About 10% of all fatal accidents between the years of 2011 and 2015 happened in inclement weather. In the northeast that number jumps up to 15%, with about 3% happening in snow. With weather reports claiming there will be more snow this winter, drivers should be ready. Will you know what to do in the event of a car accident due to inclement weather?
If the Roads are Closed, Stay Home
If there is a heavy storm and roads are closed, you should just stay home. Not only is it dangerous, but your car insurance company may have grounds to deny any claim you may file due to an accident. If roads are declared closed by the local or state government, but you drive anyway, your insurance company can say you were committing “contributory negligence”. Now, this is just a possibility. It is more likely your company will still cover you in this case, but it will be best not to risk it.
A Tree or Hail Damages Your Car
If you stayed at home, but Mother Nature still decided to wreck your car, you shouldn’t fret so long as you have comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive coverage is an optional part of car insurance that covers damages to your car caused by forces outside your control. Be it a falling tree, hail, a baseball through your windshield. If you don’t have comprehensive on your policy you should strongly consider adding it. It is much less expensive than its counterpart, collision insurance, usually going for less than $100 per year for a driver with a good record.
You Skid and Hit a Building or Someone’s Parked Car
If you are caught in a storm, and skid into a parked car or a building, causing damage, your property damage liability insurance will take care of it. Property Damage liability is mandatory in every state, so as long as you have car insurance, you won’t have to worry about not having it. Whoever’s property you cause damage to will have to file a claim against your property damage to seek compensation. So long as the damage costs are under the limits of your PD, you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Just remember if you crash into a parked car, and the owner is not around, leave a note with your information. Failing to do so is a felony, and will disqualify your from your insurance as well.
Someone Skids and Hits Your Parked Car
In the opposite situation, if someone hits your parked car while you are away, you may have two options. The first is one we discuss above, where you can now file a claim against the other driver’s Property Damage Liability insurance. If you have collision insurance, you can also file through that. Collision covers all damage to your vehicle, regardless of who caused it. While collision is ultimately easier to use than another driver’s property damage, it may cause your rates to go up. So speak to your agent first.
You Skid on Ice and Are Injured
In the worst case, if you are injured in an accident caused by snow you should be covered by either personal injury protection or your health insurance. What is personal injury protection? PIP is a mandatory coverage in 13 states, and optional elsewhere that takes care of injury costs from a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. Standard car insurance, as in just liability, will actually not cover your injuries in this case. Unless there is another driver whom you can file a claim against, you will not able to seek compensation through you injuries, unless you just go through your health insurance.
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