So you caused a minor crash as a result of one of the numerous winter storms we’ve had this year? Don’t worry, it happens. In fact, inclement weather causes about 24% of vehicle crashes each year (around 1.5 million), according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. So now for the important question: Will your insurance provider help pay for the damage?
Damage to others’ cars: Covered
Every auto insurance policy has state-required liability insurance in case you cause a wreck. This liability coverage helps you pay for injuries to others or damage to their cars. Your liability protection is factored as a three-part ratio: your limit for injuries to one person, your limit for injuries during one incident, and your limit for personal property damage per incident (100/300/50, for example).
As long as the damage you caused falls under your policy limits, you can receive help paying it.
Damage to your car: May be covered
If your auto insurance policy includes optional collision protection, the damage to your car in a wreck you caused likely will be covered – after you’ve met the deductible. Collision isn’t required legally, regardless of your state; however, your lender may mandate it until your car is paid off.
Even if you don’t have Collision protection to help pay for this crash, you should consider purchasing it in case of future incidents.
Other types of additional coverage to consider:
- Medical Payments: With this type of coverage, your policy can help pay for injuries sustained by you, family members, or other occupants of your vehicle if you get into a wreck. This sometimes is called first party coverage.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: If you become injured or your car is damaged by a motorist without adequate auto insurance, this protection can help you pay the damages. This uninsured/underinsured also covers hit-and-run accidents. It could definitely come into play for weather-related wrecks.
- Comprehensive: Collision’s counterpart, comprehensive protects against nearly anything other than a collision. Covered events could include theft, vandalism, fire, or weather damage. You must first meet a deductible.
Even if you’re off the hook for the damage this time, remember to pay attention to inclement weather warnings before you travel on slick roads. Some rules of thumb for winter weather: Slow your speed and leave more room between your car and the car in front of you than you normally would. Stay warm and drive safely – if you must drive at all!