Winter is the time for some of the most hazardous driving conditions. You may have found yourself on a winding, slippery road with low visibility—and you try to remember what your auto insurance covers and whether or not you only got the basic package. Instead of waiting until you’re in that situation, it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.
Here are the six most common concerns about winter driving and auto insurance—and what you need to know about each one.
- Am I covered if I get into an accident that was caused by bad weather?
If you swerve on an icy road and land in a ditch, or someone else slides and hits you, collision coverage usually covers the cost of repairs for weather-related accidents. If, however, you start careening down a hill and hit a parked car, you’ll need property damage to cover the damage you caused the other car.
- What if my car is stolen while it’s warming up in my driveway?
Comprehensive coverage is the smartest kind of coverage to have, especially in the winter because it will cover a variety of situations. If your car is stolen, you’ll have to pay your deductible first, but your rates usually won’t increase if you file a comprehensive claim. Keep in mind, there are fines in some cites if you leave your car unattended. So make sure you know the laws in your city or town.
- What if a snow-covered tree branch breaks my windshield?
Again, comprehensive coverage will take care of this, as well as other weather-related situations, such as hail denting your car, or a giant icicle falling on it. If your carport collapses because of a large amount of snow, and this causes damage to your car, you’ll have to call on homeowner’s insurance NOT auto insurance. To prevent some of these scenarios, try not to park your car underneath structures where large icicles are hanging. Of course, you can’t control which trees you drive under, but be especially aware of your surroundings during the winter. It’s a time when anything and everything can happen!
- What if I have to abandon my car in a snowstorm?
If your car needs to be towed, make sure you have roadside assistance or towing included in your coverage. This comes in handy if you’re suddenly stuck on the side of the road because your battery died, or if you’re caught in a blizzard and have to leave your car and pick it up later. If you’ve parked illegally, though, insurance won’t cover that cost.
- If they declare a state of emergency and I drive anyway, will I not be covered if I have an accident?
When a state of emergency is declared, it’s best to get off the road if at all possible for your own safety. However, if you must be driving, your insurance will still cover the cost.
- I’ve never had an accident before. Is there a penalty for an accident that’s not my fault, but caused by winter weather?
If you slide in ice and snow, and you have a no-fault accident, your insurance rate, depending on what type of insurance you have, could go up 10 to 40 percent, or may not increase at all. Unfortunately, you’d most likely lose any safe driver discount if you had one.
Remember, it’s always best to try to prevent accidents when possible. When inclement weather strikes, be sure to clear your entire windshield, not just one spot, so you’ll have good visibility. Before winter, get snow or all-weather tires with good treads to avoid slipping. Get new wiper blades if yours are old or starting to smear liquid across the windshield. This can be a disaster if a tow truck passes you and muddy water splashes the windshield. Last but not least, have an emergency kit on hand in case of a breakdown.
For more information on which auto insurance is right for you, please contact Zawada Insurance Agency. We work to give you comprehensive coverage at a competitive price.
Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.