Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer road trip essentials: luggage, cooler, insurance

Summer is a busy time on Washington roads and many people will be traveling this holiday weekend, which is a three-day weekend for a lot of us. Before you hit the road, it’s important to understand your auto insurance policy.

Be prepared
Always keep a copy of your current insurance card, along with your registration and any other paperwork you keep in the car.

Ask your insurance agent to explain the important elements of your policy to you, including your deductible and liability limits. You may even want to consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your policy if your insurance company offers it. This clause could help protect you if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, and the accident was their fault.

If you are the parent of a teen driver, sit down with them and talk about the risks of unsafe driving before you hand over the keys. Research shows that teens whose parents establish rules associated with driving privileges are less likely to get in a crash. Read some tips on how to prepare your teens for safe driving.

If you are involved in an accident
Getting into an accident can be stressful and chaotic; it’s difficult to remember what to do immediately following a collision. Many people are unsure about what information they need to share with and collect from the other driver. Washington State Patrol has
pointers for drivers who are involved in a collision.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free mobile app called WRECKCHECK for iPhones and Android devices. The app takes you step-by-step through creating an accident report, allows you to take photos of the scene and document only what is necessary to file an insurance claim. You can even send the completed accident report to yourself and your insurance agent. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can download a printable checklist to keep in your car with your other documents. 

Filing a claim
It’s best to start the claims process as soon as possible, while the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind. Report the accident to your insurance company. You will need the police or incident report, your insurance information, and a copy of the accident report you created at the scene. Your insurance company will walk you through the claim process and can tell you whose coverage will pay for damage, rental car expenses or medical costs as a result of the accident.

Take notes during conversations with insurance companies, claims adjusters or auto shops, including names and contact information of people you speak to.

Read more about understanding auto insurance, what happens if your car is totaled, filing an insurance claim and more on our website