Auto Insurance Advice Helps Holiday Travelers Better Prepare
Insurance agency dispels coverage myths as accident-prone season approaches
Amidst the bustling holiday season, driving on roadways congested with anxious motorists is enough to fray any traveler’s nerves. Add wintry weather – or a complaining child riding backseat – and routine distractions could lead to an abrupt roadblock in your celebration plans.
“The volume of car accidents during the holiday season, which runs from the last week of November to early January, is substantially higher than at any other time during the year,” said Jonathan Peele, president of renowned Coastline Insurance Associates. “This can be attributed to heightened levels of drivers’ stress, alcohol consumption, interior passengers, cell phone use, GPS systems, dangerous weather conditions and lack of sleep.”
Behind the wheel is not the place to gamble against these odds. Experts like Peele urge all drivers to review protection benefits provided by their auto policy well before the rubber meets the road. In fact, Peele recommends putting aside time for an insurance plan “refresher” before activities pick up in the coming months.
According to the American Auto Association, many drivers travel more than 200 miles during the holiday season. Studies compiled by the National Highway Traffic Administration indicate Thanksgiving Day to be the worst driving day of winter, with New Year’s Eve riding on its heels.
Peele, who typically fields a surge of questions as the holidays near, is aiming to “bust” the many myths surrounding coverage and vehicular accidents. As he sees it, now’s the time to cut through the insurance noise and confusion. First stop, the truth about health-related “payouts.”
“Medical coverage on a driver’s auto insurance policy refers to actual physical injury, not emotional distress and/or ‘pain & suffering,’” Peele said. “In certain states, if the other driver is at fault, the injured party may be able to recover this, so check whether your state is a ‘no fault’ state ahead of time.”
When an accident does occur, Peele said many drivers believe they have no control over which auto repair company to hire for needed fixes. This simply is not true. While there are often benefits to using the insurance provider’s preferred repair shop, drivers should keep in mind that personal choice is allowed. Peele shed additional light on “pay-outs.”
“They are often not full replacement cost,” he said. “Nor are total loss decisions derived from common consumer-utilized valuation tools such as Kelly Blue Book.”
Personal auto coverage aside, many people rent vehicles during the holidays for sheer convenience. Others do this to avoid adding mileage to leased cars. And some rent to avoid public transportation fees when flying into an area sans-vehicle. Unfortunately, insurance coverage for rentals can prove even more difficult to understand than personal policies.
“I advise purchasing the rental company’s insurance, in addition to the ‘automatic’ rental coverage extended from a person’s auto policy,” Peele said. “In essence, should a driver ‘total’ the rental car, their personal auto coverage will pay out under its own terms but the ‘loss of income’ from a rented vehicle expected to last ten more years can quickly become the financial obligation of the driver – and their personal auto policy is not going to pay for it.”
In addition to understanding auto insurance structure, Peele cautions individuals to use common sense when taking to the highways this season.
“Drive during daylight hours whenever possible for better visibility,” he said. “Be thoroughly rested before getting behind the wheel. Take frequent driving breaks on long trips. And finally, avoid road rage by using breathing exercises or playing soothing music.”