fault. Optional Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision. It insures your vehicle against losses such as vandalism, fire, hail, windstorm, collision with animals and glass breakage. Both Collision and Comprehensive come with deductibles.
Drivers also may want to consider Towing coverage in case you slide off of the road or you’re involved in an accident. Most Auto Insurance policies do not automatically cover towing. Towing coverage is usually available for $10 to $20 more per year and also provides towing for other hazards such as vehicle breakdown. Some towing coverage also includes roadside assistance such as charging a battery or fixing a flat tire. Check your policy or call your insurance company or agent to verify whether or not you have towing coverage and what is included.
NW Insurance Council and the Insurance Information Institute offer these winter-weather driving tips to help you and your family safely get to your holiday destination:
- Before your trip, know the current road conditions and the forecast for your route and destination. Give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination if bad weather hits along the way.
- If you’re crossing mountains, take chains or other traction devices. If possible, install studded tires before your trip.
- More deer-vehicle accidents occur between October and December than any other time of the year. Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
- Bring a fully-charged cell phone and car charger so that those waiting for your arrival can get in touch with you or you can notify them if you are running late. Avoid the temptation to use your phone while driving. Have a passenger make the call or find a safe place to pull over before making a necessary call.
- Keep your gas tank full. Stormy weather or traffic delays may force you to change routes or turn back. Also, a fuller gas tank helps prevent your car’s gas-line from freezing.
- Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, water, high-energy snacks, and highway warning devices, flares, flashlights and batteries.
- Be aware of potentially dangerous icy areas such as shady spots, bridges and overpasses. Approach these areas with caution. These areas are usually the first places to get icy and often the ice is invisible.
- Stay on main roads as much as possible. Road crews normally clear main roads and highways first. In case of an emergency, you have a better chance of getting help on a main route.
- In winter weather conditions, avoid over-acceleration, sudden stops and quick direction changes. Do not activate your cruise control when driving on a slippery surface.
- If you start to slide and do not have anti-lock brakes, pump your brakes gently and steer into the direction of the slide.
- If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump your brakes. Instead, press firmly on the brake pedal and hold it down, allowing the anti-lock mechanism to work.
- Drive with your headlights on low beam when it is snowing. Low beam provides better illumination in snow than high beam.
For more information on winter-weather driving safety, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit http://www.nwinsurance.org.
The NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit,
public-education organization funded by member insurance companies
serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.