Let’s face it. We purchase insurance for the unpredictable, but insurance companies use statistics to predict the probability of the unpredictable. And we can all agree that the statistical likelihood of a collision, hitting a wild animal, or getting a flat tire increases the more miles you drive. That’s why we have collected tips to add more protection for you and your family or friends during your 13,699-mile journey.
Before packing your bags, hiring a dog sitter, and piling everyone in, consider some of these tips to ensure a safe, secure, and enjoyable road trip. A little investing up front can go a long way when the unpredictable happens, and while on vacation no less.
When you first purchased your car insurance policy, you were probably most interested in keeping your monthly bill as low as possible but still get reasonable coverage. One tactic to reduce your premium is to increase your deductible. The deductible is what you will pay out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. If you are traveling on a budget, no one wants to dip into savings to pay a $1,000 deductible in case of a collision or hitting an animal.
Most drivers don’t know that you can contact your insurance company and make changes to your coverage limits and deductibles anytime during your policy. Decreasing your deductibles to zero (if possible) will provide more funds for excursions, dining, and souvenirs.
There are two basic parts to a car insurance policy: coverage in case it’s your fault (liability), and additional (usually optional) coverage in case it’s someone else’s fault (uninsured and underinsured motorist). You are permitted to increase your coverage limits mid-policy and reduce them again when you return from your trip. This will provide additional coverage because you are more likely to get into an accident for every extra mile on your road trip.
Many ask the question: Does car insurance follow the car or the driver? The short answers are yes and yes.
Certain parts of your insurance policy cover your vehicle: comprehensive, collision, and portions of liability (property damage). This means that if another person who is not listed on the policy drives your car, your car is likely protected.
Other parts of a person’s insurance policy covers themselves and possibly other passengers: portions of liability (bodily injury), MedPay, and personal injury protection.
In some cases, certain policies from certain companies will cover only those drivers listed on the policy. In other scenarios, the vehicle owner’s insurance will be primary and the driver’s insurance will be secondary.
If you plan on rotating driving between two or more adults, the safest bet is to have each adult contact their own insurance company and the owner of the vehicle, used for the road trip, can contact his or her insurance company to verify coverage.
Every state has different laws regarding minimum liability coverage. Most drivers purchase above the minimum requirements. The great news is that if you carry the minimum liability coverage required for your state, and you are in an accident in a state that has higher minimum requirements, your insurance company is responsible for the difference. Keep in mind, however, that the state minimums are hardly enough to cover medical expenses and repairs.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is different. This is an additional premium you pay to get additional coverage in case the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay your medical bills and other expenses. If your state is at-fault and the state in which you were in an accident is at-fault, then the process is the same as if you were in an accident in your own state.
However, if you are driving in a no-fault state, and you are in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, each driver is responsible for seeking assistance from their own insurance company. Your insurance company, even if the policy was purchased in a no-fault state, will typically extend your coverage to pay for your injuries.
Just to make sure you are covered, contact your insurance company if you plan to drive to or through the following no-fault states: Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, or Utah.
Some car insurance companies offer free roadside assistance, but the deductible may be higher and have only the basic benefits. Most basic roadside assistance package include services such as towing, tire changes, jump-starts, lockouts, winching and fuel delivery. However, some packages may include maximum benefits like up to $100 on towing. Other packages may limit coverage within a certain number of miles from home and may even cover hotel stays. Some are paid monthly, some are paid annually, and some are “free” but have even stricter limitations.
Two or three days prior to departing, contact your car insurance company to get the details on what is covered in your current roadside assistance package. It may be a good idea to max it out for the duration of your trip and then reduce it when you return. You can also consider other services like AAA or those offered through your credit card company. Make some inquiries and get the best coverage for the best price.
If you just bought your brand new car off the lot, you may be itching for a road trip bonding experience. Or you have a two year old vehicle, a longer than desired daily commute, and you aren’t thrilled about taking on an additional two to 15 thousand miles in a matter of a few weeks to a few months. The costs associated with the wear and tear on the engine, tires, and extra oil changes add up quickly. Renting a car for your ultimate road trip may be a good option.
When renting a vehicle, you can typically get the increased comfort, extra storage, and additional bells and whistles your vehicle doesn’t have for just a bit more investment upfront. What makes this option even better for a group of adults is that the rental fees and gas expenses can be shared more efficiently and economically. Plus, they can usually be picked up and turned in at multiple locations if your travel plans necessitate it. In addition, most car insurance policies extend the same coverage from your vehicle to a rented vehicle, but not all.
Be sure to contact your car insurance company to fully understand the details of rental car coverage. It may be wise to consider purchasing the coverage offered by the rental company depending on your situation.
If Gene Simmons can insure his tongue, you can insure your vacation! More commonly purchased by world travelers, this coverage can still come in handy while traveling across the US.
If you get extremely ill, a family member dies, or you are in a non-vehicle accident, your travel insurance policy will cover cancellation fees, interruption fees, lost baggage, personal items such as laptops, cameras, and video cameras, and even helps out when their is an emergency evacuation or emergency medical needs. It isn’t supposed to act as health insurance, but the emergency medical funds can be secondary to your health insurance.
Being safe rather than sorry is just as important during your vacation as it is during the daily grind of life. Following the recommendations above can ensure that even a road trip with a few hassles can be amazing, and you at least will not lose the savings towards your next vacation.
Zaneta is a Research Specialist and Writer for carinsurancecomparison.com. Writing and research has been an integral component of her studies in anthropology, instructional technology, technical and professional communication, and adult education. A mountain biker-turned-paddler, she lives in Greenville, SC with her spouse, 12-year-old daughter, three lizards, and two Dachshunds.