Preparedness is the key to success and victory – Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Are you prepared for a car accident?
No one gets into their car thinking that they will get into an accident. In fact, we don’t like to even think about such things. But being prepared for an accident – before it happens – can make a huge difference in the way things unfold after an accident occurs.
As our population grows, the number of car accidents also grows. While most accidents are not fatal, chances are good that at some point in your life, you will be involved in one. States that have legalized recreational marijuana report increased car wrecks. This Washington study details significant collision claim increases.
How to be prepared for a car accident
- Get a PRINTED COPY of your car insurance policy.
Many insurance companies do not provide easy access to your actual, complete policy. Instead, they offer you boilerplate brochures that address common elements of their services. It’s important that you insist upon receiving the actual printed policy detailing everything that you are paying for. All of your rights and duties are covered within this document.
- Pick a deductible that fits your budget.
One of the first ways people get prepared for a car accident is to choose their deductible. Most people, looking for the least expensive premiums, opt for higher deductibles. They are betting that they won’t get into an accident. This thinking, while common, actually goes against the purpose of having insurance in the first place.Our suggestion is for you to look at the deductible from the perspective of actually being in an accident. If and when that happens, will it be a burden for you to meet that expense when making an insurance claim? There is really not that much difference in monthly premiums for policies that have $1,000.00 and $500.00 deductibles. Explore all of your options, and choose the best for your budget.
- Know what coverages you have in place.
Do you have an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) rider?
You must specifically instruct your insurance agent to add an OEM rider to your policy. If you don’t, then it is most likely that when you get into an accident, they will instruct the body shop to use aftermarket or used (junk yard) parts on your car. This is true regardless of the age, make or model of your vehicle. Imagine them putting a salvaged bumper on your brand new Lexus. It happens every single day, all across America.
Do you have rental car coverage?
One of the best ways to be prepared for a car accident is to know that you won’t be left without transportation while your car is being repaired. But like an OEM rider, you must specifically request your agent to add rental car coverage. With this addition to your policy, the insurance company will cover the cost (up to a specified limit of days) for a rental car. If you don’t have access to another car, this can be very important.
Do you have better than ‘basic’ liability coverage?
You might get sued. There’s no nicer way to say it. If you hit an expensive car, and your policy has only basic liability coverage, you might get sued for the difference between your policy limit and what it costs to repair their car. Now imagine if more than one car is involved in the accident. The amount of your liability coverage is no place for stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.
Do you have an Appraisal Clause in your policy?
An appraisal clause is an insurance provision allowing either the insurer or the insured (you) to demand a binding appraisal of damaged property if you dispute the value that your insurance company assigns to your claim. In many cases, this involves both you and your insurance company to select a third-party, independent appraiser to assess the damage and come to a binding agreement. This could force your insurance company to pay you much more money than what they originally offered. If your policy doesn’t have an appraisal clause, it may be time to look for another insurer.
Will your car be totaled by your insurance company?
There are many factors considered by your insurance company as they determine whether or not to total your car. Most companies will cover up to 70-80% of the vehicle’s value before declaring it a total wreck. But it’s important to check your state statutes, as some allow insurers to pay up to 100% of the value.
Important Information for New Drivers
Most new drivers ‘inherit’ their parent’s auto insurance policy. The terms, riders, limits and deductibles may fit your parent’s lifestyle and risk tolerance, but may not be right for you. Car accidents are far more likely for new drivers. One of the best suggestions that we can make as you get prepared for an accident is to go over each and every coverage of your policy as quickly as possible. Make appropriate adjustments to the coverage limits and riders so that you are protected when you need it most.
How to choose an insurance company
We live in a time where sound bites and catch phrases have a strong influence over our decision making processes. It’s easy to hear things like, ’15 minutes can save you 15%’, or ‘like a good neighbor’ and feel financially or emotionally driven to choose an insurer.
Or maybe a family member is an agent for a particular insurance company. They probably ‘expect’ you to bring your business to them – just because they’re related. We strongly encourage you to choose your insurance company based upon how they will respond in time of need, instead of by how they make you feel.